What Questions are You Living?

And 206 Ideas from Science that will change your life.

👋  Ahoy Curious Friends...

Last weekend was the Balinese national holiday "Nyepi". For 24 hours the entire island hits the pause button. No wifi, no leaving the house, no talking (not even any food!) The entire island disconnects to reconnect (and when an entire island turns off it's lights at night, the night sky is stunning!). It was so mentally refreshing that I’m going to try implementing 'no-screen Sundays' from now on.

🎤 – What I've been up to >> I’m going to be turning 30 in just under 30 weeks, and as arbitrary as this date might be, it feels like an excuse to take on new challenges which fall in the 'scary but exciting' category. So far, I've tried busking ukulele on a Singapore visa run, signed up for a level 3 free-diving training (aiming for 40m deep) in April and set in motion plans for a 'podcast school' >> the concept of which is to interview exceptional teachers with the aim of co-creating an audio curriculum for lifelong learners. Basically, everything you should have learnt at school, but didn’t! If you have any suggestions for possible guests or topics which ought to be on the curriculum please do drop me a note.

🤔 – Right now I'm thinking about >> What questions am I living? I posted this question to Facebook and it really seemed to resonate with comments ranging from the scientific and existential, "Is reality is a fabrication of my brain/mind or what it is..?" to the self-aware "Where can I find the sweet spot between good self-esteem and humility?" and the pragmatic: "How can we get Doughnut Economics taught in schools? Is blockchain a revolution or a distraction? Could we convert half the earth to conserved areas?” 

 – Espresso shot of wisdom >> In the Jewish mystical tradition, one great Rabbi taught his disciples to memorise and contemplate the teachings and place the prayers and holy words on their heart. One day a student asked the Rabbi why he always used the phrase “on your heart” and not “in your heart,” and the master replied,

“Only time and grace can put the essence of these stories in your heart. Here we recite and learn them and put them on our hearts hoping that someday when our heart breaks they will fall in.”

I love hearing any thoughts triggered by anything in this newsletter so please don't hesitate to hit reply. Either way, thanks for taking the time to read.

–JM

p.s. If you know of a fellow human who might appreciate this irregular constellation of curiosities, kindly consider forwarding them this link to the newsletter archive.

11 Intriguing Nuggets of Brainfood 🧠

1 // The faster you forget, the faster you learn >> in the fifth part of a series on how using what Tiago Forte calls 'Progressive Summarisation’, he makes the compelling case for not worrying about remembering anything but rather using the information you consume as training data for your intuition: "The new purpose of learning is to enable you to adapt, as the pace of change continues to accelerate and the amount of uncertainty in the world continues to spiral upward."

2 // 206 Ideas from Science that will change your life (😲LONG read) >> this was a survey from 206 of the smartest intellectuals alive sharing what they considered to be under-appreciated scientific ideas including Dawkins on the "The Genetic Book of the Dead" and "Babylonian Lottery" to "Future Self-Continuity” and "Ansatz" (a fancy way to say that scientists make stuff up). A real choose-your-own-learning-adventure of a post.

3 // Life Advice for Any Situation >> “Make Generous Assumptions” quoting ‘David Foster Wallace’ to challenge our brain’s default setting: "the automatic way that I experience the boring, frustrating, crowded parts of adult life when I’m operating on the automatic, unconscious belief that I am the centre of the world, and that my immediate needs and feelings are what should determine the world’s priorities."

4 // Bootstrappers Playbook >> if you’re looking to launch a side-project or startup this year, Pieter Level’s (long awaited) handbook is in the wild. I love how he has hacked the text to obfuscate as you scroll down instead of using a standard paywall 👏👏 (pssst… new to tech? Find an awesome mentor via Out of Office Hours)

5 // The Grief Exception >> exploring root causes and potential treatments for mental health struggles is a question taking up much of my brain space. Johann Hari makes a strong case for the need to explore these new ways of treating depression (complement with an immense long form podcast interview with Dr. Gabor Mate on addiction and trauma).

6 // Redefining Masculinity >> from a male model's TED talk take on the perils of a ‘man enough’ culture 💪to the Guardian’s excellent review on the book ‘Age of Anger’ and this viral New Yorker piece on the divisive Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life – it seems that our toxic traditional male narrative is on the edge of a long overdue rewrite.

7 // Plastic really isn’t going anywhere >> and it's not just the ocean dwelling life suffering from microplastics, a recent study by the WHO found Boxed Water contained an average of 58.6 plastic fibres per litre. What can you do? >> 1. Learn more about the Social Plastic movement, 2. Become a member of growing Sea Legacy #TurningTheTide movement 3. Join the upcoming Drawdown Eco ChallengeApril 4th.

8 // How to Think Better >> why your first thought is rarely your best thought and practical suggestions for how to develop more of your own ideas e.g. scheduling time to think or inviting a local professor out to lunch (via Farnham St.)

9 // Professor Hawking’s Legacy >> this obituary in the Guardian reminded me of when he came to our school (where he was originally taught maths by my terrific teacher Mr. Woodsmith) to give a presentation on black holes. I loved that he went to such lengths to answer our questions that sometimes took up to 5 minutes for him to answer using his eye-tracking keyboard. In the 2012 biography, it was rumoured that he would try to run over the toes of people who annoyed him, to which he responded, “It’s a malicious rumour,” he said. “I’ll run over anyone who repeats it.” 🤣

10 // Rise of the Full Stack Freelancer >> thought-provoking observations on why the future of freelance work might be moving in favour of curious generalists rather than isolated specialists. "Full-Stack Freelancers manage a portfolio of income streams, not a job based on one set of skills. A Full-Stack Freelancer does not see a black-and-white world of free agents vs. wage slaves. They are more than willing to incorporate full-time employment as one item in their portfolio, temporarily or long-term, knowing that it neither defines them nor limits them."

11 // The Virtue of Collecting Questions >> One of the responses to my Facebook post was this link to a comic strip, titled 'A Day in the Park' telling the story of a young skinny, one-eyed, winged monster having a conversation with an older more established well-to-do creature on a park bench. The youngster monster mentioned that he is collecting a box of questions and in return the older monster reveals his own personal collection of answers. It’s marvellous and I thoroughly implore you to take the time to read it all the way through 🙏

Et Cetera // Knowledge Morsels to Impress Friends

🤔 – A redditor’s summary of Coursera’s popular course on learning how to learn.

🤖– Imagining five future scenarios of an AI domainted future.

🍣 – 2018: the year humanity finally made 3D printed pixelated sushi!

🌎 – Eco is a non-profit, open-source crypto-currency actually worth paying attention to.

👊 – Looking to build better habits? Try a streak of non-zero days (via Al Humphreys)

✏️– 31 journaling prompts for building self-reliance.

💀– Beautifully vulnerable tweetstorm: what might you write if you believed you were about to die?

👨‍🎓– Another fascinating tweetstorm on how the internet will transform education.

🔍– Scientists back in 1918 tried to predict what life would be like today (air tennis anyone?)

🙌– Good News Worth Celebrating >> "The percent of girls enrolled in secondary education globally has more than doubled since 1979.” 

📚– Let me leave you with this brick wall sculpture called: 'The Impact of a Book' 👇