Outraged? Don’t share

Our attention is the product for Facebook and Twitter. They make money by selling advertising. The more time we spend on the site, the more ads they put in front of us, the more money they make.

Outrage makes them the most money. We are more likely to share what outrages us. We have tribalized our social groups such that our friends are most likely going to be outraged too and more likely to share. So the outrages go viral.

The most effective things to make us share are also probably fake or misleading. We get so upset that we do not bother to check until maybe someone not so outraged fact-checks and points out the problem. So fake items go viral.

The synergy of fake outrageous news is powerful. It is manipulative. We train the social media algorithms that we WANT to be manipulated. We spend more time on these sites because we are addicted to being manipulated.

Firearm stocks under Trump

Talking about gun regulation causes increased gun sales. People buy out store stocks seeking to get them while they still can. So in that regard, President Obama was terrific for gun stores and manufacturers. For all the talk needing to do something, there was little done. The talk was enough to spike gun sales.

Sales and stock prices of firearms makers slumped after Trump’s unexpected election victory was seen as reducing prospects for curbs on gun ownership… But tweets and comments by Trump on Wednesday and Thursday that he supported raising the age limit for purchases of some kinds of guns, as well as other measures, turned up the heat on the gun control debate, and boosted gunmakers’ shares.” (Reuters) Trump also advocates arming some schoolteachers, which would also likely boost gun sales.

This chart is interesting. There were about 3 million a year manufactured under President George W Bush. There were about 8 million a year under President Obama.

Statistic: Number of firearms manufactured in the U.S. from 1986 to 2015 | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista

Goodreads Page Stats

The better metric for tracking how much I have read, in my opinion, is the number of pages. The number of books is okay, but the reality is reading a 50-page novella is not nearly the same commitment as a 1,500-page tome. (I might prefer a statistic for words when looking at my daughter’s reading counts.)

Unfortunately, Goodreads used to include the stats page in the challenges, but they removed the link to it. It is still there. (For now.) You can build the link to it by:

  1. Go to your profile. In the top right corner is your user photo in a circle. Click it.
  2. Click the Profile link.
  3. Replace the URL up through show/ with “https://www.goodreads.com/review/stats/”.
  4. Add “#pages” to the end.
  5. You should have a URL that looks like: https://www.goodreads.com/review/stats/999-name#pages

The page has buttons for books, pages, and publication year.

  1. Books: The number of books read broken down by year.
  2. Pages: The number of pages read broken down by year.
  3. Publication Year: A graph with year published in the vertical axis and year read in the horizontal axis.

The Golden Rule

Listened to a video about a potential candidate for National Science Advisor where Dr. David Lewis mentioned his belief in the Golden Rule will help him in the job. Thankfully, he stated it immediately after just as I was thinking, “Wait, which one?”

  • Whoever has the gold, makes the rules. Wizard of Id
  • Do to others as you would have them do to you. – Luke 6:31 (New Testament)
  • Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful. Udana-Varga 5:18
  • Blessed is he who preferreth his brother before himself. Baha’u’llah

I know, I live in a majority Christian country, so I should just assume the Christian one. But, the Wizard of Id one best matches Trump’s personal belief system, so it deserves weight too.

Collected Quotes 2018-JAN-15

A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth – some obvious truth he isn’t supposed to say.
—  Michael Kinsley

I often wonder what I’d do if there weren’t any books in the world.
—   James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room

The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.
—  Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions.
—  Grace Hopper

Common sense is cultural 

Common sense is not so common. At least not in the sense that what we think are common sense behaviors are universal agreed upon across all of humanity.

An example: In a western culture, we tend to value the individual, so we think it common sense that we do things that benefit us. In an eastern culture, they tend to value the group, so they think it common sense that they do things that benefit the group.

We also are mired in groupthink that our tribes have the only correct values in humanity. So, the values of others occasionally cause conflict when members come into contact. A friend was upset about something neighbors did. One of the comments from someone sharing the friend’s values was that it is just common sense not to behave the way the people from another culture did. I wanted to reply that from the perspective of the other people, it is common sense to behave in this offensive way.

I did not because it was only going to make them defensive and cause unnecessary anger. People strongly defend their values. My questioning their values would be counterproductive. And having brown skin would lead to saying if I am not willing to share these values, then I should go home.

The funny thing? Best I can tell, all my ancestors going back 100 years were born in America. I just am introspective enough to try and understand how people work. And that leads me to consider other perspectives and give people some leeway. Given my Baha’I Faith upbringing, this consideration is just common sense.

Whoever smelt it deals with it

In my opinion, the person who discovers a problem deals with the problem. A law enforcement officer sees someone aim a gun at another. The LEO is off duty or out of jurisdiction. Societal expectation is the LEO will intervene.

The same applies to me being an employee. If I discover a problem, then it is my responsibility to intervene as best I can. If I have no access to the systems or skill to do anything, then I should inform those who can and provide the information I know to best aid them in assessing the problem. If I do have the access, then I should work the issue as best I can. It might technically belong to someone else or another group, but if I have been given access to the systems and have the skill, then I should deal with it.

Even if I lack the access or skill, then I still feel like the issue is still MINE until it is resolved however that is. My responsibility becomes to find the person who can deal with the situation. I am not absolved just because it is not something I can do.

I thought maybe this came from my work at a university, but I am not so sure. I feel like I held this attitude even early in my work there. I would help other students anywhere I was. I did the same in high school, such as stores where as a customer I fixed misshelved books or items put in the wrong place. Anyhow it came about, I feel responsible for ensuring things are working around me.

TED Talk: The secret to living longer may be your social life

As a self avowed loner, this research showing personal connections are important to a long life bothers me. I had hoped that Cacioppo’s writing in Loneliness that we each have differing levels of engagement that are necessary would apply. Having a lower threshold might protect against depression, anxiety, and suicide that plague men.

Pinker seems to be saying that having someone who will check up on older people is what prolongs their lives into becoming centenarians.

If the above does not work, then try TED Talk: The secret to living longer may be your social life.

TED Talk: Who are you, really? The puzzle of personality

What makes you, you? Psychologists like to talk about our traits, or defined characteristics that make us who we are. But Brian Little is more interested in moments when we transcend those traits — sometimes because our culture demands it of us, and sometimes because we demand it of ourselves. Join Little as he dissects the surprising differences between introverts and extroverts and explains why your personality may be more malleable than you think.

The Big Five personality test is well regarded in psychology compared to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Little spends quite a bit of time on the trait present in both: Extraversion and Introversion.

My favorite quote: “Introverts prefer contextually complex, contingent, weasel-word sentences. More or less. As it were. Not to put too fine a point on it… like that.”

If the above does not work, then try Who are you, really? The puzzle of personality

Climbing Mountains fitness blog – Guest Post

Me at Watson Mill Bridge State Park
Me at Watson Mill Bridge State Park

This was posted on the Climbing Mountains blog. Even though I blog, I usually avoid things that are more personal.

Tell me a little about yourself and your background?

As a computer geek, I am a professional student of systems and processes. That brings a curiosity into how things work both individually and in the cascade of effects throughout the system. I mostly played soccer as a kid and was outside almost every day back then. And I did a couple years of Karate. As an adult, I was super sedentary in front of a computer 12-20 hours a day.

What aspect of fitness do you enjoy the most?

Working out centers my mind and provides a calmness that I did not expect. I mean, I heard others talk about feeling good, but I suspected they were already happy people. Working in a stressful environment, fitness provides a place to change the brain chemistry. I definitely feel happier after a stressful day and even sense the need to get back to the gym when I have been away more than a few days.

How long have you been into fitness?

The weightlifting has been for the past three years. I also enjoy the occasional hike which has been for as long as I remember. I tried to get into jogging, but I despised it. That is how I tried weightlifting.

How did you get into fitness?

Really, I was dragged into it kicking and screaming. I was diagnosed as pre-diabetic (type II) almost a decade before getting the really diabetic one over 3 years ago. My diet was terrible. My life mostly consisted of sedentary sitting in front of a computer both at work and home. My weight would swing from 275 to 315 and back.

What was a turning point for you to take it seriously?

Armed with the diagnosis, I had to start exercising more or the bad things would happen. My doctor wanted me being active 30 minutes a day, three days a week. I started walking / jogging up to about an hour, but that was killing my feet. My doctor recommended building muscle as they would drink up the sugar in my system. Fat also messes with the blood chemistry to resist insulin, making the insulin less effective. So I came to the gym looking to cut fat and gain strength.

How has fitness impacted your life?

My doctors are pleased with my medical status. The sugar level is where it ought to be. My heart and kidneys are fine. The damage to my eyes is reversing. I feel happy and less stressed all the time.

What words of advice or encouragement would you give to someone starting out or would like to start but doesn’t know where to begin?

Find a friend who is serious about what you want to try doing. Tag along. Observe their form and ask questions. Make sure to get a number of perspectives. We each have our own goals and methods to get there, so feel free to pick and choose what works for you. Finally, if it hurts or you feel terrible about what you are doing, then do not beat yourself up about trying to fix the form or even trying something else.

Ezra Freelove (@sneezypb)