Tuesday, December 22, 2020
Thursday, December 17, 2020
“Compared to people living only a few generations ago, we have enormously greater opportunities to have a good time, yet there is no indication that we actually enjoy life more than our ancestors did.
“Opportunities alone, however, are not enough. We also need the skills to make use of them. And we need to know how to control consciousness — a skill that most people have not learned to cultivate.
“Surrounded by an astonishing panoply of recreational gadgets and leisure choices, most of us go on being bored and vaguely frustrated."
Saturday, December 12, 2020
Watching a half-century-old discussion between Rod Serling and James Dickey about the problematic lack of intellectual quality on network television.
Like a visitor from the future, I can now answer their questions for them: TV’s abdication of its public responsibility was ultimately even more disastrous than they feared.
Stupidity and ignorance won the day, electing an insane clown as president of the United States by appealing to citizens who snarl at scientific fact and prefer to believe whatever ugly supernatural fantasy coddles their vacuity and scratches the itch of their nastiest prejudices.
Corporate executives and government officials might not have been able to stop all this from happening, but they could have tried.
Instead, they did quite the reverse.
Wednesday, December 9, 2020
“ ‘So you’re telling me that I can’t multitask?’ I asked as we sat down for an interview.
“ ‘It’s not me telling you,’ she said. ‘It’s neuroscience that would say that our capacity to multitask is virtually nonexistent. Multitasking is a computer-derived term. We have one processor. We can’t do it.’
“ ‘I think that when I’m sitting at my desk feverishly doing several things at once that I’m being clever and efficient, but you’re saying I’m actually wasting my time?’
“ ‘Yes, because when you’re moving from this project to this project, your mind flits back to the original project, and it can’t pick up where it left off. So it has to take a few steps back and then ramp up again, and that’s where the productivity loss is.’
“This problem was, of course, exacerbated in the age of what had been dubbed the ‘info-blitzkrieg,’ where it took superhuman strength to ignore the siren call of the latest tweet, or the blinking red light on the Blackberry. Scientists had even come up with a term for this condition: ‘continual partial attention.’”
— Dan Harris, Ten Percent Happier
Sunday, December 6, 2020
Saturday, December 5, 2020
|Snuffles, who is utterly and metaphysically fulfilled by a dog biscuit|
“In cartoons, when the characters slurp down some delicious food or drink, they smack their lips and seem totally sated,” Dan Harris wrote. “But in the real world, it doesn’t work that way.
“Even if we were handed everything we wanted, would it really make us sustainably happy? How many times have we heard from people who got rich or famous and it wasn’t enough? Rock stars with drug problems. Lottery winners who kill themselves.
“There’s actually a term for this — ‘hedonic adaptation.’ When good things happen, we bake them very quickly into our baseline expectations, and yet the primordial void goes unfilled.”