Friday, June 30, 2017

Quote of the Day

Gradually, moment by moment, you may have come to realize that although you can’t stop the unsettling thoughts from arising in your mind, you can stop what happens next. You can stop the vicious circle from feeding off itself.

- Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Mark Williams

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Quote of the Day

Until you become completely obsessed with your mission, no one will take you seriously. Until the world understands that you’re not going away — that you are 100 percent committed and have complete and utter conviction and will persist in pursuing your project — you will not get the attention you need and the support you want.

- The 10X Rule by Grant Cardone

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Quote of the Day

Pain is an inextricable thread in the fabric of life, and to tear it out is not only impossible, but destructive: attempting to tear it out unravels everything else with it. To try to avoid pain is to give too many fucks about pain. In contrast, if you’re able to not give a fuck about the pain, you become unstoppable.

- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Quote of the Day

The process of assessing how you feel about the things you own, identifying those that have fulfilled their purpose, expressing your gratitude, and bidding them farewell, is really about examining your inner self, a rite of passage to a new life.

- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondō

Monday, June 26, 2017

Tim Ferris on "Fear-Setting"

"Easy choices, hard life. Hard choices, easy life."

Quote of the Day

Two elements must therefore be rooted out once for all, – the fear of future suffering, and the recollection of past suffering; since the latter no longer concerns me, and the former concerns me not yet.

- Seneca

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Quote of the Day

We have lived our lives by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. We have been wrong. We must change our lives so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption, that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and learn what is good for it.

- Wendell Berry, The Long-Legged House

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Wisdom Of The Week

At only twenty-seven, Camus writes:
We have not overcome our condition, and yet we know it better. We know that we live in contradiction, but we also know that we must refuse this contradiction and do what is needed to reduce it. Our task as [humans] is to find the few principles that will calm the infinite anguish of free souls. We must mend what has been torn apart, make justice imaginable again in a world so obviously unjust, give happiness a meaning once more to peoples poisoned by the misery of the century. Naturally, it is a superhuman task. But superhuman is the term for tasks [we] take a long time to accomplish, that’s all.
Let us know our aims then, holding fast to the mind, even if force puts on a thoughtful or a comfortable face in order to seduce us. The first thing is not to despair. Let us not listen too much to those who proclaim that the world is at an end. Civilizations do not die so easily, and even if our world were to collapse, it would not have been the first. It is indeed true that we live in tragic times. But too many people confuse tragedy with despair. “Tragedy,” [D.H.] Lawrence said, “ought to be a great kick at misery.” This is a healthy and immediately applicable thought. There are many things today deserving such a kick.
-  via BrainPicking

Quote of the Day

There is a strong tendency to get used to and accept very bad things that would be shocking if seen with fresh eyes.

- Ray Dalio

Friday, June 23, 2017

Quote of the Day

I wanted to change the world. But I have found that the only thing one can be sure of changing is oneself.

- Aldous Huxley, Point Counter Point

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Quote of the Day

A failure is not always a mistake, it may simply be the best one can do under the circumstances. The real mistake is to stop trying.

- B. F. Skinner

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Quote of the Day

If a machine is expected to be infallible, it cannot also be intelligent.

- Alan Turing

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Quote of the Day

Those who struggle to change the world see themselves as noble, even tragic figures. Yet most of those who work for world betterment are not rebels against the scheme of things. They seek consolation for a truth they are too weak to bear. At bottom, their faith that the world can be transformed by human will is a denial of their own mortality.

- John N. Gray, Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals

Monday, June 19, 2017

Omnigenic Model

More specifically, it means that all the genes that are switched on in a particular type of cell—say, a neuron or a heart muscle cell—are probably involved in almost every complex trait that involves those cells. So, for example, nearly every gene that’s switched on in neurons would play some role in defining a person’s intelligence, or risk of dementia, or propensity to learn. Some of these roles may be starring parts. Others might be mere cameos. But few genes would be left out of the production altogether.

This might explain why the search for genetic variants behind complex traits has been so arduous. For example, a giant study called… er… GIANT looked at the genomes of 250,000 people and identified 700 variants that affect our height. As predicted, each has a tiny effect, raising a person’s stature by just a millimeter. And collectively, they explain just 16 percent of the variation in heights that you see in people of European ancestry. That’s not very much, especially when scientists estimate that some 80 percent of all human height variation can be explained by genetic factors. Where’s that missing fraction?

Pritchard’s team re-analyzed the GIANT data and calculated that there are probably more than 100,000 variants that affect our height, and most of these shift it by just a seventh of a millimeter. They’re so minuscule in their effects that it’s hard to tell them apart from statistical noise, which is why geneticists typically ignore them. And yet, Pritchard’s team noted that many of these weak signals cropped up consistently across different studies, which suggests that they are real results. And since these variants are spread evenly across the entire genome, they implicate a “substantial fraction of all genes,” Pritchard says.

The team found more evidence for their omnigenic model by analyzing other large genetic studies of rheumatoid arthritis, schizophrenia, and Crohn’s disease. Many of the variants identified by these studies seem relevant to the disease in question. For example, some of the schizophrenia variants affect genes involved in the nervous system. But mostly, the variants affect genes that don’t make for compelling stories, and that do pretty generic things. According to the omnigenic model, they’re only contributing to the risk of disease in incidental ways, by rippling across to the more relevant core genes. “It’s the only model I can come up with that make all the data fit,” Pritchard says.

- More Here

Quote of the Day

The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.

- Ayn Rand

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Quote of the Day

The evil that is in the world almost always comes from ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding.

- Albert Camus

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Wisdom Of The Week

The brand of speedy mathematics that dominates public perception and excludes so many is but one representation of the subject. For the majority of folks who do not excel in the rapid-fire format of mathematics, there is good news: maths is an endurance event.

Mathematicians have long known this. Says Timothy Gowers:
“The most profound contributions to mathematics are often made by tortoises rather than hares.”
Andrew Wiles contributed something quite profound when he ended the 358-year search for the proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem. Wiles points to scale and novelty as the two aspects of mathematics that elude competitions. Let’s hear it straight from the tortoise’s mouth:

“Let me stress that creating new mathematics is a quite different occupation from solving problems in a contest. Why is this? Because you don’t know for sure what you are trying to prove or indeed whether it is true.”
-  Maths is an endurance event

Quote of the Day

Creativity always comes a surprise to us; therefore we can never count on it and we dare not believe in it until it has happened. In other words, we would not consciously engage upon tasks whose success clearly requires that creativity be forthcoming. Hence, the only way in which we can bring our creative resources fully into play is by misjudging the nature of the task, by presenting it to ourselves as more routine, simple, undemanding of genuine creativity that it will turn out to be.

- Albert O. Hirschman

Friday, June 16, 2017

Quote of the Day

Sweet are the thoughts that savour of content, The quiet mind is richer than a crown...

-  Robert Greene

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Quote of the Day

To teach how to live without certainty, and yet without being paralyzed by hesitation, is perhaps the chief thing that philosophy, in our age, can still do for those who study it.

- Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Quote of the Day

A critique does not consist in saying that things aren't good the way they are. It consists in seeing on just what type of assumptions, of familiar notions, of established and unexamined ways of thinking the accepted practices are based... To do criticism is to make harder those acts which are now too easy.

- Michel Foucault

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Quote of the Day

What strikes me is the fact that in our society, art has become something which is related only to objects and not to individuals, or to life. That art is something which is specialized or which is done by experts who are artists. But couldn't everyone's life become a work of art? Why should the lamp or the house be an art object, but not our life?

- Michel Foucault

Monday, June 12, 2017

Quote of the Day

People know what they do; frequently they know why they do what they do; but what they don't know is what what they do does.

- Michel Foucault, Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Quote of the Day

If you love somebody, set them free. If they return, they were always yours. If they don’t, they never were.

- Richard Bach

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Wisdom Of The Week

Who is the Shouting Class?

Everyone has problems with something in society. And everyone sometimes complains about those problems, which Albert Hirschman called "voice". But for many people, voice is contingent - as soon as the problems are satisfactorily resolved they stop complaining and go back to living their daily lives. But a subset of people will never stop complaining. When a problem becomes less severe, they switch to a different problem. And they will always find some problem that they feel requires their vocal complaint. That subset - the people who will never stop complaining and giving negative feedback - are the Shouting Class. (Of course, this isn't really a binary distinction; there are shades of gray, as always.)


The cost of immunity to the Shouting Class

Ultimately, all of these problems - negativity, social censure, social discord, and empathy exhaustion - can be dealt with by developing an immunity to shouting. In other words, by becoming callous toward people's expression of approbation, dissatisfaction, anguish, irritation, etc. In fact, people on social media say this all the time: "Grow a thicker skin!"

But what are the costs of having a thick-skinned society? One potential cost is that elites and social institutions become unresponsive to legitimate calls for social change.

I saw this in action in college, with the protest community. At one point I joined some protests demanding higher wages for Stanford custodial workers. We marched, we yelled outside the president's office til he came out and talked to us. They raised the workers' wages.

But after that victory, I was astonished to see the protest leaders sit down and immediately start planning their next campaign. I asked them why they didn't intend to reward the establishment for giving ground on the wage issue. They just sort of gave me disparaging looks, except for one guy who told me "Frankly, I go to protests to hook up with hot anarchist chicks."

The Shouting Class is mostly not looking to hook up. But like those protesters, social media's Shouting Class has adopted criticism, anger, and disaffection as ways of life - not the means to an end, but the end in and of itself. Eventually, just as Stanford's administrators mostly stopped paying heed to the protest community, the powers that be will learn to accept and ignore a very high baseline level of popular disaffection. And that will raise the bar for movements whose needs are more urgent and realistic and capable of being satisfied - it'll be hard to tell real grievance from grievance-as-a-lifestyle.

(I sort of think suspect something like this happened with the Tea Party and Obama. The theory is that when Democrats saw that nothing could possibly appease the Republicans, they stopped paying attention to them at all, which I think drove GOP voters to amp up the extremism to levels previously unheard of, in the form of Trump.)

I worry that the costs of evolved callousness could go way beyond political protest movements, though. When people shout "We are in pain!" after seeing chalk slogans for a political candidate they don't like, it teaches lots of people to just ignore anyone who says they're in pain. Even if you're ripping them away from their children and shoving them into detention centers. Even if you're watching them get beaten up on the street. Even if you're hacking them up with a machete or machine-gunning them into a mass grave.

Not a pretty picture, is it?

The Shouting Class, with the bullhorn of social media, is forcing us all to grow thicker skins. But I don't want to live in a society of thick-skinned people.

- The Shouting Class

Quote of the Day

Friday, June 9, 2017

Quote of the Day

The wisest thing in the world is to cry out before you are hurt. It is no good to cry out after you are hurt; especially after you are mortally hurt. People talk about the impatience of the populace; but sound historians know that most tyrannies have been possible because men moved too late. it is often essential to resist a tyranny before it exists.

- G.K. Chesterton, Eugenics and Other Evils: An Argument Against the Scientifically Organized State

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Quote of the Day

War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth a war, is much worse. When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice; a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice, — is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other.

- John Stuart Mill, Principles of Political Economy

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Quote of the Day

He wondered about the people in houses like those. They would be, for example, small clerks, shop-assistants, commercial travellers, insurance touts, tram conductors. Did they know that they were only puppets dancing when money pulled the strings? You bet they didn’t. And if they did, what would they care? They were too busy being born, being married, begetting, working, dying. It mightn’t be a bad thing, if you could manage it, to feel yourself one of them, one of the ruck of men. Our civilization is founded on greed and fear, but in the lives of common men the greed and fear are mysteriously transmuted into something nobler. The lower-middle-class people in there, behind their lace curtains, with their children and their scraps of furniture and their aspidistras — they lived by the money-code, sure enough, and yet they contrived to keep their decency. The money-code as they interpreted it was not merely cynical and hoggish. They had their standards, their inviolable points of honour. They ‘kept themselves respectable’— kept the aspidistra flying. Besides, they were alive. They were bound up in the bundle of life. They begot children, which is what the saints and the soul-savers never by any chance do.

The aspidistra is the tree of life, he thought suddenly.

- George Orwell, Keep the Aspidistra Flying

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Ultimate Guide to Intermittent Fasting

Here are 15 amazing benefits of intermittent fasting.

One: weight loss
Instead of running on fuel from the food you just ate, fasting allows your body to tap into reserves – fat, which accumulates on the body to be burned whenever food supply grows scarce. This results in a slow, steady weight loss that can be a huge benefit.

Since fasting is often incorporated as a lifestyle change instead of a temporary fix, this type of diet is much more sustainable than many other “crash diets.” In fact, many studies support the practice as a valuable, reliable tool for weight loss and weight maintenance. Initially, you’ll see a marked weight loss as a result of losing water weight, but according to the author of Eat Stop Eat, each day you fast will show a loss of 0.5 pounds of true body fat.

Two: improved tolerance of glucose
For diabetics, fasting can be a fantastic way to normalize glucose and even improve glucose variability. Anyone looking for a natural way to increase insulin sensitivity should attempt an intermittent fast, as the effects of fasting can make a huge difference in how your body processes glucose.

Generally, insulin resistance is the result of accumulation of glucose in tissues that aren’t built for fat storage. As the body burns through stored fuel in the form of body fat, that excess accumulation becomes smaller and smaller, allowing the cells in your muscles and liver to grow increasingly responsive to insulin – great news for anyone looking to be less dependent on medications to assist these processes.

- More Here @ Jen Reviews

Quote of the Day

The very existence of libraries affords the best evidence that we may yet have hope for the future of man.

- T.S. Eliot

Monday, June 5, 2017

How America Turned Against Smart Kids

Ideological Resistance to Gifted and Talented Education

The intriguing literature on intellectually gifted children has not produced a corresponding interest in American society on how to cultivate their talent. In many ways, the opposite has occurred.

As eugenics fell out of fashion in the 1940s, the aspiration to help gifted children was increasingly likened to a concept that, in the name of improving the genetic fitness of the population, legitimated elitist and racist excesses against underprivileged groups. Whatever interest U.S.-Soviet rivalry rekindled in gifted and talented education was again quashed with the civil rights movement and its aftermath. The dream of racial and gender equality underscored to the political and educational establishment that opportunities for gifted students were distractions from the more pressing imperative of elevating lower performing children. As Peg Tyre of the Edwin Gould Foundation reports, programs for the intellectually-talented today are generally “spurned by equity-minded school administrators and policymakers who see them as means by which predominantly affluent white and Asian parents have funneled scarce public dollars toward additional enrichment for their already enriched children.”

The Rise of Gifted Homeschooling

Against this backdrop, parents began to seek enrichment for their gifted children outside mainstream institutions. In 1978 a district court issued an arrest warrant for Dr. Peter Perchemlides, a Massachusetts-based biochemistry Ph.D. from Duke University, along with his college-educated wife, for refusing to comply with Massachusetts’ compulsory schooling law. The national attention and the couples’ ensuing superior court victory drew attention to the fact that the profile of homeschooling families was changing. The Perchemlides were part of a new wave of homeschoolers—well-educated middle and upper class parents of diverse political persuasions who were removing their children from formal schools for educational rather than religious reasons.

Precise data is not available but reports since the 1980s indicate that the trend has continued. Last month, the National Society for the Gifted and Talented (NSGT) observed that homeschooling was becoming more popular among gifted children, an impression consistent with the latest data on American homeschoolers. In 2010 about 30 percent of homeschooled students have fathers with at least a master’s degree and almost 9 percent are in families with a household income of over $150,000.

- More Here

Quote of the Day

Kruglyak wanted to know why this bird couldn’t take to the skies. Specifically, as a geneticist, he wanted to know what genetic changes had grounded it. When he got back to his lab, he reached out to a research team that had collected blood samples from 223 flightless cormorants—almost a quarter of the total endangered population. He and his own team used these samples to sequence the cormorant’s genome, then compared its DNA to that of three other cormorant species, looking for mutations that are unique to the flightless one, and that are likely to alter its genes in important ways.

They found a long list of affected genes. Many of these, when mutated in humans, distort the growth of limbs, resulting in extra fingers, missing digits, and other similar conditions. Some of them are also responsible for a group of rare inherited disorders called ciliopathies, where cilia—small hair-like structures on the surface of cells—don’t develop correctly. Cells use cilia to exchange signals and coordinate their growth. If these hairs don’t form correctly, many body parts don’t develop in the usual way. In particular, some people with ciliopathies grow up with short limbs and small ribcages—a striking parallel with the stunted wings and small breastbone of the flightless cormorant.

Scientists have discovered some of the genetic changes behind the useless wings of the Galapagos cormorant

Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Education of Sebastian Thrun

Picture this: You’re the founder of a secretive research and development lab at one of the hottest companies in the world, likely paid a handsome salary for the privilege, and your name is in the media two to three times a week. Your role is to come up with life-changing ideas, and your biggest one to date is a car that drives itself. You’ve been called one of the world’s most creative people and you’re probably one of the cleverest too, having been a Stanford professor.

And then, at the top of your career, you give it all up.


Thrun came to the realization that making education available to everyone – not just the elite few – could help people from all over the world.

“It was kind of, like, a calling to me. I hadn't anticipated that I'd become an online instructor or CEO of a company, a founder of a company that, that wants to democratize education. But when I realized that with this one class I had more teaching impact in this specific quarter than, like, the entire academic field combined in the entire world, I realized, ‘Oh my God. Something has to be done’,” he said.

And so, in 2012, Thrun left Google X, and Udacity was born.

- More Here

Quote of the Day

Neither the humans nor the dogs showed much response in cortisol levels to the sound of a baby babbling. The radio static also did not alter cortisol levels, though the humans described it as “unpleasant” and the dogs’ body language, which included lowered heads, flattened ears and lowered tails, suggested that it might have caused some distress.

But the sound of a baby crying produced a drastic response. Cortisol levels spiked in both people and dogs. The dogs responded with submissive behaviors like tucking their tails, a reaction that Ted Ruffman, a study author and professor of psychology at the University of Otago in New Zealand, described as low-level empathy.

“Emotional contagion is a primitive form of empathy,” Dr. Ruffman said. “It is plausible that when breeding dogs, humans would have selected for qualities that facilitated emotional links between dogs and humans.”

The Empathetic Dog

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Wisdom Of The Week

Suzanna Arundhati Roy, born in 1959 in Shillong, a small town in India’s northeast, grew up strong-minded, and had to. Her mother was a Syrian Christian from Kerala; her father was the manager of a tea plantation, and a Hindu and a drunk. Because of their differing backgrounds, their marriage was frowned on; its ending was even less approved of. When Roy was two, her mother, Mary, took her two children and returned to her family. But, in India, daughters who insist on choosing their own husbands are not necessarily welcomed home when the union doesn’t prosper. Mary Roy and her children lived on their relatives’ sufferance. Roy told Siddhartha Deb that her mother would send her and her brother into town with a basket, and the shopkeepers would put in it whatever they could spare on credit: “Mostly just rice and green chilies.” The mother was chronically ill, with asthma. Later, she started a school and was busy there. Her children were on their own, and, still bearing the stigma of their parents’ divorce, often found their companions among lower-caste neighbors.

When Roy was sixteen, she left home for good, soon landing in an architectural college in Delhi. Much of the time, she lived in slums, because that was all she could afford. After graduating from college, she hung out with her boyfriend for a while in Goa, where they would make cake and sell it on the beach. Among the poor, Roy told Deb, she learned to see the world from the point of view of absolute vulnerability: “And that hasn’t left me.”

Indeed, that is what occupied her during the years when, to her fans’ disappointment, she was not writing novels. Journalists are always telling us about the interesting play of contrasts in the “new India”: billionaires walking the same sidewalks as beggars, Bentleys driving down roads alongside oxcarts. Side by side, business and charm, the modern world and the old world. But, as Roy has argued in the eight books she has brought out since “The God of Small Things,” the two aren’t separate. The new India was built on the backs of the poor. One of her first targets, in a widely circulated 1998 essay, “The End of Imagination,” was the nuclear tests India carried out that year. To many Indians, these were occasions of pride: their country was a player at last. To Roy, the nuclear program was a sign that the government cared more about displays of power than about the appalling conditions in which most of its billion citizens lived.


These books—most of them were collections of previously published essays—were really all about one subject: modern India’s abuse of its poor. The country’s new middle class, Roy writes, lives “side by side with spirits of the netherworld, the poltergeists . . . of the 800 million who have been impoverished and dispossessed to make way for us. And who survive on less than twenty Indian rupees a day.” Twenty rupees is thirty cents.
Roy is a good polemicist. She writes simple, strong expository prose. When she needs to, she uses words like “stupid” and “pathetic”—indeed, “mass murder.” She checks her facts; most of her books conclude with a fat section of endnotes, documenting her claims. Many people on the right hate her, of course, and not just for her skill in argumentation. There is a Jane Fonda-in-Vietnam element here: although Roy, unlike Fonda, grew up poor, to many she looks like a fortunate person. She may have sold cake on the beach when she was young, but that sounds a little bit like fun.

This problem often comes up when the rich plead on behalf of the poor. The less rich say, Well, why don’t you give your money away? That, of course, is not a solution. And, in fact, Roy has given a lot of money away—for example, all her prize money. She certainly has no financial difficulties. “The God of Small Things” has sold more than six million copies. But should only the poor be allowed to argue for the poor? If so, the poor would be in much worse trouble than they already are.

- Arundhati Roy Returns to Fiction, in Fury

Quote of the Day

The planting of a tree, especially one of the long-living hardwood trees, is a gift which you can make to posterity at almost no cost and with almost no trouble, and if the tree takes root it will far outlive the visible effect of any of your other actions, good or evil.

- George Orwell

Friday, June 2, 2017

Quote of the Day

The best thing for being sad," replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, "is to learn something. That's the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.

- T.H. White, The Once and Future King

Thursday, June 1, 2017