By 王渊源John

Some people love mooncakes. Some people hate them. Me? It mostly depends on the flavor(ˈflāvər). I’m not a big fan of the ones with the stringy(ˈstriNGē) pork, but I love the ones with lotus(ˈlōdəs) paste(pāst) in the middle. I don’t like the egg yolk(yōk) that is usually in those, so I eat it first and then enjoy the lotus paste.

In recent years, there have been a lot of very creative mooncakes. Häagen Dazs, for instance, sells “ice cream mooncakes”, but they’re really more like “mooncake-shaped(SHāpt) ice cream”. I eat and enjoy these, but they don’t really give me that holiday feeling.

Each year when Mid-Autumn Festival comes around, I’m excited to eat some mooncakes. Then, after eating them for days and days following the festival, often for breakfast, lunch and dinner, I never want to see them again. By the next fall, though, I’m always ready for some more.

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival! Enjoy the mooncakes! Enjoy the moon!

Morning Pages

Morning Pages

Recently, I’ve been doing “Morning Pages”. What are Morning Pages, you might ask? They are a practice recommended by the writer Julia Cameron(ˈkamərən) in her book The Artist’s Way. Here is a description of Morning pages from her website:

Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages – they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole(kəˈjōl), prioritize(prīˈôrəˌtīz) and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow.

I’ve found this practice to be an effective way to clear my mind as a start my day. I’m not writing a novel, but I still find it helpful to spend time writing down some of the myriad(ˈmirēəd) thoughts that are bouncing(ˈbounsiNG) around my head. I’m not sure if Morning Pages are something that I will continue for the rest of my life, but I have found them valuable over the past few months, and I plan to continue doing them.

We aren’t so bold as to claim that the above is the “right” investment philosophy, but it’s ours, and we would be remiss if we weren’t clear in the approach we have taken and will continue to take.

Jeff Bezos: It’s All About the Long Term

Jeff Bezos: It’s All About the Long Term

We believe that a fundamental measure of our success will be the shareholder(ˈSHerˌhōldər) value we create over the long term. This value will be a direct result of our ability to extend and solidify(səˈlidəˌfī) our current market leadership position. The stronger our market leadership, the more powerful our economic(ˌekəˈnämik) model. Market leadership can translate directly to higher revenue(ˈrevəˌn(y)o͞o), higher profitability(ˌpräfədəˈbilədē), greater capital(ˈkapədl) velocity(vəˈläsədē), and correspondingly(ˌkärəˈspändiNGlē) stronger returns on invested capital.

Our decisions have consistently reflected this focus. We first measure ourselves in terms of the metrics(ˈmetriks) most indicative of our market leadership: customer and revenue growth, the degree to which our customers continue to purchase from us on a repeat basis(ˈbāsəs), and the strength(streNG(k)TH) of our brand. We have invested and will continue to invest aggressively(əˈɡresivlē) to expand and leverage(ˈlev(ə)rij) our customer base, brand, and infrastructure(ˈinfrəˌstrək(t)SHər) as we move to establish an enduring(inˈd(y)o͝oriNG) franchise(ˈfranˌCHīz).

Because of our emphasis(ˈemfəsəs) on the long term, we may make decisions and weigh(wā) tradeoffs(trād) differently than some companies. Accordingly, we want to share with you our fundamental management and decision-making approach so that you, our shareholders, may confirm that it is consistent(kənˈsistənt) with your investment philosophy(fəˈläsəfē):

We will continue to focus relentlessly(rəˈlentləslē) on our customers.

We will continue to make investment decisions in light of long-term market leadership considerations rather than short-term profitability considerations or short-term Wall Street reactions.

We will continue to measure our programs and the effectiveness of our investments analytically(ˌanəˈlidik(ə)lē), to jettison(ˈjedəsən) those that do not provide acceptable returns, and to step up our investment in those that work best. We will continue to learn from both our successes and our failures.

We will make bold(bōld) rather than timid(ˈtimid) investment decisions where we see a sufficient(səˈfiSHənt) probability of gaining(ɡān) market leadership advantages. Some of these investments will pay off, others will not, and we will have learned another valuable lesson in either case.

We aren’t so bold as to claim that the above is the “right” investment philosophy, but it’s ours, and we would be remiss(rəˈmis) if we weren’t clear in the approach we have taken and will continue to take.

A new AI language model generates poetry and prose

A new AI language model generates poetry and prose(prōz)

GPT-3 can be eerily(ˈirilē) human-like—for better and for worse

The sec said, “Musk,/your tweets are a blight./They really could cost you your job,/if you don’t stop/all this tweetingat night.”/…Then Musk cried, “Why?/The tweets I wrote are not mean,/I don’t use all-caps/and I’m sure that my tweets are clean.”/“But your tweets can move markets/and that’s why we’re sore(sôr)./You may be a genius(ˈjēnyəs)/and a billionaire(ˌbilyəˈner),/but that doesn’t give you the right to be a bore(bôr)!”

The preceding(prəˈsēdiNG) lines—describing Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon(ē) Musk’s run-ins with the Securities and Exchange Commission(kəˈmiSHən), an American financial regulator(ˈreɡyəˌlādər)—are not the product of some aspiring(əˈspī(ə)riNG) 21st-century Dr Seuss. They come from a poem written by a computer running a piece(pēs) of software called Generative Pre-Trained Transformer 3. gpt-3, as it is more commonly known, was developed by Openai, an artificial(ˌärdəˈfiSHəl)-intelligence (ai) laboratory(ˈlabrəˌtôrē) based in San Francisco, and which Mr Musk helped found. It represents the latest advance in one of the most studied areas of ai: giving computers the ability to generate sophisticated(səˈfistəˌkādəd), human-like text.

The software is built on the idea of a “language model”. This aims to represent a language statistically(stəˈtistik(ə)lē), mapping the probability with which words follow other words—for instance, how often “red” is followed by “rose”. The same sort of analysis(əˈnaləsəs) can be performed on sentences, or even entire(ənˈtī(ə)r) paragraphs. Such a model can then be given a prompt(präm(p)t)—“a poem about red roses in the style of Sylvia Plath”, say—and it will dig through its set of statistical relationships to come up with some text that matches the description.

consensus, as a country?

consensus(kənˈsensəs), as a country?

one, from our many?

By Henry H. Walker

Quakers(ˈkwākər) strive(strīv) for consensus,
to make a decision that all are comfortable with,
and that’s way harder than voting,
just over a half is a step in the right direction,
but then just under half can feel their ideas and selves(selvz) are denied(dəˈnī),

in the United States a few tens of thousands of votes
tipped the Electoral(əˈlekt(ə)rəl) College into electing Donald Trump,
though the popular vote more substantially favored(ˈfāvərd) Hilary(ˈhilərē) Clinton,
and our country is fractured(ˈfrakCHərd),

if current polls are to be believed,
about 40% of the electorate(əˈlekt(ə)rət) still want Trump to be president(ˈprez(ə)dənt),
despite how disastrous(dəˈzastrəs) he has been
in the struggle to transcend(tran(t)ˈsend) the tribal(ˈtrībəl)
and build a blessed(blest) community out of all of us,

it is important to deny(dəˈnī) the emperor(ˈemp(ə)rər) with no clothes
even more years to splinter(ˈsplin(t)ər) us and to splinter hope even more,

yet somehow we need to find a way
to welcome those who have followed him
back into a union(ˈyo͞onyən) composed of many,
to somehow do better than Reconstruction did,
for his supporters to know
they are a valued part of a larger whole,
despite the roiling(roil) hate(hāt) that drives us to fear.

Ass-Kicking Frames

Ass-Kicking(asˈkikiNG) Frames

By Steve Pavlina

Here’s a really simple idea that can be useful for self-motivation(ˌmōdəˈvāSH(ə)n).

Sometimes our frames are too flabby(ˈflabē), giving us lots of leeway(ˈlēˌwā) to drop the ball and slack(slak) off. In such cases it may be useful to adopt(əˈdäpt) harsher(härSH) frames, at least temporarily(ˈtempəˌrerəlē), to demand more from ourselves.

Here are some of these ass-kicking frames to consider:

Worrying = dumb(dəm)
Quitting(kwit) = dishonorable(disˈänərəb(ə)l)
Sleeping past 5am = loser
Not asking for the date = spineless(ˈspīnləs)
Clinging(ˈkliNGiNG) to a partial(ˈpärSHəl) match(maCH) = creepy(ˈkrēpē)
Tolerating(ˈtäləˌrāt) Trump supporters = suffering fools

I think such frames are best when linked closely to actions and behaviors, not to more complex results like income. They can be helpful when facing quick do or don’t decisions, like: Get up now, or sleep in late.

Imagine your alarm(əˈlärm) going off in the morning, and you’re tempted to sleep in. Then an inner voice kicks(kik) in and exclaims(ikˈsklām): Sleeping in is for losers! Get your ass up now!

Or suppose you catch yourself worrying about something you can’t control, and you remind yourself: Worrying is a stupid waste(wāst) of energy!

While I’m not suggesting that you beat yourself up here, I do think there’s room for using such frames judiciously(jo͞oˈdiSHəslē) without risking damage to your self-esteem(əˈstēm).

Challenging yourself in this way can actually be fun and motivating. I know it’s not for everyone, but for some people it helps. It’s a tool – use it if you like it. Try it if you think it has promise(ˈpräməs).

The Basecamp Guide to Internal Communication

The Basecamp Guide to Internal Communication

The how, where, why, and when we communicate. Long form asynchronous(āˈsiNGkrənəs)? Real-time chat? In-person? Video? Verbal(ˈvərbəl)? Written(ˈritn)? Via(ˈvīə) email? In Basecamp? How do we keep everyone in the loop without everyone getting tangled(ˈtaNGɡ(ə)ld) in everyone else’s business? It’s all in here.

Rules of thumb(THəm), and general philosophy(fəˈläsəfē)

Below you’ll find a collection of general principles we try to keep in mind at Basecamp when communicating with teammates(ˈtē(m)ˌmāt), within departments, across the company, and with the public. They aren’t requirements, but they serve to create boundaries and shared practices to draw(drô) upon when we do the one thing that affects everything else we do: communicate.

You can not not communicate. Not discussing the elephant in the room is communicating. Few things are as important to study, practice, and perfect as clear communication.
Real-time sometimes, asynchronous most of the time.
Internal communication based on long-form writing, rather than a verbal tradition(trəˈdiSH(ə)n) of meetings, speaking, and chatting, leads to a welcomed reduction(rəˈdəkSH(ə)n) in meetings, video conferences(ˈkänf(ə)rəns), calls, or other real-time opportunities to interrupt(ˌin(t)əˈrəpt) and be interrupted.
Give meaningful discussions a meaningful amount of time to develop and unfold(ˌənˈfōld). Rushing to judgement, or demanding immediate(iˈmēdēət) responses, only serves to increase the odds(ädz) of poor(po͝or) decision making.
Meetings are the last resort(rəˈzôrt), not the first option.
Writing solidifies(səˈlidəˌfī), chat dissolves(dəˈzälv). Substantial(səbˈstan(t)SHəl) decisions start and end with an exchange of complete thoughts, not one-line-at-a-time jousts(joust). If it’s important, critical(ˈkridək(ə)l), or fundamental, write it up, don’t chat it down.

Move Over, Sustainable Travel. Regenerative Travel Has Arrived.

Move Over, Sustainable(səˈstānəb(ə)l) Travel. Regenerative(rəˈjen(ə)rədiv) Travel Has Arrived.

Can a post-vaccine(vakˈsēn) return to travel be smarter and greener than it was before March 2020? Some in the tourism(ˈto͝orˌizəm) industry are betting(ˈbediNG) on it.

By Elaine Glusac

Tourism, which grew faster than the global gross(ɡrōs) domestic(dəˈmestik) product for the past nine years, has been decimated(ˈdesəˌmāt) by the pandemic. Once accounting for 10 percent of employment worldwide, the sector(ˈsektər) is poised(poizd) to shed(SHed) 121 million jobs, with losses(lôs, läs) projected at a minimum of $3.4 trillion, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council(ˈkounsəl).

But in the lull(ləl), some in the tourism industry are planning for a post-vaccine(vakˈsēn) return to travel that’s better than it was before March 2020 — greener, smarter and less crowded. If sustainable tourism, which aims to counterbalance the social and environmental impacts associated with travel, was the aspirational(ˌaspəˈrāSHənl) outer limit of ecotourism before the pandemic, the new frontier(ˌfrənˈtir) is “regenerative travel,” or leaving a place better than you found it.

“Sustainable tourism is sort of a low bar. At the end of the day, it’s just not making a mess of the place,” said Jonathon Day, an associate professor focused on sustainable tourism at Purdue University. “Regenerative tourism says, let’s make it better for future generations.”

Defining(dəˈfīn) regeneration

Regenerative travel has its roots in regenerative development and design, which includes buildings that meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design or LEED standards. The concept has applications across many fields, including regenerative agriculture(ˈaɡrəˌkəlCHər), which aims to restore soils and sequester(səˈkwestər) carbon.

“Generally, sustainability, as practiced today, is about slowing down the degradation(ˌdeɡrəˈdāSH(ə)n),” said Bill Reed, an architect(ˈärkəˌtekt) and principal of Regenesis(ˈrējənə) Group, a design firm based in Massachusetts(ˌmasəˈCHo͞osəts) and New Mexico(ˈmeksəkō, ˈmāhēkō) that has been practicing regenerative design, including tourism projects, since 1995. He described efforts like fuel(ˈfyo͞o(ə)l) efficiency(əˈfiSHənsē) and reduced energy use as “a slower way to die.”

“Regeneration is about restoring and then regenerating the capability to live in a new relationship in an ongoing way,” he added.

Work Less

Work Less

By Leo Babauta

When it comes to work, I’ve found that most of us fall in one of two camps:

We work way too hard, constantly churning(CHərn), never feeling like we got enough done; or
We put off work, going to distractions, feeling guilty about how little we’re getting done.

Either camp results in long working hours. And it drains(drān) us. It leaves us feeling depleted(dəˈplēt), not alive.

There’s no simple solution to this, of course, but I’d like to propose(prəˈpōz) something here, to both camps:

Work less.

Do fewer things.

Be more fully in those fewer things.

Recognize your victories(ˈvikt(ə)rē).

Rest more. Play more. Connect more.

Let’s look at this from the perspective of each camp.

And please note: I know that not everyone falls into these camps, and not everyone can change the number of hours they work. Take from this post what might be useful to you, toss(tôs) out the rest.

Is the Brain a Useful Model for Artificial Intelligence?

Is the Brain a Useful Model for Artificial(ˌärdəˈfiSHəl) Intelligence(inˈteləjəns)?

Thinking machines think just like us—but only up to a point.

By Kelly Clancy

In the summer of 2009, the Israeli(izˈrālē) neuroscientist(ˈn(y)o͝orōˌsīəntəst) Henry Markram strode(strōd) onto the TED stage in Oxford(ˈäksfərd), England, and made an immodest(i(m)ˈmädəst) proposal(prəˈpōzəl): Within a decade, he said, he and his colleagues would build a complete simulation(ˌsimyəˈlāSH(ə)n) of the human brain inside a supercomputer. They’d already spent years mapping the cells in the neocortex(ˌnēōˈkôrteks), the supposed seat(sēt) of thought and perception(pərˈsepSH(ə)n). “It’s a bit like going and cataloging(ˈkadlˌôɡ) a piece of the rain forest,” Markram explained. “How many trees does it have? What shapes are the trees?” Now his team would create a virtual rain forest in silicon, from which they hoped artificial intelligence would organically(ôrˈɡanək(ə)lē) emerge(əˈmərj). If all went well, he quipped(kwip), perhaps the simulated brain would give a follow-up TED talk, beamed(bēm) in by hologram(ˈhäləˌɡram).

Markram’s idea—that we might grasp the nature of biological intelligence by mimicking(ˈmimik) its forms—was rooted in a long tradition, dating back to the work of the Spanish anatomist(əˈnadəməst) and Nobel(nōˈbel) laureate(ˈlôrēət) Santiago(ˌsan(t)ēˈäɡō) Ramón y Cajal(kə’). In the late 19th century, Cajal undertook a microscopic(ˌmīkrəˈskäpik) study of the brain, which he compared to a forest so dense(dens) that “the trunks, branches, and leaves touch everywhere.” By sketching thousands of neurons(ˈn(y)o͝orän) in exquisite(ekˈskwizət) detail, Cajal was able to infer an astonishing(əˈstänəSHiNG) amount about how they worked. He saw that they were effectively one-way input-output devices: They received electrochemical(əˌlektrōˈkeməkəl) messages in treelike structures called dendrites(ˈdendrīt) and passed them along through slender(ˈslendər) tubes(t(y)o͞ob) called axons(ˈakˌsän), much like “the junctions of electric conductors(kənˈdəktər).”

Cajal’s way of looking at neurons became the lens through which scientists studied brain function. It also inspired major technological(ˌteknəˈläjək(ə)l) advances.