Summary of “Walt Whitman on Democracy and Optimism as a Mighty Form of Resistance – Brain Pickings”

“Progress is never permanent, will always be threatened, must be redoubled, restated and reimagined if it is to survive,” Zadie Smith wrote in her spectacular essay on optimism and despair.
The illusion of permanent progress inflicts a particularly damning strain of despair as we witness the disillusioning undoing of triumphs of democracy and justice generations in the making – despair preventable only by taking a wider view of history in order to remember that democracy advances in fits and starts, in leaps and backward steps, but advances nonetheless, on timelines exceeding any individual lifetime.
Amid our current atmosphere of presentism bias and extreme narrowing of perspective, it is not merely difficult but downright countercultural to resist the ahistorical panic by taking such a telescopic view – lucid optimism that may be our most unassailable form of resistance to the corruptions and malfunctions of democracy.
I can conceive of no better service in the United States, henceforth, by democrats of thorough and heart-felt faith, than boldly exposing the weakness, liabilities and infinite corruptions of democracy.
It will be fully realized that ostensible wealth and money-making, show, luxury, &c., imperatively necessitate something beyond – namely, the sane, eternal moral and spiritual-esthetic attributes, elements Soon, it will be understood clearly, that the State cannot flourish, without those elements.
American Democracy, in its myriad personalities, in factories, work-shops, stores, offices – through the dense streets and houses of cities, and all their manifold sophisticated life – must either be fibred, vitalized, by regular contact with out-door light and air and growths, farm-scenes, animals, fields, trees, birds, sun-warmth and free skies, or it will morbidly dwindle and pale.
I conceive of no flourishing and heroic elements of Democracy in the United States, or of Democracy maintaining itself at all, without the Nature-element forming a main part – to be its health-element and beauty-element – to really underlie the whole politics, sanity, religion and art of the New World.
Complement this particular portion with Iris Murdoch on why art is essential for democracy, Rebecca Solnit on lucid optimism in dark times, and Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman’s animated tribute to Leonard Cohen’s anthem to democracy, then revisit Whitman on the essence of happiness and his advice on the building blocks of character.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Liquid water ‘lake’ revealed on Mars”

Researchers have found evidence of an existing body of liquid water on Mars.
Previous research found possible signs of intermittent liquid water flowing on the martian surface, but this is the first sign of a persistent body of water on the planet in the present day.
Lake beds like those explored by Nasa’s Curiosity rover show water was present on the surface of Mars in the past.
The planet’s climate has since cooled due to its thin atmosphere, leaving most of its water locked up in ice.
Marsis wasn’t able to determine how deep the layer of water might be, but the research team estimate that it is a minimum of one metre.
The continuous white line at the top of the radar results above marks the beginning of the South Polar Layered Deposit; a filo pastry-like accumulation of water ice and dust.
So while the findings suggest water is present, they don’t confirm anything further.
In order to remain liquid in such cold conditions, the water likely has a great many salts dissolved in it.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How a boxing trainer survived a murder plot hatched by his wife”

He had been a trainer for some 20 years when Mundo appeared in the little gym in 2005.
Mundo had a plan: “I told Ramon, ‘Look, you’re going to play the hit man. You’re going to buy another phone, a throwaway.'” Mundo explained that the phone would be used as if it were Paco’s.
Later, as Lulu watched, Mundo texted the burner phone back with her offer: $1,000 cash, along with Ramon’s pickup truck.
Mundo started to secretly record his conversations with Lulu, hoping to gather evidence for Ramon.
With the cash in hand, Ramon and Mundo agreed that Ramon should go to the police.
In the interrogation video, a detective asks Mundo, “Has she specifically used the word ‘dead’?” “Yeah,” Mundo responds, pointing to a text message on his phone.
Atkins ultimately determined that “Ramon’s life was seriously in danger.” He asked Mundo to keep recording Lulu.
In one, Lulu tells Mundo that Ramon might sign divorce papers on July 22.

The orginal article.

Summary of “We Have Always Lived in the House”

The house would be the last place I’d see my mother alive.
The floodgates opened then as I hovered on the brink of adulthood, and in rushed the awareness of just how rocky the terrain of life outside the house could be.
He would return to the house where he grew up, which would have been the last place he had seen his sister alive.
How can we go back into the house without her? With her still in the hospital in a coma? I remember feeling my subway pass in my coat pocket, resting against the folds.
The one I’d had when I was growing up in the house.
In the past year Brandon and I bought a house in Atlanta while my father moved back into his.
As we move into this new house, ours to build our lives in, creating memories unaware of and unsure of the future, I’ve been thinking a lot about the house where I grew up, the last place I called home, and who we were then when we lived there.
My father speaks often of the past, of when we were all together, my mother was alive and we all lived in the house.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Midlife crisis? It’s a myth. Why life gets better after 50”

If you or someone important in your life shows symptoms of midlife restlessness, be alarmed! The dashboard is flashing red.
Most of what people think they know about midlife crisis – beginning with the notion that it is a crisis – is based on harmful myths and outdated stereotypes.
The idea of the midlife crisis first appeared in an article by the psychoanalyst Elliott Jaques in 1965 and soon caught on in popular culture.
Psychologists found no such phenomenon when they investigated, but the idea of the midlife crisis refused to fade.
How satisfied you feel at any given time will depend on many things; but the independent effect of ageing is more than enough to make a noticeable difference, especially if the rest of your life is stable and smooth.
Contrary to the American Beauty stereotype, most of us slog through a midlife slump without acting out, which is fortunate, because a slump can indeed become a crisis if it leads people to make impulsive and costly mistakes.
Combine the false assumptions listed above, and the picture emerges of midlife crisis as an unjustified, self-indulgent form of acting out by fortunate people who should be more grateful.
The result is that millions of people who are working through a midlife transition do so in silence and isolation, afraid to talk about it, often even with their spouses, for fear of setting off a family panic or being told they need medication.

The orginal article.

Summary of “7 Minimalist Ways To Declutter Your LifePick the Brain”

What Minimalism is really all about is reassessment of your priorities so that you can strip away the excess stuff – the possessions and ideas and relationships and activities – that don’t bring value to your life.
In this article, I will talk about 7 little ways you can declutter your life with a minimalistic approach.
A lot of people who are successful in the health area of their life apply this principle to their life.
The goal should be to either eliminate debt out of your life or never get in debt at all.
Minimizing time is also a way to become more of a minimalist.
It’s important to know where you’re spending your time on, try to focus on the highest value activities in your life and minimize the time you spend on low-value activities.
Try applying at least 1 of these tips to your life right now and see how you feel.
How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Are Things Getting Better or Worse?”

Was the past good or bad? Are we on the right track or the wrong one? Is life getting better or worse? These questions are easy to ask-pollsters and politicians love asking them-but surprisingly hard to answer.
Last year, the Pew Research Center asked people around the world whether life had been better or worse in their countries fifty years ago.
In “Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress,” the cognitive scientist Steven Pinker looks at recent studies and finds that majorities in fourteen countries-Australia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Norway, Singapore, Sweden, Thailand, the U.A.E., and the United States-believe that the world is getting worse rather than better.
“Is life getting better or worse?” may be a dorm-room debate with consequences.
In the course of five hundred pages, he presents statistics and charts showing that, despite our dark imaginings, life has been getting better in pretty much every way.
Around the globe, improved health care has dramatically reduced infant and maternal mortality, and children are now better fed, better educated, and less abused.
Life could be getting much better objectively, on the social scale, without getting all that much better subjectively, on the individual scale.
Maybe the world is getting better, but not better enough, or in the right ways.

The orginal article.

Summary of “These 20 pictures will teach you more than reading 100 books”

All you need to do is begin acting in far more powerful ways than you’ve been acting.
Dan Sullivan, founder of Strategic Coach, explains that CONFIDENCE is the thing that entrepreneurs need to protect more than anything else.
In order to develop more confidence, you’ll need to continually upgrade who you are.
“Good timber does not grow with ease: The stronger wind, the stronger trees; The further sky, the greater length; The more the storm, the more the strength. By sun and cold, by rain and snow, In trees and men good timbers grow.” – Douglas Malloch.
If you want more motivation, you generally need a situation that calls upon you to rise above where you currently are.
The more clear you get on that vision, the more WHY will be behind it.
“Social psychologists argue that who we are at any one time depends mostly on the context in which we find ourselves. But who creates the context? The more mindful we are, the more we can create the contexts we are in. Mindfulness lets us see things in a new light and believe in the possibility of change.” – Ellen Langer.
The more bold and aligned your behavior, the more abundant the outcome.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Why we should learn to embrace failure”

The dress took up residence like an unwanted tenant, a constant reminder of my failure.
The more I thought about it, the more I realised that the biggest, most transformative moments of my life came through crisis or failure.
Books such as Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure by Tim Harford and The Art of Failing by Anthony McGowan have added grist to the notion that failure can be distilled into something more positive if the right alchemy is applied.
His attitude towards failure was that it was a matter of how one perceived it, and he felt his life thus far had been blessed rather than cursed.
He gave me three, deliberately playful examples of failure including “Once getting out [at cricket] when I had made 98 and chipped a return catch to the bowler” and the occasion on which he came second in a prestigious Italian literary prize.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who won a Bafta for writing and starring in the feminist sitcom Fleabag, found a certain “Glory in failure [because] fighting so hard to be so in love with someone with all that passion in your 20s and teens and then throwing everything at it and it’s not working, or there being so much pain – that is the stuff that so much creativity comes out of. So it’s out of those painful break-ups or miscommunications – or just horrible sticky one-night stands – that you grow in those moments, and so I value them all.”
If I had to list my three major failures, right up at the top would be the failure of my marriage.
My failure to have children at the time when all my contemporaries were having babies and moving closer to good schools made me reassess what I could get from the life I already had. If motherhood wasn’t going to be part of the future I had always imagined for myself, where else would I find fulfilment?

The orginal article.

Summary of “Miserable in your 40s? Don’t panic, it’s perfectly normal”

In his book, “The Happiness Curve,” Rauch says new research has found people tend to hit their midlife slump in their 40s, but will almost always be happier as they age.
Seems counterintuitive, perhaps, but it makes sense as people’s values and the circumstances in their life change.
Plus, older people tend to feel lonely more of the time.
There’s hope – and people shouldn’t give up when they start to feel down about their lives in middle age.
In the vast majority of people it is not a crisis, it is gradual and it is perfectly normal.
MarketWatch: What should people expect when they do approach big changes later in life, like retirement?
The whole idea that what we’re supposed to do is go off to the pasture is wrong for more and more people, and that’s starting to change.
Did you know people age 55 to 65 do more startups every year than people 25 to 35? Myth: Old people are not productive and drag others down.

The orginal article.