Is your free time boring? Or spent watching TV?

It’s probably because you think you need to relax during your free time.  Most people divide all time into either work or free time.  Scott Young, the author of Why Your Free Time is Boring says:

But the subtle message contained in this split is that work and leisure
shouldn’t resemble each other. Your work needs to be productive,
efficient and challenging. Therefore leisure should be relaxing,
accomplish nothing and be free of pressures.

The problem?  We have the most fun when we are most engaged, challenged or using our skills.

It’s harder to watch (than read) something you disagree with

That same New Yorker article, Twlight of the Books, says that it’s harder to watch a program you disagree with than it is to read an article you disagree with.  I couldn’t agree more.

The viewer feels at home with his show, or else he changes the channel.
The closeness makes it hard to negotiate differences of opinion. It can
be amusing to read a magazine whose principles you despise, but it is
almost unbearable to watch such a television show. And so, in a culture
of secondary orality, we may be less likely to spend time with ideas we
disagree with.

So as I’ve written earlier, we are spending less time with people who aren’t like us and now we are spending less time with opinions we don’t agree with.  What does that mean for us as a society?  Will we become more isolated and more diversified?  Or more similar and less tolerant?  For sure, if we no longer mix diverse opinions, we’ll have fewer new and creative ideas.

Literate vs illiterate thinking

Literate people actually think differently (not necessarily better or worse) than illiterate people.  All examples from the New Yorker.

They use different words:

In naming colors,
for example, literate people said “dark blue” or “light yellow,” but
illiterates used metaphorical names like “liver,” “peach,” “decayed
teeth,” and “cotton in bloom.”

They see different types of association:

Experimenters showed peasants drawings of
a hammer, a saw, an axe, and a log and then asked them to choose the
three items that were similar. Illiterates resisted, saying that all
the items were useful. If pressed, they considered throwing out the
hammer; the situation of chopping wood seemed more cogent to them than
any conceptual category. One peasant, informed that someone had grouped
the three tools together, discarding the log, replied, “Whoever told
you that must have been crazy,” and another suggested, “Probably he’s
got a lot of firewood.” One frustrated experimenter showed a picture of
three adults and a child and declared, “Now, clearly the child doesn’t
belong in this group,” only to have a peasant answer:
but the boy must stay with the others! All three of them are working,
you see, and if they have to keep running out to fetch things, they’ll
never get the job done, but the boy can do the running for them. 

The illiterates (peasants in this example) didn’t like defining or describing things, even themselves.

Asked by Luria’s staff about polar bears, a peasant grew testy: “What
the cock knows how to do, he does. What I know, I say, and nothing
beyond that!” The illiterates did not talk about themselves except in
terms of their tangible possessions. “What can I say about my own
heart?” one asked.

Quite interesting.  The whole article has a lot of interesting points about reading and society.

Pioneer Woman featured on CNN

I really enjoy reading The Pioneer Woman’s blog and I even bought her calendar because I like her pictures so much.  This is the woman who left Los Angeles, married a rancher and now home schools her four children.  And takes 75-150 pictures a day of life on the ranch.    I’ve wondered several times what she sounds like in person and what she looks like.  Well, she was featured on CNN so now I know!

Talk Review: Good Calories, Bad Calories

If you didn’t read Good Calories, Bad Calories because you are not into reading nonfiction books or you didn’t want to buy it, then I recommend you watch Gary Taubes talk The Quality of Calories: What Makes Us Fat and Why Nobody Seems to Care at University of California Berkeley.  It’s a free webcast and he makes some really good points.

  1. It’s an undisputed fact that it takes insulin to store fat.  No insulin, no fat.  That’s why undiagnosed diabetics lose weight.
  2. Another undisputed fat: carbohydrates cause insulin, not fat or protein.
  3. In many poor societies, the women are obese and the kids are undernourished.  (He gave almost 20 examples.)  Either the women are starving their kids (unlikely) or it doesn’t take a lot of calories to be fat.  Those women are fat because they are eating the wrong foods not because they are eating too much.
  4. Lack of will power, gluttony and sloth are not the causes of obesity.
  5. Kids eat because they are growing.  They don’t grow because they eat.  Vertical and horizontal growth are not so different.  People eat because something is telling them to grow horizontally.  They don’t grow because they eat.

Gary Taubes’ talk is well worth listening to.

Starbucks helps Mom and Pop coffee shops

There’s an interesting article in Slate magazine that having a Starbucks nearby actually helps Mom and Pop coffee shops.  I recommend reading it but the basic argument seems to be that Starbucks does all the advertising, brings in new customers and unlike a Walmart, doesn’t underprice the local competition.

Avoid the uh-oh mornings!

I really need to find a ritual to undo the "uh-oh morning."  This morning I was greeted with an uh-oh (again.)  It wasn’t as bad as last time, but it wasn’t good.

Caleb’s uh-oh was that his pajama legs had come down so far, he was tripping on them.  (Easy for Mom to fix.)

My uh-oh was the entire coffee pot coming off its mountings and spilling 10 cups of water and coffee everywhere. 

Benazir Bhutto assasinated

Benazir Bhutto was assassinated today and the world is a poorer place for it.  I had the opportunity to see her speak at a Simmons Leadership Conference a few years ago.  I wish I had my notes to share with you (but they were in my company notebook which I had to leave with the company.)  She was inspiring though.  She was doing what she thought was right for her country at great personal expense. 

I wish the best to her family and her country.