others in pursuit…

Brain Pickings
I am in no way affiliated with Brain Pickings or its founder, Maria Popova, but I admire both Tremendously.

How Far Short Of The Ideal


I know that it would be morally better to help than to continue relaxing. But how bad, exactly, would it be for me not to help? Pretty bad? Only a little bad? Not at all bad, but also not as good as I would like to be if I weren’t feeling so lazy? These are the questions that occupy my mind. In most cases, we already know what is good. No special effort or skill is required to figure that out. Much more interesting and practical is the question of how far short of the ideal we are comfortable being.

Source: How often do ethics professors call their mothers? —…



Today, the man who in old photos of Tibet can be seen enacting religious rites wearing a conical yellow hat — in front of thangkas, or scrolls, swarming with scowling monsters and copulating deities — speaks of going ‘‘beyond religion’’ and embracing ‘‘secular ethics’’: principles of selflessness and compassion rooted in the fundamental Buddhist notion of interconnectedness.

Source: The Last Dalai Lama? – The New York Times

A Proportional Visualization of the World’s Most Popular Languages


When you view the original graphic, you’ll note that Chinese speakers outnumber English speakers by a factor of four. And yet English is spoken in 110 countries, as compared to 33 for Chinese. And the number of people learning English worldwide dwarfs the number learning Mandarin.

As you look through Lopéz’s visual, you’ll want to keep one thing in mind: Although the 23 languages visualized above are collectively spoken by 4.1 billion people, there are at least another 6700 known languages alive in the world today.

Source: A Proportional Visualization of the World’s Most Popular Languages | Open Culture

The Copper Beech


“The copper beech is my favourite type of tree particularly in spring when the leaves are still slightly translucent and the most beautiful colour against the silver grey bark. Although the music is inspired by light flickering through the leaves, the title refers to the colours I associate with the key signatures of the track.”

Source: Track by Track: John Metcalfe on The Appearance Of Colour | The Line Of Best Fit

Take Something You Already Have And Extend It


“But whatever the reasons may be, small stature was likely a useful precursor to flight. Though larger animals can glide, true flight powered by beating wings requires a certain ratio of wing size to weight. Birds needed to become smaller before they could ever take to the air for more than a short glide.”

“Over time, they discovered, the face collapsed and the eyes, brain and beak grew. ‘The first birds were almost identical to the late embryo from velociraptors,’ Abzhanov said. ‘Modern birds became even more babylike and change even less from their embryonic form.’ In short, birds resemble tiny, infantile dinosaurs that can reproduce.

This process, known as paedomorphosis, is an efficient evolutionary route. ‘Rather than coming up with something new, it takes something you already have and extends it,’ said Nipam Patel, a developmental biologist at the University of California, Berkeley.”

Why would paedomorphosis be important for the evolution of birds? It might have helped drive miniaturization or vice versa. Changes in size are often linked to changes in development, so selection for small size may have arrested the development of the adult form. ‘A neat way to cut short a developmental sequence is to stop growing at smaller size,’ Benton said. A babylike skull in adults might also help explain birds’ increased brain size, since baby animals generally have larger heads relative to their bodies than adults do. ‘A great way to improve brain size is to retain child size into adulthood,’ he said.

Source: How Birds Evolved From Dinosaurs | Quanta Magazine

Paying Exquisitely Close and Non-judgmental Attention



Writer and neuroscientist Sam Harris on the benefits of Vipassana meditation as a gateway to mindfulness:

[Vipassana meditation] needn’t presuppose any belief about anything. You don’t have to develop a fondness for the iconography of Buddhism, you don’t have to care about the Buddha, you don’t have to believe in rebirth or karma… none of the doctrine of Buddhism need be adopted in order to get the practice off the ground, and never need be adopted if it never makes any sense—which much of it doesn’t.

And you don’t have to add anything strategically to your experience as a mechanism by which to meditate. You’re not adding a mantra, you’re not visualizing something that isn’t there, you don’t have to look at a candle flame or do anything to your environment by way of artifice to create the circumstance of meditation.

All you’re doing is paying exquisitely close and non-judgmental attention to whatever you’re experiencing anyway. […] Mindfulness is just that quality of mind that allows you to pay attention to sights and sounds and sensations and even thoughts themselves without being lost in thought and without grasping at what is pleasant and pushing what is unpleasant away.

via The Tim Ferriss Show podcast, Ep 14

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