Post Tagged with: "life"

Why major creative breakthroughs happen in your late thirties

Why major creative breakthroughs happen in your late thirties

Quartz reports on a recent study on scientific breakthroughs:

James Murphy, the former frontman of the band LCD Soundsystem, made what he called the biggest mistake of his life at 21, when he turned down a writing job on a sitcom that was about to launch.

The sitcom’s name was Seinfeld.

Instead, he lurched around, working as a bouncer and later a DJ before finally releasing the first LCD Soundsystem album at the not-so-tender age of 35.

Murphy might have been older than some of his dance-rock peers, but his experience is fairly common among people who experience major creative breakthroughs, according to a new paper from NBER.

The authors examined the high points of the careers of both great inventors and Nobel-Prize winning scientists, and they found that the late 30s were the sweet spot for strokes of genius.

Full Story: Quartz: Why major creative breakthroughs happen in your late thirties

February 22, 2014 Comments are Disabled
Being Weird is Great

Being Weird is Great

In case there are any younger readers out there, this is right on:

With as serious a tone as I could muster, I said “Listen to me, okay? What I’m about to say is something I want you take in and think about and really hold on to.”

He nodded. “Okay, he said.”

“This isn’t just conversation, this is important,” I said. “You listening?”

He nodded again. “I’m listening,” he replied with a look that convinced me that he was.

I took a deep breath. “Right now, you’re in high school in a small suburban town,” I started.

He nodded.

“Everyone you know looks the same and acts the same,” I explained. “They may dress differently from each other or belong to different crowds, but they’re all the same. Hipsters, brainiacs, jocks, so-called ‘geeks’ — they’re all so caught up with not being left out that they’re changing who they are to fit in with whoever it is that will accept them.

“When you show up and you’re not like that, it scares them,” I continued. “They don’t know what to do with you, because they have no idea what it’s like to think for themselves. So they try to make YOU feel like the loser, because there’s more of them doing what they’re doing than there are of you. In such a small group of small minds, the nail that sticks up gets hammered down.

“To them, you are weird,” I said. “But weird is good. No, screw that — weird is great! Being weird to someone just proves that you are being you, which is the most important thing you can ever be. There’s nothing wrong with you. There’s something wrong with them. They can’t understand what it’s like to be themselves, much less what it’s like to be you.”

He smiled a little. “You really think that?” he asked.

I laughed. “Dude, look at me!” I said. “I’m 300 pounds of ex-football player covered in cartoon and comic book tattoos, who builds websites and tours the world talking to people about his anime cel collection. Trust me, I know all about being weird.”

Joe Peacock: “That’s Why You Don’t Have Any Friends.”

This is all true. In fact, as you get older you’ll meet more people like you – maybe not exactly like you, depending on where you live and where you work, but similar people. In fact, as you get older it will start to become more difficult to keep yourself from living a bubble of people who think and act like you do.

I think Bruce Sterling’s 1991 talk at the Computer Game Developers Conference is also relevant to mutants of all ages:

Alienated punks, picking up computers, menacing society…. That’s the cliched press story, but they miss the best half. Punk into cyber is interesting, but cyber into punk is way dread. I’m into technical people who attack pop culture. I’m into techies gone dingo, techies gone rogue — not street punks picking up any glittery junk that happens to be within their reach — but disciplined people, intelligent people, people with some technical skills and some rational thought, who can break out of the arid prison that this society sets for its engineers. People who are, and I quote, “dismayed by nearly every aspect of the world situation and aware on some nightmare level that the solutions to our problems will not come from the breed of dimwitted ad-men that we know as politicians.” Thanks, Brenda!

That still smells like hope to me….

You don’t get there by acculturating. Don’t become a well-rounded person. Well rounded people are smooth and dull. Become a thoroughly spiky person. Grow spikes from every angle. Stick in their throats like a pufferfish. If you want to woo the muse of the odd, don’t read Shakespeare. Read Webster’s revenge plays. Don’t read Homer and Aristotle. Read Herodotus where he’s off talking about Egyptian women having public sex with goats. If you want to read about myth don’t read Joseph Campbell, read about convulsive religion, read about voodoo and the Millerites and the Munster Anabaptists. There are hundreds of years of extremities, there are vast legacies of mutants. There have always been geeks. There will always be geeks. Become the apotheosis of geek. Learn who your spiritual ancestors were. You didn’t come here from nowhere. There are reasons why you’re here. Learn those reasons. Learn about the stuff that was buried because it was too experimental or embarrassing or inexplicable or uncomfortable or dangerous.

April 25, 2012 1 comment
Is Getting Paid to Do What You Love All It’s Cracked Up to Be?

Is Getting Paid to Do What You Love All It’s Cracked Up to Be?

Drawing on stairs

David McRaney writes:

The Misconception: There is nothing better in the world than getting paid to do what you love.

The Truth: Getting paid for doing what you already enjoy will sometimes cause your love for the task to wane because you attribute your motivation as coming from the reward, not your internal feelings.

If you pay people to complete puzzles instead of paying them for being smart, they lose interest in the game. If you pay children to draw, fun becomes work. Payment on top of compliments and other praise and feeling good about personal achievement are powerful motivators, but only if they are unexpected. Only then can you continue to tell the story that keeps you going; only then can you still explain your motivation as coming from within.

Consider the story you tell yourself about why you do what you do for a living. How vulnerable is that tale to these effects?

You Are Not So Smart: The Overjustification Effect

Interesting stuff. I wonder if this is part of why self-employed people are happier even though self-employment is far more stressful than working for hire?

(Photo by Bo Nielsen)

December 27, 2011 3 comments
5 Reasons Why Having a High IQ Ain’t All It’s Cracked-Up to Be

5 Reasons Why Having a High IQ Ain’t All It’s Cracked-Up to Be

Odd John

Yes, it’s from Cracked, but it’s interesting:

#5.You’re Probably a Night Owl — And That’s a Bad Thing
#4.You’re Less Likely to Pass On Your Genes
#3. You’re More Likely to Lie
#2. You’re More Likely to Believe Bullshit
#1. You’re More Likely to Be Self-Destructive

Cracked: 5 Unexpected Downsides of High Intelligence

See also:

Why Smart People Do More Drugs

Smart kids more likely to be heavy drinkers

(via Dr. Benway)

June 10, 2011 0 comments
Commuting is Making Us Fat and Miserable

Commuting is Making Us Fat and Miserable

traffic jam

People who commute more than 45 minutes a day are more likely to get divorced, according to a Swedish study. And that’s just one of many studies indicating that commuting ruins lives that Slate’s Annie Lowrey shares in a recent story on the subject. “The joy of living in a big, exurban house, or that extra income leftover from your cheap rent? It is almost certainly not worth it,” she writes.

Long commutes are associated with neck and back pain, high levels of stress, obesity and a high level of dissatisfaction with one’s life and work.

Despite everything, commuting time has only increased over the past 50 years. The number of “extreme commuters,” who commute 90 minutes each way, has doubled since 1990 to 3.5 million. Why? The number one reason seems to be housing costs. People tend to want to buy larger houses, even if that adds significant time to their commute. According to Lowrey, economists have been warning us since at least the 60s that we tend not to take the value of our time into account when we buy houses far from work.

It’s not always that easy, though. I don’t own a home, so I have more flexibility in where I live. But back when I was doing IT contracting I would work in one place for a couple-few months, then move on to the next gig. I worked in one northwestern suburb of Portland (Hillsboro) for six months, then in a southwestern suburb for 3 or 4 months (Tualitin) and then in a northeastern suburb (Gresham) for a month or so. Eventually I found a full-time job in the city. I could have tried moving closer to that workplace, but my wife worked on the other side of town. And really, I could have been laid off at any time and had to start commuting to another corner of the metro area. Living centrally (close-in southeast) helped – my commute was never more than about 45 minutes (by car) each way. But not everyone can live in the middle of a city.

Slate: Your Commute Is Killing You.

(photo by epSos.de)

June 7, 2011 1 comment
Top 5 Most Common Regrets of the Dying

Top 5 Most Common Regrets of the Dying

Bonnie Ware spent many years working in palliative care, nursing patients in the final weeks of their lives. She shares what she says were the five most common regrets of the dying.

Dying by Alex Grey

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard. (“This came from every male patient that I nursed,” Ware wrote).

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Bonnie Ware: Regrets of the Dying

June 2, 2011 5 comments
Mac Tonnies and Other Digital Ghosts in The New York Times

Mac Tonnies and Other Digital Ghosts in The New York Times

cyberspace after death

Rob Walker wrote a long piece on “digital ghosts” – the online remnants of people who have died. He talks quite a bit about Mac Tonnies:

I spoke to a half dozen people Mac Tonnies met online and in some cases never encountered in the physical world. Each expressed a genuine sense of loss; a few sounded grief-stricken even more than a year later. Mark Plattner, who lives in St. Louis and met Tonnies a dozen years ago through the comments section of another blog, decided that Posthuman Blues needed to survive. He used software called Sitesucker to put a backup of the entire thing — pictures, videos, links included — on a hard drive. In all, Plattner has about 10 gigabytes of material, offering a sense of Tonnies’s “personality and who he was,” Plattner says. “That’s what we want to remember.” He intends to store this material through his own hosting account, just as soon as he finds time to organize it all.

Plattner was one of several online friends who got involved in memorializing Tonnies and his work. Dia Sobin, an artist who lives in Connecticut, met Tonnies online around 2006; they communicated often by e-mail and phone, but never met in person. She created art for Tonnies’s site and for the cover of what turned out to be his final book. Less than two weeks after he died, she started a blog called Post-Mac Blues. For more than a year, she filled it with posts highlighting passages of his writing, reminiscences, links to interviews he gave to podcasters and bloggers, even his Blip.fm profile (which dutifully records that he listened to a song from “Everything That Happens Will Happen Today,” by David Byrne and Brian Eno, at 4:16 p.m. on the last day he lived). Her site is “a map to Mac Tonnies,” Sobin says. “And a memorial.”

“I only ever knew him over Twitter,” Sarah Cashmore , a graduate student in Toronto, told me. She shared his enthusiasm for design and technology and learned of his death from Twitter contacts. “I was actually devastated,” she says. A few months later, she teamed up with several other members of Tonnies’s Twitter circle to start a second Tonnies-focused blog, Mac-Bots.

This outpouring of digital grief, memorial-making, documentation and self-expression is unusual, maybe unique, for now, because of the kind of person Tonnies was and the kinds of friends he made online. But maybe, his friend Rita King suggests, his story is also a kind of early signal of one way that digital afterlives might play out. And she doesn’t just mean this in an abstract, scholarly way. “I find solace,” she told me, “in going to Mac’s Twitter feed.”

New York Times: Cyberspace When You’re Dead

(Thanks Chris Arkenberg)

Walker also covers various services for dealing with one’s digital life posthumously and transhumanist notions of immortality.

See also: Technoccult interview with Sarah and Mark on MacBots.

January 18, 2011 2 comments
Summary of The Now Habit: Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play

Summary of The Now Habit: Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play

The Now Habit: Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play

Lifehacker has a summary of The Now Habit: Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play by psychologist Neil Fiore. Here are a couple highlights:

Fiore encourages procastinators to get away from preemptively scheduling work and focus on unscheduling. Unscheduling is massive shift in thinking from how most of us use calendars and schedules. Rather than start by filling the calendar with the work you want to do, you start by scheduling fixed commitments and play. You reverse your calendar and begin with the premise that you need (and deserve) at least one hour of play and relaxation a day and at least one day of work off a week. You schedule those first, as well as previously committed time—like when you sleep, eat, exercise, commute to work, and other blocks of time you must expend each day. [...]

Fiore also urges readers to focus on small blocks of time with a focus on realistic output. In addition to limiting the total amount of time you spend working (and recognizing the limitations of how much work you can do in the process), focus on limiting the size of your individual blocks of work. If you sit down in front of a task with an open-ended schedule like “I need to finish this entire project by the end of the day”, you’re setting yourself up for a bout of procrastination. In the mind of a procrastinator, the end of the business day is practically in the next century. Instead say “I have 30 minutes to work before I must take a small break to relax. What can I realistically accomplish in 30 minutes?”.

Lifehacker: The Now Habit: Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play

One problem I have is the unclear boundary between work and play in some circumstances. For example is Technoccult work or is it play? What about Psychetect? They’re work in that it requires focused attention and have tasks and goals and, sometimes, deadlines – but they’re things I do because I want to.

October 11, 2010 2 comments
Gaming the real world – John Robb on Jane McGonigal’s TED talk

Gaming the real world – John Robb on Jane McGonigal’s TED talk

However, at this point the presentation breaks down. McGonigal then proceeds to think of ways gamers can be used to do things (which plays well with the users at TED). While I give her props for thinking about ways to generate ideas on how to fix global problems, she entirely misses the big idea.

Here’s the big idea. For active online gamers real life is broken. It doesn’t make any sense. Effort isn’t connected to reward. The path forward is confused, convoluted, and contradictory. Worse, there’s a growing sense that the entire game is being corrupted to ensure failure. So, why play it?

They don’t. They retreat to online games. Why? Online games provide an environment that connects what you do (work, problem solving, effort, motivation level, merit) in the game to rewards (status, capabilities, etc.). These games also make it simple to get better (learn, skill up, etc.) through an intuitive just-in-time training system. The problem is that this is virtual fantasy.

So the really big idea isn’t figuring out how to USE online gamers for real world purposes (as in the dirty word: crowdsourcing — the act of other people to do work for you for FREE — blech!). Instead, it’s about finding a way to use online games to make real life better for the gamers. In short, turn games into economic darknets that work in parallel and better than the broken status quo systems. As in: economic games that connect effort with reward. Economic games with transparent rules that tangibly improve the lives of all of the players in the REAL WORLD.

Global Guerrillas: Online Games, Super Empowerment, and a Better World

See also:

How to make an addictive video game

Jane McGonigal interview at WorldChanging

March 18, 2010 0 comments
Excitement as Biological Neccessity

Excitement as Biological Neccessity

William S. Burroughs said:

Danger is a biological necessity for humans, just like sleep and dreams. If you face death, for that time you are immortal. For the Western middle classes, danger is a rarity and erupts only with a sudden, random shock. And yet we are in danger at all times, since our death exists. Is there a technique for confronting death without immediate physical danger? (quoted from Hashisheen: The End of Law)

But this is at least partially incorrect. Western middle classes, at least those of us in the United States, typically face physical danger multiple times per day. Driving is amongst the most dangerous activities in modern society – 114 people die in car crashes per day. Cars accidents deaths per year are more than double the number of murders per year. The average American spends 101 minutes driving each day. We confront death every day, and we barely even notice.

The dangerous involved in driving are commonplace, boring. New dangers though – new dangers are exciting. Perhaps Michael Skinner was more correct when he said:

Geezerz need excitement
If their lives don’t provide them this they incite violence
Common sense simple common sense

December 16, 2009 1 comment