“a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention”
~ Herbert A Simon #
“Strategic incompetence is the art of avoiding undesirable tasks by pretending to be unable to do them, and though the phrase was apparently only recently coined in a Wall Street Journal article, the concept is surely as old as humanity. “
Oliver Burkeman #
“Fiction is one of the few experiences where loneliness can be both confronted and relieved. Drugs, movies where stuff blows up, loud parties — all these chase away loneliness by making me forget my name’s Dave and I live in a one-by-one box of bone no other party can penetrate or know. Fiction, poetry, music, really deep serious sex, and, in various ways, religion — these are the places (for me) where loneliness is countenanced, stared down, transfigured, treated.”
David Foster Wallace on Loneliness: I often like being alone – but I don’t like being lonely
After six decades in the business, can nature still blow Attenborough’s mind? “Yes, from minute one,” he says. “From this I’m absolutely astounded, really. There were so many new things. I couldn’t believe what I saw. It takes a bit of time to get your mind around that sort of thing. How can there be a lake at the bottom of the sea? And then it explodes like a volcano!”
“The amazing thing is how every film has found new things,” says Attenborough. One new discovery was seeing an Anchor tuskfish from the Great Barrier Reef, using coral tools to open clams. “You suddenly saw this fish that was more intelligent than you imagined. It was extraordinary.”
An extract from an interview with Sir David Attenborough in The Big Issue #553
I can’t stop thinking about this.
If a ninety one year old with 32 honorary degrees who has authored dozens of books and had some 15 species named after him, “the greatest broadcaster of our time”, can still have his mind blown by nature, there is zero excuse for you and I to not live in a total state of awe and be astounded every time we step outside 🤩
“Professor Andrew Scull of Princeton, writing in the Lancet, explained that attributing depression to spontaneously low serotonin is “deeply misleading and unscientific”. Dr David Healy told me: “There was never any basis for it, ever. It was just marketing copy.”
I didn’t want to hear this. Once you settle into a story about your pain, you are extremely reluctant to challenge it. It was like a leash I had put on my distress to keep it under some control. I feared that if I messed with the story I had lived with for so long, the pain would run wild, like an unchained animal. Yet the scientific evidence was showing me something clear, and I couldn’t ignore it.”
From an extract from Johann Hari’s new book Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions. I’ve ordered it from my library.
It’s that time of year which means I can finally publish the list of quotes we’ve collected from our boys throughout the year.
This year Junior Pixels was 7 turning 8, Little Bear was 5 turning 6, and Little Whale turned 4 during the year. So many classics this year it’s too hard to pick favourites.
In no particular order:
Orson looking very serious:
“Mama don’t jump forever if you have no undies on. Your pants will fall down!”
Finley (biting into a freshly made toasted sandwich):
“oh Mama; the taste of happiness”
Finley: “The cup of tea at the park was a great idea. Lucky we have the furnace (Thermos)”
(In Byron bay)
Finley: “Mama, what are party herbs?”
Mama: “boys would you like one of the special cereals I bought? I have rice bubbles or nutri grain left…”
Winston: “oh nutri-gubble for me!”
Orson: “Papa, when I grow up I don’t want to be a policeman anymore. I want to be a writer: someone who writes stories”
Finley: “but you’re already a great writer Orson”
Driving to school.
Mama: “look there’s the police getting coffees”
Finley: “cops with coffee”
Orson: “why do cops love coffee so much Mama?”
Winston: “Nana is funny”
Mama: “is she?”
Winston: “she tells me funny things. She thinks everything is normal but it’s not normal”
Orson & fin in the shower
Orson: “ahhh mama the shower is getting hot! It’s burning! I’m going to boil & turn into a cup of coffee!”
Orson: “I’ve been doing really well eating my dinner. Something’s I don’t like. But I sit down and look at it. I ask my brain ‘do I like this?’ And it decides. Then it tells me what I can eat.”
Papa: “Why do you need help cleaning your teeth Orson?”
Orson: “Because of my brain. It’s telling me to do other things”
Orson: “my brain is telling me that it’s tired and that I can’t do anything more”
Finley: “it’s not his brain telling him that, his brain isn’t separate from his body”
Winston (screaming loudly and pointing):
“That man has a smoker (cigarette)! He’s going to die! He will cough and die! Look!”
(Pointing at ornate church)
Orson: “Papa is that god’s castle?”
Orson: “Mama do you know I can spot cows out the window”
Mama: “wow. How do you do that?”
Orson: “I know they are cows because they have tails like lions…horses have pony tails”
Orson: “Papa we went to the museum and saw ships in the dry dock. And we saw the pontoon where nana and grandpa saw a guy that the police were trying to capture.”
Papa: “wow that sounds like an exciting day”
Orson: “yes the guy had escaped and the police were trying to get him. Nana said he wasn’t at jail just probably escaped from the bad guy farm.”
Mama: “what’s the bad guy farm?”
Orson: “oh nana told us about it- not where the really bad guys go, just little bit bad”
Finley: “yeah, not like jail where you go if you kill someone but when you’re just a bit bad you go to work on the bad guy farm”
Mama: “oh. That makes sense…”
Papa: “What do you do when you’re frustrated Winnie?”
Winnie: “I eat!”
Orson (in bed very tired after a long day):
“and my new kicks (shoes) didn’t even arrive today!”
Orson: “your tongue is pink because your taste bunks (buds) are pink, and they’re trying to camouflage”
Winston hiccuping in the back seat of car.
Winston: “Mama I think I have hair-cups. See- it makes you do dis (hiccups).”
Finley (after reading a 1970s sea life library book and wondering about whether ‘alarmingly low fur seal populations’ had recovered or were now extinct. After looking it up we discovered they were doing okay in islands near Chile. Finley was elated)
“Some creatures, their poplee-ation can just got down and down and until the get es-tinct. In David Attenborough a farmer gave a possum skin to the museum that he thought they’d be interested in. And the museum people said they had thought it was es-tinct but they looked in the area near the farm and it wasn’t. You don’t need to give up- you just need to keep looking.
I’m so glad the fur seal is not es-tinct- I can go to sleep now.”
Winston (singing lying in bed before going to sleep):
“the ants go marching one by one, galah! Galah! The ants go marching two by two, galah! Galah!”
Orson telling papa about his park trip.
Orson: “and papa it was very camouflage but I saw a tawny frog mouse in the trees!”
Orson: “Winnie- let’s do cheers with our trollies!”
Winston: “Mama do you love me when I’m not around?”
Mama: “of course I will always love you and miss you”
Winston: “and then I will come back”
Winston: “Mama cola makes you rotten”
Orson: “Winston gekkcos are oc-tour-nal. That means they come out at night like possums.”
Winston (seeing a bush turkey): “Mama, did you know turkeys make turkey (Turkish) bread? I know that”
Orson riding his bike
Orson: “Mama, did you know that the more you ride bikes the more you will know about cars?”
Winston playing with his turtle in car after park.
Winston: “do turtles go to the bottom of the sea?”
Mama: “yes I think so.”
Winston: “mama do they have playgrounds under the sea?”
Mama: “I don’t thinks so darling, maybe rocks & coral to swim around.”
Winston: “no. I think they have playgrounds down there.”
Orson: “Mama was so ‘steaked’ (stoked) that I got this book at school”
Orson: “you don’t believe in me” (you don’t believe I’m telling the truth)
Mama: (sniffing) “oh Winston did you just fart? So stinky.”
Winston: “it was a gnome. A gnome did it.”
Winston: “what are we having for dinner mama?”
Winston: “oh I love graby! (gravy)”
*** BONUS ***
Winston: “Why do they call them brownies when they’re actually black. They should call them blackies.”
Winston: “Orson said the f-word. Don’t say the f-word Orson!”
Orson: “what the fuck is the f-word Winston?”
“We begin in admiration and we end by organizing our disappointment”
— Gaston Bachelard
“First we shape our buildings, then they shape us”
~ Winston Churchill, 1943
You can also substitute the word buildings with children
“Discovery is seeing what everyone else has seen, and thinking what no one else has thought”
~ Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
the 3 A’s of Apple Customer Support:
A – Acknowledge that their concerns are valid.
A – Align with the customer, agreeing that you would feel the same were you in their shoes.
A – Assure the customer that you will be able to solve their problem to their satisfaction.
via John Saddington
I recently finished The Boiling River: Adventure and Discovery in The Amazon—a TED book by Andrés Ruzo. I love the short format and interestingness of these books, this one was no exception.
“At a time when everything seems mapped, measured, and understood, this river challenges what we /think/ we know. It has forced me to question the line between known and unknown, ancient and modern, scientific and spiritual. It is a reminder that there are still great wonders to be discovered. We find them not just in the black void of the unknown but in the white noise of everyday life—in the things we barely notice, the things we almost forget, even in the detail of a story.”
“My headlamp concentrates my focus on the small area it illuminates and makes the darkness beyond seem impenetrable. I contemplate the marvels that must be out there, shrouded in darkness or hidden in the everyday. That is the lesson of the darkness: it is our perspective that draws the line between the known and the unknown, the sacred and the trivial, the things we take for granted and the things we have yet to discover.”
“If you get tired learn to rest, not to quit”
Over the past decade, an abundance of psychology research has shown that experiences bring people more happiness than do possessions.
Essentially, when you can’t live in a moment, they say, it’s best to live in anticipation of an experience. Experiential purchases like trips, concerts, movies, et cetera, tend to trump material purchases because the utility of buying anything really starts accruing before you buy it.
Waiting for an experience apparently elicits more happiness and excitement than waiting for a material good (and more “pleasantness” too—an eerie metric). By contrast, waiting for a possession is more likely fraught with impatience than anticipation.
A 8 year-old friend of junior pixels recently told him at school that our family doesn’t have many toys because we go on holidays all the time. I initially didn’t know what to think when I heard him recount this, but I am since proud of that fact.
“There are lots of things you could probably do to improve your life. You could make more money, for instance, or travel more, or write more, or be a better friend, or get one of those vacuum cleaners that cleans your house while you’re out throwing your head back laughing at after-work cocktails in a nicely ironed shirt, the sleeve of which you hitch up when your expensive watch reminds you to circulate so you can get home in time to do all the right things to be perfect again the next day.
On the other hand, you could just do this: go for a walk. Nothing quite like a nice walk to really turn things around. Okay, alright, it’s not going to fix everything. It might not fix anything. And okay, alright, if you’re crook or you can’t walk or are indisposed or it’s the middle of the night, it doesn’t even need to be an actual walk. Do the next best thing. Go to the window and look out of it.”
~ Lorin Clarke, Walk the Walk, The Big Issue #543
“Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets. The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.”
“You know what, I’m a meat pie. I’m a human meat pie, I’m not flash… there are no surprises. I like motorsport, I like my family, I’ve got two dogs, four kids, got chickens and some sheep. When someone says you’re the everyday man, the guy next door, or you’re the average joe, well that feels like a massive compliment. You know I’ve got a face like a dropped pie and I’m not exactly the right shape according to the magazines, but people let me on their TV screens. I’ve had some guys say, “you give me hope”.
I wouldn’t give my 16-year-old self any advice. I wouldn’t interfere with him at all, because for every broken heart and for every hard road travelled or every pothole that was hard on my emotional suspension, I’ve turned out to be who I am – and I am now with the woman of my dreams, I have four healthy beautiful children and I’m doing my dream job. Why would I risk changing any of it? I’m not going to send anything off kilter.”
~ Shane Jacobson – star of Kenny – the Australian film about a bloke that fixes busted toilets – via The Big Issue #543
“Many people – and not a few companies – like to think that they can somehow stretch the cognitive limits of their minds, that doings lots of Sudoku or using programs like Brain Trainer will somehow enlarge their capacity. They’re out of luck. The only exercise that seems to nurture, or at least protect our brains is aerobic exercise. Yoga, toning and stretching may make you feel good but, in fMRI scans, only aerobic exercise seemed to have a visibly positive impact on the brain.”
~ Margaret Heffernan – Wilful Blindness
“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”
— C.S. Lewis
“Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”
— Philip K Dick
Acknowledging death graces us with a sense of perspective: it reminds us that we only have a finite number of breaths; it makes us ask ourselves ‘How will I feel when I get to the end of my life having done/without having done this?’
— Anne Karpf – How to Age