Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Born Out of Fear and Hungarian Revolution of 1956: Is That All There Is?

Capturing the sense of imagination and curiosity that drives humans toward risk taking in the first place

Cast a cold eye
On life, on death.
Horseman, pass by!

The power of prediction markets Nature

While no one is really noticing, some serious thinkers are engaged in a big debate about small talk. While most research says that small talk is a good thing, behavioral economists Dan Ariely and Kristen Berman beg to differ. They think that it’s better to have deeply meaningful conversation than to engage in idle chatter.

As often happens, behavioral economists, pretending that their work is science, are trying to change the culture by encouraging us to develop bad habits.

Most research demonstrates that small talk is good for you. Having more social contacts, however superficial, with more people is better than having fewer deeply meaningful contacts with fewer people.

The reason is simple: If you have fewer people in your social network, you will be more sensitive and more threatened by slights, real or imagined. If you only know a few people, you will be much more anxious about losing any of them.

This makes perfectly good sense. It explains why, when someone wants to control you he will try to cut you off from your friends and family. The more isolated you are the easier you will be to manipulate. If a single human being stands between you and social oblivion you will be especially apt to do anything at all to maintain your relationship with that person.

In an essay in the Wall Street Journal Jennifer Wallace lays out the case for small talk:

A growing body of research suggests that small talk has surprising benefits. In a study published in 2014 in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, researchers found that daily interactions with casual acquaintances, like chatting with your regular barista at the coffee shop, can contribute to day-to-day well-being.

Stress is a fact of professional life, but extreme and unrelenting pressures can lead to the debilitating state we call burnout. Three symptoms characterize burnout: exhaustion; cynicism, or distancing oneself from work; and inefficacy, or feelings of incompetence and lack of achievement. Research has linked burnout to many health problems, including hypertension, sleep disturbances, depression, and substance abuse. Moreover, it can ruin relationships and jeopardize career prospects. Resolving burnout often requires changes at the job, team, or organizational level
Beating Burnout

WELL, WE ARE LIVING IN THE 21ST CENTURY, YOU KNOW? Cancer survivor receives world’s first 3D-printed face prosthesis

HUNGARIAN REVOLUTION 60 YEARS ON: RealClearHistory has posted several good articles on the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. Here’s a 2016 essayexamining contemporary news coverage of the revolt. In 2006 The Guardian essayed the rebellion’s bitter legacy. Still a good read. Last week my Creators Syndicate column was a retrospective on the revolt 


The Berlin Wall was a scar — a concrete and barbed wire boundary that divided families, East and West, communism and capitalism, tyranny and democracy. People died trying to climb over it while others labored to carve tunnels beneath it. 

In his new book, The Tunnels, Greg Mitchell writes about a time in the early 1960s when two groups of diggers built tunnels that were filmed and financed by U.S. television networks. Those networks wanted to turn acts of daring into primetime specials. But when the U.S. government discovered those projects, the Kennedy administration moved to suppress them. A Harrowing Tale Of Cold War Escape And Suppression In 'The Tunnels' Listen· 6:20 

In The Tunnels, historian Greg Mitchell uncovers one of the most gripping stories of the Cold War, in which people in West Berlin dug tunnels under the Berlin Wall to help friends and family escape East Germany. American TV broadcasters CBS and NBC partially funded two tunnels and filmed the digging...and then the Kennedy administration and State Department tried to squash the documentaries during the tense months before the Cuban missile crisis came to a head.

Greg Mitchell talked with us about the tunnelers themselves, the behind-the-scenes machinations of the U.S. government, and the parallels to today.

Amazon Book Review: What sparked your interest in this slice of history?

Greg Mitchell: I'm unfortunately old enough to have grown up with [the Berlin Wall] and grown up in the era when it was at the top of the news many nights, and there was the incredible nuclear threat attached to Berlin. A few years ago I saw the film The Lives of Others, which became my favorite movie of the last decade. There's a great deal in there about East Germany, suppression, Stasi, and surveillance, and it ends with the fall of the wall. I was primed to learn more. But what really sparked it was that my daughter, her husband, and her three-year-old son moved to Berlin and lived about a mile from where the wall was. My wife and I had never been to Berlin, so we were especially happy to go visit them. On our first visit, we took a walk up to where the first wall memorial is and we were just overwhelmed by what we found there. When I came back to New York, I did more research and found these incredible links to the CBS and NBC films, and the fact that they were suppressed. Incredible Escapes Across Iron Curtains and Walls

"I ran away 27 times," said Marcel Ellery, who attended the Marieval Indian Residential School from 1987-1990. "But the (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) always found us eventually. When I got out, I turned to booze because of the abuse. I drank to suppress what had happened to me, to deal with my anger, to deal with my pain, to forget. Ending up in jail was easy, because I'd already been there." Image by Daniella Zalcman. Canada, 2015.
"I ran away 27 times," said Marcel Ellery, who attended the Marieval Indian Residential School from 1987-1990. "But the (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) always found us eventually. When I got out, I turned to booze because of the abuse. I drank to suppress what had happened to me, to deal with my anger, to deal with my pain, to forget. Ending up in jail was easy, because I'd already been there." Image by Daniella Zalcman. Canada, 2015. Add this image to a lesson

Individuals should have more control over the data collected about them, a draft report from the Productivity Commission has recommended. If the recommendations contained in the draft report are implemented, consumers will be more easily able to transfer data that has been collected about them from one organisation to another, as 
well as opt out of some forms of data collection. The government in March revealed it had commissioned an inquiry into the use of public and private sector data by individuals and organisations.
Totalitarians out as individuals should control their own data

In a memorable Seinfeld episode, George Costanza once confessed to his therapist he believed that, “God would never let me be successful. He’d kill me first. He’ll never let me be happy.” His therapist queried, “I thought you didn’t believe in God?” “I do for the bad things,” George deadpanned in response ...
You read to me as I stand, you read to me as I sit, 
You read to me as I run, you read to me as I shit. 
I flee to the baths; you boom in my ear.
I head for the pool, you won’t let me swim. 
I hurry to dinner, you stop me in my tracks. 
I arrive at the meal, your words make me gag.
Bookish fools Aeon

The UK has no choice on ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ Brexit Al Jazeera

Image for the news resultIImagine a story with so much inherent drama it sounds far-fetched even for a Hollywood thriller. Our heroes dig tunnels from freedom into enemy territory to help loved ones and others escape. They are bankrolled in part by a savvy media executive looking for a network exclusive. Meanwhile, the White House seeks to shut it all down in the interest of politics – and avoiding nuclear war.

It sounds over the top but it’s all true and detailed in Greg Mitchell’s new book, The Tunnels: Escapes Under the Berlin Wall and the Historic Films the JFK White House Tried to KillUtilizing a mix of interviews and archival records Mitchell tells a kaleidoscopic cold war story from 1962, recreating a world seemingly on the edge of a third world war The Cold War Rivers and Tunnels Of Tears ...

Did Springsteen shake the foundations of the Berlin Wall? It is tempting to conclude that he did. After all, November the 9th 1989 did not come out of the blue. It is true that the act of dismantling the wall happened quite literally overnight but the wheels had been set in motion long before. This was the bandwagon onto which Hasselhoff would jump with such alacrity, as the people’s restlessness reached fever pitch that summer. If you retrace their footsteps, though, all roads lead to a cycle track in the Weissenseedistrict where, once upon a time, Asbury Park’s favourite son had demonstrated that the grass sometimes is greener on the other side.
"Bruce Frederick Jozef Springsteen " and "Cold River" have a lot in common as his Album "River" was created in 1980 the year of escape  🏊🏊🏊 Bruce had a knack for bringing down the iron curtains

FBI releases files on Clinton pardon of Marc Rich Marketwatch. Impeccable timing here

It’s also important that, from time to time, for the good of our souls and our morale, we read literature that scares the living daylights out of us. If we allow ourselves to be pleasantly frightened by ghost stories and the supernatural, it is harder for politicians to scare us, whether with bogus Iraqi WMD, a nonexistent threat from Russia, or the fear that ISIS will kill each and every one of us. Read James’s “Casting the Runes” and, I assure you, you won’t be frightened of anything a neocon will tell you ever again.

Ghost stories, by getting us to think about the possibility of “the other world,” help us to put everything into its proper perspective. To believe that there are, or could be, “more things in heaven and earth” is truly life-enhancing. It also, I think, makes us nicer people: less cocksure, more humble. The Greatest of Ghost Stories

Accepting diversity in the workplace so men and women from all backgrounds belong together not only promotes social cohesion – it’s good for business

When cities fail, they fail for the same reasons democracies The prophecies of Jane Jacobs

Jack Townsend, Inconsistent Verdicts and the Lesser Included Offense Doctrine. “…it seems to me that charging both tax evasion and tax perjury just gave the Government both bites at the apple.

Kate Pickett (University of York) presents Income Inequality and Health: A Casual Review and The Enemy Between Us: The Psychological and Social Costs of Inequality (both with Richard Wilkinson (University of Nottingham)) at the NYU High-End Inequality Colloquium Series (more here) hosted by Robert Frank (Cornell) and Dan Shaviro (NYU): Income Inequality and Health: A Casual Review
There is a very large literature examining income inequality in relation to health.

What happens when a podcasting company gets into fiction? Gimlet Media is about to find out