Here’s Some Nobody Nonsense for Today. Please Ignore.

1. Using Vivaldi browser. Seems stripped down, Chromium core, highly customizable, keyboard-centric/command line if you wish. Enough to make me switch? Not yet, but playing with the Notes function and seems to be able to use all my fav extensions (well, it is Chromium-based so that is expected).

2. Bookzz: a place to find books (nudge/nudge/wink/wink). I am finding electronic books that I already own in the flesh and am beginning to pare down my physical library in favor a virtual one. I have got to get down to “nomad” fighting weight. Here are some books I own that I found there: The Back of the Napkin, Making Comics, Theory U, The True Believer, The Unsettling of America. And before someone says, “Hey that’s an unsafe site”, just be aware that the Internet is still the wild west no matter what the copywrong police say. YMMV.

3. I am going to create a “carrot bag” today. I bought some permeable “bags” that I will be using to try to grow a crop I have always had problems with–carrots. Either the soil is not right or the bugs are too vigorous. I love nothing better than a carrot straight from the garden. Here is a picture of the “Smart Pot Soft-Sided Fabric Garden Plant Container Aeration Planter Pots”. Yeah, I know. It called itself ‘smart’ and that is usually the kiss o’ death.  We shall see.


4. Beginning to lock up my ‘Frankenchickens’: my neighbor has taken to blasting any errant chicken that makes its way over to his property. In my neck of the woods this is only slightly less aggressive than dissing somebody’s dog. I guess I gotta figure out a way to save my beautiful, free ranging yardbirds. They are semi-feral so I am going to have to create a yard using plastic safety fence (cheapest and most versatile) then lure them in over a period of weeks, then put a top over the fenced in area, then enclose them, and the hardest part, begin to butcher and freeze them. People have such idyllic views of the bucolic, but it is no place for the fragile. In fact you need to be beyond robust or resilient. You gotta be antifragile. In other words you have to get stronger from the stress. According to Nicholas Taleb, antifragile systems thrive on stress. So that is what I hope to do. I hope to thrive off of my neighbor’s repugnant behavior.

5. Elinor Ostrom. Want to spend some time with her splendid book, Understanding Knowledge as a Commons.  She wants to crossfertilize other disciplines with the analytic tool of “the commons”.  Here is one of her tools for doing that.  Trying to apply this to my work with CLMOOC.


Hanging Indent: Week of MLK, 2016



This week’s apotheosis from the sensorium.  My theme this week has been annotation, marginalia, scribbles, post-its, whatever you want to call them, they have been at the center of my work this week with Joe Dillon and Jeremy Dean.  Lots of doors creaking open both in and out of sight.

Music I’m Listening To —

Annotative accompaniment in Genius.

Article I’m Jonesin’ On

Looks like I will be “reading” Bryan Alexander’s blog post, “Fine podcasts for 2016: a mega-list of what I’m listening to“, for quite awhile.  Or should I say I will be living his listening life.  I am a huge podcast fan as well, but I have a problem–how do I unpack this?  How do make signal here out of what I consider to be an overwhelming mass of  beautiful noise?

I know some of these spaces,too.  Notably left off of Bryan’s list is Marc Maron’s WTF and the Berkman Center Fishbowl Series. I decided to do a little adhoc thinking out loud screencast on his post to see if could figure out a way to make sense of what Bryan has so thoughtfully provided.

Here is my takeaway, my attempt to fine tune his signal for my own purposes:

  • Create my own list over the next year.
  • Decide which podcasts give the best ROI and why I think so.
  • Describe how I derive better signal over noise as I listen more intentionally over the next year.
  • Get Bryan (and other podcast afficionadi) to articulate how they decide what to listen to.

Book/Story I’m Living With –

I am reading Yes, And…How Improvisation Reverses “No, But” Thinking and Improves Creativity and Collaboration by Kelly Leonard and Tom Yorton of the Chicago improv troupe, The Second City.

I teach with two important principles in mind.  One is iconoclasty and the other is improvisation.  This book is full of lots of improv principles and applications that might really messify your classroom/office for the better. Here are a few of those principles boiled down in this marvelous list from the end of the book


And here is some fun I had with a quote from the book and my new best app friend Legend.

 Tools I’m Messing With

I am in the process of straightening my barn. One of the tools you need besides chains and nice, flat stones and battery powered drills is a farm jack.  Mine gave up the ghost recently so I went and bought a new one.  It was a knock off of my old one, every piece on it was engineered down to a less sturdy version all around, but it did the job.  It came from a Tractor Supply farm store.

 Almost everything in that store comes out of a Chinese container ship. I fear that container ships rule the global economy.  Is that the real reason we have such a large military, to make the shipping lines safe for oil and container ships?  If so, why are American citizens paying so much of that bill?  Why ain’t anyone else helping foot the bill?  I suppose the answer is that we all are paying and that because Americans benefit the most they should pay the most.  It is interesting that while I jack up my barn, I am connected intimately to the fate of the Chinese economy.  No one is an isolated jack handler unto himself. 




The Hanging Indent: Week of December 27, 2015



I was hoping that I could do this every Saturday/Sunday morning, but I let other stuff jump the priority queue this weekend. Better late than never.

Music I’m Listening To —

Max Richter’s ” Sleep”- an eight hour ‘song’ for sleeping or just ambient listening.  Not been sleeping well this solstice season and this is helping. Here is the link in case you can’t access the Spotify embed below.

Article I’m Jonesin’ On

“Wittgenstein, Schoolteacher”

What Wittgenstein Learned from Teaching Elementary School

Every philosophy major has at some point had to answer the standard challenge: “What are you going to do, teach?” It’s especially frustrating after you realize that, for someone with a humanist bent and a disinterest in worldlier things, teaching is a pretty good career choice.

I love this back and forth between Wittgenstein and his sister Hermine discussing his choice to enter teaching as a career path.

His sister Hermine told him that applying his genius to teaching children was like using a “precision instrument” to open crates.She reports his response:

You remind me of somebody who is looking out through a closed window and cannot explain to himself the strange movements of a passer-by. He cannot tell what sort of storm is raging out there or that this person might only be managing with difficulty to stay on his feet.

Book/Story I’m Living With —

I have two items to share.  Both are worth anyone’s time.  Both are short or can be read in short bursts.  The first is  Sum : forty tales from the afterlives The link will take you to a Worldcat page where you can preview the book and read the first one which I highly recommend. Also, read this New Yorker piece that prompted my interest. The second is “Telling the Bees” by T. Kingfisher.  You can listen to it here and it is even more magical.


Concepts I’m Messing With

Book smarts v street smarts v stream smarts. These ideas originate in Venkatesh Rao’s ever evocative collective blog, Ribbonfarm.  The idea above is addressed in what Rao calls a “newsletter in tweetstorm format“.  I was reading the last one of the year and Rao discussed how important it will be for us to become stream smart. And what is a stream?  Rao writes, ” A stream is simply a life context formed by all the information flowing towards you via a set of trusted connections — to free people, ideas and resources — from multiple networks.”


Quotes to Die For — More from Venkatesh Rao

An observation due to Arthur C. Clarke offers a way to understand this second trajectory: any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. The networked world evolves so rapidly through innovation, it seems like a frontier of endless magic.

Clarke’s observation has inspired a number of snowclones that shed further light on where we might be headed. The first, due to Bruce Sterling, is that any sufficiently advanced civilization is indistinguishable from its own garbage. The second, due to futurist Karl Schroeder,1 is that any sufficiently advanced civilization is indistinguishable from nature.

To these we can add one from social media theorist Seb Paquet, which captures the moral we drew from our Tale of Two Computers: any sufficiently advanced kind of work is indistinguishable from play.

Putting these ideas together, we are messily slouching towards a non-pastoral utopia on an asymptotic trajectory where reality gradually blurs into magic, waste into wealth, technology into nature and work into play. `

This is a world that is breaking smart, with Promethean vigor, from its own past, like the precocious teenagers who are leading the charge. In broad strokes, this is what we mean by software eating the world.

For Prometheans, the challenge is to explore how to navigate and live in this world. A growing non-geographic-dualist understanding of it is leading to a network culture view of the human condition. If the networked world is a planet-sized distributed computer, network culture is its operating system.

What I’m watching/hearing —

RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) Animate has been producing these incredible sketchnote videos for years.  After what has seemed like a very long hiatus, they have produced a nine-minute animation about Carol Dweck’s research into ‘mindsets’.  I have some misgivings about the research, but generally I think it is useful.  You can join with me here at Vialogues to join in the discussion.


What I’m buying

bought some of these gamma tops recently.  They solve a problem for us.  The tops fit over five gallon buckets and we fill them with water for travel out to the field to water the sheep.  They are also handy for storing all manner of dry goods.  We keep bulk beans and flour and nuts and lots more in these buckets along with a packet of desiccant to reduce the moisture.  You might find them handy as well.  Good company to buy from–good service and excellent product.