Confessions of an Outlaw: A Creativity Workshop, with Philippe Petit


Confessions of an Outlaw: A Creativity Workshop, with Philippe Petit

High-wire artist Philippe Petit, who four decades ago performed illegally between the World Trade Center towers, explains how his personal brand of outlaw creativity can be harnessed to inspire and solve problems.

Confessions of an Outlaw: The Self You Bring

How to you inspire people? How do you touch an audience? High-wire artist Philippe Petit explains that the secret is to not try at all. Instead, be yourself. Follow your own personal muses instead of being a crowd pleaser. Genuine individual creativity is endearing enough on its own that if your passion emerges through your work, your audience will be reached.


This is the first video in a nine-part series with Philippe Petit available in playlist form here.

Confessions of an Outlaw: Chaos and Order

High-wire artist Philippe Petit describes his process of compressing chaos in order to build a model for creative output. When faced with a long list of goals and subjects for a creative endeavor, make a list. Introduce order. Compartmentalize your thoughts and ambitions. The key is to find the precise marriage between madness and structure.

Confessions of an Outlaw: The Alchemy of Sleep

High-wire artist Philippe Petit explains how he practices creativity while sleeping. If he falls asleep with an idea in his head, Petit allows his subconscious self the opportunity to find a solution. Often he wakes up with the solution sitting there waiting for him.

Confessions of an Outlaw: Finding Focus

High-wire artist Philippe Petit doesn't own a cellphone, doesn't own jewelry, doesn't wear a watch. These are all distractions that would draw his focus away from his art. And when you're walking a wire and a millisecond's loss of focus results in tragedy, perhaps eschewing gadgetry is the way to go.


Petit explains how an occasional foray into being a Luddite will allow you to reconnect with your raw humanity.

Confessions of an Outlaw: Discipline and Play

A marriage of discipline and play seems contradictory, but Philippe Petit says he thrives on being an extreme and contradictory artist. The high-wire artist explains why being a successful artist requires a marriage of extremes. You have to work hard and play hard. There is no sacrificing either.


This is the fifth video in a nine-part series with Philippe Petit available in playlist form here.

Confessions of an Outlaw: The Art of Balance

High-wire artist Philippe Petit wasn't just born with superior balance; it's something he's developed all his life and something he applies to all his life. It's balance -- in more meanings of the word -- which keeps Petit alive.

Confessions of an Outlaw: Intuition and Improvisation

High-wire artist Philippe Petit explains that intuition and improvisation are not opposites. They are cousins. One must take an intellectual approach to an adventurous exploration of the unknown.

Confessions of an Outlaw: Valuable Mistakes

As a high-wire artist, Philippe Petit doesn't have much room for mistakes. Still, he finds that mistakes are our best teachers and advises friends and students to treat them as such.


This is the ninth video in a nine-part series with Philippe Petit available in playlist form here.

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  • The fact that U.S. Navy SEALs endure very rigorous training before entering the field is common knowledge, but just what happens at those facilities is less often discussed. In this video, former SEALs Brent Gleeson, David Goggins, and Eric Greitens (as well as authors Jesse Itzler and Jamie Wheal) talk about how the 18-month program is designed to build elite, disciplined operatives with immense mental toughness and resilience.
  • Wheal dives into the cutting-edge technology and science that the navy uses to prepare these individuals. Itzler shares his experience meeting and briefly living with Goggins (who was also an Army Ranger) and the things he learned about pushing past perceived limits.
  • Goggins dives into why you should leave your comfort zone, introduces the 40 percent rule, and explains why the biggest battle we all face is the one in our own minds. "Usually whatever's in front of you isn't as big as you make it out to be," says the SEAL turned motivational speaker. "We start to make these very small things enormous because we allow our minds to take control and go away from us. We have to regain control of our mind."

    • New guidelines published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal argue that obesity should be defined as a condition that involves high body mass index along with a corresponding physical or mental health condition.
    • The guidelines note that classifying obesity by body mass index alone may lead to fat shaming or non-optimal treatments.
    • The guidelines offer five steps for reframing the way doctors treat obesity.

    Doctors determine obesity by dividing a patient's weight by their height, producing a measure called body mass index, or BMI. Patients with a BMI of 30 or higher are considered obese.

    But is this the best way to frame obesity?

    In new guidelines published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, a group of doctors argue that, while knowing a patient's body mass index is useful, healthcare professionals should take a more holistic approach to treating obesity — one that doesn't overfocus on weight-loss through exercise and diet.

    The authors say this new model could improve treatments and reduce weight stigma. After all, the old model typically frames obesity as a "self-inflicted condition" caused by a lack of personal responsibility, which may affect "the type of interventions and approaches that are implemented by governments or covered by health benefit plans."

    "For the longest time, we blamed our patients, we blamed people living with obesity for the lack of willpower in terms of overeating, in terms of not being physically active," co-author Dr. David C.W. Lau of the University of Calgary's Julia MacFarlane Diabetes Research Centre, said in a podcast. "We now know this is a totally misperceived perception."

    The new guidelines define obesity as "a prevalent, complex, progressive, and relapsing chronic disease, characterized by abnormal or excessive body fat (adiposity) that impairs health." Under this definition, someone would only be considered obese if they have a high body-mass index and a corresponding physical or mental health condition.

    The guidelines aren't arguing that weight isn't relevant to health. After all, there's no shortage of research showing that having a high body mass and excess body fat boosts your risks of developing many conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, depression, respiratory problems and even certain cancers.

    But one key complication is that obesity is caused by many factors. For example, the guidelines note that the condition is influenced by genetics, epigenetics, neurohormonal mechanisms, associated chronic diseases and obesogenic medications, sociocultural practices and beliefs, social determinants of health, built environment, individual life experiences like adverse childhood experiences, and a host of psychological factors.

    As such, a straightforward "eat-less, move more" strategy might not work equally for everyone. The guidelines note that "obesity management should be about improved health and well-being, and not just weight loss."

    A new 5-step system for treating obesity

    To help primary care practitioners better treat obesity, the doctors outlined five steps:

    1. Recognition of obesity as a chronic disease by health care providers, who should ask the patient permission to offer advice and help treat this disease in an unbiased manner.
    2. Assessment of an individual living with obesity, using appropriate measurements, and identifying the root causes, complications and barriers to obesity treatment.
    3. Discussion of the core treatment options (medical nutrition therapy and physical activity) and adjunctive therapies that may be required, including psychological, pharmacologic and surgical interventions.
    4. Agreement with the person living with obesity regarding goals of therapy, focusing mainly on the value that the person derives from health-based interventions.
    5. Engagement by health care providers with the person with obesity in continued follow-up and reassessments, and encouragement of advocacy to improve care for this chronic disease.

    Insider noted that some health professionals and body-positive advocates don't think the guidelines go far enough in reframing obesity treatment. The update still points "to individual bodies as the problem, not culture," registered dietitian Rebecca Scritchfield, told Insider.

    But it's also possible to see how some health professionals may worry this new model could discourage patients from taking the initiative to tackle weight-loss on their own, through exercise and dieting.

    In a 2020 opinion piece published in Frontiers in Nutrition, Dr. Elliot M. Berry argued that misplaced "medical and political correctness" may lead to the abrogation of the physician's responsibility to properly care for patients.

    "For example, some doctors are now even reluctant to raise the issue of obesity lest they be accused of fat shaming by not accepting their patients' proportions (despite the quote at the head of this opinion piece), and thereby receive poor approval ratings in an atmosphere where popularity is equated with good healthcare."

    Berry offers a list of nine steps that he thinks could help the healthcare industry better treat obesity, without shaming patients or falling prey to political correctness.

    Berry concludes his piece:

    "Parental and individual responsibility, choice and self-management clearly have a place near the center of the stage in the obesity tragedy. Otherwise, it is like going to see the play Hamlet and the Prince fails to make an appearance."

    COVID-19 is confounding planning for basic human needs, including shelter.

    Around the world, home builders are vigilantly reading tea leaves in the fog, trying to figure out how to survive (and even thrive in) an unfolding economic disaster. And we mourn the fallen, working to keep our loved ones healthy and safe.

    COVID-19 has drawn a political dividing line in much of the world. It reminds me of something an American revolutionary, Samuel Johnson, said in 1775: "Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel." In my story, the scoundrel is this virus – COVID-19.

    Home builders construct the physical environments for families, who turn them into homes – homes we hope are filled with laughter, love, aspiration and celebration. Good housing is the cornerstone of strong communities.

    Much of how COVID-19 impacts us will be determined by science, but not all. "The question of how the pandemic plays out is at least 50% social and political," Sarah Cobey, epidemiologist and evolutionary biologist at the University of Chicago, told Scientific American.

    Just as the Spanish flu gave us the vanity room, which originated as a hand-washing basin immediately inside the front entry of a home, COVID-19 will influence innovation in home design.

    Open-plan, ever-larger houses have ruled the market for decades, even though family size has shrunk and middle-class real earnings have remained flat. U.S. households averaged 2.44 children in 1965 but 1.9 by 2015. With 128.6 million households, that's 7 million fewer children. Yet the average size of U.S. houses grew 62% from 1973-2015, from 1,660 square feet to 2,687. House size was still growing in 2018. In Canada, houses have also grown as families shrunk. In Europe, average house size has grown to 1,880 square feet (which Europeans will say astounds them).

    Pandemic thinking will likely favour less-open spaces (though people will crave nature-positive spaces), perhaps reviving cozy dens to supplement living rooms. Spending may shift into less obvious enhancements of safety and comfort. Better interior insulation will enable quieter places. Screened-in porches and outdoor spaces, and new approaches to landscaping will help keep mosquitoes and other disease-bearing critters at bay. A bedroom, kitchen, living room area and bath that is a little removed from the core of the house will accommodate adult children now and elderly parents later (at Lennar, we call this the Next Gen Home). Split HVAC systems can prevent sickroom air from being pumped into everybody's space. Such mini-HVAC systems with no ductwork have become very affordable.

    Home-based jobs call for better home offices (Lennar calls this the Next Gen Home Office). The infamous toilet flush in the background of U.S. Supreme Court by-telephone oral arguments underscored the perils of inappropriate home-work spaces. So do videos of children and pets interrupting conference calls or other tasks. A larger home-based work force will drive designers to balance job requirements with the privacy and safety of the family.

    Pandemic-inspired housing innovation will collide, however, with three critical forces that were already simmering pre-COVID and are now at a high boil.

    • Techno-Accelerations. The pandemic has accelerated the already-brisk integration of real and virtual activities, including remote work, remote health, and remote education. But electric and automated vehicle compatibility, delivery-enablement systems, frictionless purchasing and the Internet of Things (IoT) enabling the remote maintenance and repair of homes . . . all require fast bandwidth – faster even than 5G. It also requires security: in a geopolitical environment where surface attack areas have expanded, we all want military-grade cybersecurity.
    • Climate. As China began publicly grappling with deaths from COVID-19 in mid-January 2020, the World Economic Forum's "2020 Global Risks Report" was released. It warned that climate change makes more of the planet hospitable to infectious pathogens. Resilience is therefore the watchword of the remainder of the century. Energy and flood resilience, and smart insurance and other financing products that will encourage a great migration away from the coasts . . . these are the characteristics of the new urban morphology brought about by climate change.
    • Social Justice. While COVID-19 did not cause the social justice movement that swept many parts of the world this summer and the U.S. in particular, the virus amplifies economic burdens which, in turn, exacerbate the movement's root causes: income inequality is central to this dynamic. The Institute for Policy Studies found America's 400 richest people are worth $US3 trillion, more than all African-American households plus 25% of Hispanic households combined. There's little doubt these numbers err on the low side now. COVID-19 has wiped out the ready resources of many families and that will spark varying degrees of political reaction globally. Populist housing policies that threaten capital investment could deter home building and contribute to future housing crises. Inclusionary housing programmes that accelerate wealth creation among traditionally excluded populations, enable financing, inject innovation into housing use and urgently work toward housing security for vulnerable populations will underpin how governments reallocate precious housing-related subsidies.

    The ghosts of the 2008 financial crisis hang over the pandemic economy. But the 2008 crisis was housing-ignited. High-risk mortgages drove up the prices of houses buyers couldn't afford but bought anyway. This textbook housing bubble was buoyed by an irrational conviction that prices would keep rising and rising. Low interest and inflated housing values led millions to refinance or, in the U.S., extract home equity loans to pay for remodelling, cars, boats, campers, and bucket-list quests. The housing bubble popped and its bad ink seeped through world economic systems.

    A 6 January 2020 Washington Post article opened with: "A strong job market and low mortgage rates should sustain the housing market in 2020. The problem will be finding enough homes for buyers. With unemployment hovering at a 50-year low and interest rates well below historical norms, the real estate industry is being dragged down by scarcity in housing stock…."

    Within three months, U.S. unemployment had surged to historic levels (more than 23 million Americans were officially unemployed at the start of May, more than 30 million by the end) but that Washington Post article still holds true today. Low mortgage costs in the U.S. and the developed world continue to drive affordability. And the deficit in housing production inherited from the 2008 crisis still constrains supply while, at the same time, millennials all over the world are starting their families.

    Sales of existing houses — normally about 90% of the U.S. market — have been eviscerated this year. New homes are favoured over resale, and de-urbanisation is occurring where it can. If new-home sales of the late spring and, as reported in the media, the early summer, continue, 2020 could be a fair year for new home builders. There's been a big jump in online sales of new homes, a global spike in online home-searching activity, and purchasing occurring often without buyers even walking through a house. A new, fully warranted home, bought without having to spend time with realtors and owners, has great appeal.

    In the last century, vaccines and the public health movement largely eliminated dreaded contagious disease in much of the world. Industrialised countries have periodic outbreaks that remind us of this danger, among which, the HIV/AIDS, SARS, Zika, and West Nile viruses. Public health professionals tell us we could be entering an era in which mass urbanisation, climate change, stressed natural eco-systems and other factors will yield a pandemic (or something approximating one) every 7-10 years. This will force a reckoning with what it means to work together toward a better future. But we will also realise that we will all seek refuge in a home. Maybe knowing that will be our true last refuge.

    Reprinted with permission of the World Economic Forum. Read the original article.

    • A new study of the genomes of Modern Humans, Neanderthals, and Denisovans suggests the three were interbreeding quite often.
    • The study also found DNA from an unidentified, archaic human ancestor which we inherited from the Denisovans.
    • Homo Erectus is the most likely source of this DNA.

    Modern Humans are the last members of the genus Homo. While we've managed to outlast an extensive list of cousins and genetic ancestors, their genetic heritage lives on through us. More than a few studies have reported that many people today can trace their ancestry back to the Neanderthals and the Denisovans.

    A new study suggests that the DNA of an even older ancestor lives in through us, and has some startling implications for the sex lives of our ancient ancestors.

    Some of our evolutionary relatives never really left, genetically speaking. 

    The paper titled "Mapping gene flow between ancient hominins through demography-aware inference of the ancestral recombination graph" was published in PLOS Genetics. It's authors used a new statistical method to analyze the genomes of two Neanderthals, a Denisovan, and two modern humans.

    The new method allowed the researchers to determine when segments of one individual's DNA are worked into the chromosomes of another. These occurrences are called "recombination events" and can be used to determine when specific genes entered our genome and provide evidence of where it came from. As an example of how this can be used, if Neanderthal DNA contained genes from another pre-human ancestor that they then passed to us, this method would identify it.

    The analysis confirmed previous studies that showed that Modern Humans interbred with Neanderthals and Denisovans. However, this analysis suggests that some of this mixing took place between 200,000 and 300,000 years ago, long before what previous studies had suggested. It also indicates that more instances of interbreeding occurred than previously suspected.

    Most interestingly, the researchers noticed that one percent of the DNA in the Denisovans from an even more ancient human ancestor. Fifteen percent of the genes that this ancestor passed onto the Denisovans still exist in the Modern Human genome.

    Exactly who this ancestor was remains unknown, but there are some clues. The fact that this ancestor separated from the linage that would lead to modern humans about 1,000,000 years ago is the most useful one we currently have. This led the researchers to suggest Homo Erectus as the most likely candidate.

    Who was Homo Erectus?

    The bane of all school teachers focusing on human evolution and the original "missing link," Homo Erectus was the first human ancestor to leave Africa. They spread widely throughout the old world, with their remains found from Spain to Java. They resembled modern humans, though they were a tad shorter. They were the first to control fire, made tools, created artwork, and likely had rudimentary language.

    It should be repeated that while Homo Erectus is the probable source of this ancient DNA, the jury is still out. Scientists would have to sequence its genome to know for sure.

    Studying human evolution leads us down some very strange roads. It is increasingly clear to us that wherever there was an overlap of human species, there was interbreeding and that a considerable amount of the genetic remnants of this endure to this day. While this might get in the way of the old view of evolution as a slow climb to the humanity, the pinnacle of biological achievement, it does provide us a richer view of who we are, where we come form, and where we might be going.

    • The Juno space probe orbiting Jupiter has observed lightning at impossibly high points in the Jovian atmosphere.
    • The findings, combined with other atmopsheric data, led to the creation of a new model of the atmosphere.
    • The findings answer a few questions about Jupiter, but create many more.

    Since 2016, NASA's Juno spacecraft has been observing Jupiter's atmosphere, magnetosphere, and gravitational field. It has already managed to take fantastic images, discovered new cyclones, and analyze the gasses that make up the planet in the time it has spent investigating it.

    This week, Juno was able to add another discovery to its name with the unexpected finding of lightning in the upper atmosphere of the Solar System's largest planet.

    The findings are described in the study "Small lightning flashes from shallow electrical storms on Jupiter," published in Nature. Previous missions to Jupiter, including Voyager 1, Galileo, and New Horizons all observed lightning, but without the benefits of the equipment on Juno or more recent developments in models of the Jovian atmosphere.

    In this case, the lighting is notable for how high it is occurring in the atmosphere. While previous observations suggested lightning in water-based clouds deep inside the gas planet, the new data suggests lightning exists in the upper atmosphere in clouds of water and ammonia. This lightning is dubbed "shallow lightning."

    According to a press release by Cornell University, the ammonia is vital in creating the lightning, as it functions as an "anti-freeze" of sorts to keep the water in the clouds from freezing. The collision of droplets of mixed ammonia and water with ice water particles creates the charge needed for lightning strikes.

    This is different from any process that creates lightning on Earth.

    That wasn't the only bit of strangeness the probe noticed. While Juno saw plenty of ammonia near the equator and at lower levels of the atmosphere, it was hard-pressed to find much anywhere else. To explain this, researchers developed a new model of atmospheric mixing. They suggest that the ammonia at lower levels of the atmosphere rises into storm clouds, interacts with water to cause the aforementioned lightning, and then falls back down in the form of hailstones.

    The scientists gave these ammonia and water ice hailstones the name "mushballs."

    This model explains many things, including why Juno couldn't detect ammonia where it expected to: the mushballs would be more challenging to detect than ammonia or water vapor. The scientists further speculated that the weight of the mushballs pulls the ammonia to lower levels of the atmosphere where it is detected in more significant amounts.

    A NASA designed graphic demonstrating the weather systems theorized to create "mushballs." The liquid water and ammonia rises in the storm clouds until they reach points where the extremely low temperatures cause them to freeze. Freezing into semi-solid "mushballs" causes them to fall where they redistribute ammonia throughout the lower atmosphere.

    Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/CNRS

    How can we possibly know all of this?

    Juno relies on several pieces of equipment. The most relevant in this case is the microwave radiometer. This device uses microwaves to measure the Jovian atmosphere's composition. When microwaves hit water or ammonia particles, they begin to heat up. By hitting the planet with microwaves and then looking for changes in the particles' observed temperature, the probe can determine what chemicals are present.

    The findings of these studies demonstrate that Jupiter's atmosphere is more complicated than previously thought. Given how we already knew about the storms larger than Earth, temperatures that swing between extremes in different layers of the atmosphere, and winds that blow at 100 meters per second, that is saying something.