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Cherry Blossoms

photo of the week by Makio Kusahara

Links about the exploration and pursuit of the new. Raising a kid who doesn’t fear new foods (a link to an entertaining post about a book that I enjoyed); the voices of two inventors – one still alive and one long dead; practical advice on having and pursuing great ideas; the invention of . . . a pronoun (and a new take on gender – I never said that all new things were necessarily improvements . . .). And a humorous video spin-off of a commercial for an invention of the future present.

:: Hungry Monkey (Design Mom)

Given to me by my stepmother (my sole inspiration and role-model when it comes to all things food and whose great wedding present of a curated cookbook collection you read about here) this past weekend at my baby shower, Hungry Monkey is sub-titled “A Food-Loving Father’s Quest to Raise an Adventurous Eater.” I accepted the present greedily, like a recovering addict would take to their formerly beloved drug, because all through this pregnancy, I’ve eaten like a stereotypical four year old. I like things that are white and yellow. I want nothing to do with green. Chicken fingers and plain white cupcakes with plain white frosting (or Funfetti, if we’re feeling really adventurous) have constituted their own food groups.

As someone who has lived her whole adult life on spicy curry soupsbrussels sprouts tossed with mustard and capers, and Ethiopian injera, this has been moderately terrifying on a good day and depression-making on the worst. Is this kid so picky I can’t even tolerate any decent food pregnant? Are we going to be resigned to dinners of plain cheese pizza and pasta-with-butter-no-sauce for the next 18 years and eight weeks?

Is it okay to start crying now?

:: Steadicam Inventor Joins the Inventors Hall of Fame (NPR)

BROWN: Well, the prime – the way I see it, the prime inventing act is identifying something you really want which is missing. You know, we gloss over what’s missing, we take for granted what’s missing.

CONAN: Well, a lot of us who are inspired by invention really want a whole lot of money.

BROWN: Well, a whole lot of money is an auxiliary phenomenon to inventing. If you’re a good inventor, you get a whole lot of money. I guess theoretically that’s the idea. But you know what, a good life, a great career, a good marriage in effect are inventions because there is something that you want which may or may not presently exist or may only partially exist. What you have already may need improving or it may not exist at all, you know. So I think you have to broaden the definition; it isn’t just gadgets and gizmos and machines and processes. It’s whatever you want and the finding of it, the getting of it could be considered an invention, you know?

I’d love to encourage people, particularly kids, to think of their lives in those terms, you know, and incidentally, by the way, to think of stuff they want personally as accessible. I’m a big fan of personal inventing. My house is full of one of a kind gadgets that might not be worth even patenting or selling, but are very satisfying to own, you know?

:: For the First Time Ever, You Can Now Hear What Alexander Graham Bell Sounded Like (The Atlantic)

“Did Bell speak with a Scottish burr? What was the pitch and depth of the voice with which he loved to belt out ballads and music hall songs?” Bell biographer Charlotte Gray asks in Smithsonian. He had lived in England, Canada, the eastern United States. He summered in Nova Scotia where people spoke Gaelic. How did all these influences combine in his speech?

And now Gray has her answer. The Smithsonian has released audio recovered from a wax and cardboard disc dated April 15, 1885. In it, you can clearly hear the inventor speak the words: “Hear my voice – Alexander Graham Bell.”

:: How Entrepreneurs Come Up With Great Ideas (Wall Street Journal)

How did everybody else get inspiration to strike—and how can we work the same magic?

To find out, we turned to the experts—the startup mentors who discuss launching businesses at our Accelerators blog, as well as other investors, advisers and professors who have seen and heard countless success stories, and entrepreneurs who have written success stories of their own. They saw inspiration coming from all sorts of sources—everyday puzzles, driving passions and the subconscious mind.

Here’s what they had to say.

:: Sweden’s New Gender-Neutral Pronoun: Hen (Slate.com)

Ironically, in the effort to free Swedish children from so-called normative behavior, gender-neutral proponents are also subjecting them to a whole set of new rules and new norms as certain forms of play become taboo, language becomes regulated, and children’s interactions and attitudes are closely observed by teachers. One Swedish school got rid of its toy cars because boys “gender-coded” them and ascribed the cars higher status than other toys. Another preschool removed “free playtime” from its schedule because, as a pedagogue at the school put it, when children play freely “stereotypical gender patterns are born and cemented. In free play there is hierarchy, exclusion, and the seed to bullying.” And so every detail of children’s interactions gets micromanaged by concerned adults, who end up problematizing minute aspects of children’s lives, from how they form friendships to what games they play and what songs they sing.

:: ADmented Reality – Google Glasses Remixed with Google Ads (Rebellious Pixels via the creators project)

When I saw Google had somehow forgotten to include any ads in their Project Glass promotional video I just couldn’t resist fixing that little oversight for them. So less then 24 hours after Google released their video I remixed and uploaded my own slightly more realistic version of the augmented reality glasses – now featuring contextual Google Ads for your life!