Peter Leonard remembers his father, the late and great Elmore Leonard, whose 10 timeless rules of writing remain indispensable and have inspired similar lists of rules by other celebrated writers, including Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, and Zadie Smith.
- The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger by Marc Levinson
- The Most Powerful Idea in the World: A Story of Steam, Industry, and Invention by William Rosen
- Harvesting the Biosphere: What We Have Taken from Nature by Vaclav Smil
- The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies? by Jared Diamond
- Poor Numbers: How We Are Misled by African Development Statistics and What to Do about It by Morten Jerven
- Why Does College Cost So Much? by Robert B. Archibald and David H. Feldman
- The Bet: Paul Ehrlich, Julian Simon, and Our Gamble over Earth’s Future by Paul Sabin
No one can travel your own road for you; you must travel it for yourself.
I strive to be a skeptic, in the best sense of that word: I question everything, and yet I’m open to everything. And I don’t have immovable beliefs. My values shift and grow with my experiences—and as my context changes, so does what I believe.
No one can tell you how you must understand the world, and you can’t say what someone else must do or be.
Also se Anaïs Nin on the ever-evolving self and Carl Sagan on mastering the vital balance between skepticism and openness.
"Everything has its testing point in the eye, and the eye is an organ that eventually involves the whole personality, and as much of the world as can be got into it."
In a series of four experiments, [researchers] found that participants primed to think of money were more likely to behave unethically on various lab tasks than those who received a neutral prime. People who were prompted to think about time behaved the most ethically. A little more than 87 percent of the participants in one of the experiment’s money conditions cheated, compared to almost 67 percent of the control group and around 42 percent of people in the time condition.
The researchers chalk this effect up to self-reflection, with the notion of time being tied to thinking about how little of it you have—sort of like a mental death countdown clock. Focusing on time “seems to lead people to notice that how they spend their time sums up to their life as a whole, encouraging them to act in ways they can be proud of when holding up this mirror to who they are,” they write.
My 6’5” dad was black and grew up in one of the most dangerous cities in America. He sported a huge afro into the early 90s when he died at the age of 33; one year older than I am now. My mother, a white, Jewish refugee from Poland, arrived in Brooklyn when she was 17 with no money and no English. She essentially raised me as a single mother. That makes me a half-black, half-white, 6’5” guy born into a half-Christian half-Jewish family. Growing up in the almost entirely white, middle-class suburb of Hopewell, NJ, made me feel like an outsider on some level. I felt most alone when I was surrounded by people. These moments made me realize how different I was.
Based on some of the most reliable and groundbreaking research in network science, this background may not have been a hindrance like I thought it was.
It may have actually been the perfect upbringing to be a connector.
Network brokers (ie – connectors) have three advantages:
- Breadth. They pull their information from diverse clusters.
- Timing. While they may not be the first to hear information, they are first to introduce information to another cluster.
- Translation. They develop skills in translating one group’s knowledge into another’s insight.
Exercise triggers the creation of highly excitable neurons in the hippocampus, the region of the brain associated with memory, learning, and emotional responses. This speeds up overall brain function, but because of the new neurons’ excitability, it should also make the brain more susceptible to anxiety. Yet it doesn’t.
To find out why, the Princeton team split lab mice into two groups. One group had access to a running wheel (with the mice averaging an impressive 2.5 miles per night), and the other did not. After six weeks, the researchers intentionally freaked out all the mice by dunking them in cold water, then looked at their brains with an fMRI machine. Almost immediately, they noticed that the two groups reacted differently. The brain cells of the inactive mice became agitated and leaped into a frenzy, while those of the active mice did not. The reason: the active mice were able to produce and release more of the neurotransmitter GABA, which helps sedate jumpy neurons.
The discovery … marked a breakthrough in understanding how exercise helps the brain regulate anxiety. In essence, exercise creates new, faster neurons, but it also reinforces the physiological mechanism that prevents those uppity brain cells from firing during times of stress.