If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.

E.B. White

Dear Lost-And-Confused,

Don’t we all just want someone to tell us what to do when we’re lost? I do sometimes. And – don’t even try to deny it – so do you. The best advice is given when you sit up straight in bed en someone who really loves and cares for you tells you – while tucking you in – that everything will be fine (maybe add a cookie to the mix). But since we won’t always be nine years old – and at some point you rather take advice from someone else than your mother – it’s a reassuring thing to know there are always people who love to give advice.

Some advice comes with camera’s and a moralistic moustache man who wears a gold watch, but even with millions of viewers, for me it’s just not cutting it. Real advice – for me – should leave something to the imagination. I love eavesdropping on other people’s questions/problems. It’s even kind of a theme on my blog (see post secret post). It’s not so much that I like that other people have problems, but I love the fact that problems make people real. And with everyone trying to paint their own perfect picture these days it’s refreshing to read problems and advice that is given. I prefer to read it sitting up in my bed, something must have stuck.

Didn’t anyone tell you pointing is rude?

Reading an advice column is something that I love and would like to share with you. Reading leaves so much up to the imagination. That’s why TV – for me – is a poor medium for giving advice to viewers. Because I don’t only love to read peoples questions/problems and the advice given, but also the nicknames they choose, the way they work up to their question, the name they choose and if they already seem to know the answer. When advice starts with: Dear Lost In So Many Ways, I’m already hooked. Radio works for advice too, but that’s a whole other story.

Anyroad, my favorite advice column is by Emily Yoffe (doesn’t the tilted head make you feel comfortable?) a woman (it should always be a woman) who gives advice in a way that is honest, interesting and straight forward. I imagine her baking an apple-pie every time before answering questions and that her house is filled with the smell of it. But that – probably is just me. In real life she might as well eat microwave dinners every day. Either way, her weekly advice is called Dear Prudence, (love that) and it covers all kinds of questions from (sometimes desperate) writers. It’s not about being funny or clever, but really about giving good advice to people who want or need it. So you should sign up for the weekly newsletter if you like what you are reading so far.

And to get your attention, here are some of the most bizarre, heartbreaking and interesting questions from the past couple of weeks.

My stepdaughter hit on me after my wife’s death. What should I do?

Should I Leave My Infertile Partner?

My Gay Husband. He’s closeted, but I don’t mind. Should I set him free anyway?

Brotherly Love. My twin and I share an earth-shattering secret that could devastate our family—should we reveal it?

Check it out now!
PS My comments are open to anyone who needs advice… or otherwise use prudence@slate.com.

Solving stuff-that-really-matters (X)

Sometimes it’s nice to think about all the really important things we – as humankind – have accomplished. I’m not talking about Crocs, all-you-can-eat-buffets, reality t.v. or [insert random country] Got Talent. No, I’m talking about going to the moon, being able to get a heart transplant, 747’s getting off the ground or wireless data communication. Technology and dream driven achievements. Not only to meet (or create)  consumers needs, but really life changing inventions. We have all that possibility and yet it still proofs impossible to get everyone clean drinking water. Strange right? So are we going backwards in a way? What things are we working on right now? What will change our future? Interesting questions and important questions. Wouldn’t it be nice to hear some great new ideas and thinkers about these subjects? It would wouldn’t it? And yes, I know it’s not the most sexy thing to see or listen to, but that’s okay, it’s not intended to be sexy. So if you’re still with me I’d like to tell you about:

A forum to encourage and amplify technology-based moonshot thinking and teamwork.

Like that sentence? Me too. The forum is called ‘Solve for X’ and on their site you can listen to different speakers who talk about – and tackle – things that can and/or should be. So, no science fiction hocus pocus… really. Well, maybe a bit, but that’s where great idea’s can come from too. It’s thinking outside of the box that really brings us forward.

Beam me there, Scotty.  

I just love letters. Just letters, love letters… all of them!

There is something magical about letters that email cannot offer. Forever lost when a shoebox of memories is thrown away, instead of forever on some chilled servers in silicon valley. The history of correspondence is almost as rich as modern history itself. Most letters are quite personal too. So, if you aren’t a big writer yourself (or born in the 90’s), chances are you missed out.

That’s where the site Letters of Note comes in. It’s dedicated to give you ‘correspondence deserving a wider audience’. And that’s about as broad as you can get. From replies to fan mail (Lennon, Iggy Pop, Conan) to correspondence between ‘famous people’ (Bob Dylan and Jeff Buckley) or an instruction to baseball players from 1898 to use less offensive language (see below). Well, you get my drift, there is a lot to read. Just wonderful stuff really. So if you’re ever in need of spending your time online, with this site procrastinating just got better.

My personal favorite letter from the site is one with great historical value. A real important piece of history. It’s from a former slave who writes back to his ‘old master’ who requested him to come back and work on his farm. But don’t take my word for it: read it here!

And don’t forget to keep writing yourself. Because the world would be much less interesting without (handwritten) letters, and – be honest now- who doesn’t get a wee bit excited when they find an old-fashioned envelope with your name on it on the doormat?

The End Of Poverty? – Watch It!

There are lots of ‘life changing’ video’s on YouTube. The site is one of the great inventions for the digital community. Right know it’s just mind-blowing to think of the amount of (digital) film that is available on it, but that’s a whole different story. This post is about video’s that give you a new perspective and make you think about things you always took for granted. For example: ‘sneezing panda‘ changed my outlook on panda’s completely. I just thought of them as cute-looking bears who will steal your bamboo when you’re not looking, but now I know they are almost as cute as hello kitty and are able to sneeze (quite loud, I must add). But on a more serious note – this post is not supposed to be about short and funny YouTube video’s, the opposite actually – I recommend you to watch a rather long and serious documentary about the origin of poverty. It’s a real eye-opener and definitely worth the 105 minutes of your day (or life). It comes highly recommended by quite a few well known people like Julian Casablancas (The Strokes) and Stephen Fry and is narrated by Martin Sheen. You can watch it instead of the new Ashton Kutcher ‘romantic’ ‘comedy’ I know you were just about to rent (busted!). It’s the right thing to do and you don’t even have to occupy something!

‘The irony would be that we know what we are doing’. – Kurt Vonnegut