These are annotations and highlights from the things I've read. Right now they're pulled solely from my Kobo, but I hope to integrate web highlights, and maybe even video/audio snippets soon.
You may feel like you’re trying to tame a wild animal, or even that meditation is making your mind more agitated. In reality, you’re just becoming aware of what’s always been going on in the mind. Recognizing this is an important first step.
You can’t scold the mind into changing, especially when dealing with entrenched mental patterns like forgetting and mind-wandering. Even worse, the negative feedback will get associated with the most recent event: the spontaneous arising of introspective awareness, and you’ll end up discouraging the very process that stops mind-wandering.
Ultimately, meditation means training a complex, multi-part system (the mind) to work cooperatively, coherently, and consistently through a shared consensus toward common goals.
Now, sustaining attention is trickier than directing attention. Why? It’s possible to voluntarily direct attention. However, the part of the mind that sustains attention for more than a few moments works entirely unconsciously. We can’t use our will to control how long we remain focused on one thing. Instead, an unconscious process weighs the importance of what we’re focusing on against other possible objects of attention.
by mindfulness, I specifically mean the optimal interaction between attention and peripheral awareness, which requires increasing the overall conscious power of the mind.
A meditation object is something you intentionally choose to be the focus of your attention during meditation. Although you can choose just about anything, the breath is ideal for cultivating attention and mindfulness. First, the breath is always with you. Second, it allows you to be a completely passive observer.
We are all very near despair. The sheathing that floats us over its waves is compounded of hope, faith in the unexplainable worth and sure issue of effort, and the deep, sub-conscious content which comes from the exercise of our powers
This ubiquitous principle is the need of cities for a most intricate and close-grained diversity of uses that give each other constant mutual support, both economically and socially.
There is a quality even meaner than outright ugliness or disorder, and this meaner quality is the dishonest mask of pretended order, achieved by ignoring or suppressing the real order that is struggling to exist and to be served
The all-essential line between public service and privacy would be transgressed by institutionalizati
Social key recovery vs key management services
the people of the place must enlarge their private lives if they are to have anything approaching equivalent contact with their neighbors.
Like when the only way to have a social life on the internet is to be an influencer
Lowly, unpurposeful and random as they may appear, sidewalk contacts are the small change from which a city’s wealth of public life may grow.
Nor are sidewalks apt to be safe, even with eyes upon them, if they are bordered by a population which is constantly and rapidly turning over in residence
This is I think the biggest departure the present (and future) bring. Transent communities seem more andmore prevalent, or even desireable.
The people of cities who have other jobs and duties, and who lack, too, the training needed, cannot volunteer as teachers or registered nurses or librarians or museum guards or social workers. But at least they can, and on lively diversified sidewalks they do, supervise the incidental play of children and assimilate the children into city society. They do it in the course of carrying on their other pursuits.
In real life, only from the ordinary adults of the city sidewalks do children learn—if they learn it at all—the first fundamental of successful city life: People must take a modicum of public responsibility for each other even if they have no ties to each other.
Few sidewalks of this luxurious width can be found
Is there a risk to too large sidewalks?
As a sentimental concept, “neighborhood” is harmful to city planning. It leads to attempts at warping city life into imitations of town or suburban life. Sentimentality plays with sweet intentions in place of good sense.
The chief function of a successful district is to mediate between the indispensable, but inherently politically powerless, street neighborhoods, and the inherently powerful city as a whole.
To accomplish these functions, an effective district has to be large enough to count as a force in the life of the city as a whole. The “ideal” neighborhood of planning theory is useless for such a role. A district has to be big and powerful enough to fight city hall. Nothing less is to any purpose.
There are only two ultimate public powers in shaping and running American cities: votes and control of the money. To sound nicer, we may call these “public opinion” and “disbursement of funds,” but they are still votes and money.
The constructive factor that has been operating here meanwhile is time. Time, in cities, is the substitute for self-containment. Time, in cities, is indispensable.
Statistical people are a fiction for many reasons, one of which is that they are treated as if infinitely interchangeable.*6 Real people are unique, they invest years of their lives in significant relationships with other unique people, and are not interchangeable in the least. Severed from their relationships, they are destroyed as effective social beings—sometimes for a little while, sometimes forever.
This is a useful phrase
The overall pictures such methods yield are about as useful as the picture assembled by the blind men who felt the elephant and pooled their findings. The elephant lumbered on, oblivious to the notion that he was a leaf, a snake, a wall, tree trunks and a rope all somehow stuck together. Cities, being our own artifacts, enjoy less defense against solemn nonsense.
Moreover, big cities are the natural economic homes of immense numbers and ranges of small enterprises
Is this true anymore? Amazon vs bodegas, etc
1. The district, and indeed as many of its internal parts as possible, must serve more than one primary function; preferably more than two. These must insure the presence of people who go outdoors on different schedules and are in the place for different purposes, but who are able to use many facilities in common. 2. Most blocks must be short; that is, streets and opportunities to turn corners must be frequent. 3. The district must mingle buildings that vary in age and condition, including a good proportion of old ones so that they vary in the economic yield they must produce. This mingling must be fairly close-grained. 4. There must be a sufficiently dense concentration of people, for whatever purposes they may be there. This includes dense concentration in the case of people who are there because of residence.
Probably everyone is aware of certain general dependencies by a city on its heart. When a city heart stagnates or disintegrates, a city as a social neighborhood of the whole begins to suffer: People who ought to get together, by means of central activities that are failing, fail to get together. Ideas and money that ought to meet, and do so often only by happenstance in a place of central
All primary uses, whether offices, dwellings or concert halls, are a city’s chessmen. Those that move differently from one another must be employed in concert to accomplish much. And as in chess, a pawn can be converted to a queen. But city building has this difference from chess: The number of pieces is not fixed by the rules. If well deployed, the pieces multiply.
Long blocks also thwart the principle that if city mixtures of use are to be more than a fiction on maps, they must result in different people, bent on different purposes, appearing at different times, but using the same streets.
Old ideas can sometimes use new buildings. New ideas must use old buildings.
The economic value of new buildings is replaceable in cities. It is replaceable by the spending of more construction money. But the economic value of old buildings is irreplaceable at will. It is created by time. This economic requisite for diversity is a requisite that vital city neighborhoods can only inherit, and then sustain over the years.
It is hardly possible to expect that many really different types of dwellings or their buildings can be added at any one time. To think they can be is wishful thinking. There are fashions in building. Behind the fashions lie economic and technological reasons, and these fashions exclude all but a few genuinely different possibilities in city dwelling construction at any one time.
Unless they are handsomely financed to start with, or instantly successful (which is seldom the case), new ideas tumble into second-best locations; thereby second-best becomes first-rate, flourishes for a time, and eventually it too is destroyed by the duplication of its own greatest successes.
I doubt that we can provide for cities anything equivalent to a true feedback system, working automatically and with perfection. But I think we can accomplish much with imperfect substitutes.
In killing successful diversity combinations with money, we are employing perhaps our nearest equivalent to killing with kindness.
The foundation for unslumming is a slum lively enough to be able to enjoy city public life and sidewalk safety. The worst foundation is the dull kind of place that makes slums, instead of unmaking them.
The processes that occur in unslumming depend on the fact that a metropolitan economy, if it is working well, is constantly transforming many poor people into middle-class people, many illiterates into skilled (or even educated) people, many greenhorns into competent citizens.
So well do these three different kinds of money prepare the way for each other’s cataclysms that one would be impelled to admire the process, as a highly developed form of order in its own right, were it not so destructive to every other form of city order. It does not represent a “conspiracy.” It is a logical outcome of logical men guided by nonsensical but conventional city planning beliefs.
Endless suburban sprawl was made practical (and for many families was made actually mandatory) through the creation of something the United States lacked until the mid-1930’s: a national mortgage market specifically calculated to encourage suburban home building.
A few years previously, Herbert Hoover had opened the first White House Conference on Housing with a polemic against the moral inferiority of cities and a panegyric on the moral virtues of simple cottages, small towns and grass. At an opposite political pole, Rexford G. Tugwell, the federal administrator responsible for the New Deal’s Green Belt demonstration suburbs, explained, “My idea is to go just outside centers of population, pick up cheap land, build a whole community and entice people into it. Then go back into the cities and tear down whole slums and make parks of them.”
Even if the Utopians had had schemes that made sense socially in cities, it is wrong to set one part of the population, segregated by income, apart in its own neighborhoods with its own different scheme of community. Separate but equal makes nothing but trouble in a society where people are not taught that caste is a part of the divine order. Separate but better is an innate contradiction wherever the separateness is enforced by one form of inferiority.
What if we fail to stop the erosion of cities by automobiles? What if we are prevented from catalyzing workable and vital cities because the practical steps needed to do so are in conflict with the practical steps demanded by erosion? There is a silver lining to everything. In that case we Americans will hardly need to ponder a mystery that has troubled men for millennia: What is the purpose of life? For us, the answer will be clear, established and for all practical purposes indisputable: The purpose of life is to produce and consume automobiles.
When city designers and planners try to find a design device that will express, in clear and easy fashion, the “skeleton” of city structure (expressways and promenades are current favorites for this purpose), they are on fundamentally the wrong track. A city is not put together like a mammal or a steel frame building—or even like a honeycomb or a coral. A city’s very structure consists of mixture of uses, and we get closest to its structural secrets when we deal with the conditions that generate diversity.
Substitute program for city
In terms of all human experience, these two announcements, one telling of great intensity, the other telling of endlessness, are hard to combine into a sensible whole.
Routine, ruthless, wasteful, oversimplified solutions for all manner of city physical needs (let alone social and economic needs) have to be devised by administrative systems which have lost the power to comprehend, to handle and to value an infinity of vital, unique, intricate and interlocked details.
Which avenues of thinking are apt to be useful and to help yield the truth depends not on how we might prefer to think about a subject, but rather on the inherent nature of the subject itself.
A splendid summary and interpretation of this history is included in an essay on science and complexity in the 1958 Annual Report of the Rockefeller Foundation
Thus, for instance, almost nothing useful can be understood or can be done about improving city dwellings if these are considered in the abstract as “housing.” City dwellings—either existing or potential—are specific and particularized buildings always involved in differing, specific processes such as unslumming, slumming, generation of diversity, self-destruction of diversity.
It is neither love for nature nor respect for nature that leads to this schizophrenic attitude. Instead, it is a sentimental desire to toy, rather patronizingly, with some insipid, standardized, suburbanized shadow of nature—apparently in sheer disbelief that we and our cities, just by virtue of being, are a legitimate part of nature too, and involved with it in much deeper and more inescapable ways than grass trimming, sunbathing, and contemplative uplift.
(On one particular Islamic night, which is called the Night of Nights, the secret portals of the heavens open wide and the water in the water jars is sweeter than on other nights; if those gates had opened as I sat there, I would not have felt what I was feeling that evening.)
For the people of Tlön, the world is not an amalgam of objects in space; it is a heterogeneous series of independent acts —the world is successive, temporal, but not spatia
It is a laborious madness and an impoverishing one, the madness of composing vast books—setting out in five hundred pages an idea that can be perfectly related orally in five minutes. The better way to go about it is to pretend that those books already exist, and offer a summary, a commentary on them.
Reading, meanwhile, is an activity subsequent to writing—more resigned, more civil, more intellectual.
Aside from the occasional business letter or pamphlet, he got no mail.
This strikm as such a neat detail
He couldn't have been more than twenty. He was thin yet slack-muscled, all at once—he gave the uncomfortable impression of being an invertebrate. He had studied, ardently and with some vanity, virtually every page of one of those Communist manuals; he would haul out his dialectical materialism to cut off any argument. There are infinite reasons a man may have for hating or loving another man; Moon reduced the history of the world to one sordid economic conflict.
it is /who am
To that tower (which is notorious for uniting in itself the abhorrent whiteness of a sanatorium, the numbered divisibility of a prison, and the general appearance of a house of ill repute)
That delay (whose importance the reader will soon discover) was caused by the administrative desire to work impersonally and deliberately, as vegetables do, or planets.
Institutions are rarely either private or public – “the market” or “the state.” Many successful CPR institutions are rich mixtures of “private-like” and “public-like” institutions defying classification in a sterile dichotomy.
Instead of there being a single solution to a single problem, I argue that many solutions exist to cope with many different problems. Instead of presuming that optimal institutional solutions can be designed easily and imposed at low cost by external authorities, I argue that “getting the institutions right” is a difficult, time-consuming, conflict-invoking process.
Whether or not any equilibria are possible and whether or not an equilibrium would be an improvement for the individuals involved (or for others who are in turn affected by these individuals) will depend on the particular structures of the institutions.
Empirically validated theories of human organization will be essential ingredients of a policy science that can inform decisions about the likely consequences of a multitude of ways of organizing human activities. Theoretical
I wonder if/where this has come to pass
Instead of presuming that some individuals are incompetent, evil, or irrational, and others are omniscient, I presume that individuals have very similar limited capabilities to reason and figure out the structure of complex environments. It is my responsibility as a scientist to ascertain what problems individuals are trying to solve and what factors help or hinder them in these efforts. When the problems that I observe involve lack of predictability, information, and trust, as well as high levels of complexity and transactional difficulties, then my efforts to explain must take these problems overtly into account rather than assuming them away.
propositions derived from a theory of public goods that are based on the nonsubtractive attributes of those goods are not applicable to an analysis of appropriation and use of subtractable resource units.
In both the theory of the firm and the theory of the state, the burden of organizing collective action is undertaken by one individual, whose returns are directly related to the surplus generated.
Is that true about Coase's original theory of the firm? It seems shortsighted to view firms and states as undertaken by one individual
1) the problem of supplying a new set of institutions, (2) the problem of making credible commitments, and (3) the problem of mutual monitoring.
Individuals who have self-organizing capabilities switch back and forth between operational-, collective-, and constitutional-choice arenas, just as managers of production firms switch back and forth between producing products within a set technology, introducing a new technology, and investing resources in technology development.
Common knowledge implies that every participant knows the rules, and knows that others know the rules, and knows that they also know that the participant knows the rules.
lol but that is very robust definition of common knowledge! I wonder if theres a similar one for common sense.
The basic strategy is to identify those aspects of the physical, cultural, and institutional setting that are likely to affect the determination of who is to be involved in a situation, the actions they can take and the costs of those actions, the outcomes that can be achieved, how actions are linked to outcomes, what information is to be available, how much control individuals can exercise, and what payoffs are to be assigned to particular combinations of actions and outcomes. Once one has all the needed information, one can then abstract from the richness of the empirical situation to devise a playable game that will capture the essence of the problems individuals are facing.
He could still do simple, everyday things, then. He hadn’t lost the power to live from second to second and to take pleasure, even, in the warm yellow light that filled the canoe.
The exchange of thoughts is a condition necessary for all love, all friendship and all real dialogue.
I’m not aware of any mythology that says the universe was created by human beings; we always turn up afterwards, and the relation we have with the place we find ourselves in is part of what gives the system its emotional tone—determines whether it’s tragic, or optimistic, or dramatic, or whatever
That's a fun writing prompt!
William James, in The Varieties of Religious Experience, has a name for people who have never doubted the assumptions they live by: he calls them once-born. And once you’ve doubted, once you’ve seen the arbitrary and contingent and contradictory nature of the system you didn’t think was a system at all, you become as it were twice-born.
I love the audacity of this opening—the sheer nerve of Milton’s declaring that he’s going to pursue “Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme,” to “justify the ways of God to men.” How could anyone fail to thrill to a story that begins like this? How could any reader not warm to a poet who dares to say it?
Nothing I've read has ever sold me harder on this poem
What freed me from it was remembering the well-known lines from plate 10 of Jerusalem: I must Create a System, or be enslav’d by another Mans I will not Reason & Compare: my business is to Create. Those are the words of Los—Blake’s fallen angel, the divine aspect of imagination: “in fury & strength.”
“Of amplitude almost immense, with stars / Numerous, and every star perhaps a world / Of destined habitation.”
So reading one sort of stuff will damage; reading another sort of stuff will improve. And we shall decide which is which.
We have to leave the unself-conscious grace of childhood behind and go in search of another quality altogether, the quality of wisdom. And that involves engaging with every kind of human experience, making compromises, getting our hands dirty, suffering, toiling, learning.
As the whole story does, indeed—it’s a movement away from fantasy and towards realism, which is why Lyra goes to school at the end of the book: a cruel disappointment to some critics, academics and teachers themselves, actually, who seem to have lost any sense of the nobility, the moral value, the sheer passionate excitement of education
The most notable distinction between living and inanimate things is that the former maintain themselves by renewal.
Persons do not become a society by living in physical proximity, any more than a man ceases to be socially influenced by being so many feet or miles removed from others. A book or a letter may institute a more intimate association between human beings separated thousands of miles from each other than exists between dwellers under the same roof.
But the particular medium in which an individual exists leads him to see and feel one thing rather than another;
Prior human efforts have made over natural conditions. As they originally existed they were indifferent to human endeavors. Every domesticated plant and animal, every tool, every utensil, every appliance, every manufactured article, every esthetic decoration, every work of art means a transformation of conditions once hostile or indifferent to characteristic human activities into friendly and favoring conditions. Because the activities of children today are controlled by these selected and charged stimuli, children are able to traverse in a short lifetime what the race has needed slow, tortured ages to attain. The dice have been loaded by all the successes which have preceded.
Hence it is nonsense to talk about the aim of education—or any other undertaking—where conditions do not permit of foresight of results, and do not stimulate a person to look ahead to see what the outcome of a given activity is to be. In the next place the aim as a foreseen end gives direction to the activity; it is not an idle view of a mere spectator, but influences the steps taken to reach the end.
The aim as it first emerges is a mere tentative sketch. The act of striving to realize it tests its worth. If it suffices to direct activity successfully, nothing more is required, since its whole function is to set a mark in advance; and at times a mere hint may suffice. But usually—at least in complicated situations—acting upon it brings to light conditions which had been overlooked. This calls for revision of the original aim; it has to be added to and subtracted from
Educators have to be on their guard against ends that are alleged to be general and ultimate. Every activity, however specific, is, of course, general in its ramified connections, for it leads out indefinitely into other things. So far as a general idea makes us more alive to these connections, it cannot be too general. But "general" also means "abstract," or detached from all specific context. And such abstractness means remoteness, and throws us back, once more, upon teaching and learning as mere means of getting ready for an end disconnected from the means. That education is literally and all the time its own reward means that no alleged study or discipline is educative unless it is worth while in its own immediate having.
All Rhodes Scholars had a great future in their past.
Our schools teach the opposite: institutionalized education traffics in a kind of homogenized, generic knowledge. Everybody who passes through the American school system learns not to think in power law terms.
The best entrepreneurs know this: every great business is built around a secret that’s hidden from the outside. A great company is a conspiracy to change the world; when you share your secret, the recipient becomes a fellow conspirator.
Another constitutional convention is unlikely; today we debate only smaller questions.
Cash is attractive. It offers pure optionality: once you get your paycheck, you can do anything you want with it. However, high cash compensation teaches workers to claim value from the company as it already exists instead of investing their time to create new value in the future.
Since it’s impossible to achieve perfect fairness when distributing ownership, founders would do well to keep the details secret. Sending out a company-wide email that lists everyone’s ownership stake would be like dropping a nuclear bomb on your office
And even if your system really is 20% better on net for the customer who buys it, people are so used to exaggerated claims that you’ll be met with skepticism when you try to sell it. Only when your product is 10x better can you offer the customer transparent superiority.
have dreamed of that song, of the strange words to that simple rhyme-song, and on several occasions I have understood what she was saying, in my dreams. In those dreams I spoke that language too, the first language, and I had dominion over the nature of all that was real. In my dream, it was the tongue of what is, and anything spoken in it becomes real, because nothing said in that language can be a lie. It is the most basic building brick of everything. In my dreams I have used that language to heal the sick and to fly; once I dreamed I kept a perfect little bed-and-breakfast by the seaside, and to everyone who came to stay with me I would say, in that tongue, “Be whole,” and they would become whole, not be broken people, not any longer, because I had spoken the language of shaping.
wondered, as I wondered so often when I was that age, who I was, and what exactly was looking at the face in the mirror. If the face I was looking at wasn’t me, and I knew it wasn’t, because I would still be me whatever happened to my face, then what was me? And what was watching?
was a normal child. Which is to say, I was selfish and I was not entirely convinced of the existence of things that were not me, and I was certain, rock-solid unshakably certain, that I was the most important thing in creation. There was nothing that was more important to me than I was.
Currently, I see a similar battle playing out for our time, a colonization of the self by capitalist ideas of productivity and efficiency. One might say the parks and libraries of the self are always about to be turned into condos.
Donna J. Haraway reminds us that relatives in British English meant “logical relations” until the seventeenth century, when they became “family members.” Haraway is less interested in individuals and genealogical families than in symbiotic configurations of different kinds of beings maintained through the practice of care—asking us to “make kin, not babies!”
To stand apart is to take the view of the outsider without leaving, always oriented toward what it is you would have left. It means not fleeing your enemy, but knowing your enemy, which turns out not to be the world—contemptus mundi—but the channels through which you encounter it day to day.
that sense, the creek is a reminder that we do not live in a simulation—a streamlined world of products, results, experiences, reviews—but rather on a giant rock whose other life-forms operate according to an ancient, oozing, almost chthonic logic. Snaking through the midst of the banal everyday is a deep weirdness, a world of flowerings, decompositions, and seepages, of a million crawling things, of spores and lacy fungal filaments, of minerals reacting and things being eaten away—all just on the other side of the chain-link fence.
One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds.
Octavia Butler, one of the cornerstones of my awareness of emergent strategy, spoke of the fatal human flaw as a combination of hierarchy and intelligence.6 We are brilliant at survival, but brutal at it. We tend to slip out of togetherness the way we slip out of the womb, bloody and messy and surprised to be alone. And clever—able to learn with our whole bodies the ways of this world.
I would call our work to change the world “science fictional behavior”—being concerned with the way our actions and beliefs now, today, will shape the future, tomorrow, the next generations
There was often a general sense of dissatisfaction and collective shrugging into this unity that was not invigorating. Authentic, exciting unity takes time, and lots of experimenting.
Learning through conversation relates to the theory of how learning takes place that was developed by Pask (1976). Pask provided a scientific account of how interactions enable a process of coming to know by reaching mutual agreements. This is more than an exchange of knowledge – it is a process in which participants share and negotiate differences in understanding with the aim of constructing new knowledge and reaching agreements.
She faked a limp to mess with gait analysis, and by the time she reached the used car lot her hip hurt like hell.
Some once wore flesh, or silicon, or something like either, and some did not. Many, most, build themselves pleasure palaces, or dungeons to scourge them, and shelter there. They cannot help themselves. If you do not train your mind while it is subject to physical constraint, once liberated from the flesh it seeks pleasure by reflex, and so binds itself in unbreakable chains. Trillions drown in joy-loops, unable to rise above the desire to satisfy desire. Even those who escape that fate rarely ponder the world below. Rather, they seek higher knowledge. But some minds reach down. Those so bound to this space that they seek power here become gods.