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.”

The Future of Not Working

from: February 25, 2017 at 03:04PM

The Future of Not Working

NY Times: “Moreover, cash might force aid workers and nongovernmental organizations to confront the fact that they could be doing better by doing things differently — often by doing less. “It’s easy to muster evidence that you should be giving cash instead of fertilizer,” said Justin Sandefur of the Center for Global Development. “The harder argument is: You should shut down your U.S.A.I.D. program, which is bigger than the education budget of Liberia, and give the money to Liberians. That’s the radical critique.” Faye put it more bluntly, if half-jokingly: If cash transfers flourished, “the whole aid industry would have to fire itself.””

How to be a Stoic

“The first line of Epictetus’ manual of ethical advice, the Enchiridion—“Some things are in our control and others not”—made me feel that a weight was being lifted off my chest. For Epictetus, the only thing we can totally control, and therefore the only thing we should ever worry about, is our own judgment about what is good. If we desire money, health, sex, or reputation, we will inevitably be unhappy. If we genuinely wish to avoid poverty, sickness, loneliness, and obscurity, we will live in constant anxiety and frustration. Of course, fear and desire are unavoidable. Everyone feels those flashes of dread or anticipation. Being a Stoic means interrogating those flashes: asking whether they apply to things outside your control and, if they do, being “ready with the reaction ‘Then it’s none of my concern.’””

Centrism is Dead. Time to Rebuild the Left.

“What is required now is broad recognition that centrists cannot resolve our deepening crisis. Structurally, they are too dependent on the Washington party system and its false equivalency. Intellectually, they suffer from a poverty of imagination. Philosophically, they have few core commitments. And temperamentally, they are too milquetoast, lacking one of the most essential traits for such a moment: political courage.”

The real assimilation dilemma

from: February 23, 2017 at 02:26PM

[REPOST] The Non-Libertarian FAQ

from: February 22, 2017 at 10:02PM

Why Do New Atheists Hate Group Selection?

“To admit group selection, for Pinker, is to admit the genuineness of human altruism. Barring some very strange argument, to admit the genuineness of human altruism is to admit the adaptiveness of genuine altruism and broad self-sacrifice. And to admit the adaptiveness of broad self-sacrifice is to admit the adaptiveness of those human institutions that coordinate and reinforce it – namely, religion!”