Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Steve Jobs, CEO and co-founder of Apple and Pixar, at his Stanford University commencement speech in June 2005, urges us to pursue our dreams and see the opportunities in life’s setbacks — including death itself.

He talks about how you cannot connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards –  much like Søren Kierkegaard’s philosophy that: “Life can only be understood backward. It must be lived forward.

His anecdotes point to simple advice to: Find and do what you love, and never settle for less. And always to remember two basic truths:

  1. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith.
  2. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.

Soprano-isms

“More is lost by indecision than by wrong choices” – forge ahead… Even when in doubt, assert yourself!

 

“You don’t s**t where you eat. And you really don’t s**t where I eat.”  – don’t piss on your own chips. Moreover, don’t let anyone else piss on your chips either!

 

“How can you trust a guy who can literally go f*** themselves?” – Paulie explains that snakes have both male and female body parts… “That’s why somebody you don’t trust, you call a snake.”

 

“You know, Tony, it’s a multiple choice thing with you. ‘Cause I can’t tell if you’re old-fashioned, you’re paranoid, or just a f**king asshole.” – Carmela to Tony

 

“There’s an old Italian saying: you fuck up once, you lose two teeth.” – do it right or pay/ die trying!

 

Stand-out moments of 2012

2012 was an eventful year. It was both turbulent and destructive yet celebratory and joyous.

Olympics2012 best moments
In this year, we really saw the “Great” in Great Britain served up and shared with the rest of the world – from the amazing staging of the golden Games to an entrancing summer of sport and the Queen’s diamond Jubilee.  Despite the weather, people congregated and partied together in celebration of our British heroes.

Gary Dobson and David Norris were finally found guilty of Stephen Lawrence’s murder of 1993.
Later in the year, the British public saw the BBC in disrepute as the Jimmy Savile case erupted with 450 sexual abuse allegations made against him.  BBC director general, George Entwhistle resigned (with a £450,000 severance payment!) after just 54 days in the job (when a Newsnight report led to former Tory treasurer Lord McAlpine being wrongly accused of child abuse on Entwhistle’s watch) and the Lord Leveson report gave rise to question the need for greater press regulation.

Elsewhere, we saw the devastating effects of global climate change taking their toll – not least as we learned that the Arctic sea ice (aka the world’s natural air-conditioning unit) had shrunk to a record low, global sea levels were continuing to rise faster than predicted and the world was at the mercy of more extreme weather conditions – such as Hurricane Sandy that went on to destroy swathes of the east coast of America late in the year.

And while we saw austerity provoke discord in Spain and Greece, calling for a 130 billion euro bailout package for Greece, we also saw Edvard Munch’s harrowing painting, The Scream, (no. 5, 1948) sell for 140 million dollars.

Wars continued, including that in Syria which has seen over 44,551 people killed in the Syria crisis since March 2011 – with over 100 (many of them children) added in the Houla massacre in March 2012.

Soulful songstress, Whitney Houston died, as did Lonesome George, the last of the Pinta Island tortoises- a Galapagos giant and reportedly the rarest creature on earth.

Obama was re-elected to win a second term and a fearless Austrian dare-devil called Felix broke the sound barrier in a fall to Earth from space.

See it all here in the Guardian’s  interactive guide to the most extraordinary news and viral videos of 2012.

Everything is contingent on randomness

We have an overriding need to “narrativise” everything, to turn it into a story – so Nicholas Nassim Taleb points out in his book The Black Swan.

It’s our way of compressing the information in the world to a manageable amount. But we overdo it: we make narratives when we have no data, we tell plausible but unfounded stories to fill gaps. So when something, for instance Harry Potter, becomes incredibly and unpredictably popular, we come up with reasons for it, even though we have no idea what the reasons are.

The real reason, incidentally, is usually that there is no reason, beyond randomness. It’s called positive feedback: a small disturbance from an equilibrium magnifies itself and causes a runaway process. The classic example is in crowds: everyone talks quietly, and everyone can hear each other, but one person speaks a little louder, so the people around have to speak a little louder to hear, until everyone is almost yelling. Then a small random dip in volume will cause people around to hush for a moment to see what’s happening, and a silence suddenly shoots around the hall.

Excerpt taken from Tom Chiver’s article in the Telegraph: “Gangnam Style at 1bn views: what does our obsession with chubby South Koreans say about society? Exactly nothing”