I played chess almost every day in high school.

I lost just about every game.

Most of my childhood was spent in the vicinity of Lubbock, Texas — an arid quilt of cotton fields, their almost-surreal flatness punctuated only by isolated houses, oil derricks and irrigation pumps.

One might speculate on that environment’s influence on my interest in chess-playing; on whether I developed an unconsciously nurtured fascination with Cartesian reasoning in tightly constrained two-dimensional grids. I would dispute that thesis for two reasons: one, that I fled West Texas as soon as I finished high school, and two, that I have never had any natural aptitude, whatsoever, for chess.


Which are both real and not made-up.

1.

Liu Bei was making breakfast when 40,000 cavalry arrived, led by Yang Ci, a man of great ambition and a personal friend of Cao Cao. “Surrender your gold or die!” said Yang Ci.

Guan Yu strolled out of his tent. “Let’s be reasonable,” said the great strategist. “We’ll settle this with a one-on-one duel. Winner takes all.” Yang Ci agreed.

At this point Zhang Fei was supposed to appear, but no one had told him about the battle so he was still asleep. He was having a dream about crispy fried pork, and…


As technological evolution hurtles ever-forward, I often find myself reflecting on how primitive our current era truly is.

That is, from the perspective of a person of a century — or a few centuries — in the future: in 2120, in 2520 or in 3020.

For example, if we hit the limit of Moore’s law by 2100, computing power may remain relatively static for the next century or so. Quantum computing may prove less transformative than boosters have predicted. For all these reasons, I wouldn’t dare make a prediction about the capabilities of a typical home microprocessor in the year 2120 — let alone 2520.


e

We’ve all said it at one point or another: “Come on, I’m not a mind-reader!”

Many of us have shouted this plea in response to a client we’re genuinely striving to please, who still keeps telling us, “This isn’t what I asked for! We’re just not on the same page.”

Those moments can be intensely frustrating, for client and creative talent alike. Yet at the same time, we creatives work hard to anticipate our clients’ needs — to understand exactly what they want, before they’ve even asked for it.

In fact, some veterans of the content industry pride themselves on magical mind-reading ability.


“For God’s sake, let us sit upon the ground
And tell sad stories of the death of kings.”

— “Richard II,” Act 3, Scene 2

Soundtrack for this story:


Protest Supporters in San Diego — photo copyright San Diego Union-Tribune

You know who you are. And you know we love you.

Hey there! As you know, we’ve shared a lot of challenging feelings and experiences over the past few weeks.

I’m deeply honored that you’ve expressed so much concern for my safety and well-being — for my fellow peaceful protestors. I care every bit as deeply about your own happiness, health and security.

Although I don’t have many answers, I do think now is a good time to investigate the root causes of the pain we’re all feeling these days.


I arrive on a disaster scene. Twin fire trucks flash lights outside Austin Police Department Headquarters, while platoons of cops in full riot armor tighten up their ranks along the street. The protestors regroup on the lawn, next to brick facades that have been graffitied and wiped clean, then graffitied afresh: “ACAB: All Cops Are Bastards.”

Most of the cops who weren’t bastards have dematerialized over the past two weeks. Black and Hispanic faces have become notably rare in their ranks, along with females, and those with innate capacity for empathy. …


NEW DELHI, 22 MAY, 2020 (Reuters) — The 14th Dalai Lama has publicly declared that the world currently faces an excessive amount of mindfulness content.

“In meditation, there is no need for temples or complicated philosophy,” said His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso. “Nor is there any need for the actor who plays Thor to lead us in meditation practice.”

The Dalai Lama has previously taken strong positions on issues such as abortion, animal welfare, sexuality and women’s rights. However, this is the first time he has directly commented on digital content.

“If you wish to experience peace,” His Holiness said, “you…


“…and the Dalai Lama tells me, ‘Oh, uh, there won’t be any money — but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness.’

“So I got that goin’ for me, which is nice.”

— Bill Murray, Caddyshack

In the beginning, says the story of Genesis, the world was formless and void until God started using words to carve things up: Light from darkness; earth from sky; land from sea; life from inert matter.

A Buddhist, on the other hand, will tell you that everything is still formless and void; that in fact it always has been and…


Engagement” — so many digital content creators are madly in love with that word!

If audiences don’t feel engaged, we tell our clients, then they’ll move on to a different site, app or device— and that’s the last you’ll ever see of them.

But as eagerly as we sweat and scramble to engage our audiences, very few of us try to engage ourselves first.

And that’s a massive problem, because —

If you’re not able to engage yourself, you’re not going to engage anyone else.

What does it mean to feel engaged? (I’ll stop repeating this word now, I promise.)

Think back to the last time you were thoroughly absorbed in a project — preparing a presentation, crafting a sales pitch, designing a label; a task that made you forget where you were and when…

Ben Thomas

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