Recent Articles

The cost of interruptions

When I’m trying to write, I really get frustrated with interruptions. That’s why I try to write at times when interruptions will be limited, and I turn off my phone and close my email while I write.

Today I discovered that the effects of interruptions have been measured. This stunning conclusion is complements of Gloria Mark, Professor in the Department of Informatics at the University of California, Irvine:

How long does it take people to get back on task? We found about 82 percent of all interrupted work is resumed on the same day. But here’s the bad news — it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task.

The article offers that not all interruptions are the same, and in fact, some interruptions are beneficial. However, the author of this article echoes my own general frustration:

Are we becoming more superficial thinkers? I argue that when people are switching contexts every 10 and half minutes they can’t possibly be thinking deeply. There’s no way people can achieve flow. When I write a research article, it takes me a couple of hours before I can even begin to think creatively. If I was switching every 10 and half minutes, there’s just no way I’d be able to think deeply about what I’m doing. This is really bad for innovation. When you’re on the treadmill like this, it’s just not possible to achieve flow.

April 23, 2017 | By | Reply More

Career shift in the works . . .

In addition to my career as a lawyer, I’ve been blogging for years, but I’m going to turn more toward investigative reporting in coming years. I haven’t determined the details yet, but this idea energizes me and encompasses much of my training in the legal field, as well as my interests in photography and creating videos. Over the years I’ve attended national conferences of Free Press, which instilled the idea that high quality journalism is valuable, whether it be created by a big organization or by a citizen journalist.

In the meantime, Bill Moyers offers this list of organizations that do high quality investigative reporting. I’m familiar with most of these, but I just made sure that I’m signed up to receive email newsletters from each of these organizations. I’ll continue sharing links to selected articles on FB and on this website, Dangerous Intersection.

Moyers’ List includes:

1. ProPublica 
2. The Center for Public Integrity (CPI)  
3. The Center For Investigative Reporting (CIR) —
4. Frontline 
5. Mother Jones 
6. The Intercept 
7. Real Clear Investigations 
8. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) 
9. Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) 
10. BuzzFeed 

April 13, 2017 | By | Reply More

Insanity in every corner in these times of needless war

We have reached unprecedented levels of dysfunction on both the political right and the political left. I agree with each of these conclusions by Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept:

1. New wars will always strengthen Trump: as they do for every leader.
2. Democrats’ jingoistic rhetoric has left them no ability – or desire – to oppose Trump’s wars.
3. In wartime, US television instantly converts into state media.
4. Trump’s bombing is illegal, but presidents are now omnipotent.
5. How can those who view Trump as an Inept Fascist now trust him to wage war?
6. Like all good conspiracy theories, no evidence can kill the Kremlin-controls-Trump tale.
7. The fraud of humanitarianism works every time for (and on) American elites.
8. Support for Trump’s Bombing Shows Two Toxic U.S. Conceits: “Do Something” and “Look Strong”
9. Obama’s refusal to bomb Assad hovers over everything.
10. None of this disproves, obviously, that Hillary Clinton was also a dangerous hawk.

April 12, 2017 | By | Reply More

Zach the King (of Magic)

I just stumbled across Zach the King. Delightful video editing and fun vignettes.

April 9, 2017 | By | Reply More

More Quotes . . .

A good quote is a novel in a sentence or two. That’s good payback for impatient people like me, who struggle to sit still long enough to read entire novels. I make a point of collecting engaging quotes wherever I read them, though, and I’ve published more than 100 groups of quotes over the years here at DI. This group includes quotes originated by two of my friends, Andy Wahl and Dale Irwin.  Here’s the latest batch from my collection:

“If it can be destroyed by the truth, it deserves to be destroyed by the truth.”

― Carl Sagan

When you add it all up, it’s not uncommon for a single child to cost a normal, middle-class family something like $1.1 million, from birth through the undergrad years. To get some perspective, the median price of a home in 2008 was $180,100. It is commonly said that buying a house is the biggest purchase most Americans will ever make. Having a baby is like buying six houses. Except that they don’t increase in value, you can’t sell them and after 16 years they’ll probably say they hate you.

Jonathan Last – Wall Street Journal http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052970203917304574413792994350108

“Do the next right thing.”
– Dale Irwin (Kansas City Attorney).

Psychological discernment is not as difficult as one might think: Those who have eyes to see and ears to hear soon become convinced that mortals cannot keep a secret. He whose lips are sealed talks with his fingertips; disclosure oozes out of his every pore.

– Sigmund Freud “Fragment of an Analysis of Hysteria,” (1901-5), VI, 148

“Knowledge is learning something new every day. Wisdom is letting go of something every day.”

– ZEN PROVERB

You can look the other way once, and it’s no big deal, except it makes it easier for you to compromise the next time, and pretty soon that’s all you’re doing; compromising, because that’s the way you think things are done. You know those guys I busted? You think they were the bad guys? Because they weren’t, they weren’t bad guys. They were just like you and me. Except they compromised… Once.

Jack Bauer – From the opening episode of “24,” Season One.

“Our virtues and our failings are inseparable, like force and matter. When they separate, man is no more.”

― Nikola Tesla

“I love you because the entire universe conspired to help me find you.”
– Paulo Coelho

“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
Henry David Thoreau

“Adventure is just bad planning.”

Roald Amundsen

April 1, 2017 | By | Reply More

Americans Need Less Self-Esteem

From Eric Barker’s blog:

“Research shows self-esteem doesn’t cause all those good things. It’s just a side effect of healthy behavior. So artificially boosting it doesn’t work.”

From Kristin Neff’s Book Self-Compassion:

In one influential review of the self-esteem literature, it was concluded that high self-esteem actually did not improve academic achievement or job performance or leadership skills or prevent children from smoking, drinking, or taking drugs. If anything, high self-esteem appears to be the consequence rather than the cause of healthy behaviors.

What does raising self-esteem do? It probably increases narcissism. So what do we need instead of self-esteem? Self-compassion. Stop lying to yourself that you’re so awesome. Instead, focus on forgiving yourself when you’re not. In my upcoming book I talk about why self-compassion beats self-esteem.

So why does compassion succeed where self-esteem fails? Because self-esteem is always either delusional or contingent, neither of which lead to good things. To always feel like you’re awesome you need to either divorce yourself from reality or be on a treadmill of constantly proving your value. At some point you won’t measure up, which then craters your self-esteem. Not to mention relentlessly proving yourself is exhausting and unsettling. Self-compassion lets you see the facts and accept that you’re not perfect. As famed psychologist Albert Ellis once said, “Self-esteem is the greatest sickness known to man or woman because it’s conditional.” People with self-compassion don’t feel the need to constantly prove themselves, and research shows they are less likely to feel like a “loser.”

March 26, 2017 | By | Reply More

What Ails the United States Beyond Health Insurance Reform

According to this article from the conservative leaning National Review, the current debate needs to be much broader than health insurance. Who could possibly disagree with that? The article includes a stunning graph tracking middle-age mortality, and a even more stunning video-mapping of the increasing obesity across the US. Here’s a haunting quote by the author, David French:

As Congress debated Obamacare repeal, I had lunch with a local critical-care doctor who seemed oddly indifferent to the outcome. His is a world dominated by addiction. “If it weren’t for addicts,” he says, “I wouldn’t have a job.” The intensive-care unit is overrun with people addicted to drugs, to alcohol, to food, and to tobacco. Insurance matters to the economics of the hospital, but it doesn’t matter so much to the quality of its patients’ immediate care or to their ultimate health outcome. They’re killing themselves, and the best health care and the most luxurious “Cadillac” health plans won’t stop their slide into oblivion.

March 25, 2017 | By | 2 Replies More

The Problems with Obamacare and the need for Single Payer.

Ryan Cooper comments at The Week:

ObamaCare plays to precisely the opposite of America’s strengths. Instead of being a simple,

straightforward program to hand out insurance coverage — the policy equivalent of a honking great axe — it’s got complex regulations, fiddly quasi-market structures, and mandates everywhere you look — the policy equivalent of the repair box from Toy Story 2. It should be no surprise that many of those regulations do not completely fix the problems they were intended to address, or are effectively ignored. We need simpler, bigger, blunter tools, and single-payer fits the bill.

March 25, 2017 | By | 1 Reply More

It’s time to help raise lots of money for Melania Trump

It’s stunningly clear that Melania Trump can’t stand Don’t Trump, yet she is still married to him. That she is extremely uncomfortable around Donald is increasingly clear from widely available photos and videos of the two of them.  And see here.  Recent revelations suggest Melania despises Donald and won’t sleep with him.  Further, Melania has no intention of living in the White House even though it’s a big house with a lot of room for the entire family.  So why does she stay with him?  And why won’t she go public with detailed stories about Donald’s misconduct and potential illegalities?

When Donald Trump married Melania Knauss we know for a fact that he forced her to sign a prenuptial agreement.   That agreement is carefully hidden from public view, but we know enough about Trump’s love of money and power, as well as his vindictiveness and narcissism, that we can assume that the prenup is laden with incentives to keep Melania well-behaved and quiet.

But why limit the legal restrictions to a prenup? There are additional types of contracts that Trump could have foisted on Melania, before or since the wedding. Imagine that you were a psychopath like Trump?  What else would you entice Melenia to sign? How about non-disclosure agreements and non-disparagement agreements laden with penalties for whispering even a word about Donald’s dirty laundry? The Donald Trump we all know would rig his agreements with Melania so that she would be financially incentivized dress up pretty, quietly stand there to look like a wife but keep her mouth shut.   Donald Trump’s penalty-filled contracts with Melania, crafted by the best lawyers money can buy, would make sure that Melania would end up destitute if dishes Donald’s dirt.  None of this is difficult to imagine.

What do we need to do to hear Melania’s front-row seat stories about Trump’s double-dealing, lying, betrayals and illegalities?   What if we set up a “Free Melania!” GoFundMe page?  What if we raised enough money for Melania to share copies of the contracts Donald made her sign?  What if we raised so much money that even a gold-digger like Melania would have enough money to live on after she files the divorce papers and tells all?

March 24, 2017 | By | Reply More