What can be curated?

I believe curation – loosely based on traditional art gallery or museum assemblage and presentation of an exhibition – will reign supreme on the Internet. With so much free stuff sloshing around, eventually we’ll pay trusted people/organizations to sift, sort, present and recommend.

Given my interests, I imagine curating books, music albums and movies. So it’s distressing to spot this sign. Curating an apartment block? Surely that’s a debasement!

Chess obsession

Paul Broekhuyse, chess editor of The Australian, favourably reviews a memoir-centred look at the legions of chess wannabes, struggling in near poverty to improve and break into the proper professional ranks. It sounds like the scene for pianists, singers, guitarists, dancers, authors, artists, actors, etc., etc. As a fellow obsessive, this is a book for me. (And chess is grist for the mill for the techniques/practices of Anders Ericsson’s idea of “Peak.”) (Image from the book review)

Big Decade: Take a look at this big year . . .

This concept I’m running with, the big year one, of course comes from birding, and sometime soon, hopefully before the next decade, Pam and I will do a proper Birding Big Year, of some sort, across some geographical territory. My pulse quickens at the thought.

What I can say is that we won’t aim for the stratosphere, which right now is Arjan Dwarshuis’s global record, set over 2016, of 6,833 birds, two-thirds of the world’s species. Just as unattainable for us is the previous record in 2015, Noah Strycker’s 6,042 species, but let yourself be inspired by this terrific Longreads article by Eva Holland about Strycker and his quest . (Image from the Longreads article)

Big Decade: The war against coal

This year, for me, is 3 Big Years, of writing, fitness and rock music. It should, oh it should, also include joining the war against coal. Nothing contributes more significantly and directly to the heating of our planet than the mining and burning of coal. We needed coal but that time is gone.

So . . . so not much. I’ll find a way to contribute dollars towards the anti-Adani campaign in Australia but this year’s time is taken. Sigh.

(Image from Michael Leunig’s website)

James Clear on deliberate practice

Obsessives like me can’t help but ponder whether we can become “master” of an activity we’re attracted to. Anders Ericsson’s notion of deliberate practice – dramatically focussed, specific, sustained training can make you a master – preoccupied my thoughts after his wonderful book came out last year. But surely, I whined internally, some things are not to be? I can never, for example, I reckoned, be an amazing birder because my eyesight is poor.
Well, in his blog article, “The myth and magic of deliberate practice,” James Clear endorses this caveat in spades. A third to a quarter of elite success is believed, by the experts, to be due to one’s genes.
Now, who amongst us ordinary folks aspires to elite success? Not I. But some of us do hunger for some kind of “mastery,” perhaps as a journey, and for us, the jury is out between the extremes of “anyone can” and “some of us are naturals.” Anders Ericsson is surely partly right but so is James Clear – what does this mean for us?

The ebb and flow of hobbies and passions

Wet boots drying after a Bogong High Plains ramble cut short by a deluge . . . reflection time . . . I didn’t enjoy this remote-ish hike as much as many I’ve done over the last half decade. Why?

I’m not sure. What seems exciting one year can suddenly pall, what takes one’s breath away can turn humdrum. Hiking comprises so many different pleasures – the challenge of hardship; nature’s beauty; peace and quiet; steady physical activity; the satisfaction of being organized and coping; camaraderie; a step out of normal city life . . . There are so many varieties of bushwalking, of different types and standards . . . I’m not sure if something is shifting in me or if I just need to hike more (which won’t happen this year).

James Hansen in the Rolling Stone

In “Will We Miss Our Last Chance to Save the World from Climate Change,” a Jeff Goodell interview with James Hansen, one of my heroes captures two strands of my own thinking: (i) we can’t expect my generation to do anything much but our children should act now; and (ii) in the major country with two-party systems, the “conservatives” never do anything, yet the “liberals” talk the good talk but also can’t be bold enough.