Tag Archives: book

Beethoven drank buckets of black coffee – Creativity advice from 90 artists

It’s nice to have creative friends, especially when you hit a creative block. You can call them up and ask them for advice. That’s exactly what Alex Cornell did and he turned it into BreakThrough! 90 Ways to Spark Your Imagination.

Each one is a personal thought from an artist, writer, or musician – like the one below from Alexi Murdoch. Browse the book on Amazon or visit Brain Pickings for more quotes.

From Alexi Murdoch:

Beethoven drank buckets of strong, black coffee. Beethoven was creatively prodigious. (He also went deaf and, perhaps, mad.) Sound syllogism here? I’d like to think so.

The idea that creativity is some abundantly available resource waiting simply for the right application of ingenuity to extract, refine, and pipe it into the grid seems so axiomatic at this cultural juncture that the very distinction between creativity and productivity has been effectively erased.

And so it is that, when faced with a decreased flow in productivity, we ask not what it might be that’s interfering with our creative process, but rather what device might be quickly employed to raise production levels. This is standard, myopic, symptomatology-over-pathology response, typical of a pressurized environment of dislocated self-entitlement.

At the risk of going off brief here, can I just ask: What’s wrong with creative block? Might it not just be that periods — even extended ones — of productive hiatus are essential mechanisms of gestation designed to help us attain higher standards in our pursuit of creative excellence?

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20 of the world’s most remote islands

If you want to get away from it all – here’s the book for you. Roger Lovegrove has visited – and photographed – 20 of the world’s most remote islands. From the far south Atlantic to the viking north, these are forbidding places.

The book is called, Islands Beyond the Horizon, and here are three of those desolate realms. You can find all twenty at The Telegraph.

 

Islands Beyond the Horizon

 

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J.K. Rowling’s new book comes out Thursday – an adult novel about a social concern

J.K. Rowling’s new book, The Casual Vacancy, comes out this Thursday – September 27, 2012 – and there’s not a spell in it. The adult novel focuses on small-town politics and poverty in southwestern England. A topic so far from her regular work that her publisher has skipped the publicity campaign. They’re just going to release it, pray to god, and see what happens.

Still, Barnes & Noble expects it to be a top seller. Her name may sell millions by itself, but one wonders how the fans will react. And that has been on Rowling’s mind too, from USA Today:

Rowling says she understands and accepts that many readers would rather she just keep writing about the boy wizard.

“Yes, I understand that point of view. If you love something — and there are things that I love — you do want more and more and more of it, but that’s not the way to produce good work. So as an author I need to write what I need to write. And I needed to write this book.”

I guess that dream of seven more high-quality Harry Potter books is done, and Rowling has loudly proclaimed it so “never, never, never.” Her encore will be adult novels – with a social cause – and, possibly, a children’s book. Maybe that will have some wizards in it?

Even through all this, there is some excitement for the book. Fans know she created amazing characters in Harry Potter and may do the same in The Casual Vacancy. Perhaps, it will be a Dickens-like classic that inspires even as it tells a sad story.

Learn more about the plot and the characters in the USA Today exclusive interview with J.K. Rowling.

 

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The Periodic Table as Illustrated Cartoons

In Bunpei Yorifuji’s new book, Wonderful Life with the Elements, each element in the periodic table has personality. From the scary poison of Beryllium to the battery power of Lithium. And not to forget Carbon:

It’s wonderful book and worth buying for only $10. More images from the book are available at Brain Pickings.

I also recommend Bunpei’s past work, the humorous Tokyo Metro “etiquette” posters – Do It At Home.

 

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The key to losing weight – the mindless margin

In writing the last post on WordPress development, I came across an interesting lesson on food. Here is Matt Mullenweg on the book, Mindless Eating:

“It’s not actually a book about food, it’s a book about people. About the human condition and human behaviors. I love food because it’s intrinsic to the human experience, it brings us all together. What Brian talks about in the book is the mindless margin. Most people who overeat don’t overeat by a lot. They overeat by about a 100 calories/day.

We’re talking about a cookie here, 1/6th of a Snickers bar. 100 calories/day over a year adds up to 10 lbs.

On the other end, less 100 calories a day is below the threshold for what many people notice. Over the course of a year it can cause a 10 lb weight loss.

This is what I thought of when researching WordPress development.”

 

I have not read the book but the idea is something I practice. In my daily habits I try to extend the time between meals and eat a bit less. If I can say no to even the tiniest amount then I feel like a conqueror, knowing I am losing some weight. It also reminds me I will eat again so no need to overload on this meal.

I think it’s those tiny, daily victories that make a big difference in weight loss. Again, from Mindless Eating, this time from Wikipedia:

The encouraging premise behind Mindless Eating is that the obesigenic environment that people have set up for themselves in their homes and at work can be reversed. Just as this environment has led many people to slowly gain weight, it can be re-engineered to help them mindlessly lose weight. Consuming 200 fewer calories a day would lead a person to weigh approximately 9 kilograms (20 lbs) less in a year than they otherwise would. The first sentence and the last sentence of the book are, “The best diet is the one you don’t know you’re on.”

Instead of deprivation dieting, Mindless Eating recommends a person choose three small changes in their environment that would lead them to eat 200-300 fewer calories a day.

 

I’ve already mentioned two of my small changes, extending periods between meals and eating a small amount less, and the third would be learning to only eat when I’m hungry. This means skipping the urge to snack in between meals. I think of it like this, “if I’m craving chocolate am I also craving a vegetable? If no, then I should wait until I’m craving the vegetable.” Every time I do so it works. The craving goes away and I eat proper food later when I’m truly hungry.

What about you, do you have any tips for small changes?

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Amazon to hold next Kindle event on Sep 6, 2012 – new tablet, lower prices

(image: Drew Olanoff)

 

One thing is for certain about the upcoming Amazon event on September 6, 2012 – prices will be dropped. Maybe not on all devices, but the company will want to keep pushing that price advantage. There are millions to be made in the e-reader market.

A quote from Matt Brian:

The announcement all but confirms that Amazon will debut new tablet devices next week, with its founder and CEO Jeff Bezos noting that the company will “offer our customers the best hardware, the best prices, the best customer service, the best cross-platform interoperability, and the best content ecosystem.”

 

With a new tablet coming out and lower prices, I expect Amazon to change the game (again). But, we’ll have to wait until next to week to see what that means.

30 free sci-fi classics on the web in text, audiobook, live-readings and more

An amazing collection fo sci-fi books on the web:

Free Science Fiction Classics on the Web: Huxley, Orwell, Asimov, Gaiman & Beyond

Today we’re bringing you a roundup of some of the great Science Fiction, Fantasy and Dystopian classics available on the web. And what better way to get started than with Aldous Huxley reading a dramatized recording of his 1932 novel, Brave New World. The reading aired on the CBS Radio Workshop in 1956. You can listen to Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

By my count there are over 30 stories in all forms – audiobooks, movie, e-text, and even a few live readings from the author.

 

 
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Be Informed: Who are Sikhs and what do they believe?

Sikhism, the world’s fifth most popular religion, emerged more than 500 years ago in Punjab, in what is now India. It was founded by Guru Nanak, a non-practicing Hindu who was against rituals and praying to idols.

It is a monotheistic faith that believes in equality and service to others.

Doing good deeds is important for you to be with God after death, says Raghunandan Johar. Sikhs believe that if you don’t live a life full of good deeds you will be reborn and repeat the circle of life and death.

At a typical gurdwara (temple), the doors open up at 6 a.m. for prayers. A formal service includes the singing of hymns and a team of leaders who have studied the faith reciting from the Guru Granth Sahib, Sikhism’s holy scriptures. That book, more than 1,400 pages long, includes writings from Sikhism’s 10 gurus as well as writers from other religions.

Most Sikh men don’t cut their hair and wear turbans and beards. Many American Sikh women dress like other Westerners or wear the salwar kameez, a traditional north Indian garment of a long shirt and loose-fitting pants.

 

Learn more: CNN - Explainer: Who are Sikhs and what do they believe?

 

 

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Crows are basically flying monkeys, their brains are so large

Here’s the deal with crows. They are basically flying monkeys. Their brains are as large as a monkey’s brain of their size would be; much larger than other birds. Remember the Wizard of Oz? That pack of flying primates that hunted Dorothy and her companions had nothing (stylish hats and coats aside) on the crows that roam your backyard. The monkeys seemed only to express the emotion of fear or anger, and were fully under the control of the Wicked Witch of the West. Heck in the movie they couldn’t even speak! Crows, on the other hand, always seem to express their free will. They can imitate human voice and often do so! In Montana, one crow was so adept at mimicking a master’s “Here Boy, Come Boy” that it could call dogs, and did so on many occasions. This talking crow even assembled a pack of mutts by flying from house to house and fooling dogs into thinking they were following their owner! With his pack in tow, the crow headed to the University of Montana campus, kept them at attention beneath a tree, and ran them through students as they walked between classrooms! For fun or to possibly dislodge a sandwich remains unknown, but certainly Oz’s monkeys couldn’t do that!

 

Book - Gifts of the Crow: How Perception, Emotion, and Thought Allow Smart Birds to Behave Like Humans

 

Keep reading: Amazon Blogs - Are Crows Smarter Than Us? John Marzluff Explains

 

 

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