Summary of “The Rise of Anxiety Baking”

Young Americans’ long work hours might mean they’re less likely to come home every night in time to roast a chicken instead of ordering takeout, but many of them seem to have turned to weekend baking as a salve for the ambient anxiety of being alive in these times.
There’s a good reason for that: Baking actually can be really relaxing.
“People are afraid to spend money, and they’re feeling like shit. Baking is cheap, it’s easy, and it’s visceral.”
Folu Akinkuotu, a 28-year-old who lives in Boston and works in e-commerce-and someone whose impressive off-hours baking exploits I follow on social media-also started baking more in college as a way to make friends during her freshman year.
Alice Medrich, a baking expert and cookbook author, agrees that baking is a particularly effective activity for those whose professional lives exist mostly in the abstract.
In addition to the satisfaction of creating, the process of baking itself can be calming.
Buzzwords aside, baking does indeed force you to put down your phone, get your hands dirty, and pay close attention to what you’re doing.
If you’re more inclined toward cooking instead of baking, that can have some of the same positive effects, according to Muskin, but there’s something about dessert that’s just a little bit more fun.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Can Video Games Replace the Outdoors?”

As long as there have been video games, critics have bemoaned their social and psychological consequences.
Over the years, researchers have churned out studies showing that violent games can lead younger players to be more hostile and less empathetic.
As Rockstar Games cofounder Dan Houser told New York magazine last year, the result is an experience “In which the world unfolds around you, dependent on what you do.” Red Dead Redemption 2 was released on October 26, 2018, and brought in $725 million during its first weekend, beating the strongest film opening of 2018, Avengers: Infinity War, by almost $100 million.
Gaming had completely replaced the outdoors.
“Video games can act as a form of environmental enrichment in humans,” they said in a paper that appeared in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience.
Gregory D. Clemenson, one of the authors, cautions that this does not mean video games are as nourishing to the mind as a walk in the park, but they may do more good than people think.
Michael “Qwerkus” Gerchufsky, a 50-year-old medical editor from Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, describes the appeal as we hike around the towering National Memorial Arch: “I was like, wait, there’s a video game that gets me outdoors?”.
“Augmented reality is bleeding out from games into physical fitness,” he says.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Why We’re Better Off With Fewer Friends”

We never need to lose touch with anyone, ever again, as our Facebook friends and Twitter followers grow by the day.
The growth in the number of our friends has actually been accompanied with an increase in social isolation, as Sherry Turkle describes.
OK, so more friends on Facebook doesn’t appear to be a great thing; what about more friends in the real world? Should we try and gain more face-to-face friends?
Fewer Real Friends Unfortunately, in the US and elsewhere it seems we’re going down the popularity route, instead of building close relationships.
In 1985, a survey asked people about how many friends they had discussed important matters with.
Quality time spent with your 15 closest friends and family will have a direct impact on your happiness, health and longevity.
As Ed Diener and Martin Seligman found from an analysis of very happy people, the thing that united them was strong ties to close friends and family and a commitment to spending real face time with them.
There is definitely joy to be gained from throwing a great party with loads of people and following the lives of our otherwise long-lost friends.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Is Pay Transparency Right For Your Company? We Asked A Few That Tried It”

“If the team had to decide on promotions, transparency for salaries was sort of a necessity,” Rein says.
Pay transparency doesn’t necessarily impose a ceiling on negotiations since salary calculations take into account things like experience and location.
Buffer recently reviewed its employees’ salaries in order to evaluate its gender wage gap and found something surprising: Men at the company make 2.5 percent more than women do overall, which Griffis claims is because Buffer has more men on its engineering team.
For the most part, conversations about pay are less uncomfortable when you know exactly how your salary has been awarded and can compare it against what your peers are making.
Making Fair Pay Possible Without Full Transparency MarketGoo, a marketing and SEO platform for small businesses, seriously considered salary transparency, but eventually decided against it.
“It’s the team together that is creating the culture of the company and the values we want to reinforce.” Instead of transparent pay, MarketGoo is devising a formula to make sure salaries are fairly awarded, and Garcia says he’s open to reconsidering salary transparency as the company grows and the culture evolves as a result.
There’s a likely reason why more sizable companies haven’t tried salary transparency: It’s more difficult to implement if sweeping pay inequity has long been the norm.
McClurg doesn’t see why bigger companies can’t adopt salary transparency.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Why Robot Brains Need Symbols”

We need to be able to extend it to do things like reasoning, learning causality, and exploring the world in order to learn and acquire information.
In a series of tweets he claimed that I hate deep learning, and that because I was not personally an algorithm developer, I had no right to speak critically; for good measure, he said that if I had finally seen the light of deep learning, it was only in the last few days, in the space of our Twitter discussion.
To take another example, consider a widely-read 2015 article in Nature on deep learning by LeCun, Bengio, and Geoffrey Hinton, the trio most associated with the invention of deep learning.
The paper’s conclusion furthers that impression by suggesting that deep learning’s historical antithesis-symbol-manipulation/classical AI-should be replaced: “New paradigms are needed to replace the rule-based manipulation of symbolic expressions on large vectors.” The traditional ending of many scientific papers-limits-is essentially missing, inviting the inference that the horizons for deep learning are limitless.
Advances in narrow AI with deep learning are often taken to mean that we don’t need symbol-manipulation anymore, and I think that it is a huge mistake.
Why continue to exclude them? In principle, symbols also offer a way of incorporating all the world’s textual knowledge, from Wikipedia to textbooks; deep learning has no obvious way of incorporating basic facts like “Dogs have noses,” nor does it have a way to accumulate that knowledge into more complex inferences.
Symbols won’t cut it on their own, and deep learning won’t either.
If we want to stop confusing snow plows with school buses, we may ultimately need to look in the same direction, because the underlying problem is the same: In virtually every facet of the mind, even vision, we occasionally face stimuli that are outside the domain of training; deep learning gets wobbly when that happens, and we need other tools to help.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Why Some Rules Are More Likely to Be Broken”

When it comes to research about rule violations, the vast majority of studies by business scholars has focused on a singular question: Which organizations are most likely to break the rules? Prior studies have shown that rule violations are more likely in organizations with poor financial performance, deviant cultures, and flawed organizational processes.
We asked an altogether different question: Which rules are most likely to be broken? To tackle this question, we compiled a detailed dataset of over 80,000 rule observations from 1,011 hygiene inspections of 289 restaurants in Santa Monica, California, from 2007 to 2010.
The system of hygiene rules in force in Los Angeles County during our study period was composed of 86 different rules around issues like appropriate food temperatures, employee handwashing, and vermin control.
To study whether some rules were more prone to being broken than others, we focused on how complex each rule was.
The two also reinforced one another such that having many components and connections made it far more likely that the rule would be broken.
Compared to a stand-alone rule with a single component, a rule that had three components and was connected to one other rule in the system was 78% more likely to be violated, all else being equal.
In other words, bigger rules, although more likely to be violated, were also more likely to be fixed by the time the inspector returned for the subsequent inspection.
While we couldn’t determine the mechanism at play due to limitations of the data, our hunch is that managers had limited attention and thus focused their efforts on the biggest rules deemed out of compliance, yet they struggled to dig deeper and identify the underlying causes of violations of those rules linked to other rules.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Post-Human World”

People in most countries are more likely to die from eating too much rather than too little, more likely to die of old age than a great plague, and more likely to commit suicide than to die in war.
You ask the scary question: What happens to welfare in a future where government no longer needs people?
Already the most advanced armies don’t need [as many] people.
In Scandinavia the tradition of the welfare state is so entrenched that perhaps they’ll continue to provide welfare even for masses of useless people.
If you look at the objective condition of health and so forth, most people in the U.S. and Western Europe have better conditions than they used to.
Thompson: Let’s say the future for most people is a universal basic income, wonderful psychedelic drugs, and virtual reality video games.
You could argue that people already spend most of their lives in virtual games.
You have millions of people playing these virtual reality games.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Don’t get crushed by your car loan”

If you wanted to pay $381 per month – the average monthly payment on a used car as of last year – you could take out a 36-month loan and buy something that cost about $13,000, or you could stretch your loan all the way out to 60 months and afford something around the $20,000 range.
Typically, it’s advisable to take out a car loan of three to five years, so this is a perfectly reasonable – but already quite wide – price range.
Now, once you’re checking out cars based on monthly payments, you’re already seeing what kinda cool stuff a longer term loan can get you, so what’s a couple dozen more months on top of that? A 72-month loan could get you a $25,000 car, and an 84-month loan can get you nearly $29,000.
The shorter the car loan term, the more likely it is that you’ll owe less on the car than what a dealer is offering you as a trade-in, and the remainder will get baked into your new purchase price as a discount.
The more months you’ve got, the higher the chance becomes that the inverse will occur, and you’ll have to pay the remainder off, potentially by rolling it into your new car loan.
A new article in The Wall Street Journal reports that the average car loan term in America is now 69 months, and that “About a third of auto loans for new vehicles taken in the first half of 2019 had terms of longer than six years.” The WSJ adds, “A decade ago, that number was less than 10 percent.” Over that same period of time, the actual way car dealerships make money has changed, with sellers increasingly relying on selling car loans to their customers to generate profits – taking payouts from lenders or receiving a portion of interest payments – rather than selling the cars themselves.
Car loans are not as intertwined with capital markets as home loans were in the build-up to the 2008 financial crisis.
From a macro perspective, that’s a good thing – if these risky car loans were to fail en masse, there’s less of a chance that they would take the entire economy down with them.

The orginal article.

Summary of “IRS: Sorry, but It’s Just Easier and Cheaper to Audit the Poor”

The IRS audits the working poor at about the same rate as the wealthiest 1%. Now, in response to questions from a U.S. senator, the IRS has acknowledged that’s true but professes it can’t change anything unless it is given more money.
Lawmakers confronted IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig about the emphasis, citing our stories, and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., asked Rettig for a plan to fix the imbalance.
Last month, Rettig replied with a report, but it said the IRS has no plan and won’t have one until Congress agrees to restore the funding it slashed from the agency over the past nine years – something lawmakers have shown little inclination to do.
On the one hand, the IRS said, auditing poor taxpayers is a lot easier: The agency uses relatively low-level employees to audit returns for low-income taxpayers who claim the earned income tax credit.
For now, the IRS says, while it agrees auditing more wealthy taxpayers would be a good idea, without adequate funding there’s nothing it can do.
“Congress must fund and the IRS must hire and train appropriate numbers of [auditors] to have appropriately balanced coverage across all income levels,” the report said.
Since 2011, Republicans in Congress have driven cuts to the IRS enforcement budget; it’s more than a quarter lower than its 2010 level, adjusting for inflation.
In response to Rettig’s letter, Wyden agreed in a statement that the IRS needs more money, “But that does not eliminate the need for the agency to begin reversing the alarming trend of plummeting audit rates of the wealthy within its current budget.”

The orginal article.

Summary of “How coffee became an unstoppable force”

Whereas most people had drunk instant coffee at home in the past, younger Chinese people are increasingly buying into its social appeal, as well as developing more refined tastes for artisan blends in speciality coffee shops.
Sally Wu, the founder of Seesaw coffee, a chain of 22 speciality coffee shops, argues that the drink is now being appreciated in China like “Fine wine”.
Since coffee plants are slow to develop, any unusual fluctuation in the climate could influence growth years later, he says.
Davis points out that in some countries, such as Ethiopia, areas at higher altitudes that were previously too chilly to grow the crop might become more suitable for coffee farms as temperatures shift.
“It’ll be a situation that farmers growing coffee for generations won’t be growing coffee, and others will steadily find that they can,” he says.
“People are growing coffee at elevations where they weren’t growing and where it was grown, now not suitable Coffee is moving.”
There are many species of coffee plant, besides Arabica – some of which are hardier.
The most well-known, Coffea robusta, is already used for some drinks – including instant blends – though it is generally considered too bitter for most coffee aficionados.

The orginal article.