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  • Writer's pictureThomas Doggett

Summer input

It's the end of June. I should be getting ready for four days of rehearsals and a parade...but not this year. The pandemic has disrupted our normal course of events. But disruption is not a bad thing. In fact, it inspires innovation as explained in The Future Is Faster Than You Think.

I just finished The Future Is Faster Than You Think. Released in January of this year, it looks at all of the available information about technology and its impact on the next ten years. The opening chapter helps you understand what you're about to read by explaining Moore's Law and “disruptive innovation.”

Moore's Law: the principle that the speed and capability of computers can be expected to double every two years, as a result of increases in the number of transistors a microchip can contain.

The phone in your pocket can do more than the first computer in 1969 that was the size of a large classroom. That "phone" will continue to get smaller and increase in processor speed. So small that it will soon be in your eye, bloodstream, and brain. Sounds crazy but remember that in my lifetime it went from being the size of a room to fitting in my pocket. So why will it end up inside me in my lifetime? Disruptive innovation. Anytime two ideas come together, the idea accelerates. So, if Moore's Law is "every two years" then that time span decreases because of convergence. Do you need to worry? You should never worry but if you do, the book has a chapter on Existential Risks. The book presents more optimism than pessimism. Technology will continue to impact every aspect of our lives from food, health, education, technology, government, and more.

I've been a fan of Austin Kleon since I first discovered Steal Like An Artist. I love his writing style and his "matter a fact" approach to making a point. His drawings are good too. As the book title suggests, be creative in good times and bad. I tell my students that art will always happen regardless of what's going on. During this pandemic, during these protests, art is being made. It has to be made. It's what keeps us going.

While reading, I highlighted everything that stood out to me as something I could share with my students. I think I highlighted every page. His collection of quotes are so inspiring. They remind the reader that others have been faced with the same challenges. In typical Kleon fashion, he presents a list...he even has a chapter on Lists. He uses humor, historical quotes, and experiences to make his point.

The months leading up to World War II were some of the most terrible months in the life of Leonard and Virginia Woolf, as they “helplessly and hopelessly” watched events unfold. Leonard said one of the most horrible things was listening to Hitler’s rants on the radio—“the savage and insane ravings of a vindictive underdog who suddenly saw himself to be all-powerful.” One afternoon, he was planting purple irises in the orchard under an apple tree. “Suddenly I heard Virginia’s voice calling to me from the sitting room window.” Hitler was making another speech. But Leonard had had enough. “I shan’t come!” he shouted back to Virginia. “I’m planting iris and they will be flowering long after he is dead.’” “He was right. In his memoir, Downhill All the Way, Leonard Woolf noted that twenty-one years after Hitler committed suicide in the bunker, a few of those purple flowers still bloomed in the orchard under the apple tree.”

Why do we do things? Why do others do things? Could two people with the same background, same education, same experiences, make two completely different choices? In this article in the Atlantic, Anne Applebaum attempts to answer that question. The story begins in East Berlin and ends in Washington DC.

Leonhard, meanwhile, became a prominent critic of the regime. He wrote and lectured in West Berlin, at Oxford, at Columbia. Eventually he wound up at Yale, where his lecture course left an impression on several generations of students. Among them was a future U.S. president, George W. Bush, who described Leonhard’s course as “an introduction to the struggle between tyranny and freedom.” When I was at Yale in the 1980s, Leonhard’s course on Soviet history was the most popular on campus.

A very interesting article that can help you understand human psychology and decision making.

I've been listening to The New Man podcast for a few years now. Tripp Lanier has great things to say and he has interesting guests. In last weeks podcast, he interviewed Kwame Christian from the American Negotiation Institute. Mr. Christian explains that everything in our lives is a negotiation and that a negotiation isn't just getting what you want. In his line of work, he's usually dealing with situations involving a lot of money and emotions. He explained that the emotions need to be dealt with first. He said something that really stood out: "You cannot send a message to someone who's not psychologically ready to accept it." As a teacher, I'm always aware of this; I can't teach someone who's not ready to learn. To teach, I need to meet the student where they are and get them to a place where they can learn. So, if you're teaching, discussing who should take out the trash, or selling your company; address the emotions first.

There is a relatively new podcast hosted by Andrea Sweenson about Prince. The first one I listened to was a series on the 1999 Tour rehearsals. The two most recent ones are about Prince's albums The Rainbow Children and One Nite Alone from the early 2000's. We take for granted how music is consumed now. For those of us old enough, we remember pre-internet music listening. Prince was at the fore-front of changing the scene. Sam Jennings was the web designer for Prince's NPG Club:

The NPG Music Club was an online music business that went from 2001 to 2006 that Prince started, and I started it with him. It went through many different phases, but it started out as a sort of direct music service. So Prince could release new music every month and give it to subscribers, and so sometimes it would be three or four songs a month, and there would be like an audio show, which nowadays we call a podcast, and we would deliver all these to people directly to their computer, and it was something that really excited him because it was a direct connection to the fans. His whole career was about getting rid of middlemen. And we kinda take it for granted now, but at the time in the early 2000s...this is like pre-iTunes. People were still living in the shadow of Napster. The record labels were all very scared of the Internet. And this was the first actually artist-owned business that took advantage of the Internet as a distribution tool for music. And for him it was just really liberating and he really enjoyed that freedom.

I've had Midnight Diner in my queue for a while and finally started watching it. It's delightfully charming and meditative. A diner that is open from midnight to 7 am, one chef, four items on the menu but he'll make any request if he has the ingredients. As you learn about each customer, you also learn that we all have an emotional connection with food. The chef is simply the narrator for a colorful cast of characters that enter the diner: a stripper that falls in love too quickly, a yakuza with a gentle heart, a pompous food critic that reunites with his childhood guitar teacher, just to name a few. My favorite moment in the show is the end of each episode where the primary character from that episode breaks the 4th wall and explains the dish created by the chef and how to make it yourself.

I was so excited to learn earlier this month that the third and final season of Dark would be released. I surprised Lisa by watching the first two seasons with her to get her ready for the third season. All expectations were met as we consumed the season in three days. One of the best shows I've ever watched. No spoilers.

Thanks for reading. I hope I inspired you. When in doubt, go for a walk.


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