How frustration can make us more creative


  • I first watched this TED talk several years ago. I still apply its lessons today. I’ve never found another video that delivers as many profound anecdotes and truths about creativity in so short a time.


Recommended Reading

An AI can read words in brain signals


  • Researchers have developed an artificial intelligence program that can spell out the words that you think. The program does so by scanning your brain and matching patterns of neuronal activity to the words it has learned they are associated with. It’s still needs a good amount of fine tuning, but the initial results are very promising.


  • It’s just a start, but it’s pretty exciting: a system that translates brain activity into text. For those unable to physically speak, such as people with locked-in syndrome for example, this would be a life-changer.
  • Predictions for one of their participants required just a tiny 3% correction. That’s actually better than the 5% error rate found in human transcriptions.


Three ways your environment affects your intelligence


  • This is one of the most interesting and important pieces I’ve read in the past couple months.
  • Key point: Emissions and other forms of pollution don’t just warm the atmosphere, they have serious negative effects on human health and mental ability.


  • “One study, for instance, analyzed a dataset of nearly 32,000 observations of standardized test scores and the daily air pollution index throughout China. The researchers found that the longer a study participant was exposed to high levels of pollution, the more their intelligence dropped.”
  • “The generation born after the Clean Air Act gained 6 points in their IQ scores. What’s more, researchers argue that kids who grew up during the period between lead’s introduction to gasoline in the 1920s and its elimination in the 1970s drove up to 90 percent of the variation in violent crime.”


A Humans of New York story that does a great job illustrating the power of genetics testing


  • If this page doesn’t load properly the first time, refresh it. Same goes for the other HONY piece I included a link to below.


  • “Then she gave me the most wonderful news: I had six living brothers and sisters.  They called me one-by one.  None of the conversations were awkward.  And they all asked the same thing: ‘When’s the soonest we can meet?’”


Another beautiful Humans of New York Story 


  • “Dad always looks at the ground when he’s being thanked. That’s how humble he is.  He went to Stanford, but he doesn’t even hang his graduation certificate in his office.”


Additional Info on Vegetable Oils

In last week’s edition, I included a link to an article that argues increased vegetable oil consumption might be a key factor driving the radically increasing rates of chronic disease in America. To avoid any confusion, I’d like to point out that some vegetable oils, such as coconut oil and olive oil, seem to actually be quite healthy. If you’d like to read an article that talks about some of the vegetable oils that you maybe shouldn’t be eating, and gives a good (In my mind) overview of the vegetable oil topic, click here. 


Music Recommendation: John Mayer’s cover of “Like a Rolling Stone”


Excerpts from my Journal 

Small barriers can have big effects. If the information is hidden behind two clicks instead of one, you can bet that half the number of people will end up seeing it. 


Other people are life’s great amplifies. Every person you interact with will amplify a unique aspect of yourself. This is one of the reasons why spending time with others is such a great way of learning who you are.


Musical instruments can communicate truths that spoken language never will. 


For so long

The solution is elusive 


Seemingly out of nowhere

It comes to mind fully formed.  


There is so much to be said for learning the little things

How to tie a knot

How to juggle

How to cook a certain recipe  

With each little thing you learn 

You move one step closer to the ultimate truth.  


So often, we get caught up in semantics arguments 

Arguments about definitions

Arguments about what things are

Some say a stool is a chair

Other say it is not

Some people say life is a game

Some people say life is a journey

You can call these things what you will

Regardless of what you call them

They are what they are.  


A little piece I wrote called “A Way It Could Be” 

The moment you “die” you begin developing once more in the womb of your new mother. Once you are born, you will be new in many ways. You’ll have a new body, unmarred by the physical injuries and ailments from your previous life. Some things will remain though. If you died from a fall in your previous life, you might have a fear of heights in your new one. If you practiced a sport in your previous life, it will come more naturally to you in your new one. If you liked a certain song in your previously life and hear it again in your new one, you’ll feel as though you’ve hear it before. You’ll find it tough to imagine a time in your life when it wasn’t with you. The same happens when you meet a friend from another lifetime.

The catch is that the truth of reincarnation cannot be figured out using empirical means. It can’t be figured out using reductionism. It can’t be figured out by looking through a microscope or telescope. If such means are employed to answer the question of what comes after death, it will seem as though death must result in oblivion. That’s for the best though. If the truth of reincarnation was obvious or easily provable, it would ruin the game.

And so you continue on, lifetime after lifetime, learning all the while. Until one day when you finally realize it’s all a dream. Then you truly wake up, and move on to a higher level of reality. 


Photo of the Week 


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