Weekly choice: of primates, TED, focus and Charlie

Apes with big brains: what makes us human?

Superficially we humans have much in common with other species – but no other species makes cars, computers, and combine harvesters.

Ape“We have big brains. Other species are marked out by other qualities. Swifts and albatrosses are spectacularly good at flying, dogs and rhinoceroses at smelling, bats at hearing, moles, aardvarks and wombats at digging. Human beings are not good at any of those things. But we do have very big brains; we are good at thinking, remembering, calculating, imagining, speaking. Other species can communicate, but no other species has true language with open-ended grammar. No other species has literature, music, art, mathematics or science. No other species makes books, or complicated machines such as cars, computers and combine harvesters. No other species devotes substantial lengths of time to pursuits that don’t contribute directly to survival or reproduction.”



Benjamin Bratton Explains “What’s Wrong with TED Talks?” and Why They’re a “Recipe for Civilizational Disaster”

“TED Talks — they give your “discovery-seeking brain a little hit of dopamine;” make you “feel part of a curious, engaged, enlightened, and tech-savvy tribe;” almost giving you the sensation that you’re attending a “new Harvard.” That was the hype around TED Talks a few years ago. Since then, the buzz around TED has mercifully died down, and the organization has gone on, staging its conferences around the globe. It’s been a while since we’ve featured a TED Talk whose ideas seem worth spreading. But today we have one for you. Intriguingly, it’s called “What’s Wrong with TED Talks?” It was presented by Benjamin Bratton, Associate Professor of Visual Arts at UCSD, at none other than TEDxSanDiego 2013. Bratton makes his case (above) in 11 minutes — well within the 18 allotted minutes — by arguing that TED doesn’t just help popularize ideas. Instead, it changes and cheapens the agenda for science, philosophy and technology in America. “



Change Your Intention to Focus Your Attention

“With busy schedules and to-do lists that carry us from hour to hour without much time to breathe, it’s rare that we stop to reflect on our motivations. But when we take the briefest of moments to set clear, positive intentions for what we’re doing, the payback is enormous. We can make a remarkable shift in how any assignment, conversation, or meeting feels just by considering where we want to place our attention. (…) At work, this means we may fail to perceive the good things a colleague does if we’ve already formed a belief that they’re annoying. And if we’re in a bad mood starting a task, we can easily end up paying attention to problems more than solutions.”

Check in with yourself. Ask yourself what’s top of mind for you right now. What are your expectations, about the situation and the people you’re working with? What needs or concerns do you have? What’s your mood?

Recognize your filters. Given what’s top of mind for you, make two quick lists.  What information or behavior will you be paying most attention to, because it fits with what’s top of mind for you? What information and behavior could you potentially miss, because it goes against your current state of mind? If this feels difficult, think about the opposites of the first list.

Decide on a positive intention. Identify what matters most to you. If you’re coming up with anything a little snarky or righteous, try to reframe more generously. For example, perhaps it’s really most important to improve your connection with a colleague rather than making sure the colleague understands they did something wrong. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t raise challenging topics. But you’ll notice quite different things in your conversation with them if you set a more positive intention.

Direct your attention. Given your positive intention and your lists, what do you now want to pay more attention to — in others, in yourself, or in the task at hand?



Why Men and Women Can’t be friends


Art of the week! “When I started loving myself”

A poem by Charlie Chaplin written on his 70th birthday on April 16, 1959.


When I started loving myself

I understood that I’m always and at any given opportunity

in the right place at the right time.

And I understood that all that happens is right –

from then on I could be calm.

Today I know: It’s called TRUST.


When I started to love myself I understood how much it can offend somebody

When I tried to force my desires on this person,

even though I knew the time is not right and the person was not ready for it,

and even though this person was me.

Today I know: It’s called LETTING GO


When I started loving myself

I could recognize that emotional pain and grief

are just warnings for me to not live against my own truth.

Today I know: It’s called AUTHENTICALLY BEING.


When I started loving myself

I stopped longing for another life

and could see that everything around me was a request to grow.

Today I know: It’s called MATURITY.


When I started loving myself

I stopped depriving myself of my free time

and stopped sketching further magnificent projects for the future.

Today I only do what’s fun and joy for me,

what I love and what makes my heart laugh,

in my own way and in my tempo.

Today I know: it’s called HONESTY.


The rest of the poem you can find on:




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