The Incredible Journey of Plants

11th November 2020

Cheery Friday Greetings to our Learning How to Learners!

Book of the Week

The Incredible Journey of Plants, by Stefano Mancuso. Have you ever wondered how avocados spread their seeds when their pits are so large? (Hint, when the mammoths died out, avocados almost did, too.) Or where the world’s most forlorn trees reside? Or what happened to the trees that survived the blast at Hiroshima? This oddly appealing book by neurobiologist Stefano Mancuso of the University of Florence (translated from the Italian by Gregory Conti), describes Mancuso’s unlikely admiration for invasive species and unusual plant survival-and-spread stories. 

As Mancuso notes: “One plant that truly has a terrible reputation in many parts of the world, and with all of the national and agencies involved in some way with invasive plants, is without a doubt the Eichhornia crassipes, or water hyacinth. Its rapid diffusion and its sovereign contempt for the vast majority of means with which humanity tries to fight it have combined to make it commonly considered the worst aquatic invasive species known to humanity. Furthermore, it has the dubious privilege of membership in the elite club of the ‘100 worst invasive species’ established by the Invasive Species Study Group… In short, deemed the vegetable personification of evil, it is hated by everyone. Without reservation. As you might imagine, it is exactly the kind of flora non grata that I find irresistible.” 

Gotta love such a contrarian, who also sagely observes that attempts to eradicate invasive species often simply make matters worse. Looking for a fun, yet nicely calming reading experience in today’s turbulent times? Settle back and enjoy!

Dan Pink’s Wonderful Masterclass on Sales and Persuasion

We are huge fans of Dan Pink’s books.  (See, for example, his recent Time: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing.) So when Barb discovered that Dan’s Masterclass on Sales and Persuasion came out recently, she dropped everything to watch every video. It’s a wonderful class, chock full of clever strategies for everything from persuading a teenager to clean his unkempt room, to getting your boss to buy you a new computer system, to keeping yourself upbeat in the face of rejection and failure. Dan is a genuinely caring  instructor-persuader who epitomizes his own statement: “To be a good persuader, the best way to do that is to be a decent human being.”

Feel Free to Do a Good Deed for the Day 🙂

If you liked Learning How to Learn and the course textbook it was based on, A Mind for Numbers, feel free to upvote some of the positive reviews on Amazon. Several negative reviews have crept up to the front page—they were left, it seems, by people who have barely glanced at the book. (One review, for example, refers to Barb, the author, as a “he.”) Upvoting reviews you agree with, given your more thorough knowledge base, will help balance the perspectives with more informed insights.

Satirist Tom Lehrer has put his songs into the public domain

We’ve long been fans of Tom Lehrer, who taught at MIT while moonlighting to write bizarre, yet delightful songs such as “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park,” and “The Masochism Tango.” His “New Math” skewered educational approaches that just made children’s learning more difficult.  As Lehrer notes:

“But in the new approach, as you know, the important thing is to understand what you’re doing, rather than to get the right answer.” 


“…don’t panic! Base eight is just like base ten really – if you’re missing two fingers.”

Great news for all of us, Lehrer has put virtually his entire set of works into the public domain. Enjoy! [Hat tip: Pat Peterson.]

5 Reasons You Won’t Complete Your Online Course

This wonderful podcast by “Mother of Abundance” Xina Gooding Broderick gives an upbeat message about how to be successful in your online learning.  Agree or not with her approaches, Xina’s inspirational suggestions will help you towards success. Xina has a great deal of project management experience and is also a qualified funeral home director—she knows how to mitigate risks and coach us into a life with minimal regrets.

Discussing Concepts of the Book Breath

if you’re curious about any of the concepts mentioned in last week’s “Book of the Year” Breath, by James Nestor, and want to explore them with other LHTLer’s, come hang out in the forum! (Just update your session or go directly to the main discussion forum if you have trouble accessing the link.)

When it comes to breathing issues, you are not alone. Some members of our community are already working with Dr. Ted Belfor, the inventor of the Homeoblock device mentioned in the book, to breathe better. (And apologies, the author is James, not as mentioned last week, Mark, Nestor!)

That’s all for this week. Have a happy week in Learning How to Learn!

Barb, Terry, and the entire Learning How to Learn team

View more Cheery Friday e-mails >