5 long and excruciating years. Don’t let others control the narrative, especially your narrative.

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Are Lying Children Naturally Smarter?

A new study suggests that how well you lie as a child is a strong indicator of how successful you’ll be as an adult.

Research conducted by the Institute of Child Study at the University of Toronto indicates the skills needed to tell a convincing lie, such as quick thinking and the ability to use information to your own advantage, demonstrate a highly functioning brain.  And the younger children demonstrate these skills, the better developed their brains are.

Are Lying Children Naturally Smarter?

 

 

Is Your Child Lying to You? That’s Good

Lying is not only normal; it’s also a sign of intelligence.

Kids discover lying as early as age 2, studies have found. In one experiment, children were asked not to peek at a toy hidden behind them while the researcher withdrew from the room under false pretenses. Minutes later, the researcher returned and asked the child if he or she peeked.

This experiment, designed by the developmental psychologist Michael Lewis in the mid-1980s and performed in one form or another on hundreds of kids, has yielded two consistent findings. The first is that a vast majority of children will peek at the toy within seconds of being left alone. The other is that a significant number of them lie about it. At least a third of 2-year-olds, half of 3-year-olds and 80 percent or more of children 4 and older will deny their transgression, regardless of their gender, race or family’s religion….

Why do some children start lying at an earlier age than others? What separates them from their more honest peers? The short answer is that they are smarter.

Professor Lewis has found that toddlers who lie about peeking at the toy have higher verbal I.Q.s than those who don’t, by as much as 10 points. (Children who don’t peek at the toy in the first place are actually the smartest of all, but they are a rarity.)

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/05/opinion/sunday/children-lying-intelligence.html

My dearest and most precious Shosh and Jaialai:

I hope 2018 finds you well and joyful.  Choose to be happy, my sons.  Life is suffering (per Buddha), but we don’t have to let the suffering control either us or our lives.  We are the authors of our own fate.

In that vein, recent news stories suggest that kids who lie are smarter than average.  Lying requires higher brain function for a number of reasons:

[K]ids with better cognitive abilities who lie more. That’s because to lie you also have to keep the truth in mind, which involves multiple brain processes, such as integrating several sources of information and manipulating that information … The ability to lie—and lie successfully—is thought to be related to development of brain regions that allow so-called ‘executive functioning,’ or higher order thinking and reasoning abilities. Kids who perform better on tests that involve executive functioning also lie more.

https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2010/05/are-kids-who-lie-smarter/340897/

As interesting as that may be, note that neither Time nor The Atlantic mentioned what The New York Times noted in a parenthetical statement — children who exercise self-control and obviated the need to lie in the first place are the smartest children of the bunch!  So, no, the narrative is not that children who lie are smart, but that children who exercise self-control are the smartest.

Other psychological studies have borne this out.  For example, the famous “Marshmallow Experiment” by psychologist Walter Mischel of Stanford University and his colleagues.  They tempted 4 year-olds with treats, telling them they could eat the one cookie or marshmallow in front of them immediately or wait a little and get two cookies or marshmallows.

“Sometimes experimenters had not even finished talking about the experiment when the kids already ate the marshmallow or cookie,” said cognitive neuroscientist B.J. Casey at Weill Cornell Medical College, who has taken part in follow-up studies on this work. “Other 4-year-olds were able to wait by sitting on their hands and turning away, or creating imaginary friends to distract them.”

Since Mischel’s daughters attended nursery school with many of these children in the study, he began noticing that whether or not the kids delayed gratification appeared linked with many other factors in their lives. Kids who succumbed quickly to temptation often had lower SAT scores, a higher body-mass index and a slightly increased risk of substance abuse later on.

Casey refers to those who quickly gave in as low-delayers and those who can delay gratification high-delayers.

https://www.livescience.com/15821-cookie-test-control.html.

So, the story isn’t really about encouraging your kids to lie or being proud of the fact that their lying is a sign of intelligence.  If you want kids to be among the smartest, teach them self-control.

In fact, even the focus on intelligence may not necessarily be the best approach or benchmark for child-rearing.

The Secret to Raising Smart Kids

HINT: Don’t tell your kids that they are. More than three decades of research shows that a focus on “process”—not on intelligence or ability—is key to success in school and in life

A brilliant student, Jonathan sailed through grade school. He completed his assignments easily and routinely earned As. Jonathan puzzled over why some of his classmates struggled, and his parents told him he had a special gift. In the seventh grade, however, Jonathan suddenly lost interest in school, refusing to do homework or study for tests. As a consequence, his grades plummeted. His parents tried to boost their son’s confidence by assuring him that he was very smart. But their attempts failed to motivate Jonathan (who is a composite drawn from several children). Schoolwork, their son maintained, was boring and pointless.

Our society worships talent, and many people assume that possessing superior intelligence or ability—along with confidence in that ability—is a recipe for success. In fact, however, more than 35 years of scientific investigation suggests that an overemphasis on intellect or talent leaves people vulnerable to failure, fearful of challenges and unwilling to remedy their shortcomings.

The result plays out in children like Jonathan, who coast through the early grades under the dangerous notion that no-effort academic achievement defines them as smart or gifted. Such children hold an implicit belief that intelligence is innate and fixed, making striving to learn seem far less important than being (or looking) smart. This belief also makes them see challenges, mistakes and even the need to exert effort as threats to their ego rather than as opportunities to improve. And it causes them to lose confidence and motivation when the work is no longer easy for them.

Praising children’s innate abilities, as Jonathan’s parents did, reinforces this mind-set, which can also prevent young athletes or people in the workforce and even marriages from living up to their potential. On the other hand, our studies show that teaching people to have a “growth mind-set,” which encourages a focus on “process” (consisting of personal effort and effective strategies) rather than on intelligence or talent, helps make them into high achievers in school and in life.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-secret-to-raising-smart-kids1/

Thus, as I’ve said before, try your best and try to improve a little each day.  Don’t worry so much about the immediate outcome.  Life is the long play.  Work to succeed in life by striving to better yourself day by day.

Exercise self-control.  Our instant gratification culture is toxic.  Don’t give in to it.

Shosh, as a young child, your mother taught you it was okay to scream until you get what you wanted immediately.  For example, as a two-year-old, while in the car, you’d shout out “Two!” and your mom would immediately change the CD to track 2.  Grandmother used to tell me that when you guys drove by an excavator, you’d scream and cried until your mother had to turn back and let you look more closely at it.  That was bad parenting.  She abdicated her parental duties by letting you call the shots.  That was lazy of her because it was the path of least resistance for her.  She was doing you no favor.  Why?  By telling you that you can get whatever you want whenever you wanted it, she is preparing you for failure.  In life, you cannot do whatever you want whenever you want to.  For example, despite our Freedom of Speech, you could get arrested if you shouted “Fire!” in a crowded movie theater when there was no fire.  I hope you have gained better self-control and are better suited for success in life.

It’s not just about having self-control over your words, but also your every action.  It’s effortful, but success is effortful.  If it were easy, everyone would be successful.  Look at your mom’s side of the family and my side of the family.  Where are they in life and what have they achieved?  It is no mistake that more of our side have doctorates and advanced degrees and are in management at major organizations.

Be successful, my sons.  Try your best.  Try to be better each day.

All my love, always,

Dad

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4 years, and 11 months. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes: be afraid of NOT LEARNING from your mistakes.

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The Importance of Dumb Mistakes in College

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Not so much afterward, when I got driven downtown in handcuffs for spray-painting “Corporate Deathburgers” across a McDonald’s.

I earned myself a long night in jail for my lack of judgment. But my family and friends — and perhaps most important, my college, the University of Michigan — never learned about the episode (until now). Because in 1985, a college student could get a little self-righteous, make a bad decision, face consequences and then go home, having learned a “valuable lesson.”

These days I work as the senior communications officer at another college, where I spend a healthy fraction of my time dealing with students who’ve made mistakes of their own. I recognize myself in them: intellectually adventurous, skeptical, newly aware of life’s injustices. They’re also different from me in many ways: less Grateful Dead and Dead Kennedys, much more technology.

That’s the important bit. Because for all of the supposed liberating power of their digital devices, they might as well be wearing ankle monitors. Technological connectedness has made it much harder for them to make mistakes and learn from them.

Today’s students live their lives so publicly — through the technology we provide them without training — that much simpler errors than mine earn them the wrath of the entire internet.

 

Usually, the outrage is over things they say, for example a campus newspaper editorial that grapples with balancing free speech and appropriate behavior. That’s a quandary that has occupied American legal theorists since the founding of the country. It’s certainly one any young citizen should think through.

But last year, when Wellesley’s student paper ran an editorial wrestling with this same idea — and advocating limits on hate speech — it was widely read and criticized in the media as if it were enormously consequential.

Were the authors’ arguments entirely mature and well reasoned? No. But students deserve the chance to try out ideas. When they do, sometimes they’re going to botch it — sometimes spectacularly. And that’s why we have learning spaces.

Thirty years ago, college students could have tried out radical ideas about limiting free speech in print. The results might have been simplistic or doctrinaire. But readership would have been largely restricted to campus, and the paper would have been in circulation for only a day or two.

In this climate, there is little room for students to experiment and screw up. We seem to expect them to arrive at school fully formed. When they let us down by being just what they are — young humans — we shame them.

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My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

I demand better of you because I want you to be better.  I do that because I care.  You are my sons.

Don’t mistake the lack of constructive criticism and the lack of expectations from others as love.  It simply means they don’t care enough to invest their time in you to help you grow and become better.  False friends often exhibit such behaviors.  They heap praise on you when things are going well, but abandon you when things get difficult.  Don’t waste your time with the likes of them.

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You have but one life to live, so I want you to embrace it!  Dare to try new things.  Be bold in your efforts, not timid.  If you are going to try, why not do it with gusto?  Mistakes will be made.  But, who cares?  So long as you have thought through the consequences of your actions, no one is hurt, and there are no lasting adverse effects from the mistake, then embrace the lesson learned from that mistake.  That’s how you grow and expand your horizons!!!!

Timid, fearful, and inferior people often tell you to stick to what is known, tried, and true.  But, if no one explores beyond the confines of existing life and knowledge, where would human beings, as a species, be?  There would be no new discovery.  There would be no expansion of territory.  There would only be staleness and death as we deplete known resources from over-use, over-populate the small territory into which we were born, degrade the land from over-use and over-population, etc.

No, don’t heed the nay-sayers.  Hear them and thank them for their counsel, but determine for yourself the wisdom of a certain course of action.

Be you.  Be the best you.  Dare to try new things and to experience the beautiful things in life.

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All my loves, always,

Dad

4 years, 10 months, and 17 days. Behave well, pursue your passions and ignore the ankle-biters.

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Someone who cannot rise to your level, and who can only bite your ankles instead of being able to really bite your head off.

Folks of lower altitude.

My boss is an ankle biter and he’s doing well as such
by Scotty Breauxman January 20, 2008

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Beware the ankle-biters.  They’re ubiquitous.  There is no escaping them.

In fact, insecurity can even reduce family members to being ankle-biters at times.  For example, because I matriculated at significantly more famous and reputable graduate school than he, my brother — your uncle — once had the temerity to suggest that just because I got in does not mean I could obtain an advance degree from said school.  Of course, I completed my doctorate and went on to achieve and earn more than he professionally.

Ankle biters are like zombies.  They never die, and they keep coming.

The best you can do is to protect yourselves against their ankle bites, and ignore them as you pursue bigger and better.  Eventually, as you rise, your world will be populated by fewer and fewer of them, and you could better enjoy the fruits of your labor.  (This assumes, of course, that you choose your social circles with care and not frequent haunts where ankle biters roam.)

Remember our days at the OG and on the Hill?  Most of our neighbors were nice, weren’t they?  We had no trouble with them.  That’s because I chose those neighborhoods with care.  Most of our neighbors on the Hill were retirees, consultants, and educators.  We had one neighbor behind and down the hill from us who repaid our kindness of giving him the key to our house when power was out so that he could use the gas oven and heater as necessary to care for his family by having his dog shit in our yard.  His actions bespoke his upbringing, did they not?

As we say, “Didn’t your parents teach you manners, or were you raised in a barn?”  Apparently, he was raised in a barn.  You weren’t.  Act accordingly.

http://www.businessinsider.com/manners-to-teach-kids-2017-8/#standing-when-youre-introduced-to-someone-5

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As Jesus reduced the Ten Commandments to two — (1) love God with all your heart and soul, and (2) love your neighbors as yourself — Emily Post reduced the book of manners down its essence:  be mindful of the feelings of others around you, and act to not offend.  If you do that, it doesn’t really matter if you were using the wrong fork.

I leave you with the biography of Kilian Hennessy, heir to that famous  and delicious brand of cognac.  Despite being born into wealth and fame, he didn’t just sit on his butt, but worked hard to pursue his passion for “angels’ share” and to develop his own perfumerie.  Be like him.  Don’t be like the countless progenies whose only legacy is that they burnt through all that was left for them and built nothing of their own.  .

Biography

Heir to a long line of cognac-makers who were pioneers in luxury, Kilian decided to take up the torch of family tradition. Creating a new luxury brand was definitely a challenge worthy of his predecessors.

His childhood haunts included the family cellars in Cognac. Before graduating from CELSA, he wrote a thesis on the semantics of scent, in search of a ‘language’ common to gods and mortals. Remembering the «angels’ share» as part of his heritage, he was led into the world of perfumery. The «angels’ share» is what the House of Hennessy calls the percentage that – inexplicably – evaporates from cognac cellars, like an offering to the gods.
Many of Kilian’s fragrances today carry this childhood memory as they are reminiscent of the sugar in the alcohol and the wood of the cognac barrels.

After graduating, he then went on to train with the greatest noses in perfumery and worked for the most prestigious perfume houses such as Christian Dior, Paco Rabanne, Alexander McQueen and Giorgio Armani.

In 2007, Kilian launched his own namesake brand with the ambition of reflecting not only his distinct personality, but also to achieve a perfect alliance between elegance and uncompromising luxury. His “eco-luxe” philosophy that each bottle can be refilled and kept for a lifetime catapulted the brand to the top of the fragrance market and into a niche of its very own.

In 2017 and ten years since its launch, the world of Kilian includes more than 35 scents, spanning across different fragrance collections including: “L’Oeuvre Noire”, “Arabian Nights”, “Asian Tales”, “In the Garden of Good & Evil” and “Addictive State of Mind“.

Kilian continues to create unexpected products that embody ultimate sophistication and timeless luxury with a collection of wearable scented jewelry and decorative objects for the home.

As the Kilian brand evolves and matures, the one aspect which remains consistent is that each and every product created embodies ultimate sophistication and timeless luxury.

https://www.bykilian.com/us/biography.php

Live right, pursue your passions, and ignore the ankle biters.

All my love, always,

Dad

 

 

4 years, 10 months, and 12 days. A person’s past acts are the best predictor of his/her future acts. Foster good habits.

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My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

The above is simply a useful rule of thumb.  By no means is it infallible.  But, simply because it is not a perfect tool doesn’t render it useless.

We are creatures of habit.  You would do well to pay attention to the habits of others — as they relate to you — and how those habits guide their actions in certain circumstances.  For example, your cousin B, on your mother’s side, used to lie about his three Nintendo DS game consoles being “broken” or uncharged in order to not let you play with them, pocket your toys when you’re not watching then lie about it when caught, etc.  I suspect his lying and thieving ways haven’t changed much and have only grown in dimensions as he’s gotten older.  Be wary of him.  His older brother has a felony drug conviction because he “happened to be” hanging out with friends who were dealers.  Regardless of the veracity of his claim, the damage is done: he is a convicted felon, and that criminal record will make it hard — if not impossible — for him to get good jobs, secure loans at good rates, etc.  Watch the behaviors of those around you, and choose your company wisely.

Note: the caution about our tendency to follow our habits applies equally to you as well.  Develop good habits.  Shosh, you know what I mean about the nail biting, right?  I hope you’ve kicked that nasty habit.

Continuous incremental improvement, remember.  Don’t worry about perfection and reaching those distant goals.  Break them down into baby steps and try to achieve one of those baby step each day.  In time, you’ll look back and recognize how far you’ve gone with those baby steps.

I want you to use that same approach to get into top colleges in the U.S. as I did.  Getting into good colleges will put you on the road towards success.  Again, graduation from a top college doesn’t guarantee success, but it will significantly help.  A top college will give you good first opportunities and open doors for you.  It is then up to you to work hard and make a name for yourself.

Start now.  Create good study habits.

Learn to study more effectively. Learn to read more efficiently so that you understand more and remember more.  Don’t bother to read every single word as you were taught to do when you were 3 or 4 years old.  That’s how children read, and you are ready to leave your childish ways of reading behind.

Reading Techniques

Strategies for improving reading rate and comprehension.

SQ3R Method for Thorough Study

  • Step 1: Survey
    • Skim through the book and read topical/sub-topical headings and sentences. Read summaries at the end of chapters and books. Try to anticipate what the author is going to say. Write these notes on paper, then look it over to get an overall idea.
  • Step 2: Questions
    • Turn paragraph headings into questions (e.g. “Basic Concepts of Reading” to “What are the Basic Concepts of Reading?”). Write these questions out.
  • Step 3: Read
    • Read with alertness to answer the questions you came up with. Write notes, in your own words, under each question.
  • Step 4: Recall
    • Without looking at your books or notes, mentally visualize, in your own words, the high points of the material immediately upon completing the reading
    • ** More time should be spent on recall then reading
  • Step 5: Review
    • Look at your questions, answers, notes and book to see how well you did recall. Finish up with a mental picture of the WHOLE

Adapted from F.P. Robinson. Effective Study. New York: Harper and Bros. 1948. Chapter II

Steps to Follow in Skimming for the Main Ideas

  • Read the title of the selection carefully. Determine what clues it gives you as to what the selection is about. Watch for key words like “causes,” “results,” “effects,” etc., and do not overlook signal words such as those suggesting controversy (“versus”, “pros and cons”), which indicate that the author is planning to present both sides of an argument.
  • Look carefully at the headings and other organizational clues. These tip you off to the main points that the author wants you to learn. You may be accustomed to overlooking boldface headings and titles which are the obvious clues to the most important ideas

Vary Your Reading Rate

A few broad suggestions may help you to select your rate(s) within the particular article:

Decrease speed when you find the following:

  1. An unfamiliar word not made clear by the sentence. Try to understand it from the way it’s used; then read on and return to it later.
  2. Long and uninvolved sentence and paragraph structure. Slow down enough to enable you to untangle them and get an accurate idea of what the passage says.
  3. Unfamiliar or abstract ideas. Look for applications or examples which will give them meaning. Demand that an idea “make sense.” Never give up until you understand, because it will be that much easier the next time. Find someone to help you if necessary.
  4. Detailed, technical material. This includes complicated directions, abstract principles, materials on which you have scant background.
  5. Material on which you want detailed retention. The key to memory is organization and recitation. Speed should not be a consideration here.

Increase speed when you find the following:

  1. Simple material with few ideas new to you. Move rapidly over the familiar.
  2. Unnecessary examples and illustrations. These are included to clarify ideas. If not needed, move over them rapidly.
  3. Detailed explanation and elaboration which you do not need.
  4. Broad, generalized ideas. These can be rapidly grasped, even with scan techniques

Skip that material which is not suitable for your purpose. While the author may have thought particular information was relevant, his/her reason for writing was not necessarily the same as your reason for reading. Remember to keep your reading attack flexible.

Shift gears from selection to selection. Use low gear when the going is steep; shift into high when you get to the smooth parts. Remember to adjust your rate within a given article according to the type of road you are traveling and to your purposes in traveling it. Most important, remember: You must practice these techniques until a flexible reading rate becomes second nature to you

The Pivotal Words

No words are as helpful while reading as the prepositions and conjunctions that guide your mind along the pathways of the author’s ideas. Master these words and phrases and you will almost immediately become a better reader. Here’s what they are and what they say:

  • Additive words: “Here’s more of the same coming up. It’s just as important as what we have already said.”
    • Also, further, moreover, and, furthermore, too, besides, in addition
  • Equivalent words: “It does what I have just said, but it does this too.”
    • As well as, at the same time, similarly, equally important, likewise
  • Amplification words: “I want to be sure that you understand my idea; so here’s a specific instance.”
    • For example (e.g.), specifically, as ,for instance, such as, like
  • Alternative words: “Sometimes there is a choice; other times there isn’t.”
    • Either/or, other than, neither/nor, otherwise
  • Repetitive words: “I said it once, but I’m going to say it again in case you missed it the first time.”
    • Again, in other words, to repeat, that is (i.e.)
  • Contrast and Change words: “So far I’ve given you only one side of the story; now let’s take a look at the other side.”
    • But, on the contrary, still, conversely, on the other hand, though, despite, instead of, yet, however, rather than, regardless, nevertheless, even though, whereas, in spite of, notwithstanding
  • Cause and effect words: “All this has happened; now I’ll tell you why.”
    • Accordingly, since, then, because, so, thus, consequently, hence, therefore, for this reason
  • Qualifying words: “Here is what we can expect. These are the conditions we are working under.”
    • If, although, unless, providing, whenever
  • Concession words: “Okay! We agree on this much.”
    • accepting the data, granted that, of course
  • Emphasizing words: “Wake up and take notice!”
    • above all, more important, indeed
  • Order words: “You keep your mind on reading: I’ll keep the numbers straight.”
    • Finally, second, then, first, next, last
  • Time words: “Let’s keep the record straight on who said what and especially when.”
    • Afterwards, meanwhile, now, before, subsequently, presently, formerly, ultimately, previously, later
  • Summarizing words: “We’ve said many things so far. Let’s stop here and pull them together.”
    • for these reasons, in brief, in conclusion, to sum up

https://students.dartmouth.edu/academic-skills/learning-resources/learning-strategies/reading-techniques

 

Likewise, learn to take good notes.  Use the Cornell notes method and study system.  There are many different note-taking systems out there; find one that works best for you.  See, e.g.,

The underlying theme of both the reading lesson and note-taking lesson is active engagement.  Actively participate in the learning process.  Don’t simply read mindlessly or write down words mindlessly.  Think!  You should spend half your time thinking about what you’re reading or writing.  Your recall and grades will improve as you actively engage more in your studies.

Spend an extra few minutes each night reviewing your notes.  This keeps those memories and synaptic connections fresh.  If you don’t, you’ll end up having to spend more time later relearning the material.  You’ve already made the huge investment of time and energy to learn it the first time: spend the little energy necessary for upkeep.

Last, but not least, don’t fear failure.  Those are learning opportunities.  The man who has never failed has never tried his hands at anything worthwhile.  All worthwhile things are difficult.  Aim high, then try and try again until you succeed.

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Be well, my sons.  Be happy.

All my love, always,

Dad

 

 

 

 

4 years, 10 months, and 6 days. The Internet is but a tool. Use it! Don’t let it use you!

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The Movement of #MeToo

How a hashtag got its power

About 10 years ago, after I’d graduated college but when I was still waitressing full-time, I attended an empowerment seminar. It was the kind of nebulous weekend-long event sold as helping people discover their dreams and unburden themselves from past trauma through honesty exercises and the encouragement to “be present.” But there was one moment I’ve never forgotten. The group leader, a man in his 40s, asked anyone in the room of 200 or so people who’d been sexually or physically abused to raise their hands. Six or seven hands tentatively went up. The leader instructed us to close our eyes, and asked the question again. Then he told us to open our eyes. Almost every hand in the room was raised.

For a long time, most women defined their own sexual harassment and assault in this way: as something unspoken, something private, something to be ashamed of acknowledging. Silence, although understandable, has its cost. A decade ago, I couldn’t have conceived of the fact that so many women had experienced sexual coercion or intimidation; now, I’d be surprised if I could find a single one who hadn’t. On Sunday afternoon, the actress Alyssa Milano used her Twitter account to encourage women who’d been sexually harassed or assaulted to tweet the words #MeToo. In the last 24 hours, a spokesperson from Twitter confirmed, the hashtag had been tweeted nearly half a million times.

#MeToo wasn’t just mushrooming on Twitter—when I checked Facebook Monday morning, my feed was filled with friends and acquaintances acknowledging publicly that they, too, had experienced harassment or assault. Some shared their stories, some simply posted the hashtag to add their voices to the fray. And it wasn’t just women: Men also spoke up about their experiences with assault. Actors including Anna Paquin, Debra Messing, Rosario Dawson, Gabrielle Union, and Evan Rachel Wood joined in. The writer Alexis Benveniste used it to remind people that the messages they were seeing were only the tip of the iceberg. For every woman stating her own experiences out loud, there were likely just as many choosing not to do so.

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/10/the-movement-of-metoo/542979/ (emphasis added)

 

 

The Most Downvoted Comment in Reddit History Is the Perfect Example of How Not to Respond to Customer Complaints

Video game company EA Sports responds to gamer complaints in an overly-corporate and disingenuous way…and its new game, Star Wars Battlefront II, pays the price.

One of the features of the soon to be released Star Wars-based video game Battlefront II is an in-game economy that allows players to earn credits to unlock items within the game.

The game is a single-person campaign that takes place after the Return of the Jedi film. The online multiplayer mode lets you battle as a soldier for either the Empire or the rebels, earning perks like better weapons or boosts along the way…

…Plus, playable characters like Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker.

And therein lies the problem. Imagine you just spent $60 to buy the game–and then you find out that you have to spend tens of hours actually playing the game in order to earn the right to use the most popular characters.

Or if you don’t want to put in that kind of time, you have to spend even more money to unlock them.

To many gamers, that’s like buying a car and then finding out you need to pay extra to get a steering wheel. And since many will play the online version, that economy creates a pay-to-play dynamic where players who spend money can gain a greater advantage by gaining access to better weapons and perks more quickly.

According to estimates made by early users, players who aren’t willing to spend more money on a $60 game would need to spend 40 hours of grinding to unlock playable characters like Chewbacca and Palpatine, and 60 hours–each–to unlock Luke or Darth Vader.

But what if you’re a highly skilled player? Doesn’t matter: One person determined that in its current state, Battlefront II gives out credits based on time spent playing and not on skill. That means no matter how good you are…you would still have to grind. A lot.

So naturally gamers complained.

And here’s how EA responded on the gaming r/subreddit, the ninth most popular subreddit with over 17 million subscribers:

With well over 600,000 downvotes, that comment is now the most downvoted comment in Reddit history by a substantial margin….

Following the backlash, EA announced changes to how it incentivizes players to unlock key content within the game. In a statement posted on EA’s website, John Wasilczyk said the company will reduce the number of credits required to unlock classic saga heroes by 75 percent.

https://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/the-most-downvoted-comment-in-reddit-history-is-perfect-example-of-how-not-to-respond-to-customer-complaints.html (emphasis added)

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

The internet is a powerful tool.  Use it wisely, and it can change the world.  For example, it is giving a voice to women who have long been preyed upon by the powerful and ugly (inside and/or out).

But, remember that it is also a tool for those with bad intentions.  These include people, on one end of the spectrum, who want you to waste time and money on whatever they are selling — this includes “free” sites and games where the site gets money from advertisers as you while away precious moments of your lives and lose your health to the sedentary lifestyle they inspire.  On the other end of the spectrum lies the nastier netizens who hack laptop cameras and microphones to get nude photos or compromising information to blackmail users, who download viruses onto laptops to steal users’ bank and credit card account information, who hack power stations and damns to endanger the lives of people, etc.

How hackers can switch on your webcam and control your computer

A malicious virus known as Remote Administration Tools (RATs) can be used by hackers to switch on your webcam and control the machine without your knowledge. Andrew McMillen reports.

http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/consumer-security/how-hackers-can-switch-on-your-webcam-and-control-your-computer-20130328-2gvwv.html

Bank Hackers Steal Millions via Malware

Russian Hackers Shut Down Ukraine’s Power Grid

http://www.newsweek.com/russian-hackers-shut-ukraine-power-grid-415751

As with all things in life, it is your responsibility to use the item wisely, and to take control of it and not let it take control of you.  Think.  Be purposeful in your actions.  If you need to unwind for a bit and watching YouTube or playing video games helps you unwind, then, by all means, do that.  But, control yourself and the tool.  Limit your use of it.

Don’t let it take over your lives.  Video game addiction is a problem.  In addition to all the bad physical things that results from you spending hours in front of a TV (muscle weakness, poor eyesight, poor cardio-vascular health, etc.), your social skills and life would also suffer.

Gaming ‘addict’ who played Xbox 16 hours a day sought counselling after struggling to talk to real people

James Callis sought help when he struggled to connect with real people and missed out on university

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/gaming-addict-who-played-xbox-11470536

 

Man Dies From Blood Clot After Marathon Gaming

The family of a 20-year-old British man who died as a result of a blood clot that formed after playing video games for up to 12 hours a day is speaking out about the health risks obsessive gaming can pose.

David Staniforth told The Sun that his son, Chris, spent most of his days playing the online game Halo and was accepted into a game design program at Leicester University.

“He lived for his Xbox. I never dreamed he was in any danger,” Staniforth said.

The young man died in May from a deep vein thrombosis, the coroner told The Sun. The night before he died, his father told the BBC he was probably up all night on his computer.

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/extreme-gamer-dies-pulmonary-embolism/story?id=14212015

 

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Those that spend more than four hours a day looking at a screen are particularly vulnerable to mental illnesses, according to the study

Children who spend large amounts of time glued to a computer risk developing mental health problems such as loneliness, depression and anxiety, government health advisers have warned.

In a hard-hitting paper, Public Health England, which advises the NHS and government, makes a clear link between the overuse of the internet and social networking sites and lower self-esteem.

Those that spend more than four hours a day looking at a screen are particularly vulnerable to mental illnesses, the report says.

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/the-internet-can-be-bad-for-children-s-mental-health-9381551.html

Learn to use technology for good, my sons.  Don’t let it use you and lead you down dark paths that don’t serve you.

As always, put away electronic devices.  Limit them to no more than two hours.  Go outside. Take a walk.  Play in the park.  Enjoy nature.  Hang out with your neighbors and friends.  Be real.

All my love, always,

Dad

 

 

4 years, 10 months, and 5 days. Learn to be a team player. Life is not all about you.

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My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

History is replete with tales of those too smart for their own good.  Too often, people use their natural talents to elevate themselves at the expense of others, of their teams, of their communities, of their countries.  (Sadly, this is true also of those without talents, but who think they possess such attributes.)  The results are predictable.  Calamity ensues.  The news is replete with such stories, and books and movies have made much of such.  Yet, the lesson is frequently forgotten.

The most important lesson in life, my sons, is to be a part of something good and greater than yourselves.  The enigma is that service for others will bring you greater joy and happiness than the dogged and selfish pursuit of your own happiness.  As discussed earlier, we are wired to be bottomless pits.  We are built to adapt; thus, what joy a new acquisition gives you will soon fade and the need for another, newer acquisition will start you on the endless chase.

But, the critical terms here are “good and greater than yourselves”.  Beware of false promises and outright lies.  (I do not intend to imply mal-intent here; sometimes, people do not intend to be bad but become blinded to the truth because of their tunnel visions.)

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(Yes, Jim Jones claimed to be God and Buddha on occasions, yet he forced his followers to kill their children and themselves.  False prophets are many.  Beware of them.)

Use your head.  Think, always.  Assess the validity of what is presented to you.  What are the motives of the speaker?  What does he/she have to gain?  Is the information reliable and supported by data, studies, logic, etc.?  What is being omitted?  What are the counterarguments?

Always think.  Explore and find out for yourselves what you believe in, what projects you can invest yourselves in, and how you can help the less fortunate and make your community a better place.

My one regret with you boys is to not have involved you guys in my volunteer work.  I thought you were too young.  I was wrong.  It would have done you good, and exposed you to the harsh realities of the lives of many others.

My hope is you will find good people and good projects to engage with.  The joy that comes from team work and helping others cannot be overstated.  I want that for you.

All my love, always,

Dad

4 years, 9 months, and 24 days. Helping others is good for you. Make time to volunteer and help others.

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Why Doing Good Is Good for the Do-Gooder

From Hurricane Harvey flooding Houston to Hurricanes Irma and Maria ripping through the Caribbean to wildfires burning Northern California, cities and charities have been flooded with donations and volunteers. The outpouring of support is critical for helping affected communities to recover. But acts of generosity benefit the do-gooder, too.

“Research suggests that these community social connections are as important for resilience to disaster is as physical material like disaster kits or medical supplies,” explained Ichiro Kawachi, a professor of social epidemiology at Harvard’s School of Public Health. “Voluntarism is good for the health of people who receive social support, but also good for the health of people who offer their help.”

The day after Cristina Topham evacuated her home as a result of the fires in Sonoma, Calif., she and her boyfriend immediately looked for ways to donate and help.

“I just felt like I had to do something. I love my town and my community, and the reach of the destruction was astonishing from the very beginning,” she said.

 

Why is the first instinct for many to volunteer and donate after a natural disaster? One reason is that as humans we’ve evolved to survive in groups, not alone. Rallying together makes us feel less alone in the experience, explained the sociologist Christine Carter, a fellow at the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley.

“When our survival is threatened, we are going to reach out and strengthen our connections with people around us. We show generosity. We show compassion. We show gratitude. These are all emotions that function to connect us with each other,” Dr. Carter said.

Scientific evidence supports the idea that acts of generosity can be beneficial when we volunteer and give back regularly — and not just after a natural disaster. Volunteering is linked to health benefits like lower blood pressure and decreased mortality rates.

Dr. Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist and founder of the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, has been studying the effects of positive emotions, such as compassion and kindness, on the brain since the 1990s. He said the brain behaves differently during an act of generosity than it does during a hedonistic activity.

“When we do things for ourselves, those experiences of positive emotions are more fleeting. They are dependent on external circumstances,” he said. “When we engage in acts of generosity, those experiences of positive emotion may be more enduring and outlast the specific episode in which we are engaged.”

Helping others also gives us a sense of purpose. Dr. Linda Fried co-founded Experience Corps, a program that engages retirees as literacy tutors, after she discovered a strong association between a sense of purpose and well-being throughout life. Older adults who volunteered to help children with reading and writing tended to experience less memory loss and maintain greater physical mobility, one study suggested.

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

These days, it seems like every day brings bad news.  Terrorism in New York City.  Hurricanes in the Atlantic.  Shootings.  It’s enough to make you want to pull the covers over your head and not get out of bed.

If you need to take a mental health day, do it.  There were times during my practice — after working 12-13 hour days for 6-7 days per week for weeks on end — when I simply had to take the day off and head into the mountains to blow steam, recharge, and put life into perspective.  There, on the mountain top, I would be reminded, in the greater scheme of things,  that the “crises” I deal with at work are insignificant.

The other valuable thing that gives me perspective is volunteerism.  As mentioned yesterday, volunteerism was a mainstay in my life for a long time.  When younger, I tutored kids, interpreted for schools and churches, helped carry groceries for our elderly neighbors, etc.  As I got older, my involvement became more substantial.  For example, I researched and wrote policies to help the homeless and prevent them from freezing to death on cold winter nights, represented asylum seekers with court filings and appearances to help them gain refugee status, helped victims of domestic violence get protection from their abusers.  I also continued to help feed the poor, build houses for the disenfranchised, etc.

Your grandmother, on my side of the family, taught us at a young age that (1) you are never too young to help others, and (2) it does you good to help others.  My greatest take-aways from my childhood were to choose friends with care, and to help others whenever I could.  Even today, at 90 years old, your grandmother is still volunteering and helping those less fortunate than her.  She is making a huge difference in the lives of those she helps.

Grandma’s actions and lesson for us has support in the wisdom of the ancients.  Per Robin Sharma’s The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari,

[T]he sages of the Himalayas guided their lives by a simple rule: he who serves the most, reaps the most, emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually.  This is the way to inner peace and outer fulfillment.”

Science also bears out the wisdom of her lesson.  As stated in article above, doing good is actually good for do-gooder.  Among other things, it contributes to more enduring positive emotions and a sense of well-being, gives our lives purpose, connects us to our fellow human beings, lowers blood pressure, reduces memory loss and  increases mobility as we get older, and decreases mortality rates.

Generally, volunteering is  good for you over the course of your life, and  specifically and in the shorter run, it helps you get into good colleges.  Top colleges care about more than your grades and SAT score.  They want to invest in the future of those who are not only takers, but also givers.  Kids who spend all their time studying and being tutored put themselves in the receiving end of others’ efforts.  There is nothing special about that.

Colleges, employers, and good people want to be associated with those who help others and who give back to the community, not just take and benefit from the community in which they find themselves.  Asian families tend to over-focus on the importance of grades and under-focus on the importance of personal growth.  That’s their failing.  I don’t care how smart you are or how studious you are: as an employer, I would never hire you or invite you to join my team if you could not collaborate with others, communicate with others, help others, or translate what you learned into actionable items.

That said, remember, volunteering is not about padding your resume — although that is a short term benefit.  Helping others is a way of life.  I promise that if you help others, you will get as much, if not more, out of the experience than the person you are helping.

Be good.  Be you.  Be the best you possible.  Help others when possible.  Be a humanist.

All my love, always,

Dad