Novels, Science, History, Econ, Randomness
- Historia de las Especias. El Comercio que Marcó el Devenir de la Humanidad (Roman Hereter): Lo que la banca de inversiones es al ambicioso y codicioso actual, el comercio de la pimienta lo era a los romanos: el camino directo para hacerse rico. En los inicios del Imperio se decía que una persona era tan codiciosa que era la “primera en comprar la pimienta salida del lomo del camello”. Y Plinio escribió !Pensar que su unica cualidad es la acritud y que vamos todos a la India a buscarla! Tanto la pimienta como el jengibre crecen silvestres en sus paises de origen, y no obstante, los compran a peso como el oro y la plata. La indignacion moral de Plinio, como la de Seneca y otros criticos de la decadencia de Roma, es el reflrjo de lo que hoy en dia se sabe: que el comercio Este-Oeste contribuyo a la caida del imperio romano debido al agotamiento de sus reservas de oro y plata para pagar sus lujos efimeros”
- El Cisne Negro (Nassim Nicholas Taleb): “Se dice que el legendario guionista William Goldman gritaba «Nadie sabe nada» cuando se refería a la previsión de ventas de las películas. Pero el lector se podrá preguntar cómo alguien de tanto éxito como Goldman puede calcular lo que conviene hacer sin formular predicciones. La respuesta se halla en lo que se entiende como lógica de los negocios en la cabeza. Goldman sabía que no podía prever los sucesos individuales, pero era muy consciente de que lo impredecible, concretamente el hecho de que una película fuera un éxito, le reportaría unos grandísimos beneficios.Por eso la segunda lección es más agresiva: realmente podemos sacar provecho del problema de la predicción y de la arrogancia epistémica. De hecho, sospecho que los negocios de mayor éxito son precisamente aquellos en que se sabe trabajar con la impredecibilidad inherente, e incluso explotarla. Éstos son los trucos (modestos). Pero señalemos que cuanto más modestos sean, más efectivos serán.Recordemos lo que decía sobre la empresa biotecnológica cuyos gestores entendían que la esencia de la investigación está en los desconocidos desconocidos. Además, observemos que se aprovechaban de las «esquinas», esos billetes de lotería gratuitos que hay en el mundo.
Primero, establecer una distinción entre las contingencias positivas y las negativas. Debemos aprender a distinguir entre aquellos empeños humanos en los que la carencia de predictibilidad puede ser (o ha sido) extremadamente beneficiosa, y aquellos en los que la incapacidad de entender el futuro fue perjudicial. Hay Cisnes Negros tanto positivos como negativos.
No busquemos lo preciso ni lo local. Simplemente, no seamos de mentalidad cerrada. El gran descubridor que fue Pasteur, quien dio con la idea de que la suerte favorece a los preparados, comprendió que uno no busca algo concreto cada mañana, sino que trabaja con ahínco para permitir que la contingencia entre en su vida profesional. Como decía Yogi Berra, otro gran pensador: «Hay que tener mucho cuidado si no se sabe adónde se va, porque es posible que no se llegue». Asimismo, no intentemos predecir Cisnes Negros precisos; eso suele hacernos más vulnerables a los que no hemos previsto. Mis amigos Andy Marshall y Andrew Mays, del Departamento de Defensa, se enfrentan al mismo problema, ya que el ejército tiende a invertir recursos en prever los próximos problemas. Estos pensadores abogan por lo contrario: invertir en estar preparados, no en la predicción. Recordemos que la vigilancia infinita es sencillamente imposible.
Aprovechemos cualquier oportunidad, o cualquier cosa que parezca serlo. Éstas son raras, mucho más de lo que pensamos. Recordemos que los Cisnes Negros tienen un primer paso obligatorio: debemos estar expuestos a ellos. Muchas personas no se dan cuenta de que han tenido un golpe de suerte cuando lo experimentan. A veces me sorprendo de que sean pocas las personas que se dan cuenta de que estas oportunidades no brotan de los árboles. Recojamos todos los billetes gratuitos que no sean de lotería (esos cuyos beneficios son a largo plazo) que podamos y, una vez que empiecen a ser rentables, no los descartemos. Trabajemos con ahínco, no en algo pesado, repetitivo o mecánico, sino en perseguir esas oportunidades y maximizar la exposición a ellas.
Tengamos cuidado con los planes precisos de los gobiernos . Como decíamos en el capítulo 10, dejemos que los gobiernos predigan (ello hace que los funcionarios se sientan mejor consigo mismos y justifica su existencia), pero no nos creamos nada de lo que dicen. Recordemos que a estos funcionarios les interesa sobrevivir y autoperpetuarse, no llegar a la verdad. Esto no significa que los gobiernos sean inútiles, sólo que uno debe mantenerse alerta ante sus efectos secundarios. Por ejemplo, quienes regulan el negocio de la banca son propensos a sufrir un grave problema de experto, y tienden a asumir riesgos de forma temeraria (pero oculta).
«hay personas a las que, si no aún lo saben, no se lo puedes decir»”
- The Air Conditioned Nightmare (Henry Miller): “I was delighted to hear it. It would be marvelous, I thought to myself, if one day they would be able to rise up strong in number and drive us into the sea, take back the land which we stole from them, tear our cities down, or use them as carnival grounds. Only the night before, as I was taking my customary promenade along the rim of the Canyon, the sight of a funny sheet (Prince Valiant was what caught my eye) lying on the edge of the abyss awakened curious reflections. What can possibly appear more futile, sterile and insignificant in the presence of such a vast and mysterious spectacle as the Grand Canyon than the Sunday comic sheet? There it lay, carelessly tossed aside by an indifferent reader, the least wind ready to lift it aloft and blow it to extinction. Behind this gaudy-colored sheet, requiring for its creation the energies of countless men, the varied resources of Nature, the feeble desires of over-fed children, lay the whole story of the culmination of our Western civilization. Between the funny sheet, a battleship, a dynamo, a radio broadcasting station it is hard for me to make any distinction of value. They are all on the same plane, all manifestations of restless, uncontrolled energy, of impermanency, of death and dissolution. Looking out into the Canyon at the great amphitheatres, the Coliseums, the temples which Nature over an incal- culable period of time has carved out of the different orders of rock,I asked myself why indeed could it not have been the work of man, this vast creation? Why is it that in America the great works of art are all Nature’s doing? There were the skyscrapers, to be sure, and the dams and bridges and the concrete highways. All utilitarian. Nowhere in America was there anything comparable to the cathedrals of Europe, the temples of Asia and Egypt — enduring monuments created out of faith and love and passion. No exaltation, no fervor, no zeal—except to increase business, facilitate transportation, enlarge the domain of ruthless exploitation. The result? A swiftly decaying people, almost a third of them pauperized, the more intelligent and affluent ones practising race suicide, the under-dogs becoming more and more unruly, more criminal-minded, more degenerate and degraded in every way. A handful of reckless, ambitious politicians trying to convince the mob that this is the last refuge ofcivilization, God save the mark!”
- The Wim Hoff Method: Activate Your Full Human Potential (Wim Hof and Elissa Epel PhD):
“Basic Breathing Exercise
3/4 – Times
30 Deep Breaths through the mouth, don’t force the exhale. At the end of the last breath draw the lungs in to max capacity and relax to the let the air out.
Hold the breath, retention phase.
Take 1 deep breath in and hold it for 10 seconds. Recovery breath.
Start a new round. “
Claims: Sympathetic Nervous System The Wim Hof Method is known to have an impact on the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), which is responsible for the body’s fight-or-flight response. Through specific breathing techniques and exposure to cold, the Wim Hof Method can potentially influence the SNS. The SNS is responsible for initiating the body’s “fight-or-flight” response, which is a physiological reaction triggered by perceived threats or stressors. By modulating the SNS response, we can better manage stress and its effects on our overall well-being (neuropenephrine). Impacts on the Penial Gland: The pineal gland is a small endocrine gland located in the brain, and it plays a role in the production of melatonin, a hormone involved in regulating sleep-wake cycles. Some alternative health practices associate the pineal gland with spiritual experiences, consciousness, and higher states of awareness. Proponents of the Wim Hof Method suggest that the deep breathing techniques, exposure to cold temperatures, and meditation practices can stimulate the pineal gland and lead to enhanced well-being and spiritual experiences. ATP (adenosine triphosphate) is a molecule that serves as the primary energy source for cellular processes in the body. Breathing, specifically the process of respiration, plays a crucial role in generating ATP. Mitochondria are the cellular organelles responsible for ATP production through processes like oxidative phosphorylation. Some studies suggest that certain aspects of the Wim Hof Method, such as exposure to cold temperatures, may activate and enhance mitochondrial function. Improved mitochondrial function can potentially lead to more efficient ATP production.
- Here All Along (Sarah Hurwitz): “When god presented the covenant to the Israelites on Mount Sinai, God wasn’t just asking them to believe that God existed, God was asking them to act in a certain way, to enter into a covenantal partnership and follow a set of laws. As Rabbi Joshua Heschel puts it, “a Jew is asked to take a leap of action rather than a leap of faith”. We do not have faith in deeds, we attain faith through deeds. This emphasis on action based faith is also reflected in another Jewish concept: Tikkun Olam, which means repair of the world. While this expression has had many meanings over the centuries, the most well known stems from a version of the creationist story developed by a group of Kabbalists, the Jewish mystics, back in 16th century. In the beginning, the Kabbalists claimed, God was the Ein Sof (endlessness), and it’s exactly what is sounds like, boundless, infinite, taking all the space there is. When god created the universe, god had to contract to make room for it (the universe) – a process known as tzimtzum. God then attempted to inject God’s essence into the universe by sending down vessels filled with Divine light, but this divine light content was too powerful for the vessels to contain and they shattered, scattering sparks of divine light throughout the universe. It is our task as human beings to gather up these divine sparks and return to their source. We do this by following the laws God laid out in the Tora.”
Yehudi, the word. The word “Yehuda” (יְהוּדָה) and the word “lehodot” (לְהוֹדוֹת) are related through their common Hebrew root letters, which are י-ה-ד (Y-H-D). In Hebrew, roots consist of three consonants and provide the basis for the formation of words with related meanings. The root י-ה-ד (Y-H-D) conveys the concept of giving thanks or praise. From this root, various words can be derived with related meanings. “Lehodot” (לְהוֹדוֹת) is one such word and specifically means “to thank” or “to praise” in Hebrew.The word “Yehuda” (יְהוּדָה) is a proper noun and is typically associated with the Hebrew name Judah. However, it also has a connection to the root י-ה-ד (Y-H-D) as it contains those three root letters. The name “Yehuda” is often interpreted as meaning “to give thanks” or “to praise” in a broader sense.
Concepts: Hitbodebut, ritual vs ethical mitzvot, Geneivat da’at (theft of mind), Mussar and Middot, Tzedakah, Dayenu.
- The Chinage Mirage (James Bradley): “The Chinese emperor had outlawed opium, so some back in England judged that this illegal business had to be immoral. To evade criticism, the British government employed the ruse of selling the opium in Calcutta to a private Crown-chartered enterprise — the East India Company — and pretended that London wasn’t involved with what happened next. East India Company ships sailed the contraband up the Chinese coast and, with the protection of British naval might and expertise, used both offshore islands and anchored ships to stash the drugs. Chinese criminals would row out to the offshore drug warehouses to get the English opium. Massive bribery of local officials made the trade possible. The British were breaking Chinese law and pushing back against the restrictive Canton system. Exploiting coves and islands along China’s rocky coast, the sea barbarians opened more areas for their illegal trade, while partnerships with local gangsters allowed further circumvention…The India-to-China opium trade was exclusively the domain of the East India Company; no private English merchants were allowed in.”
- Polishing the Mirror (Ram Dass): “Kavir said – Are you looking for me? I am in the next seat.My shoulder is against yours. you will not find me in the stupas, not in Indian shrine rooms, nor in synagogues, nor in cathedrals: not in masses, nor kirtans, not in legs winding around your own neck, nor in eating nothing but vegetables. When you really look for me, you will see me instantly — you will find me in the tiniest house of time. Kabir says: Student, tell me, what is God? He is the breath inside the breath. When you are first awakening and developing a spiritual perspective, zatzan is specially supportive. Zatzan is like having a spiritual family, zatzan is a community of truth seekers, it is a group of people with the shared awareness that there is a spiritual dimension to the universe. Goethe The world is so empty if one thinks only of mountains, rivers & cities; but to know someone who thinks & feels with us, & who, though distant, is close to us in spirit, this makes the earth for us an inhabited garden. Once we get a taste the freedom with comes with letting go off our stuff, anger, righteousness, jealously, our need to be in control, a judging mind, to name just a few, we start to look at those things in new ways. That is the teaching of being in the moment.”
- The Year of Living Danishly: My Twelve Months Unearthing the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country (Helen Russell): “Think about it this way. It’s no wonder why Danes are so happy, they have an obscenely high quality of life. Yes it’s expensive here, but it’s Denmark, it’s worth it. I don’t mind paying more for a coffee here because it means the person serving it doesn’t hate me or has a crappy life. Everyone is paid a descent wage, everyone is looked after, and everyone pays their taxes, just as I pay mine. And if we all have marginally less money to buy less stuff that w e really don’t need as a result, well , I’m starting to think it’s a deal worth making. It’s like Buddha teaches us, pontificates American Mom one rainy afternoon, Buddha, God I love Americans, I think, if it’s not Oprah it’s Buddha, sure, he teaches that desires are inexhaustible, that the satisfaction of one just creates another, like a cell multiplying. I do want to give a good cynical British eye roll in response to American Mom, but in-spite of myself I found I agreeing with her, living Danishly has given me a glimpse of a meaningful way of being and an understanding of how life should be, or at least how it could be, and I like it, of course it’s not perfect, yes the winters suck and I wish that Denmarks hours were a little more evenly distributed throughout the year so that we wouldn’t be living in Mordor in winter and under the midnight sun for three months in the summer, but we are where we are.”
Danes take 60 minutes for lunch everyday, they learn languages for fun
they move naturally – walk and bike, they have pets, they pursue spirituality, they are sex positive, they have a disregard for traditional notions of success, their children are taught critical thinking, they pursue happiness and talent, they eat well, healthy and organic, they have seasonal local food diet, communal meals, they are also lucky with the seratonin transportive gene, they take huga seriously. There are bad thins as well, of course, they take health for granted, and their cultural isolaton and similarity creates distrust towards people who are not similar to them.
- The Bhagavad Gita (Eknath Eswaran): “Those who disidentify themselves with the conditions of perception in maya wake up into a higher mode of knowing in which the unity of life is apprehended directly. The disciplines for achieving this are called yoga, as is the state of union: the word comes from the root yuj, to yoke or bind together. The “experience” itself is called samadhi. The state attained is moksha or nirvana, both of which signify going beyond the conditioning of maya – time, space, and causality. According to this orthrodox view, the lesson of the Mahabharata (and therefore of the Gita) is that although war is evil, it is an evil that cannot be avoided – an evil both tragic and honorable for the warrior himself. War in a just cause, justly waged, is also in accord with the divine will.”
You speak sincerely, but your sorrow has no cause. The wise grieve neither for the living nor for the dead. There has never been a time when you and I and the kings gathered here have not existed, nor will there be a time when we will cease to exist. As the same person inhabits the body through childhood, youth, and old age, so too at the time of death he attains another body. The wise are not deluded by these changes. One believes hs is the slayer, another believes he is the slain. Both are ignorant; there is neither slayer nor slain. You were never born; you wil never die. You have never changed; you can never change. Unborn, eternal, immutable, immemorial, you do not die when the body dies. Realizing that which is indestructible, eternal, unborn, and unchanging, how can you slay or cause another to slay?
The findings can be summarized in three statements which Aldous Huxley called the Perennial Philosophy:
There is an infinite, changeless reality beneath the world of change;
this same reality lies at the core of every human personality;
the purpose of life is to discover this reality experientially.
- The Uncommon Knowledge of Elinor Ostrom: Essential Lessons for Collective Action (Erik Nordman): In his essay “The Tragedy of the Commons”, biologist Garrett Haardin assumed that there were only two ways to avoid ruining a comons: privatizing the resource by dividing it up or imposing rules through an outside authority. Ostrom, on the other hand, listened to the resource users. She did not assume that community members were trapped in the tragedy of the commons. Instead, Ostrom wanted to learn from them. What she learned was that “the government” isn’t the only way to manage a common-pool resource. Neither is private property the only way. In between these extremes are communities—large and small, formal and informal—and the institutions they use to govern their resources. Community is nowhere to be found in Hardin’s tragedy of the commons. Resource-using communities are not simply amalgamations of individuals. Communities themselves have characteristics and properties that emerge from the daily conversations and engagements of their residents. There are 8 rules to managing a commons:
1. The physical and social boundaries are clearly defined
2. Locally tailored rules define resource access and consumption
3. Individuals who are most affected by the rules can participate in rule making
4. Resource monitors are accountable to resource users
5. Graduated penalties can be imposed on rule breakers
6. Conflict management institutions are accessible
7. Authorities recognize a right to self-organize
8. Complex systems are organized into layers of nested governance
- A Hunter Gatherer’s Perspective to the 21st Century (Heather Heying and Bret Weinstein): “Explicitly aim to be an adult. Am I taking responsibility for my own actions? Am I being closed minded? And by minimizing the effects of economic markets on your daily life. Become aware of the constant flow of information telling you how to feel, how to think, how to act. Do not let it into your mind, do not let it steer you, your internal reward structure needs to be independent and ungamable. That independence in turn should allow you to collaborate well with others who are similarly independent. Be weary of those who might be nice, but who are captured. Always be learning. Look for collaborators. Play a competition and be prepared to stop playing if things get real. Be skeptical, if not suspicious of any novel prescription for which the rational is unstated or thin on reflection. Revive or create rights of passage in your life. Celebrate not only the passage of time, birthdays, holidays, but also developmental transitions. Honor graduations and marriages, births and deaths, but also career and job changes and promotions, the completion of important analytical or creative tasks and the ends of eras, when they are recognizable as the end. Seek out physical reality, not just social experience. Pursue feedback from the physical universe, not just from subjective social sources. Move your body. Gain experience with model systems that tell you how things actually work. Get over your bigotry, variation is our strength. Not just sex and race and sexual orientation, but class, neuro-diversity, characteristics of personality, all of this adds to what we can accomplish on earth. Place equality where it belongs. Equality should be focused on the equal valuation of our difference, it should not be a bludgeon for uniformity. Smile at people. The people with whom you live, the person behind the counter, the stranger on the street. Be grateful. Laugh daily with other people. Put your phone down. No really, put it down. Define fights for whom and what you love, rather than whom and what you hate. If a mob ever comes for people you know, people who you consider friends, stand up and say “no you’re wrong”. Be honorable and courageous when bullies move in. Speak up for what you know to be true, even if it makes you a social pariah. Learn how to give useful critique without backing the other person into a corner. With our children, when they fall of the unicycle or don’t do well in a math test, we tell them “it’s not your best work”. Its’ true, it doesn’t pretend that every action is worthy of a Gold star and it demonstrates they can do better work and that that “this” wasn’t “that”. Count fewer things about your life, calories, tips, and do more. Develop a theory of close calls. When a close call occurs have a plan for how you will leverage it to gain a better understanding of yourself and your place in the world. Calm down and love a lot. Learn to jump curves. Diminshing returns are a factor for every complex phenomenon, so learn how to jump curves. So, in another way, consider learning a new thing rather than being a perfectionist and getting better at something you were already really, really good at.”
- The Uninhabitable Earth (David Wallace-Wells): “It has been at least a generation since Americans might have casually read man kinds god given capacity to build as a reference to nuclear power. A generation since the world stopped believing nuclear power was in an environmental sense free, and started thinking about it terms of nuclear war, meltdown, mutation and cancer. That we remember the names of power plant disasters is a sign of how scarred we feel by them. Three Mile island, Chernobyl, Fukushima. But the scars are almost phantom ones given the casualty numbers. The death toll of the incident at 3 mile island is in some dispute, as many activists believe the true value impact of radiation was suppressed , perhaps a reasonable believe since the official account insists on no adverse health impacts at all. But the most pedigree research suggests that the meltdown increased cancer risk within a 10 mile radius for less than 1 tenth of percent. For Chernobyl the official death count is 47, with some others estimates as high as 4000. For Fukushima according to a United Nations report, no discernible increased incidents of radiation related health effects are expected among exposed members of the public of their descendants. Had none of the 100K living in the evacuation zone, perhaps a few hundred might have ultimately died of cancers related to the radiation. Any number of dead is a tragedy, but more than 10K people die each day, globally, from the small particulate pollution produced by burning carbon. This is not even broaching the subject of warming and its impacts. Globally pollution kills as many as 9 million people each year. We live with that pollution and with those dead tolls, and hardly notice them. The concrete curving towers of nuclear plants by contrast stand astride the horizon like Chekovs proverbial gun.”
- DEEP (James Nestor): “As I’m sitting in this cramped metal sphere peering through the window at a seldom-seen habitat, I feel an emptiness in my chest that breath can’t fill. This is the real Earth, the 71 percent silent majority. And this is how it looks – gelatious, cross-eyed, clumsy, glowing, flickering, cloaked in perpetual darkness and compressed by more than a thousand pounds per sqaure inch. The azure sphere we see from the space is only a veneer. Our planet isn’t really blue, it’s not filled with leaves of grass, clouds, color, and light. It’s black.”
“It takes a long time to become ooze. First you need to be eaten, then excreted, then have another organism eat the excrement, then have yet another animal eat that organism that just ate that excrement, and so on. This cycle will repeat until all that’s left of you are a few million molecules spread out like constellation of stars across the world’s oceans. And you’ve still got a few thousand years to go before you become ooze. At some point along the way, one of those tiny bits of you will leave the food cycle and be pulled won to deeper water. During this descent, you’ll be surrounded by phytoplankton that will degrade you into even smaller bits. When these phytoplankton die off after a few days, the last little bit of whatever is left of you – some cluster of molecules – will drift off inside the microscopic skeletons. These will join trillions of other tiny skeletons in a never-ending snowstorm of detritus that floats down to deeper water. Most of these particles will be recycled by the time they reach ten thousand feed. Only a fraction of 1 percent will make it to the seafloor below twenty thousand feet, a depth so far and foreboding that scientists have named it the hadal zone, from the Greek word, Hades, or “hell”.
- How to Blow Up a Pipeline (Andreas Malm): “So here is what this movement of millions should do, for a start: announce and enforce the prohibition. Damage and destroy new CO2-emitting devices. Put them out of commission, pick them apart, demolish them, burn them, blow them up. Let the capitalists who keep on investin in the fire know that their properties will be trashed.’We are the investment risk’, runs a slogan from Ende Gelane, but the risk clearly needs to be higher than one or two days of uninterrupted production per year. ‘If we can’t get a serious carbon tax from a corrupted Congress, we can impose a defacto one with our bodies’, Bill McKibben has argued, but a carbon tax is so 2004. If we can’t get a prohibition, we can impose a defacto one with our bodies and any other means necessary. “
- The Story of More (Hope Jahren): “To get one pound of salmon, you need three pounds of fish meal. To get a pound of fish meal, you need to grind up five pounds of fish. Thus, each pound of cage-raised salmon “costs” fifteen pounds of fish from the ocean. At present, about one-third of the total catch fished of the ocean is ground up into fish meal and then fed to fish that linve in pens. Anchovies, herring, and sardines are the most fished fish in the world, and almost all of the catch is used as fish meal for aquaculture. These small fish are also foragers, which means that they survive on plankton – the tiniest plants and animals of the ocean. Foragers are near the base of the ocean’s food web, where they serve as a staple food source for more charismatic species including dolphins, sea lions, and humpback whales. More small fish diverted into aquaculture to feed us means less food left in the ocean to feed them.”
The plant and animal corpses of the Forest of Ruhr, the Tethys Ocean, and the Panthalassa Sea now constitute the coal deposits of Germany, the petroleum crude oil of Saudi Arabia, and the natural gas deposits of North Dakota, respectively. The larges coal reserve in western Europe was once a tropical forest; the crude oil wells once lined a shallow ocean; the natrual gas collected during today’s fracking book once achored a deep abyssal sea.
- The Sixth Extinction (Elizabeth Colbert): “It’s unclear what aspect of the impact – the heat, the darkness, the cold, the change in water chemistry, did in the ammonites. Nor is it entirely clear why some of their cephalopod cousins survived. In contrast to ammonites, nautiluses for example, sailed through the extinction event. Pretty much all the species known from the end of Cretaceous survived into to the Tertiary. One theory of the disparity starts with eggs. Ammonites produced very tiny eggs, only a few hundredths of an inch across. The resulting hatchlings or ammonately, had no means of locomotion. They just floated on the surface of the water, drifting along with the current. Nautiluses for their part, lay very large eggs, among the largest of all invertebrates. Nearly an inch in diameter. Hatchling nautiluses emerge after a years gestation as miniature adults and then immediately start swimming around searching for food in the depths. Perhaps in the aftermath of the impact conditions on the surface of the ocean were so toxic that ammonately could not survive, while lower down in the lower column the situation was less dire. So juvenile Nautilus managed to endure. Whatever the explanation, the contrasting fate of the two groups face a key point. Everything and everyone alive today is descendent from an organism that somehow survived the impact. But it does not follow from this that they or we, are any better adapted. In times of extreme stress the whole concept of fitness at least in a Darwinian sense loses its meaning. How could a creature be adapted either well- or ill- for conditions that it had never before encountered in its entire evolutionary history?”
The contemporary rate of extinction of species is estimated at 100 to 1,000 times higher than the background extinction rate, the historically typical rate of extinction (in terms of the natural evolution of the planet);. also, the current rate of extinction is 10 to 100 times higher than in any of the previous mass extinctions in the history of Earth. One scientist estimates the current extinction rate may be 10,000 times the background extinction rate, although most scientists predict a much lower extinction rate than this outlying estimate
Mass extinctions are characterized by the loss of at least 75% of species within a geologically short period of time.[The Holocene extinction is also known as the “sixth extinction” (beginning ~200K years ago), as it is possibly the sixth mass extinction event, after the Ordovician–Silurian extinction events (445 and 415 million years ago wiped out as much as 85 percent of all animal species on Earth), the Late Devonian extinction (The term primarily refers to a major extinction, the Kellwasser event (also known as the Frasnian-Famennian extinction), which occurred around 372 million years ago, at the boundary between the Frasnian stage and the Famennian stage, the last stage in the Devonian Period. Overall, 19% of all families and 50% of all genera became extinct), the Permian–Triassic extinction event (251.9 million years ago. It is the Earth’s most severe known extinction event, with the extinction of 57% of biological families, 83% of genera, 81% of marine species and 70% of terrestrial vertebrate species. It was the largest known mass extinction of insects. The scientific consensus is that the main cause of extinction was the large amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the volcanic eruptions that created the Siberian Traps, which elevated global temperatures, and in the oceans led to widespread anoxia and acidification) the Triassic–Jurassic extinction event, and the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event (The Cretaceous–Paleogene (K–Pg) extinction event (also known as the Cretaceous–Tertiary (K–T) extinction) was a sudden mass extinction of three-quarters of the plant and animal species on Earth, approximately 66 million years ago. With the exception of some ectothermic species such as sea turtles and crocodilians, no tetrapods weighing more than 25 kilograms (55 pounds) survived. It marked the end of the Cretaceous Period, and with it the Mesozoic era, while heralding the beginning of the Cenozoic era, which continues to this day.
- TERRAFORM: Watch | Worlds | Burn “Yet the universal human loss was to our sense of memory. In the great void, we had time to look back and ask ourselves. What was so “precious” about all that content? Yes, we longed to see images of our loved ones, those who had died, those still alive in some place now unreachable. And pictures of the rare sparkling days when we had been deeply happy. But those were like eddies drowned in a raging river of birthday cakes, designed sneakers, heirloom thcotchkes, drunken young people downing shots, great finds on Etsy, sofas rescued from sidewalks, preferred electronic toilets, weddings of now-divorced and feuding friends, naked women with hair-de-nuded privates that made them look like children, penises of various sizes, babies babies babies, cats cats cats, dogs dogs dogs, YouTube and TikTok videos on how to dance, dress , vamp, apply makeup, clean your gutters. Why did we save those episodes of crime dramas when we already knew the endings? Those movies that could not survive a second watching, books that were mostly trash? Even those few who had saved masterpieces of film and literature found that their treasures could be revisited only so many times before the works lost their power to amaze. What had possessed us? We’d hardly had time to look at what we were accumulating while we frantically added more, a worldwide collection of human digital detritus growing into a landfill of rotting infinity. We tried to recall what in all that pile had been of value, but the memories dissolved into the acid reality of the present. “
- Rogues: True Stories of Grifters, Killers, Rebels and Crooks (Patrick Radden Keefe): “HSBC, or the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, traces its origins to 1865 and its early success to the opium trade. The bank has grown substantially over the past two decades – it now has nearly fifty million customers – and it has acquired a reputation for being less than scrupulous, even by the loose standards of international banking. In 2012, a U.S Senate investigation concluded that HSBC had worked with rogue regimes, terrorist financiers, and narco-traffickers. The bank eventually acknowledged having laundered more than $800 million in drug proceeds for Mexican and Colombian cartels. Carl Levin, the Michigan lawmaker who chaired the Senate investigation, said that HSBC had a “pervasively polluted” culture that placed profit ahead of due diligence. In December 2012, HSBC avoided criminal charges by agreeing to pay a $1.9 billion penalty. The company’s CEO, Stuart Gulliver, said that he was “profoundly sorry” for the bank’s transgressions. No executives faced penalties.”
- This is Your Mind on Plants (Michael Pollan): “What was happening in my brain? The notion that there is so much more out there, or in here, that our conscious minds allow us to perceive, is consistent with the neuroscientific concept of predictive coding. According to this theory, our brain admits the minimum amount of information needed to confirm or correct its best guesses as to what is out there, or in the case of our unconscious feelings, in here. This top down predictions of reality and prior beliefs are a bit like maps to sensory and psychological experience, and as long as they represent the actual territory well enough for us to navigate it successfully, there is no need to flood the system with lots of unecessary detail. Natural selection has shaped human concsiousness not necessarily to scrupulously represent reality, but to maximize our survival, admiting only the measly trickle of information needed for us to get by rather than the full spectrum of what there is to perceive and to think. Psychedelics seem to mess with this system in one of two ways. In some cases the brains predictions about reality go haywire as when you see faces in the clouds, or musical notes leap to life, or something happens to convince you your being followed. Common on LSD or psycolcybin, this kind of magical thinking might occur when top down predictions generated by the brain are no longer adequately strained or corrected by bottom up information arriving about the world via the senses, but if Huxley’s account and my experience are representative then something very different happens on the brain on mescaline. Here, the bottom up information of the senses and the emotions inundates our awareness, sweeping away the minds predictions, maps, beliefs, and cozy symbols; all the tools we have for organizing the inner and outer worlds and which feels like a title wave of awe.”
- After Cooling (Eric Dean Wilson): “By 1970, CFCs had made their way to the process and product of all manner of manufactured things. In the home, CFCs propelled the plunge in temperature of every fridge and freezer, or every air-conditioning unit and central system. The dawn of World War II had inaugurated a new epoch of consumer products: aerosol sprays. The spray apparatus of the DDT-Freon bug bombs, which the US military had developed specifically as an aid to the war machine in the Pacific theatre, served afterward as the model for a motley crew of sprayable domestic comforts: hair sprays, car polish, shoe polish, disinfectant sprays, toilet cleaners, airhorns, Silly String, fake snow – even an “instant glass froster”, “the perfect way” the label on the can tells me, “to serve party drinks!” The reluctance of Freon to react with other chemicals made CFC-12 an easy propellant for many – though not all – spray cans, the appearance of which heralded a kind of “push-button age” as the American public grew obsessed with convenience at the press of a spray nozzle.”
1840 John Gorrie clear antecedent to the AC unit, Tom Midgley JR 1930 – CF12 (Freon), Leaded Gasoline and DDT. Non-toxic, non-flammable, stable and inexpensive to manufacture, 1931 the complexities of the ozone layer are discovered (Sydney Chapman). A single pound of CFCs destroys 70K pounds of ozone. One molecule of CFC12 is 10,500 times more potent than one molecule than CO2 (warming). The Dobson Spectrometer (UVA vs UVB). HFC 1988 – 1,300 times the global warming potential of CO2. 2016 Kigali. HFOs Hydrofluoorololefins (carbon, hydrogen and fluorine atoms).
- TAO The Watercourse Way (Alan Watts): ”This is like the Hindu-Buddhist principle of Karma – that everything which happens to you is your own action or doing. Thus, in many states of mystical experience or cosmic consciousness the difference between what you do and what happens to you, the voluntary and involuntary, seems to disappear. This feeling may be interpreted as the sense that everything is voluntary – that the whole universe is your own action and will. But this can easily flip into the sense that everything is involuntary. The individual and the will are nothing, and everything that might be called “I” is as much beyond control as the spinning of the earth on its orbit. But from the Taoist standpoint these two views fall short. They are polar ways of seeing the same truth: that there is no ruler and nothing ruled. What goes on simply happens of itself (tzu-jan) without either push or pull, since every push is also a pull, and every pull a push as in using a steering wheel. This is, then, a transactional view of the world, for there is no buying without selling and vice versa. This is, again, the principle of mutual arising (hsiang-sheng). As the universe produces our consciousness, our consciousness evokes the universe, and this realization transcends and closes the debate between materialists and idealists (or mentalists), determinists, and free-willers who represent the yin- and yang of philosophical opinion. ”
- Stranger in a Strange Land (Robert A. Heinlein): ”Let’s say it’s not a religion. It’s a church, in every legal and moral sense. But we’re not trying to bring people to God; that’s a contradiction, you can’t say it in Martian. We’re not trying to save souls, souls can’t be lost. We’re not trying to get people to have faith. What we offer is not faith, but truth – truth they can check. Truth for here – and now – truth as matter of fact as an ironing board and as useful as bread … so practical that it can make war and hunger and hate and violence as unnecessary as … well, clothes in the Nest. But they have to learn Martian. That’s the hitch – finding people honest enough to believe what they see, willing to work hard – it is hard – to learn the language it must be taught in. This truth can’t be stated in English any more than the Beethoven’s Fifth can be.”
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou): ”We were firmly joined in the hypocrisy to play out the scene, The personal Manager, oh, he’s Mister Cooper, but I’m not sure you’’ll find him here tomorrow. Oh, but you can try. Thank you. You’re Welcome. And I was out of the musty room and out into the even mustier lobby. In the street I saw the receptionist and myself going faithfully through places that were stale with familiarity although I had never encountered that type of situation before and probably neither had she. We were like actors who knowing the play by heart were still able to cry afresh over the old tragedies and laugh spontaneously at the comic situations. The miserable little encounter had nothing to do with me. The me of me, anymore than it had to do with that silly clerk. The incident was a recurring dream encountered years before by stupid whites and it came back to haunt us all. The secretary and I were like Hamlet and Laertes in the final scene, when where harm done by one ancestor to the other we were bound to do it to the death. Also, because a play must begin somewhere. I went further than forgiving the clerk, I accepted her as a fellow victim of the same puppeteer. On the streetcar I put my fare and the conductor looked at me with the usual hard eyes of white contempt. Move into the car. Please move on, in the car. She padded her money changer. Her sudden nasal accent sliced my meditation and I looked deep into my thoughts. All lies. All comfortable lies. The receptionist was not innocent and neither was I. The whole sharade we played out in that crummy waiting room had directly to do with me black, and her white. I wouldn’t move into the street car but stood on the ledge over the conductor, glaring, my mind sharpened so energetically that the announcement made my veins stand out and my mouth tightened into a prune. I would have the job. I would be conductorette.”
- Big Sur (Jack Kerouac): ”Men say – We are men! We pull out tree stumps, we make paper bags, we think wise thoughts, we make lunch, we look around, we make a great effort to realize everything is the same. While the sand says, we are sand, we already know. And the sea says, we are always come and go, fall and splash. The empty blue sky of space says, all this comes back to me and goes again, and comes back again, and goes again, and I don’t care, it still belongs to me. The blue sky adds, don’t call me eternity, call me god if you like, all of you talkers are in paradise. The leaf is paradise. The tree stump is paradise. The paper bag is paradise, the leaf is paradise, the sand is paradise, the sea is paradise, the man is paradise, the fog is paradise. Can you imagine a man with marvelous insights like this can go mad within a month? Because you must admit all those talking paper bags and sands were telling the truth, but I remember seeing a mess of leaves suddenly go skittering in the wind and into the creek and floating rapidly down the creek and into the sea making feel a needles horror, and oh my god, we’re all being swept to sea no matter what we know, or say, or do. And a bird who is on a crooked branch is suddenly gone without my even hearing him.”
- The Art of Stillness (Pico Iyer): Making a Living and Making a Life often Point in Different Directions
- An Indigenous People’s History of the US (Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz): “Wars continued for another century, unrelentingly and without pause, and the march across the continent used the same tactics of scorched earth and annihilation with increasingly deadly fire power. Somehow even Genocide seems an inadequate descriptor for what happened, and rather than viewing it with horror, most Americans have conceived of it as their country’s Manifest Destiny with the consolidation of the new state, the United State of America by 1790. The opportunity for indigenous nations to negotiate alliances with competing European Empires against the despised settlers who intended to destroy them was greatly narrowed. Nevertheless indigenous nations had defied the founding of the independent United States in a manner that allowed for their survival and created a legacy, a culture of resistance that has persisted. By the time of the birth of the US Republic, indigenous peoples in what is now the continental United States had been resisting European colonization for two centuries. They had no choice given the aspirations of the colonizers. Total elimination of native nations or survival. Pre-colonial indigenous societies were dynamic social systems with adaptation built into them. Fighting for survival did not require cultural abandonment, on the contrary, the cultures used already existing strengths such as diplomacy and mobility to develop new mechanisms to live in nearly constant crisis. There was always a hard core of resistance in that process, but the culture of resistance also includes accommodations to the colonizing social order. Including absorbing Christianity into already existing religious practices, or using the colonizer’s language, intermarrying with settlers, and more importantly with other oppressed groups such as escaped African slaves. Without a culture of resistance Native peoples under US colonization would have been eliminated through individual assimilation.”
Scorched Earth, Manifest Destiny, the Christian Doctrine of Discovery, Indian Country, 1818 indigenous tribunals used in Guantanamo, Unlawful Combatants.
- The Ministry for the Future (Kim Stanley Robinson): Having debunked the Tragedy of the Commons, they were trying to turn our attention to the tragedy of the time horizon. Meaning we can’t imagined the suffering of the people of the future, so nothing much gets done on their behalf. What we do know creates damage which hits decades later, so we don’t charge ourselves for it and the standard approach has been that future generations will be richer and stronger than us and they’ll find solutions to their problems but by the time they get here, these problems will have become too big to solve. That’s the tragedy of the time horizon, that we don’t look more than a few a years ahead, or in many cases as with high speed trading, a few microseconds ahead. The tragedy of the time horizon is a true tragedy, because many of the climate impacts will be irreversible. Exctinctions and ocean warming can’t be fixed, no matter how much money future people have. So economics as practised misses a fundamental aspect of reality. Mary glanced at Dick, and he nodded. He said, it’s another way to describe the damage of a high discount rate. A high discount rate is an index of this larger dismissal of the future that J.A is describing. Agreed to that, and this jetline of thought solves that? Mary asked. It extends the time horizon further out, replied. Yes it tries to do that, explained how the proposal for carbon coin was time dependant, like a budget with fixed amounts of time included in its contract, as in bonds. New carbon coins backed by 100 year bonds with guaranteed rates of return guaranteed, underwritten by all the central banks working together. This investments would be safer than any other and provide to go long on the biosphere, so to speak. Mary shook her head, why would people care about a payoff 100 years in the future?
The Tragedy of the Commons and White Supremacy, Jevons Paradox, the History of Energy, the Children of Shiva, the Global Internet Cooperative Union
- The Tropic of Cancer (Henry Miller): “‘I love everything that flows’, said the great blind Milton of our times. I was thinking of him this morning when I awoke with a great bloody shout of joy: I was thinking of his rivers and trees and all that world of night which he is exploring. Yes, I said to myself, I too love everything that flows: rivers, sewers, lava, semen, blood, bile, words, sentences. I love the amniotic fluid when it spills out of the bag. I love the kidney with its painful gallstones, its gravel and what-not; I love the urine that pours out scalding and the clap that runs endlessly; I love the words of hysterics and the sentences that flow on like dysentery and mirror all the sick images of the soul; I love the great rivers like the Amazon and the Orinoco, where crazy men like Moravagine float on through dream and legend in an open boat and drown in the blind mouths of the river. I love everything that flows, even the menstrual flow that carries away the seed unfecund. I love scripts that flow, be they hieratic, esoteric, perverse, polymorph, or unilateral. I love everything that flows, everything that has time in it and becoming, that brings us back to the beginning where there is never end; the violence of the prophets, the obscenity that is ecstasy, the wisdom of the fanatic, the priest with his rubber litany, the foul words of the whore, the spittle that flows away in the gutter, the milk of the breast and the bitter honey that pours from the womb, all that is fluid, melting, dissolute and dissolvent, all the pus and dirt that in flowing is purified, that loses its sense of origin, that makes the great circuit toward death and dissolution. The great incestuous wish is to flow on, one with time, to merge the great image of the beyond with the here and now. A fatuous, suicidal wish that is constipated by words and paralyzed by thought.”
- Endure, Defy and Remember (A Memoir by Joachim Nachbar): “I last saw Fritz at dinner on Tuesday, May 11, 1943. I wondered why he did not show up on Wednesday and anxiously hoped he would come the next day. On Thursday, at about 9.00 am, Zbyszek, the boy who helped out in the kitchen, approached me and said that a young lady was a the door and wished to speak with me. Concerned, I walked into the street and found Fritz’s wife waiting for me. In a trembling voice, she asked whether Fritz had come to dinner Wednesday, for he had not returned that night to his friends. I tried to comfort her as well as I could, but I felt sure that Fritz had been caught and was probably no longer alive. I asked her to let me know if she found anything. She walked away. I never saw her again. I though of Fritz as a great future scientist, and by helping him, I liked to think I was performing a service for mankind. Now the world would never know what Fritz could have given us. But Thursday, May 13th, 1943, was just beginning.”
- The Outlaw Ocean (Ian Urbina): “What grabbed me that day was how much of this place is magically upside down: fish in the air, birds underwater, white streaks above us, blue below. Part of its beauty is its exotic unpredictability. The wonder of it all is magnetic, and each time I returned to land, I felt an intense longing for this place, homesick for a location not my home, despite the suffering I’d seen there.But there was something else that stuck with me and transcended both the darkness and the beauty offshore. I thought back on the black expanse that swallowed that small airplane in Palau or how that same sort of vastness had long provided an excuse for dumping waste into the world’s oceans. I thought about the crushing boredom at sea and the distinct way it tortured seafarers on abandoned vessels and armed guards on the floating weapons depots. I thought about the silence that fed gruffness on so many ships and how it bred resignation among the raped, robbed, and drowned men of the Oyang fleet. While some of those men paid a heavy price for breaking this silence, I also recalled the regard reaped by the magic-pipe whistle-blower who spoke up. The snapshots seemed to demonstrate that the outlaw ocean and the ships that traverse it are defined not just by the people who work these waters but also by intangible forces like silence, boredom, and vastness. I’d go a step further: the ocean is outlaw not because it is inherently good or bad but because it is a void, like the silence is to sound or boredom is to activity. While we have for centuries embraced and touted the life that springs from these waters, we have tended to ignore its role as a refuge of depravity. But the outlaw ocean is real, and has been for centuries, and until we reckon with that fact, we can forget about ever taming or protecting this frontier.”
- Blockchain Chicken Farm (Xiaowei Wang): “During lunch, I sit in a sunlit room, eating a chicken sandwich. This is where my travels get weird. For all our models of what will happen in a decentralized age, for all our incredible new technologies, we still cling to fictions about human nature. We have sequenced the human genome and we believe that humans can evolve, become ever more advanced. Yet, instead of designing technology that fosters and cultivates communal behaviors of trust, we still design technology that assumes scarcity and cultivates selfishness. This coercive design relies on a view of human nature that comes from a Hobbesian era when people barely had running water, a fictional, universal view of humanity that has been disproved over and over by research. I think back to a different lunch, to my lunch with Ren before I visited the blockchain chicken farm. It was,ironically, a vegetarian meal at a small restaurant in the village. A large digital clock with the printed words computer eternity time hung above us, red LCD numbers changing every minute as if it were showing an inevitable count toward fictional progress. I wonder: Who must agree to live in fictions that someone else wrote, and who has the power to write fictions for the rest of us? And if anyone can write fictions, why can’t we write new ones?”
- El Libro de Los Saberes: “Meterio, un marakame (o chaman) huichol resumió este principio diciendo: ‘juntar los momentos en un solo corazón, un corazón de todos, nos hará sabios, un poquito más para enfrentar lo que venga. Sólo entre todos sabemos todo’. Este mismo principio, sustrato del impulso narrativo, fue expresado por Leonidas Kantule, cacique kuna de Kuna Yala en Panamá: ‘Así como hablan los palos de la choza entre sí, así como éstos se necesitan, así debe ser la comunidad… El brazo no dice que el dedo meñique no vale. Basta que un pedacito se machuque para que todo el cuerpo sienta el dolor.”
“Ignorancia: esa palabra debe de borrarse. Existen cosas que desconocemos porque no somos telepáticamente para apadrinar lo que alguien esta queriendo pensar. Pero nos quieren erradicar. Por eso dicen: son ignorantes, para que nos vayan erradicando, nos vayan apartando. O sea nos van formando conforme fuimos estudiando. Pero eso no es cierto, no te hace ser mejor. Más bien el aprender, el saber oír y ver escuchar y sentir, eso es lo que te te hace ser un verdadero aprendiz. Un verdadero maestro no hay. Un verdadero alumno, tampoco. Y nunca vas a saber. Nuestra mente es tan grande que no hay un límite. Es un infinito. A través de caminar vas descubriendo. Nadie nace sabiendo. Es un proceso que tienes que hacer, y descubrir tu propia forma.”“Por eso el principio revolucionario más cabrón, el más contundente, es que todos somos iguales porque somos diferentes: hay una igualdad natural que es: todos somos centro único de nuestra experiencia. Que cada quien esta incompleto si le falta la visión de los otros y otras, porque no se trata de tolerar al otro sino de que el otro es indispensable para dar su versión. Es obvio que aquí no incluyo a quienes nos joden, por más que tenemos que conocer su versión. Hablo de la gente común, aquella que necesita dar su versión para sentir que existe, para no dudar de que existe.”
- Why Fish Don’t Exist (Lulu Miller): “This is the world in which we live. A world with no sense of uncoded justice in its itchy meaningless fabric. And yet, that is not the end. Because our world. Our bottomlessly chaotic world had one more trick up her sleeve. One last way of wrecking David’s order, of stealing away that thing most precious to him. Did you see it there? Flashing across the spectacles of the taxonomists? Refracting off their scalpels on display on the tidal of this very book? The insidious way that they finally demolished his fish collection for once and for all? It wasn’t lightning or flood or decay or a massive sinkhole opening up and swallowing them all away. No, she had a far crueler method. She made him do it by his very own hand. What David Star Jordan set in motion by practicing the art of careful taxonomy, by following Darwin’s advice to sort creatures by evolutionary closeness, led to a fateful discovery. In the 1980’s taxonomists realized that fish as a legitimate category of creature – do not exist.”
- The Way of Zen (Alan Watts): “There is no place in Buddhism for using effort. Just be ordinary and nothing special. Relieve your bowels, pass water, put on your clothes, and eat your food. When you’re tired, go and lie down. Ignorant people may laugh at me, but the wise will understand….As you go from place to place, if you regard each one as your own home, they will all be genuine, for when circumstances come you must not try to change them. Thus your usual habits of feeling, which make karma for the Five Hells, will of themselves become the Great Ocean of Liberation.”
- DUNE (Frank Herbert): “Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past me I will turn to see fear’s path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
“I will tell you a thing about your new name,Stilgar said. The choice pleases us. Muad’Dib is wise in the ways of the desert. Muad’Dib creates his own water. Muad’Dib hides from the sun and travels in the cool night. Muad’Dib is fruitful and multiplies over the land. Muad’Dib we call ‘instructor-of-boys’. That is a powerful base on which to build your life, Paul Muad’Dib, who is Usul among us. We welcome you.”
- The Book (Alan Watts): “The startling truth is that our best efforts for civil rights, international peace, population control, conservation of natural resources, and assistance to the starving of the earth – urgent as they are, will destroy rather than help, if made in the present spirit. For as things stand, we have nothing to give. If our own riches and our own way of life are not enjoyed here, they will not be enjoyed anywhere else, certainly they will provide the immediate jolt of energy and hope that methadrine and other drugs give an extreme fatigue, but peace can be made only by those who are peaceful, and love can be shown only by those who love. No work of love will flourish out of guilt, fear or hollowness of heart, just as no valid plans for the future, can be made by those who don’t have the capacity for living now.”
“Yet in this moment when one seems about to become a really total zombie, the whole thing blows up. For there is not fate unless there is someone or something to be fated. There is no trap without someone to be caught. There is, indeed, no compulsion unless there is also freedom of choice, for the sensation of behaving involuntarily is known only by contrast with that of behaving voluntarily. Thus when the line between myself and what happens to me is dissolved and there is no stronghold left for an ego even as a passive witness, I find myself not in a world but as a world which is neither compulsive nor capricious. What happens is neither automatic nor arbitrary: it just happens, and all happenings are mutually interdependent in a way that seems unbelievably harmonious. Every this goes with every that. Without others there is no self, and without somewhere else there is no here, so that—in this sense—self is other and here is there.”
- Entangled Life (Melvin Sheldrake): “These early alliances evolved into what we now call “mycorrhizal relationships”. Today, more than ninety percent of all plants depend on mycorrhizal fungi. They are the rule, not the exception, a more fundamental part of planthood than fruit, flowers, leaves, wood or even roots. Out of this intimate partnership – complete with cooperation, conflict, and competition – plants and mycorrhizal fungi enact a collective flourishing that underpins our past, present, and future. We are unthinkable without them, yet seldom do we think about them. The cost of our neglect has never been so apparent. It is an attitude we can’t afford to sustain.”
- The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet (Becky Chambers): “Humans would have shared their fate. Humans left their planet not as one but in fragments. When their planet began to die, the rich abandoned the impoverished for refuge on Mars. As the bodies piled up, those who remained on earth formed the Exodus fleet, and headed not for their Martian brethren, but for open space. They had no destination. No strategy beyond escape. Were it not for one small Eulon probe the fleet would have most certainly died out, and I find it unlikely that the Martians would have achieved the modest levels of prosperity that they now enjoy without borrowing from GC technology. And what of them now? What has this experience taught them? Nothing. They continue to spread themselves thin. Fleet members have left to form independent colonies, not because it brings wealth or resources to the fleet, but because they want to. The Martians and the Exodans may have banned their old wounds, but a division of spirit remains, and what of the fringe colonies? Built by humans who want nothing to do with the diaspora or the GC, what of the hostile Cultses back on Earth? Hunting heard animals on fragile land. My point fellow representatives is that humans are a fractured, limping, adolescent species that has branched out into interstellar life not by merit, but by luck. They have not moved beyond intra-species chaos, they have skipped the vital step that the rest of us had to make on our own. By granting them membership into the Galactic Commons we would be providing them not with a new life, but with a crutch. What meager resources they have to offer us are not worth the risk posed by allowing such an unstable element into our shared space. The GC has already spent too much helping this minor species to escape the hardships they brought upon themselves. I ask you. What benefit is making humans one of us?”
- The Log of the Sea Cortez (John Steinbeck): “One thing had impressed us deeply on this little voyage: the great world dropped away very quickly. We lost the fear and fierceness and contagion of war and economic uncertainty. The matters of great importance we had left were not important. There must be an ineffective quality in these things. We had lost the virus, or it had been eaten by the anti-bodies of quiet. Our pace had slowed greatly; the hundred thousand small reactions of our daily world were reduced to very few. When the boat was moving we sat by the hour watching the pale, burned mountains slip by. A playful swordfish, jumping and spinning, absorbed us completely. There was time to observe the tremendous minutiae of the sea. When a school of fish went by, the gulls followed closely. Then the water was littered with feathers and the scum of oil. These fish were much too large for the gulls to kill and eat, but there is much more to a school of fish than the fish themselves. There is constant vomiting; there are the hurt and weak and old to cut out; the smaller prey on which the school feeds sometimes escape and die; a moving school is like a moving camp, and it leaves a camp-like debris behind it on which the gulls feed. The sloughing skins coat the surface of the water with oil.”
- Vagabonding (Rolf Potts): “Self nor wealth can be measured in terms of what you consume or own, even the downtrodden souls on the fringes of society he observed had something the rich didn’t have – time. This notion, the notion that riches don’t necessarily make you wealthy is as old as society itself. The ancient Hindu Upanishads referred disdainfully to that chain of possessions with which men bind themselves and beneath which they sink, ancient Hebrew scriptures declare that whoever loves money never has enough money, Jesus pointed that it’s pointless for a man to gain the whole world yet lose his very self, and the Buddha whimsically pointed out that seeking happiness in ones material desires is as absurd as suffering because a banana tree will not bear mangos. Despite several millennia of such warnings, however, there is still an overwhelming social compulsion, an insanity of consensus if you will, to get rich from life rather than to live richly, to do well in the world instead of living well, and in spite the fact that America is famous for its unhappy rich people, most of us remain convinced that a little more money will set life right. In this way the Messianic metaphor of modern life becomes the lottery, the outside chance that the right odds will come together and liberate us from financial worries once and for all. Fortunately we were all born with winning tickets and cashing them in is a simple manner of altering our cadence as we walk through the world.”
“Long term travel isn’t an act of rebellion against society, it’s an act of common sense within society. Long term travel doesn’t require a massive bundle of cash. It only requires that we walk through the world in a more deliberate way. This deliberate way of walking through the world has always been intrinsic to a time honored quietly available tradition known as vagabonding. Vagabonding involves taking an extended time out from your normal life, to travel the world on your own terms, but beyond travel, vagabonding is an outlook on life, vagabonding is about using the prosperity and possibility of the Information Age to increase your personal options instead of your personal possessions. Vagabonding is about looking for adventure in normal life, and normal life within adventure, vagabonding is an attitude, a friendly interest in people, places and things that make a person an explorer in the truest most vivid sense of the word . Vagabonding is not a lifestyle, nor is it a trend, it’s just an uncommon way of looking at life. A value adjustment from which action naturally follows, and as much aa anything, vagabonding is about time, our only real commodity and how we choose to use it.”
- Clandestino: In Search of Manu Chao (Peter Culshaw): ” — Le Hazard est mon ami –“
“Afterwards we had played table football in a bar – Manu won and, oddly, apologized sincerely. Then he started telling me what he said was the “genesis myth” behind the creation of Clandestino. The key to the record. It was, he warned, a long story, about Cancodrillo – a mix of crocodile and dog – and a god called Superchango There’s this little dog called Pepiño who comes from Galicia in Spain and at that time there’s no food, only misery. The cure is emigration. So the dog emigrates to Venezuela and the only thing he takes with him are these seeds of pimientos, like peppers. This dog is so awful that everyone laughs at him. He’s like a cross between a mongrel dog and Charlie Chaplin. Anyway, he gets to Venezuela and everyone laughs and laughs and laughs. Everybody except this one girl, a crocodile black woman. She can’t talk, she’s mute, she doesn’t laugh. They fall in love, get married and go to the countryside. They plant the little pimiento seeds from Galicia and one of the seeds grows into their son, a mixture of European dog and crocodile … a mestizo Cancodrillo!When he comes out of the belly of his mother, the first thing Cancodrillo sees is the face of this father and, like everybody else, he starts laughing, laughing, laughing, crying, crying. But the cry is a good cry, and the more he sees his father, the more he cries, and the more he laughs, the more he gets rich. He becomes an asshole. He builds a factory after factory selling pimientos. He becomes a big businessman. Very quickly he understands that it is better to do your business during the night, and he becomes like a Mafia man. The more money he makes, the more he cries, and the more he laughs, the more he makes money. He turns all the people from the countryside who belong to his mother’s race into slaves working for him. Cancodrillo lacks new challenges and he always wants more. First he buys the army, then he buys all the politicians. He has everything and he wants more and more. The one day he goes into a bar in the middle of the night, a bar for the Mafia, and he meets this guy. Now everybody is scared of this guy because when he laughs, he opens his mouth and you can see his crocodile teeth. He is the first person ever to stand up to Cancodrillo. This guy is Superchango and he is a god from Nigeria, born as a slave. He laughs at Cancodrillo. He’s not scared of him. They fight, they get drunk, fight again, get drunk. Nobody wins. Cancodrillo is a businessman. Superchango is a god. At six in the morning, they’re still in the bar and Cancodrillo says, Now there’s going to be a real battle, a real challenge! You see this little table football … We’re going to play this game. And if I win, you are going to give me your powers of a god. And if you win, I’ll give you all my business” . Ok. They play table football for ten centuries and nobody wins, or, rather, nobody knows who won and who lost, but after the battle Cancodrillo isn’t a businessman anymore and has become a god, and Superchango isn’t a god anymore and has become a businessman. Their roles have changed and both of them become very sad. They don’t laugh anymore. They get lost. They lose the treasure. And the only thing about this sadness is that they become friends. They decide to travel all around the world to find love and laughter. They experience drugs an go to Patagonia. France. New York. Mexico. They go everywhere.”
- How to Change your Mind (Michael Pollan): “The journeys have shown me what the Buddhists try to tell us, but I have never really understood, that there is much more to consciousness than the ego, as we would see if it just would shut up; and that it’s disillusion or transcendence is nothing to fear, in fact, it is a pre-requisite for making any spiritual progress. But the ego, that inner neurotic who insists on running the mental show is wily and doesn’t like relinquishing its power without a struggle, deeming itself indispensable, it will battle against its diminishment whether in advance or in the middle of the journey, I suspect that’s what mine was up to all through the sleepless nights that preceded each of my trips, striving to convince me that I was risking everything when really all I was putting at risk was its sovereignty. When Huxley speaks of the minds reducing valve, the faculty that eliminates as much of the world from our conscious awareness as it lets in, he is talking about the ego, that stingy vigilant security guard that admits only the narrowest bandwidth of reality, a measly trickle of the kind of consciousness which will help us to stay alive. It’s really good at performing all those activities that natural selection values – getting ahead, getting liked and loved, getting fed, getting laid, keeping us on task it is a ferocious editor of anything that might distract us from the work at hand, whether that means regulating our access to memories and strong emotions from within or news of the world without. What of the world it does admit, it tends to objectify, for the ego wants to reserve the gifts of subjectivity to itself, that’s why it fails to see that there is a whole world of souls and spirits out there, by which I mean subjectivities other than our own. It was only when the voice of my ego was quieted by psilocybin that I was able to sense that the plants in my garden had a spirit too. In the words of RM Bucke, a 19th century Canadian psychiatrist and mystic – I saw that the universe is not composed of dead matter but is on the contrary a living presence.”
The Possible EGO: In neuroscience, the default mode network (DMN), also default network, or default state network, is a large-scale brain network primarily composed of the medial prefrontal cortex, posterior cingulate cortex/precuneus and angular gyrus. It is best known for being active when a person is not focused on the outside world and the brain is at wakeful rest, such as during daydreaming and mind-wandering. It can also be active during detailed thoughts related to external task performance. Other times that the DMN is active include when the individual is thinking about others, thinking about themselves, remembering the past, and planning for the future.
- A Land so Strange: The Epic Journey of Cabeza de Vaca (Andres Resendez): “Over the course of his journeys, Cabeza de Vaca had found that America’s bounty consisted not only of gold and silver, but also of land and good people. Together, Europeans and Native Americans could make the New World yield spiritual as well as material wealth. Such a proposition would appear woefully idealistic and impracticable, but when coming from one of the ‘children of the sun’, the Crown might find it worth considering. The Royal treasurer understood the fears and hopes of the natives better than any other Spaniard, and perhaps had already talked to them about such a grandiose alliance.”
- The Monkey Wrench Gang (Edward Abbey): “All this fantastic effort – giant machines, road networks, strip mines, conveyor belts, pipelines, slurry lines, loading towers, railway and electric train, hundred-million-dollar coal-burning power plant; ten thousand miles of high-tension towers and high-voltage power lines; the devastation of the landscape, the destruction of Indian homes and Indian grazing lands, Indian shrines and Indian burial grounds; the poisoning of the last big clean-air reservoir in the forty-eight contiguous United States, the exhaustion of precious water supplies – all that ball-breaking labor and all the backbreaking expense and all that heartbreaking insult to land and sky and human heart, for what? All that for what? Why, to light the lamps of Phoenix suburbs not yet built, to run the air conditioners of San Diego and Los Angeles, to illuminate shopping-center parking lots at two in the morning.”
- Lands of Lost Borders (Kate Harris): “Departure is simple: you step out the door, onto your bike, into the wind of your life. What’s hard is not looking back, not measuring gain or loss by lapsed time, or aching legs, or the leering mile markers of ambition. You are on your way when you decipher the pounding of rain as Morse code for making progress. You are getting closer when you recognize doubt as the heaviest burden on your bike and toss it aside, for when it comes to exploring, any direction will do. You have finally arrived when you realize that persistent creak you’ve been hearing all this time is not your wheels, not your mind, but the sound of the planet turning.”
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives – Annie Dillard”
- The Devils (Fyodor Dostoevsky): “If you want to overcome the whole world, overcome yourself”
- Sapiens (Yuval Noah Harari): There are 6 species of humans that lived around the same time. Homo Erectus (2 mill – 30,000), Homo Neanderthalensis (300,000 to 30,000), Homo Luzonensis (700,000 to 50,000), Homo Denisova (200,000 to 50,000), Homo Sapiens (300,000 to now …), Homo Floresiensis (800,000 to 50,000). Homo Sapiens got ahead because of their ability to communicate through storytellig, create and believe in myths and create larger groups that could believe in the same thing. Most great mammals across the world dissapeared around the same time that Homo Sapiens arrived to their whereabouts.
- El Leopardo (Jo Nesbo): “… y penso en lo vulnerable que era todo, en lo rápido que cambiaban las cosas, y en cuántas cosas podían destruirse en cuestión de segundos. En que eso era la vida: un proceso de destrucción, una descomposición de algo que, en el punto de partida, es perfecto. Lo único que le otorgaba un poco de tensión era si la destrucción sería repentina o lenta. Era una idea triste. Pero el la tenía por cierta.”
- The Dharma Bums (Jack Kerouac): “… I’ve been reading Whitman, know what he says, Cheer up slaves, and horrify foreign despots, he means that’s the attitude for the Bard, the Zen Lunacy bard of old desert paths, see the whole thing is a wolrd full of rucksack wanderers, Dharma Bums refusing to subscribe to the general demand that they consume production and therefore have to work the for the privilege of consuming, all that crap they didn’t really want anyway such as refrigerators, TV sets, cars, at least new fancy cars, certain hair oils and deodorants and general junk you finally always see a week later in the garbage anyway, all of them imprisoned in a system of work, produce, consume, work, produce, consume, I see a vision of a great rucksack revolution thousands or even millions of young Americans wandering around with rucksacks, going up to mountains to pray, making children laugh and old men glad, making young girls happy and old girls happier, all of ‘em Zen Lunatics who go about writing poems that happen to appear in their heads for no reason and also by being kind and also by strange unexpected acts keep giving visions of eternal freedom to everybody and to all living creatures, that’s what I like about you Goldbook and Smith, you two guys from the East Coast which I thought was dead … ” – “We though the West Coast was dead!”
“To live truly free is to explore without comparing” – DLB. Baja Road Trip 2020-2021
- On the Road (Jack Kerouac): “Cause the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn burn burn like fabulous yellow Roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue center light pop and everyone goes Ahhhh!”
“I woke up as the sun was reddening and that was the one distinct moment in my life, the strangest moment of all, when I didn’t know who I was, I was far away from home, haunted and tired with travel, in a cheap hotel room I had never seen, hearing the hiss of steam outside and the creek of the old wood of the hotel and footsteps upstairs and all the sad sounds and I looked at the cracked high ceiling and I didn’t really know who I was for about 15 strange seconds. I wasn’t scared, I was just someone else, some stranger, and my whole life was a haunted life, the life of a ghost. I was halfway across America at the dividing line between the east of my youth and the west of my future and maybe that’s what happened right there and then, during the strange red afternoon.”
- 1421 The Year China Discovered America (Gavin Menzies): “The revelation that Vasco da Gama was not the first to sail to India round the Cape of Good Hope, that Christopher Columbus did not discover America, that Magellan was not the first to circumnavigate the world, and that Australia was surveyed three centuries before captain Cook and Antarctica four centuries before the first European attempt may come as a dissapointent, even a shock, to the champions of those brave and skillful explorers, but the Kangnido, Pizzigano, Piri Reis, Jean Rotz, Cantino and Waldseemuller chars are indisputably genuine. They contain information that can only have come from cartographers aboard the pioneer Chinese fleets”. Further evidence: Chinese chickens, corn maize in south east Asia, Chinese camellia roses, Amaranth, wrecks, porcelain and lacquer boxes, Lienzo de Jucutacato (Uruapan), Yu Thuch Chih, The Ilustrated Record of Strange Countries, last but not least, Zheng He.
- The Wizard and the Prophet (Charles C. Mann): “It would be foolish to expect anything else. To avoid destroying itself, the human race would have to do something deeply unatural, something no other species has ever done or could ever do: constrain its own growth (at least in some ways). Brown tree sankes in Guam, water hyacinth in African rivers, rabbits in Australia, Burmese pythons in Florida – all these succesful species have overrun their environments, heedlessly wiping out other creatures. Not one has voluntarily turned back. When the zebra mussles in the Hudson river began to run out of food, they did not stop reproducing. When fire ants relentlessly expand their range, no inner voices warn them to consider their future. Why should we expect Homo sapiens to fence itself in?”
The Struggle for Existence: In a petri dish Georgii Gause dripped five Paramecium caudatum or Stylonychia mytilus, single celled protozoans, on petri dishes with oatmeal. At the beginning the number of protozoans grows slowly, and the graph line slowly ascends to the right. But then the line hits an inflection point, and suddenly rockets upward — a frenzy of growth. The mad rise continues until the organism begins to run out of food, at which time there is a second inflection point, and the growth levels off again as protozoa begin to die. Eventually the line descends and the population falls towards zero. Populations grow at a terrific rate; they take over large areas, engulfing their environment as if no force opposed them. Then they hit a barrier. They drown in their own wasters. They starve from lack of food. Something figures out how to eat them.
- Other Minds – The Octopus, the Sea and the Deep Origins of Consciousness (Peter Godfrey Smith): “The mind evolved in the sea. Water made it possible, all the early stages took place in water – the origin of life, the birth of animals, the evolution of nervous systems and brains, and the appearance of complex bodies that make brains worth having. The first ventures on to land probably took place not long after the history charted in the first few chapters, certainly by 420 million years ago, perhaps earlier. But the early history of animals is the history of life in the sea, when animals did crawl on to dry land they took the sea with them, all the basic activities of life occur in water filled cells bounded by membranes, tiny containers whose insides are remnants of the sea. I said in chapter one that meeting an octopus is in many ways the closest we are likely to get to meeting an intelligent alien, yet it’s not really an alien, the earth and its oceans made us both.”
- Artemis (Andy Weir): “It’s all part of the life-cycle of an economy. First it’s lawless capitalism until that starts to impede growth. Next comes regulation, law enforcement, and taxes. After that: public benefits and entitlements. Then, finally, over-expenditure and collapse. Wait. Collapse? Yes, collapse. An economy is a living thing. It’s born full of vitality and dies once it’s rigid and worn out. Then, through necessity, people break into smaller economic groups and the cycle begins anew, but with more economies. Baby economies, like Artemis is right now.”
- Parable of the Sower (Octavia Butler): “I was looking for God, I said. I wasn’t looking for mythology or mysticism or magic. I didn’t know whether there was a god to find, but I wanted to know. God would have to be a power that could not be defied by anyone or anything.Change. Change, yes, But it’s not a god. It’s not a person or an intelligence or even a thing. It’s just … I don’t know. An idea.I smiled. Was that such a terrible criticism? It’s a truth, I said. Change is ongoing. Everything changes in some way—size, position, composition, frequency, velocity, thinking, whatever. Every living thing, every bit of matter, all the energy in the universe changes in some way. I don’t claim that everything changes in every way, but everything changes in some way. Harry, coming in dripping from the sea heard this last, sort of like saying God is the Second Law of Thermodynamics, he said grinning.”
- The Old Man Who Read Love Stories (Luis Sepulveda): “Opposite him, something moved in the air, in the foliage, over the surface of the still water, right at the bottom of the river. Something which seemed to have many shapes and at the same time to feed on them all. It constantly changed, and didn’t let his drugged eyes focus on a single one. Now it was a macaw, then it became a great catfish leaping open-mouthed and swallowing the moon, and as it fell back in the water it did so with the savagery of a bone-cruncher coming down on a man. That something lacked a precise, definable shape, but whatever it form it took, its eyes always remained bright yellow, shining. It’s your own death disguising itself so as to take you by surprise. ‘If it’s doing that, it’s because your time to leave hasn’t yet come. Hunt it out’, came the order from the Shuar witch doctor massaging his terrified body with handfuls of cold ash.”
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams): “It is an important and popular fact that things are not always what they seem. For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much – the wheel, New York, wars and so on – whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man – for precisely the same reasons. Curiously enough, the dolphins had long known of the impending destruction of the planet Earth and had made many attempts to alert mankind of the danger; but most of their communications were misinterpreted as amusing attempts to punch footballs or whistle for tidbits, so they eventually gave up and left the Earth by their own means shortly before the Vogons arrived. The last ever dolphin message was misinterpreted as a surprisingly sophisticated attempt to do a double-backwards somersault through a hoop whilst whistling the “Star Spangled Banner”, but in fact the message was this: So long and thanks for all the fish.”
- A Confederacy of Dunces (John Kennedy Toole): ” Ignatius pulled his flannel nightshirt up and looked at his bloated stomach. He often bloated while lying in bed in the morning contemplating the unfortunate turn that events had taken since the Reformation. Doris Day and Greyhound Scenic cruisers, whenever they came to mind, created an even more rapid expansion of his central region. But since the attempted arrest and the accident, he had been bloating for almost no reason at all, his pyloric valve snapping shut indiscriminately and filling his stomach with trapped gas, gas which had character and being and resented its confinement. He wondered whether his pyloric valve might be trying, Cassandra like, to tell him something. As a medievalist Ignatius believed in the rota Fortunae, or wheel of fortune, a central concept in De Consolatione Philosophiae, the philosophical work which had laid the foundation for medieval thought. Boethius, the late Roman who had written the Consolatione while unjustly imprisoned by the emperor, had said that a blind goddess spins us on a wheel, that our luck comes in cycles. Was the ludicrous attempt to arrest him the beginning of a bad cycle? Was his wheel rapidly spinning downward? The accident was also a bad sign. Ignatius was worried. For all his philosophy, Boethius had still been tortured and killed. Then Ignatius’s valve closed again, and he rolled over on his left side to press the valve open. “Oh, Fortuna, blind, heedless goddess, I am strapped to your wheel,” Ignatius belched. “Do not crush me beneath your spokes. Raise me on high, divinity.” “
- Circe (Madeline Miller): “There are oracles scattered across our lands. Shrines where pristesses breath sacred fumes and speak the truths they find in them. “Know Your Self” is carved above their doors, but I had been a stranger to myself, turned to stone for no reason I could name. Daedulus had told me a story once about the Lords of Crete who used to hire him to enlarge their houses, he would arrive with his tools, begin taking down the walls, pulling up the floors, but whenever he found some problem underneath that must first be fixed, they frowned. “That was not in the agreement”. “Of course not”, he said, “it has been hidden in the foundation. But look, there it is, plain as day, see the cracked beam, see the beetles eating the floor, see how the stone is sinking into the swamp”. That only made the lords angrier. “It was fine until you dug it up. We will not pay. Close it up. Put plaster over. If it has stood this long, it will stand longer.” So he would seal that fault up and the next season the house would fall down. Then they would come to him demanding back their money. “I told them”, he said to me. “I told them, and told them. When there is rot in the walls there is only one remedy”. The purple bruise at my throat was turning green at its edges, I pressed it. Felt a splintered ache. Tear down, I thought. Tear down and build again.”
- The Song of Achilles (Madeline Miller): “His eyes opened. “Name one hero who was happy”. I considered. Heracles went mad and killed his family. Theseus lost his bride and father; Jason’s children and new wife were murdered by his Medea; Bellerophon killed the Chimera but was crippled by the fall from Pegasus’ back. “You can’t”. He was sitting up now, leaning forward. “I can’t”. “I know. They never let you be famous and happy”. He lifted an eyebrow.”I’ll tell you a secret”. “Tell me”. I loved it when he was like this. “I’m going to be the first”. He took my palm and held it to his. “Swear it”. “Why me?”. “Because you’re the reason. Swear it”. “I swear it”. He echoed. We sat like that a moment, hands touching. He grinned. “I feel like I could eat the world raw”.”
- The Forty Rules of Love (Elif Shafak): “Little by little, one turns forty, fifty, and sixty and, with each major decade, feels more complete. You need to keep walking though there’s no place to arrive at. The universe is turning, constantly and relentlessly, and so are the earth and the moon, but it is nothing other than a secret embedded within us human beings that makes it all move. With that knowledge we dervishes will dance our way through love and heartbreak even if no one understands what we are doing. We will dance in the middle of a brawl or a major war, all the same. We will dance in our hurt and grief, with joy and elation, alone and together, as slow and fast as the flow of water. We will dance in our blood. There is a perfect harmony and subtle balance in all that is and was in the universe. The dots change constantly and replace one another, but the circle remains intact. Rule number thirty-nine: While the parts change, the whole always remains the same. For every thief who departs this world, a new one is born. And every decent person who passes away is replaced by a new one. In this way not only does nothing remain the same but also nothing ever really changes.”
“Every true love and friendship is a story of unexpected transformation. If we are the same person before and after we loved, that means we haven’t loved enough.”
- Las Intermitencias de la Muerte (Jose Saramago): “La mujer esta vestida de esta manera diferente, con pantalones y chaqueta de cuero, con certeza es otra persona, le dice el violenchista al corazon, pero este, que tiene mejores ojos, te dice que abras los tuyos, que es ella, y ahora mira a ver como te vas a portar.”
- The Count of Montecristo (Alexandre Dumas): “As for you, Maxmilien, here is the secret of my conduct toward you: there is neither happiness nor unhappiness in this world; there is only the comparison of one state with another. Only a man who has felt ultimate despair is capable of feeling ultimate bliss. It is necessary to have wished for death, Maximilien, in order to know how good it is to live. Live, then, and be happy, beloved children of my heart, and never forget that, until the day God deigns to reveal the future to man, the sum of all human wisdom will be contained in these two words: Wait and Hope. Your friend, Edmond Dantes. Count of Montecristo.”
“Thou shalt tear out the teeth of the dragon and trample the lions underfoot, thus saith the Lord.”
Note: The book ends on the 5th of October. Edmond sets himself free from his revenge, wealth, and emotional ties on the 5th of October – as he sails away with Haydee. Crazy. Providence, come to me!
- The Voyage of the Cormorant (Christian Beamish): “To see friends after even such a short time of solitude was such a wonderful feeling, to remember that I was known in the world, particularly after the trials of night winds and bees, long crossings and strange people, leavened by meeting the kind ones too. And always only the sea under me, always this tenuous relationship that was only as good as the changing conditions allowed.”
“How wholly infused with God is this one big word of love that we call the world”
- Death’s End (Cixin Liu): “Child, I recognize you. Jason said to Cheng Xi. You were the Swordholder. I’m sure you and your people came here for some important mission, but you must keep your cool. We can’t avoid the apocalypse, so we must enjoy the present.”
- The Dark Forest (Cixin Liu): “The real universe is just that black. The universe is a dark forest. Every civilization is an armed hunter stalking through the trees like a ghost, gently pushing aside branches that block the path and trying to tread without pushing aside branches that block the path and trying to tread without sound. Even breathing is done with care. The hunter has to be careful, because everywhere in the forest are stealthy hunters like him. If he finds other life – another hunter, an angel or a demon, a delicate infant or a tottering old man, a fairy or a demigod – there’s only one thing he can do: open fire and eliminate them. In this forest, hell is other people. An eternal threat that any life that exposes its own existence will be swiftly wiped out. This is the picture of cosmic civilization. It’s the explanation for the Fermi Paradox.”
- The Three-Body Problem (Cixin Liu): “The kind of civilization you yearn for once existed on Trisolaris too. They had free, democratic societies, and they left behind rich cultural legacies. You know barely anything about them. Most details have sealed away and forbidden from view. But in all the cycles of Trisolarian civilization, this type of civilization was the weakest and most short-lived. A modes Chaotic Era disaster was enough to extinguish them. Look again at the Earth civilization that you wish to save. A society born and bred in the eternal spring of a beautiful hothouse would not be able to survive even a million Trisolarian hours if it were transplanted here.”
- Swell. A Sailing’s Surfer’s Voyage of Awakening (Liz Clark): “I’ve fallen countless times, only to rise again, cloaked in new strength, and determined to find my way to a mental horizon of unlimted potential again. I have wrinkles around my eyes and sunspots splotch my skin, but I feel beautiful. I still have little money in the bank. I only own three pairs of shoes, all of my clothing can fit in one duffel bag, and I still flush my toilet with a hand pump – but I feel rich. I have spent the most energetic years of my life testing my physical, mental, and emotional capacities in pursuit of a dream. I have do it on a blank canvas, in a variety of backdrops, and with more time than most. We all deserve this kind of chance to spread our wings and learn to fly. I have proven to myself , that with plenty of hard work, choosing love will never lead to lack. It takes courage, but once the decision is made, doors open that seemed forever shut. Walking through them feels hopeful, exhilarating, and full or purpose. I am not the best sailor or the best surfer, or the most credentialed at anything, but chasing my dream has taught me that fulfillment and self-love don’t come from being “the best”. They come from pursuing our passions and connecting to our own spirits, communities, and world. Being the best, or richest, or strongest, or sexiest – without feeling connected – doesn’t sound heavenly at all. The times I’ve stepped on people to reach the top, the view was chilling and lonely. Connection brings me the most joy. It is communion in a wink from a resting tern a thousand miles from land, and comfort in a shared laughter that transcends language barriers. It is the gratitude felt for a tree that offers shade, and high-five with a stranger in the lineup. It’s noticing the signs and going with my gut, feeling Swell in perfet trim or making it out of a deep tube. A momentary meeting of eyes that needs no words. The first bite of a hard-earned meal. A transcendent moment of meditation. It is feeling sorry for the barnacle that must be scraped off the rudder, long-distance video calls with my sister, and earning Amelia’s trust. It’s picking up a kid who’s fallen down with the gentleness of his own mother, and the dignity that follows small victories in self-improvement. These are moments that make me feel close to the Great Spirit that unites us all. Bugs and beauty queens, immigrants and indigenous, rich and poor, furry and scaled; we are all struggling, striving, loving, and breathing on this green-and-blue ship flying through space- each with a purpose that combines to form the incomprehensibly beautiful mandala of our collective meaning. Feeling closer to every being that struggles in the coarser, chillier, riper, naked more startling layers of existence has made the whole planet feel like home. I stop occasionally to pick up scattered chip bags, plastic forks, and empty bottles along the shore, as the sun touches down on the horizon. It doesn’t matter that it isn’t my trash; it’s my Earth. And that’s the beauty of Oneness: Love has no borders.”
- The Enchantress of Florence (Salman Rushdie): “It was important not to offend against the laws of magic. If a woman left you it was because someone else cast a stronger enchantment than yours, or else because your marriage was cursed in such a way that it cut ties of love between husband and wife. Why did So- and so rather than such and such enjoy success in his business? Because he visited the right enchanter. There was a thing in the emperor that rebelled against all this flummery, for was it not that kind of infantilization of the self to give up one’s power of agency and believe that such power resided outside oneself rather than within? This was also his objection to God, that his existence deprived human beings of the right to form ethical structures by themselves. But magic was all around and would not be denied, and it would be a rash ruler who pooh-poohed it. Religion could be rethought, re-examined, remade, perhaps even discarded; magic was impervious to such assaults. This, finally, was why the story of Qara Koz had so easily possessed the imaginatino of the people of Sikri (and Florence). She had taken her magic, “their magic”, into other worlds, worlds with their own occultism, and her sorcery had proved more potent than theirs. Her sorcery. Which not even he, the emperor, could resist.”
- Midnight’s Children (Salman Rushdie)
- The Zanzibar Chest (Aidan Hartley): “When the pictures were shown in Addis Ababa, it helped the tide of the revolution that toppled the medieval dictatorship of Emperor Haile Selassie. Back on the plains of Bati Dad sat down by himself. “The camps lie broken down on hill and plain, /skulls, bones and horns remain”, he wrote. “No shouts, no songs of fighting, or of love, /But from the bare thorn tree above, /So sadly calls the mourning dove”, “… Was this your ravaged land, /The work of God, or was it Man’s own hand? For me this just about sums up what happened all over Africa in the twentieth century”. An amazing book of a reporter traveling, living and telling the story of Africa in the 80s, 90s, and 2000s. Live traveling and reporting through the region.
- Surfing with Sartre (Aaron James): “Our task then is to describe what the surfer knows, implicitly, in knowing how to be adaptively attuned, in a life organized around its distinctive value. We begin in Sartre’s existential predicament. Freedom, in his view, is willful self-determination, a laborious project of self-creation in the face of absurd options. The first step is to give up such willful controlling, which only makes it harder to get into the flow. Freedom, for the surfer, isn’t radical self determination but a kind of achievement, in adaptive attunement. It’s a way of being efficacious without control, precisely by giving up any need for it. Neither then is the surfer akin to the Stoic, who controls his mind in order to maintain a steady tranquility and detachment. Surfers are deeply attached to a life of surfing, and not so cautious about loving without reservation, despite its risks. Betting one’s happiness on nature’s caprice does bring certain frustrations. Yet life is not so terrible, even for the occasionally bummed surfer, who must then play guitar or do philosophy while waiting for waves. The challenge is just to keep faith, giving up any need for control, even over one’s mental state, so as to settle into a more flowing way of being efficacious through the ebbs and flows of nature’s rhythms.” … “So being is freedom, which is work. To be is to be at work, the work of constantly constructing a self. I am constant project of making and remaking myself in my projected image. As Sartre says “Freedom is precisely the nothingness which is made-to-be at the heart of man and which forces human reality to make itself instead of to be”. But why the “instead”? Can’t a person be, while doing and being simultaneously? It is possible. Doing surfing. Being in the flow of the wave…”
“You think of all the traveled lands,
the images and tattered strands
of all the women you could not hold
And suddenly you realize: there’s nothing else
You rise to your feet, and before you appear
the fear and form and empty prayer
of the absence of another year.”
Rainer Maria Rilke
- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck (Mark Manson): “Some examples of good, healthy values: honesty, innovation, vulnerability, standing for oneself, standing-up for others, self-respect, curiosity, clarity, humility, creativity. Some examples of bad, unhealthy values: dominance through manipulation or violence, indiscriminate fucking, feeling good all the time, always being the center of attention, not being alone, being liked by everybody, being rich for the sake of being rich, sacrificing small animals to the pagan gods. You’ll notice that good healthy values are achieved internally. Something like creativity or humility can be experienced right now. You simply have to orient your mind in a certain way to experience it. These values are immediate and controllable and engage you with the world as it is rather than how you with it were. Bad values are generally reliant on external events – flying in a private jet, being told you’re right all the time, owning a house in the Bahamas, eating a cannoli while getting blown by three strippers. Bad values, while sometimes fun or pleasurable, lie outside of your control and often require socially destructive or superstitious means to achieve. Values are about prioritization. Everybody would love a good cannoli or a house in the Bahamas. The question is your priorities. What are the values that you prioritize above everything else, and that therefore influence your decision-making more than anything else?”
- Narcissus and Goldmund (Herman Hesse): “It was shameless how life made fun of one; it was a joke, a cause for weeping! Either one lived and let one’s senses play, drank full at the primitive mother’s breast – which brought great bliss but was no protection against death; then one lived like a mushroom in the forest, colorful today and rotten tomorrow. Or else one put up a defense, imprisoned oneself for work and tried to build a monument to the fleeting passage of life – then one renounced life, was nothing but a tool; one enlisted in the service of that which endured, but one dried up in the process and lost one’s freedom, scope, lust for life. That’s what had happened to Master Niklaus. Ach,life made sense only if one achieved both, only if it was not split by this brittle alternative! To create, without sacrificing one’s senses for it. To live, without renouncing the nobility of creating. Was that impossible?”.
- Steppenwolf (Herman Hesse): “There is, in fact, no way back either to the wolf or to the child. From the very start there is no innocence and no singleness. Every created thing, even the simplest, is already guilty, already multiple. It has been thrown into the muddy stream of being and may never more swim back again to its source. The way back to innocence, to the uncreated and to God leads on, not back, not back to the wolf or to the child, but ever further into sin, ever deeper into human life. Nor will suicide really solve your problem, unhappy Steppenwolf. You will, instead, embark on the longer and wearier and harder road of life. You will have to multiply many times your two-fold being and complicate your complexities further. instead of narrowing your world and simplifying your soul, you will have to absorb more and more of the world and at last take all of it up in your painfully expanded soul, if you are ever to find peace. This is the road that Buddha, and every great man has gone, whether consciously or not, insofar as fortune favored his quest. All births mean separation from the All, the confinement within limitation, the separation from God, the pangs of being born every anew. The return into the All, the dissolution of painful individuation, the reunion with God means the expansion of the soul until it is able once more to embrace the All”.
- Siddhartha (Herman Hesse): “Wondrous indeed was my life, so he thought, wondrous detours it has taken. As a boy, I had only to do with gods and offerings. As a youth, I had only to do with asceticism, with thinking and meditation, was searching for Brahman, worshipped the eternal in the Atman. But as a young man, I followed the penitents, lived in the forest, suffered of heat and frost, learned to hunger, taught my body to become dead. Wonderfully, soon afterwards, insight came towards me in the form of the great Buddha’s teachings, I felt the knowledge of the oneness of the form of the great Buddha’s teachings, I felt the knowledge of the oneness of the world circling in me like my own blood. But I also had to leave Buddha and the great knowledge. I went and learned the art of love with Kamala, learned trading with Kamaswami, piled up money, wasted money, learned to love my stomach, learned to please my senses. I had to spend many years losing my spirit, to unlearn thinking again, to forget the oneness. Isn’t it just as if I had turned slowly on a long detour from a main into a child, from a thinker into a childlike person? And yet, this path has been very good; and yet, the bird in my chest has not died. But what a path has this been! I had to pass through so much stupidity, through so much vices, through so many errors, through so much disgust and disappointments and woe, just to become a child again and to be able to start over. But it was right so, my heard says “Yes” to it, my eyes smile to it. I’ve had to experience despair, I’ve had to sink down to the most foolish one of all thoughts, to the thought of suicide, in order to be able to experience divine grace, to hear Om again, to be able to sleep properly and awake properly again. I had to become a fool, to find Atman in me again. I had to sin, to be able to live again. Where else might my path lead me to go? It is foolish, this path, it moves in loops, perhaps it is going around in a circle. Let it go as it likes, I want to take it. Wonderfully, he felt joy rolling live waves in his chest”
- Rules for Radicals (Saul D. Alinsky)
- The Art of Happiness (Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler)
- Being the Change (Peter Kalmus)
- Mating in Captivity (Esther Perel): “Love enjoys everything about you; desire needs mystery. Love likes to shrink the distance that exists between me and you, while desire is energized by it. If intimacy grows through repetition and familiarity, eroticism is numbed by repetition. It thrives on the mysterious, the novel, and the unexpected. Love is about having; desire is about wanting. An expression of longing, desire requires ongoing elusiveness. It is less concerned with where it has already been that passionate about where it can still go. But too often couples settle into the comforts of love, they cease to fan the flame of desire. They forget that fire needs air”.
- Uncivilization (Paul Kingsnorth and Dougald Hine): “This, then, is Uncivilised writing. Human, inhuman, stoic and entirely natural. Humble, questioning, suspicious of the big idea and the easy answer. Walking the boundaries and reopening old conversations. Apart but engaged, its practitioners always willing to get their hands dirty; aware, in fact, that dirt is essential; that keyboards should be tapped by those with soil under their fingernails and wilderness in their heads.”
- Resistance, Rebellion and Death (Albert Camus): “No, choosing freedom today does not mean ceasing to be a profiteer of the Soviet regime and becoming a profiteer of the bourgeois regime. For that would amount, instead, to choosing slavery twice, and as a final condemnation, choosing it twice for others. Choosing freedom is not, as we are told, choosing against injustice. On the other hand, freedom is chosen today in relation to those who are everywhere suffering and fighting, and this is the only freedom that counts. It is chosen at the same time as justice, and, to tell the truth, henceforth we cannot choose one without the other. If someone takes away your bread, he suppresses your freedom at the same time. But if someone takes away your freedom, you may be sure that your bread is threatened, for it depends no longer on you and your struggle but on the whim of a master. The oppressed want to be liberated not only from their hunger but also from their masters. They are well aware that they will be effectively freed of hunger only when they hold their masters, all their masters, at bay”.
- Mexico Negro (Francisco Martin Moreno
- Barbarian Days. A Surfing Life (William Finegan)
- Indignation (Philip Roth)
- The Plot Against America (Philip Roth)
- Foundation (Isaac Asimov)
- Forward the Foundation (Isaac Asimov)
- La Caverna (Jose Saramago)
- Collected Fictions (Jorge Luis Borges)
- Thinking Fast and Slow (Daniel Kahneman)
- Misbehaving (Richard H. Thaler).
- Small is Beautiful. Economics as if People Mattered (E.F Schumacher)
- Drive. The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (Daniel H. Pink)
- Degrowth. A Vocabulary for a New Era (Giorgos Kallis)
- Predictibly Irrational (Dan Ariely)
- Nudge. Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness (Richard H. Thaler)
- Let my people go surfing (Yvon Chouinard)
- The responsible company (Yvon Chouinard and Vincent Stanley)
- Platform Revolution (Geoffrey G. Parker)
- Zero to One (Peter Thiel)
- Without their Permission. How the 21st Century Will be Made, Not Managed (Alexis Ohanian)
- How to Win Friends and Influence People (Dale Carnegie)
- Failing in the Field. What we can learn when field research goes wrong (Dean Karlan)
- The Lean Startup (Eric Ried)
- The Ascent of Money (Niall Ferguson)
- Economics Unmasked (Philip B. Smith & Manfred Max Neef)
- Marx’s Ecology (John Bellamy Foster)
- The Bridge at the Edge of the World. Capitalism, the Environment and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability (James Gustave Speth)
- The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (William Kamkwamba)
- The Wildness Within. Remembering David Brower:
“If there is something you can do,
Or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”
- Breve Historia de Centroamerica (Hector Perez Brignoli)
- Sparking a Worldwide Energy Revolution (Kolya Abramsky)
- Historia de la America Central (Jose Milla)
- Here I Am. The Story of Tim Hetherington, War Photographer (Alan Huffman)
- Cadillac Desert. The American West and its Dissapearing Water (Marc Reisner)
- El Cartel Negro (Ana Lilia Perez)
- Water Follies. Groundwater Pumping and the Fate of Americas Freshwaters (Robert Glennon)
- The Conquest of Nature (David Blackbourn)
- Pale Blue Dot (Carl Sagan): “The alternatives seem worse than cruel: They are ineffective. Many of the dangers we face indeed arise from science and technology – but, more fundamentally because we have become powerful without becoming commensurately wise. The world-alternating powers that technology has delivered into our hands now require a degree of consideration and foresight that has never before been asked of us. Science cuts two ways, of course; it’s products can be used for both good and evil. But there’s no turning back from science. The solutions may well require more of us than just a technological fix. Many will have to become scientifically literate. We may have to change institutions and behavior. But our problems, whatever their origin, cannot be solved apart from science. The technologies that threaten us and the circumvention of those threats both issue from the same front. They are racing neck and neck. “
- Factfulness. Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World and Why Things Are Better Than You Think (Hans Rosling): “Could everyone have a fact-based worldview one day? Big change is always difficult to imagine. But it is definitely possible, and I think it will happen, for two simple reasons. First: a fact-based worldview is more useful for navigating life, just like an accurate GPS is more useful for finding your way in the city. Second, and probably more important: a fact-based worldview is more comfortable. It creates less stress and hopelessness than the dramatic worldview, simply because the dramatic one is so negative and terrifying. When we have a fact-based worldview, we can see that the world is not as bad as it seems – and we can see what we have to do to keep making it better”. Factfulness rules of thumb: 1. Gap: Look for the majority, 2. Negativity: Expect bad news, 3. Straight Line: Lines might bed, 4. Fear: Calculate the risks, 5. Size: Get things in proportion, 6. Generalization: Question your categories, 7. Destiny: Slow change is till change, 8. Single: Get a tool box, 9. Blame: Resist pointing your finger, 10. Urgency: Take small steps.
- Reality Mining. Using Big Data to Engineer a Better World (Nathan Eagle and Kate Greene)
- Emotional Intelligence: Resilience (Harvard Business Review): “Resilient people, they posit, posses three characteristics: a staunch acceptance of reality; a deep belief, often buttressed by strongly held values that life is meaningful; and an uncanny ability to improvise. You can bounce back from hardship with just one or two of these qualities, but you will only be truly resilient with all three”
“The key to resilience is trying really hard, then stopping, recovering, and then trying again. This conclusion is based on biology. Homeostasis is a fundamental biological concept describing the ability of the brain to continuously restore and sustain well being”Random But Good
- The 4-Hour Workweek (Timothy Ferriss)
- Meme Wars. The Creative Destruction of Neoclassical Economics (Kalle Lasn Adbusters)