Monthly Archives: January 2017
Monthly Archives: January 2017
500 million people entrapped in the recent careless thoughts of a Harvard Sophomore.
Jaron Lanier, a master programmer and virtual reality pioneer, writes a book about the ways people “reduce themselves” in order to make a computer’s description of them appear more accurate.
In Lanier’s view, there is no perfect computer analogue for a person. We all profess to know this, but when we get online it becomes easy to forget. In Facebook, as it is with other online social networks, life is turned into a database, and this is a degradation.
These designs came together very recently, and there’s a haphazard, accidental quality to them. Resist the easy grooves they guide you into. If you love a medium made of software, there’s a danger that you will become entrapped in someone else’s careless thoughts. Fight against this!
When a human being becomes a set of data on a website like Facebook, he or she is reduced. Everything shrinks. Individual character. Friendships. Language. Sensibility. We’re preoccupied with personal trivia because that’s what Mark Zukerberg thinks friendship is.
Step back from your Facebook Wall for a moment: doesn’t it, suddenly, look a little ridiculous? Your life in this format?
You Are Not A Gadget: A Manifesto. Your comments are welcome below.
To find happiness we try to avoid or get rid of bad feelings, but the harder we try, the more bad feelings we create.
Russ Harris writes that everything we believe about happiness is inaccurate, misleading or false. These beliefs make us miserable – our very efforts to find happiness actually prevent us from achieving it. Everyone is in the same boat – including all those psychologists, psychiatrists, and self-help gurus who claim they have the answers.
The overwhelming majority of self-help programs subscribe to Myth 4. The basic claim is: if you challenge your negative thoughts or images and, instead, repeatedly fill your head with positive thoughts or images, you will find happiness. If only life were that simple!
It’s not that these techniques have no effect; they can often make you feel better temporarily. But they will not get rid of negative thoughts over the long term.
I’m willing to bet you’ve already tried countless times to think more positively about things, and yet those negative thoughts keep coming back, don’t they?
Thoughts, feelings, sensations, and memories are not that easy to control. It’s not that you don’t have any control over these things; it’s just that you have much less control than you thought. Or else why aren’t we all living in perpetual bliss?
The actual degree of control we have over our thoughts and feelings depends largely on how intense they are, and what situation we are in – the less intense the feelings and the less stressful the situation, the more control we have.
The more intense our thoughts and feelings are and the more stressful environment we are in, the less effective our attempts at control will be.
Increasing self-awareness is a start. Noticing your thoughts and feelings during the day, possibly keeping a journal. In order to better deal with unpleasant thoughts we can make room for them, instead of pushing them away. We can feel them, explore them. You can observe yourself thinking, using a powerful, but often under-appreciated aspect of the mind, that of the Observer Self. And you can clarify what is important to you by understanding and connecting with your values and taking action to realize them.
The Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and Start Living. You Comments Welcome below.
What does it do to a person's soul when they have a reason to look forward to the death of a loved one?
Stephen M. Pollan writes that our approach to money, career, and much else in life is outmoded, based on principles and beliefs that come from the past. Your fear of dying broke is an early twentieth-century fear carried forward to twenty-first-century life.
Having a mercantile approach doesn’t mean obsessing over money. It simply means using your job to generate the money you need to pursue your goals, rather than looking to the job itself to fulfill those goals. A career is simply a series of such jobs viewed from above and placed in some kind of context. And a life’s work need not be what is done on the job.Forget about retirement. Look at your working life as a lifelong journey up and down hills rather than as a single climb up a steep cliff that ends with a fatal step off the edge at the arbitrary age of sixty-five.
Combined, the four points made in Die Broke offer an alternative way to plan our finances, lives and careers. We can view work not as a life-long slog that ends with freedom and steady decline, but as a series of adventures. Much will be done to earn us money, some will be done for enjoyment. That money will go further if we are frugal and save, taking advantage of tax benefits to put money away for retirement. That retirement should never come, though, as you may find it more profitable and enjoyable to keep working. You can also keep spending. Month-long trips abroad, studying Renaissance art in Italy, going to the cinema and theater more often…
“The last check should be to the undertaker…and it should bounce.”
Our lives are often ruled by fears, even for the most seemingly successful people.
Susan Jeffers’ classic on understanding and dealing with fears. How to turn your fear and indecision into confidence and action.
Everyone has fears in their life and they can be broken down into three levels.
Level One Fears. These are the surface story. Fears that happen such as aging, becoming disabled, retirement, being alone, children leaving home, natural disasters, loss of financial security, change, dying, war, illness. Also fears that require action such as going back to school, making decisions, changing career, making friends, ending or beginning a relationship, public speaking, using the telephone, asserting oneself, losing weight, being interviewed, driving.
Level Two Fears. Behind level one fears are level two fears, fears to do with the ego. Rejection, Success, Failure, Being Vulnerable, Being Conned, Helplessness, Disapproval, Loss of Image. All these fears are to do with inner states of mind. They are generalized fears and can affect many areas of a person’s life. A fear of rejection will affect friends, relationships, job interviews etc…
Level Three Fear. At the bottom of every fear is the fear that you can’t handle whatever life may throw at you. All fears all translate to the level three fear:
So Commit! Commit yourself to pushing through the fear and becoming more than you are at the present moment. The you that could be is absolutely colossal. You don’t need to change what you are doing – simply commit to learning how to bring whatever you do in life the loving and powerful energy of your Higher self.
Charles chose to rehabilitate himself after a being paralyzed from the waist down. Before the accident, Charles had been blind to the fact his life had meaning. Now he believes he was more handicapped before the accident; only since then has he derived satisfaction from living.
Genuine giving is altruistic and makes us feel better. Give away your thanks, time, money, and love. When we give from a place of love, rather than a place of expectation, we usually get more back to us than we imagine.
Feel the Fear And Do it Anyway: Comment Welcome Below.
Seth Godin writes a book on quitting, specifically strategic quitting. Every new project (or career or relationship) starts out exciting and fun. Then it gets harder and less fun, until it hits a low point – really hard, really not fun. At this point you may be in a Dip, which will get better if you keep pushing, or a Cul-de-Sac, which will never get better no matter how hard you try.
It benefits to know which one you are in.
The market wants to see you persist. It demands a signal from you that you’re serious, powerful, accepted, and safe. The bulk of a market, any market, is made up of those folks who are in the middle of the bell curve, the ones who want to buy something proven and valued.
You know it, but you may not be doing anything about it. When it comes right down to it, right down to the hard decisions, are you quitting any project that isn’t a Dip? Or is it just easier not to rock the boat, to hang in there, to avoid the short-term hassle or changing paths?
Superstars are in fields with steep Dips. There is a barrier between those who try and those who succeed. This isn’t for everyone, that’s why there are so few Superstars. To succeed in the Dip you need to quit all your Cul-de-Sacs. You must quit all the projects, investments and endeavors that don’t offer you the same opportunity.
A New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestseller
Knowing When to Quit (And When to Stick). Comment Welcome below.
The tragedy of old age and death cannot be fixed by medicine.
A surgeon, Atul Gawande, writes a book on mortality, the inevitability of decline and the how our medical systems fails us in the end. No matter how careful or healthy we are, we – like everyone else – will one day die. Most likely after a long period of decline and debility.
The waning days of our lives are given over to treatments that addle our brains and sap our bodies for a sliver’s chance of benefit. They are spent in institutions—nursing homes and intensive care units—where regimented, anonymous routines cut us off from all the things that matter to us in life. Our reluctance to examine the experience of aging and dying has increased the harm we inflict on people and denied them the basic comforts they most need.
No one ever has control. Physics and biology and accident have their way in our lives. But the point is that we are not helpless either. Courage is the strength to recognize both realities. We have room to act, to shape our stories, though as time goes on it is within narrower and narrower confines.
A few conclusions become clear when we understand this: that our most cruel failure is how we treat the sick and the aged is the failure to recognize that they have priorities beyond being safe and living longer.
That the chance to shape one’s story is essential to sustaining meaning in life; that we have the opportunity to refashion our institutions, our culture, and our conversations in ways that transform the possibilities for the last chapters of everyone’s lives.
Our mortality is often something we need reminding about. Around the age of forty a person begins to lose muscle mass and power. As we age lung capacity decreases, bowls slow down, glands stop functioning, even our brain shrinks. By the age of seventy there is a inch of space in the skull that wasn’t there before and falls can easily lead to cerebral bleeding.
The progress in medical and public health has been remarkable. We no longer keel over at thirty. For most of us the end is not sudden and dramatic, but a slow deterioration of health. A decline, then a plateau, then another deterioration. Travelling along these downhill stretches we often regard the declines as embarrassments.
We regard dependence as weakness and hold up examples of the long tail as something we should all aspire to. Often the medical system supports us in these aspirations, providing minimal-benefit treatments or striving to keep us alive no matter the cost – both physically and mentally.
Hard talks matter. Before under-going any treatment Gawande implores us discuss and understand what matters to us most and what we are willing to risk.
We Are All Mortal: End of Life Care’s Importance. Your comments welcome below.
We are not alone on earth. There are several highly intelligent, emphatic species right here within our midst.
Carl Safina’s ground-breaking book details the richness of animals inner lives. He offers compelling evidence that large brained animals – the great apes, killer whales, bottle-nosed dolphins, elephants and wolves, have emotions and cultures that are richer than previously thought.
So strong is elephant empathy that they sometimes bury their dead, and will return repeatedly to the skeleton of a deceased matriarch to fondle her tusks and bones. When the Amboseli matriarch Eleanor was dying, the matriarch Grace approached her, her facial glands streaming with emotion, and tried to lift her to her feet.
Grace stayed with the stricken Eleanor through the night of her death, and on the third day Eleanor’s family and closest friend Maya visited the corpse. A week after the death the family returned again to express what can only be called their grief.
A researcher once played the recording of a deceased elephant’s voice to its family. The creatures went wild searching for their lost relative, and the dead elephant’s daughter called for days after.
While the evidence put forward that gun controls work is compelling, gun-control measures are unlikely to strengthen.
New books look at guns, mass shootings and the victims from the angles of those both for and against stricter gun laws.
In “Another Day in the Death of America”, a journalist, Gary Younge, examines the most excruciating gun casualties of all: children and teenagers. The book recounts the stories of the ten young people, aged 19 or under, who were shot and killed on the arbitrarily selected date of Saturday November 23rd 2013.
The result is a sharp portrait of America, painted in blood. The victims are white, black and Latino (though mainly the latter two), from all over the country. For example: A nine-year-old shot by his mother’s vengeful ex-boyfriend. An eleven year-old shot in the head by a friend as they played with a rifle. A sixteen year old killed by a friend while goofing around with a pistol they had bought.
In “Rampage Nation”, Louis Klarevas, a security expert, looks at mass shootings, such as the school massacres at Sandy Hook and Virginia Tech. These types of attacks are the most well known and documented but they account for only a small number of firearm homicides.
All violent crimes, Mr Klarevas notes, are composed of a perpetrator, a target and a weapon. Preventing them involves removing at least one of those elements. But the perpetrators of gun massacres cannot be deterred (most already plan to die); anyone can be a target, and protecting everyone all the time is impossible. The only plausible strategy is to restrict sales of guns that rapidly fire large numbers of bullets.
By Gary Younge. Nation Books; 267 pages; $25.99.
Guardian Faber; £16.99.
By Louis Klarevas.Prometheus;
397 pages; $25.
By Cody Wilson. Gallery Books; 320 pages; $26.
People want more than just freedom and choice. They want to belong, they want community rooted in something shared and they want to find meaning beyond themselves.
Nick Spencer argues that the positive effects of the West’s Christian history are downplayed and that it still has role to play in people’s lives.
People still want more than just freedom and choice. They want to belong, they want community rooted in something shared and they want to find meaning beyond themselves.
Having arrived at the secular self we kept on searching.
By Nick Spencer.
SPCK; 190 pages; £9.99.
How Christianity Has Shaped Our Values. Comments welcome below.
Much like the American West, a people are being destroyed by a dominant, more populous and aggressive culture.
The Economist writes a briefing on the effects of modernization and China’s administrative methods on Tibetan culture. Social transformation sometimes welcome, often resented.
The Dalai Lama accuses China’s government of “cultural genocide”, a fear echoed by a tour guide in Qinghai, one of five provinces across which most of the country’s 6m Tibetans are scattered “We know what happened to the Jews,” he says. “We are fighting for our existence.”
Less commonly told is the despair felt by many young Tibetans who feel shut out of China’s boom. They are victims of Tibet’s remote and forbidding topography as well as of racial prejudice and the Chinese Communist party’s anti-separatist zeal. They often cannot migrate to coastal factories, and few factories will come to them.
Even fluent Mandarin speakers rarely find jobs outside their region.
Chinese and foreigners alike have long romanticized Tibet’s high-altitude vastness, Buddhist culture and simple nomadic economy, seeing in it a place of peace and tranquility. The reality for Tibetan’s is different.
China’s campaign to eradicate support for the Dalai Lhama and ensure no further uprisings, has broken whatever peace they had. Even nursery school’s often teach in Mandarin Chinese. A singer who tried to protect the language was imprisoned for three years. Educated Tibetan’s are co-opted into Han government positions. Tibet’s economic wealth flows to Han migrants and Tibetan society falls under strict Han control.
See also: Free Tibet a charity that promotes the rights of Tibetan’s.
Tibet: Cultural Genocide. Your comments are welcome below.