Weekly Choice: on a Story, Spirituality without religion and please go on Booksurfing

Over 100 MOOCS Getting Started in September! Enroll in One Today!

MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) provides many interesting, illuminating courses in different areas.  The courses are free and also can be a smart way to procrastinate. Summer craziness is over, take your chance today! For further information take a look on MOOC list below.

http://www.mooc-list.com/?gclid=CjwKEAjwp7WgBRCRxMCLx8mMnDMSJADncxS263plTIjBvwfqKNB635tU6xdaPvj7G9DhCOjnBImE5BoCAgnw_wcB

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TED’s Best Of The Week! Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: The danger of a single story

Chimamanda comes from a conventional, middle-class Nigerian family. In an extremely articulated talk, she speaks about generalizations. Are generalizations helpful? Can we function without them? Is that a default in the way we think and perceive the world? If this TED talk she posit on this issue in a curious and enlighten way. Thus far she manages to capture the attention of more than seven million people, who will be next?

“I left Nigeria to go to university in the United States. I was 19. My American roommate was shocked by me. She asked where I had learned to speak English so well, and was confused when I said that Nigeria happened to have English as its official language. She asked if she could listen to what she called my “tribal music,” and was consequently very disappointed when I produced my tape of Mariah Carey. She assumed that I did not know how to use a stove. What struck me was this: She had felt sorry for me even before she saw me. Her default position toward me, as an African, was a kind of patronizing, well-meaning pity. My roommate had a single story of Africa: a single story of catastrophe. In this single story there was no possibility of Africans being similar to her in any way, no possibility of feelings more complex than pity, no possibility of a connection as human equals.”

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Legal murder. Legal abuse.

When someone would tell me to think of animals I would probably imagine a warm picture of myself cuddling my dog, giving her a bath and the good time I have with her. However, when one is removing her pink sunglasses, reality is quite different. What is happening? Humans are using animals for food, clothing, entertainment, and for scientific research.  In the US alone around 75,000 dogs (like mine and yours) and 22,000 cats dying every year from vivisection, many of them not even for a life saving medication but for shampoos, mascara and condoms. There are many accessible books and articles written on this subject, but until we witness it with our own eyes it’s all just dry and distant theory. Facebook is a great conscious buster about animal cruelty but is it enough (usually the sympathy doesn´t go beyond a short “it´s terrible” comment. We share the planet with animals, but instead of living with them we exploit, torture and abuse them in various ways, and all of that is today most gruesome Legal Murder, legal slavery, and rape.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKaCFyGdazo

If you are interested wish to learn more about this issue, here’s a link to “Earthlings”, an eye-opening documentary directed by Shaun Monson:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7cxmFugZMA

Here’s how to you too can do something about it:

– Don´t eat meat everyday

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethics_of_eating_meat

– If you see an abuse report it

http://www.pet-abuse.com/database/

– Avoid buying and using testing brands

http://www.wikihow.com/Avoid-Buying-and-Using-Animal-Testing-Brands

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Waking Up: a guide to spirituality without religion

“I once participated in a twenty-three-day wilderness program in the mountains of Colorado. If the purpose of this course was to expose students to dangerous lightning and half the world’s mosquitoes, it was fulfilled on the first day. What was in essence a forced march through hundreds of miles of backcountry culminated in a ritual known as “the solo,” where we were finally permitted to rest—alone, on the outskirts of a gorgeous alpine lake—for three days of fasting and contemplation.

waking up

I had just turned sixteen, and this was my first taste of true solitude since exiting my mother’s womb. It proved a sufficient provocation. After a long nap and a glance at the icy waters of the lake, the promising young man I imagined myself to be was quickly cut down by loneliness and boredom. I filled the pages of my journal not with the insights of a budding naturalist, philosopher, or mystic but with a list of the foods on which I intended to gorge myself the instant I returned to civilization. Judging from the state of my consciousness at the time, millions of years of hominid evolution had produced nothing more transcendent than a craving for a cheeseburger and a chocolate milkshake.”

This is how the new book of Sam Harris begins. To read/listen to

http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/chapter-one

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Recommendation of the week, BookSurfing!

A new social experiment

 “More intimate than a book club, less process-y than group therapy, and more focused than a cocktail party! Book surfing is a unique way to get to know people, and get exposed to a lot of interesting ideas and texts.

Bring something to read to a small, intimate group (6-8 people), some of whom you don’t know.

The format has been distilled over time into 5 simple rules:

  1. Everybody present (6-8 people) reads aloud a text of their choice. (Bring two texts: if time permits there is a second round of readings).
  2. Any text is suitable: it can be Shakespeare, or your diary
  3. Texts read must not exceed 450 words. (Yes, it’s Twitter-like, but it’s proven a good length.)
  4. There has to be at least one newcomer to book surfing.
  5. There have to be some participants who don’t know each other.

booksurfing_There is a moderator who organizes and runs the meeting, and makes time available for discussion after each reading.

Simple rules, but they seem to guarantee an interesting experience!”

If you are interested in this social experiment follow the example of Book Surfing Seattle on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/booksurfingseattle/info

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Weekly Choice: on Death, Prejudice, Living the question and some Travel Tips

The Video Of The Week!

Sam Harris – Mindfulness Meditation – From Death and The Present Moment

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Ted’s Best Of The Week! Can prejudice ever be a good thing, by Paul Bloom.

Paul Bloom explores some of the most puzzling aspects of human nature, including pleasure, religion, and morality.

“Our reason could cause us to override our passions. Our reason could motivate us to extend our empathy, could motivate us to write a book like “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” or read a book like “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” and our reason can motivate us to create customs and taboos and laws that will constrain us from acting upon our impulses when, as rational beings, we feel we should be constrained. This is what a constitution is. A constitution is something which was set up in the past that applies now in the present, and what it says is, no matter how much we might to reelect a popular president for a third term, no matter how much white Americans might choose to feel that they want to reinstate the institution of slavery, we can’t. We have bound ourselves.”

http://www.ted.com/talks/paul_bloom_can_prejudice_ever_be_a_good_thing#t-109201

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Here’s The Psychological Key to Early Academic Achievement

“Working memory is a crucial factor in children’s academic achievement, including their reading ability. The study, which was conducted in Brazil, included 106 children, half of whom were living under the poverty line (Abreu et al., 2014).

graduationThe children took a battery of cognitive tests — including one assessing their working memory — and these were matched up with their attainment in mathematics, spelling, reading, language and science. The results showed that the children with the best working memories consistently had the highest performance across all the different areas of learning.

The children who struggled, especially with reading, were those with the poorest working memory.

The project’s leader, Dr. Pascale Engel de Abreu, said:

“Our findings suggest the importance of early screening and intervention, especially in the context of poverty. At present, poor working memory is rarely identified by teachers. Poor literacy, low academic achievement and living in poverty create a mutually reinforcing cycle. There is a chance to break this by early identification of children with working memory problems and by helping them to acquire the mental tools which will enable them to learn.”

http://www.spring.org.uk/2014/07/heres-the-psychological-key-to-early-academic-achievement.php

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Why Living the Questions Is Better Than Having the Answers

“When faced with a question, we:

  1. Search for the answer
  2. Determine this is the answer.
  3. Conclude this must be the answer.

There’s a big gap between steps two and three. The philosopher Wittgenstein would ask about the nature of this must. What gives that must its necessity or oomph? When we decide in advance that there is one and only one solution to a problem and it is this, we force ourselves into a very uncomfortable and perhaps precarious position.

Consider the Greek myth of Procrustes. Procrustes was an outlaw who offered hospitality to people who passed his home. He offered guests a bed that would fit them perfectly. If the guest was too short for the bed, Procrustes put him on a rack to stretch him. If the guest too tall, he cut off parts of his legs.

ProcrustesWe become like Procrustes when we decide this must be the answer. We will make our beliefs, hopes, expectations, and actions fit that answer, no matter what. We will stretch ourselves to the breaking point to make something work. We will ruthlessly cut off parts of ourselves or forsake parts of our lived realities that do not fit with the answer.

The woman who marries the man “she is supposed to” instead of the one she loves may try to convince herself to love her husband. She’ll tell herself she had no other choice, that she owed her fiancé, and that she had to lose her love. (…) When you believe you have the right answer and that something must be the answer, you are trapped. Actually, you have trapped yourself. You’ve done a Procrustes on yourself. As Wittgenstein wrote, “A man will be imprisoned in a room with a door that is unlocked and opens inward; as long as it does not occur to him to pull rather than push it.”

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/philosophy-stirred-not-shaken/201407/why-living-the-questions-is-better-having-the-answers

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17 Air Travel Tips

“..In which Hank imparts some wisdom that he has gained through the last four years of getting on planes once every four months.”

travel_tips_for_elders

Weekly Choice: on Ideas, Atheism and Absurd Strangers

The Ultimate Guide for Becoming an Idea Machine

IdeaMachine-Post“The way to have good ideas is to get close to killing yourself. It’s  like weightlifting. When you lift slightly more than you can handle, you  get stronger. When you cut yourself open, you bleed ideas. If you’re broke and close to death, you have to start coming up with ideas. (…) The problem is  this: you’re NOT in a state of panic most of the time. States of panic  are special and have to be revered. Think about the times in your life that you remember – it’s exactly those moments when you hit bottom and  were forced to come up with ideas, to get stronger, to connect with some  inner force inside you with the outer force. (…) IDEAS ARE THE CURRENCY OF LIFE. Not money. Money gets depleted until you go broke.  But good ideas buy you good experiences, buy you better ideas, buy you  better experiences, buy you more time, save your life. Financial wealth  is a side effect of the “runner’s high” of your idea muscle.

Read the rest at:

http://www.jamesaltucher.com/

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TED’s Best Of The Week! Richard Dawkins On Militant Atheism!

 A fiery, funny, powerful talk.

Description=Richard Dawkins Photograph: Jeremy Young 05-12-2006

Richard Dawkins urges all atheists to openly state their position — and to fight the incursion of the church into politics and science. Dawkins is known for his work as a biologist even since his best selling book “The Selfish Gene”. Since, he is combating what he sees as danger in the education system, which is religious studies, particularly, Creationism. In this talk, he raise some interesting points to reflect upon.

“In my view, not only is science corrosive to religion; religion is corrosive to science. It teaches people to be satisfied with trivial, supernatural non-explanations and blinds them to the wonderful real explanations that we have within our grasp. It teaches them to accept authority, revelation and faith instead of always insisting on evidence.”

http://www.ted.com/talks/richard_dawkins_on_militant_atheism#

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How to Take Notes You Will Remember

Laptop versus hand-written notes: what the difference reveals about memory

“Two psychologists were inspired to carry out the research after noticing a problem with recalling notes taken on a laptop. Pam Mueller, a psychologist at Princeton University, found that switching back to a pen and paper from a laptop had been beneficial.

They set out to test this hunch scientifically by having 65 college students watch TED talks and then have them answer questions about what they’d learnt (Mueller & Oppenheimer, 2014).

The questions, which were asked 30 minutes after watching the video, fell into two categories:

  • Factual-recall: for example, “Approximately how many years ago did the Indus civilization exist?”
  • Conceptual-application: for example, “How do Japan and Sweden differ in their approaches to equality within their societies?”

note on rockWhat they found was little difference in factual recall: people could remember about the same proportion of facts in both groups. The big difference came in what people had understood conceptually from the lecture. Here it turned out that the paper-and-pen note-takers had retained a significantly larger proportion of conceptual information. The reason for this difference comes down to the mental processes involved in laptop versus hand-written notes.”

http://www.spring.org.uk/2014/05/how-to-take-notes-you-will-remember.php

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Book Of The Week! The Stranger, by Albert Camus!

The Stranger (French: L’Étranger) is a novel by Albert Camus a French Nobel Prize winning author, journalist, and philosopher, published in 1942. His views contributed to the rise of the philosophy known as absurdism.

Albert Camus seeks for answer of eternal questions. How to live if life is tragic and futile?  How to live in a world where man is a stranger to himself and to the world around him? Meursault is faced with madness of the world, its’ absurdity and inhumanity. He defends rationality and truth, but in the world devoid of illusions and light, he feels like stranger and lives meaningless life. To the life and world that surrounds him, he is indifferent.

In January 1955, Camus said, “I summarized The Stranger a long time ago, with a remark I admit was highly paradoxical: ‘In our society any man who does not weep at his mother’s funeral runs the risk of being sentenced to death.’ I only meant that the hero of my book is condemned because he does not play the game.”

“Mother died today. Or maybe yesterday; I can’t be sure.”

― Albert Camus, The Stranger

On the link below you can watch Italian movie based on this novel.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqfzFmpoTvQ

Weekly Choice: on Capitalism, Pheromones and simple Bess

NEW addition: Question of the Week!

Dear S. I. Cohen,

Recently I had a discussion with my friend about capitalism, where one of his arguments against it was that capitalism is toxic environment for job creations. And he passionately claimed how capitalism makes rich people richer, and those who are born without wealth and opportunities enjoyed by the rich people, will stay poor. Also, that capitalism is out of control and is leading to the destruction of the environment.Do you think it´s true and if it is what can we do about to stop it?

Best wishes,

– Jeff

As you noticed, there are many people that use the word Capitalist, Capitalism and its variations to describe the worse kind of human conduct, malevolence and hustle. Many think of Capitalism and create their own so called “facts” about how that system degraded what could have been a better society.

Well, one could actually ask the person if he or she actually knows what Capitalism really is (from an economical perspective). Followed by a short silence (of an unexpected turn in the conversation for a broken consensus), the answer is usually a hesitated ‘yes’. One would continue and ask about how, when and where did it begin, for what purpose, what was the economical system before, was it better…? Needless to say that the more you’d ask, the greater the confusion and discrepancy will be.

Capitalism_by_GraffitiWatcher

The first thing to regard is how little people actually know about what just a minute ago they were so convinced.

Moreover, there is quite a lot of double standard (myself included), in that the persons in question were holding an Iphone or a Tablet or their car keys in their hands while beheading the same capitalist that created that for them.

One can ask that person if she exchanged her technological wonder with a neighbor (that constructed the device) for some food or something of her creation. I sincerely doubt it. Today, you can find many places that began a local currency or an exchange based economy (Greece, Island, south of Spain with the PUMA, Comunes and Mercado Trueque and even the idea behind Bit coin).

The fact rests the same: no market, no matter how free or on the contrary, how regulated, is immune to self-interests and the greed of people.

The thing is that so far I truly believe that no one thought of a better system. The problem is with the people using the system. As many things in life, capitalism is a technique, an economic technique, with no emotions or preferences, the user, on the other hand, is the one that can easily manipulate it for his benefit. Thus, as said before by many.

In no other system a poor person can become rich if he knows how to work it for his benefit and that is something very noble. On the other hand, because of its power, you can imagine many will take advantage of it, stripping themselves from any valor or moral behavior.

Certainly, I´ll be the last to come to the rescue of any system, whether economical, political or social… their all have some positive and many negative. Yet, when it comes to blind and confused criticism, I do find more harmful than contributive for the better of our society. So, if I was you, I´ll do some reading and next time you face this friend ask him what does he think about global warming (right before he gets into his 4X4).

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How Attention Works: The Brain’s Anti-Distraction System Discovered

Attention is only partly about what we focus on, but also about what we manage to ignore.

“Neuroscientists have pinpointed the neural activity involved in avoiding distraction, a new study reports. This is the first study showing that our brains rely on an active suppression system to help us focus on the task at hand (Gaspar & McDonald, 2014).

brain

The study’s lead author, John Gaspar, explained the traditional view of attentional control:

“This is an important discovery for neuroscientists and psychologists because most contemporary ideas of attention highlight brain processes that are involved in picking out relevant objects from the visual field.” While this process is important, it doesn’t tell the whole story of how attention works.

Gaspar continued: “Our results show clearly that this is only one part of the equation and that active suppression of the irrelevant objects is another important part.”

The study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, involved 47 students carrying out a visual search task while their brain signals were monitored. The finding may have important implications for psychological disorders which involve problems with attention.

The study’s senior author, John McDonald, said:

“…disorders associated with attention deficits, such as ADHD and schizophrenia, may turn out to be due to difficulties in suppressing irrelevant objects rather than difficulty selecting relevant ones.”

http://www.spring.org.uk/2014/05/how-attention-works-brains-anti-distraction-system-discovered.php

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TED’s Best Of Week!

Tristram Wyatt: The smelly mystery of the human pheromone

“Do humans have pheromones? Tristram Wyatt is on the case. A researcher at Oxford, Wyatt is interested in the evolution of pheromones throughout the animal kingdom.

Do our smells make us sexy? Popular science suggests yes — pheromones send chemical signals about sex and attraction from our armpits to potential mates. But, despite what you might have heard, there is no conclusive research confirming that humans have these smells molecules. In this eye-opening talk, zoologist Tristram Wyatt explains the fundamental flaws in current pheromone research, and shares his hope for a future that unlocks the fascinating, potentially life-saving knowledge tied up in our scent.”

“Don’t wash I’m coming home!”

http://www.ted.com/talks/tristram_wyatt_the_smelly_mystery_of_the_human_pheromone#t-6509

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Movie Of The Week! Breaking The Waves!

breaking-the-waves-9“Breaking the Waves” is emotionally and spiritually challenging movie directed by Lars von Trier and starring Emily Watson.  It is the first film in Trier’s ‘Golden Heart Trilogy’ which also includes The Idiots (1998) and Dancer in the Dark (2000).  It tells the story of Bess, a simple young woman of childlike naive, who sacrifices herself to sexual brutality to save the life of the man she loves. Jan, paralyzed from an industrial accident profoundly depressed, asks Bess to have sex with other men and tell him about it, thinking this will allow her to return to a normal life, and she, on the other hand, sees it as an expression of her devotion to Jan. What in the world motivates Jan to demand such repugnant actions from the wife he adores? Bess, with her fierce faith, believes that somehow her sacrifice can redeem her husband and even cure him. As his condition grows worse, her behavior gets more desperate; she went to a big ship where even the port prostitutes refuse to go, because of the way they have been treated there. The epilogue of Breaking the Waves is impossible to describe—it must literally be seen to be believed—but it grows organically and coherently from everything that’s come before it, bringing the film to a bold and brilliant conclusion. In Breaking the Waves, von Trier makes the case that as long as a “truly revolutionary alteration to the social conditions” is still in the future, women will continue to pay with their lives for the sins of the fathers. Whether Bess is a victim of patriarchy or whether she is heroic in her choice to live and die on her own terms is a question that viewers will invariably need to answer for themselves.

Watch the movie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AR_mMxHJ0t4

Weekly Choice: on multitasking, hobbies and amour

The 3 Costs of Multitasking

We all switch between tasks, and we do so often.

“How much time do you think you lose when you engage in task switching?  Like many of our daily challenges, here too there are three different factors to consider.

MultitaskingThe first factor to consider is the direct time that we spend on our secondary task.  For example, imagine that you’re busy working on some complex description of a problem, and you hit a particularly challenging point.  You are stuck in a slight mental block, unable to make any real progress for a few minutes. So you think to yourself, “Let me take a quick five minute break and use this time to catch up on email.” Twenty minutes later, you are still responding to email, feeling that familiar unjustified satisfaction we all feel when we managed to clear some of that email backlog in our inbox.  Ten minutes later, you are finally back to working on your complex task, and if you bothered to look at your clock, you would realize that the last thirty minutes were a direct cost of the switch.

(…) This belief in “switching helps” is the reason that many people switch so often. Unfortunately, this is unlikely to be the case.  Most likely, once you are back, for the next ten minutes or so, your engagement with your complex task is only partial, and you are not yet fully back into it.  The reality is that even when you are back working on your main task — for a while longer — you keep on paying a low-productivity-price for your task switching.”

http://danariely.com/2014/04/07/the-3-costs-of-multitasking/

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Inspirational Video Of The Week! Tolerance.

Family is Family. Parents are Parents. Love is Love.

 

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The Positive Effect of Creative Hobbies on Performance at Work

Why photography, cooking or other creative hobbies might help you get on at work.

“People who have a creative hobby outside work may find it boosts their work performance, according to a new study by organisational psychologists. The study looked at the indirect effect of creative hobbies like photography, needlework or cooking on work performance (Eschleman et al., 2014). The study found that creative hobbies may help employees recover from the demands of their job. People in the study talked passionately about their activities outside of work. The study’s lead author, Kevin Eschleman, said: “They usually describe it as lush, as a deep experience that provides a lot of things for them. But they also talk about this idea of self-expression and an opportunity to really discover something about themselves, and that isn’t always captured with the current recovery experience models.”

hobbies

In the study, two groups of people were asked about their creative activities outside work and also how creative they were at work. The results from both samples showed that those who had a creative hobby were more likely to feel a sense of relaxation outside work and to feel greater control and a sense of mastery (…) and were more likely to help others and to be more creative in the performance of their job. Large organizations, such as Zappos Inc., incorporate employee artwork into office decorations. Other similar activities commonly found in organizations include food cook-offs, cross-discipline education opportunities, and costume contests during holidays. A more cost-effective and less intrusive approach for organization is to inform employees that creative activity may help them recover from the workplace.” (Eschleman et al., 2014)”

http://www.spring.org.uk/2014/04/the-positive-effect-of-creative-hobbies-on-performance-at-work.php

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TED’s Best Of The Week! Why people believe weird things, by Michael Shermer

“Why do people see the Virgin Mary on a cheese sandwich or hear demonic lyrics in “Stairway to Heaven”? Using video and music, skeptic Michael Shermer shows how we convince ourselves to believe — and overlook the facts.”

http://www.ted.com/talks/michael_shermer_on_believing_strange_things?embed=true#t-11058

“Science is not a thing. It’s a verb. It’s a way of thinking about things. It’s a way of looking for natural explanations for all phenomena.”

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Poet Of The Week! Jacques Prévert!

PrévertJacques Prévert, (born1900, Neuilly-sur-Seine, Fr.—died 1977, Omonville-la-Petite), French poet who composed ballads of social hope and sentimental love; he also ranked among the foremost of screenwriters, especially during the 1930s and ’40s. Jacques Prévert was born in a lower middle class family. He made fun of the obsessions and conformity of this social class during his entire life and participated actively in the surrealist movement. He was a member of the Rue du Château group along with Raymond Queneau and Marcel Duchamp. His poems are often about life in Paris and life after the Second World War. The peak of Prévert’s career came immediately after World War II. In 1945, the same year that Les Enfants du paradis was released, he published his collected poems, Paroles. The book sold more than 500,000 copies, almost unheard of for a book of poems in France. “Prévert spoke particularly to the French youth immediately after the War, especially to those who grew up during the Occupation and felt totally estranged from Church and State,” wrote Lawrence Ferlinghetti in the introduction to the 1990 edition of Paroles, which he translated into English in 1958.

Prévert’s poems were collected and published in his books: Paroles (Words) (1946), Spectacle (1951), La Pluie et le beau temps (Rain and Good Weather) (1955), Histoires (Stories) (1963), Fatras (1971) and Choses et autres (Things and Others) (1973). Prévert produced several art collages during the late 1950s and early 1960s. “They were surreal, comic and beautiful, scathingly anti-church, anti-corporation, anti-hypocrisy,” Merriam wrote in the New Republic. They were exhibited in Paris in 1957 and in Antibes in southern France in 1963. He continued to publish books, including Histoires et d’autres histoires (Stories and Other Stories) in 1963 and Choses et autres (Things and Other Things) in 1972.

After a long illness, Prévert died on April 11, 1977, at his home in Omonville-La-Petite, in Normandy, France. That day, Carné (as quoted in the New York Times) called him “the one and only poet of French cinema,” whose “humor and poetry succeeded in raising the banal to the summit of art” and whose style reflected “the soul of the people.” Prévert wanted to be remembered as a people’s poet. A few years before his death, in an interview quoted in Harriet Zinnes’s introduction to her book Blood and Feathers, Prévert said, “I was popular even before being fashionable. That’s how it was. What gave me pleasure was having readers. They are the greatest literary critics. These are the people who know the best literature, those who love it, not the connoisseurs.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1p4gMD5mw8

Pour toi mon amour

Weekly choice: on memory, bank accounts, space kids and a Klimtkiss

A Better Way to Cope With Persistent Bad Memories

New technique holds promise for those experiencing disturbing emotional flashbacks

“A better way to deal with recurring negative memories is to focus on the context and not the emotion, according to a new study published in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience (Denkova et al., 2014). For example, if you were thinking about a funeral you attended, you might focus on what you were wearing or who was there, instead of how you were feeling at the time.

Dolcos explained:

keys“Sometimes we dwell on how sad, embarrassed, or hurt we felt during an event, and that makes us feel worse and worse. This is what happens in clinical depression — ruminating on the negative aspects of a memory. But we found that instead of thinking about your emotions during a negative memory, looking away from the worst emotions and thinking about the context, like a friend who was there, what the weather was like, or anything else non-emotional that was part of the memory, will rather effortlessly take your mind away from the unwanted emotions associated with that memory. Once you immerse yourself in other details, your mind will wander to something else entirely, and you won’t be focused on the negative emotions as much.”

We don’t yet know if this strategy will work in the long-term, which is very important for those suffering from depression, but it’s easy to do and unlikely to cause any harm.

http://www.spring.org.uk/2014/04/a-better-way-to-cope-with-persistent-bad-memories.php

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Inspirational video of the week!

Can you see the beauty around you?

In the increasingly popular video that has started to spread social networks, BuzzFeed has asked a group of blind men and women to describe how they perceive beauty.

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Ask Ariely!

Dear Dan,

I recently got married, and my wife and I have been debating the topic of bank accounts. She’d like to combine them, because she wants to know how much is coming in and going out. I think separate accounts would be simpler for taxes, personal spending and budgeting. What’s your take?

-J.

The fact that you’re wondering whether to follow your preferences or your wife’s tells me that you are either a slow learner or very recently married (sorry, my Jewish heritage would not let me pass up that opportunity). But to the point: I think you should have a joint account.

First, there’s no question that in reality your accounts are joint in the sense that anything one of you does has an effect on your mutual financial future. For example, if one of you starts buying expensive cars from your individual account, there’s going to be less money for both of you to spend later on vacations, medical bills and so on.

More important, by getting married you have created a social contract of the form: “I will take care of you, and you will take care of me.” Adding a layer of financial negotiations to this intricate relationship can easily backfire. Think about what would happen if there was “my money” and “your money”? Would you start splitting the bill in restaurants? What if one of you has an extra glass of wine? And what if your wife ran out of “her money”? Would you tell her that if she does the dishes and takes the garbage out for a week, you would give her some of “your money”?

The problem is that once money becomes intertwined with deep relationships, they can start looking a bit more like prostitution than like love, romance and long-term caring. Separate bank accounts do have some advantages, but having them could put unnecessary stress on your relationship—and your relationship is much more important than managing your money efficiently.

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052970203846804578103194032776674

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Ted’s Best Of The Week! Will our kids be a different species, by  Juan Enríquez

robot_evolutionThroughout human evolution, multiple versions of humans co-existed. Could we be mid-upgrade now? At TEDxSummit, Juan Enriquez sweeps across time and space to bring us to the present moment — and shows how technology is revealing evidence that suggests rapid evolution may be under way.

“I think we’re going to move from a Homo sapiens into a Homo evolutis: a hominid that takes direct and deliberate control over the evolution of his species, her species and other species.”

http://www.ted.com/talks/juan_enriquez_will_our_kids_be_a_different_species

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Artist Of The Week, Gustav Klimt!

gustav-klimt-photoGustav Klimt was born on 14 July 1862. He was the second of seven children of a lower-middle-class family, living in the Viennese suburb of Baumgarten.  He began developing his talent as an artist at the age of fourteen, after he entered the University of Plastic Arts in Vienna (graduating at the age of twenty).

Gustav Klimt was always reluctant to talk about himself, referring questioners to his works instead. From his paintings, the viewer “should seek to recognize what I am and what I want.” he said repeatedly. Despite his success he remained unsure of himself in social settings. He habitually wore a blue painter’s smock, his hair was tousled, and he spoke the dialect of his humble origins.

Gustav Klimt’s style is highly ornamental. The Art Nouveau movement favored organic lines and contours. Klimt used a lot of gold and silver colors in his art work – certainly an heritage from his father’s profession as a gold and silver engraver.

He creates various pieces, which include:Danae, and The Kiss, which are extremely erotic and exotic in nature. They depict the differences in sexuality between men and women, and the pieces he creates during this time, although symbolic, are very literal in many of the figures, and depiction of the human form. Up until about 1914, many of the pieces that he created, took on this sexual under pining, and were not widely accepted, in part due to their graphic nature, and in part because of the time period that he lived in and worked in.

The Kiss, 1907-1908
The Kiss, 1907-1908

His works of art were a scandal at his time because of the display of nudity and the subtle sexuality and eroticism. His best known painting The Kiss, was first exhibited in 1908. As everything coming out of Klimt’s hands, it was highly controversial and admired at the same time.

After three decades of intensive work, numerous triumphs, and fierce hostility from his critics, Gustav Klimt died on 6 February 1918 after suffering a stroke, being fifty-five years old. He is buried in Vienna’s Hietzing Cemetery.

The Tree of Life, 1909
The Tree of Life, 1909

Click here for a documentary on his life: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FaGH-BczrVA

Weekly choice: on life, British accents and good spanking

A Meaningful Life Leads to a Longer Life

“Many studies have linked meaning in life to health. People who perceive their lives as full of meaning and purpose are less vulnerable to mental illness and are better able to cope with stress and trauma. Having a strong sense of meaning in life also inspires a desire to live healthy: it makes people feel like they have something to live for. But does a meaningful life actually lead to a longer life?

Initial evidence suggests that it may. In a study published in the Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, Dr. Neal Krause, a professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, found that older adults who indicated having a strong sense of meaning in life in an initial assessment were more likely to still be alive at a follow-up assessment than older adults who lacked a strong sense of meaning. Moreover, Dr. Krause identified a feeling of purpose as a driving force. Older adults who felt like their lives had purpose were healthier and thus less likely to die.”

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/more-mortal/201404/meaningful-life-leads-longer-life

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A Brief Tour of British Accents: 14 Ways to Speak English in 84 Seconds

“Visiting London a few months ago, easily as I could make sense of everybody speaking my native tongue, I pre-emptively gave up hope of picking up on the nuances of all the accents people had brought to the city from their hometowns — much less the numerous and subtle dialects native of London itself. Everyone I met insisted that a Briton’s accent says more about their origin, class, station in life, and degree of self-regard than any other quality, but not knowing Newcastle from Southampton when I first set foot on English soil, I had to take them at their word (however they happened to pronounce it).

The video above, in which professional dialect coach Andrew Jack demonstrates fourteen British accents in 84 seconds, might help sort things out for my fellow confused countrymen. “Received communication is the great communicator,” Jack says, using the accent I assume he grew up with. “As soon as you deviate from that and you go into London speech, for example, you lose a little bit of the communication.” By that point, Jack has seamlessly transitioned into Cockney, from which he then shifts into the accents of East Anglia, the West Country, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Liverpool, Northern Ireland, Dublin, the Scottish highlands, Glasgow, North Wales, and South Wales. “

http://www.openculture.com/2014/04/a-brief-tour-of-british-accents-14-ways-to-speak-english-in-84-seconds.html

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Teenagers’ IQ scores can rise or fall sharply during adolescence

“IQ scores can change dramatically in teenage years in parallel with changes to the brain, according to a study that suggests caution in using the 11+ exam for grammar school entrance to predict academic ability. IQ is thought to be stable across a person’s life. Childhood scores are often used to predict education outcome and job prospects as an adult. But the study suggests scores are surprisingly variable.

classRobert Sternberg from Oklahoma State University, who studies intelligence but was not in the research team, said: “A testing industry has developed around the notion that IQ is relatively fixed and pretty well set in the early years of life. This study shows in a compelling way that meaningful changes can occur throughout the teenage years.” Our mental faculties are not fixed, he said: “People who are mentally active and alert will likely benefit, and the couch potatoes who do not exercise themselves intellectually will pay a price.” (…) The teens split evenly between those whose IQ improved and those whose IQ worsened. “It was not the case that young low performers got better, and the young high performers averaged out. Some highs got even better, and some lows got even worse,” said Price. (…) The study contradicts a long-standing view of intelligence as fixed. Alfred Binet, father of modern intelligence tests, believed mental development ended at 16, while child psychologist Jean Piaget thought it ended even earlier.”

http://www.theguardian.com/science/2011/oct/19/teenagers-iq-scores-adolescence

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TED’s Best Of The Week! Your elusive creative genius, by Elizabeth Gilbert

Funny, personal and surprisingly moving talk

creative-genius“And then the Renaissance came and everything changed, and we had this big idea, and the big idea was let’s put the individual human being at the center of the universe above all gods and mysteries, and there’s no more room for mystical creatures who take dictation from the divine. And it’s the beginning of rational humanism, and people started to believe that creativity came completely from the self of the individual. And for the first time in history, you start to hear people referring to this or that artist as being a genius rather than having a genius. And I got to tell you, I think that was a huge error. You know, I think that allowing somebody, one mere person to believe that he or she is like, the vessel, you know, like the font and the essence and the source of all divine, creative, unknowable, eternal mystery is just a smidge too much responsibility to put on one fragile, human psyche. It’s like asking somebody to swallow the sun. It just completely warps and distorts egos, and it creates all these unmanageable expectations about performance. And I think the pressure of that has been killing off our artists for the last 500 years. (…) But the process, and the heavy anxiety around it was released when he took the genie, the genius out of him where it was causing nothing but trouble, and released it kind of back where it came from, and realized that this didn’t have to be this internalized, tormented thing. It could be this peculiar, wondrous, bizarre collaboration kind of conversation between Tom and the strange, external thing that was not quite Tom.”

http://www.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_gilbert_on_genius#t-850863

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Person Of The Week! Leopold von Sacher Masoch!

Leopold Ritter von Sacher-Masoch (1836 – 1895) was an Austrian writer and journalist, who gained renown for his romantic stories of Galician life. During his lifetime, Sacher-Masoch was well known as a man of letters, a utopian thinker who espoused socialist and humanist ideals in his fiction and non-fiction.

sacher-m

The term masochism is derived from his name, coined in 1886 by the Austrian psychiatrist Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing (1840–1902) in his book Psychopathia Sexualis:

“I feel justified in calling this sexual anomaly “Masochism”, because the author Sacher-Masoch frequently made this perversion, which up to his time was quite unknown to the scientific world as such, the substratum of his writings. I followed thereby the scientific formation of the term “Daltonism“, from Dalton, the discoverer of colour-blindness. During recent years facts have been advanced which prove that Sacher-Masoch was not only the poet of Masochism, but that he himself was afflicted with the anomaly. Although these proofs were communicated to me without restriction, I refrain from giving them to the public. I refute the accusation that “I have coupled the name of a revered author with a perversion of the sexual instinct”, which has been made against me by some admirers of the author and by some critics of my book. As a man, Sacher-Masoch cannot lose anything in the estimation of his cultured fellow-beings simply because he was afflicted with an anomaly of his sexual feelings. As an author, he suffered severe injury so far as the influence and intrinsic merit of his work is concerned, for so long and whenever he eliminated his perversion from his literary efforts he was a gifted writer, and as such would have achieved real greatness had he been actuated by normally sexual feelings. In this respect he is a remarkable example of the powerful influence exercised by the vita sexualis be it in the good or evil sense over the formation and direction of man’s mind.”

“Throughout history it has always been a serious deep culture which has produced moral character. Man even when he is selfish or evil always follows principles, woman never follows anything but impulses. Don’t ever forget that, and never feel secure with the woman you love.”

Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, Venus in Furs

Watch interesting talk on the subject: <

Weekly choice: on religion, debate, motivation and psychos

Ask Ariely!

Dear Dan,

Why are there so many religions, all of which suggest that God is on their side and holds the same values that they do?

—M.

religions

One answer comes from a 2009 study by Nick Epley and some of his colleagues from the University of Chicago, which asked religious Americans to state their positions on abortion, the death punishment and the war in Iraq. (This study is described in Dr. Epley’s recent book, “Mindwise: How We Understand What Others Think, Believe, Feel, and Want.”) Participants were then asked to predict the opinions of a few well-known individuals (such as Bill Gates), President Bush, the “average American,” and—and uniquely to this study—God on these issues.

Interestingly, the respondents were rather objective about predicting the opinions held by their fellow humans, but they tended to believe that God had similar opinions to their own. Conservatives believed God was very conservative; liberal believers were certain that God was more lenient.

To find out why we can view God so flexibly, a follow-up experiment asked another group of participants to take the position on the death penalty diametrically opposed to their own and argue this viewpoint in front of a camera. A large body of research on cognitive dissonance has shown that people who are forced to argue for an opinion opposite to their actual one feel so uncomfortable with the conflict that they’re likely to change their original opinion. After giving their on-camera speech, participants were again asked to express the views on these hot-button issues of the study’s famous individuals, President Bush, the “average American” and God.

The results? After expressing the opinion opposite their original one, individuals became more moderate. Those who disliked the death penalty became less opposed, and those who were for it became less so. But there was no such shift in participants’ predictions of the opinions of the well-known individuals, President Bush or the “average American.” And what about their predictions about God’s views? Participants tended to attribute the same position as their own new, more moderate viewpoint to God.

God, apparently, is something of a clean slate on which we can more easily project whatever we wish. We subscribe to the religious group that supports our beliefs, and then interpret Scripture in a way that supports our opinions. So if there is a God, I believe—no, I’m sure—that that (s)he thinks the way I do.

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Dishonesty Debate with Dan Ariely, Paul Bloom & Peter Singer

Cross-Coursera Dishonesty Debate brought together moral philosopher Peter Singer of Princeton, behavioral psychologist Paul Bloom of Yale, and behavioral economist Dan Ariely of Duke, to engage in a debate on dishonesty, morality, and ethics. It is a thoroughly informative and accessible synthesis of their respective fields.

debate

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Lga2mp5OqQ

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Ted’s Best Of The Week! Tony Robbins: Why we do what we do?

In this older 2006 talk, Tony Robbins discusses the “invisible forces” that motivate everyone’s actions — and high-fives Al Gore in the front row.

AnthonyTonyRobbins (born February 29, 1960) is an American life coach, self-help author and motivational speaker. He became well known through his infomercials and self-help books, Unlimited Power and Awaken the Giant Within. Robbins writes about subjects such as health and energy, overcoming fears, building wealth, persuasive communication, and enhancing relationships. Robbins began his career learning from many different motivational speakers, and promoted seminars for his personal mentor, Jim Rohn. He is deeply influenced by neuro-linguistic programming.

“When do people really start to live? When they face death.”

http://www.ted.com/talks/tony_robbins_asks_why_we_do_what_we_do#

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Person Of The Week! Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis!

FreudSigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, was a physiologist, medical doctor, psychologist and influential thinker of the early twentieth century. He was born in Freiberg, which is now known as the Czech Republic, on May 6, 1856. Freud’s innovative treatment of human actions, dreams, and indeed of cultural artifacts as invariably possessing implicit symbolic significance has proven to be extraordinarily fruitful, and has had massive implications for a wide variety of fields including psychology, anthropology, semiotics, and artistic creativity and appreciation. Freud developed psychoanalysis, a method through which an analyst unpacks unconscious conflicts based on the free associations, dreams and fantasies of the patient. His theories on child sexuality, libido and the ego, among other topics, were some of the most influential academic concepts of the 20th century.

Freud’s self-analysis, which forms the core of his masterpiece The Interpretation of Dreams, originated in the emotional crisis which he suffered on the death of his father and the series of dreams to which this gave rise. This analysis revealed to him that the love and admiration which he had felt for his father were mixed with very contrasting feelings of shame and hate (such a mixed attitude he termed ‘ambivalence’).

Instead of treating the behavior of the neurotic as being causally inexplicable—which had been the prevailing approach for centuries—Freud insisted, on the contrary, on treating it as behavior for which it is meaningful to seek an explanation by searching for causes in terms of the mental states of the individual concerned. Hence the significance which he attributed to slips of the tongue or pen, obsessive behavior and dreams—all these, he held, are determined by hidden causes in the person’s mind, and so they reveal in covert form what would otherwise not be known at all.

Freud’s account of the sexual genesis and nature of neuroses led him naturally to develop a clinical treatment for treating such disorders. The aim of the method may be stated simply in general terms–to re-establish a harmonious relationship between the three elements (Id, Ego and Super-ego) which constitute the mind by excavating and resolving unconscious repressed conflicts. When a hysterical patient was encouraged to talk freely about the earliest occurrences of her symptoms and fantasies, the symptoms began to abate, and were eliminated entirely when she was induced to remember the initial trauma which occasioned them. Turning away from his early attempts to explore the unconscious through hypnosis, Freud further developed this “talking cure,” acting on the assumption that the repressed conflicts were buried in the deepest recesses of the unconscious mind.

Weekly choice: on anxiety, championism and hypersexuality

Chronic Stress Early in Life Causes Anxiety and Aggression in Adulthood

Neuroscientists have found that social stress early in life can cause long-term problems with anxiety and aggression.

The conclusion comes from experiments on mice which were exposed to chronic levels of stress at a young age (Kovalenko et al., 2014).

The mouse equivalents of adolescents were placed in a cage with an aggressive mouse for two weeks. Although the mice were separated from each other, the adolescent was exposed to repeated short attacks from the aggressive adult mouse. After their experience, the mice’s behavior was tested.  The stressed mice showed high degrees of social defeatism, a lack of enthusiasm for social interaction and a lower ability to communicate with others. Their brains also showed less growth in an area of the hippocampus that is affected in depression.

limbicsystem

Another group of mice were given a rest period after the exposure to the aggressive adult mice.

During the rest period, these mice recovered in terms of their brain cells and their behavior.However, they were still abnormally anxious and aggressive.

One of the study’s authors, Dr. Enikolopov, explained:

“The exposure to a hostile environment during their adolescence had profound consequences in terms of emotional state and the ability to interact with peers.”

http://www.spring.org.uk/2014/04/chronic-stress-early-in-life-causes-anxiety-and-aggression-in-adulthood.php

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5 Obsessions Common To Champions

Communication: The teams that win will communicate better than their opponents.  They obsess over it.  These in-game communications focus on monitoring and modulating three important team competencies—knowledge, energy and emotion.  The teams that do this best will move on.

Purpose: The teams that win will emphasize a greater purpose. Winning is seen as a means to the bigger purpose rather than an end in itself.

Excellence in Little Things: The winning teams will obsess over little things.  John Wooden famously taught his teams how to wear their socks and shoes correctly because he knew that a blister or a loose shoe could disrupt a play, a game and ultimately, a championship.  When we watch the games, we’ll see exciting improvisation—fancy dribbles, lobs and dunks–but like great jazz, this exciting basketball will be grounded in strict adherence to the fundamentals.

Individual Accountability and Growth: There are few endeavors where participants are so quick to admit mistakes.  This accountability cuts to the chase, establishes responsibility for errors and allows the team to move on.

A Culture of Leadership:  Those that win, create a culture of leadership where they perform better than their opponents at the point of decision and in the heat of the moment. Basketball is a sport where the most talented teams don’t always win but those that create a culture of leadership almost always do.

So when it comes time to make predictions, pay attention to their obsessions and you might just pick the winners.

http://www.n2growth.com/blog/the-five-obsessions-of-winning-teams/

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Nymphomaniac – A Realistic Look at Female Hypersexuality?

Nymphomaniac poster compositeThe new Lars von Trier film Nymphomaniac: Volume I is the confessional tale of Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg), a traumatized, shame-filled, hypersexual woman. In short, Nymphomaniac: Volume I provides a spot-on depiction of the types of adult female sexual behaviors that can manifest as a delayed response to the neglect, emotional abuse, and other forms of trauma that sometimes occur during childhood. (…) Sadly, the story that Joe tells is one I could have written myself as an amalgam of my female clients. Her sexual behaviors started very early in life. Though it does not appear that she was sexually abused by either of her parents, she was definitely neglected and perhaps abused emotionally by her mother, causing her to bond with her father in dysfunctional ways. Over time, her sexual behavior has escalated – more partners (as many as ten per day), and more intense sexual activities. She spends nearly all of her free time pursuing sexual encounters, to the point where she has no other interests. Her response to any sort of emotional discomfort is sex. (…) Unsurprisingly to me, by the end of the film Joe describes her entire life (not just her sex life) as “monotonous and pointless.”

In fact, she compares her daily activities to the movements of a caged animal. Simply put, everything she does feels rote, repetitious, and meaningless. At one point she says to a sex partner, during coitus, “I can’t feel anything,” and it is clear that she is talking not just about physical numbness, but emotional numbness. I cannot even begin to tell you how many clients have related similar experiences to me in therapy sessions. (…) There is no “cure” for a traumatic life history. That said, individuals can learn, by sharing their traumatic histories with supportive and empathetic others (such as a therapist and/or other trauma survivors in recovery) to bond in healthier, more life-affirming ways. In short, with effort and proper guidance trauma survivors like Joe can develop what is known as “earned security” of attachment.

Usually, however, before this psychodynamic work (looking at how the past affects the present) takes place, these individuals must stop the escapist behaviors they’ve been using to avoid emotional discomfort. After all, the basis of recovering from trauma involves sharing about, feeling, and processing past traumas, and while an individual is actively numbing out via compulsive sexuality (or any other escapist activity, such as drug use) this work cannot be effectively done. As such, behavioral contracting coupled with cognitive behavioral therapy – teaching Joe to utilize healthier coping mechanisms when triggered to act out sexually – may be in order. Then, when her sexual behaviors are no longer controlling her life, the deeper therapeutic work of healing from past traumas can begin in earnest.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/love-and-sex-in-the-digital-age/201404/nymphomaniac-realistic-look-female-hypersexuality

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TED’s Best Of The Week! An animated tour of the invisible!

Gravity. The stars in day. Thoughts. The human genome. Time. Atoms. So much of what really matters in the world is impossible to see. A stunning animation of John Lloyd’s classic TEDTalk from 2009, which will make you question what you actually know.

Weekly choice: on Doubts, Neurons, Space and…To-do Lists (?)

 

How Atheism, Skepticism, and Humanism Changed My Life – and how it can Change Yours

skeptic“I was once taught to believe that Jesus was the Messiah. I was once taught to believe that God is the one true god. I was once taught to believe that all things are possible only through him. I was once taught that non-Christians weren’t good people. I was once taught that only Christianity could answer the questions that I had. I once believed in aliens, ghosts, and cryptids without hesitation. I once believed I was better than others. At one time I believed these things to be true. But eventually, I woke up. It wasn’t until I was much older I began questioning my beliefs and understanding the world much better, in ways that were much more fascinating than anything suggested to me from the pulpit, television, or literature. The beauty of living organisms, the complexity of our universe, and the incredible abilities of the human brain; all of which often taken credit for by those who believe they’ve been given a religious mandate to do so. Soon, it became incredibly hard for me to rely on faith.

If we want to live a knowledgeable and clear life, we must humble ourselves in way that may not sound easy now. I’ve done so by applying these simple principles:

  • I cannot be afraid to doubt unsubstantiated claims.
  • I cannot be afraid to ask questions about everything.
  • I need to be apprehensive before believing what other people say to be fact-based.
  • I need to treat others kindly in a respectable and adult way.
  • I need to live our lives day by day as if it is our last, because it’s highly probable this is the only life I get.
  • I need to recognize when I’ve been wrong and make an honest effort to correct those mistakes.

I ask you to do the same.

http://www.richarddawkins.net/foundation_articles/2014/3/18/how-atheism-skepticism-and-humanism-changed-my-life-and-how-it-can-change-yours

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The World Concert Hall: Listen To The Best Live Classical Music Concerts for Free

“Just over a century after the first radio performance of Ruggero Leoncavallo’s “Il Pagliacci,” and Pietro Mascagni’s “Cavalleria Rusticana” were broadcast live from the Metropolitan Opera House in 1910, the World Concert Hall has made it its mission to bring free live classical concerts to the world. The website contains a collection of links to free radio performances each week, allowing listeners to tune into live concerts performed across the globe. You can browse performances according to the site’s schedule, or choose from a selection of classical radio stations in a large number of countries. As you might expect, the U.S has the largest selection by far, with 80 stations. But for more curious music lovers, World Concert Hall also offers a taste of what other fans are listening to in other countries, like China, Japan, and Israel.”

http://www.openculture.com/2014/03/the-world-concert-hall-listen-to-the-best-live-classical-music-concerts-for-free.html

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TED’s Best Of The Week! The neuroscience of restorative justice!

Daniel Reisel searches for the psychological and physical roots of human morality. Reisel studies the brains of criminal psychopaths (and mice). And he asks a big question: Instead of warehousing these criminals, shouldn’t we be using what we know about the brain to help them rehabilitate? Put another way: If the brain can grow new neural pathways after an injury… could we help the brain re-grow morality?

words-amygdala-small

“How can we apply this knowledge? I’d like to leave you with three lessons that I learned. The first thing that I learned was that we need to change our mindset. Since Wormwood Scrubs was built 130 years ago, society has advanced in virtually every aspect, in the way we run our schools, our hospitals. Yet the moment we speak about prisons, it’s as though we’re back in Dickensian times, if not medieval times. For too long, I believe, we’ve allowed ourselves to be persuaded of the false notion that human nature cannot change, and as a society, it’s costing us dearly. We know that the brain is capable of extraordinary change, and the best way to achieve that, even in adults, is to change and modulate our environment.

The second thing I have learned is that we need to create an alliance of people who believe that science is integral to bringing about social change. It’s easy enough for a neuroscientist to place a high-security inmate in an MRI scanner. Well actually, that turns out not to be so easy, but ultimately what we want to show is whether we’re able to reduce the reoffending rates. In order to answer complex questions like that, we need people of different backgrounds — lab-based scientists and clinicians, social workers and policy makers, philanthropists and human rights activists — to work together.

Finally, I believe we need to change our own amygdalae, because this issue goes to the heart not just of who Joe is, but who we are. We need to change our view of Joe as someone wholly irredeemable, because if we see Joe as wholly irredeemable, how is he going to see himself as any different? In another decade, Joe will be released from Wormwood Scrubs. Will he be among the 70 percent of inmates who end up reoffending and returning to the prison system? Wouldn’t it be better if, while serving his sentence, Joe was able to train his amygdala, which would stimulate the growth of new brain cells and connections, so that he will be able to face the world once he gets released? Surely, that would be in the interest of all of us.”

http://www.ted.com/talks/daniel_reisel_the_neuroscience_of_restorative_justice

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Ask Ariely!

Dear Dan,

Why do people love to write to-do lists?

—Joe

ArleyI suspect there are rational and irrational reasons for the very large amount of list-making activity we see around us. On the rational side, lists help us with faulty memory and allow us to share tasks with other people simply and efficiently. On the irrational side, making lists and checking items off these lists give us the false sense that we are actually making progress. The term for this by the way is “structured procrastination.” It’s an attempt to capture the momentary feeling that we are progressing—whereas in fact when we look back at the end of the day on what we achieved, we realize that we did not get much done. I also suspect that all the apps that help us make lists and then make it fun for us to check things off are reducing our collective productivity, by replacing real work and focus with structured productivity.

http://danariely.com/page/3/

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Series of the week! Looking for Answers in the Stars: Cosmos & Wonders Of The Solar System!

cosmos-wideFrom all the series that began recently on the small screen, I have to admit that the most interesting one is by far Cosmos. Here’s what Jeffrey Marlow has to say about it: “After 34 years, Cosmos is back. The wildly successful space-themed documentary series was written by Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan, and Steven Soter; many credit the show as the most influential science TV program ever. So when reports of a reboot emerged a few years ago, the Twitterverse and blogosphere pored over every detail. There was the fact that it would air in prime time on a major network. There was Sagan’s legacy to contend with. And there was the new host – leading science evangelist and astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson, who embodies the expansive wonder and hidden intricacies of space like no one else.”

Watch full episodes of Cosmos:

http://www.cosmosontv.com/

As for Wonders of the Solar System, professor Brian Cox visits the most extreme locations on Earth to explain how the laws of physics carved natural wonders across the solar system.

Learn more about the Wonders of The Solar System:

http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/wonders-of-the-solar-system/