Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Busy Trap

This is one of the best articles I've read in a long time! And if you are too "busy" to read it, you'll laugh when you finally get a chance to. Here's an excerpt:
If you live in America in the 21st century you’ve probably had to listen to a lot of people tell you how busy they are. It’s become the default response when you ask anyone how they’re doing: “Busy!” “So busy.” “Crazy busy.” It is, pretty obviously, a boast disguised as a complaint. And the stock response is a kind of congratulation: “That’s a good problem to have,” or “Better than the opposite.” It’s not as if any of us wants to live like this; it’s something we collectively force one another to do.
Notice it isn’t generally people pulling back-to-back shifts in the I.C.U. or commuting by bus to three minimum-wage jobs who tell you how busy they are; what those people are is not busy but tired. Exhausted. Dead on their feet. It’s almost always people whose lamented busyness is purely self-imposed: work and obligations they’ve taken on voluntarily, classes and activities they’ve “encouraged” their kids to participate in. They’re busy because of their own ambition or drive or anxiety, because they’re addicted to busyness and dread what they might have to face in its absence.
Almost everyone I know is busy. They feel anxious and guilty when they aren’t either working or doing something to promote their work....
 Read more in the NYT. It's so good! (Thanks, Joyce, Tom, and Alessia)

An Immune Disorder at the Root of Autism

All those interested in healthcare might find this fascinating. Read more in the NYT. (Thanks, Claire)

Redefining Success and Celebrating the Ordinary

Here's an excerpt:

We hold so dearly onto the idea that we should all aspire to being remarkable that when David McCullough Jr., an English teacher, told graduating seniors at Wellesley High School in Massachusetts recently, “You are not special. You are not exceptional,” the speech went viral.
“In our unspoken but not so subtle Darwinian competition with one another — which springs, I think, from our fear of our own insignificance, a subset of our dread of mortality — we have of late, we Americans, to our detriment, come to love accolades more than genuine achievement,” he told the students and parents. “We have come to see them as the point — and we’re happy to compromise standards, or ignore reality, if we suspect that’s the quickest way, or only way, to have something to put on the mantelpiece, something to pose with, crow about, something with which to leverage ourselves into a better spot on the social totem pole.”

I understand that Mr. McCullough, son of the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, is telling these high school seniors that the world might not embrace them as unconditionally as their parents have. That just because they’ve been told they’re amazing doesn’t mean that they are. That they have to do something to prove themselves, not just accept compliments and trophies.
So where did this intense need to be exceptional come from? ... 

Read the NYT article. (Thanks, Neil!)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Business Case for Reading Novels

Do business managers who read novels have more emotional intelligence? Read the HBR post. (Thanks, Liz!)

Inside the Hoarder’s Brain: A Unique Problem with Decision-Making

Read more in TIME. (Thanks, Tom)

Women: Want a promotion? Find a boss whose wife has a career.

Men whose spouses don't work outside the home bring attitudes to the office with them that ultimately hold women back, says a new study. Read more at CNN Money(Thanks, Tom!)

Updating Emily Post for the Internet age

This one was one of my favorite updates:
Then: "The letter you write, whether you realize it or not, is always a mirror which reflects your appearance, taste and character. A 'sloppy' letter with the writing all pouring into one corner of the page, badly worded, badly spelled, and with unmatched paper and envelope -- even possibly a blot -- proclaims the sort of person who would have unkempt hair, unclean linen and broken shoe laces; just as a neat, precise, evenly written note portrays a person of like characteristics.

"Therefore, while it cannot be said with literal accuracy that one may read the future of a person by study of his handwriting, it is true that if a young man wishes to choose a wife in whose daily life he is sure always to find the unfinished task, the untidy mind and the syncopated housekeeping, he may do it quite simply by selecting her from her letters."

Now: Zing! Sexist guilt trips aside, Emily's onto something here. Yes, e-mail and spell check and digital fonts that reveal nothing of your atrocious handwriting have really taken away some of the hand-wringing over correspondence. But that means it's all the more important that you send clean, unblemished e-mails. Horrific spelling, atrocious grammar, missing punctuation, wingdings galore -- all just as bad as said inkblot.
 Read more at CNN. (Thanks, Claire)

Brands and parent companies

Click for a bigger view. (Thanks, Cassie)

Call Me Maybe Cover - US Army Soldiers

(Thanks, Claire)

As 3D printing becomes common-place: Why gun control laws may become irrelevant

There is something eerie about this video:

Check out more about Defense Distributed (Thanks, Cassie)

HBR Stat of the day: Moms Talk About Numbers More to Boys than Girls

In interactions with toddlers, American mothers use number terms twice as often when they speak to boys as when they speak to girls, according to a team led by Alicia Chang of the University of Delaware. The study of 32 two-year-olds also found that moms use explicit quantifications (for example, "four crayons") 2.7 times more frequently when speaking to boys than to girls. Although gender-stereotypical use of language may be inadvertent, past research shows it can affect children's interests and their perceptions of their own numerical competence, the researchers say.

Read more in the Journal of Language and Social Psychology.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sunday, August 19, 2012

HBR Daily Stat: Why a Female Scientist in a Pink Dress Is No Hero to Girls

Adolescent girls' plans for taking college math drop if they're shown feminine-looking women excelling in technological fields. After 11- to 13-year-old girls heard about women who were successful in science and wore dark-colored clothing, their expectations of taking math averaged 5.57 on a 1-to-7 scale, say Diana Betz and Denise Sekaquaptewa of the University of Michigan. But when girls learned about science-achieving women who wore makeup and pink clothes, their expectations of taking math fell to 4.04. Feminine-looking scientists may seem a rare breed to gender-stereotyping adolescents, and past research suggests that unattainable role models aren't inspiring, they're threatening.

Read more in My Fair Physicist?

You Probably Have Too Much Stuff

Here's an excerpt: "When a man named Andrew Hyde began an adventure in minimalism, he only owned 15 things. It eventually moved to 39 and now it sits around 60. It all started when he decided to take a trip around the world and sell everything he didn’t need. As Mr. Hyde noted on his blog, it changed his life after a brief period of befuddlement:"
I’m so confused by this. When we were growing up, didn’t we all have the goal of a huge house full of things? I found a far more quality life by rejecting things as a gauge of success.


Maybe the attachment to stuff comes in part from a notion that we should be prepared for anything. When David Friedlander interviewed Mr. Hyde about his project, he highlighted this issue:
Americans in particular like to be prepared for the worst-case-scenario, having separate cookie cutters for Christmas and Halloween. We seldom consider how negligible the consequences are when we running out of something or are unprepared. Nor do we consider how high the consequences are for being over-prepared…
Think about that for a second: there’s a consequence for being over-prepared. Often that consequence goes beyond the financial cost. It can easily have a physical cost that we didn’t expect, say in the need for more space to put all of our stuff.

Read the NYT Bucks blog post

Julia said it reminded her of the "But will it make you happy?" article from the NYT in 2010. Couldn't agree more.

You're welcome, planet: The Cost of Cool

Here's an excerpt:
THE blackouts that left hundreds of millions of Indians sweltering in the dark last month underscored the status of air-conditioning as one of the world’s most vexing environmental quandaries.
Fact 1: Nearly all of the world’s booming cities are in the tropics and will be home to an estimated one billion new consumers by 2025. As temperatures rise, they — and we — will use more air-conditioning. 
Fact 2: Air-conditioners draw copious electricity, and deliver a double whammy in terms of climate change, since both the electricity they use and the coolants they contain result in planet-warming emissions. 
Fact 3: Scientific studies increasingly show that health and productivity rise significantly if indoor temperature is cooled in hot weather. So cooling is not just about comfort. 
Sum up these facts and it’s hard to escape: Today’s humans probably need air-conditioning if they want to thrive and prosper. Yet if all those new city dwellers use air-conditioning the way Americans do, life could be one stuttering series of massive blackouts, accompanied by disastrous planet-warming emissions.
Read more in the NY Times. (Thanks, Cassie)

Republican Senate Nominee: Victims Of ‘Legitimate Rape’ Don’t Get Pregnant

And this person could be in the Senate in the fall. Here's an excerpt:
Rep. Todd Akin, the Republican nominee for Senate in Missouri who is running against Sen. Claire McCaskill, justified his opposition to abortion rights even in case of rape with a claim that victims of “legitimate rape” have unnamed biological defenses that prevent pregnancy.
“First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare,” Akin told KTVI-TV in an interview posted Sunday. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
Read the rest of the outrageous interview at CNN. He has since retracted many of his comments. (Thanks, Claire)

'We're NASA and We Know it': The Mars Rover Mission Gets a Pop Makeover

Read more at GOOD. (Great find, Cassie!)

Paul Ryan Is Your Annoying Libertarian Ex-Boyfriend

"GTFO," ha. Read the NY Mag article.

Why Women Aren’t C.E.O.s, According to Women Who Almost Were

"It’s not a pipeline problem. It’s about loneliness, competition and deeply rooted barriers." Read more in the NYT .