Good Reads, Hacking Edition

“Fun fact: PHP is actually much more dangerous than swimming with sharks,” I tweeted yesterday. The reason I know is because in the background – unobserved by the masses – I’m working on a whole new Friendly Anarchist: A more personal design, a new logo, PHP and CSS code – and a lot of great content. It actually goes so far that most people would call it a relaunch. (I won’t, as I suck at launches.)

It’ll be a while before everything is done, but I honestly haven’t been this excited about the site since launching Productive Anywhere.

But – more on this once it’s done! In the meantime, here are some great articles I enjoyed over the last few weeks. Just in time for Ascension Day, which you’ll hopefully be celebrating a good bit. No matter if you’re Christian or not, enjoying some real leisure will always be a positive thing for you!


We often worry about lying awake in the middle of the night – but it could be good for you. A growing body of evidence from both science and history suggests that the eight-hour sleep may be unnatural.

Nice one by the BBC on why we shouldn’t worry if we don’t sleep eight hours straight at night – and instead use our waking time to have a drink, talk to a neighbor, or sleep with a person we love. (Or, all three.)


Nothing fools you better than the lie you tell yourself. David P. Abbott was an Omaha magician who invented the basis of my ball trick back in 1907. He used to make a golden ball float around his parlor. After the show, Abbott would absent-mindedly leave the ball on a bookshelf while he went to the kitchen for refreshments. Guests would sneak over, heft the ball and find it was much heavier than a thread could support. So they were mystified. But the ball the audience had seen floating weighed only five ounces. The one on the bookshelf was a heavy duplicate, left out to entice the curious. When a magician lets you notice something on your own, his lie becomes impenetrable.

Magician Teller reveals his secrets.


Jesse Newman spent five years to create a truly epic “visual narrative” based on Greek Mythology on his computer. Learn more about it here. See the video how he did it here. Collect your jaw from the floor.

Now, here’s the money quote from his FAQ, answering the question: “How are you able to take off so much time? (5 years so far!)”

People don’t usually like this answer, but… unless you’re living below the poverty level, you could do it, too. Prioritize time for yourself over having cable TV, a new car, etc. Live below your means. Recognize every purchase as a value of time, not just money. Don’t look at a new car strictly as costing $30K; translate that to time and see it as costing you a few months home hanging with the kids.

My emphasis. This is not just an incredible digital imagemaker. He’s also a very smart man.


Here’s a proposition — a thought experiment — to spark some consideration: The global economic system we have created is no less mythical than Zeus.

James Shelley has become one of my favorite bloggers in recent times. Smart, smart, smart.


I believe that [the people of the Amazon tribe Pirahã are] happy because they don’t worry about the past, and they don’t worry about the future. They feel that they’re able to take care of their needs today. They don’t want things that they can’t provide for themselves. At least they never have in my experience. In other words, I take in things and they will ask for a few little things that I have that they don’t make, such as pots and pans or matches. And if I give it to them, fine, and if I don’t give it to them, fine. They’re not materialistic. They value being able to travel quickly and lightly. I’ve never met another group, not even another Amazonian group, that is so little concerned with material objects.

In the rainy season there are no beaches because the river comes up more than seventy feet. Since food becomes harder to get in the rainy season because you have the same amount of fish, but in much greater volume of water, the Pirahã tend to spread out, and you find very small villages of maybe one or two families. But in the dry season when the river goes down and the beaches come out and the fish are easy to catch, they get together on the beaches in large groups. And you’ll find beaches with over 100 Pirahã for a couple of months during the dry season. And in that case, they’re singing and dancing every night. They could go on dancing for forty-eight hours, sometimes even for seventy-two hours. But that doesn’t mean that everyone’s awake for that entire period of time. It just means that you dance and dance and dance, and then when you get tired, you might step out and take a nap, and then get back up and start dancing again. But the noise and the happiness and all this stuff going on with it continues on. And if you’re like me, and not able to do that all the time, and trying to sleep, it gets frustrating! They’re just happy the whole time!

I am currently working on a book idea called “Wisdom From Strangers” about how we can learn very important valuable lessons from people who are unlike ourselves. In fact, the more unlike us they are, the more we can learn. You cannot learn what you need to learn just by staying in the library. You have to have these experiences to take you beyond the boundaries of what you know, and make you live in ways that you never knew before.

A great Boing Boing interview with Daniel L. Everett on the “grammar of happiness”.


Now, I’m no Luddite. Quite the contrary. I have a practical mindset, which obliges me wherever possible to consider costs and benefits. In the case of the internet, we’re all familiar with its benefits – the most obvious and general being its incredible speed in information recovery and transfer. But what about the costs of the internet?

Ben Irvine for the School of Life on the Internet Dead End.


Last but not least: A post that was an instant “everybody’s favorite” when I sent it out on Twitter: 101 Useful Websites.

Speaking of which: I’m only about 19 people away from reaching my 1000th Twitter follower! Would like to help? If you aren’t following me already, you’re cordially invited to do so and say hello!

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