Why people prefer unequal societies

“Our own argument against a focus on inequality is a psychological one. In this paper we have outlined a wealth of empirical evidence suggesting that people don’t care about reducing inequality per se. Rather, people have an aversion toward unfairness, and under certain special circumstances this leads them to reject unequal distributions. In other conditions, including those involving real-world distributions of wealth, it leads them to favour unequal distributions. In the current economic environment in the United States and other wealthy nations, concerns about fairness happen to lead to a preference for reducing the current level of inequality. However, in various other societies across the world and across history (for example, when faced with the communist ideals of the former USSR), concerns about fairness lead to anger about too much equality. To understand these opposite drives, one needs to focus not on whether the system results in a relatively equal or unequal distribution of wealth, but whether it is viewed as fair.”

Should you feel sad about the demise of the handwritten letter?

“Temporal vagary is the final essential characteristic of the personal letter; with physicality, it sets the personal letter against digital messages. Correspondence presumes reply but not immediately. Punctual chasms allow emotions to clarify, deepen, resonate – Turkle celebrates time for reflection; Sankovitch finds ‘something wonderful about that interval’. The call of personal correspondence is not the Pavlovian, or Fordist, ping of an email or text, demanding immediate attention. Letter-writers are allowed a sensation of power over the narrative of their lives. Letter-writers can insist on their own – wasteful, unpredictable – clock. Just as a letter’s physical presence, then, resists the rationalisations of the public sphere, its temporal idiosyncrasies resist the efficiencies of capitalist production.”

Jesus Was Crucified. But Why?

“The belief that violence ”saves” is so successful because it doesn’t seem to be mythic in the least. Violence simply appears to be the nature of things. It’s what works. It seems inevitable, the last and, often, the first resort in conflicts. If a god is what you turn to when all else fails, violence certainly functions as a god. What people overlook, then, is the religious character of violence. It demands from its devotees an absolute obedience-unto-death. This Myth of Redemptive Violence is the real myth of the modern world. It, and not Judaism or Christianity or Islam, is the dominant religion in our society today.”

No Worship Without Skin in the Game

“So, in the Eastern Mediterranean pagan world (Greco-Semitic) no worship was done without sacrifice. The gods did not accept cheap talk. Also, burnt offerings were precisely burnt so no human would consume them.”

What if Barry Bonds had played without a baseball bat? | Chart Party

What if Barry Bonds had played without a baseball bat? | Chart Party

April 14, 2017 at 09:58AM

Fairness > equality

from: April 13, 2017 at 07:41AM

The Case Of The Suffocating Woman

from: April 6, 2017 at 05:18PM

Living and Loving Through Loss: Beautiful Letters of Consolation from Great Artists, Writers, and Scientists

from: March 26, 2017 at 07:35PM

Pleasure and the good life

from: March 26, 2017 at 04:38PM

How The ‘Scarcity Mindset’ Can Make Problems Worse

from: March 24, 2017 at 10:56PM

Complacent or Crazy? Two books on our time

“A society that has lost that confidence can easily become a society dissatisfied with an insecure status quo but too risk averse to do anything about it beyond complaining. As Cowen suggests, this may be the biggest of all the risks we face. And as Poulos suggests, addressing this problem will require a revival of some means of democratic forbearance that may in turn depend on a revival of democratic institutions, broadly conceived.”

(I don’t know that we’re really all that risk-averse: we elected Trump, which is a huge risk.)

Small populations make it harder to do what Nordic countries do

“What’s so remarkable about the Nordic countries is that they manage to pull off their systems despite the considerable handicap of small populations and small market sizes. Despite all the pressures being small puts on having lower wages and lower taxes in order to remain competitive, the Nordics consistently post the highest unit labor costs in Europe and highest taxes in the developed world. Yet they flourish.”

(This is a weird argument…X has drawbacks, but X works great, therefore the benefits must come from Y not X, so Z should try Y?)

What if Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton Had Swapped Genders?

“A restaging of the presidential debates with an actress playing Trump and an actor playing Clinton yielded surprising results.


The simplicity of Trump’s message became easier for people to hear when it was coming from a woman—that was a theme. One person said, “I’m just so struck by how precise Trump’s technique is.””

Color in UI Design: A (Practical) Framework

“Darker color variations are made by lowering brightness and increasing saturation. Brighter color variations are made by increasing brightness and lowering saturation.


The important bit is this: if you don’t count saturation and brightness, shifting hue towards red (0°), green (120°), or blue (240°) will decrease the luminosity, or perceived lightness of the color. And shifting the hue towards yellow (60°), cyan (180°), or magenta (300°) will increase the perceived lightness of the color.

The trick is to just make the movement of the hue match up with the movement of the saturation and brightness. If you want a darker variation, move the hue towards red (0°), green (120°), or blue (240°), whichever is closest — and vice versa (with cyan, magenta, and yellow) for lighter variations.”

Great Companies Obsess Over Productivity, Not Efficiency

“Efficiency is about doing the same with less. […] Productivity is about doing more with the same. […]

Inspired employees bring more discretionary energy to their work every day. As a result, they are 125% more productive than an employee who is merely satisfied. Stated differently, one inspired employee can produce as much as 2.25 satisfied employees.

Executives with a productivity mindset do everything they can to tap into every employee’s reservoir of discretionary energy. They strive to align the firm’s purpose with each individual’s purpose. They invest in improving the inspirational leadership capabilities of their managers at every level. And they build a culture of autonomy and accountability that provides every employee with the opportunity to do their very best work. While these steps may not inspire every employee, they can increase the level of inspiration across the organization and, with it, workforce productivity.”

Feel like a loser?

“Whether you look at fish or humans, research keeps finding the same thing. When you win, you win more. When you lose, you lose more.

Losers don’t just lose more, they don’t even bother to come back to compete again.

Winners on the other hand, even if their win was faked (their opponent lost on purpose), gain the confidence to keep competing. For example a mouse who wins a fixed fight where the other mouse was sedated (i.e. forced to lose), has greater odds now of winning his next fight.

Robert brings up the unfortunate side effect this has. Acts of aggression against the weak become a coping mechanism.”

Most Utopian Communities Fail. Why?

“One aspect of that struggle is that business models for many intentional communities remain elusive, or unformed. Self-sufficiency, for example, often means not taking advantage of economies of scale that can support growing populations. At the same time, many communities are chagrined to find themselves servicing voyeurs and tourists for needed cash, which brings ‘mission drift’ to their organisations and a departure from their founding vision.”

Twitter, Live, and Luck

from: February 27, 2017 at 11:35AM

Defense Against the Dark Arts: Networked Propaganda and Counter-Propaganda

“Debunking doesn’t work: provide an alternative narrative.

Telling people that something they’ve heard is wrong may be one of the most pointless things you can do. A long series of experiments shows that it rarely changes belief.”

Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds

“The Gormans, too, argue that ways of thinking that now seem self-destructive must at some point have been adaptive. And they, too, dedicate many pages to confirmation bias, which, they claim, has a physiological component. They cite research suggesting that people experience genuine pleasure—a rush of dopamine—when processing information that supports their beliefs. “It feels good to ‘stick to our guns’ even if we are wrong,” they observe.

The Gormans don’t just want to catalogue the ways we go wrong; they want to correct for them.”