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Armchair Enlightenment
Things I read to feed my brain + just generally become better.
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Jay Z on Raising Blue Ivy, His Drug-Dealing Past, and Ex-Good-Girl Beyoncé: “She’s Gangsta Now”

Jay Z on Raising Blue Ivy, His Drug-Dealing Past, and Ex-Good-Girl Beyoncé: “She’s Gangsta Now” | Armchair Enlightenment | Scoop.it

I asked Jay what he considered his biggest accomplishment, and he replied, “Staying grounded and [being] a sane person is my biggest accomplishment.” He said that his biggest initial music goal was to have an album and go gold. “The next one was to build a company and to represent the culture and change the perception of artists. It became more of a ‘Let’s change the perception of rapper turned businessman; let’s show people that you can be a player-coach.’ And you can be successful at it. You can show a different example of how it ends. It usually ends on one of those ‘Where Are They Now’ specials. Let’s show a different ending.”

Angela Natividad's insight:

I wish Jay-Z and Warren Buffett were my gay dads.

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The Art of Silence

The Art of Silence | Armchair Enlightenment | Scoop.it

People abhor silence the way nature abhors a vacuum and rush to fill it with the same alacrity. Silence feeds our imaginations and provokes all types of anxious conjurations. If we're clever about it, however, we can leverage these negative reactions to create positive value.

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What Happens to the Brain When You Meditate (And How it Benefits You)

What Happens to the Brain When You Meditate (And How it Benefits You) | Armchair Enlightenment | Scoop.it

Using modern technology like fMRI scans, scientists have developed a more thorough understanding of what’s taking place in our brains when we meditate. The overall difference is that our brains stop processing information as actively as they normally would. We start to show a decrease in beta waves, which indicate that our brains are processing information, even after a single 20-minute meditation session if we’ve never tried it before.P

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Apple’s Golden State: Just Doing What’s Right | TechCrunch

Apple’s Golden State: Just Doing What’s Right | TechCrunch | Armchair Enlightenment | Scoop.it

"What we saw yesterday was Apple saying goodbye to Steve Jobs in the way that he wanted — by not doing what he would have done, but by doing what they collectively thought was right. Cook is not Jobs. He is not going to rule over Apple with the same iron fist. He’s going to delegate. He’s going to allow his team to flourish."

 

Angela Natividad's insight:

The story of Apple's struggle to find itself post-Steve is beautiful. It's a human story, the irony being that Apple is often cast as one of the least social companies in this market.

 

You don't need to blow holes through yourself all the time to demonstrate your humanity. That Apple's vulnerabilities and its efforts to remain true to a very tough credo are this obvious demonstrate it's sometimes more meaningful not to.

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Is the Internet Making Us Crazy? What the New Research Says

Is the Internet Making Us Crazy? What the New Research Says | Armchair Enlightenment | Scoop.it

The qualities of online communication are capable of generating “true psychotic phenomena,” the authors conclude, before putting the medical community on warning. “The spiraling use of the Internet and its potential involvement in psychopathology are new consequences of our times.”

 

 

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Why Amazon Is Special and Apple Is Not—in 1 Paragraph

Why Amazon Is Special and Apple Is Not—in 1 Paragraph | Armchair Enlightenment | Scoop.it

Apple's core business is something that practically everybody wants to do (and can do): making phones and tablets. Amazon's core business is something that practically nobody wants to do (or can do): build a massive online database and offline infrastructure to transport boxes from warehouses to hundreds of millions of doorsteps. Seen in that light, Amazon's low-margin game isn't a weakness. It's arguably a strength, like a treacherous castle moat discouraging even the most swashbuckling entrepreneurs from daring to encroach on their turf.

 

 

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If You're Too Busy to Meditate, Read This

If You're Too Busy to Meditate, Read This | Armchair Enlightenment | Scoop.it

Doing nothing for 20 minutes a day actually increases your productivity.

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Rethinking Sleep

Rethinking Sleep | Armchair Enlightenment | Scoop.it

No one argues that sleep is not essential. But freeing ourselves from needlessly rigid and quite possibly outdated ideas about what constitutes a good night’s sleep might help put many of us to rest, in a healthy and productive, if not eight-hour long, block.        

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Fear of a Black President

Fear of a Black President | Armchair Enlightenment | Scoop.it

In a democracy, so the saying goes, the people get the government they deserve. Part of Obama’s genius is a remarkable ability to soothe race consciousness among whites. Any black person who’s worked in the professional world is well acquainted with this trick. But never has it been practiced at such a high level, and never have its limits been so obviously exposed. This need to talk in dulcet tones, to never be angry regardless of the offense, bespeaks a strange and compromised integration indeed, revealing a country so infantile that it can countenance white acceptance of blacks only when they meet an Al Roker standard.

 

And yet this is the uncertain foundation of Obama’s historic victory—a victory that I, and my community, hold in the highest esteem. Who would truly deny the possibility of a black presidency in all its power and symbolism? Who would rob that little black boy of the right to feel himself affirmed by touching the kinky black hair of his president?

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Leopold’s Ghost

Leopold’s Ghost | Armchair Enlightenment | Scoop.it

The details of the accusations were horrifying, and I sat reading the documents while my visitors watched. Between April and July 1994, Leopold had been part of a “joint criminal enterprise,” the indictment alleged, and had “trained, indoctrinated, encouraged, provided criminal intelligence to, transported and distributed arms to members” of the armed forces and civilian militias, who in turn “murdered, caused seriously [sic] bodily and mental harm, raped and pillaged Tutsi group members.” It said he had attended meetings of Hutu in the Kayenzi commune, where he and others allegedly complained that the killing was “lagging behind.” Possibly he had planned or even chaired those meetings. At one such gathering at the Kirwa primary school, Munyakazi “took the floor to address more than 2,000 residents,” it claimed, “and publicly incited the masses to commit genocide.” He had, according to the indictment, personally turned over to the militia a woman who had taken refuge at his home, so that she could be killed.

 

I was incredulous, filled with a mixture of anger and self-doubt. As their Rwandan companion nodded quietly in agreement, the producers from NBC demanded to know how Goucher could have sheltered such an evil man. They wanted to film me reacting to the indictment, but I refused. I hid behind the Scholar Rescue Fund, protesting that Leopold had been screened and certified, and that was all we knew. Later, in a New Republic story that was part of the flurry of early, short-lived interest in Leopold’s case, the producers were even quoted as describing my attitude as “flippant.”

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'Heretics': The Crisis Of American Christianity

But in his new book, Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics, Douthat argues that religion has fallen into heresy (hence the feisty subtitle). Douthat recently spoke with NPR's Linda Wertheimer about why he thinks American Christianity has become distorted.

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Silicon Valley of the 14th Century: What the U.S. Can Learn From 1386 Germany

Silicon Valley of the 14th Century: What the U.S. Can Learn From 1386 Germany | Armchair Enlightenment | Scoop.it

This is a story about how innovation happens. It begins in 1386 after the great Papal Schism (seriously), demonstrates the ability of universities to foster capitalism, and concludes with a surprising hero of the modern world: lawyers.

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Happy Talk: The Economics of Happiness

Happy Talk: The Economics of Happiness | Armchair Enlightenment | Scoop.it

On average, happier people are also healthier, with the causal arrows probably pointing in both directions. Finally, age and happiness have a consistent U-shaped relationship, with the turning point in the mid- to late-40s, when happiness begins to increase, as long as health and domestic partnerships stay sound.

 

All of this seems rather logical, suggesting that if a government wants to get into the business of promoting happiness, it can pursue some straightforward policy goals, such as emphasizing health, jobs and economic stability as much as economic growth.

 

But here's the complicated part. While there are stable patterns in what leads to happiness, there is also a remarkable human capacity to adapt to both prosperity and adversity.

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Miley Cyrus's Smartest Tattoo

There is, of course, a small bit of the populace—say, 1%—who aren’t harassed and wearied by the invisible barriers to ambition that equality puts in our place. Who are these charmed people? The ones with lots of talent and very little fear. As Chris Hayes and others have noted, our democratic age is predisposed to let “merit” rule—and we, within it, not-so-secretly believe there’s nothing that can stop the most talented people with the most ambition. Yet, sadly, neither talent nor ambition cultivates prudence, wisdom, love, or magnanimity. Welcome to the age of Larry Summers.

 

 

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Is this proof the Virgin Queen was an imposter in drag? Shocking new theory about Elizabeth I unearthed in historic manuscripts

Is this proof the Virgin Queen was an imposter in drag? Shocking new theory about Elizabeth I unearthed in historic manuscripts | Armchair Enlightenment | Scoop.it
According to a controversial new book Queen Elizabeth I died aged 10 of a fever, and a young male imposter was put in her place.
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Bring back the 40-hour work week

Bring back the 40-hour work week | Armchair Enlightenment | Scoop.it

Research shows that knowledge workers actually have fewer good hours in a day than manual laborers do — on average, about six hours, as opposed to eight. It sounds strange, but if you’re a knowledge worker, the truth of this may become clear if you think about your own typical work day. Odds are good that you probably turn out five or six good, productive hours of hard mental work; and then spend the other two or three hours on the job in meetings, answering e-mail, making phone calls and so on. You can stay longer if your boss asks; but after six hours, all he’s really got left is a butt in a chair. Your brain has already clocked out and gone home.

 

The other thing about knowledge workers is that they’re exquisitely sensitive to even minor sleep loss.

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E3 Inspires Woman-Bashing On Twitter

E3 Inspires Woman-Bashing On Twitter | Armchair Enlightenment | Scoop.it
Misogynist gamers are at it again, attacking Anita Saarkesian for making a simple observation. Perhaps all the excitement at E3 has made their thumbs twitchy. There’s nothing particularly surprising here.
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The myth of the eight-hour sleep

The myth of the eight-hour sleep | Armchair Enlightenment | Scoop.it

In the early 1990s, psychiatrist Thomas Wehr conducted an experiment in which a group of people were plunged into darkness for 14 hours every day for a month.

 

It took some time for their sleep to regulate but by the fourth week the subjects had settled into a very distinct sleeping pattern. They slept first for four hours, then woke for one or two hours before falling into a second four-hour sleep.

 

Though sleep scientists were impressed by the study, among the general public the idea that we must sleep for eight consecutive hours persists.

In 2001, historian Roger Ekirch of Virginia Tech published a seminal paper, drawn from 16 years of research, revealing a wealth of historical evidence that humans used to sleep in two distinct chunks.

Continue reading the main storyBetween segments

Some people:

Jog and take photographsPractise yogaHave dinner...Ten strange things people do at night
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The Word "Hacker"

Those in authority tend to be annoyed by hackers' general attitude of disobedience. But that disobedience is a byproduct of the qualities that make them good programmers. They may laugh at the CEO when he talks in generic corporate newspeech, but they also laugh at someone who tells them a certain problem can't be solved. Suppress one, and you suppress the other.
Angela Natividad's insight:

Love this article on the dual meaning of "hacker" and what it says about American culture. Written by someone who knows well: the author of "Hackers and Painters" and founder of ViaWeb, which later became the Yahoo! Store.

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Angela Natividad's curator insight, December 12, 2012 8:35 AM

Love this article on the dual meaning of "hacker" and what it says about American culture. Written by someone who knows well: the author of "Hackers and Painters" and founder of ViaWeb, which later became the Yahoo! Store.

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getting in

This is, in no small part, what Ivy League admissions directors do. They are in the luxury-brand-management business, and "The Chosen," in the end, is a testament to just how well the brand managers in Cambridge, New Haven, and Princeton have done their job in the past seventy-five years. 

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Promiscuous Reading: Why Theodor Adorno Kept My Attention

Promiscuous Reading: Why Theodor Adorno Kept My Attention | Armchair Enlightenment | Scoop.it

I’ve found that even when the article interests me I’ll click away anyway, distracted by an embedded link or video, or by the fool’s gold of some glittering sidebar. I’m not saying that the Internet has entirely robbed me of my ability to concentrate when I need to, but rather that spending hours online every day has had the effect of normalizing a certain kind of fleeting, casual encounter with texts.

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Why Our Elites Stink

Why Our Elites Stink | Armchair Enlightenment | Scoop.it

Everybody thinks they are countercultural rebels, insurgents against the true establishment, which is always somewhere else. This attitude prevails in the Ivy League, in the corporate boardrooms and even at television studios where hosts from Harvard, Stanford and Brown rail against the establishment.

 

As a result, today’s elite lacks the self-conscious leadership ethos that the racist, sexist and anti-Semitic old boys’ network did possess. If you went to Groton a century ago, you knew you were privileged. You were taught how morally precarious privilege was and how much responsibility it entailed. You were housed in a spartan 6-foot-by-9-foot cubicle to prepare you for the rigors of leadership.

 

The best of the WASP elites had a stewardship mentality, that they were temporary caretakers of institutions that would span generations. They cruelly ostracized people who did not live up to their codes of gentlemanly conduct and scrupulosity. They were insular and struggled with intimacy, but they did believe in restraint, reticence and service.

 

Today’s elite is more talented and open but lacks a self-conscious leadership code. The language of meritocracy (how to succeed) has eclipsed the language of morality (how to be virtuous). Wall Street firms, for example, now hire on the basis of youth and brains, not experience and character. Most of their problems can be traced to this.

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The 'Busy' Trap

The 'Busy' Trap | Armchair Enlightenment | Scoop.it

Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets. 

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Don’t work. Be hated. Love someone.

Don’t work. Be hated. Love someone. | Armchair Enlightenment | Scoop.it

I’m here to tell you this. Forget about your life expectancy.

 

After all, it’s calculated based on an average. And you never, ever want to expect being average.

 

Revisit those expectations. You might be looking forward to working, falling in love, marrying, raising a family. You are told that, as graduates, you should expect to find a job paying so much, where your hours are so much, where your responsibilities are so much.

 

That is what is expected of you. And if you live up to it, it will be an awful waste.

If you expect that, you will be limiting yourself. You will be living your life according to boundaries set by average people. I have nothing against average people. But no one should aspire to be them. And you don’t need years of education by the best minds in Singapore to prepare you to be average.

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My Life's Sentences - Jhumpa Lahiri

Even printed, on pages that are bound, sentences remain unsettled organisms. Years later, I can always reach out to smooth a stray hair. And yet, at a certain point, I must walk away, trusting them to do their work. I am left looking over my shoulder, wondering if I might have structured one more effectively.

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