Dose of Awesome #1
Welcome to the first instalment of Your Weekly Dose of Awesome – a selection of the most interesting, inspiring, creative, and useful articles, videos, podcasts and resources that I’ve found during my digital explorations over the past week.
I’ll try to administer a fresh dose every Sunday morning to really mess up your productivity for the whole week ahead. Yay!
[Yes I know I put the wrong date on this! I was originally planning a Monday morning release but then thought better of it!]
This is awesome news (although I wish it had been one of my old universities), and will surely set the precedent that others will follow until within a few years it will be absolutely toxic for a university to be investing it’s endowment funds in the fossil fuel industry.
If you don’t know about the Go Fossil Free Campaign or divestment then go check out this post.
A new study gives the clearest picture yet of the incredible rate of destruction and degradation of the forests of Borneo in recent decades. In 1973, pristine forest covered 76% of the island, today it covers just 29% of the island, with another 24% covered by logged forest.
This Mongabay article gives thorough summary, while the original study can be found here on the open access journal PLOS One. You can also view this interactive map if to get a good visual understanding of the situation.
As you probably know, Borneo has been close to my heart since my first expedition to it’s magical rainforests, and the foundation of the Heart of Borneo Project, so this an important study, and comes straight off the back of reports of deforestation rates on the island rising, despite a moratorium on logging. Sobering news.
George Monbiot is probably the leading environmental journalist in the UK right now, and he’s been on blistering form recently. Here he draws attention to the damning evidence against a class of pesticides called Neonicotinoids.
“Here’s our choice. We wait and see whether a class of powerful pesticides, made by Bayer and Syngenta, is indeed pushing entire ecosystems to oblivion, or we suspend their use while proper trials are conducted. The natural world versus two chemical companies: how hard can this be?”
And if you haven’t read Silent Spring – arguably the book that kicked off the modern environmental movement, then head to your local independent book shop or library and pick it up.
I recently announced my intention to embark on a 6 week long pedal powered speaking tour of the UK to raise support for the divestment campaign in the UK. As luck would have it, bicycle adventure guru, Tom Allen, launched a competition with the winner receiving the bike and gear he has just used to cycle from Lands End to Edinburgh on his #freeLEJOG trip.
I didn’t win (I know, right!), but it’s for the best because this fantastic entrant won instead, and now I can use my own lovely fancy pants camping gear instead of Tom’s bin liner jacket and exploding bicycle parts. Yay!
Gust post on Tim Ferris’ blog by Gabriel Wyner on language learning. Highly recommend reading this and clipping it for future reference if you have any interest in learning a language. I’m convinced that language learning is actually easy, it’s just that in the UK we spend 10 years being taught French or German in the most boring and ineffectual way that what we develop a learned helplessness.
I first got a taste of how exciting it is to feel like you are actually learning a language when I studied Spanish with the Michel Thomas audio recordings, and I get a similar feeling from the kinds of deconstruncted, evidence-based approaches to language learning that are detailed in this post.
I’m excited and nervous in equal measure about this. Training is going to be very difficult given my hectic travel schedule between now and the race (less then 50 days time), the heat will be very tough, as will the terrain, and there is 2,000m of elevation gain across the route, the majority of which is in the second half of the loop.
Swami Vivekananda on the Secret of Work: Intelligent Consolation for the Pressures of Productivity from 1896
I’m a huge fan of Brain Pickings, and this is a wonderful essay on the renowned Indian Hindu monk and philosopher Swami Vivekananda and his lectures that were transcribed and published as Karma Yoga: the Yoga of Action
Be “unattached”; let things work; let brain centers work; work incessantly, but let not a ripple conquer the mind. Work as if you were a stranger in this land, a sojourner; work incessantly, but do not bind yourselves; bondage is terrible.
The only problem with this website is how much longer my reading wish list gets with every article I read.
Brain Pickings gets two entries this week (and probably will every week!). This essay chimed nicely with recent musings of my own and a podcast on the Philosophy of Solitude that I listened to a week or so back.
This essay features Florence King’s letter about about “deconditioning our compulsion for instant success, cultivating the building blocks of self-esteem, and learning what it really means to be present with ourselves”, as published in the 2002 anthology, Take My Advice: Letters to the Next Generation from People Who Know a Thing or Two.
When I was getting ready to graduate from college in 1957, I was fed up and ready to drop from exhaustion, but still my mind kept telling me, “Hurry, hurry, hurry.” I felt I had to do something, go on to the next step, whatever it was — career, graduate school, as long as it was important.
This is an American disease.
That was in the 1950s. Now it’s a global disease.
If you read my recent post on money you’ll have heard me mention MMM already, but for those unacquainted with this modern day stoic who writes about “early retirement through badassity” (basically becoming a millionaire and retiring by the time your 30 on average paying jobs by being frugal and investing your savings in boring, sensible places) this latest post will make an interesting and funny introduction.
As with many of the best Radiolab episodes, this one starts off telling a story that you think you already know, but before long you’re immersed in a world of strange contradictions and seemingly intractable questions. What is natural? What’s the future of conservation? And is a 90% copy of the original better than nothing at all?
And finally – the latest instalment of “Things I’d Tell My 20 Year Old Self”. This one’s on Happiness
I’m really enjoying writing these posts, although they take a really long time because they’re so personal and, you know, they have to be really honest and true otherwise what’s the point? Click on the ecstatic face of pure joy below to go read that post and see if you agree with anything I have to say.