Year2017

Fortress of Habit

The death of reading is threatening the soul

“Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.”


When asked about his secret to success, Warren Buffett pointed to a stack of books and said, “Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will…”


Modern culture presents formidable obstacles to the nurture of both spirituality and creativity. As a writer of faith in the age of social media, I host a Facebook page and a website and write an occasional blog. Thirty years ago I got a lot of letters from readers, and they did not expect an answer for a week or more. Now I get emails, and if they don’t hear back in two days they write again, “Did you get my email?” The tyranny of the urgent crowds in around me.


I’m still working on that fortress of habit, trying to resurrect the rich nourishment that reading has long provided for me. If only I can resist clicking on the link 30 Amish Facts That’ll Make Your Skin Crawl…

Fortress of Habit is a wonderful turn of phrase.

William Gibson Talks ‘Archangel,’ Apocalypses, and Dystopias

Much of the planet’s human population, today, lives in conditions that many inhabitants of North America would regard as dystopian. Quite a few citizens of the United States live under conditions that many people would regard as dystopian. Dystopia is not very evenly distributed. Fantasy is fun, but naturalism is the necessary balance — realism, to be less precise. Naturalistic fiction written today is necessarily fairly pessimistic — otherwise, it wouldn’t be a realistic depiction of the present. If you were, say, a tiger, and you knew what’s about to happen to your species (extinction, almost certainly), wouldn’t it be realistic to have a pessimistic view of things? I think it’s realistic, as a human, to have a pessimistic view of a world minus tigers.


Q: How do you maintain hope in these dark times?
A: One day at a time, and treasuring those who retain an active sense of humor.

Knocking Down your Creative Blocks – 99U

In time, my office looked like it had been hit by a blizzard of 20-pound bond. There were piles of paper on every flat surface, and on the floor around me, all of them tagged with colorful Post-it Notes, some of the piles reaching several feet in height—a miniature cityscape at my feet: Transcribed interviews, notes, court documents and legal transcripts of testimony and deposition hearings, newspaper clippings, non-fiction books and research papers on the subjects of AIDS and the Reagan Administration’s war on pornography (a period during which porn consumption by the public rose exponentially, I would learn). Not to mention my collection of VHS films—black plastic rectangles, clad in colorful cardboard slip covers, stacked in rickety piles like so many skyscrapers populating my urban jungle of research materials.

The blizzard of 20-pound bond is a beautiful bit of writing. Reading that line made my old soul smile. I can also relate to being surrounded by paper and Post-It Notes.

Most Women You Know Are Angry — and That’s All Right | Teen Vogue

As I’ve grown up, I’ve stayed angry — but my anger has grown up, too. It has boiled down and condensed into something strong and subtle, something that I can control. Writing out my rage is cathartic — and useful, too. I’m lucky that my coping mechanism is also my career. Plenty of women are angry, and why wouldn’t they be? It’s bad enough that women and girls are still being attacked and undermined, as individuals and as a group — when our basic rights to health care are stripped away, when we are blamed for the violence that is done to us and shamed for our sexuality, when we have to get up every day and deal with racism and homophobia and class prejudice. It’s bad enough that we still have to fight to be treated as full, equal human beings without also being shamed and silenced if the whole situation makes us furious. Yes, we’re angry. Why shouldn’t we be? Why aren’t you?

Every woman is The Incredible Hulk. Their secret is their always angry and that anger needs some place to go.
You anger is a gift.

2017-08-01 Instapaper Highlights

Giving the iPad a full-time job

The iPhone changed my life in countless ways, but its greatest long-term effect has been the dulling of my introspective and creative faculties.


Touch Isolation: How Homophobia Has Robbed All Men Of Touch

American men, in an attempt to avoid any possible hint of committing unwanted sexual touch, are foregoing gentle platonic touch in their lives.


While babies and toddlers are held, cuddled, and encouraged to practice gentle touch during their first years of their lives, that contact often drops off for boys when they cease to be toddlers. Boys are encouraged to “shake it off” and “be tough” when they are hurt. Along with the introduction of this “get tough” narrative, boys find that their options for gentle platonic touch simply fade away. Mothers and fathers often back off from holding or cuddling their young boys. Boys who seek physical holding as comfort when hurt are stigmatized as cry babies.


By the time they are approaching puberty, many boys have learned to touch only in aggressive ways through rough housing or team sports. And if they do seek gentle touch in their lives, it is expected to take place in the exclusive and highly sexualized context of dating. This puts massive amounts of pressure on young girls; young girls who are unlikely to be able to shoulder such a burden. Because of the lack of alternative outlets for touch, the touch depravation faced by young boys who are unable to find a girlfriend is overwhelming. And what about boys who are gay? In a nutshell, we leave children in their early teens to undo a lifetime of touch aversion and physical isolation. The emotional impact of coming of age in our touch-averse, homophobic culture is terribly damaging. It’s no wonder our young people face a epidemic of sexual abuse, unwanted pregnancy, rape, drug and alcohol abuse.


As much as gay men have faced the brunt of homophobic violence, straight men have been banished to a desert of physical isolation by these same homophobic fanatics who police lesbians and gays in our society.


When we collectively normalize gay life and relationships, my son, whatever his sexual orientation turns out to be, will be free to express platonic affection for others, be they men or women, in any way he sees fit. The rabid homophobes who have preached hate in America for far too long will finally be silenced, and men will be free to reach out and touch each other without fear of being labeled as somehow less of a man.


This site is “taking the edge off rant mode” by making readers pass a quiz before commenting

The team at NRKbeta attributes the civil tenor of its comments to a feature it introduced last month. On some stories, potential commenters are now required to answer three basic multiple-choice questions about the article before they’re allowed to post a comment. (For instance, in the digital surveillance story: “What does DGF stand for?”)


The goal is to ensure that the commenters have actually read the story before they discuss it.


Why Blue States Should Exit Red America

Go ahead, keep on voting against your own economic interests to satisfy your need to control other people’s bodies, sex lives, and recreational habits. We’ll be creating cities and states that will defend gay marriage, a woman’s right to choose, and sensible gun control against your intrusive federal judiciary.


‘Get Out’ Sprung From An Effort To Master Fear, Says Director Jordan Peele

Peele wanted the audience, regardless of race, to see the subtle racism through Chris’ eyes. “It was very important to me to just get the entire audience in touch in some way with the fears inherent [in] being black in this country,” Peele says. “Part of being black in this country, and I presume being any minority, is constantly being told that … we’re seeing racism where there just isn’t racism.”


Winamp’s woes: How the greatest MP3 player undid itself

While Nullsoft seemed to play second fiddle to Spinner, all the companies in AOL’s own “Interactive Properties” group (including ICQ, MapQuest, and others) collectively played second fiddle to AOL’s traditional bread-and-butter moneymaker: “the Service.” According to AOL’s own June 30, 2000 10-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, its legacy Internet access service had 23.2 million users, compared to Winamp with its 25 million users. At the time, the Service made a huge amount of money, and AOL wanted to promote it heavily to a crowd with limited use for it.


[Alien intelligence: the extraordinary minds of octopuses and other cephalopods](

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/mar/28/alien-intelligence-the-extraordinary-minds-of-octopuses-and-other-cephalopods)

Godfrey-Smith charts his path through philosophical problems as guided by cephalopods – in one case quite literally, when he recounts an octopus taking his collaborator by hand on a 10-minute tour to its den, “as if he were being led across the sea floor by a very small eight-legged child”.


Octopuses are pretty good at sophisticated kinds of learning, but how good it’s hard to say, in part because they’re so hard to experiment on. You get a small amount of animals in the lab and some of them refuse to do anything you want them to do – they’re just too unruly.


It’s perhaps the biggest paradox presented by an animal that has no shortage of contradictions: “A really big brain and a really short life.” From an evolutionary perspective, Godfrey-Smith explains, it does not give a good return on investment. “It’s a bit like spending a vast amount of money to do a PhD, and then you’ve got two years to make use of it … the accounting is really weird.”


Back to the smartphone experience of 2006

It’s fascinating to have this kind of throwback experience and be reminded of the sheer magnitude of the iPhone’s impact right thereafter and from that point onward. I had to spend a couple of days with a previous concept of smartphone to fully realise the amount of details, user interface and user interaction paradigms we take for granted today.


The Story Behind the World’s Most Famous Desktop Background

But the artist duo Goldin+Senneby, who spent months researching the photograph for a 2006 work, said that the Microsoft branding team “wanted an image with ‘more grounding’ than the images of skies they had used in Windows 95. Also, the green grass and the blue sky fit perfectly with the two main colors in the branding scheme.”


Hold thy tongue (and loosen thy pen)

We focus so much on our notebooks as traps for capturing those rare, beautiful ideas that visit us, but notebooks are also amazing cages for detaining what is inside of us that wants so desperately to escape. To write down your rawest thoughts in a notebook is like putting a wild, unknown beast into a holding cell for further observation. Here, you can safely discover what the beast is and figure out what to do with it. Sometimes the beast needs indefinite incarceration, sometimes it needs rehabilitation, sometimes it’s ready for release into the wild, and sometimes it just needs to be put down. But to let it escape at whim is rarely a good idea.


“Hold thy tongue. Loosen thy pen”