Mark Twain

"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great."

- Mark Twain

Monday, May 25, 2015

Proust or Poseur? Podcast

John Crace digests Karl Ove Knausgaard's multi-volume autobiographical fiction, 'My Struggle', and asks if it is exceptional in anything apart from length.
Here, he takes on the autobiographical novel which has taken the reading world by storm, with Karl Ove Knausgaard acclaimed as Norway's Proust.

Three volumes are already out in the UK, with a fourth coming in the spring. But is it any more than an extended piece of literary navel-gazing?

Reading list:
Hari Kunzru on why My Struggle is a great work of literature
My Struggle: The Digested Read


Karl Ove Knausgaard

I ordered one of his ('boring' but enthralling) books at the library, just to see what the fuss is all about.

"As fans in New York will discover this week, the Norwegian writer’s rock’n’roll reputation is matched by actual drumming in a bona fide band. It seems odd that more writers don’t do likewise."

I have purchased thousands of books over time but they just become a storage problem.  Then I read:
... too bad we can't buy the time to read the books we buy...

“... that when you're buying books, you're optimistically thinking you're buying the time to read them.
(Paraphrase of Schopenhauer)”
― Arthur Schopenhauer

On Letterman Zevon talked about all the books he compulsively bought:
“We buy books because we believe we're buying the time to read them." 
― Warren Zevon

Nobody can buy more time...

“The art of not reading is a very important one. It consists in not taking an interest in whatever may be engaging the attention of the general public at any particular time. When some political or ecclesiastical pamphlet, or novel, or poem is making a great commotion, you should remember that he who writes for fools always finds a large public. A precondition for reading good books is not reading bad ones: for life is short.” 
― Arthur SchopenhauerEssays and Aphorisms

“Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.” 
― Arthur SchopenhauerStudies in Pessimism: The Essays

“Without books the development of civilization would have been impossible. They are the engines of change, windows on the world, "Lighthouses" as the poet said "erected in the sea of time." They are companions, teachers, magicians, bankers of the treasures of the mind, Books are humanity in print.” 
― Arthur Schopenhauer

“The person who writes for fools is always sure of a large audience.”
― Arthur SchopenhauerReligion: A Dialogue and Other Essays

Der Mensch kann tun was er will; er kann aber nicht wollen was er will.

Man can do what he wills but he cannot will what he wills.” 
― Arthur SchopenhauerEssays and Aphorisms

“Talent hits a target no one else can hit. Genius hits a target no one else can see.” 
― Arthur Schopenhauer

Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest......................................Mark Twain

Hiring Hillary

Hiring Hillary——It Takes A Private Jet, Presidential Suite, Lots Of Aides And $225K
by ZeroHedge • May 23, 2015

Late last month we highlighted an IB Times report which showed that Goldman Sachs paid Bill Clinton some $200,000 for a speech ahead of an effort to lobby The State Department (then led by Hillary Clinton) on Export-Import Bank legislation tied to a $75 million purchase order from a Chinese company to a Goldman-owned aircraft manufacturer.

The idea that the paid speech and the authorization of an Export-Import Bank loan to the Chinese firm were related was of course dismissed as “preposterous” by Goldman (draw your own conclusions) but what certainly isn’t preposterous is the fact that the Clintons reap millions for speaking engagements and as you can see from the following, if you want a Clinton, a quarter-million in cash isn’t all you’ll need to budget for.

Here is the rest:

Be Present In Your Life.


Look at this day, for it is life, the very life of life.

In its brief course lie all the realities and verities of existence, the bliss of growth, the splendor of action, the glory of power.

For yesterday is but a dream, and tomorrow is only a vision, but today, well lived, makes every day a dream, a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope.

Look well, therefore, to this day.

Mark Twain Quotes

We all have thoughts that would shame the devil.
Mark Twain - Notebooks (1935)

What a good thing Adam had. When he said a good thing he knew nobody had said it before.
Mark Twain - Speech in NYC, Jan. 22, 1906

 The idea that no gentleman ever swears is all wrong; he can swear and still be a gentleman if he does it in a nice and benevolent and affectionate way.
Mark Twain

Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.
Mark Twain - Following the Equator

A human being has a natural desire to have more of a good thing than he needs.
Mark Twain

The best cure for Christianity is reading the Bible.
Mark Twain

Golf is a good walk, ruined.
Mark Twain - Following the Equator (1897)

Man is the Only Animal that Blushes. Or needs to.
Mark Twain

Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.
Mark Twain

Those who say truth is stranger than fiction have wasted their time on poorly written fiction.
Mark Twain

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.
Mark Twain - (attributed)

A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.
Mark Twain

I am opposed to millionaires, but it would be dangerous to offer me the position.
Mark Twain

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you; that is the principal difference between a dog and a man.
Mark Twain

Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.
Mark Twain

All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure.
Mark Twain

Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.
Mark Twain

There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
Mark Twain

I have never taken any exercise except sleeping and resting.
Mark Twain

 Sacred cows make the best hamburgers.
Mark Twain

Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.
Mark Twain

Good breeding consists of concealing how much we think of ourselves and how little we think of the other person.
Mark Twain

Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds upon the heel that crushes it.
Mark Twain

I admire the serene assurance of those who have religious faith. It is wonderful to observe the calm confidence of a Christian with four aces.
Mark Twain

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Bringing back a Wandering Attention - William James

 William James was interested in mindfulness and attention:

 “The faculty of voluntarily bringing back a wandering attention, over and over again, is the very root of judgment, character, and will. No one is compos sui [master of himself] if he have it not. An education which should improve this faculty would be the education par excellence.”

William James, Psychology: Briefer Course, p. 424 (Harper Torchbooks, 1961)

Adorable Dogs

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Vincent Van Gogh

"Let’s not forget that the little emotions are the great captains of our lives and that we obey them without realizing it."

—Vincent Van Gogh

Monday, April 6, 2015

Self-Acceptance Quotes

“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit”
― E.E. Cummings

“The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.” 
― C.G. Jung

“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.” 

― Dalai Lama XIV

“It's not worth our while to let our imperfections disturb us always.” 

― Henry David Thoreau

“Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.” 
― BrenĂ© Brown   

“If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation.” 
― Jiddu Krishnamurti

“I now see how owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.” 
― BrenĂ© Brown

“At 30 a man should know himself like the palm of his hand, know the exact number of his defects and qualities, know how far he can go, foretell his failures - be what he is. And, above all, accept these things.” 
― Albert Camus

"Self-acceptance means living the life you choose to live without worrying what others think about you. It doesn’t matter what someone else thinks about you. What matters is what you think about yourself. Life is about choices—your life choices, not someone else’s choice about how you should live.” 
― Sadiqua Hamdan, Happy Am I. Holy Am I. Healthy Am I.

“Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.” 

― Max EhrmannDesiderata: A Poem for a Way of Life

“There comes a time in each life like a point of fulcrum. At that time you must accept yourself. It is not any more what you will become. It is what you are and always will be. You are too young to know this. You are still becoming. Not being.” 
― John FowlesThe Magus

“What is freedom? It consists in two things: to know each his own limitations and accept them – that is the same thing as to know oneself, and accept oneself as one is, without fear, or envy, or distaste; and to recognise and accept the conditions under which one lives, also without fear or envy, or distaste. When you do this, you shall be free.” 
― Ann BridgeIllyrian Spring


the impact of meditation on the brain -- 11/3/14

Today's selection -- from "Mind of the Meditator" by Matthieu Ricard, Antoine Lutz and Richard J. Davidson. Brain imaging shows that when we master a task such as playing an instrument or the advanced performance in a sport, specific parts of the brain are transformed -- certain neural pathways grow and strengthen. Neuroscientists have now shown that the same is true for mastery of meditation with direct benefits for improving focus, overcoming depression, dealing with pain and cultivating emotional well-being:
"A comparison of the brain scans of meditators with tens of thousands of hours of practice with those of neophytes and nonmeditators has started to explain why this set of techniques for training the mind holds great potential for supplying cognitive and emotional benefits. ...
"The discovery of meditation's benefits coincides with recent neuroscientific findings showing that the adult brain can still be deeply transformed through experience. These studies show that when we learn how to juggle or play a musical instrument, the brain undergoes changes through a process called neuroplasticity. A brain region that controls the movement of a violinist's fingers becomes progressively larger with mastery of the instrument. A similar process appears to happen when we meditate. Nothing changes in the surrounding environment, but the meditator regulates mental states to achieve a form of inner enrichment, an experience that affects brain functioning and its physical structure. The evidence amassed from this research has begun to show that meditation can rewire brain circuits to produce salutary effects not just on the mind and the brain but on the entire body. ...
A) 12 expert meditators had greater overlap of increased activation of attention-related 
brain regions. B) 12 non-meditators had less overlap and activation. Orange hues equal
higher correlation between individuals & activation. Blue hues equal little to 
no correlation between regions of activation.
"Neuroscientists have now begun to probe what happens inside the brain during the various types of meditation. Wendy Hasenkamp, then at Emory University, and her colleagues used brain imaging to identify the neural networks activated by focused- attention meditation. ... Advanced meditators appear to acquire a level of skill that enables them to achieve a focused state of mind with less effort. These effects resemble the skill of expert musicians and athletes capable of immersing themselves in the 'flow' of their performances with a minimal sense of effortful control. ...
"In our Wisconsin lab, we have studied experienced practitioners while they performed an advanced form of mindfulness meditation called open presence. In open presence, sometimes called pure awareness, the mind is calm and relaxed, not focused on anything in particular yet vividly clear, free from excitation or dullness. The meditator observes and is open to experience without making any attempt to interpret, change, reject or ignore painful sensation. We found that the intensity of the pain was not reduced in meditators, but it bothered them less than it did members of a control group. Compared with novices, expert meditators' brain activity diminished in anxiety-related regions -- the insular cortex and the amygdala -- in the period preceding the painful stimulus. The meditators' brain response in pain-related regions became accustomed to the stimulus more quickly than that of novices after repeated exposures to it. Other tests in our lab have shown that meditation training increases one's ability to better control and buffer basic physiological responses -- inflammation or levels of a stress hormone -- to a socially stressful task such as giving a public speech or doing mental arithmetic in front of a harsh jury.
"Several studies have documented the benefits of mindfulness on symptoms of anxiety and depression and its ability to improve sleep patterns. By deliberately monitoring and observing their thoughts and emotions when they feel sad or worried, depressed patients can use meditation to manage negative thoughts and feelings as they arise spontaneously and so lessen rumination. Clinical psychologists John Teasdale, then at the University of Cambridge, and Zindel Segal of the University of Toronto showed in 2000 that for patients who had previously suffered at least three episodes of depression, six months of mindfulness practice, along with cognitive therapy, reduced the risk of relapse by nearly 40 percent in the year following the onset of a severe depression. More recently, Segal demonstrated that the intervention is superior to a placebo and has a protective effect against relapse comparable to standard maintenance antidepressant therapy. ...
"About 15 years of research have done more than show that meditation produces significant changes in both the function and structure of the brains of experienced practitioners. These studies are now starting to demonstrate that contemplative practices may have a substantive impact on biological processes critical for physical health."

author: "Mind of the Meditator"
title: Matthieu Ricard, Antoine Lutz and Richard J. Davidson
publisher: Scientific American
date: November 2014
pages: 39-45

Thursday, January 29, 2015

BJ Fogg: Individuals Must Change Habits for Better Health

Uploaded on May 18, 2011
BJ Fogg, Director of the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab, was the first of three speakers on the subject of changing behaviors and changing policies at the 2011 GSB Healthcare Summit.

In his address, he focused on behavior change at the individual level and the essential steps for people to build new habits.

Related Links:
Stanford GSB Program in Healthcare Innovation:
Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab:
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