Recent Articles

Free climb of “Dawn Wall”

| January 20, 2015 | Reply

I’m not a climber. This climb at Yosemite is beyond words.

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Spinning Sculptures

| January 19, 2015 | Reply

I really enjoyed seeing these sculptures come alive when they were spun.

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How to stop procrastinating

| January 12, 2015 | Reply

I don’t know whether I’m a typical procrastinator. I avoid unpleasant and difficult tasks by doing difficult tasks that I enjoy. I’m not a time-waster, but the effect is the same: I repeatedly struggle to get finished with projects that I deem to be the most important.

I paused my “modified” procrastinating for a moment and decided to post on this summary by Eric Barker, who consistently does a good job of posting on self-improvement topics.

The take home is this, but do check out the article, which is filled with useful links:

  • You don’t need more willpower. You need to build a solid habit that helps you get to work.
  • Getting started is the tricky part. Turn that habit into a “personal starting ritual.” It can even have some fun to it as long as it signals that in a few minutes, it’s time to get cranking.
  • The most powerful habits change how you see yourself. Think about what makes you feel like someone who gets things done and make that a part of your starting ritual.
  • Eat chocolate with friends. Maybe not literally, but it’s a good reminder that you need both rewards and a support network to build rock solid new habits.

Here’s one other excellent article by Eric Barker, along the same lines:
How To Stop Being Lazy And Get More Done – 5 Expert Tips. I do like the idea of scheduling EVERYTHING, and not simply making to-do lists. Point two of the list below is also golden.

  • To-Do Lists Are Evil. Schedule Everything.
  • Assume You’re Going Home at 5:30, Then Plan Your Day Backwards
  • Make A Plan For The Entire Week
  • Do Very Few Things, But Be Awesome At Them
  • Less Shallow Work, Focus On The Deep Stuff

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“The Imitation Game” is a poor imitation.

| January 12, 2015 | Reply

Saw “The Imitation Game” last night. Lots of eye candy (elaborate scenery, extras, vintage war footage) but as is so often the case, the film-makers forgot to pay enough attention to the screen play, which made cartoons of Alan Turing, his thought process and those he worked with. I can barely recommend it, despite that fact that his story is so incredibly compelling, heroic and, in the end, sad.

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The Best Questions For A First Date

| January 6, 2015 | Reply

Fascinating research indicates that certain questions one can ask on a date serve as proxies for complex realities. This is from OKCupid’s blog in 2011, but still quite relevant.

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Eight ways to get money out of politics

| January 2, 2015 | Reply

How can ordinary citizens help to get money out of politics? Here are eight ways, courtesy of Bill Moyers.

1) AMEND THE CONSTITUTION
2) AMERICAN ANTI-CORRUPTION ACT
3) GRASSROOTS AND PUBLIC FINANCING
4) NH REBELLION
6) FEC REGULATION
7) EXECUTIVE ORDERS
8) MONEY-BOMBS

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How to make better decisions

| January 1, 2015 | 1 Reply

Eric Barker’s summary:

The five step process for making better decisions:
Maintain a feeling of control over your situation.
Emotional preparation. Consider how things could be worse.
Monitor your breathing.
Controlled empathy.
Ask “What advice would I give my best friend in this situation?”

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About blacks, whites and the other so-called races

| December 27, 2014 | Reply

In the NYT, Carl Zimmer writes about the so-called races, based on real evidence:

In 1924, the State of Virginia attempted to define what it means to be white.

The state’s Racial Integrity Act, which barred marriages between whites and people of other races, defined whites as people “whose blood is entirely white, having no known, demonstrable or ascertainable admixture of the blood of another race.”

There was just one problem. As originally written, the law would have classified many of Virginia’s most prominent families as not white, because they claimed to be descended from Pocahontas.

So the Virginia legislature revised the act, establishing what came to be known as the “Pocahontas exception.” Virginians could be up to one-sixteenth Native American and still be white in the eyes of the law.

People who were one-sixteenth black, on the other hand, were still black.’

On average, the scientists found, people who identified as African-American had genes that were only 73.2 percent African. European genes accounted for 24 percent of their DNA, while .8 percent came from Native Americans.

Latinos, on the other hand, had genes that were on average 65.1 percent European, 18 percent Native American, and 6.2 percent African. The researchers found that European-Americans had genomes that were on average 98.6 percent European, .19 percent African, and .18 Native American.

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The Bible: The most unread cherished book in the world.

The Bible: The most unread cherished book in the world.

| December 26, 2014 | 8 Replies

If one really studies the Bible, one won’t find much, if anything, about homosexuality. One will find plenty of verses telling women to shut up, telling people not to engage in public displays of prayer and telling people to not criticize their politicians.

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