Never Tell Me the Odds
Commencement speeches to inspire your week  

If you’ve got a case of the Mondays and need to kick it into gear and be inspired for the week ahead, here’s a curated list of great commencement speeches compiled by Maria Popova of Brainpickings.

Happy motivation.

A creative take on creativity  

An interesting summary and review of a book that I’ve been working through, The Philosophy of Creativity edited by Elliot Samuel Paul and Scott Barry Kaufman parses through several takes on creativity- what it is, if it can be learned, and where it can be applied.

This twenty minute article is the short version, but I also highly recommend the original book, available here.


If you can bear to watch or need to know.

Well worth your time  

You count. Read this thoughtful article by Maria Popova on this revealing and educational study about suicide and loss and the effects you may not have come to in your own examination of an under discussed topic.

Of course The Heads of State are based out of Philly  

Did you think they’d leave their roots? Can’t ditch that liberty bell.

If you were looking for something with fewer history jokes and more honesty, read the very frank and modest interview on The Great Discontent with this design studio’s cofounders, Jason Kernevich and Dustin Summers. You can find out which one prefers Ghostbusters and the other fresh ravioli.

Stop Fighting Stress  

Perspective can be powerful and so is your body. Science has always supported the power of the mind on the body, but the studies Kelly McGonigal cites talk about the thing we can’t always control: stress. We might not need to change how we react and what our bodies and minds do, but what we think about that behavior.

Watch this new TED Talk about the effects of stress on a person, not from the stressors themselves, but from the worry of worry (so meta). You’ll be glad you did.

Self Reflecting on Her Selfies  

Sarah Hepola, a frequent contributor at The Morning News, lays out her complicated feelings on selfie culture, as both a form of narcissistic distancing from life and a tool for empowerment and preservation.

Television is the new new medium… again?  

A gem from the folks over at The Morning News that gets you thinking about the power of visual storytelling, our expectations of art, and the influence the medium has over the tale.

And it’s clear that the transition from network to post-network, from wired to wireless, has had real and significant changes not only on our media consumption habits but also on the form those media take. So if this Golden Age was brought on by a cable company looking to stand out among the many and by the new ability to put a season in a box, what then will the future bring?

Media theorist Marshall McLuhan suggested as early as 1967 that “the next medium, whatever it is—it may be an extension of our consciousness—will include television as its content.” So, that’s settled, TV will stay TV, even if it’s online.

It also makes a good case for finishing your programs; shows often fizzle out, why not see it resolved anyway. It keeps the conversation rolling even after it’s done.

Talkin’ Bout Another Generation  

While I might be a little junior as a Millennial, here’s an awesome article that discusses the social responsibility of Generation X, the quiet shift in American attitudes, and how this group can influence policy and finally affect change. Even highlighting some predecessors.

Of course, this is not a unique life path, and this is not a unique moment in history. There have been other nomad generations of supposed losers turned tough pragmatists in middle age, raised during an awakening and coming of age during an individualistic and unraveling age. For instance, you know who really won the American Revolution? Slackers. Yep, many, if not most, of the Founding Fathers were part of the “Liberty Generation,” as generational historians William Strauss and Neil Howe call them. The members of the Liberty Generation were born in the wake of ecstatic social change—the religious revival known as the First Great Awakening—grew up amid the turmoil of the brutal French and Indian War, and came of age during a time of economic distress and growing bitterness toward taxes and rules meant to keep the colonies in their place. They grew up neglected by their parents and transformed into hell-raisers, with historian William Pencak describing them as “young people with nothing to do and nowhere to go.” Sound familiar?

I’m not talking about a revolution that secures independence in quite the same way, but maybe a movement that will unite people and find more common ground. This is a picture of a place I’d like to see. Because, more succinctly:

Collective problems require collective solutions.
Americana, Comprehensively  

Whether you’re wondering if you’ve given this long-running radio show of seventeen years a fair shot, or if you’re a fan who wants the reflect on the best and brightest, Slate’s Culture Blog has pulled together a playlist of the ten must-listen episodes of This American Life from NPR. Time to plug in those headphones and listen to a regular story from a very strange place: the United States.

Ideas: The Good, the Bad, and the Difficult to Reach?

The Internet gives you a lot of room to throw things out there. In such a format, available to anyone with a connection, there’s a large amount of information to sift through. As I’ve heard many times before, the web can be filled with quite a bit of, for lack of elegance, garbage. But I also appreciate that its freedom, its vastness, allows for nearly every thought to be released for (again, with limitations) anyone to see. There is no editorial board determining what is worthy. There are only ideas, varying in content and length and reasoning. There’s also a frightening number of cats. There are readers, deciding what they will choose to consume. One of the best things about the web is its expanse. While there’s good and bad ideas on it, depending who you talk to you, it may be the only source of information that provides enough content for everyone to get at something. In the ocean of it, you can end up finding insight, heart, humor, provocation. And maybe even all of that from the cats alone.

For every creator out there, the Internet is a dream, a chance to be heard. Everything ought to be given a fair shot at being seen, no odds or restraints against it. This will just be my curated slice of what I think is worth checking out.