Inspirational stuff

JK Rowling

The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination is here.

Bruce Mau

An Incomplete Manifesto for Growth is a web 2.0, postmodernist-thinking piece of inspiration sourced from the Bruce Mau Design website.

Good advice for any situation

"If you're losing a tug-of-war with a tiger, give him the rope before he gets to your arm. You can always buy a new rope!"


Max Gunther, financial guru

10 Reasons Why Gay Marriage is Wrong

  • Homosexuality is not natural. Real Americans always reject unnatural things like eyeglasses, polyester, and air conditioning.
  • Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.
  • Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their dogs because they can legally sign the marriage documents.
  • Heterosexual marriage has been around a long time and hasn't changed at all; women are still property, blacks still can't marry whites, and divorce is still illegal.
  • Straight marriage will be less meaningful if homosexual marriage were allowed; the sanctity of Brittany Spears' 55-hour just-for-fun marriage would be destroyed.
  • Heterosexual marriages are valid because they produce children. Homosexual couples, infertile couples, and old people shouldn't be allowed to marry because our orphanages aren't full yet, and the world needs more children.
  • Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.
  • Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire country. That's why we have only one religion in America.
  • Children can never succeed without a male and a female rolemodel at home. That's why we as a society expressly forbid single parents to raise children.
  • Gay marriage will change the foundation of society; we could never adapt to new social norms. Just like we haven't adapted to cars, the service-sector economy, or longer life spans.

Source: Commonplacebook

Douglas Adams Memorial Towel Day (25 May)

Douglas Adams Towel Day 2006

25 May is the day his memorial took place after his death on 11 May 2001. To recognise Adams' invaluable contribution to the fine art of interstellar travel and the necessity to make the towel ubiquitous to travelling.

 "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has a few things to say on the subject of towels. A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value—you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you—daft as a brush, but very, very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough. More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag [non-hitch hiker] discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitchhiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitchhiker might accidentally have 'lost'. What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with."

Source: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Chapter Three

Source: Wikipedia 

Doggy Wisdom

  • Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
  • Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.
  • When a loved one comes home, always run to greet them.
  • When it’s in your best interest, practice obedience.
  • Let others know when they have invaded your territory.
  • Take naps and stretch before rizing.
  • Run, romp and play daily.
  • Eat with gusto and enthusiasm.
  • Be loyal.
  • Never pretend to be something you’re not.\
  • If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
  • When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle him or her gently.
  • Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
  • On hot days, drink lots of water and lay under a shady tree.
  • When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
  • No matter how often you are scolded, don’t buy into the guilt thing and pout... run right back and make friends.
  • Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.

Anonymous, found at Commonplacebook

Some quotes

Cautious, careful people always casting about to preserve their reputation or social standards never can bring about reform. Those who are really in earnest are willing to be anything or nothing in the world's estimation, and publicly and privately, in season and out, avow their sympathies with despized ideas and their advocates, and bear the consequences.
Susan B. Anthony, In Decisions


The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off.
Gloria Steinem


Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
Muriel Strode


Extracurricular sex
I could accept some of the things that people have explained, 'stress,' 'pressure,' 'loneliness' -- that that was the reason. But that would be false. In the end you have to come clean and say, 'I did something dishonorable, shabby and goatish.'
Hugh Grant

International Very Good-Looking, Damn Smart Woman's Day (27 October)

International Very Good-Looking, Damn Smart Woman's Day

Today is International Very Good-Looking, Damn Smart Woman's Day, so remember: Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, wine in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!"
One of those emails doing the rounds

15 examples of thinking Outside the Box

  • An Example of a World Class Patent Strategy at General Electric: GE uses a very powerful “standard optimizing procedure” in preparation for filing a patent: A brief patent disclosure is circulated within the company before any formal patent application is prepared. Everyone is invited to find ways to improve upon, extend or “break” the patent. All the relevant ideas are then incorporated into the formal patent application(s) and all contributors become co-inventors. There are many important advantages to this approach: It results in more “industrial strength patents” that are more valuable, more comprehensive, more likely to stand up in court and hence more profitable than the initial submission. If a new product results from the patent, it will have more “parents” or “champions” eager to work, fight and solve problems to ensure its ultimate success. The increased communication and critical reviews may result in radical new approaches and solutions to the problem. The review process encourages more people in the company to be aware, supportive and active in the patent process.
  • Invention of the Transistor - the Benefits of “Creative Failure Methodology” . . . Examples of the Use of “Planned Serendipity” William Shockley described the process of inventing the transistor at Bell Labs as “creative failure methodology”. A multi-discipline Bell Labs team was formed to invent the MOS transistor and ended up instead with the junction transistor and the new science of semiconductor physics. These developments eventually led to the MOS transistor and then to the integrated circuit and to new breakthroughs in electronics and computers. Richard Feynman, also a Nobel Laureate physicist, believed in getting his hands dirty and doing lots of experiments, saying “To develop working ideas efficiently, I try to fail as fast as I can”.
  • The True Story! Newton’s Laws were Inspired by a Combination of Visual Images: Seemingly independent visual or mental images that are considered concurrently may inspire unique ideas. According to his own story (and in contradiction to the story of being hit on the head by a falling apple), Newton conceived the concept of universal gravitation when he observed an apple falling and at the same time noticed the moon in the sky. These simultaneous images inspired him to speculate if the same laws governed the falling apple and the moon orbiting the earth. This in turn led him to develop the laws of mechanics and established mathematical analysis and modeling as the principal foundations of science and engineering.
  • The Telephone and the Importance of Patent Documentation: The basic Bell patents for the telephone were defended in court and the survival of Bell Telephone was ensured by a few crude notes made by Bell on the back of an envelope which (luckily) had been properly signed, witnessed and dated.
  • The Invention of the Telescope - Always Keep Your Eyes Open: An extreme example of people keeping their eyes closed (literally and figuratively) was the simple experiment that led to the invention of the telescope and microscope. It took more than 300 years after eyeglasses were in common use before Hans Uppershey, in 1608, observed the joint magnifying action of two lenses, built a simple telescope and then took action to publish his findings! Shortly afterwards Galileo applied the telescope to the study of the planets and quickly discovered that the “facts” of classical philosophy were wrong. When he invited the scholars of the day to look through his telescope and see for themselves they refused!
  • The Discovery of the Electromagnetic Laws - Always Keep an Open Mind: The relationship between electricity and magnetism was first observed in 1820 by Oersted in a public lecture at which he was demonstrating the “well known fact” that electricity and magnetism were completely independent phenomena. This time the experiment failed! - an electric current produced a magnetic effect. Oersted was observant enough to notice this effect, honest enough to admit it, and diligent enough to follow up and publish. Maxwell used these experiments to extend Newton’s methods of modeling and mathematical analysis in the mechanical and visible world to the invisible world of electricity and magnetism and derived Maxwell’s Laws which opened the doors to our modern age of electricity and electronics.
  • Von Hipple’s Law of User Innovation - Source of New Product Opportunities: Eric Von Hipple of the MIT Business School made many studies of the sources of innovation in the electronics industry and concluded that more than 70% of the product innovations came from the users, who initially can’t find the tools or equipment they need on the market and are forced to develop them in-house. [Most companies ignore this process and consequently miss many good, easy opportunities for new products or product enhancements.] A related rule is that most breakthroughs in new products and processes come from outside the industries that these breakthroughs will effect most!
  • Instant Photography was Inspired by Asking the Right “Silly” Question (while other companies come up with the wrong silly answer). Edward Land was taking pictures of his family while on a vacation trip in the southwest. His young daughter asked “Why do we have to wait to see the pictures?” and Land thought to himself “good question!”, sketched out some ideas and tried them after he returned to his lab in Boston. The Polaroid Camera and the science of instant photography appeared soon thereafter. Kodak marketing decided that their customers for cameras and films wouldn’t mind “waiting to see their pictures” as they always had. Kodak didn’t get involved in the business of instant photography until too late, when development costs and patent infringement suits cost them billions of dollars and a lost market. Kodak then repeated this pattern by first ignoring customer interest in video cameras and most recently ignoring customer interest in low cost digital cameras with built in view screens.
  • The Telephone, an Invention Inspired by Misunderstanding: Bell was inspired to start development of the telephone when he read an account, written in German, describing an invention which he thought had the function of a telephone. After demonstrating his first working telephone Bell learned that, because of the language barrier, he had misunderstood the report, and the German invention had an entirely different function.
  • Spectrography Originates by Searching for a Cross-Disiplinary Solution: Bunsen, a chemist, used the color of a chemical sample in a gas flame for a rough determination of the elements it contained. He described the technique and its shortcomings to Kirchhoff, who, being a physicist, immediately suggested using a prism to display the entire spectrum and thus get detailed quantitative information. This led to the science of spectrography and, following application to measurement of the absorption spectra of the stars, to the modern science of cosmology.
  • The Electron Microscope - Advantage of Developing Many Different Solutions: A physicist learned of the invention of the electron microscope and, not knowing the principle used, worked out 3 different ways by which it could be built. Later he checked the patent and found it used one of his methods, but another of his methods was superior and made the original patent obsolete.
  • Invention of Television - Observing Analogies from Nature: Philo Farnsworth had the inspiration which led to television while sitting on a hillside in Idaho. The neat rows in a nearby farm gave him the idea of creating picture on a cathode ray tube out of rows of light and dark dots. He was 14 at the time, the next year he presented the concept at a high-school science project, and demonstrated the first working model of a television set when he was 21.
  • Invention of Xerography: A Search for Completely New Technology Solutions: Carlson was a patent attorney who was motivated to find an easier way to make copies of his patent applications. Because of Kodak’s strong patent position in photographic processes Carlson deliberately looked for solutions to document copying in non-traditional fields. The result was Xerography which had an invincible patent position and, as history has demonstrated, was an optimum solution to the problem.
  • Getting Mother Natures Help in Solving Problems - An Example of a Not-So-Intelligent Approach to Artificial Intelligence: Artificial Intelligence (AI) researches went off on a dead-end track for years by trying to design around a single processing level in neural networks. Eventually it was found that multilayer processing eliminated this fundamental barrier. The AI researchers might have avoided this wasted time and effort by checking first with Mother Nature. By asking a biologist they would have quickly and easily learned that the image processing cells in the eye exist in three distinct layers.
  • Einstein Discovered Relativity by Using New Mental Models and Tools:
    Einstein started his work on relativity by imagining what things would look like if he traveled on a beam of light. When asked what single event was most helpful in developing the Theory of Relativity, Albert Einstein replied: “Figuring out how to think about the problem.”

Source: Quantum Books


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