The sounds of a Martian sunrise inspire short musical composition | Ars Technica

I am fascinated by examples where science becomes the inspiration for art. In this case, scientists took a photograph of the Martian sunrise from Opportunity’s camera and by a process described as sonification generated sound. This remarkable piece is the result of that work.


Scientists turned Opportunity’s image of the 5,000th sunrise on Mars into music.

Source: The sounds of a Martian sunrise inspire short musical composition | Ars Technica

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(70) How to stay calm when you know you’ll be stressed | Daniel Levitin – YouTube

I’m in the middle of a really stressful time. It is a sensible thought to prepare yourself for times like this. Here are some are sensible suggestions worth listening to.

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Mind fuck: The perils of the hero entrepreneur mythology | Idealog

I am teaching and encouraging my students to identify fake news and to question dominant narratives, this builds capacity for critical thinking and self-empowerment and agency. Stories of the hero-entrepreneur are commonly told to encourage us to emulate them but I think, questioning and rejecting this narrative is appropriate. There are two reasons I think this: first entrepreneurship and innovation is the work of cooperative teams, seldom one person; and, second, because working crazy hours leads to burnout, depression, and too often early death. For me: Work sensibly hours. Set in place sensible: sleep, exercise and eating routines. Take holidays, weekends, and breaks. Take time to love your: partners, family, pets… Work on your passion projects. Live!

The article explores the hero entrepreneur mythology and warns against the living of it. I encourage you to read the article and reflect on your true values.

Source: Mind fuck: The perils of the hero entrepreneur mythology | Idealog

Illustration: Wade Wu

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Great news: pleasure is the purpose of life. Bad news: moderation is key | Aeon Videos

This is a useful idea. Seek pleasure in moderation.

And I also have to say, many researchers have reached this conclusion and, of course, moderation is a key to sustainable living.

Should you feel bad about pursuing pleasure? Many philosophers say you should at least be circumspect about it. There was one, however, who saw maximizing pleasure as the goal of life: Epicurus. Sam Dresser explains how the ancient Greek thinker can help you find the good in the pleasurable – though Epicurean hedonism is no sure way to overcome the pain of excess. About I Hope this Helps. A wise man once said: ‘Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.’ Sam Dresser emphatically agrees. In Aeon’s first original web series, he uses arcane philosophical theories to help solve your personal problems. For more advice from Sam, take a look at our originals video channel.

Source: Great news: pleasure is the purpose of life. Bad news: moderation is key | Aeon Videos

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Do Dogs Understand What You’re Telling Them? Scientists Are Scanning Their Brains to Find Out | Mental Floss

This is a wonderful report where the researchers have used fMRI seeking to measure the difference in dogs brain’s response to known and unknown commands. Do dogs understand words? That’s an interesting question. Of course, I think this dog understands me; except when he is focused on: my wife, food, or a cat.

Researchers are trying to figure out how dogs distinguish between human words.

Source: Do Dogs Understand What You’re Telling Them? Scientists Are Scanning Their Brains to Find Out | Mental Floss

Before our walk

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(57) Emma Watson at the HeForShe Campaign 2014 – Official UN Video – YouTube

At a time when the world is challenging us, it is important to remember that progress is being made.

Here is Emma Watson motivating us. “It’s about freedom!”

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My Critique of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Self Improvement by Stephen Covey – YouTube

This video is a summary of a book I read many years ago. Worth revisiting, yet I’ve moved on. Covey doesn’t speak to me at all now. Yes, he teaches skills that are useful, skills I use every day toward my vision of growth and freedom. But I don’t think Covey is teaching for self-emancipation and growth, he teaches us to stay slaves.

The seven habits are: be proactive; begin with the end in mind; put first thing first; think win/win; seek first to understand, then to be understood; synergize; sharpen the saw; and inside out again.

My views on this book are complicated. Encouraging readers to actively work toward their goals is admirable yet like pretty much all of the self-help genre the seven habits is tainted by self-satisfaction. Covey is privileged as a member of a white middle-income Morman community and as a person with his health. Consequently, his book is riddled with success bias and I get the impression that the author views unsuccessful people as failures; it is their fault. My view is more complicated: Learned helplessness is a thing, finding yourself in a position where your options are limited is a thing, people in power frustrating personal growth is a thing, bullies are a thing; shit happens. That is not to say doing what you can is bad, just that often the results are not as magical as Stephen Covey would have us believe.

His first suggestion is that learning to pause rather than react when in crisis is helpful. His next suggestions, the ideas of working in your area of influence and of working toward long-term goals, are both standard personal growth suggestions. It troubles me, that the reality of other’s power is ignored. Bullies can derail you forever, ignoring this kind of reality is normal for the self-improvement literature. In fact, so much of the self-improvement literature is saying, “If at first, you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.” My issue here is that this is too optimistic and simple. Sometimes quitting is the best thing to do. Giving up, changing your goals; that is necessary and healthy: Change the environment. Move. Look after yourself. Get out of the toxic place. Burnout and depression are real consequences of staying in impossible places.

Covey tells, us to “begin with the end in mind”, asking us to imagine our funerals; “What will people say?” I don’t spend any time considering my funeral and what people will say about me. I just do the best I can and leave it at that. To be honest, I think this habit of Covey’s is manipulative. It says do what others want. Do what the group wants: blend in, don’t rock the boat, and don’t trust yourself. Rubbish. Follow your own path. I do my best to, “Have fun, and do good” and “I do the best I can, with the time and resources I have”. For me, goals are about balancing my time and energy, enjoying life as well as contributing, and not putting so much time, energy and worry into projects that I burn out. It is important too that my having fun includes passions Covey would frown on. I like sex and chocolate and music.

Covey introduces the urgent and important matrix as a way of managing your time. Do the important stuff first, like spending time with loved ones, on personal projects, and planning. Put first things first. This frame is one I use every day and is a helpful beginning to taking charge of your time. It is one technique I find helpful. But it’s one technique and we need more. Others I use are a todo list, setup using the importance/urgent idea, and a daily schedule; for example, I spend at least 15 minutes twice a day writing here. That’s a process goal. My experience is that process goals give focus and work well. I would achieve little without them.

I want to comment on the next three of Coveys habits here: Think win-win, seek first to understand, and seek synergy. These are all about working with other people. And he gives sound advice which works and is pretty standard from the self-improvement literature. By all means, follow his advice. The challenge is this. Seeking to work with people in an open cooperative way makes you open to manipulation and being used by and conned by others. As individuals, we have a responsibility to ourselves to look after ourselves. Of course, typical of the genre, Covey does not acknowledge the risks and suggest how to manage them.

The final habit is, “Sharpen the saw”. Keep learning every day but to what end? This is, in my view, the most important habit and Covey misses the point. Learning skills to improve our marketability, how others can use us, or how we can use others; that’s Covey’s point. He is fundamentally manipulative here. My position is: We learn for fun and to emancipate ourselves: That is not Covey’s message. Nothing here about learning critical thinking. Nothing about learning to question. Nothing about exploring alternatives to the North American, white male, hegemony. Covey teaches us to be good wage slaves, good managers for the Board, good white Anglo-Saxon parents but not change agents; not free. That is a problem. I’m reminded here of a favorite Carl Sagon quote, “The business of scepticism is to be dangerous. Scepticism challenges established institutions. If we teach everybody, including, say, high school students, habits of sceptical thought, they will probably not restrict their scepticism to UFOs, aspirin commercials and 35,000-year-old channellees. Maybe they’ll start asking awkward questions about economic, or social, or political, or religious institutions. Perhaps they’ll challenge the opinions of those in power. Then where would we be?” (Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark). I don’t think Covey has his readers best interests at heart. I don’t think he wants us free.

Why is this? I think Covey is a slave. I think Covey suffers from magical thinking, after all, he is a Mormon and that nonsense taints his thinking. Please treat his message with care. Look after yourself, think for yourself, grow in directions for yourself. Use the skills he teaches for yourself. Be bigger than Covey’s vision of you. Remember, there is no magic.

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An Antidote to White Male Capitalist Culture: Adrienne Rich on the Liberating Power of Storytelling and How Reading Emancipates – Brain Pickings

This week this was on my reading list. I think Adrienne Rich is absolutely correct. Reading, writing, learning to think carefully and critically are foundation steps toward self-empowerment and emancipation. That is true for every marginalized, disempowered and ignored individual.

That our screen filled lives encourage a passivity that supports those who would control us. That is not the complete story.  I’m learning to think and write on this blog; that is empowering. Writing and quality reading is not passive:  learning, commenting, provoking and growing, on our screens helps us grow. Screens empower.

Never-the-less Adrienne Rich is correct, passivity supports the capitalistic patriarchy; whereas, reading, writing and creating supports personal growth and empowerment.

Keep learning and growing.

“The decline in adult literacy means not merely a decline in the capacity to read and write, but a decline in the impulse to puzzle out, brood upon… argue about, turn inside-out in verb…

Source: An Antidote to White Male Capitalist Culture: Adrienne Rich on the Liberating Power of Storytelling and How Reading Emancipates – Brain Pickings

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Jewels in the Night Sea exhibition – in pictures | Art and design | The Guardian

Science can bring beauty into our lives. Here is an example.

Ryo Minemizu, one of Japan’s emerging stars in the field of marine life photography and the 2017 winner of the Nikkei National Geographic photography prize, captures the beauty and complexity of plankton that drift in our planet’s oceans and other bodies of water in meticulous detail

Source: Jewels in the Night Sea exhibition – in pictures | Art and design | The Guardian

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How to Make a Learning Bucket List | Science of People

At present, I’m busy at work. It is going to be a series of short blogs for a while as I concentrate on work and slowly on a bigger post. But I am keeping on with my goal of blogging each week and improving as a writer. This article was in my email this week. Vanessa is correct, having goals and making myself accountable for them helps.

What are your goals? Do you have a list and a plan? Check out this article, maybe it will help you.

Do you have a learning bucket list? If not, today is the day to start one. I’ll teach you the steps you can do right now to create your very own.

Source: How to Make a Learning Bucket List | Science of People

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