Tag Archives: wisdom

Life in a Day

Do you remember what you were doing on July 24, 2010? (I was returning a U-Haul after driving from Arizona to Pennsylvania.) The answer is definitely a yes for YouTube users that uploaded footage of their day for director Kevin Macdonald and his project.

Macdonald, director of The Last King of Scotland, took footage from users in more than 192 countries, and turned it into a 90-minute documentary called Life in a Day. The film was released to theaters last month, although I haven’t seen it anywhere nearby. But if you have two minutes to spare, I highly recommend watching the trailer. Even if you don’t get to see the film, which has already been met with high critical acclaim, the trailer is an inspirational piece in and of itself.

Source: NPR – All Things Considered

Nothingness

Tao Te Ching: Verse 11

Wu is nothingness, emptiness, non-existence

Thirty spokes of a wheel all join at a common hub
    yet only the hole at the center
    allows the wheel to spin
Clay is molded to form a cup
    yet only the space within
    allows the cup to hold water
Walls are joined to make a room
    yet only by cutting out a door and a window
    can one enter the room and live there

Thus, when a thing has existence alone
    it is mere dead-weight
Only when it has wu, does it have life

– Lao Tzu (Jonathan Star translation)

Invictus

If you haven’t seen Invictus yet, you should. And if you have, then you will recognize the following poem (titled “Invictus”) by William Ernest Henley:

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

(Read more about the poem here.)

What you might not know is that while Nelson Mandela did admire this poem, it was not the one that he gave to Francois Pienaar to inspire him before the 1995 Rugby World Cup. What he actually gave him was the following excerpt from a speech given by Teddy Roosevelt on April 23, 1910 at the Sorbonne in Paris:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

The full speech is called “The Man in the Arena”, and more information as well as the entire text can be found here.

Auto-Tuning and the Universe

In case you’ve never heard of auto-tuning, it’s a process where audio recordings can be adjusted for pitch, usually to disguise mistakes. It’s also being used to take recordings such as interviews, news reports, speeches, etc. and morph them into a more musical version.

This is the coolest auto-tuning project that I’ve seen. It’s called “Symphony of Science” and it features a cast of science greats, including my two heroes Richard Feynman and Bill Nye (along with Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson), essentially talking about the enormity and awesomeness of the universe.

Sometimes the auto-tuning can sound a little odd, so here are the lyrics:

Lyrics:

[deGrasse Tyson]
We are all connected;
To each other, biologically
To the earth, chemically
To the rest of the universe atomically

[Feynman]
I think nature’s imagination
Is so much greater than man’s
She’s never going to let us relax

[Sagan]
We live in an in-between universe
Where things change all right
But according to patterns, rules,
Or as we call them, laws of nature

[Nye]
I’m this guy standing on a planet
Really I’m just a speck
Compared with a star, the planet is just another speck
To think about all of this
To think about the vast emptiness of space
There’s billions and billions of stars
Billions and billions of specks

[Sagan]
The beauty of a living thing is not the atoms that go into it
But the way those atoms are put together
The cosmos is also within us
We’re made of star stuff
We are a way for the cosmos to know itself

Across the sea of space
The stars are other suns
We have traveled this way before
And there is much to be learned

I find it elevating and exhilarating
To discover that we live in a universe
Which permits the evolution of molecular machines
As intricate and subtle as we

[deGrasse Tyson]
I know that the molecules in my body are traceable
To phenomena in the cosmos
That makes me want to grab people in the street
And say, have you heard this??

(Richard Feynman on hand drums and chanting)

[Feynman]
There’s this tremendous mess
Of waves all over in space
Which is the light bouncing around the room
And going from one thing to the other

And it’s all really there
But you gotta stop and think about it
About the complexity to really get the pleasure
And it’s all really there
The inconceivable nature of nature

Found via the ever interesting Mental Floss blog.