Sunday, August 20, 2017

Tips for the Eclipse

Tips for the eclipse:
  1. Wear proper eye protection. Do not stare at the sun for too long during partial occlusion even with protection. 
  2. Use a filtered telescope + digital camera if you want to see the eclipse itself.
  3. If you don't have a pinhole shadowbox, you can use the shadow of leaves on the ground and the spots of sunlight between them to follow the progress of the eclipse.
  4. Read Annie Dillard's essay on a previous eclipse:
  5. As Dillard's essay, and the tree pinhole camera effect demonstrate, while most people will be focusing on the alignment of the sun & moon, it's the rest of the world that has the most interesting things to observe.
  6. Observe how other people and animals act.
  7. Observe your own state of mind.
  8. An eclipse is a deeply uncanny experience. It is awful in the old sense of the word: awe-full. It's not surprising that people went nonlinear when they didn't know what was going on; people act strangely during an eclipse even with a modern understanding of celestial mechanics.
  9. The light gets weird. Colors get weird. Things appear differently from how they normally do. The dominant colors are silver and indigo, that elusive color between blue and violet, normally only seen in a particular grade of lapis lazuli and in butterfly wings.
  10. Take pictures of the people taking pictures, of the landscape, of the earth and sky together. There will be a lot of pictures taken of the eclipsed sun, but not enough of these other images.

EP 037 Phil Stutz and Barry Michels Return to Talk about Coming Alive

Today on Startup Geometry, we're talking with Phil Stutz and Barry Michels, authors of the new book Coming Alive. Since we last talked to them, they've been keeping busy with their highly successful psychotherapy practices, where much of their clientele consists of Hollywood creative professionals; running multiday retreats and seminars; and writing their second book, which deals with Part X, the self-sabotaging part of ourselves, the devil inside. When we're able to overcome Part X, we become more engaged with life, more creative, and happier.

As one might expect with a discussion about inner sabotage, we experienced technical difficulties with the audio version of this interview. We were able to recover almost all of the contents of the interview in the print version below.

Special thanks go out to the members of The Tools Facebook Group, who asked some amazing questions about how the Tools can be used in very particular and challenging situations.

Enjoy this episode, and want me to keep making more? Download, subscribe, rate and review on iTunes

Want to hear more like this?
Pair with Phil and Barry's earlier interview or read the transcript of that interview.

Show Notes and Links

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Transcript of EP 015 Phil Stutz and Barry Michels on The Tools

Phil Stutz and Barry Michels first came by to talk with me in 2015 about their first book, The Tools, based on the techniques they developed in their psychotherapy practices. These practices combine the depth psychology and visualization of Carl Jung with the philosophy of Rudolf Steiner and the rapid efficacy of cognitive behavioral therapy.

You can listen to our first interview here, or through your favorite podcast site. For one reason or another, I don't think I ever released the transcript from the interview, so here it is. I will also be releasing the pdf version here at some point.

The new interview will be going up tomorrow on this site, also in transcript format.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Ocean Vuong's Daily Choice

From this interview with Tricycle:
The thing I fear most is that one day I might wake up without hope. At the moment, though, I’m hopeful.

We see bombs being dropped. We see bullets being put into bodies, all from fear. It is a powerful energy. But compassion is an energy, too. With it, we’ve built miraculous things: cathedrals, temples, schools, and shelters. We’ve made extraordinary works of art. Every day when we wake up, we have a choice. Will we choose fear or will we choose compassion and love? These are very strong, but I’ve learned in my short 28 years that anger and fear exhaust me, whereas if I do work out of love and compassion and kindness, I’m actually nourished. It’s a sustainable energy.

There are days where I say, “I’m too terrified, I’m too tired, I’m too depressed, I can’t do it.” Those days happen. But my goal is to always return to the sustainable resource of compassion. I think my best poems come out of compassion rather than fear.
(Underlining mine.)

Over on The Tools Facebook Group, based on the work of Phil Stutz and Barry Michels, we've been discussing ways of accessing better and worse sources of motivation and energy, Higher Powers and Part X. The question there is, as here, not only how you feel in the moment when you take your energy from one source or another, but whether advancing on your fears diminishes them while simply reacting based on fear diminishes you, and whether acting from compassion renews you and engages you with life.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

EP 036 Eric Obenauf of Two Dollar Radio on Small Press Publishing

Eric Obenauf founded Two Dollar Radio to publish daring, experimental fiction that wouldn't otherwise find its audience.

On this episode, we talk about how indy and small press publishing works, the importance of having your own taste, and the art of branching out (Two Dollar Radio now makes films, and they're opening their new Headquarters store to be a hub for literature in the city and a cool place to hang out.

Eric in the future Two Dollar Radio HQ

Download the .mp3

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Want to hear more like this?
Pair with independent filmmakers Justine Simonson and Marcus Lehmann.

Show Notes and Links

Get a Headquarters Supreme Membership, which includes a discount on future purchases plus a one year subscription to Two Dollar Radio books.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

EP 035 Stephen Buranyi on Scientific Journalism and the Structure of Scientific Publishing

Stephen Buranyi writes about science and the socioeconomic structure of the scientific research system in place today. We talk about the joys and sorrows of being a scientist who has escaped the academy, how to pitch ideas for articles for general audience news publications, intentional and unintentional bad data, and the incentive structures surrounding scientific publication.

My apologies for the delay effect on Stephen's end of the conversation. I like to think that it's because we were using Mr. Bell's original transatlantic cable.

Download directly
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Want to hear more like this?
Pair with Alice Dreger on scientific & political heretics and the boundaries of gender.

Show Notes and Links

Stephen on Twitter
Stephen at The Guardian

Monday, July 10, 2017

EP 034 Jon Taplin on Internet Monopolies and Creative Culture

Jonathan Taplin is Director Emeritus of the Annenberg Innovation Lab at the University of Southern California. he was a Professor at the USC Annenberg School from 2003-2016. Taplin's areas of specialization are in international communication management and the field of digital media entertainment. Taplin began his entertainment career in 1969 as Tour Manager for Bob Dylan and The Band. In 1973 he produced Martin Scorsese's first feature film, Mean Streets, which was selected for the Cannes Film Festival. Between 1974 and 1996, Taplin produced 26 hours of television documentaries (including The Prize and Cadillac Desert for PBS) and 12 feature films including The Last Waltz, Until The End of the World, Under Fire and To Die For. His films were nominated for Oscar and Golden Globe awards and chosen for The Cannes Film Festival five times. (via

Today, Jon talks about his new book, Move Fast and Break Things: How Google, Facebook and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy. It tells the story of how the Internet took a wrong turn from its early days as a source for innovation and wealth for individual creators and entrepreneurs, becoming a highly centralized set of monopolies and oligopolies that suck $50 billion a year in income away from content creators. This has hollowed out whole industries, leaving both producers and consumers less well off both economically and artistically. We discuss some of the history of the Net that led to this point, and some of the possible remedies for the problems we face.

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Want to hear more like it?
Pair with Kevin Kelly's interview. Kevin has a much more positive view of technological change now and in the future.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Little Buddha

In Jamgon Kongtrul's encyclopedic work The Infinite Ocean of Knowledge/The Treasury of Knowledge, the first book deals with Buddhist cosmology, in very epic scope and tone. In the middle of this is the mention of a universe next door to ours called Angustha (Thumb-Sized), "here beings live no more than ten years and are in height no taller than a thumb. They are presided over by the Buddha Delight In Stars (Jyotirama), whose height is one cubit and seven fingers".

In contrast, our universe is called Endurance, because everyone here has to put up with so much.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

EP 033 Shava Nerad Returns to Talk Politics

Public Service Announcement: This week, the Senate released their version of the AHCA, which would cause 25 million people to lose their health insurance. Access to individual health insurance markets enables entrepreneurs, among others, to take the risk of leaving full time jobs with large corporations to build companies of their own. Without full funding for Medicaid, the cost of delivering healthcare to everyone rises. Please contact your Senators and representatives to tell them your position on this important issue.

Today on the podcast, Shava Nerad returns to talk about the ins and outs of political activism in the 21st century, how to make an impact as a technologically savvy organizer, and what you need to learn to be an effective citizen. Previously, Shava visited us to talk about her career as the founding Executive Director of the Tor Project and privacy activist.

Download from iTunes

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Subscribe, rate and review it on iTunes.

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Pair with Shava Nerad's first interview here, where she talks about a career in tech and activism.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Links for Later 6-14-17

  1. Using topology to describe "11 dimensional structures" in the brain. Not as exciting as it sounds--they are not physical dimensions, but mathematical ones.
  2. Library porn I: touring the libraries of Italy.
  3. Library porn II: Thibaud Poirier's photographs of empty libraries
  4. Mass shooting occurs at GOP baseball practice. Majority Whip Steve Scalise shot.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Bruno Borges

A 24 year old Brazilian man named Bruno Borges disappeared on March 27th, leaving behind a room covered in elaborate art and containing a life-sized statue of Giordano Bruno and fourteen numbered notebooks. The name Bruno Borges is a little on the nose, as my friend Ted Hand puts it, since it's a combination of Giordano Bruno, whose statue appears in the room, and Jorge Luis Borges, author of numerous labyrinths and literary games. The whole thing feels like a Borges story, anyway.

Bruno Borges story on reddit.
Daily Mail article on Borges.
El Globo's story on Borges.

An update on the Bruno Borges disappearance, connecting it to Cicada #3301, can be found here.

I have no idea what to make of it all. It's awfully neat handwriting for someone who's experiencing mental problems, which suggests that it's an art project or part of the Cicada scavenger hunt.

Update: It may all have been part of a book marketing scheme.
It seems that the season of the "Boy from Acre" case, Bruno Borges, mysteriously disappeared on March 27, is coming to an end. The Civil Police made two operations at the home of two friends of Bruno and found, among other things, two contracts signed giving friends part of the income from the sale of the 14 books he left in his room, along with scrawled walls and the statue of 2 meters. Bruno's cousin, Eduardo Borges, could also be involved in the case.

One of Bruno's friends, Marcelo Ferreira, was arrested, reports the G1 , for omitting information about the case, which would constitute false testimony. In the house of another friend, Mario Gaiote, the bed and the rack of Bruno's room were found, set aside for the setting of the scene found after his disappearance. Both Marcelo and Mario had signed contracts at home to distribute the proceeds of the sale of the books, drawn up in a notary's office on the very day Bruno disappeared.

"On the day Bruno left, he went to the notary's office and recorded the contract. So, for us, it is very conclusive that it was not a disappearance whatsoever, it was in fact a conscious plan of remoteness, and the contract shows that there is a deadline for disclosure of these books, deadline for publication, percentage allocation for those who helped him, in the case , These three people who helped him right away. For us, this is very clear, "said Alcino Júnior, the delegate of the case, to the G1 .

Update 6/11/17: More from the police investigation here.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

EP 032 Frederick Schilling

Frederick Schilling loves chocolate. He is the founder of Dagoba Chocolate, AMMA Chocolate and Big Tree Farms. He's made a career out of launching products that are not only delicious and luxurious, but also environmentally and socially responsible. When he founded Dagoba, he launched the organic chocolate category. When he founded Big Tree Farms and AMMA Chocolate, he changed the lives of farmers on two continents.

Today, we talk about:
  • How he got interested in chocolate while a religion major at Ohio Wesleyan University.
  • His first big breaks in product development, distribution, suppliers and media.
  • Why cash and people are the scarce resources needed by any founder.
  • Visionary experiences with the chocolate goddess. (The plants have an agenda, as Michael Pollan and Gordon White like to say.)
  • Terroir of chocolate. Subtypes of cacao plants. 
  • Impact of witch's broom disease on the chocolate industry in Brazil. (see also the phylloxera pandemic that hit the wine industry)
  • Breeds of cacao trees: Criollo, Forestro, Trinitario.
  • How cacao spread with colonization.
  • Coconut nectar/coconut sugar.
  • How coconut sugar improves the lives of coconut farmers.
  • Fair trade and organic designations as an essential business advantage.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Links for later 5-23-17

  1. Profile of Frederick Law Olmstead, the only American landscape designer you've ever heard of.
  2. Mitch Landrieu's speech on race and history on the occasion of the removal of the Robert E Lee Statue from display in New Orleans.
  3. Culture is who you hire and fire.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Links for Later 5-15-17

  1. Statistician David Aldous critiques Nassim Taleb. “My own overall reaction is that Taleb is sensible (going on prescient) in his discussion of financial markets and in some of his general philosophical thought, but tends toward irrelevance or ridiculous exaggeration otherwise.”
  2. Profile of publisher and printer Gerhard Steidl.
  3. "Radicalism begins with the body" Junot Diaz interviews Samuel R Delany.
  4. Hypnogogia and lucid dreaming with the help of oneirogens.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Leopoldo Lopez

Reports he was rushed to hospital in critical condition; has not been seen in nearly a month
Lilian: “We will not calm down until I can verify with my own eyes that he is safe and healthy.”
Caracas – Lilian Tintori, wife of political prisoner Leopoldo López, held vigil throughout the night outside the gates of Ramo Verde Military prison, demanding access to her husband to verify his safety.
Last night, Leopoldo Castillo, a prominent Venezuelan journalist with over 2.17 million followers, had posted on his twitter account, @elcitizen, “Information. Leopoldo Lopez transferred from Ramo Verde to a Military Hospital with no vital signs. Government maintains hypothesis of poisoning.” Tintori and López’s mother, Antonieta López, immediately went to the hospital where Captain Rodriguez eventually informed her that López was not there.
López has not been seen or heard from for nearly a month; his family and his lawyers have been refused access and he has been held in isolation. Ruling party representative Diosdado Cabello last night published a video of López, allegedly as proof of life. In the video, López states that “I do not understand the reason why they want a proof of life at this moment,” which alone raises serious questions about its authenticity as it should be unsurprising to a person that has been detained incommunicado for almost a month that there was pressure for a video providing proof of life.
With no means to confirm the authenticity of the video, Tintori has refused to accept this as proof of life saying “Enough of this isolation and torture. The Venezuelan Government, especially those at the top of the regime’s chain of command, including Minister of Defense General Vladimir Padrino López, Vice Minister General Pedro Castro Rodriguez, the General Director of the Military Penitentiary Services General Rodolfo Joaquín Silva Díaz, and the Director of Ramo Verde Military Prison Captain José Ramón Boston Silva, are directly responsible for what happens to Leopoldo and we will not calm down until I can verify with my own eyes that he is safe and healthy. After Leopoldo has been isolated for almost 30 days, it is their responsibility to inform his family of his wellbeing.”
These reports are incredibly disconcerting as López has now been incommunicado for almost a month. López was last seen on April 7th by a family member. Since that day no family member or lawyer has been able to see or speak to him. López’s lawyers formally denounced this cruel and inhumane treatment before the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture last week, but the Government has refused to respect López’s human rights and grant access to his family and lawyers.
We are currently calling for the international community to take urgent action and publicly demand the Venezuelan Government to allow López access to his family and lawyers. Earlier today, Secretary General of the OAS Luis Almagro tweeted the following, "I demand to visit @leopoldolopez based on the commitments that #Venezuela has with the Inter-American System of Human Rights @OAS_official."

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

EP 031 Sid Kemp on Love, Creativity and Success

Sid Kemp is a coach, consultant and the author of ten books on business success published by McGraw-Hill and Entrepreneur Press. Until a decade ago, Sid worked with top Fortune 500 companies, government agencies like the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and think tanks such as McKinsey Consulting and Deloitte Touche. Then he took their best practices and wrote the best seller, Entpreneur Magazine’s Ultimate Guide to Project Management for Small Business.

Today, we talk about the ins and outs of the consulting business, working with the inner and outer goals of the client, and planning for the equally challenging crises of wild success and disaster.

Show Notes and Links

His twitter
Sid on Quora

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

EP 030 Ben Joffe

Ben Joffe is a scholar of Vajrayana Buddhism, currently finishing his PhD at the University of Colorado, Boulder. On this episode, we talk about his first career as a teenaged tarot reader, the question of how Vajrayana and tantra have been impacted by the Tibetan diaspora and encounter with the global monoculture, the role of the ngakpa (non-celibate yogi), and Ben's translation of Dr. Nida Chenagtsang's books on traditional Tibetan medicine.

We experienced some technical difficulties during the recording of this episode. While the quality of the sound may be poor in some places, it is more than compensated for by the high quality of the guest.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

EP 029 B Alan Wallace

Today, I talk with B. Alan Wallace about his multiple careers as Buddhist contemplative and teacher, physicist and cognitive scientist, writer and translator. We discuss his road to becoming a monk and returning to laity, the meditative practices of Dzogchen, how to tell a good teacher (by the quality of their students), the remarkable career of Dudjom Lingpa, and how Buddhist contemplatives and neuroscientists can collaborate to effect a revolution in our understanding of the mind.


Dynamic lecturer, progressive scholar, and one of the most prolific writers and translators of Tibetan Buddhism in the West, B. Alan Wallace, Ph.D., continually seeks innovative ways to integrate Buddhist contemplative practices with Western science to advance the study of the mind.

Dr. Wallace, a scholar and practitioner of Buddhism since 1970, has taught Buddhist theory and meditation worldwide since 1976. Having devoted fourteen years to training as a Tibetan Buddhist monk, ordained by H. H. the Dalai Lama, he went on to earn an undergraduate degree in physics and the philosophy of science at Amherst College and a doctorate in religious studies at Stanford.

With his unique background, Alan brings deep experience and applied skills to the challenge of integrating traditional Indo-Tibetan Buddhism with the modern world.

Follow-up Q&A

After the interview went live, I received some additional questions from listeners that Dr. Wallace was kind enough to respond to:

  1. When talking about Dudjom Lingpa you mentioned that a teacher’s level of realization is hard to determine and that you had to judge by the realization of the students. Wouldn’t that be equally hard to determine?You can tell a lot from the conduct of the students, and of course this applies to teachers as well.
  2. What is the best daily practice for a beginner at meditation or someone who can only do a little each day? Shamatha is a good start, then branch out to the four immeasurables and the four applications of mindfulness.
Show Notes

Alan Wallace's website

Thursday, March 02, 2017

La Fabrica

Architect Rocardo Bofill has been transforming an old cement factory, La Fabrica into a residence and workspace for the past 45 years. Spoiler: It's gorgeous.

(via Carl Wykaert)

Sunday, January 22, 2017

EP 028 Max Gladstone

Today, I talk with Max Gladstone, author of The Craft Sequence, in which a magical post-Apocalyptic society turns out to be not a terribly bad place to live, thank you very much. He describes his novels differently depending on who he's talking to. For businesspeople, lawyers, and consultants, he says, "It's just like your job, only with wizards." Like many writers, he's held a number of interesting and out-of-the-way jobs, as you can see from his bio below:
Max Gladstone is a two-time finalist for the John W Campbell Best New Writer Award, and a one-time finalist for the XYZZY Award. In July 2016 Tor Books published his most recent novel, FOUR ROADS CROSS. Other novels in the CRAFT SEQUENCE include, LAST FIRST SNOW, a tale of zoning politics, human sacrifice, and parenthood.  LAST FIRST SNOW is the fourth Craft Sequence novel, preceded by THREE PARTS DEAD, TWO SERPENTS RISE, and FULL FATHOM FIVE.

Max studied Chan poetry and late Ming dynasty fantasy at Yale; he lived and taught for two years in rural Anhui province, and has traveled throughout Asia and Europe. He speaks Chinese, can embarrass himself reading Latin, and is a martial artist, fencer, and fiddler. He’s also worked as a researcher for the Berkman Center for Internet and Policy Law, a tour guide for the Swiss Embassy, a go-between for a suspicious Chinese auto magazine, a translator for visiting Chinese schoolteachers, a Chinese philosophy TA, a tech industry analyst, and an editor. He has wrecked a bicycle in Angkor Wat, sung at Carnegie Hall, and been thrown from a horse in Mongolia.
We recorded this conversation at pretty much the exact moment the Trump/Russia dossier hit the Internet. Before the conversation began, I asked Max if he'd like to discuss politics or current events. We ended up not talking politics until after we'd ended the interview. Missed opportunities.

He's also written a volume in the Bookburners project, currently available for free here:

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