About Caterina Fake

Founder & CEO, Findery. Co-founder, Flickr & Hunch.

Links to Things I Agree With

  • The Death of Adulthood In American Culture. I talked about the tragic loss of American adulthood in an interview with Free Lunch Diaries a couple years ago. Oddly, people are also talking about the death of American Childhood. Maybe we’re all merging into a single, unstratified Age. Which is approximately 17.
  • Do you Speak Startup? It’s easy to agree with this article, since it builds on one of my earlier blog posts.
  • The “Ringo Starr Strategy” is a concept I came up with today, which means, if you can’t be great at something, surround yourself with people who are.
  • The Law of Jante, which is the Scandinavian tendency to put the collective before the individual, but is another way of describing Tall Poppy Syndrome (a term I didn’t realize had its origins in The Histories of Herodotus. I first learned of The Law of Jante in an interview with Karl Ove Knausgaard.

Tall Poppy Syndrome

Memorization, Facts and Learning to Learn

“Never memorize what you can look up in books” is a quote often attributed to Einstein, though what he actually said was somewhat different. He was asked, but did not know the speed of sound as included in the Edison Test. When this was pointed out, he said, “[I do not] carry such information in my mind since it is readily available in books. He also said, “…The value of a college education is not the learning of many facts but the training of the mind to think.” See also Ray Bradbury, in Fahrenheit 451:

“Cram them full of non-combustible data, chock them so damned full of ‘facts’ they feel stuffed, but absolutely ‘brilliant’ with information. Then they’ll feel they’re thinking, they’ll get a sense of motion without moving. And they’ll be happy, because facts of that sort don’t change. Don’t give them any slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. That way lies melancholy.”

The single thing I’ve found it valuable to memorize is poetry. As a child I learned hundreds of poems by heart, which I can recite even now. I wanted to become a writer, and felt that poetry was perfected language, so having it in my subconscious mind would make the music of language always available to me.

Startups as a Second Language

One of the issues we face here in San Francisco and Silicon Valley is a sense that the people all around us are as conversant in startup and tech culture as we are. But we need to remember, and remind ourselves repeatedly, that we’re a small minority in a larger population. We get a lot of attention, because we are new, and trendy, and fashionable, and commercial, on the outer layers of Stewart Brand’s pace layers of culture.

So I was happy to see that Kristina Lee Podesva was presenting “Startups as a Second Language” at Yerba Buena. I met Kristina when she moved from Vancouver to San Francisco, because she was the editor of Fillip, a magazine I had a small part in getting off the ground, and has consistently published significant articles about art and culture.

Here are some of the terms from her presentation, via Ceci Moss:

Learning SSL

So jargon-y! Kristina has written more about the project on her site.

You don’t have to be pretty

You Don’t Have to Be Pretty. You don’t owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don’t owe it to your mother, you don’t owe it to your children, you don’t owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked “female”.

Erin McKean

Priya Haji, 1970-2014

Priya Haji

How can we honor Priya Haji, a social entrepreneur, a mother, a friend, an inspiration to us all? She had such heart.

Priya believed that everyone, from ex-Presidents to ex-cons, were worthy of respect. When, in a group of entrepreneurs, someone had behaved badly, everyone backed away. But Priya said, yes, that wasn’t good, but here’s how he can be helped. When she met people, she saw they weren’t the worst thing thing they had done. She saw them bigger than they were, bigger than they even saw themselves. She treated everyone this way.

Van Jones, at her memorial yesterday, said that when everyone on the Stanford campus was marching around, waving banners and saying that Racism was Bad, Priya was down the road in East Palo Alto starting Free at Last. She believed everyone, without exception, could do better. From Free at Last, through World of Good, and to SaveUp, she was always working to make the world, and everyone in it, better, kinder, more compassionate. As good, and as kind, and as compassionate as she herself was.

Beloved Priya, Goodbye.

Pulmonary Embolism & Advanced Directives

A friend of mine died this past week, suddenly, of a pulmonary embolism. After she died, I learned that a pulmonary embolism is caused by a blood clot, typically from the legs, blocks one of the pulmonary arteries in your lungs. Death is sudden. Be aware of potential causes: you should be cautious after surgery, if you have cancer, after flying on a plane, and if you have been immobilized for some time — when you are most likely to develop blood clots. On planes it is common to have swelling in both ankles, but you should be on guard if one of your ankles, or feet, has more swelling than the other. Call a doctor immediately! And do those plane exercises, and move your legs as much as you can during the flight.

I wasn’t aware of any of this and felt it should be passed on. It turns out that many people I know have friends and family members who have died from pulmonary embolism. Here is more information about it from The Mayo Clinic.

And while we’re talking about the end of life, please read Shoshana Berger’s essay How to Die in 5 Easy Steps — and make sure you have an advanced directive written to help people who love you make decisions about your care should you become incapacitated.

The Child and the Shadow

My notes from Ursula LeGuin’s essay about Hans Christian Andersen and Jung, from her book “The Language of the Night”, “The Child and the Shadow”

If the ego “is weak, or if it’s offered nothing better, what it does is identify with the “collective consciousness.” That is Jung’s term for a kind of lowest common denominator of all the little egos added together, the mass mind, which consists of such things as cults, crees, fads, fashions, status-seeking, conventions, received beliefs, advertising, pop cult, all the isms, all the ideologies, all the hollow forms of communication and “togetherness” that lack real communion or real sharing. The ego, accepting these empty forms, becomes a member of the “lonely crowd”. To avoid this, to attain real community, it must turn inward, away from the crowd, to the source: it must identify with its own deeper regions, the great unexplored regions of the Self. These regions of the psyche June calls the “collective unconscious,” and it is in them, where we all meet, that he sees the source of true community; of felt religion; of art, grace, spontaneity, and love.

That mass mind is “stuffed full of the one-sided, shadowless half-truths and conventional moralities”

Jung wrote;” Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.” The less you look at it, in other words, the stronger it grows, until it can become a menace, an intolerable load, a threat within the soul. Unadmitted to consciousness, the shadow is projected outwards, onto others. There’s nothing wrong with me–it’s them. I’m not a monster, other people are monsters.

If the individual wants to live in the real world, he must withdraw his projections; he must admit that the hateful, the evil, exists within himself. This isn’t easy. It is very hard not to be able to blame anybody else.

If one were to deal with his own shadow, he has….grown toward true community, and self-knowledge, and creativity. For the shadow stands on the threshold. We can let it bar the way to the creative depths of the unconscious, or we can let it lead us to them. For the shadow is not simply evil. It is inferior, primitive, awkward, animallike, childlike; powerful, vital, spontaneous. It’s not weak and decent, like the learned young man from the North; it’s dark and hairy and unseemly; but, without it, the person is nothing.