How about never?

This cartoon by Bob Mankoff really tickled me. I’ve never seen it before but it turns out it’s a ‘pop culture classic’. Brainpickings reviews the artist’s memoirs of the same name.

Rejection as creative catalyst: a lesson in entrepreneurship from New Yorker Cartoon Editor Bob Mankoff
A tale of finding art in the absurd and entrepreneurial spark in the rejected.

This is a long shot

An incredible film — 2,000 cast members, 3 orchestras, 1 camera, 1 continuous shot.

Directed by Alexander Sokurov in 2002, Russian Ark was filmed entirely in the Winter Palace of the Russian State Hermitage Museum using a single 96-minute steadicam shot. It’s a dreamlike reflection of 300 years of Russian history. It could be said the main character in the film is the palace itself, home to the Russian monarchs and to so much history. This could be the ark of the Russian soul, keeping it safe from harm.

The Russian Ark Trailer (2002)
A 19th century French aristocrat, notorious for his scathing memoirs about life in Russia, travels through the Russian State Hermitage Museum and encounters historical figures from the last 200+ years. Entirely filmed in the Winter Palace of the Russian State Hermitage Museum using a single 96-minute Steadicam sequence shot. The film was entered into the 2002 Cannes Film Festival.

In One Breath – Alexander Sokurov’s Russian Ark (Making of)
Behind the scenes documentary on the filming of Russian Ark.

Russian Ark (2002) trivia
The film’s final, hypnotic dance sequence was a recreation of a 1913 gathering which marked the final ball ever held in Csarist Russia. It should be noted that the sequence was filmed in the exact same ballroom that was used in 1913, and that the room had not been used for dancing since that pre-revolutionary time.

The book man with bite

Andrew Wylie advises you “pick the plague!” over Amazon
It’s probably only an urban legend that if you work in publishing, and you die, an apparition of Andrew Wylie floats above you in your final moments of consciousness to judge your contributions to the literary canon. Imagine his face floating just above you in the dark, then his lips moving softly to say, “Nothing you published is worth reading.” Or, “Your list was no better than a third-rate hotel in Cincinnati.” Now imagine him saying it in German.

The next lego productivity thing?

Bit Planner
The Lego calendar is a wall mounted time planner that we invented for our studio. It’s made entirely of Lego, but if you take a photo of it with a smartphone all of the events and timings will be magically synchronised to an online, digital calendar. It makes the most of the tangibility of physical objects, and the ubiquity of digital platforms.

Kaizen, change on the cheap?

Key features of Kaizen include:

  • Improvements are based on many small changes rather than the radical changes that might arise from Research and Development
  • As the ideas come from the workers themselves, they are less likely to be radically different, and therefore easier to implement
  • Small improvements are less likely to require major capital investment than major process changes
  • The ideas come from the talents of the existing workforce, as opposed to using research, consultants or equipment – any of which could be very expensive
  • All employees should continually be seeking ways to improve their own performance
  • It helps encourage workers to take ownership for their work, and can help reinforce team working, thereby improving worker motivation.
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continual_improvement_process

I was trying to remember the name of this technique when talking about change management with a colleague earlier. I like the idea of everyone being on the look-out, in an energetic, proactive way, for ways of improving how they do things — and I guess the first step in that might be to encourage people to moan about their jobs, to identify the parts of the process that feel unwieldy, unnecessary, over-complex — but I’m wondering if it’s not just change on the cheap, as those bulletpoints above from Wikipedia might imply.

The elegant secret to self-discipline

1) Recognize that right now already is the future. You are currently experiencing the future of all your Past Selves. Their choices have come to fruition. If you would like better fruits, make your Right Now Self into someone who, as a habit, rolls out the red carpet for Future Self. Imagine if someone had already done that for you. Highly disciplined people are always experiencing advantages inherited from their wise and caring Past Selves.

2) Recognize the moments when you’re about to sell out your Future Self.

http://www.raptitude.com/2013/10/the-elegant-secret-to-self-discipline/

A new personal productivity blog that might actually be useful

I’m always wary of personal productivity blogs. I love the topic but they become just another thing to read when I should be working. But WorkSmart seems different, like it might actually be useful.

"But what about the people working behind those services, who are having to use systems which aren’t quite so delightfully designed with the user in mind? The systems and processes we are all engaged with on a daily basis when we are at work often suck, and make our jobs a lot harder than they need to be."

http://worksmarthq.com/welcome-to-worksmart/

Clock-watching

Your lifestyle has already been designed
But the 8-hour workday is too profitable for big business, not because of the amount of work people get done in eight hours (the average office worker gets less than three hours of actual work done in 8 hours) but because it makes for such a purchase-happy public. Keeping free time scarce means people pay a lot more for convenience, gratification, and any other relief they can buy. It keeps them watching television, and its commercials. It keeps them unambitious outside of work.

Academic gibberish

Publishers withdraw more than 120 gibberish papers
“I wasn’t aware of the scale of the problem, but I knew it definitely happens. We do get occasional e-mails from good citizens letting us know where SCIgen papers show up,” says Jeremy Stribling, who co-wrote SCIgen when he was at MIT and now works at VMware, a software company in Palo Alto, California.

Why Groklaw shut down

Groklaw, Pamela Jones’s website reporting on legal issues around the Free and Open Source Software community, closed down and she herself wants to “get off of the Internet to the degree it’s possible.” Loss of privacy, forced exposure, the dehumanising nature of total surveillance: issues I’ve been vaguely aware of recently, but never really thought about seriously. Her post explaining why she’s shut down her blog is the first thing I’ve read that I’ve understood, I think, with all this.

“Anyway, one resource was excerpts from a book by Janna Malamud Smith, ‘Private Matters: In Defense of the Personal Life’, and I encourage you to read it. I encourage the President and the NSA to read it too. I know. They aren’t listening to me. Not that way, anyhow. But it’s important, because the point of the book is that privacy is vital to being human, which is why one of the worst punishments there is is total surveillance.”

http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20130818120421175

Twine, for telling interactive, non-linear stories

"You don’t need to write any code to create a simple story with Twine, but you can extend your stories with variables, conditional logic, images, CSS, and JavaScript when you’re ready. Twine publishes directly to HTML, so you can post your work nearly anywhere. Anything you create with it is completely free to use any way you like, including for commercial purposes."

http://twinery.org/

If composers had Facebook: Mozart's profile

Mozart on Facebook

"Statistically, people who’ve ‘liked’ Mozart on Facebook have a higher IQ. It got us thinking… what would Mozart ‘like’ on Facebook? And what would his profile look like?! On the tenth anniversary of the social network’s launch, we’ve imagined what the composer might have posted online throughout his life."

http://www.classicfm.com/composers/mozart/guides/mozart-facebook-profile/

I loved that they painted Beethoven as a needy youngster in that. We (I) always picture Mozart being the young buck and Beethoven the grumpy old man, but of course it wasn’t like that, chronologically.

The Good Postcard Club

The Good Postcard Club
The business of the Club is conducted via postcards. You will never get any email about it, or have to remember any passwords.

I can’t think the last time I got some nice post (if we don’t count Christmas and birthday cards), so perhaps this club isn’t such a bad idea. Of course, I could just get off my arse and start writing some cards and letters myself, and there is something odd (or dualistic) about having a website telling us to stop looking at websites so much, but there you go.

The 5 best punctuation marks in literature

Schulz: The 5 best punctuation marks in literature
The muse gets all the press, but here’s a fact: Good writing involves obsessing over punctuation marks. It’s 1 a.m., you’ve got a 5,000-word piece due the next day, and for the last twenty minutes you’ve been deliberating about the use of a semicolon versus a period in a single sentence. (But should it be two sentences? Twenty-five minutes, thirty minutes … ) As a rule, the effect of all that obsession is subtle, a kind of pixel-by-pixel accretion of style. Once in a while, though, a bit of punctuation pops its head up over the prose, and over the prosaic, and becomes a part of a tiny but interesting canon: famous punctuation marks in literature.

This is a fabulous list, though far too short. (It’s got me worrying over my own punctuation now? Could that comma have been a dash? Do I overuse them?)

1. The parentheses in Nabokov’s Lolita

“My very photogenic mother died in a freak accident (picnic, lightning) when I was three…”

The sentence goes on — for 84 more words, eleven commas, one colon, one semicolon, and another set of parentheses. But the reader, like Humbert Humbert’s unlucky mother, stops dead. Nabokov is a daredevil writer, and often a florid one, but what he shows off here is unbestable economy. Like the lightning inside it, this parenthetical aside is swift, staggering, and brilliant. It is also Lolita (and Humbert) in miniature: terrific panache containing terrible darkness.

Exit visas

At that point Gilels drew out of his purse a piece of yellow newspaper cutting in which a few words were underlined in red. It was a cutting of the New York Times from 1962 describing the press reception given to Stravinsky on his returne back to the US from his visit to Russia, his first visit in 48 years. To the question by the press was there anything he liked about the USSR Strvinsky replied there were indeed two things he did like about it, namely “the vodka and the exit visa”

http://www.artsjournal.com/slippeddisc/2010/12/the_secret_torments_
of_emil_gi.html

Via Robert Brook, a timely thing about exits, given my impending exit the day after tomorrow.

Important: how to write a to-do list

"You have a limited number of decision-making ‘points’. Starting your day with an unprioritized to-do list can also undermine your ability to make productive decisions as the day goes on. Ego depletion refers to the amount of decision-making ‘points’ we have. As we use up our points our ability to make “smart” decisions becomes impaired"

https://medium.com/better-humans/77800bb2c788