Recent Articles

Lack of human connectedness as the cause of “addiction”

This article at Huffpo argues that addiction cannot be found as internal chemical hooks, but rather as a symptom of human boredom and isolation:

The rats with good lives didn’t like the drugged water. They mostly shunned it, consuming less than a quarter of the drugs the isolated rats used. None of them died. While all the rats who were alone and unhappy became heavy users, none of the rats who had a happy environment did.

At first, I thought this was merely a quirk of rats, until I discovered that there was — at the same time as the Rat Park experiment — a helpful human equivalent taking place. It was called the Vietnam War. Time magazine reported using heroin was “as common as chewing gum” among U.S. soldiers, and there is solid evidence to back this up: some 20 percent of U.S. soldiers had become addicted to heroin there, according to a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. Many people were understandably terrified; they believed a huge number of addicts were about the head home when the war ended.

But in fact some 95 percent of the addicted soldiers — according to the same study — simply stopped. Very few had rehab. They shifted from a terrifying cage back to a pleasant one, so didn’t want the drug any more.

January 22, 2015 | By | 1 Reply More

Ignorance about income disparity in the United States

According to this article in Slate, Americans are ignorant of how outrageous wealth disparity is in the United States:

According to the Harvard study, most people believe that the top 20 percent of the country owns about half the nation’s wealth, and that the lower 60 percent combined, including the 20 percent in the middle, have only about 20 percent of the wealth. A whopping 92 percent of Americans think this is out of whack; in the ideal distribution, they said, the lower 60 percent would have about half of the wealth, with the middle 20 percent of the people owning 20 percent of the wealth.What’s astonishing about this is how wrong Americans are about reality. In fact, the bottom 80 percent owns only 7 percent of the nation’s wealth, and the top 1 percent hold more of the country’s wealth – 40 percent – than 9 out of 10 people think the top 20 percent should have. The top 10 percent of earners take home half the income of the country; in 2012, the top 1 percent earned more than a fifth of U.S. income – the highest share since the government began collecting the data a century ago.

January 22, 2015 | By | 1 Reply More

Free climb of “Dawn Wall”

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

January 20, 2015 | By | Reply More

Spinning Sculptures

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

January 19, 2015 | By | Reply More

How to stop procrastinating

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
January 12, 2015 | By | Reply More

“The Imitation Game” is a poor imitation.

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.

January 12, 2015 | By | Reply More

The Best Questions For A First Date

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.

January 6, 2015 | By | Reply More

Eight ways to get money out of politics

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

January 2, 2015 | By | Reply More

How to make better decisions

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?”

January 1, 2015 | By | 1 Reply More