Summary of “The Mind Meld of Bill Gates and Steven Pinker”

Bill Gates When you get married and have kids, as I did in my 30s and 40s, there’s a certain normalcy in working on multiple fronts.
PG Steven, there’s an elegant parallel between your career and Bill’s – starting with language and continuing to human well-being.
PG The motto of the foundation is: “Every life has equal value.” And in your new book, Steven, there’s the idea that we can’t want something good for ourselves without wanting it for everyone.
SP There’s a tendency in journalism and political debates to assume that it’s easy to achieve a perfect society: “Good people would do that.” The fact that we don’t means that evil people must be running the system: “Let’s throw them out and find nobler ones.” This leads to empowering charismatic despots and destroying institutions that have done a lot of good.
People who believe in man-made climate change don’t know any more about climate or science than those who deny it.
Does social media split us into tribes in a way that’s dangerous? Does it create, even in high school social circles, a channel for bullying, or a desire to look perfect in photos? Is A.I. going to proceed so quickly that work, which is something people worship, will suffer bad distributional effects, and people won’t know what to do? This is an unfortunate time for saying, “Take all your damn negative thoughts, and I’ll innovate away from them.” People are seeing difficulty with that argument.
BG Disease elimination is something that runs against people’s general pessimistic outlook.
PG Last question: Since Oprah’s near presidential announcement at the Golden Globes and speculation about Mark Zuckerberg’s political aspirations, have people asked you to consider getting involved in political public life?

The orginal article.

Summary of “Why humans are cruel”

The conventional explanation is that people are able to do terrible things to other people only after having dehumanized them.
Paul Bloom A lot of people blame cruelty on dehumanization.
We see other people as blameworthy, as morally responsible, as themselves cruel, as not giving us what we deserve, as taking more than they deserve.
A lot of what goes on in concentration camps is degrading and humiliating, and it’s about torturing people because you think they deserve it.
Sean Illing Are our intuitions about why people do terrible things wrong? Are we too sanguine about human nature?
They’re just failing to appreciate the humanity of other people, and if only we could clear up that mistake, if only we could sit them down and say, “Hey guys, those Jews, the blacks, the gays, the Muslims, they’re people just like you,” then evil would disappear.
That’s what you chant at people you’re really worried about, people who you think are a threat to your status and way of life.
People look at that moment of insanity and say to themselves, “I could never have participated in that.” But I don’t think it’s that simple at all.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Jocko Willink On the Power of Discipline”

He has a new book out and its title caught my attention: Discipline Equals Freedom.
“If you want freedom, then you need to have disciplinethe more discipline you have in your life the more you’ll be able to do what you want. That’s not true initially; initially the discipline might be things you don’t want to do at the time, but the more you do things that you don’t want to do, the more you do the right things, the better off you’ll be and the more freedom you’ll have”.
Jocko’s examples of this idea in action mainly concerned personal development.
More discipline with your finances, for example, will eventually yield more financial freedom, while more discipline with time management will allow you to do more interesting things with your time.
The front office IT revolution granted the knowledge worker an amazing amount of apparent new freedom: email made communication with anyone about anything instantaneous; the world wide web put all information at their fingertips; the mobile revolution allowed them to take these promethean gifts with them everywhere.
As I discussed in my recent post on stagnant economic productivity, this apparent freedom is yielding mixed results.
The new economy does offer exciting new opportunities, but perhaps the most effective way to unlock this freedom in the long term is to be more disciplined in the short term, especially when it comes to your time and attention: to focus relentlessly on producing the things you know how to do best at the highest possible level of quality, while ignoring the attractive digital baubles that promise you conveniences and the potential of breakthrough connections and exposure.
As Jocko put it: “Do things you don’t want to dodo the right things,” and trust this discipline now will eventually generate the freedom you seek.

The orginal article.

Summary of “This Parenting Mistake Could be Why Anxiety is at an All-Time High”

Think back to when you were a kid and things were different.
Remember teeter totters bigger kids could use to make lighter ones go flying, or merry-go-rounds that spun at dizzying speeds, and swings that went so high you could lose your stomach? Well, those things largely don’t exist anymore.
According to a study published in Evolutionary Psychology, risky play-the kind where someone actually could get hurt-is good for kids.
Great heights, which could result in falling and includes climbing, jumping from still or flexible surfaces, balancing on high objects and hanging or swinging high off the ground.
High speed, which could result in collision and includes doing things like swinging, sliding, running, biking, skating or skiing at an uncontrolled pace.
Does allowing kids to participate in some of these kinds of risky play increase their chances of getting hurt? Yes, although typically injuries are minor.
Adult supervision is conducted in the background and kids do things like light fires, knock over pallets and attempt to use a frayed rope swing to transverse a creek.
Sounds like the kind of place a kid could gain some confidence, doesn’t it?

The orginal article.

Summary of “On the Tranquility of Mind: Seneca on Resilience, the Trap of Power and Prestige, and How to Calibrate Our Ambitions for Maximum Contentment – Brain Pickings”

In our quest to do the best we can, we are apt to defeat ourselves by pushing against life with the brute force of uncalibrated ambition, razing our peace of mind on the sharp-edged sense that there is always more to achieve.
That is what the great first-century Roman philosopher Seneca examines in a dialogue titled “On the Tranquility of Mind,” included in the indispensable 1968 volume Stoic Philosophy of Seneca: Essays and Letters.
Honors bind one man, wealth another; nobility oppresses some, humility others; some are held in subjection by an external power, while others obey the tyrant within; banishments keep some in one place, the priesthood others.
With the omission of those things which either cannot be done, or can only be done with difficulty, let us follow the things which are placed near at hand and which offer encouragement to our hopes; but let us remember that all things are equally unimportant, presenting a different appearance on the outside, but equally empty within.
Untamed ambition, Seneca admonishes, stands in the way of meeting life on its own terms with calm consent – acceptance that is the supreme prerequisite for tranquility of mind.
The wise man does not need to walk about timidly or cautiously: for he possesses such self-confidence that he does not hesitate to go to meet fortune nor will he ever yield his position to her: nor has he any reason to fear her, because he considers not only slaves, property, and positions of honor, but also his body, his eyes, his hands, – everything which can make life dearer, even his very self, as among uncertain things, and lives as if he had borrowed them for his own use and was prepared to return them without sadness whenever claimed.
Whenever he is ordered to return them, he will not complain to fortune, but will say: “I thank you for this which I have had in my possession. I have indeed cared for your property, – even to my great disadvantage, – but, since you command it, I give it back to you and restore it thankfully and willingly” If nature should demand of us that which she has previously entrusted to us, we will also say to her: “Take back a better mind than you gave: I seek no way of escape nor flee: I have voluntarily improved for you what you gave me without my knowledge; take it away.” What hardship is there in returning to the place whence one has come? That man lives badly who does not know how to die well.
Complement the altogether magnificent Stoic Philosophy of Seneca with Seneca on the antidote to anxiety, his insightful advice on distinguishing between true and false friendship, and Marcus Aurelius – another Stoic sage of timeless wisdom – on the key to living fully.

The orginal article.

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Sesame Street’s parodies have always been delightful, but the show’s riff on Stranger Things is honestly some next-level awesomeness.
It’s damn near impossible to describe all of the ways the parody absolutely nails the original-those wigs, those teeth, those slightly differently-colored Ghostbusters costumes, but Sesame Street’s send-up of Winona Ryder’s performance as Joyce Byers is transcendent.
Like all of Sesame Street’s parodies, Sharing Things is fundamentally about teaching kids how to be good people.
The sketch also goes the extra mile by being stuffed full of clever winks and nods that are just obvious enough to make for the kind of jokes that land perfectly, regardless of whether you’ve actually seen the show.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How Making A “Reverse” Bucket List Can Make You Happier”

The reverse bucket list is pretty straightforward: Rather than writing down all of the things you hope to one day achieve, you instead write down a list of all the things you’ve already accomplished, things that make you feel proud.
Think of a reverse bucket list as an exercise in grateful recounting: You’re basking in the pride of your experiences and accomplishments, and you’re taking time to get thankful for them.
Creating a reverse bucket list is like creating a nostalgia playlist-it’s a collection of your greatest hits and memories.
How do you create a reverse bucket list? It’s simple: Write down accomplishments from your past that you feel proud of.
Spending the holidays with your family, making a new friend as an adult-that’s definitely reverse bucket list material.
After you’ve created your list, try placing it right next to your traditional bucket list or keep it as a note on your phone.
When I created my own reverse bucket list, I found it counteracted my bucket list shame.
Just as bucket lists can inspire us for the future, reverse bucket lists can make us grateful for the now-for all we’ve experienced and all we’ve done.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The da Vinci Pause”

Last month, Walter Isaacson released his big new biography of Leonardo da Vinci.
In the meantime, I listened to Brett McKay’s sharp podcast interview with Isaacson.
“[Leonardo] da Vinci lived 500 years ago, Twitter didn’t exit, Instagram didn’t exist, all these digital things that are distracting us, that make it hard to really observe, didn’t exist.
So based on your research and writing on da Vinci: what can we learn from him about staying focused and observing intensely on things even in this crazy digital world that we live in?”.
Isaacson, who spent years immersed in over 7000 pages of da Vinci’s brilliant, but also scattered and frenetic notebooks, dismissed the premise: “Yeah, he had distractions too.”
“What he was able to do is pause, and put things aside, and look at very ordinary things and marvel at them.”
Technologies like the internet provide everyone the raw material to become a renaissance person, but to take advantage of this reality it helps to cultivate da Vinci’s ability to pause when something catches your attention, and to then give it the intense, deep concentration needed to transform a fleeting spark into something more substantial.
Her new book, Divine Time Management, tackles personal productivity through a novel lens: Christianity.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Forget About Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead.”

For most of us, the path to those things starts by setting a specific and actionable goal.
What’s the difference between goals and systems?
If you’re a writer, your goal is to write a book.
If you completely ignored your goals and focused only on your system, would you still get results?
Let’s talk about three more reasons why you should focus on systems instead of goals.
Goals are strangely at odds with long-term progress.
That’s why systems are more valuable than goals.
Goals can provide direction and even push you forward in the short-term, but eventually a well-designed system will always win.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Cory Doctorow: How to Do Everything – Locus Online”

Danny described a research project in which he interviewed “Overprolific” tech workers who had a reputation for doing a lot of things at once, and reported on their commonalities.
One intriguing takeaway from the talk was a recommendation to read David Allen’s 2001 book Getting Things Done, an instant classic in the “Personal productivity” genre.
Allen’s book is a fantastic and inspiring read. The core of his philosophy is to recognize that there are more things in the world that you want to do than you could do, and that, in the absence of a deliberate approach to this conundrum, you are likely to default to doing things that are easy to scratch off your to-do list, which are also the most trivial.
Allen counsels deliberate, mindful prioritization of this list, jettisoning things on the basis that they are less satisfying or important than the other things you’d like to do – even if those other things are harder, more time consuming and less likely to result in a satisfying chance to scratch an item off the list.
It’s been more than a decade since I took up Allen’s method and started lifehacking, and I have a report from the field.
The past 14 years have regularly featured junctures where I had to get rid of something I liked doing so I could do something I liked doing more.
The more parts of my life were implicated in an activity, the more likely I was to keep the activity in my daily round.
People often ask, “How much of your day do you spend writing, and how much being an activist, and how much on journalism?” The answer has always been that it’s hard to cleanly separate these activities, because they overlap – writing a blog post is a way to think through and track an idea that might show up in a story, and also a way to raise alarm at a political affair.

The orginal article.