Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, July 10-16, 2016

There’s a lot of terrible things happening in the world today. Don’t worry I’m not all about the doom and gloom . . . just mostly.

A black police chief speaks out about the Dallas attacks. Juleyka Lantigua-Williams for The Atlantic.

Mother Jones shares President Obama’s speech at the Dallas Memorial.

Jim C. Hines offers some thoughts and links on Black Lives Matter.

Harvard study on police shootings and race offers some surprising results. The Tribunist. A friend conscientiously pointed me in the direction of a couple of other interpretations. Roland Fryer answers reader questions about his Harvard study. Amanda Cox for The New York Times. Dara Lind explains why she’s skeptical of Fryer’s study. Vox.

Henry Rollins: white America couldn’t handle what black America deals with every day. The L.A Times. My favourite bit: “I’m an educated, Caucasian, heterosexual male. Does this ensure I will have success and live the American Dream? Obviously it doesn’t, but it damn sure drops me on second base with a great opportunity to steal third.”

Locally, Paula Wharton invited the police chief to her home to talk race relations. CBC.

Scott Gilmore says that Canada’s racism problem is even worse than America’s. MacLean’s Magazine, January 22, 2015. I’d have preferred a more balanced look at the way both countries treat our Native North American peoples, or how we both treat our people of colour. Mixing it up doesn’t present either population in a way from which we could draw meaningful conclusions or find ways to take positive, supporting action.

Another  Canadian tragedy: Taliyah Marsman’s body found. CBC.

Well, this is no surprise . . . Canadians’ moral compass set differently from that of our neighbours to the south. Bruce Anderson and David Coletto present research for Abacus Data.

Let’s try for a little of the uplift, now.

Tara Isabella Burton explains why you should study theology, even if you don’t believe in god. The Atlantic.

The real story of the woman behind the Migrant Mother Depression era photos. The Vintage News.

Laurie Penny reports on life-hacks for the poor and aimless. What’s the real message behind the trend of self-care? The Baffler.

The Hurrian Hymn dates back to 1400 B.C. and it’s totally amazing 🙂 The Vintage News.

The spoon theory as explained by Christine Miserandino.

This photo of the Milky Way, taken in Namibia, looks like it was taken in the daytime. Photos are tricky. Phil Plait for Slate. He also presents evidence of a planet orbiting in a triple star system. Hubble shows us a beauty that hides a beast.

Jason Daley reports on a mission to Marianas Trench that records dozens of crazy deep sea creatures. Smithsonian Magazine.

This cyborg stingray is the coolest thing you’ll see all day. George Dvorsky for Gizmodo. Later in the week, George writes about ten predictions that should scare the hell out of you. Great fodder for SF? Methinks so!

Open Culture presents a 1965 video of Joni Mitchell performing . . . before she was Joni Mitchell.

I hope you’ve managed to pull some inspiration from this lot. I aim to be more uplifting next week. But we’ll see what fresh hell 2016 offers.

Practice gratitude. Breathe.

Be well.

Thoughty Thursday

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Nov 16-22, 2014

Can you rewire your brain to change bad habits, thoughts, and feelings? AlterNet.

The science of sleep on Brainpickings.

Brain scans reveal what dogs really think of humans. Brain.mic

An archaeological find with a great story behind it. The Daily Mail Online.

A 1300 year old book of Egyptian spells has been deciphered. i09.

A 2000 year old pigment can eliminate the third dimension. Confused? Just read the article. i09.

Five facts you should know about the women who shaped modern physics.

Know your place in the universe. BuzzFeed.

The sound the universe makes. Janna Levin. TED Talk.

Could we actually live on Mars? ASAP Science.


Russian dash cams have caught another flash in the sky. They’re still trying to figure out what it was. IFLS.

The sixth extinction. It’s coming. It’s okay to be smart.


What does a murmuration look like when it’s not in flight?


MacLean’s interviews Joni Mitchell.

A light-based art exhibit by Bruce Munro. My Modern Met.

Six ideas from creative thinkers to shake up your work routine.

What Finland is doing right for its students. The Conversation.

Soup to nuts and everything in between 🙂

See you Saturday!

Thoughty Thursday

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Oct 5-11, 2014

TED talks have invaded this week. Don’t think I’m hearing an argument, though 🙂

K.M. Weiland continues her most common writing mistakes series with repetitive dialogue. She shows you how to recognize it and how to fix it. Post and podcast.

NaNo prep from Janice Hardy’s Fiction University: Planning your novel.

Julia Munroe Martin explores the topic of gender bias on Writer Unboxed.

Nina Munteanu begins her exploration of the Hero’s Journey.

Songs that shape our writing. Veronica Sicoe. Have you seen this post yet, Roz Morris? 😀

No, I don’t want to read your self-published book. Ron Charles of the Washington Post summarizes Roger Sutton’s position on why Horn Book Magazine won’t be reviewing any self-published books.

Talking Writing: Rich writers vs. the critics—and me, by Anna Coppola. My favourite bit: “. . . I hate that. Book sales and dollar signs convey nothing about what literature is or how it changes the lives of those who read. Yet, the industry’s tacit acceptance that financial success is the only thing that matters has created a whole lot of confusion about art. Meanwhile, out-of-touch critics are no help, as they rail against the kind of writing that gets people to buy books.”

Elizabeth Gilbert on the ugly truth about following your passion. The Huffington Post’s GPS for the Soul.

Joni Mitchell on therapy and the creative mind. Brainpickings.

Mac Barnett: Why a good book is like a secret door? TED Talk.


Lisa Bu: How books can open you mind. TED Talk.


Anne Curzan: What makes a word “real”? TED Talk.


The three books you need to read in every major genre. LitReactor.

Things you may not have known about The Princess Bride. Zimbio.

48 things you may not have known about Buffy the Vampire Slayer. BuzzFeed.

Troll, by Shane Koyczan, from his CD and graphic novel Silence is a song I know all the words to:


Can we auto-correct humanity?


Jamila Lyiscott: Three ways to speak English. TED Talk.


Hope you enjoyed this week’s Writerly Goodness round up 😉


The post in which I write about happiness: A life sentence with mortal punctuation, part 10

I’d wanted to wrap things up this week, but the happiness post seems to have a mind of its own 😉  So next week will be my finale for this series in which I will talk about how my life and experiences have influenced my writing.

For now, though:

What I’ve learned about happiness

supreme happiness

supreme happiness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First, it’s an amorphous thing.  It’s hard to pin down.  Sometimes you only realize in retrospect that you were happy because of its sudden absence.  Sometimes you know that you’re happy because your friends and family clearly aren’t and by comparison, you’re feeling pretty good.  Sometimes, you just need to find a still moment and let the happy come.

Here is the definition (linked for your convenience):

hap·pi·ness [hap-ee-nis] noun

1. the quality or state of being happy.

2. good fortune; pleasure; contentment; joy.

Origin: 1520–30; happy + -ness

Related forms o·ver·hap·pi·ness, noun

1, 2. pleasure, joy, exhilaration, bliss, contentedness, delight, enjoyment, satisfaction. Happiness, bliss, contentment, felicity imply an active or passive state of pleasure or pleasurable satisfaction. Happiness results from the possession or attainment of what one considers good: the happiness of visiting one’s family. Bliss is unalloyed happiness or supreme delight: the bliss of perfect companionship. Contentment is a peaceful kind of happiness in which one rests without desires, even though every wish may not have been gratified: contentment in one’s surroundings. Felicity is a formal word for happiness of an especially fortunate or intense kind: to wish a young couple felicity in life.

You can look at as many definitions as you like, but you won’t find one that actually conveys what happiness feels like.  It’s all just wordage, and one time when post-modernist or semiotic analysis might tell you more about what happiness actually means than reading a bunch of words on a page or website.

Last year, I finally got around to reading Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project.  It came highly recommended by a colleague from work and a few online friends, but I have to say that I was less than impressed.

I appreciate Gretchin’s candid style and some of the insights she gains in her year-long happiness project (which has subsequently been renewed in ensuing years), but I couldn’t relate to a lot of what she wrote about.

She was honest about it, indicating that her life was pretty darned happy already.  She didn’t have many crises or tragedies to make her personal search for happiness compelling, and she admitted that this might make her happiness project ring hollow to some readers.

I didn’t really find this, but what I saw was someone who really didn’t have to dig deep to find the happy in her life.

I did agree to a certain extent with her philosophy of “act the way you want to feel,” but I found it to be disingenuous.  I’m not a gloomy Gus, generally speaking.  I smile and say hello.  I chat with people, but I don’t go out of my way to pretend that things are peachy when they are so definitely not (for me).

Still, I have to admit: I’m happy most of the time.  The key is to recognize your happiness and observe it.  Happiness is kind of a sacred moment that has to be respected and cherished.


Happiness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Retrospective happiness, A.K.A. Big Yellow Taxi happiness
The first kind of happiness I noticed in my life was retrospective happiness.  This is the kind of happiness you realize after the fact because you’ve suddenly been faced with a sad or difficult situation and the change in your mood helps you to understand that you were, in fact, happy, before the situation arose.
It’s important to take some time, even a few moments, to think about that happiness.  What did it feel like?  How relatively easy was it to be productive, proactive, and socialized with friends and family?  This way, you can more readily recognize happiness the next time it enters your life.
Happiness is like a child.  It likes attention and will hang around if you show it that you appreciate it 🙂
I characterize this happiness with the lyrics to the song Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell: “Don’t it always seem to go/that you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone?”

Comparative happiness, relatively speaking
I often noticed when I was happy because Phil was not.  Often it seemed that when he was having a rough go of it at work, things were going swimmingly for me.  I like it when things turn out well and this makes me happy.  Currently, we’re both having a bit of a bad time at work, but interestingly, we’re both fairly happy at home.
Again, notice how this kind of happiness feels.  Is it based on accomplishment, recognition, or something else?  Is there a way that you can foster these happy-making elements in your life?  Happiness is an opportunity.  Learn how to invite it to come knocking 🙂

Happiness-in-the-moment, A.K.A. Zen happiness
Sometimes, you just have to take a moment to realize, regardless how you think you feel, or should feel, that you are happy.  It’s a weird phenomenon, owing in no small part to the inexact and un-pin-down-able nature of happiness.
Also, in the Buddhist tradition, there’s this idea of non-attachment.  In order to experience something, you have to stop wanting it, let it go, become disinterested in it.  Happiness can sneak up on you at the strangest times.  If you’ve been careful in your observation of your happiness in the past, you might be “surprised by joy” at an unexpected moment.
I also think of this as serendipity, or, as I like to say, surrend-ipity.  It’s only when you surrender to the moment that you can find your greatest happiness.

So that’s it.  Three ways to find happiness.


happiness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you have other techniques you use to find the happy moments in your life?  I’d love to hear about them.

Tonight’s TV line-up: Once Upon a Time, Game of Thrones, and Vikings.

Have a great evening!