Notebooks in the Attic

Today, I’m re-posting an essay by my good friend and CEO of Levenger, Steve Leveen. His blog “Well-Read Life” is always enjoyable and interesting and I highly recommend adding it to your bookmarks.

Notebooks in the Attic

by Steve Leveen


Obsolescence is overrated.

When an old technology is eclipsed by a shiny new rival, the old technology, after some years, will often emerge again, in a romantic crescent of its former self. And how sweet its second light can be.

When electric light made gaslight and candles obsolete, it did so profoundly. But after some decades, gaslight came back—in streetlights twinkling along certain brick streets, and in carriage lights in front of occasional homes. And what home doesn’t have candles? How better to see, when we allow our hearts to guide us, than by candlelight?

Up in the attic

Before they can reemerge, however, old technologies must first enter what I call their Attic Period. That’s when we hastily put them out of sight as we rush headlong into the infatuation stage with our new lovers. After some time, when infatuation evolves into habituation, a seeming accident happens. Somebody goes up to the attic, sees something intriguing in a dim corner, blows off the dust, and smiles.

Often it’s younger people who make the rediscovery. Since they grew up with, and therefore take for granted, the technologies that amazed their elders, their fresh eyes see the old as new. When they add their youthful touch, the old is transformed. Old becomes old school, or vintage or retro, or classic or heirloom or heritage. When these young people proudly show off their new discovery, it can bring a winsome smile to an elder’s face.

Today, thanks to laptops and digital tablets, paper notebooks are already in their Attic Period. I would be more worried if I didn’t understand it was inevitable, and if I didn’t realize that rediscovery is also inevitable.
What’s more, I’m smiling as I write this because I know what the technology cycles can’t: we at Levenger are up in the attic right now with those notebooks—and we’re already designing a stunning renaissance.

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The universe is eternally and instantly forgiving. The moment you forgive yourself, you are forgiven. Others may not forgive you, but you can ignore them. Only your own conscience has the power to haunt you. The only people who don’t need to forgive themselves are psychopaths. They don’t need to forgive themselves because they don’t feel guilty. They don’t feel guilty because they don’t feel responsibility. The point is: To live a guilt free life you have to forgive yourself and not worry about what anyone else thinks. Easier said than done. Still.

Confessions of a Serial Entrepreneur

Q: When did you decide to become an entrepreneur? I think it was when I was 12 because that was the year that one was legally allowed to work for a salary. I got a job with my friend Brian in a car wash in my town. We worked Saturdays and Sundays, from nine till five, drying cars as they rolled out of the building. Since we were small we were assigned to clean and dry the inside windows. Brian did the front. I did the back. It was a very simple job, mindless really. But it was relentless. We were in and out of each car as soon as they rolled out, about one every thirty to sixty seconds. …

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Driver Stopped at 2 a.m.

An elderly man is stopped by the police around 2 a.m. and is asked where he is going at this time of night. The man replies, “I am on my way to attend a lecture about gambling, hookers, alcohol abuse and the effects it has on the human body, as well as smoking, and staying out late.” The officer then asks, “Really? Who is giving that lecture at this time of night?”   The man replies, “My wife.”

Investing, Speculating and Gambling: Let’s Get the Terms Straight

One sensible way to acquire wealth is to buy shares of large, stable, cash-rich companies that pay dividends and hold them for a long time. (I am talking about investing in companies like Hershey’s and Coca Cola.) This is called investing. Most people do something else. They buy stocks of large, solid companies whose share prices they hope will increase for some reason. They buy them with the intention of selling them at a profit when they do. This is called speculating. Most people would not agree with that last statement. Most people – including most of the professional investment community – prefer to call this second type of financial activity investing too. They don’t like the negative connotation of …

Read MoreInvesting, Speculating and Gambling: Let’s Get the Terms Straight

Dawkins in Playboy

Read this interesting and engaging interview with noted non-believer Richard Dawkins over at Playboy.com. Here’s a tiny excerpt: PLAYBOY: You’ve read the Bible. DAWKINS: I haven’t read it all, but my knowledge of the Bible is a lot better than most fundamentalist Christians’. PLAYBOY: Do you have a favorite verse? DAWKINS: My favorite book is Ecclesiastes. It’s wonderful poetry in 17th century English, and I’m told it’s very good in the Hebrew. “Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” The Song of Songs is terrific, and it’s more bawdy in the Hebrew, almost a drinking song. PLAYBOY: You’ve made the point that if Jesus existed and went to his death as described in the Bible, …

Read MoreDawkins in Playboy

Ken Danz, RIP

I met Ken in 1976 when I was teaching English literature at the University of Chad in N’djamena, Chad. Ken was also on the faculty teaching American literature. After my stint Kathy and I moved to Washington DC where I worked as an editor for a publishing business. Ken returned the next year and I found him work as an editor and proofreader. When I relocated to South Florida in 1982 the first person I hired was Ken. He arrived by Greyhound Bus looking — well, you know how Ken often looked. I took him right to JC Penny’s and bought him three new sets of clothes including three clip-on ties. The next night I helped him find an apartment …

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Americans are getting smarter?

Americans are getting financially smarter. They are spending less and saving more. This is something that our leaders should be praising. But they are doing just the opposite. They are trying to encourage us to spend more. Why would they do that? Because of an economic fallacy. Their thinking is this: Since such a large part of our economy is based on spending, the way to have a stronger economy is to encourage more spending. But this makes as much sense as advising a junkie to take more drugs because so much of his biochemistry is dependent on drugs.

Fake Celebrity Pranks New York City

The lessons come right out of Robert Cialdini’s book Influence. It’s a demonstration of the rhetorical technique of social proof and the old axiom: If you say it often enough (enlarge the social proof) they will believe it. The ersatz posse is enough to sell the heart…to persuade the limbic brain of something it is programmed to desire — proximity to power. The assumptions that he is a rock or movie star is an aspect of what Cialdini calls the rhetorical technique of commitment/consistency…the neocortical brain needing to rationalize what the limbic brain has already decided to be true.