How We Learn is Changing

Right? Wrong? It Depends!
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I didn’t realize it at the time, but one of the most important skills I got from my education was the ability to find answers.

I wish education in general was more focused on that skill. Rather than accumulating (and, gak, testing for) knowledge, teach the skill set required to acquire knowledge as needed; a kind of “just in time” skill. When you need to know something, you know how to find it.

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Consistency is a Super Power

A fundamental skill for success

A Crank to be Turned
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Polina Pompliano’s The Profile just celebrated five years of publishing consistently.

… 263 Sunday emails, 100 Profile Dossiers, and thousands of longform profiles.

Quite the achievement.

Coincidentally, I also celebrated a five-year anniversary with one of my publications, Not All News is Bad.

I realized if I had a super-power, it might be consistency.

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Putting My Money Where My Mouth Is

Dog holding money in its mouth.
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Over the last few years I’ve found myself not just subscribing to an assortment of news and other publications, but actually paying for the privilege.

In the spirit of full transparency for my own publications influenced by these choices, here’s a list of everything I’m actually paying cold hard cash for.

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Superiority, Shaming, and Solutions

Cry
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As you might imagine I read, skim, and scan (let’s just call that all “consume”, shall we?) a lot of content as I pull together 7 Takeaways each week. I do the same for Not All News is Bad, for that matter. (I do it for Ask Leo! as well, but that’s different for the purposes of this discussion.)

Some items call to me, and I’ve never been quite sure why. If you’d asked me my criteria I would have said I have no idea, but, like porn, I just know it when I see it.

As I was meditating this morning one of the reasons made itself known.

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“Drop Everything” Friends

Help!
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(Once again, sorry for the delays between postings. Life. If interested and if you’re not already there I have been sending out 7 Takeaways every week. Generally not my writing, but I do share some thoughts on each takeaway I collect.)

A friend is dealing with one of life’s issues, to put it vaguely. It’s led me to notice our friends and acquaintances often fall into two categories. It’s important to acknowledge them.

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Knowing Isn’t Enough

One more step is required.

Scale
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In 2014 I lost 56 pounds. I went on to lose 10 more beyond my goal after that.

It was intentional and methodical.

After reaching that goal, occasional lapses (Hello, Thanksgiving) would be met with “oh well, I know how to do this”, and the holiday weight would eventually come off.

And then: pandemic.

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Seeing Both Sides is a Curse

If people can’t put you in the right bucket, you must belong in the wrong one.

Black & White
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Being able to see both sides of an argument is a curse.

People want black and white. If you’re cursed with an ability to articulate shades of grey, it’ll be taken as blanket disagreement no matter what your actual opinion.

Anything seen as less than 100% agreement is disagreement.

If we are to survive, that must change.

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All Eyes are On You — Don’t Screw this Up

Democrats, you’re under the microscope

Gas Co ball, Trocadero, July 1941
Photo credit: State Library of New South Wales via Flickr Commons

In a recent political discussion, I discovered something shocking: the person I was talking with attributed the same horrible fears to my side as I did to theirs.

The bullet lists were nearly identical.

Wow.

I don’t believe there’s a short term fix. “How do we change their minds?” is not the question, because minds aren’t going to change any time soon.

The answer is both simpler and more difficult.

Show them they’re wrong.

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Wear a Mask – Don’t Be A Dick

No, I’m not saying you’re a dick for not wearing a mask. Maybe you are, maybe you’re not, but that’s not what I’m saying.

In fact it’s very possible I’m saying exactly the opposite.

People are so freakin’ quick to judge, it’s frustrating. We’ve become so incredibly judgmental, and most often without even a shred of evidence. And yes, if that makes me sound judgmental, so be it. I also can’t tolerate intolerance.

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Science is Evolution in Action

Fire

There’s a line of thought among some of the COVID-19 conspiracy or anti-mask crowds running like this: do nothing and let people get sick. It’s how evolution works; the strong will survive, and humanity will be better for it. Besides, things aren’t as bad as [the government / the media / the liberals / the fraidy-cats] makes it out to be, anyway.

There’s a lot wrong with that thinking I won’t get into.

My point is more fundamental: it doesn’t have to be that way. Evolution can do better, and is, in fact, doing so right now. You can watch if you want to see it, and know where to look.

But you might also want to help.

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There Is No “Over”, There Is Only “New”

Health workers during the ‘Spanish’ influenza pandemic.

“When this is over…”

It’s a phrase we’re hearing or saying often, of late, frequently followed by a litany of activities to resume after things return to normal.

I’ll admit, it’s comforting to dream of a time when we’ll do what we did as we did before.

Unfortunately “when this is over…” is a lie.

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Looking For Opportunity in Crisis

Two months ago the coronavirus wiped out two thirds of Ask Leo!‘s ad revenue.

Two weeks ago a Google search algorithm update cut my traffic in half.

I’m not the only business in this position, online or off. For these and other reasons many businesses around the world are suffering.

Here’s what I’m doing about it, in the hopes it’ll give you ideas to follow along, survive, and perhaps even thrive.

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Word Power

Fuck.

Did that word offend you?

Did you react negatively?

Are you now so offended that you’ve unsubscribed and will never return to my blog?

Congratulations. You just gave that word — and all those who use it — much more power than they deserve.

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Denormalizing Anger

I Can't Take Much More Of This Shit
I Can’t Take Much More Of This Shit (via @effinbirds)

Everyone is angry.

Look around you. Everyone is angry about something.

It seems like everyone is angry all the time. About anything and everything.

Sure, politics and the state of the world take center stage, but it doesn’t stop there. From big things to little, it seems like everyone is angry and complaining about something.

Anger is the new normal.

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Helping Animals is Helping People

Helping Animals and their Owners in Emergencies

That’s the mission of a non-profit organization for which I volunteer: the Washington Animal Response Team or WASART.

We emphasize the “helping animals” part a lot. Our stories include horses being rescued from sticky situations — sometimes literally if they’re stuck in mud, perhaps more metaphorical if they’ve fallen and can’t get up — dogs that have gone over cliffs or accompanied owners on a hike only to discover that they can’t make it back on their own, or livestock and pets needing temporary shelter during wildfires or other natural disasters.

These are our stories. They’re what we do. They’re what you think of when you think of WASART.

There’s another part of what we do that is perhaps even more important, albeit easily overlooked…

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Bag Like an Artist

Groceries

I’m naturally pretty good with spacial things — I can imagine how physical things are in relationship to each other, how things go together, that kind of thing.

That eventually served me well at my first job, as as a bag-boy at a local grocery store. Putting things in bags was one thing; anyone could do that. Putting them in efficiently, maximizing how much goes in, keeping cold things together, putting fragile items on top, making sure the bag wouldn’t weigh too much –leveraging my spacial reasoning, these were things that came naturally to me. They still do.

To me it was as much art as it was work.

Which is how work really ought to be; certainly the best work.

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“Get Up Early” is a scam. Do this instead.

Alarm Clock

One of the currently popular so-called productivity hacks is to get up an hour or two earlier to get your best work done first thing.

It’s a scam. In fact, it’s the exact same scam as Daylight Saving Time. While it might feel like you’ve created this new magical time that was just waiting there for you to take advantage of with its additional productivity, it comes with a cost that no one talk about. Either you must actually sleep an hour or two less, or you need to compensate by going to bed an hour or two earlier.

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Facts, Misinformation & Priorities

  • Fact check before sharing. It makes you more authoritative, and makes the world a better place.
  • Misinformation shared only serves “the opposition.”
  • Focus on what’s truly important.

My morning was derailed by three separate articles that really struck a nerve. The concepts are so simple and important, and yet so often ignored, I’m having a hard time thinking about much else.

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