Month: November 2013
RSA Animate – Re-Imagining Work
How can we get people more engaged, more productive, and happier at work? Is technology part of the problem – and could it also be part of the solution? Dave Coplin, Chief Envisioning Officer at Microsoft, imagines what might be possible if more organization embraced the full, empowering potential of technology and encouraged a truly open, collaborative and flexible working culture.
“Work is no longer a Destination!”
Neel Burton is a psychiatrist, philosopher and writer who lives and teaches in Oxford. In this interesting article he proposes a different perspective of altruism.
“Altruistic acts are self-interested, if not because they relieve anxiety, then perhaps because they lead to pleasant feelings of pride and satisfaction; the expectation of honor or reciprocation; or the greater likelihood of a place in heaven; and even if neither of the above, then at least because they relieve unpleasant feelings such as the guilt or shame of not having acted at all.”
Ted’s best for the week
In this creative talk Ben Saunders (an explorer of limits) urges the audiences to consider carefully how to spend the “tiny amount of time we each have on this planet.”
“To try, to experience, to engage, to endeavor rather than to watch and to wonder, that’s where the real meat of life is to be found. It’s the juice that we can suck out of our hours and days,” says Saunders. “If I’ve learned anything from 12 years now of dragging heavy things around cold places, it’s that true, real inspiration and growth only comes from adversity and challenge, from stepping away from what’s comfortable and familiar and stepping out into the unknown.”
Person of the week, Simone de Beauvoir, the mother of modern feminism and a symbol of sexual freedom!
The one who upheld the issue of freedom for women, as the most desirable human condition, especially freedom of choice.
Women have reproductive role and the role of upbringing, said Beauvoir, and this is in part why women find it difficult to be free. However, the woman does not need to be defined by her uterus, it is possible to have a life outside of her reproductive functions.
One of her best-known books, The Second Sex, deals with the treatment of women throughout history and is often regarded as a major work of feminist philosophy and the starting point of second-wave feminism.
Her life is also known with her relationship with the famous philosopher and Nobel laureate Jean- Paul Sartre. They were one of the most celebrated intellectual unconventional couples. They met in 1929 and never got married or even lived together, but they dedicated themselves to each other agreeing to retain the freedom to be sexually and emotionally with others and up to sharing the details to each of these connections.
In her novel, ‘’The Second Sex’’ she explores the biological, psychoanalytic and Marxian explanations of women’s fate, understanding women in terms of “the other”, or what is not the self, which is secondary, inessential, and inferior. De Beauvoir assesses the history of relations between the poles from the time of the primitive society to modern era and looks at women’s sexuality and her relationship with a female “otherness”.
She observes the myths related to women, especially those who are attached to motherhood; examines representations of women in the novels of male authors and evaluates the evolution of the contemporary status of women from girl to womanhood as wives and mothers. She considers the special position of lesbians, independent woman and a career woman, and extensively analyzes the role of prostitutes, a role which she saw as one where women can, under certain conditions, use the “otherness” in order to take advantage of men.
« L’intellectuel est ainsi fait, il se mêle toujours de ce qu’il ne regard pas. » (Sartre sur pourquoi il se mêle dans les affaires d’autre)
In the past few months we witness an impressive amount of bloggers, articles (both academic and newspaper) and general conversation that are writing about and discussing the recent education revolution. I´m referring to the Massive Open Online Course, commonly known by the acronym MOOC. The MOOCs are the free virtual university classroom and it is the symbol of this new and exciting era where accessibility to knowledge was never simpler and more accessible.
You are probably thinking what the majority were saying in the first couple of years since 2008 (and what some still do today): ‘we don´t have time for that’ or ‘I already got a job’. Well, while this certainly is true, still, the MOOCs provide opportunity that before people can only dream of. Some, unfortunately, are working in places they do not really want to be (whether choosing it for practical reasons or extrinsic pressure) hence, now they can easily study what you always dreamed of. Then, whether or not you´ll be able to take it to the next level and actually making a profession of it, maybe, but you´ll never know unless you´d try. As always, the best thing about trying is not the success (a great motivation) but the experience and the skills we acquire while learning and evolving (the best motivation).
In today’s hyperactive world, as in practically anything we do, we will not pay too much attention if it has no utility to us -Probably some of you will stop reading after seeing this word “utility” but let’s face it, even though there is no romance in a phrase like this, it is still quite true.- Thus, MOOC is very successful exactly because it offers all the utility we need: desired knowledge and in a convenient time.
This is why I decided to make it easier to all of you that are knowledge addicts and put together a list of useful links to some of the many resources.
My own experience with online learning and virtual classroom started years ago when I first started viewing courses and podcasts through sites as Academ.org and LearnersTV and such. Later I upgraded to Google Academic Earth, with a large variety of courses from all subjects and a multitude of universities. While my passion is studies about Social Psychology and Social Science I also took listened and followed classes about Economics, Philosophy and Psychology (I even tried Mathematics but I admit that it wasn´t my cup of tea).
Today, thanks to innovators such as Andrew Ng (London, 1976), Daphne Koller (Jerusalem, 1968), Bestian Thrun (Solingen, 1967), Anant Argawal (Bombay, 1960) and many more we have platforms that not only provide us with the courses but also the framework for us to be able to take one step further towards making it an official diploma. Probably the biggest of all is Coursera with more than 17 million students from all over the world. The 400 classes are given in 83 different education centers all over the world in all the major languages.
The MIT open courseware, whether it is learning Italian language and home cooking simultaneously, psychology or the world of Finance, you have the opportunity to follow your passion into a more profound level. If you are more into language try Duolingo or maybe to learn computer code (in codeacademy), possibilities are endless.
Other important universities also began their own web of free and shared lectures. Some of the most known are: Cornell’s eCommons (like this interesting one about Quantum Theory made simple), Harvard’s edX (initiated with MIT), Stanford Online and many others (click here for a list of 775 free online courses from different universities).
Other centers and platforms that are just as good are: Udacity, Iversity (where I personally take a course this semester), Khan Academy, e-learning, Edmodo (highschool education), Open2Study, P2PU amongst others.
And so, as Koller tell us in the wonderful TED Talk, today education can travel over barriers as financial difficulties, distance to the closest education facility, and physical disability. With a click of a mouse and average internet connection (whether private or public), everyone can become a student and participate in this wonder we call universal knowledge.
Short video on what is MOOC:
I´ve been asked if all the people that enroll in these courses are academics. Well, the answer is certainly not. Just in my course there are about 5000 students, viewing their profile I found that the large majority are nothing but academics (commercials, shop owners, retired, artists, high-schoolers, unemployed and many more).
Passionless Sex – The American Ideal
A short post reviewing the latest films about sex with the omission of love.
“Americans don’t like dirty sex, to judge from recent popular films about sex. So why are French women so sexual, if you believe French cinema. In French films, people have affairs, cheat on their spouses, form passionate entanglements, and – for God’s sake – take their clothes off!”
When it comes to Sex, there is a wonderful new series called Masters of Sex that inspired to give us the story of the beginning of the study of sex based on true life of William Masters and Virginia Johnson. As in any good show it also explores relationships. It is a fantastic exploration of human sexuallity, in a way that is honest and authentic, evocative and provocative mixed with good writing, excellent acting and fascinating subject matter.
People Are More Moral in the Morning
Experts are alerting, please avoid making any life changing decisions in the afternoon, especially those with moral implications; you’re more likely to act immorally.
“The morning morality effect has notable implications for individuals and organizations, and it suggests that morally relevant tasks should be deliberately ordered throughout the day.”(Kouchaki & Smith, 2013)
Real Men Go to Sleep!
“Add it all up and roughly thirty percent of working Americans survive on less than six hours of unconscious rest a day. Unfortunately, a deeply embedded American cultural tradition dismisses sleep as a waste of time. As one corporate executive put it not long ago, Sleep is for sissies.”
Ted’s best for the week
Tempus fugit said the Romans many years ago, time flies, so stop procrastinating and make it count! Meg Jay, clinical psychologist, tries to create a sense of urgency for twenty somethings so they won’t end up in their 30’s feeling like they wasted the past ten years of their lives. Nevertheless, if you are twenty, thirty or sixty, this is wonderful talk with a decisive inspiration to all ages.
“Forget about having an identity crisis and get some identity capital… Do something that adds value to who you are. Do something that’s an investment in who you might want to be next.”
Person of the week, Stephen Hawking!
Stephen William Hawking was born in England on January 8th, 1942. Today, in the age of almost 72 years old, he is probably one of the most known man alive (right there with Maradona). No doubt he is one of the most intelligent men of his time, yet what is most inspirational about him, is that he didn’t let his physical condition keeping him from excelling in his field. Hawking has achieved success with works of popular science in which he discusses his own theories and cosmology in general.
Probably the most disturbing issue about sex is that sex is, in fact, an issue. So much has been said about this act that somehow we lost the act along the way, along with the mixture of modern, psychological, occidental, oriental, theological, natural, and many more interpretative ways. Sex has become a public discourse, a symbol that all eyes are immediately attracted to, a photo on a movie poster or a book cover that augments the sales and a hot topic to boost blog views (never).
So what is Sex? Well, on a more pragmatic perspective, one can say it is a manner of reproduction, of procreation, of the continuation of the species and the passage of evolutional universal consciousness and knowledge. On an emotional level, it is the strongest connection possible between two members of the same species, usually, but not necessarily, a male and a female. When a man penetrates a woman, the immediate and most sublime sensation is the unison of the two. Two who become one, united in this cosmic energy, stronger, with neither care nor sorrow, as the most intimate company to each other. This is perhaps why sex has become an immediate relief of people’s feeling of detachment and sadness, an instant cure for loneliness.
However, there is a moment in sex when the situation is altered, when each person is no longer in this wonderful unison, an inexplicable instance when something occurs that makes us disappear, dissipate into almost nonexistence. This moment, as you well know, is the culminating point, the explosion of the entire sexual act: it is the orgasm.
Once you reach unison with your partner you are physically fused to one, your mental self becomes one. This togetherness is as strong as the connection between the partners, or in other words, the bigger the love, respect, and communication between you and your lover, the greater the fusion will be. A passionate lovemaking means to be absorbed in your partner and expressing your passion through the coordinated movement of your body. Now, during the orgasm you mentally detach yourself from your partner, from yourself, and from your surroundings, a moment where you find another existence, a more ancient animalistic one. It is when the individual All fuses with the universal All. From an immediate few seconds up to several minutes, the orgasm is the peak of the act of lovemaking; it is the culminating point that is the reason for our desire.
There is no reason why anyone should have any kind of sexual difficulty, discomfort, or any kind of obstacle to enjoying intercourse with a partner. Thus, when you get into bed with someone, hopefully you have chosen this person not because you are obliged to do so for there is no circumstance that can be used as an excuse to be in bed with someone you do not choose to be with, no matter what you have been told or, even worse, what you have been telling yourself. Even if it is a one-night stand, a momentary need for a passionate encounter, we always make sure we are aware of our choice and accept it as such. It is probably as important that after we choose the person, the moment, and the circumstances, we should be conscious to another occurrence, where we are getting into bed not with this person but with an alter ego, or the person we would have liked ourselves to be. What I mean is to be whole with our physical self. Sexual intercourse requires nudity, which is something that many have problems with. If my partner is a female, it is simple: if she chooses me, she wants me not because of the things I do not have but for the advantages I might possess (at least in her eyes). We are all aware to the fact that women are much more conscious about the person they choose to have intercourse with, so do not bother yourself with superficial maybes. She will accept me just the way I am as long as I try my best to be kind, considerate, and natural with her. If your partner is a guy…well, make sure you choose him. However, both men and women admit that sex out of love is much better sex. It is where the pre- and the post-intercourse actually matters and affects the emotion in that heavenly moment of climax. Aspects such as caring, trust, security, confidence, intimacy, and patience are only some of the emotions and feelings that by far will incite a far more sensational intercourse. This interaction of the climax as an individual All and the entire sexual act as a universal All is, in the end, what we can call great sex.
Are you the perfectionist type?
“Taken to the extreme, perfectionism becomes a disorder. Burns shares the wild example of an attorney who became obsessed with getting his hair “just right.” He spent hours in front of the mirror with his scissors and comb making adjustments until his hair was just an eighth of an inch long. Then he became obsessed with getting his hairline exactly right and he shaved it a little more every day until his hair receded back so far he was bald. He would then wait for his hair to grow back and the pattern continued again. Eventually his desire to have the perfect hair led him to cut back on his legal practice in order to continue his obsession. This is an extreme example to be sure, but there are less severe ways in which our own perfectionism leads us to major in minor activities? Have you ever obsessed over a report when your boss said it was already plenty good enough? Have you ever lost an object of little importance but just had to keep looking for it? Do colleagues often tell you, “Just let it go”?”
Writing is living.. twice!
Writing is not an easy task, yet we all like to do it, each one in its own fashion, style and mode. Some as a hobby, others are professionals (or trying to be), ones simply for the catharsis effect and there are those for passing time. Then if so many do it, how come there are only a few that are so good at it?
So for those of you who need a short reminder for some basic advices, here are some of the best:
Pixar published a set of 22 great rules of how to approach a story, here’s Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling Presented with Film Stills.
You may want to know some advices of the best writers, well, for that I present to you the hall of fame writer tips from F. Scott Fitzgerald on How to Write Fiction. The next one is Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 Tips on How to Write a Great Story.
And last yet surely not least is a short video with Ricky Gervais telling us a story about how he learned to write:
From poverty to wealth
A personal story that is by far a wonderful example for an difficult experience that turns to some of the better life lessons. In professional terms we may call it post-traumatic growth.
“We had no real kitchen (it was just a room), no running water or indoor bathroom, no TV or telephone. (No, I did not grow up with the dinosaurs). We did have electric lights.What did I learn by growing up in these conditions? I learned to share and to take good care of what little I had and be grateful. I learned to use my imagination, to eat until I was not hungry any more rather that when I was stuffed. I learned that it was the people that made a home, not the size of a house. I learned to work together. “
TED’s best for the week:
Trivia whiz Ken Jennings has made a career as a keeper of facts; he holds the longest winning streak in history on the U.S. game show Jeopardy. But in 2011, he played a challenge match against supercomputer Watson — and lost. With humor and humility, Jennings tells us how it felt to have a computer literally beat him at his own game, and also makes the case for good old-fashioned human knowledge.
“The great 18th-century British theologian and thinker, friend of Dr. Johnson, Samuel Parr once said, “It’s always better to know a thing than not to know it.” And if I have lived my life by any kind of creed, it’s probably that. I have always believed that the things we know — that knowledge is an absolute good, that the things we have learned and carry with us in our heads are what make us who we are, as individuals and as a species.”
Person of the week! Charles Bukowski
“Like anybody can tell you, I am not a very nice man. I don’t know the word. I have always admired the villain, the outlaw, the son of a bitch. I don’t like the clean-shaven boy with the necktie and the good job. I like desperate men, men with broken teeth and broken minds and broken ways. They interest me. They are full of surprises and explosions. I also like vile women, drunk cursing bitches with loose stockings and sloppy mascara faces. I’m more interested in perverts than saints. I can relax with bums because I am a bum. I don’t like laws, morals, religions, rules. I don’t like to be shaped by society.”