this cognitive skill

link to here:

…discovered something interesting when he studied the tiny percentage of kids who could successfully wait for the second treat. Without exception, these “high delayers” all relied on the same mental strategy: they found a way to keep themselves from thinking about the treat, directing their gaze away from the yummy marshmallow. Some covered their eyes or played hide-and-seek underneath the desk. Others sang songs from “Sesame Street,” or repeatedly tied their shoelaces, or pretended to take a nap. Their desire wasn’t defeated — it was merely forgotten.

…Mischel refers to this skill as the “strategic allocation of attention” and he argues that it’s the skill underlying self-control.

Too often, we assume that willpower is about having strong moral fiber. But that’s wrong — willpower is really about properly directing the spotlight of attention, learning how to control that short list of thoughts in working memory.

handbook for heroes

Research paper on heroism published


Heroism represents the ideal of citizens transforming civic virtue into the highest form of civic action, accepting either physical peril or social sacrifice.

While implicit theories of heroism abound, surprisingly little theoretical or empirical work has been done to better understand the phenomenon. Toward this goal, we summarize our efforts to systematically develop a taxonomy of heroic subtypes as a starting point for theory building. Next we explore three apparent paradoxes that surround heroism–the dueling impulses to elevate and negate heroic actors; the contrast between the public ascription of heroic status versus the interior decision to act heroically; and apparent similarities between altruism, bystander intervention and heroism that mask important differences between these phenomena. We assert that these seeming contradictions point to an unrecognized relationship between insufficient justification and the ascription of heroic status, providing more explanatory power than risk-type alone. The results of an empirical study are briefly presented to provide preliminary support to these arguments. Finally, several areas for future research and theoretical activity are briefly considered. These include the possibility that extension neglect may play a central role in public’s view of nonprototypical heroes; a critique of the positive psychology view that heroism is always a virtuous, prosocial activity; problems associated with retrospective study of heroes; the suggestion that injury or death (particularly in social sacrifice heroes) serves to resolve dissonance in favor of the heroic actor; and a consideration of how to foster heroic imagination.

Heroism: A Conceptual Analysis and Differentiation Between Heroic Action and Altruism (PDF)

yesterday’s good life?

Dana Blankenhorn asks: Now that we can terraform the Earth, what kind of Earth will it be?

In order to keep growing it needs to be a prosperous Earth. And it’s becoming more prosperous. Did you know that one-third of the people in Africa are now considered ‘middle class’ – that is, they have enough that they can think about the future, educating their children, even limiting their numbers. China recently crossed a line and now has more of its people in cities than in the countryside. India has lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty just in the last decade. Brazil is the new China. Latin America is becoming wealthy.

This is all good news. It doesn’t feel that way when your job gets outsourced, when you see growing competition for every opportunity, but it is in fact good news. Competition fuels growth. We are going to see an acceleration of growth over the next decades the likes of which the world has never seen. You think you’re lucky? Your kids are going to be luckier still.

Umar Hague asks: What if, just maybe, our way of life is an Opulence Bubble?

Here’s what I mean by opulence bubble: our conception of the good life, as I’ve discussed with you, has been centered on what I call hedonic opulence — having more, bigger, faster, cheaper, now. But we might be finding out, the hard way, that the pursuit of lowest-common-denominator industrial age stuff might have been steeply overvalued, in terms of its social, human, and financial value. And now, it’s coming back down to earth.

Here’s what I don’t mean by opulence bubble: that global GDP’s going to collapse tomorrow, and continue to crater for decades, until we’re back to hunting with stone axes and singing by firelight. Nor that we should aim to stop growth dead in its tracks, and preserve ourselves in a perma-cocoon, with shades of the Amish, where life in the distant future is, well, exactly the same as it is today.

Rather, what I mean is that “more, bigger, faster, cheaper” doesn’t necessarily add up to or equal “better, wiser, smarter, fitter, closer.”

The plain truth might be that we’re living beyond our means because our way of life atrophied our means.

bubbles and beer

Analysis of how bubbles form in stout and other delightful drinks:

We review the differences between bubble formation in champagne and other carbonated drinks, and stout beers which contain a mixture of dissolved nitrogen and carbon dioxide. The presence of dissolved nitrogen in stout beers gives them a number of properties of interest to connoisseurs and physicists.

These remarkable properties come at a price: stout beers do not foam spontaneously and special technology, such as the widgets used in cans, is needed to promote foaming. Nevertheless the same mechanism, nucleation by gas pockets trapped in cellulose fibers, responsible for foaming in carbonated drinks is active in stout beers, but at an impractically slow rate.

This gentle rate of bubble nucleation makes stout beers an excellent model system for the scientific investigation of the nucleation of gas bubbles.

the telephone lady

grok this tidbit on Alexander Graham Bell’s wife.

Her name was Mabel and she often helped him with his experiments – offering suggestions, working out calculations. She was just as fascinating a woman as Bell was a man.

[click pic for more]

In fact, the village of Baddeck, NS , Canada thought so highly of her, the local municipal government gave her a vote on all civic matters in 1908. Women in Canada and the U.S. were still more than a decade away from gaining that right.

She was also completely deaf from the age of 4. She helped to establish the first Home & School Association in Canada ( the PTA in the US), the first Montessori School in Canada and she created a progressive women’s club for local villagers – still in existence.

not surprised?

a steady increase in U.S. military capacity to conduct social influence campaigns at every level

excuse me?

This ongoing “revolution in military affairs” (Metz & Kievit, 1995, p. iii) has precipitated, among other things, a steady increase in U.S. military capacity to conduct social influence campaigns at every level of the modern world’s information environment: in local, national, regional (or “theater”), and global spheres; in domestic and foreign populations; among individuals, groups, organizations, and governments (Department of Defense, Joint Publication 3–13.2, Doctrine for Joint Psychological Operations[DOD JP 3–13.2], 2010). It has, at the same time, renewed the need for psychologists and other social scientists to reconsider the optimal relationship between social science and war, and between influence and democracy.

undearth the earth

Dana at this link:

Every generation’s politics is based on economics. In every generation we find new ways to organize ourselves to create more productivity, more progress, more wealth. We still farm cotton, we still build Fords, and we still have offices.

But the way to greater wealth lies in combining the vast computing resources created in the last generation with minds which can do what computers can’t. It’s man and thinking machine, working together, that will build the Abundant Society our children will live and work in.

If you are not learning, if you’re not constantly trying to think outside the box you live in, you’re no longer part of the future, but the past.


The most used Dylan text is, of course:

“You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”

fashion craps our mind

Go ahead, Republicans, make America dumb:

At a certain point, public universities will have ceased to exist. We will only have a variety of private universities, some of which will be subsidized a little bit by tax-payers. Depending on where you draw the line, the University of California might already be at that point — student tuition now makes up a larger portion of the UC’s budget than state funding — but the long-term trend is undeniable: since 2004, the amount of money the UC has gotten from the state of California has been cut in half, and has continued to decline, every year, with utter and complete reliability. And where the UC and CSU systems are now, every other public university will soon follow. This is not a trend that’s going to end tomorrow. This is a trend that ends with the end of public universities. It just depends on where you decide to draw the line.

black is the ocean

Paul Handover, from Arizona:

Most people when they think about it have, at the very least, feelings of guilt or denial in terms of what humans are doing to the planet’s environment that humans require for survival.  Many of us know in our hearts that it is probably not good news but maybe really thinking about it can be put off for a little longer!

It’s almost as though we know that those aches and pains are a sign of something potentially dangerous to our health but, hey ho, I’ll put off seeing the doctor for a little bit longer.

Then the day comes when one goes to the doctor and he confirms your worst fears; what you really knew deep in your heart.

Thus it is with the planet.  Most of us know that we have been treating the planet as an inexhaustible resource for the sole benefit of mankind and to hell with the future.

oil don’t breathe

isn’t it sorta important to watch the moving mouths of our five energy execs?

screw the toothless gumming about spreadsheets and taxes, the generic yaYa; please look at the guts of these men; the world dies on these fellows…. Should we know them as well as we know mothers or merely as well we know everything else?

humanity’s conflicts

Browse the history of war and conflict across the globe.

Conflict History has more then 8000 conflicts displayed, including:

  • Sino / Xiongnu war (133 BC – 89)
  • jewish / Roman wars (66 BC – 629)
  • Byzantine / Arab wars (0629-1180)
  • Gothic war (0376-0382)
  • American Revolution
  • War of 1812 (1812 – 1815)
  • Mexican War (1846 – 1848)
  • Civil War (1861 – 1865)
  • War of 1812 (1812 – 1815)
  • Indian Wars
  • American Revolution
  • World War I (1914 – 1918)
  • World War II (1939 – 1945)
  • American Revolution
  • Korean War (1950 – 1953)
  • Vietnam War (1961 – 1973)
  • Kosovo (1999)
  • Glif War (1991)
  • Afghanistan (2001 – … )
  • War of 1812 (1812 – 1815)
  • American Revolution
  • War of 1812 (1812 – 1815)
  • War of 1812 (1812 – 1815)
  • Israeli Palestinian Conflict

And thousands more…..



per declaring that flag

Killing isn’t end. We must achieve living. Lift you. Astound you. We are cauldron. Children and fire. I like that. Each is met with each. This dream shall never die. Pay it.