PINK FLOYD BOOTLEGS

Once upon a time, illicit recordings of Pink Floyd concerts were actually collectable among fans. Those were the days when in order to hear these recordings, you’d have to have a friend who had caught one on tape or something. A select few seem to have even been printed on vinyl and sold, I presume illegally, with all the weird logistics that must have entailed.

As we all know, the web, and more specifically Youtube, changed everything. That includes making Pink Floyd bootlegs available for all to listen, a possibility which for some reason hadn’t actually occurred to me until very recently.

I never thought I’d listen to them live like this — raw, unedited, a genius band in their best years. How emotional it must have been to be there and see the Floyd live, when concerts had power outtages, when fans would just never shut the hell up (and throw fireworks at that!), when bands would play unreleased, unfinished songs in front of huge audiences… it feels like unearthing beta versions of famous games. I mean: versions of Echoes with a saxophone solo?! It seems crazy that these treasure chests could have been kept in the (relative) dark for so long!

I just had to share this with you, whoever you are, wherever you may be. If you can understand the importance of being able to listen to these recording now, 45 years later, just know: we are not alone, you and I.

9 hours! 4 days of concerts in Feburary 1972 — preview versions of the full, unreleased Dark Side of the Moon from back when it was called Eclipse (with some renditions better than what’s on the record, honestly) and brilliant second sets with lots of my favourites from their previous work, like the afore-mentioned Echoes, One of These Days, Careful with that Axe Eugene and A Saucerful of Secrets.

Check out On the Run, or The Travelling Song, on the pre-release version of Dark Side of the Moon above, and in the concert below, three years later, after it had become a worldwide hit. Can’t decide which one I like more.

“This one – taken from the band’s 1975 tour supporting Wish You Were Here – is a legend amongst bootleg collectors for two reasons. Firstly, there’s its track list. Featuring most of the WYWH album, a full run through of Dark Side and a mammoth closer of Echoes, it is perhaps most intriguing for its two opening songs. “Raving and Drooling” and “You’ve Gotta Be Crazy” are early – and markedly different versions of “Sheep” and “Dogs” from the then-unreleased “Animals” album. Secondly, legendary bootlegger Mike Millard made this recording and the sound quality is absolutely phenomenal with a you-could-hear-a-pin-drop audio fidelity that belies its bootleg status. Essential listening.” (source)

For a merry change, the Youtube comments down this way are pure gold. Happy hunting.

LINK DUMP #2

All rise and no fall: how Civilization reinforces a dangerous myth –Article from Rock Paper Shotgun — One of the things I’ve been consistently wondering about the direction the franchise has taken is “what is the true cost of my actions?” The negative penalties tied to pollution, global warming and limits to growth  that made older games kind of frustrating have mostly been replaced in newer itterations with choosing just one of several buffs best fit for your playstyle and merely missing out on all the other ones. The world doesn’t work that way.

“It’s just a game,” you might say, “and it doesn’t have to model the world precisely.” I disagree. What we choose to model in games is what we want, or don’t want, our fun to signify—which is why games like Rapelay, Postal etc. get shunned, which is not because they’re not fun to play.

Navigating “the 8th Era” and steering your civilization into deindustrialization after, while, or hopefully before it’s converted the planet into a hollow, lifeless, plastic-ridden husk sounds like tons of fun to me, and even I and my zero hours of experience in game design have thought of great ways sustainability could be added into Civilization, e.g. by turning the late-game into reverse 4X and a kind of survival game. Now THAT would be the breath of fresh air into the franchise Firaxis has been desperately trying to puff out.

No; all this is not about keeping the game fun: it’s about keeping the fantasy intact. Make no mistake: it is clearly political. Just imagine how many Trump supporters and climate change denialists (who are very vocal about it in the comment section in the article above) would just boycott the game if it implented ecology and you’re closer to the real heart of the issue here.

The Story of H What’s up with the letter H? Here’s a very interesting article. Bonus points if you’re a linguist.

This man knows a language spoken by the Sephardite Jews who were kicked out from Spain the same year Colombus (‘Colόn’, who I always like pronouncing in my head as ‘colon’) set out to discover an alternative sea road to the Indies. These Jews settled in the same Ottoman Empire we Greeks have learned to think as ‘intolerant’. As the saying goes, Spain grew poorer and Turkey became richer — and I’m not (just) referring to the financial social niches Jews would occupy historically.

This man is a descendant of those Jews who first settled in Thessaloniki. His family escaped being sent to Auschwitz. He speaks Ladino, a language that’s just like 15th century Castillian Spanish, just without the purifications that it went through over the centuries and with some Hebrew and Turkish words thrown in.

This is what history looks and sounds like.

JLMOP // PINK FLOYD – A STORYFUL OF SECRETS

Pink Floyd: A Storyful of Secrets

Pink Floyd: A Storyful of Secrets by Κωνσταντίνος Τσάβαλος
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Το πέτυχε το μάτι μου στο καφέ-βιβλιοπωλείο Little Tree και το αγόρασα στο άψε-σβήσε.

Ένα συνοπτικό αλλά πολύ ικανοποιητικό ανάγνωσμα για ένα από τα αγαπημένα μου συγκροτήματα.

Ο κύριος Τσάβαλος έκανε ωραία δουλειά, με όμορφο και (σε ορισμένες περιπτώσεις) σπάνιο φωτογραφικό υλικό. Χωρίς υπερβολικές λεπτομέρειες αλλά όχι αποκλειστικά και μόνο με γνώσεις που αποτελούν κοινό τόπο (και με κοινό γούστο στα αγαπημένα μας κομμάτια — γκουχ, Saucerful of Secrets από το Ummagumma!), ανέφερε πολλά γεγονότα για τα οποία δεν ήξερα τίποτα, όπως για την ύπαρξη του Household Objects, τη δουλειά τους που ήρθε μετά το Dark Side of the Moon αλλά αντικαταστάθηκε από το Wish You Were Here (όπως μπορεί να ακουστεί ξεκάθαρα από το Wine Glasses). Δεν ήξερα τι είναι το VCS3, και ακόμα δεν ξέρω ακριβώς τι είναι και τι έκανε, αλλά γαμώτο είναι απλά εξωφρενικά κουλ!

Δεν είχα καταλάβει ότι ο Waters άργησε τόσο να αναλάβει τα ηνία (κι αυτό επειδή ο Gilmour ήταν απρόθυμος) και τη συγγραφή των περισσότερων τραγουδιών, όπως και το ότι ο Syd Barrett ήταν μαζί τους για τόσο μικρό χρονικό διάστημα. Φανταστείτε να έχετε έναν φίλο και συνεργάτη που δεν ανεβαίνετε σπίτι του γιατί φοβάστε ότι θα σας ρίξει LSD στο νερό!

Επίσης, μου φαίνεται πρέπει να ψάξω τον Alan Parsons, ο οποίος σίγουρα συνεισέφερε, περισσότερο από κάθε άλλον ίσως, στο να κάνει το Dark Side of the Moon τον δίσκο που έφτασε να είναι (φανταστείτε να λεγόταν τελικά Eclipse: A Piece for Assorted Lunatics, όπως παρά τρίχα ονομάστηκε). Έχουμε στο σπίτι στη Νέα Σμύρνη διάφορα βινύλια από τους The Alan Parsons Project αλλά ποτέ δεν τους άκουσα προσεκτικά…

Ήμουν έτοιμος να του βάλω 4 αστεράκια γιατί μερικές φωτογραφίες ήταν μικρές και πάνω στη ραφή, αλλά το ξανασκέφτηκα, και αποφάσισα ότι για την πολύ χαμηλή του τιμή (περίπου 5€) και το μικρό του μέγεθος άξιζε αυτές τις θυσίες.

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LINK DUMP

One of my worst web habits is keeping tabs with interesting links open, session after session, instead of more actively using a tool like Pocket that stores them away, out of sight and (let’s be honest) out of mind. I remember at one point a few years ago I managed to reach 80+ tabs on a single Firefox session, collected over a period of a few months.  I understand this behaviour as an early 21st century equivalent of the trappings of a newspaper hoarder.

Here I’ll  I’ll be sharing the links that I have found interesting and perhaps not even read yet; making lighter the burden on my laptop’s RAM; cleaning up my virtual workspace-cum-playden; making a journal-style post to return to in the future and ponder on what I’d spend time and energy (=awareness) in my late ’20s, and maybe, hopefully, inspiring you to go down yet another rabbithole. You know you want to…

“Why do so many people seem to have difficulty following simple instructions?”Straight Dope forum post from 2005 — A discussion on the psychology of below-average intelligence (by necessity half the population), disobedience, poorly designed systems and operating instructions and the widely held belief that we’re already smarter than the person giving us intstructions and that there’s no possible new information to be gained from the exchange.

See also: The Basic Laws of Stupidity

Note to SelfNew York public radio (WNYC) podcast about the issues  and challenges emerging from ubiquitous, pervasive and often indirectly transgressive social media and always-on Internet — I really like the choice of topics and episodes, but the host Manoush Zomorodi keeps rubbing me the wrong way — mostly her accent. I feel she’s acting more ditzy than she really is, something that I actually find annoying about the inflection of many American women. I’ve been trying for many years to put my finger on where this misophonia is coming from. Unsuccessfully. I hope you find her less grating than I do, because there’s some good stuff here, like the obligatory Black Mirror episode with Charlie Brooker.

Maybe I should get her book Bored and Brilliant, though I can safely say I won’t be getting the author-narrated audiobook this time.

Everything Change: An Anthology of Climate Fiction — “Twelve stories from our 2016 Climate Fiction Short Story Contest along with a foreword by science fiction legend and contest judge Kim Stanley Robinson and an interview with renowned climate fiction author Paolo Bacigalupi.”

I wrote a story for that contest myself called Syntopia, though it didn’t make it very far. Not sure if I’m proud of that story or not, but I’d sure like some feedback on it, so please do read it if you’re feeling like it!

Everything Change is free to download, read, and share, and I’m itching to do just that. Actually, I did just share it, didn’t I?!

How to Disagree on the InternetPaul Graham piece from exactly 10 years ago that is obviously as relevant as ever.

What You Can’t SayAnother piece by Paul Graham from 2004 this time that is one of those texts that have this timelessly thought-provoking quality about them.

“If you could travel back in a time machine, one thing would be true no matter where you went: you’d have to watch what you said. Opinions we consider harmless could have gotten you in big trouble… What would someone coming back to visit us in a time machine have to be careful not to say?”

Joe Rogan and Jordan Peterson Have the Most Epic Conversation About Existence, Mythology, Political Correctness, and Free Speech I’ve been obsessed with Dr. Peterson for some months now, and this was one of my entry points to his teachings and philosophy. I suggest you download to your phone/mp3 player using the likes of 4K Video Downloader, convert to audio and listen to it while taking a walk somewhere.

An Anthropologist on Mars: Seven Paradoxical TalesIt’s on Jordan Peterson’s 2017 recommended book list (“A list of great books that will benefit the reader immensely. Including books on Clinical Psychology, Neuroscience, Literature/philosophy, and more.”) The title is what attracted me.

Self AuthoringSelf-reconciliation/discovery writing program co-developed by Dr. Peterson (I told you I’ve been obsessed) I’ve been following on and off. I’ve kept it on a tab to inspire the effort I’ve been avoiding to put on it, but which it certainly deserves. Time to get serious.

THE FURBY ORGAN, A MUSICAL INSTRUMENT MADE FROM FURBIESA video that is equal parts genius and despicable, enviable and disturbing. One of the things I prefer leaving the jury out on whether I love hating or hate loving…

 

 

 

A FROZEN ÍSLAND

So I did it! I went to Iceland for New Year’s.

Marilena got me into it — back in summer, she went on and got us tickets for Sigur Ros and one of their concerts in Harpa, Reykjavik’s fancy concert hall. How could I (and why would I want to) ever refuse?

Until the last minute, I was subconsciously trying to forget this was happening: part of me feared that thinking too hard about it would jinx the whole thing, as if being excited about something was enough to make the Universe consider whether it had thrown a few easy balls at me and if maybe it was time to throw me a trick one just to mix things up a bit.

The Universe spared me. We spent a couple of days in Stockholm, including Christmas and Christmas Eve,  (not really recommended in the holiday season) and stayed in Iceland for a whole week!

Here are some things that stood out for me from this dream trip.

The Northern Lights

I must have started dreaming of going to Iceland the minute I found out it was possible to see the Northern Lights from there. It’s quite possibly the wish that’s ended up in the most bucket lists in my life.

I knew one day I would take a picture of them.

And I did.

Heh. I wish! This is what I actually took:

I didn’t really see it properly; the terrestrial weather in Reykjavik was a crisp and clear -8 to -3 degress every day, but unfortunately, space weather was not favorable. The above picture was kind of a fluke, but we did catch a good 30-minute spell of auroras on the plane from Stockholm to Reykjavik. Watching it put me in a right trance…

What made the biggest impression on me about the Lights was how dlm they actually were. In photos they appear much brighter and vivid than how they actually manifest up in the sky (or it could be that they were just not very bright that night). This low brightness made them almost invisble through city lights, and much more ethereal and mystical — it was almost as if I was imagining them, at least until the next wave of purple blooming  out of the green bubbled up. Their movement reminded me of steam forming on the surface of black filter coffee, only more “linear” and abrupt.

It’s interesting to note that cameras are better suited to capture the colour spectrum of auroras than the human eye, thus it’s not very difficult to get an impressive picture of them if you’re properly prepared (and lucky enough).

Picture taken in the Aurora Centre at the Aurora Photography Simulation stand. It was a box inside of which there was this picture of the aurora that was lit very dimly and which required the same camera settings as the real aurora to take a good picture of: 20s (I used bulb) // f3.5 (minimum) // ISO 800 (my film was at 400)

I didn’t see them as much as I’d like to (can anyone ever have enough of them, I wonder?) and I’d be delighted if I could ever set my eyes upon them again!

Marilena at the Aurora Centre

Running 10K on New Year’s Eve

Every New Year’s Eve, Icelanders have a nice tradition of running 3 and 10k races where it’s popular to run in fancy dress! Although I didn’t have any especially weird costume to run in apart from my ordinary slightly mismatched winter apparel, that didn’t stop me from joining, no sir!

I did spot a wild Pikachu running (fleeing?), a bunch of Santa Clauses (of course), a guy wearing dwarf-shaped leggings that made him look as if he was being carried around rather than running himself (so clever), vikings, etc. I wonder if we have such a thing here in Greece. Wouldn’t surprise me if we didn’t — we like our sports, like so many things, rather dry and humourless.

My time was decent. I was determined to overtake the “ghost” runner with the blue balloon that marked the constant speed I needed to go at to finish at 55:00. I focused with what fatigue made feel like heroic concentration and, finally catching up the pace at the final 2km, managed to do so.

My official time was 55:15, but my ‘real’ time from start to finish, if you account for the laggy start, was around ~54:27. I got a medal, too: all participants could buy their memento/bragging rights at registration for 600ISK (5 euros) .

The beer cost more than the medal
Complete results

It was one of the hardest runs I’d ever done and/but I really enjoyed it! Sadly, I don’t know where I can go from here, if I’ll ever run a half-marathon or go beyond: unfortunately, my knee cartilages tend to complain a lot after I put them under such an unusually high amount of stress, and I’m wondering whether I might be focusing on something that will come back to bite me in the ass.

Still, looking at all the Icelanders with their costumes, kids and all the commotion and running with them somehow made me really content and was a happy way to close 2017. Not to mention: the pint of Gull after the run was especially tasty.

Tourists, Prices, Low-Budget Tips

 7 things Icelanders hate about tourism in Iceland

Iceland’s population is around 300,000. Last year, they got an estimated 2.3 million arrivals — that’s more than 7 times their population. By comparison, Greece only has an estimated 30 million each year — roughly just 3 times our population.

Reykjavik felt like a bit of an Iceland-themed Disneyland. I’m well-aware that I actually contributed to this by going there and eating some of their cod and lobsters (coughflexitariancough), but at least I feel as if I would never do any of the things pointed out in this list of stupid things tourists do — I want to think that counts for at least something as far respecting my hosts goes.

“So pure, wow”. Soft ‘n smelly Icelandic water is actually free to drink everywhere — unless you get it in an overpriced bottle…

This insane growth has brought prices up to mind-numbing heights. If travelling and spending time in Scandinavia (or Stockholm) was roughly twice as expensive as living in Athens, Reykjavik must have been up to three times as expensive or even more.

Beer roughly cost €9 / 1000kr. per 330ml glass in most places, and it was impossible to get lunch or dinner for less than 8€/900kr. (but that was a tasty vegetarian ramen soup at Noodle Station).

The cheapest, spiciest meal in Reykjavik was not even Icelandic. If you’re looking for something traditional, Sægreifann and its amazing lobster soup would do nicely.

Another example: Blue Lagoon is definitely one of Iceland’s most famous (and overpriced, but that’s a given by now) sights. It was almost dusk when we entered the warm water. The fog was so thick, we could see nothing but light blue everywhere around us. Truly magical. Still, what made the biggest impression on me was the high number of (mostly, though not by any means exclusively, Chinese) fellow tourists bringing their smartphone into the water to take selfies of themselves in the blue expanse to send to their friends back home.

I bet the pictures must have looked cool, but swimming around using just one arm because the other one was too busy filming their ego, was the very opposite, at least if you ask me.

To put it simply: now is not the time to visit Iceland (sorry, Marilena). Wait for the hype to die down a bit. Yes, the bubble will have burst by then and the centre of Reykjavik will be full of high-rise hotels, but at least it hopefully won’t be as ridiculously overpriced and crowded as it was in New Year’s ’18. I would still recommend making some granola bars to take with you like we did — it’s unlikely you’ll be able to find cheap, nutritious, vegan-friendly food in the country in the near future.

Super-easy, cheap, nutritious…. home-made cereal/tahini bars: the perfect travel snack! I apologise for the rather unappealing picture.

At any rate, I’d definitely recommend visiting Bike Cave — probably the only Spotted by Locals-worthy place we visited during the whole trip.

And here are some pictures and a short collection of clips I threw together:

The concert was amazing, by the way.

Giannis and Vanessa were our travel partners for most of the trip

JLMOP // LANGUAGE AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS

Language and the Pursuit of Happiness

Language and the Pursuit of Happiness by Chalmers Brothers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If we are indeed made in the image and likeness of God (however we understand God to be), and if God’s word creates and generates, brings forth and manifests… why shouldn’t ours?

Let me tell you this first: I’ve read quite a number of self-development/philosophical books, but Langauge and the Pursuit of Happiness went from 0 to 100 and made it to my shortlist of self-development favourites with especially characteristic ease.

This book was first recommended to me and the rest of the participants as further reading after the conclusion of the Advanced Synergy training, or Choice, I had in Bulgaria in Sep. 2016.

Indeed, I recognised much of the ‘special vocabulary’ or ‘mantras’ used in this family of self-development trainings here:

‘You are not the conversations you have become.’
‘If you always do what you always did, you always get what you always got.’
‘I’d rather be right than be happy.’
‘It’s not have-do-be, it’s actually be-do-have.’
‘We are not human beings, we are human becomings.’

Reading all this felt really comfortable to tell you the truth and took me to a similar space of self-deconstruction that Choice did, a program which I could tell from the very first minute would be life-changing. Going through Choice of course was unexpectedly tough and very much NOT comfortable, but the lasting effects on me have inevitably made me look back to it with tender feelings, and perhaps comparing the pleasant self-deconstruction I could go through on my own pace with this book to the slap in so many of levels of face that Choice was could be being a bit unfair to the latter. Anyway, the trainers at Choice admitted that this book had been very influential for them, and having read the book now, I can completely see why.

First off: “Language and the Pursuit of Happiness”, by Chalmers Brothers. The title of the book is so broad, one could very well think it impossible for the broadness and genericness of the subject matter to be satisfactorily conveyed. And Chalmers Brothers — is that a single person or is it THE Chalmers Brothers? I got some internal giggles from thinking about that, I admit.

Turns out: the subject matter is amazingly portrayed, and no, it’s a single person, actually a man without any background in psychology or anything, though with a lot of experience in leadership development, relationship-building, workplace culture and accountability workshops and such. This book was his first book, and I thought it was so clearly written, jargon-free and easy to read, I was almost shocked. That is to say: I was captivated. Mr. Brothers captured in written form a living example, or as much of a living example as a book can provide, of his own theory.

His theory is that, contrary to popular belief, language doesn’t just describe the world — it’s not just a tool used for communication. Instead, he proposes four more beneficial, certainly more powerful claims about language:

1. Human beings are linguistic beings. We “live in language.” All of us, all the time.

E.g. We make up a story about ourselves and the world, hold our stories to be the truth and forget that we made them up. We confuse the events themselves with our own explanations. “The minute I begin living as if my explanation of an event is the event… I stop listening”).

“Consider if someone walked into a crowded room full of people of many different ages and many different social and cultural backgrounds, and said “Well, I can see how all of you folks are obviously influenced by how you see things by your age, race, gender, life experiences… how your perceptions are necessarily “filtered” by your travel – or lack of travel – and upbringing, educational experiences, and so forth. I’m sorry you have to live with such obvious limitations… I, on the other hand, have been blessed with Cosmic Objectivity! Somehow I was born with the capacity to see things as they truly, really, objectively are… yes, I’ve been blessed with privileged access to the Truth… how excellent it is for me to have such unfettered access to the way things really are!

“How ridiculous. This, of course, is nonsense. Everybody is interpreting. Everybody is creating explanations.”

2. Language is generative and creative (vs. passive and descriptive).

I.e. our conversations with other people is what creates relationships with them. Change the content, change the relationship. Also, through what we say (and by extension, what we do), we create a public profile for ourselves, most of which is impossible to be conscious of — although certain substances can make it slightly less impossible. Or so they say.

And despite how most of us lead most of our lives — that is, not living in honesty — Mr. Brothers asks:

“Do you have anyone in your life who will give you ‘the straight poop?’ That is, someone who will share with you their honest impressions about you and your actions and their impact on others. Is this a valuable person to have in your life? Most of us say, yes indeed…”


3. Language is action. To speak is to act.

“If I make a request, and you say Yes, we’ve got a promise. If I make an offer, and you say Yes, same thing. And with this promise, tomorrow is different. Today is different. We have just put in motion events and actions that would not have been put in place had we not spoken, had we not make that agreement… The key interpretation we offer is that for humans, for us, our language is how we coordinate the coordination of action.”

4. With language, we make visible that which was previously invisible.

Mr. Brothers’ example here is extremely powerful:

“Let’s say last night I walked outside of my home and it was a beautiful, clear night. I looked up and saw “a bunch of stars”. That’s what I saw when I looked into the sky… a bunch of stars. Let’s say that this morning I had a conversation with my good friend Les, who happens to be an amateur astronomer. Les has this book and he says “Chalmers, some of what you’re seeing up there are actually planets… they have a different look and they shine in a pale red or yellow tone… and some of what’s up there are called nebulae, which are the remnants of huge explosions of stars millions of years ago… there’s a cloudy edge of gas formations… also, there are man-made satellites, which have a different look still and actually can be seen to move, slowly, across the sky…

“Now, tonight, when I go out and look up at the night sky, what do you think I might see? Last night I saw “a bunch of stars” and the sky is the same, and tonight, when I look up, what might I see? That’s right… I might see some planets… some nebula… some satellites. Question: Where were the planets, for me, last night? Where were the nebula, for me? Last night, they didn’t exist – for me. They were out of my awareness, and tonight I see them. My world has changed. My possibilities have changed. Planets… nebula… and satellites are linguistic distinctions, in the domain of astronomy, that I acquired in my time with Les. And once I acquired them – once I learned them – I opened my eyes upon the same world, and I saw something new. I became a different observer. I saw what I didn’t see before, and this is a powerful phenomenon to begin to notice!”

I’ll give you a very quick run-down of the chapters so together with all the aforementioned you can more or less get a feel for how the rest of the book goes:

Chapter 1: You Can’t Change What You Don’t See
Chapter 2: Language — The Tool You Cannot Put Down
Chapter 3: What’s Learning Got To Do With Happiness? And What’s Language Got To Do With Learning?
Chapter 4: Listening, Hearing, Beliefs & Results
Chapter 5: My Favorite Model: Observer – Action – Results
Chapter 6: An Artificial Separation: Language / Emotions / Body
Chapter 7: We Speak Ourselves Into the World
Section 7.1: Assertions & Assessments
Section 7.2: Declarations
Section 7.3: Requests & Offers
Section 7.4: Promises, Commitments, Agreements
Chapter 8: Happiness, Language and the Present Moment
Chapter 9: Have-Do-Be or Be-Do-Have
Chapter 10: The Bigger Picture & Looking Ahead

Apart from the crystal clarity of the book, I loved how most of the chapters had a Summary: Main Points and New Interpretations and a How-To: Possibilities for Taking New Action sub-section. It really makes it much easier to skim through the book again and revise everything I learned so that it sticks better. Mindful repetition is an important learning tool (perhaps THE most important), after all.

I’ve written a lot already. I’m just so excited that I discovered this book and would like to share it or even discuss it with other people. I think it has a very powerful and extraordinarily well-articulated message (a combination which is surprisingly hard to find) and I believe that many more people could benefit from discovering it, reading it and making it one of their own new favourite books, too.

And if you prefer videos over lengthy summaries, here’s Mr. Brothers speaking at TEDxBocaRaton in 2014 about “How language generates your world and mine” — a great summary for the book if this review of mine has once again inadvertently slipped into TL;DR territory. In which case, that’d be in my blind spot/public image quadrant, so would you give me the ‘straight poop’ and let me know? Thanks!

Oh, and remember: making the powerful declaration that you don’t know, and that you’re a beginner in something, will get you far.


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MY SOUNDTRACK OF 2017

This is not necessarily limited to music that came out last year, far from it; it’s some of the songs that stuck with me the most during 2017.

“The best pop song ever written?”
It’s certainly up there.

Specifically, “Limpid” (around 13:20). Chinese shoegaze — its genre and country of origin are far from the only things this one’s got going for it.

“This is the song that played when the Universe began.”

The ‘things are getting seriously clever’ theme.

Hate the lyrics, didn’t like the movie after getting floored by Whiplash, but this song is just so damn catchy!

The song that got me super-excited about To The Bone.

They were better than Royksopp at Release Festival, and this track (and Bad Kingdom) were a big part of it for me.

That’s not to say that the Norwegian duo didn’t make a spectacular appearance.

One of my most persistent earworms ever. Only watch the video before travelling by plane if you’ve got the balls/ovaries for it.

2017: the year I listened to In Rainbows for the first time. Hey, 10 years later is better than never, right?

First thing I heard when I randomly popped the first LP I grabbed from the top of a stack from my mother’s rather vast collection. Probably the only song by ELO I really like.

This cover touches something really tender inside of me. It’s somehow childishly erotic, it brings back to me the kind of feelings I would keep for my kindergarden crushes (yes that’s plural).

I don’t know what this kind of music counts as (new electro dark folk?) but please sir, can I have some more?

Desertfest 2017, man. What a band, what an absolutely jawdroppin’ smooth ‘n crunchy song!

I saw Devin live in 2017, but my top 2017 Devin SOTY wasn’t part of the show at Fuzz…

What, you thought I’d only have a single Steven Wilson song on here? Quaint. An A-side, no less?

Was tied between this and the Stable theme for the most evocative Breath of the Wild musical moment.

Let it grow, let it grow… let it blossom, let it flow… This song is my mental talisman and reminder of everything I learned about myself and others as a co-trainer for Event Wise in Olde Vechte. It goes straight to the heart — or the emotional centre, if you’re one of those types that are being too literal with the concept of the heart (like me sometimes).

Marilena and I were there (not the same concert but the same set of concerts == we were there two days before this one, on the 28th). Around 23:30 is where the tears started free-flowing. There are very few bands, if any, that have such a ready access to my waterworks.

JLMOP // THE ESSENTIAL PSYCHEDELIC GUIDE

The Essential Psychedelic Guide

The Essential Psychedelic Guide by D.M. Turner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Link to the full book here.

This was a breathtaking sneak-peek into the experiences and philosophy of a dedicated and fascinating psychedelic explorer. The style and presentation reminded me a bit of Shulgin’s PiHKaL, which, coming from me, counts as high praise. Describing the experience entheogens typically produce in words is a bit like describing works by Escher, Van Gogh or Giger to a blind person (with all due respect), and, as far as this kind of experience counts as going on trips, it felt like what reading the original Lonely Planet mush have felt like, but back when Lonely Planet used to be cool.

Turner’s death by drowning while apparently on ketamine after his encounter with the ‘water spirit’ of DMT, and its ‘dissatisfaction’ with his mixing of the natural and ominpresent DMT with the artifical ketamine, was hair-raising to say the least, but I felt it was a fitting, gloriously sad ending to a life as full of curiosity as this one.

I’ve always thought that for every single precious nugget of information we have today like, for example, that the death cap isn’t the ‘yummy cap’, or for every controversial or varyingly successful foray into pineapple-on-pizza territory, there must have been someone out there in spacetime by necessity whose sense of experimentation had to be stronger than their sense of self-preservation. These people inadvertenly took one for the team, the collective team, even if they couldn’t know it at the time. Humanity owes these awesomely curious outliers who were never meant to survive, these unsung heroes, a lot of credit we will never give them.

Here’s to the explorers who died so that today we’re in a position to take informed decisions.

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JLMOP // UNDERSTANDING THE ENNEAGRAM: THE PRACTICAL GUIDE TO PERSONALITY TYPES

Understanding the Enneagram: The Practical Guide to Personality Types

Understanding the Enneagram: The Practical Guide to Personality Types by Don Richard Riso
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Found this one last year in this shop when I was in Dublin. Having highlighted about half of it with that light blue colored pencil of mine, it took me about a year to “finish”… Reference book or no, I was really attracted to the way it expanded on some of the concepts first laid out in Personality Types.  I recommend reading that one first (or maybe even The Complete Enneagram: 27 Paths to Greater Self-Knowledge by Beatrice Chestnut for a different school of thought) if you want to get into the Enneagram, and read this one for more models and, uh, experimental ways to use this tool for personal growth and helping others out.

The Enneagram is a valuable piece of social technology — it’s a tool that can help us understand others and ourselves that works. We need to spread the word!

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JLMOP // LEARN ANY LANGUAGE

Learn ANY Language: A Practical Guide to Learn Any Language to Any Level of Fluency

Learn ANY Language: A Practical Guide to Learn Any Language to Any Level of Fluency by Janina Klimas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

25/01/2018 EDIT: I’m adding in the summary of the book’s action steps in the words of the author:

The first step, is to review all of the action steps. They are compiled here for easy reference:

1. Throw away everything you ever thought you knew about learning languages. You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to spend half your life trying to study a language. You don’t have to be Doctor/Professor/ Genius insert-your-last-name. You don’t have to have a million dollars, pounds, euros, yuan, yen or whatever, to attain these skills.

2. You don’t have to speak perfectly. You can make lots of mistakes and still be understood. You do have to have a willingness to understand how to learn languages and how to apply it, in order to meet your goals in your language.

3. On the matter of language learning in schools, please contact school districts and write your political leaders. In many school language programs, the traditional paradigm sets up students and teachers for failure. Unless people have the correct knowledge and materials to set up a program that assesses students all the way through, from beginning to advanced, and provides a long enough time sequence to be able to do so, languages in school are going to continue to not be a great experience for most people.

4. Be informed as you approach materials for the independent study of languages. I know I called out a few language programs but the truth is, I think any exposure you get is great. I also think a lot of the programs – particularly audiobook-type programs – are fantastic to learn useful words and phrases. You can listen if you’re going for a walk, cleaning the house or in the car. While they can be a useful way to pick up words and phrases, you need to be realistic. You need to be informed about how much input you will actually get, in order for them to be effective.

5. Decide what your idea of fluency is. What’s going to work for you? What’s going to work in your life? How much time do you have to dedicate to this endeavor? Do you want to go on a trip to Italy? In that case, maybe you can stay toward the upper bubbles. Do you want to move to China and fit in with the locals? Then you need to be way more advanced.

6. You need to decide where you want to be. After you’ve made those decisions, you need to learn about the amount of time it’s going to take to get to your goal, in your specific language. You also need to figure out how you’re going to get there with the time you have.

I was sent this book in digital format in exchange for an honest review. It took me more than a year to actually get down to it and finishing it. Sorry about that, JK.

What I enjoyed about this book was that it got me really motivated to actually communicate in different languages. The criticism on the different kinds of school systems sounded familiar, and the realisation that I’m not even communicating in my supposed mother tongues perfectly, let alone that I wasn’t born a native speaker in them and that I had to go through the long process of becoming one, did strike home. I loved how far she went to get across that no-one expects us to be perfect when we’re learning a foreign language, and that errors should be taken advantage of, not feared. “There is no failure, only feedback” truly is the golden rule here, as with anything.

I don’t believe this book is just for absolute beginners or people who haven’t ever learned foreign languages–I was able to get something out of it even with plenty of experience in languages. I see Learn ANY Language as more of a collection of resources and unique methods that can greatly expand your concept of what learning a language actually has to entail. I’ve been getting creative with learning or improving my working languages (mainly English, Spanish, German and to a lesser extent Bulgarian and Danish) for some time now by using podcasts, conversation exchange/tandem meetings, movies, video games, Memrise, Language Transfer incl. others, but Mrs. Klimas broadened my already airy horizons even more, and I’m thankful for it.

I also enjoyed learning about language skill assessment, the learning process and the practicalities of which parts of the traditional learning systems really work and which don’t, which is always a topic that fascinates me—just imagine how different things could really be…

Admittedly, I didn’t like some of the assumptions she made, e.g. that as a reader of the book I must be an L1 English speaker, for example, or that learners should spend some years working with specific structures before getting into more advanced ones, e.g. spending 1-2 years without being properly taught the past tenses or other ways to formulate the past in the given language. Judging by how much time people tend to devote to talking about the past, that sounds a bit counter-intuitive and an arbitrary limitation.

I also thought there were plenty of grammar errors and repetitions of advice and sentences throughout the book that cheapened the look and feel of the endeavour, especially on a topic such as language. But these are relatively small issues compared to the value that can be got out of this book, if one is only willing and motivated. If you are, this book will give you ideas and specific advice. If you’re not, it might help you get there.

Recommended for anyone interested in being a polyglot.

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