Brain Pickings

Introducing the Regifting API: Free Tools to Destigmatize Regifting

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How to give and receive with honesty, love, and no guilt.

The season of giving is upon us — a time to receive a lot of stuff we don’t really need from people we care about, give them stuff they don’t really need in return, and do it all graciously, dancing a dance of feigned stuff-needing. But what if we could pass that stuff we don’t really want or need along to someone who might? What if we could normalize regifting, remove the guilt that bedevils it, and bake it into the gift-giving process from the get-go as an open and beautiful expression of honesty? Introducing the Brain Pickings Regifting API — a free set of tools that aim to remove the social stigma from regifting, letting your loved ones know that you openly endorse regifting and encouraging them to pay your gift forward if there’s someone in their lives better suited for it than themselves. Here’s how:

STEP 1: DOWNLOAD THE GRAPHICS

I asked the lovely and talented Josh Boston, mastermind behind the current Brain Pickings redesign, to design a regifting icon, pattern, and stencil stamp. These are available as free, shareable downloads under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC) license, which basically means you’re welcome to use, remix, and share with attribution for non-commercial purposes.

[ download hi-res PNG ]

[ download vector file ]

[ download hi-res PNG ]

[ download vector file ]

[ download hi-res PNG ]

[ download vector file ]

The stencil font is Bandoleer from indie type foundry Mad Type by designer Matt Desmond. It’s nice, isn’t it?

STEP 2: PRINT OR STENCIL YOUR GIFTWRAP OR CARD

You can use the regifting graphics to make your own giftwrap, either by printing them on paper, or by making a stamp or stencil to use on basic monochromatic wrapping paper. You can also use the stamp or stencil to make your own paper or cardboard greeting card.

Eco Green Crafts has a great selection of vibrant, non-toxic, acid-free ink pads for your stamp and acrylic paints with no or low volatile organic compounds for your stencil.

STEP 3: GIVE AND BE MERRY

That’s it, you’re done. You can now give freely, with love and with honesty, and receive accordingly, guilt-free.

And from my friends at Do The Green Thing, here’s a lovely animated reminder that, sometimes, it might be best to give nothing at all, except of course love.

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The Secret of Life from Steve Jobs in 46 Seconds

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“Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost two months since Steve Jobs passed away. And yet, despite all the personal remembrances and timeless quotes and unearthed documentaries, this 46-second interview excerpt featured in a recent PBS documentary on Jobs captures his wisdom, his genius, and his vision for life more articulately and succinctly than anything else.

When you grow up you, tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world, try not to bash into the walls too much, try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader, once you discover one simple fact, and that is that everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”

The footage actually comes from a 1995 interview conducted by the Santa Clara Valley Historical Association, while Jobs was still at NeXT, with the missing parts and no PBS-esque docu-dramatic music score:

The minute that you understand that you can poke life and actually something will, you know if you push in, something will pop out the other side, that you can change it, you can mold it. That’s maybe the most important thing. It’s to shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you’re just gonna live in it, versus embrace it, change it, improve it, make your mark upon it.

I think that’s very important and however you learn that, once you learn it, you’ll want to change life and make it better, cause it’s kind of messed up, in a lot of ways. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”

Also from SCVHA’s interview, Jobs’ thoughts on failure:

Most people never pick up the phone, most people never ask. And that’s what separates, sometimes, the people that do things from the people that just dream about them. You gotta act. And you gotta be willing to fail… if you’re afraid of failing, you won’t get very far.”

(Cue in famous creators on the fear of failure.)

For more of Jobs’ wisdom and timeless insights on technology and psychology — at the intersection of which, one might argue, shone his true genius — don’t forget the excellent I, Steve.

HT @nickbilton

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The Astonishing Visual Lists of Autistic Savant Gregory Blackstock

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From owls to lighthouses, or what a sixty-something retired pot washer can teach us about art and love.

He has been called an “anthropologist of the everyday,” a beacon of Outsider Art. His work is part Lists, part Drawing Autism, part Pictorial Webster’s, part something entirely its own and entirely remarkable. Seattle-based artist Gregory Blackstock is an autistic savant who, after retiring from a lifetime as a pot washer at the age of 58, captivated the art world with the obsessive, meticulous drawings he’d been making over 18 years of after-hours. Blackstock’s Collections, the brainchild of Karen Light-Piña of Garde Rail Gallery, who discovered Blackstock in 2003, catalogs his astounding visual lists of everything from hats to owl varieties, made with a pencil, a black marker, some crayons, and superhuman attention to detail.

Each of the lists, which feature such diverse and offbeat entries as Monsters of the Deep, The Great Cabbage Family, Classical Clowns, Our State Lighthouses, and The Irish Joys — is lovingly captioned in Blackstock’s wonderfully neat yet almost child-like handwriting.

In the introduction, Light-Piña recounts the following anecdote, which captures both the sharp precision of Backstock’s mind and the degree to which it is like water to a fish for the artist:

His remarkable memory serves Blackstock well as he renders images on paper with paper, markers, and crayons. I commented on how many tiny differences there were in the teeth from one saw blade to the next in his piece The Saws. He replied, in a somewhat frustrated tone, that it took him two visits to Home Depot to memorize them all. He uses no straightedge (‘No need,’ he says) yet his layout is impeccable. And if asked, he can reproduce the same images exactly, time and again — a skill to cartooning or illustration, professions in which Blackstock might have excelled under different circumstances.”

The book is also a thoughtful meditation on the mystique of Savant Syndrome and how it has wedged itself in popular culture as the source of such astonishing art. In the foreword, physician Darold A. Treffert reflects:

Savant Syndrome, then, is a three-legged stool. It combines idiosyncratic circuits and genetic memory, intense motivation and practice, and a supportive and loving family and/or caretakers who value the savant not just for what he or she does but for who he or she is… Savants are geniuses who live among us; they hint at geniuses that might lie within us.”

A glimpse of a striking mind that falls somewhere between Daniel Tammet’s and Stephen Wiltshire’s, Blackstock’s Collections is nothing short of extraordinary.

Thanks, Carol in Seattle

Donating = Loving

Bringing you (ad-free) Brain Pickings takes hundreds of hours each month. If you find any joy and stimulation here, please consider becoming a Supporting Member with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good dinner:





You can also become a one-time patron with a single donation in any amount:





Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s what to expect. Like? Sign up.