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It's still Kiwi summer here and I have been finding energy and peace by floating in the sea whenever I can.
Wherever you are, and whether you look outside and see surfers or snow drifts, I hope you are finding your own peace as 2024 rolls chaotically on with all of us just holding on and along for the ride.
And now, on with your regular care package of grokky things...
From the Press - Nathan has a video and essay on whether it even matters if we are living in a simulation, and I have a short on-location video from the geothermal clefts of Rotorua.
Down in Snackables, you can find language to describe the specific variety of stuck-ness you may be experiencing, explore the world's most complicated international borders, consider when it might be appropriate to compare apples to oranges, find out how a 'murder of crows' got its name, and browse the best nature photography of the last 12 months.
Keep scrolling for all this and more.
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From the Grokkist Press
Articles, videos, podcasts and other creations
If we're all living in a Simulation, does that change anything?
by Nathan Dufour Oglesby (4 min watch + 9 min read)
If everything you thought was real turned out to be in some way unreal, would it change the way you lived your life? A video and essay exploring Simulation Ecology and the ethics of Hyperreality.
Release your soul's pent-up steam
by Danu Poyner (2 min watch)
In this mini video essay, discover the whispered wisdom of Rotorua's geothermal clefts, whose hidden forces urge us to embrace our inner turmoil as a crucible for transformative creativity.
From the Grokkist Network
Events and updates from our community
Community updates and highlights
Featured member profile
Through our Featured Member portal, we like to showcase the efforts of fellow grokkists who are shaking up, re-imagining or re-enchanting their own fields of practice with an insistence on curiosity and care.
Grant Swift Music
One Man Band. I do it for the music.
My performances as a one man band are a blend of spontaneity and precision. As a live looping artist, I create each musical element in real-time, ensuring no two performances are the same. From corporate galas to intimate weddings, I played over 130 events last year, spanning all genres. My album "First Elephant" and the single "Sunshine" reflect my dedication to crafting meaningful music that resonates with listeners across the country.
Notable threads and discussions
- We held our very first member-only 'Further Together' workshop on the pains, perils and pitfalls of promoting one's work. Paid-tier members can catch up on the recap and recording here.
- A guide to hosting your own Lunch and Learn session on a topic that lights you up
- If you've wondered about being a guest on the Still Curious podcast, here's everything you need to know.
Featured events and meetups
We are a global community – events listed below are shown in the host's timezone.
Red Thread Café
🗓️ Tue 13 Feb | 9am–11am NZT (view in your timezone)
Facilitated by Danu Poyner
Welcome to Red Thread Café – a relaxed and informal social space for grokkists to connect over the weird and wild episodes that make up our squiggly personal and professional stories, and the red thread that runs through it all.
Whether you’re in a life transition, having a career crisis, navigating burnout, or simply looking for inspiration and new friends who you don’t have to explain yourself to, come along and chill out to share what’s been going on for you, exchange perspectives and resources, or simply enjoy the vibe while feeling less weird about yourself.
Open to all free of charge, regardless of whether or not you’ve taken our Find Your Red Thread course.
The Music Itself
🗓️ Tue 20 Feb | 7–9pm ET (view in your timezone)
Hosted by Grant Swift
If music can express truth, or God, or something deeply human - how does it do that? What are the phenomenal aspects of music - what is it made of, and how do we perceive those parts?
These questions are essential for talking about music, and yet, so rarely do these questions get direct face time. It often seems as if musical discourse is something either mediated through social taste and personal preferences, OR, reserved for stodgy institutions of higher learning where “theory” and the “classical tradition” dominate the discussion. Can’t we talk about music in more interesting ways than that? Can we discuss the music itself without appealing to pure relativism, or old and narrow conventions?
Join us for an exploration and discussion of the phenomenon of music, and of all the interesting ways we think about and experience it.
🗓️ Sun 25 Feb | 2–4pm PT (view in your timezone)
Facilitated by Emily McGill
Welcome to Grok Café. Our goal is to bring the grokkist community together in an informal and comfortable setting, unearthing connections and interests between participants.
Whether you’re a regular or a first-timer, come along and chill out to share a heart space, info-dump each other's passions, and discover new friends while discussing whatever you want.
Assorted awesome links to feed your curiosity.
#1 - What does it feel like to be stuck?
Being stuck is the psychological equivalent of standing knee-deep in a fetid bog, bog in every direction, bog as far as the eye can see. You go wading in search of dry land and only find more bog. Nothing works, no options seem good, it’s all bleh and meh and ho hum and no thanks and more bog. This is the kind of dire situation that drives people to do crazy things like ask a blogger for advice.
There is power in naming, and the author has developed a hilarious and painfully accurate taxonomy of intellectual stuck-ness, from ‘gutterballing’ to ‘declining the dragon’ to ‘the infinite effort illusion’.
I laughed out loud several times reading this – it’s a must-read for grokkists and so good that I’m probably gonna use it as the introductory reading for the next Find Your Red Thread cohort.
#2 - The world’s most complex international borders
As someone with an overactive sociological imagination, borders are endlessly fascinating to me because they are both completely imaginary but painfully real, as anyone paying attention to world events will be acutely aware.
WonderWhy has done a fascinating inventory of the most complex international borders in the world, from your garden-variety second-order enclaves (countries inside other countries that are themselves inside the original country), to an island that changes its nationality every six months, and a border that runs right through someone’s front door, meaning they have two separate doorbells – one for each country.
#3 - Comparison is the way we know the world
A delicate but forceful philosophical talk by Masha Gessen, recent winner of the Hannah Arendt Prize for Political Thought, about if, when, and how it makes sense for us to compare other things to the Holocaust.
Comparison is the way we know the world. And yet we make rules about things that cannot be compared to each other. Take apples and oranges. Why wouldn’t you compare them? Both are fruit, both have sweetness, one is usually more sour than the other, one has an inedible part on the outside, the other an inedible part on the inside, both contain calories, nutrients and vitamins, albeit different ones, and you can make juice out of either, but you need different kinds of machines for each. These seem to me useful ways of getting to know apples and oranges.
#4 - How groups of birds got their names
Maria Popova’s beautifully written essay (with illustrations by Brian Wildsmith) on the history of collective nouns for birds. Informative and aesthetically pleasing in equal measure.
[Language] is the birthplace of the imagination and forever its plaything: I remember my unabashed delight when a naturalist friend first introduced me to the various terms for groups of birds — from “a deceit of lapwings” to “a pitying of turtledoves,” and could there be a notion more charming than “an ostentation of peacocks”?
#5 - The best nature photography from 2023
Gallery of winners and finalists from the 2023 edition of The Nature Photography Contest, showcasing the beauty and fragility of our world.
A parting thought...
"It is hard to accept that someone can understand you without wishing you well."
— Thomas Harris
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