The Odd Piece Out

There are some basic principles to every art. Take the rule of thirds or rule of odds for painting and photography for instance.

Mastering the fundamentals helps guide the creative process. But learning how to make art prevents more creativity than it unleashes. True art goes beyond the basic skills in the back pocket. It improvises and distrupts the existing framework.

Einstein and Steve Jobs rejected traditional thinking behind science and technology. It wasn't just marketing that made Madonna the Material Girl or Michael Jordan the Jumpman. Both artists became idols because they excelled at playing the game differently.

People shine brighter when they cultivate their own originality. Resisting expectation gives others the confidence to do the same.

Smooth Mediocrity

Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst. They say. What they never tell you is to settle for mediocrity.

No one ever aims for the bronze yet third place still medals. Good enough is still an enviable pursuit, even if puts you in the middle of the pack.

"Just do your very best and then the hell with it." — Winston Churchill

It's ok to be ok if that's really the best you can do.

Snooping

Social networking is modern day voyeurism. Whether we want to or not, everyone is spying on each other. People may not like, share, or comment on your content but they see it in their feeds and remember it.

Most online engagement is ambient. Check your profile viewers on LinkedIn. Ever had someone require a "read receipt" on an email? How about running into an old Facebook friend that knows about your marital status and last vacation. Creepy shit, sort of.

The only issue in publicizing information is the return of too much information. We don't want to know what other people know about us yet we continue to share our information so freely. We build our own radars.

The days of anonymity are over. We're all naked and famous.

Social Notworking

Every week I review the articles I saved to Instapaper and highlight 7 of my favorite pieces. They typically include a mixture of art, culture, tech, and philosophy.

Too Busy

Busyness can be defined as "lively but meaningless activity." Amazingly, people also use the excuse of busy to say "no."

"I want my kids to be dirty, messy, even bored — learning to become human." So much yes.

Finding Passion

There's a beautiful struggle in searching for work that matters. Peter Sims explains why he refused to take the easy road. He also offers heaps of life wisdom.

Get Some Rest

Hint: if you want to get more sleep, go to sleep earlier. The challenge with this is that the evenings are our downtime. But there are plenty of ways to power down in get into sleep mode just before hitting the hay.

"on days when we flourish, the seed has almost always been planted the night before."

Infinite Inventory

"Mozart didn’t sell one fucking copy. Taylor Swift sold 110 million."

The recording industry profited from selling duplicated copies. But the Internet turned the music industry upside down when one copy could be downloaded infinitely for free. Music is just a marketing tool to sell other stuff like live shows and merchandise.

+Steve Jobs on product versus marketing

Clocks (Not Coldplay's)

Einstein taught us that time and space are relative. A clock on the wall moves than a clock on the ground due to the forces of gravity. But this strontium-powered clock "can keep perfect time for 5 billion years." Despite the precision, no one knows what time really is.

Social Notworking

What makes Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram so addicting is that they allay boredom. They're so good you have to deliberately and consciously put them away, out of arm's reach.

Machinedrum

Steve Reich (aka Machinedrum) lays out his creative process which begins and ends with intuition: "Whenever I write something with a specific thing that I want to achieve, it usually falls flat."

+Here's Machinedrum's "Gunshotta" music video if you haven't seen it.

Tunes of the week

  • Mura Masa - …Girl
  • Hector Plimmer - Tomorrow
  • Coleman - Islands (Joe Kay's Slowed Edit)
  • Tek.lun - Green Box
  • Italdred - Irregular Expression
  • Synkro - Transient
  • The Stuyvesants - Shakers & Movers
  • Ras G - Take It Slow
  • Wyles & Simpson - Light & Dark

♫ Peep the playlist

Thought of the week

"The more relaxed you are, the better you are." - Bill Murray

The Cynics

Seeing is believing. But positive thinking feels forced. It's easier to imagine failure than it is glory.

Accept it: It's unlikely that you'll ever be a movie star, a famous artist/athlete, nor founder and CEO even if you tried. Success happens to people that either get lucky or strive for that edge. However, you can increase your chances of success if you approach life like an entrepreneur and set out to minimize risk.

Realists see life for what it is and test its limits, setting goals neither too high nor too low. 10% better is better than nothing at all. There's nothing wrong with a little negativity if it represents reality.

Edge Case

Everyone wants to get ahead by priming themselves for success.

  • Caffeine increases productivity. Two espresso shots make people more productive than one.

  • Ritalin helps children "focus" and get better grades.

  • Taking steroids turns humans into action figures.

Cheating comes in all different shapes and sizes. Strip away the supplements and all that's left is an honest organism with a severe disadvantage.

Wants x Needs

You always want things you don't have and disregard those same things when you do have them. This is the paradox of desire, but also the arbiter of need.

You don't need anything other than food, water, and some proper housing. Needs are a means of survival. Everything else (technology, cars, even love) is just extra. What makes them necessary is conformity, which ironically, makes them essential to survival. If you don't have an email account, do you even exist?

The non-essential becomes essential through social utility. No one wants to be left out. Feeling needed (and heard) may be the biggest desire of mankind.

Repel and Attract

When multiplied or divided:

  • Two positives remain positive.

  • Two negatives make a positive.

When a positive and negative multiply or divide, the answer is always negative.

You can either be naturally positive but never more negative than negative since your expectations are already so low.

To be both positive and negative amounts to pessimism. Your attitude matters.

Why Is the Sky Blue?

Great minds don't think alike.  They think different.  That's how we got great thinkers like Einstein and Steve Jobs.  They excelled in breaking tradition.

Something happens when people reject the status quo.  By going in the opposite direction, new possibilities come to light.  

For Einstein, it was reversing traditional physics.  It wasn't light that was relative, it was time and space.  For Steve Jobs, it was building the personal computer so that everyone could become an artist.  

Rebellion is a mentality of pioneers who don't compete but rise above sidedness altogether.  

This Is Your Night Brain

I'm not a player, I just blog a lot. Below are 7 articles that interested me this week, along with some new jams. Sign up here to receive all this every Sunday via email.

Defending Technology

People complain that the Internet's withering their attention span, destroying their memory, and ruining real conversation. But this piece defends Internet technology. "Every day now there’s something new to replace the old way of doing a crucial thing that was hard to do." There's never been a better time to connect with the world and learn from each other. I'd never want to go back to pre-Internet.

This Is Your Night Brain

Sleeping through the night is a missed opportunity for peak creativity, which occurs halfway through the night when the brain is already in a dream-like state. Here's why broken sleep is a golden time for productivity. Reconsider the 4AM wakeup call.

Unclogging the Mind’s Arteries

“This is going to be a very busy day. I won’t be able to meditate for an hour. I’ll have to meditate for two.”

So said Mahatma Gandhi. The same people that are creating Internet connected devices are the same ones doing all the unplugging. Technology induces stress. So try to be still.*

+ The Atlantic: Would anyone notice if you ever stopped working at work?

The Wooping Technique

The brain can't distinguish between imagination and reality. So dream away. But know such trickery can also beget disappointment. Perhaps a more pragmatic way of approaching positive thinking: The Wooping technique.

Call Me, Maybe?

Why do people fav your tweet/like your IG photo but never text you back? This is the conundrum of 21st communication. I wrote about a similar issue earlier this well. It's good to see I'm thinking straight.

"10 Years of Silence"

It takes 10 years of silence or 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to be successful. That is, if you're "practicing deliberately." Don't worry about the end goal, just practice.

Here's a word of caution for the Internet-connected Amafessionals.

A.D.H.D.

ADHD is just a symptom of boredom. Apparently the natural fix for A.D.H.D. is to join a startup. What a way to medicate your problems away.

My most popular Blog Post this week: Why I Write

Tunes of the week

  1. Billie Black - I Waited For You
  2. Arca - Thievery
  3. We Are Shining - Hey You!
  4. Al Dobson Jr - Columbian Special
  5. Moire - Mix on the Gilles Peterson Worldwide Show

♫ Listen to the playlist

Thought of the week

“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”- Picasso

Elevator Music

  • The quiet car

  • The quiet kid

  • The quiet mind

Quietness gets a bad rap because it's antithesis to the way people (animals) survive. Being loud and aggressive moves one closer to the pellets.

But while introverts are perceived as weird, extroverts can be obnoxious. That's why the perfect noise is ambient noise.

  • The hum of the coffee shop

  • Elevator music

  • Nature

Ambient noise removes the friction between silence and obstruction. It's hardly noticeable yet conducive to the business of living.

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Ill Communication

  • Phone
  • Email
  • Text
  • Social Media Public (FB, Twitter, Instagram)
  • Social Media Private (Snapchat, WhatsApp)
  • FaceTime

In general, the older folks prefer phone and face to face communication. Some use email and Facebook. The Millennials use both traditional and emerging technologies plus a variety of social networking apps. Generation Z talks almost exclusively through Snapchat, WhatsApp, or iMessage. They use FaceTime to chat.

People adopt their group's predominant channel. They fish where their fish are because they want their messages to be heard. But people also let the medium define their age. New platforms present new opportunities, whether your friends are using them or not.

Why I Write

I write because I'm bored and writing is productive. I write because of all the arts it's the easiest to do. All I need is a pen or keyboard or paper or computer. I write because of all the things I make it may be the only thing that lasts. The Internet archives every word, the good, bad, and mediocre. I own all these words.

I write because like a DJ, it gives me an opportunity to combine disparate things and share it with the Internet. Writing is learning. I write because I want to make sense of my surroundings. An attentive mind finds pleasure in the dullest moments.

I write to connect the dots between the now, space, and time. I write for the future. I write because it motivates me to do other things.

I write to find out what life is about. Writing opens up the doors to new possibilities. The more I write, the more ideas I have to play with. Writing is not my job but it is my experiment. I refuse to see a blank page.

What do you write for?

Lean in

  • Fight the good fight
  • Stand for what you believe in
  • Bust through the wall
  • Act the boss
  • Resist the word "no"
  • Push through crap (criticism, rejection, assholes, and pressure)
  • Never go with the flow

Leaning in is a litmus test of bravery. You either lean in to something or you don't. Half-ass input leads to half-ass results. Just make whatever you're leaning into worth doing.

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