The Video Of The Week!
Sam Harris – Mindfulness Meditation – From Death and The Present Moment
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.”
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).
The 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.”
Why Living the Questions Is Better Than Having the Answers
“When faced with a question, we:
- Search for the answer
- Determine this is the answer.
- 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.
We 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.”
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.”
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.
“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.
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.
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?
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.
Ted’s Best Of The Week! Will our kids be a different species, by Juan Enríquez
Throughout 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.”
Artist Of The Week, Gustav Klimt!
Gustav 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.
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.
Click here for a documentary on his life: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FaGH-BczrVA
How Couples Can Cope with Professional Stress
“Most of us are familiar with the cycle. At work, the pressure to be “always on,” to meet deadlines, to serve the demands of colleagues or customers, or to deal with a difficult coworker can create stress that leaks into our personal lives. This stress can cause us to be impatient with romantic partners or kids or to neglect our duties at home, creating a vicious cycle of anxiety outside the office that makes work stresses even harder to face. There are countless examples of couples driven to the edge by work-related stress. And psychological studies have shown that outside stressors — particularly stress at work — can push relationships to the breaking point. But they don’t have to.
Listen and support. There’s a time to question, challenge, or offer solutions. But often when helping a partner deal with professional stress, listening and support are most valuable.
Recognize and respect different coping mechanisms.
Be active together.
Laugh together. Serendipitously, humor is also a key way to deal with stress: Studies have shown that laughter can alter your mood and soothe your stress response. Life’s problems are hard, but when couples can learn to tease one another, to laugh, and to use humor to confront life’s difficult issues, they may also manage their relationship and their professional anxieties better.”
What Kind of Porn Do Women Like the Most?
In fact, there appears to be two fundamental truths about women and porn:
Fact #1: Most women don’t like porn.
Fact #2: But those women who do, tend to like the same kind of porn that men do.
First, there have been many attempts over the decades, dating back to the 1970s, to create commercial visual pornography that appeals to women enough that they would be willing to pay for it, and each time these efforts have either (1) failed completely, (2) only survived because of the financial support of gay men, or (3) survived with a female customer base that is a tiny fraction of the customer base for pornography targeted at men.
There are women who wonder if their complete absence of interest in porn is normal. Other women wonder if their interest in graphic, hardcore porn is normal. Both are common. The only variation that seems to be relatively rare is for women to have a strong, abiding erotic interest in softcore, “female friendly” porn.
Noam Chomsky Amusingly Sidesteps Student’s Question “How Can I Talk to Women Better?,” But Explains “Life’s Just Empty” Without Love
“Noam Chomsky is a pretty unlikely celebrity. As a preeminent anarchist theorist, his political writing is full of passionate intensity, but in his numerous public appearances, he conforms much more to images associated with his day job as a preeminent academic and linguist. He’s very soft-spoken—I’ve never heard him raise his voice above the register of polite coffee-shop conversation—and frumpy in that elder scholar kind of way: uncombed gray hair, an endless supply of sweaters and corduroy jackets…”
Ted’s best of the week! Rita Pierson: Every kid needs a champion
Rita F. Pierson, a professional educator since 1972, taught elementary school, junior high and special education. She was a counselor, a testing coordinator and an assistant principal. In each of these roles, she brought a special energy to the role — a desire to get to know her students, show them how much they matter and support them in their growth, even if it was modest. Rita Pierson, a teacher for 40 years, once heard a colleague say, “They don’t pay me to like the kids.” Her response: “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.’” A rousing call to educators to believe in their students and actually connect with them on a real, human, personal level.
“I gave [my students] a saying to say: ‘I am somebody. I was somebody when I came. I’ll be a better somebody when I leave. I am powerful, and I am strong. I deserve the education that I get here.’”
“Every child deserves a champion — an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.”
News of the week!
After a long struggle that in most cases was happening away from the spotlight, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) confronted the silence policy of the Vatican in regarded the child molester priests. For so long, countries and the large majority of people kept quiet while looking the other way bowing their head with the hope that this malaise will simply disappear from public eyes and ears. While knowing that under the roof of the sacred house and by a strange reality of untouchable uniform, hundreds of men, perverted men, went unpunished. In many cases that were publicly exposed, the head of church simply transferred the abusers from one church to another, often in a different country. What else can they do when according to their faith all those sexual offenders really needed is to say that many Ave Maria and who knows how many Padre Nostrum. Not forgetting the convenience of the church to make it go away as fast as possible in order not to lose more of the already diminishing blind followers.
This official call for justice will surely not be completed for it is all too obvious that the interest of the Vatican lay elsewhere, and it is certainly not going to help the ten of thousand of abused children that are scarred for life and the hundreds that died of depression as results of those godly acts. However, finally we see a progress towards reason and justice that can overcome the fear of the untouchable and all powerful church. When confronted, religious individuals often forget that it is not about one bad seed, it is about a corrupt system.
To read the official document, click here.
To read more on the matter:
P.D. Probably the most disturbing is the response of the Vatican to the UN. The Holy See says this report is influenced by the non-governmental organizations which favor gay marriage. So, an NGO in favor of freedom of the union between two people who love each other is responsible for the accusation of child abuse by countless members of the Church. A Holy church which will continue, as Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, with its “moral teaching”. May God saves us all!
The Right Way to Answer “What’s Your Greatest Weakness?”
David Reese from Harvard Business Review shares his concerns about the new generation of young inspired business men and women who just finished career school programs. In this interesting and amusing post he demonstrate what how a business interview should be more than how it is being taught.
“Thomas Jefferson once said that “honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom”. Though truth-telling abounds in grade school platitudes, it seems scarcer the older we get. But this decline in honesty — let’s call it dishonesty — isn’t necessarily innate. Dishonesty can be taught. In my experience, I’ve noticed that, of all culprits, college career centers are exceptional traffickers of such miseducation. In the process, they’re hurting their brightest students’ chances of making it in the world of startups by convincing them to give dishonest answers to tough interview questions.
What is your greatest weakness? Even if you’ve only had just one professional interview in your life, then you’ve probably still been asked some version of this question. Do you remember how you answered? Did you say that you work too hard? That you have perfectionist tendencies? Or that you’re too passionate? Be honest. “
RSA Animate – The Power of Networks
The animated series of RSA is simply sublime. It is an amusing and active way to learn about important concepts in our society. “In this RSA Animate, Manuel Lima, senior UX design lead at Microsoft Bing, explores the power of network visualization to help navigate our complex modern world. This link is taken from a lecture given by Manuel Lima as part of the RSA’s free public events program.”
It’s Okay To Be Smart!
Sometimes students get the wrong message from their classmates: that it is not cool to be smart in science. But biologist Joe Hanson has a more positive signal that he likes to send to kids – in fact the name of his popular science show on YouTube (via PBS Digital Studios) says it all: “It’s Okay to Be Smart.”
TED of the week!
“Psychologist Elizabeth Loftus studies memories. More precisely, she studies false memories, when people either remember things that didn’t happen or remember them differently from the way they really were. It’s more common than you might think, and Loftus shares some startling stories and statistics, and raises some important ethical questions we should all remember to consider.”
Song Of The Week! Bésame Mucho…
“Bésame Mucho” (Kiss me a lot) is a song written in 1940 by Mexican songwriter Consuelo Velázquez. It is one of the most famous boleros, and was recognized in 1999 as the most sung and recorded Mexican song in the world. According to Velázquez herself, she wrote this song even though she had never been kissed before at the time, and kissing as she heard was considered a sin.
She was inspired by the piano piece “Quejas, o la Maja y el Ruiseñor” from the 1911 suite Goyescas by Spanish composer Enrique Granados. It is incredible how so many people around the world are attracted to this song. Probably one of the reasons is exactly that, the innocence it portrays. The listener is facing pure and natural first desire of a kiss, of a touch, of emotion, taking you back to your first tender kiss.
There are slight differences in the wording at the end of the chorus, regarding the words perderte después (to lose you afterwards). Considering that Velázquez may have been fifteen years old when she wrote the lyrics, this sentence reflects inexperience and innocence. Indeed, a video from “TV Mexicana”shows Consuelo Velázquez playing the piano while the singer sings perderte después. Many interpretations use perderte otra vez (lose you once again) instead of the original. Emilio Tuero was the first to record the song, but the Lucho Gatica version made the song famous. Covered by the Beatles both on stage and in the studio, they included the song in their setlist during the band’s audition for Decca Records, their first EMI recording session and the Get Back sessions. A performance from the Get Back sessions was included in the documentary film Let It Be, while one from the EMI audition appeared on the Anthology 1 compilation. They sang their rendition of the song with English lyrics that do not correspond to the original Spanish ones. As for the land of pizza and love, the song was recorded in 2006, by the Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli for his album Amore (watch below).
Apes with big brains: what makes us human?
Superficially we humans have much in common with other species – but no other species makes cars, computers, and combine harvesters.
“We have big brains. Other species are marked out by other qualities. Swifts and albatrosses are spectacularly good at flying, dogs and rhinoceroses at smelling, bats at hearing, moles, aardvarks and wombats at digging. Human beings are not good at any of those things. But we do have very big brains; we are good at thinking, remembering, calculating, imagining, speaking. Other species can communicate, but no other species has true language with open-ended grammar. No other species has literature, music, art, mathematics or science. No other species makes books, or complicated machines such as cars, computers and combine harvesters. No other species devotes substantial lengths of time to pursuits that don’t contribute directly to survival or reproduction.”
Benjamin Bratton Explains “What’s Wrong with TED Talks?” and Why They’re a “Recipe for Civilizational Disaster”
“TED Talks — they give your “discovery-seeking brain a little hit of dopamine;” make you “feel part of a curious, engaged, enlightened, and tech-savvy tribe;” almost giving you the sensation that you’re attending a “new Harvard.” That was the hype around TED Talks a few years ago. Since then, the buzz around TED has mercifully died down, and the organization has gone on, staging its conferences around the globe. It’s been a while since we’ve featured a TED Talk whose ideas seem worth spreading. But today we have one for you. Intriguingly, it’s called “What’s Wrong with TED Talks?” It was presented by Benjamin Bratton, Associate Professor of Visual Arts at UCSD, at none other than TEDxSanDiego 2013. Bratton makes his case (above) in 11 minutes — well within the 18 allotted minutes — by arguing that TED doesn’t just help popularize ideas. Instead, it changes and cheapens the agenda for science, philosophy and technology in America. “
Change Your Intention to Focus Your Attention
“With busy schedules and to-do lists that carry us from hour to hour without much time to breathe, it’s rare that we stop to reflect on our motivations. But when we take the briefest of moments to set clear, positive intentions for what we’re doing, the payback is enormous. We can make a remarkable shift in how any assignment, conversation, or meeting feels just by considering where we want to place our attention. (…) At work, this means we may fail to perceive the good things a colleague does if we’ve already formed a belief that they’re annoying. And if we’re in a bad mood starting a task, we can easily end up paying attention to problems more than solutions.”
Check in with yourself. Ask yourself what’s top of mind for you right now. What are your expectations, about the situation and the people you’re working with? What needs or concerns do you have? What’s your mood?
Recognize your filters. Given what’s top of mind for you, make two quick lists. What information or behavior will you be paying most attention to, because it fits with what’s top of mind for you? What information and behavior could you potentially miss, because it goes against your current state of mind? If this feels difficult, think about the opposites of the first list.
Decide on a positive intention. Identify what matters most to you. If you’re coming up with anything a little snarky or righteous, try to reframe more generously. For example, perhaps it’s really most important to improve your connection with a colleague rather than making sure the colleague understands they did something wrong. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t raise challenging topics. But you’ll notice quite different things in your conversation with them if you set a more positive intention.
Direct your attention. Given your positive intention and your lists, what do you now want to pay more attention to — in others, in yourself, or in the task at hand?
Why Men and Women Can’t be friends
Art of the week! “When I started loving myself”
A poem by Charlie Chaplin written on his 70th birthday on April 16, 1959.
When I started loving myself
I understood that I’m always and at any given opportunity
in the right place at the right time.
And I understood that all that happens is right –
from then on I could be calm.
Today I know: It’s called TRUST.
When I started to love myself I understood how much it can offend somebody
When I tried to force my desires on this person,
even though I knew the time is not right and the person was not ready for it,
and even though this person was me.
Today I know: It’s called LETTING GO
When I started loving myself
I could recognize that emotional pain and grief
are just warnings for me to not live against my own truth.
Today I know: It’s called AUTHENTICALLY BEING.
When I started loving myself
I stopped longing for another life
and could see that everything around me was a request to grow.
Today I know: It’s called MATURITY.
When I started loving myself
I stopped depriving myself of my free time
and stopped sketching further magnificent projects for the future.
Today I only do what’s fun and joy for me,
what I love and what makes my heart laugh,
in my own way and in my tempo.
Today I know: it’s called HONESTY.
The rest of the poem you can find on:
Hey Congress! 4 ways to break a stalemate!
Converse. Convince. Compromise. Cooperate
“Partnership is not easy but it requires the continual application of we can call the four C’s – conversing, convincing, compromising, and cooperating. These practices are fundamental to the biggest “c” word in management – communication – open, honest and mutual.
Mutual benefit requires mutual consent.”
Richard Dawkins answers the question: what makes us human? | BBC Radio 2
“Darwin would be fascinated if he could come back and see what is now known. We are very, very unique species. Make the point that other species are unique too. But we are unique in a very special way, in our ability to think, in our ability to place ourselves in universe, understand where we came from. No other species comes close to that.”
Here’s another link about some of the many talks by Dawkins:
Can Long Distance Relationships Work?
About three million Americans have long-distance relationships
“…our culture emphasizes being together physically and frequent face-to-face contact for close relationships, but long-distance relationships clearly stand against all these values. People don’t have to be so pessimistic about long-distance romance. The long-distance couples try harder than geographically close couples in communicating affection and intimacy, and their efforts do pay back.”
None of this research, though, tells us anything about which types of people can cope with long distance relationships. While some people may naturally have the skills required, others may not.
Ted’s best of the week!
iO Tillet Wright thanks to her parents for not asking her to define herself as a child. Her experience of growing up without check boxes like “female”, “male”, “gay” or “straight” thoroughly infuses her art.
“Sometimes just the question ‘what do you do?’ can feel like somebody’s opening a tiny little box and asking you to squeeze yourself inside of it.”
“There are just as many jerks and sweethearts and Democrats and Republicans and jocks and queens and every other polarization you can possibly think of within the LGBT community as there are within the human race.”
Person of the week! Homage a symbol of a century: Nelson Mandela
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (1918 – 2013) was born in the village of Mvezo in Umtatu. Mandela was the person that brought peace to one of the most problematic regions in the XXth century. The first black president of South Africa united people, identities of different race, color and culture. All under the same roof and vision. This great man’s funeral will be held on Sunday, December 15, after the emotional 10 days farewell.
“Our family was deeply moved by our visit to Madiba’s former cell on Robben Island during our recent trip to South Africa, and we will forever draw strength and inspiration from his extraordinary example of moral courage, kindness, and humility,” Obama said in a statement.
Mandela ground breaking work was mainly political and social to end the South African apartheid regime. He was most known for his policy and attitude of forgiveness, fostering racial reconciliation while avoiding a failure in empty retaliation out of anger and vengeance. Thus this Rolihlahla (“troublemaker” in colloquial Xhosa) became the most appreciated peacemaker this modern world has even seen.
A short biography:
p.s. – Why Nelson?
“No one in my family had ever attended school […] On the first day of school my teacher, Miss Mdingane, gave each of us an English name. This was the custom among Africans in those days and was undoubtedly due to the British bias of our education. That day, Miss Mdingane told me that my new name was Nelson. Why this particular name I have no idea.”
— Mandela, 1994