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In the News 10.01.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


In the News 10.01.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 10.01.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 10.01.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Your smartphone📱is making you👈 stupid, antisocial 🙅 and unhealthy 😷. So why can’t you put it down❔⁉️

In the winter of 1906, the year San Francisco was destroyed by an earthquake and SOS became the international distress signal, Britain’s Punch magazine published a dark joke about the future of technology.

Under the headline, “Forecasts for 1907,” a black and white cartoon showed a well-dressed Edwardian couple sitting in a London park. The man and woman are turned away from each other, antennae protruding from their hats. In their laps are little black boxes, spitting out ticker tape.

A caption reads: “These two figures are not communicating with one another. The lady is receiving an amatory message, and the gentleman some racing results.”

The cartoonist was going for broad humour, but today the image looks prophetic. A century after it was published, Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone. Today, thanks to him, we can sit in parks and not only receive amatory messages and racing results, but summon all the world’s knowledge with a few taps of our thumbs, listen to virtually every song ever recorded and communicate instantaneously with everyone we know.

More than two billion people around the world, including three-quarters of Canadians, now have this magic at their fingertips – and it’s changing the way we do countless things, from taking photos to summoning taxis. But smartphones have also changed us – changed our natures in elemental ways, reshaping the way we think and interact. For all their many conveniences, it is here, in the way they have changed not just industries or habits but people themselves, that the joke of the cartoon has started to show its dark side.

Read the rest of this article at: The Globe And Mail


The Psychology of Inequality


In 2016, the highest-paid employee of the State of California was Jim Mora, the head coach of U.C.L.A.’s football team. (He has since been fired.) That year, Mora pulled in $3.58 million. Coming in second, with a salary of $2.93 million, was Cuonzo Martin, at the time the head coach of the men’s basketball team at the University of California, Berkeley. Victor Khalil, the chief dentist at the Department of State Hospitals, made six hundred and eighty-six thousand dollars; Anne Neville, the director of the California Research Bureau, earned a hundred and thirty-five thousand dollars; and John Smith, a seasonal clerk at the Franchise Tax Board, earned twelve thousand nine hundred dollars.

I learned all this from a database maintained by the Sacramento Bee. The database, which is open to the public, is searchable by name and by department, and contains precise salary information for the more than three hundred thousand people who work for California. Today, most state employees probably know about the database. But that wasn’t the case when it was first created, in 2008. This made possible an experiment.

The experiment, conducted by four economists, was designed to test rival theories of inequity. According to one theory, the so-called rational-updating model, people assess their salaries in terms of opportunities. If they discover that they are being paid less than their co-workers, they will “update” their projections about future earnings and conclude that their prospects of a raise are good. Conversely, people who learn that they earn more than their co-workers will be discouraged by that news. They’ll update their expectations in the opposite direction.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

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Two Dying Memoirists Wrote Bestsellers About Their Final Days. Then Their Spouses Fell In Love.

“When Breath Becomes Air,” Paul Kalanithi’s memoir of his final years as he faced lung cancer at age 37, was published posthumously, in 2016, to critical acclaim and commercial success. “The Bright Hour,” Nina Riggs’s memoir of her final years as she faced breast cancer at age 39, was published posthumously, in 2017, to critical acclaim and commercial success. The two books were mentioned together in numerous reviews, lists and conversations.

Perhaps less inevitable was that the late authors’ spouses would end up together, too.

“I’m still surprised,” said Lucy Kalanithi of her relationship with Nina Riggs’s widower, John Duberstein. “I’m surprised by how ridiculous it is and how natural it is at the same time.”

Sitting across the kitchen table from Lucy last week at her home, John agreed. “Everything seemed almost bizarrely to fit,” he said. “It was kind of stunning.”

The story of Lucy Kalanithi and John Duberstein is both unlikely and destined, the stuff of a rom-com. It begins, tragically, on a deathbed.

Read the rest of this article at: The Washington Post

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Improving Ourselves to Death

Happy New Year, you! Now that the champagne has gone flat and the Christmas tree is off to be mulched, it’s time to turn your thoughts to the months ahead. 2017 was a pustule of a year, politically and personally; the general anxiety around the degradation of American democracy made it hard to get much done. That’s O.K., though, because you’ve made new resolutions for 2018, and the first one is not to make resolutions. Instead, you’re going to “set goals,” in the terminology of the productivity guru Tim Ferriss—preferably ones that are measurable and have timelines, so you can keep track of your success. Apps like Lifetick or Joe’s Goals will help by keeping you organized and allowing you to share your progress on social media; a little gloating does wonders for self-motivation (unless, of course, one of your goals is to spend less time on social media). Once your goals are in place, it might be smart to design a methodology that will encourage you to accomplish them. Charles Duhigg, the author of “The Power of Habit,” recommends a three-step self-conditioning process. You want to get to the gym more? Pick a cue (sneakers by the door); choose a reward that will motivate you to act on it (a piece of chocolate); execute. Bravo! You are now Pavlov and his dog.

But soon enough February will come, mid-winter doldrums will set in, and you’ll start to slide. Not to worry. Jane McGonigal’s “SuperBetter” tells you how to gamify your way back from the edge with the help of video-game-inspired techniques like finding “allies” and collecting motivational “power-ups”; and Angela Duckworth’s “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” reminds you that persistence makes all the difference when the going gets rough. Duckworth doesn’t think you need talent in order to become, as another of Duhigg’s books puts it, “Smarter Better Faster,” and neither do any of these other experts. According to their systems, anyone can learn to be more efficient, more focussed, more effective in the pursuit of happiness and, that most hallowed of modern traits, productivity. And if you can’t, well, that’s on you.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

Why Logan Paul Should Really Worry Us


On the last day of the year, a great disturbance rippled through the Internet. Well, a certain part of the Internet: the section that pays attention to the exploits of brash YouTube celebrities like Logan Paul, a 22-year-old mega-vlogger who has the attention of some 15 million subscribers. On December 31, Paul uploaded a video from his travels in Japan, detailing his trek into the famous Aokigahara “suicide woods” near Mount Fuji, where he found a man who had apparently recently hanged himself. Paul showed the body, with his face blurred out, and filmed his own reaction, at first stunned, and then . . . well, one might say amused.

It didn’t go over well. By New Year’s Day, criticism of Paul was widespread and he issued the first of two apologies. Though, it came off as another crass bit of self-promotion, a fact pointed out in stringent fashion by the Queen of the North herself, Game of Thrones actress Sophie Turner.

Wagons circled, attack mobs formed, and the Internet—or, again, a certain area of it—engaged in a battle of outrage and defense. People on one side were appalled that Paul would post such a video, while also maybe a little glad that he’d given them another concrete thing to throw at him. And his fans—the “Logang,” as Paul calls them—entrenched themselves in loyal service of their pranking, stunting, bragging hero. It’s a familiar narrative. Though a particularly egregious example of witless YouTube content, Paul’s video still seems likely to be only a minor and soon-forgotten bump on the way to whatever YouTube singularity we’re headed toward.

It almost feels like a waste of time, then, to get angry at Paul’s video in particular. Yes, it’s awful and exploitative and is a sterling example of what makes Paul—and his younger, but equally odious brother, Jake Paul—so distressing. But Paul is really just a symptom of a larger problem—one that we’ll all have to reckon with soon enough. Or, really, probably should be already.

Are bros taking over the Internet? Well, watching any of the Paul brothers’ videos, you might be inclined to think that. (Watch Logan brag about his year. And then watch his brother do it.) But there are also all those Nazi dweebs and men’s-rights toads racking up views and swaying people to their terrible causes, and I wouldn’t exactly call them bros. We should still resist most bro culture where we can, absolutely. But it’s only one head of the hydra.

What’s really a problem is something a bit more intangible, more ineffable. It’s the sense that YouTube has created not just its own economy—we’ve heard plenty about that already—but a kind of ethical relativism that, even in the intense glare of mass criticism like Paul got yesterday, seems almost invincible to any outside influence. That’s probably hyperbole, but look at Logan Paul’s second apology video, posted today:

Read the rest of this article at: Vanity Fair

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M.

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