Good Reads, Happy 2011 Edition

Happy New Year, everybody! Hope you had a great time during Christmas and the turn of the year. (I was told that saying “Christmas” instead of “Holidays” was considered politically incorrect. As a friendly anarchist, I don’t really feel too bad about being p.i. at times, although I hope you also enjoyed Hanukkah, Yule, the winter solstice, Kwanzaa and whatnot. Also, the Chinese New Year is yet to come, while Muslims and Jews already enjoyed their New Year’s festivities several weeks ago, in early December and September, respectively. So wishing a Happy New Year without specifying it as “Gregorian” is probably p.i. as well. As far as I am concerned: The more, the merrier – let’s celebrate them all!)

Conveniently, in the Worldwide (Dis)Organization of Friendly Anarchists, there’s also a special festivity coming up: On January 16th, the vigil of Art’s Birthday, we will celebrate the First International Walk With Flowers Day!

Walk With Flowers Day 2011The idea to celebrate this day was born in a conversation with Patricia Taylor, who recently launched a great new blog called Monthly Adventure. A couple of years ago, Patricia started implementing one adventure per month in her life – from doing ESP readings to becoming a skipper after a session with a Peruvian shaman! What a cool strategy to live an interesting life is that!?!

(Also, Patricia’s blog is a perfect example of how to build a blog with love and sweat and a personal touch, opposed to doing what everybody else is doing and getting all red and itchy about building a business and stuff.)

As part of her January adventure, Patricia will join me in walking with flowers – and you should, too!

As most of you know, I am not a friend of big PR hype, so the idea is not to make this yet another marketing event for the flower industry. (Valentine’s Day is more than enough!) Instead, we just want to embrace this day to be friendly to strangers – and interact with them, if even for a couple of seconds.

If you are interested to participate, you could actually walk with flowers, but you could also give away some home-made cupcakes, books you enjoyed reading, or engage in non-material acts of kindness: Help that lady carry her groceries, give that parking lot to the guy coming after you, make lots and lots of compliments (especially as you are the most beautiful readers of the planet!), and spend the day smiling.

More information can be found here! It would be a pleasure to have you on board!

[¶]

Here are other good (and great!) reads I stumbled upon during the last couple of weeks.

[¶]

Becoming a clear-minded creative takes a lot of hard work and determination. It begins with learning about yourself and making changes where needed. It involves setting up habits and systems that help you achieve as much as possible. And it involves continuous awareness.

My friend Milo finally launched his new blog! It’s called Clearminded Creative, and it’s targeted towards creative people that want to get clear about their way and do more creative work. This is a friendly blog from a smart guy who is walking the walk, so be sure to subscribe for updates!

[¶]

Embrace the subconscious. In the studio, I have a sofa for naps with a couple pillows. The pillow is kind of comfortable, but mostly not. Just soft enough to relax you. But, just stiff enough to keep you from falling fully asleep. Right before you fall fully asleep, your brain is making all sorts of connections between all of the unrelated thoughts in your brain. There’s no filter from your conscious mind saying “This makes sense. This other idea doesn’t.” Without that filter, you can consider more possibilities. So, grab something to write with, fill your head to the brim with research and what you already know. Then, take an almost-nap and get ready to document the ideas that find you.

Always love Frank Chimero. This is an older post by him called 10 Principles that may make your work better or may make it worse and I found number 6 to be fitting well with my experiences of the power of the idle brain – it definitely makes my work better, not worse!

[¶]

It isn’t that Pescovitz doesn’t understand what the blog business has become; he just figures that however it works now is anathema to what’s made Boing Boing popular in the first place. The editorial policy is just what it’s always been: The principals post whatever they want, whenever they feel like it. (…)

“Whenever something has a certain set of characteristics — interestingness, weirdness, colorfulness — some magical algorithm, it has to go on Boing Boing.” (…)

“I mean, if it’s interesting to me, it’s interesting,” he says. “And I think there are enough people out there that are interested in the same things I’m interested in. That makes it worth it.” (…)

Still, critics of Boing Boing say it tilts into the self-indulgent and owes its readers a more coherent, discriminating editorial style. “Uh-huh. Yeah,” Frauenfelder says, sounding patient. “I think it would just kill the pretty large audience we already have. We’re serving them by creating the blog that we ourselves want to read. And I’m not interested at all in creating any kind of media that I wouldn’t want to consume. That would be, like, deadly.”

Do you sometimes get hung up in this whole “provide value” bullshit? Read the story of Boing Boing, one of the biggest blogs out there, and get a different look at it!

I think that most people really don’t get the value proposition thingy right. Instead of doing cool stuff, they just start to produce more of the same, old content: Another copy of the copy of the rip-off of the copy of the original.

In contrast, the approach to just create what you would love to see can actually work – even at a very big level, as Boing Boing proves. This will not only make it nicer for you, it will make it more interesting for everybody involved.

[¶]

There’s another way to look at entropy in the metaphorical sense. Maybe unless a bit of chaos is introduced into the system, things always tend toward order. Toward clockwork. Toward a machine that ticks mindlessly and effortlessly along until time runs out.

So let’s get disorderly. (…)

When you want to make a change, you have to shake things up. You have to knock yourself out of that rut so that you can decide if you’d like to move or settle back into it. You need a little bit of anarchy… and nothing is better at creating personal anarchy than awareness.

Brilliant post by Johnny B. Truant. Johnny equals Business, but he’s also another example of boingboingesque content anarchy and simply doing the right thing.

[¶]

There are still interesting WikiLeaks stories emerging. I found this opinion by John Naughton to be worth my time:

What WikiLeaks is really exposing is the extent to which the western democratic system has been hollowed out. In the last decade its political elites have been shown to be incompetent (Ireland, the US and UK in not regulating banks); corrupt (all governments in relation to the arms trade); or recklessly militaristic (the US and UK in Iraq). And yet nowhere have they been called to account in any effective way. Instead they have obfuscated, lied or blustered their way through. And when, finally, the veil of secrecy is lifted, their reflex reaction is to kill the messenger.

If you are a democrat, you should be as worried about this as if you are an anarchist or anything in between. Because we still don’t know what will be next – but it lies very much in our own hands.

In an interesting twist, Noam Scheiber shows how leaks can be seen as a tax on internal coordination – leading to the possible breakdown of large companies and bureaucratic entities due to their bigger vulnerability:

The Wikileaks revolution isn’t only about airing secrets and transacting information. It’s about dismantling large organizations—from corporations to government bureaucracies. It may well lead to their extinction.

Mind you, this could be quite positive – but also negative, depending on what comes to replace these large organizations. Again, it’s in our hands.

[¶]

I’m guilty of trying to constantly fill every waking moment with things to do. That’s why I’ve begun taking a weekly digital sabbatical. I love working for myself. However, I’ve realized that I don’t have to be plugged-in all the time to be “productive.”

I love to see that more bloggers start to enjoy the benefits of idleness, especially if they are as smart and friendly like Tammy Strobel! Here is an updated 2009 post by Tammy on the topic of leisureology. Another good read over at her site explains how to be non-judgmental.

[¶]

What do I need to do in daily life that I don’t realize I need to be doing?

Another Metafilter classic I found through a tweet by @oliverburkeman (who also published this enjoyable article on the fine art of strategic incompetence).

[¶]

In my culture (pampered American living in an upscale neighborhood of intact families) we pay lip service and involuntary servitude to the overarching myth that family overrides everything else. That nothing can be more important than family. And I’m sure that’s true in its most basic meaning. But we’ve re-interpreted that, as a culture, to be an imperative that all time must be spent with family. If you have a spare second it should be spent engaged in quality pursuits with our children. If we have an opportunity to travel it’s assumed that your spouse will share in the experience (and not via long distance). In truth we’ve eroded two fundamentally healthy ways to exist. In the first place we’ve surrendered our ability to enjoyed spending time by ourselves. We feel guilty when we’re not including everyone even though we’d really rather have some time to ourselves to read, create or just be a separate human being. According to everything I’ve read we rebel in our teen-aged years to be able to differentiate ourselves and become individuals……..why do we spend our adult years joined at the hip?

In the second place we’ve lost the ability to create and maintain friendships with groups of like minded people.

Kirk Tuck at his best. I think that a family can be a great community, but we should also appreciate being on our own and engaging with our friends. Not just for our art, but for our general happiness.

[¶]

Political awareness and the awareness of nature of mind are the same. Once people become aware of what they’re doing, most of them will not continue to destroy local cultures, or disregard the dangers of global warming, or sell monstrous weaponry to one another.

The relationship between meditation and activism. Interesting thoughts!

Comments 21

  1. Milo January 6, 2011

    Love the idea of a Walk with Flowers day Fabian, sign me up! Also love the logo!

    Many thanks for mentioning the CMC too, delighted to be included amongst such good company. I can’t wait for Johnny B. Truant’s Badass Project to get started.

    • Fabian January 6, 2011

      Thanks Milo! Looking forward to the Badass Project, too – and, of course, to the upcoming content on CMC! :)

      As for WWFD – it’s so great you’ll be participating! Another country to add to the list! You rock!

  2. Cristhyano January 6, 2011

    Wow. What a huge post! Your blog trully inspires me. I’m a huge fan of Tammy Strobel (as you mentioned) and Nina Yau (Castles in the Air) too. I’m a blog addicted, but these and TFA are the “big three” that i check everyday.
    Not this year, but i am planning on some future to create a blog myself to talk about my ideas (me and a friend are drunk philosophers haha), but i need to learn about how to do it first.
    I’m a guitar teacher wannabe but i’m on the beginning of my process. I started early (with 22 years) and playing for 2 years everyday right now and i’ll try to start this year to make some handmade pedal effects for guitar and try to make a living from this. I’ll have to do some 9 to 5 first to build some money and start to make things happen, but i’ll never give up and work on corporate jobs all my life. Man, how i hate that.
    I think i am lucky that i don’t care about lots of money and fancy things, just need enough to survive and buy a great guitar and amplifier than i’m done.
    Anyway, i’ll try to be the best guitar player that i can be but sometimes i think i’m not gonna make it, i get disappointed with my progress, but i think i push too hard. I’m practicing for just two years and two years are babysteps for guitar and well… i can’t stop right now because i’ll lost two years of my life and i can’t just toss them away. So that keeps me going and i think in the future, when i reach the point that i want and be able to teach others i’ll create a blog to help people that has the same issues. To keep them moving forward and not let their dreams slips away.
    Holy ****. Sorry for the misplaced and long comment full of “I’s”. But i keep coming here and reading your stuff, so i wanted to share something too.
    Wish you good luck, man. Keep that blog up because i don’t sold my books and don’t have nothing to read these days ahahahha

    • Fabian January 6, 2011

      Thanks for your long comment, Cristhyano! I’d really love to see that blog of “drunken philosophers” – sounds like my taste! :)
      It will certainly be of help that you aren’t so money-focused. “The secret to money is having some,” as they say. No need to be a millionaire, as far as I am concerned!

      Keep strumming that guitar, and thank you for your kind words!

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  4. Anthony January 7, 2011

    By complete fluke, I also have seen Patricia’s Monthly Adventure blog and find it a very intriguing concept. I like what you said about the personal touch. I’m not involved in business (yet) and lately have felt I’ve been too much of an open book and that I’m declaring every single emotion via wordpress.

    But screw it, what’s the point in being anything if you can’t be real, huh? I hope you had a good Christmas too and are nicely settled in your new place.

    • Fabian January 7, 2011

      Anthony, I think it’s worthwhile to think about what to publish and what not; but yes, if it’s real, it’s often better. That doesn’t mean we have to share everything, though… :)
      I’m living right in front of the beach now, so I feel totally settled, at least for a couple of weeks! Don’t get too stressed about that ticking clock – I’m sure you’ll make it!

      • Anthony January 8, 2011

        Oh yes I still keep some things to myself…I don’t want the man in white coats to come knocking just yet haha :)

        Ufff I’ll have to make it-I’ve commited now. And another year stagnating in my job-no thanks. Beach front accomodation, I’m loving it!

  5. Lisa L | LLWorldTour January 9, 2011

    Great, real thoughts as usual.
    I will ‘give’ something away if even a smile on the 16th.

    Life definitely needs some shaking up for sure. It’s too short to be robots b/c society says to be on some ‘standard’ path…to what?? Death. Blah. Too boring. So happy i shook things up a few yrs ago and am living simpler and seeing, meeting, sharing, being.

    So great to have met you…means even more to have a face to face and now read your words. Nice.

    Don’t forget…Happy Festivus…for the rest of us!
    Hasta luego amigo-
    LL

    • Fabian January 11, 2011

      Hey Lisa, thanks for joining in!
      It was a huge inspiration to see you traveling and juggling a dozen projects at the same time. I really think this is the way to move today! It’s great to have you as a walker on January 16th! :)
      Happy travels, and looking forward to your Colombia photos!

  6. Jonathan Ziemba January 10, 2011

    Fabian I understand your point of not being a big PR guy but come on man, the first international walk with flowers day deserves a meetup page, a vimeo group and it’s own discussion board. Ok maybe that is a little too hype but you get the idea. How do I know if anyone else is walking with flowers in my area?

    Your voice rings true Fabian “…who says that giving away a couple of flowers doesn’t solve the problems of this world. Because, in reality, it does: Kindness and compassion is exactly what’s missing, and we won’t get it by presidential decrees.”

    I agree we will not get it unless we take it for ourselves, A Heart So White comes form going through that opening before it closes.

    Anyone care to join me – Seattle, WA. –

    • Fabian January 10, 2011

      Jonathan, it’s great to read that you’ll be participating! :)

      Do you think it would be nicer to be in a group with like-minded fellows? It certainly could be a good opportunity to meet friendly and interesting people – maybe I didn’t really consider this because the flower walks until now were something quite intimate.

      I certainly think it’s a great idea for participants to make it public that they’ll be walking; but somehow I feel it’s also nice to make this “event” small and simple, with as many spots on the world map as people feel motivated to walk. Behind that, of course, is the thought that walking with flowers (at least in the metaphorical sense) shouldn’t be something exceptional on one single day a year, but a permanent part of our lives. (Also, wouldn’t it be cool to meet another walker by mere coincidence instead of as a result of a meet-up? Every flower buyer on January 16th could be a co-conspirator! :))

      • Jonathan Ziemba January 10, 2011

        Excellent point Fabian , but in a since a meetup is a coincidence, a remarkable current that pulls us all together. I anticipate having more flowers than I can carry on the 16th so more hands equal more doors left ajar.

        For this one day I see cohesion. A detachment hell bent on changing state. Empowering each knowing that a couple of blocks down lurks another thug with the same gleam, clutching the same wanted posters:
        Wanted Vacancy
        Handing out the same message – dwellers of the threshold you are not alone.
        The other 364 days I will go it alone as we all must do.
        But on the 16th I hope to join my fellow hooligan(s) and see if Art can pick a side.

        • Fabian January 11, 2011

          Jonathan, I really hope you’ll hand out flowers with some of your verses attached! Art will definitely pick sides, and I’m sure it will walk right with you! :)
          If you’d like to set up a meet-up page for the walk, that would be a great addition. Just let me know and I’ll put up the link on the site and send it around the Twitterverse!

          • Jonathan Ziemba January 12, 2011

            Thanks Fabian. If anyone is in the Seattle area I will be starting out at Pikes Place Market at 1100, look/listen for a red 1964 Lambretta with flowers in tow.

            “I did not want to know but I have since come to know…” A Heart So White

  7. Dave from The Longest Way Home January 10, 2011

    Some really good links and resources here. You just gained another RSS subscriber.

    Good content is hard to find these days through the mass of affiliate links and ebook sales, well done for that alone!

    • Fabian January 10, 2011

      Thank you Dave! :)
      I believe there is still some good content to find in some of the ebooks; but yes, it’s unfortunately too much noise in many places nowadays.
      Congrats for being 6 years on the road! Hope you’re gonna find a home soon.

  8. John from Electricians in Paddington January 11, 2011

    I’m new to your site but I’ve already found it interesting. This long article is very well discussed. This is a good concept though, walk with flowers! I love to participate but I guess I’m too far. Anyway, it’s not too late to greet a Happy New Year to you Fabian! Good luck and Keep it up.

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