December 15, 2017

Happiness and Defensive Pessimism

Several of the more interesting 'Happiness' articles that appeared recently

The 8 Friends You Need To Be Happy In Life

The Builder: Someone who motivates you and encourages you to take it to the next level.

The Champion: Somebody who roots for you and describes you to others in a way that makes you blush.

The Collaborator: A friend with similar interests — the basis for many great friendships. When you talk with a Collaborator, you’re on familiar ground.

The Companion: They won’t just help you move; they’ll help you move bodies. .They’ll be at the police station at 3AM with bail money. Again.

The Connector: No matter what the issue, they know somebody who can help. They make friends more often than most people make excuses. Even if they were locked in solitary confinement with no one to talk to, they’d end up best pals with the prison guard.

The Energizer: That fun friend. The person you’re always laughing around. The one who always knows the great place to go or the awesome thing to do.

The Mind Opener: They send you interesting articles. They get you to question your assumptions. They challenge you and make you think really hard.

The Navigator: Like a high school guidance counselor, except useful.  Navigators are the friends who give you advice and keep you headed in the right direction. You go to them when you need guidance, and they talk through the pros and cons with you until you find an answer. In a difficult situation, you need a Navigator by your side. They help you see a positive future while keeping things grounded in reality.

The Power of Negative Thinking Pessimists fare better than people with a sunnier disposition.

Married couples who were extremely optimistic about their relationship’s future were more likely to experience relationship deterioration.  Optimism may also be tied to lower earnings. A study of data from British households found that across two decades, especially optimistic self-employed people earned about 25 percent less than their pessimistic peers. And National Cancer Institute researchers found that people who lowballed their risk of heart disease were more likely to show early signs of it...

Embracing negativity may also have social benefits. Compared with cheery moods, bad moods have been linked to a more effective communication style, and sadness has been linked to less reliance on negative stereotypes. Feeling down can make us behave more fairly, too. People who saw sad video clips before playing an allocation game were more generous with their partners than those who saw happy clips.

A rosy outlook leaves us overconfident and can beget disappointment.  So try “defensive pessimism” and  harness your anxiety for good.  A pair of follow-up studies found that by setting low expectations and envisioning worst-case scenarios, defensive pessimists optimized their performance on a variety of tasks, from darts and math problems to fulfilling real-life goals.  A 30-year study of more than 10,000 Germans found that older adults who had underestimated their future satisfaction were less likely than their optimistic peers to end up disabled or die prematurely.  Defensive pessimism isn’t exactly a new strategy, of course—the Stoics were urging “the premeditation of evils” some 2,300 years ago.

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

How To Create Happy Memories That Will Last A Lifetime

Create moments of elevation: Boost sensory appeal (light some fireworks.) Break the script (don’t wait for the 4th of July.) Raise the stakes (hope you don’t get arrested.)

Celebrate moments of pride: If your first book comes out and someone insists you go someplace special that night, do it. Otherwise you wouldn’t have a vivid memory. You wouldn’t have photos. All you would have is some random date to remember like in 8th grade history class.

Build moments of connection: Struggle. Working together on something, especially something meaningful, bonds us together. So just help Gary move this weekend and stop whining.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:34 AM | Permalink

December 2, 2017

Miscellany #89

Something Wonderful: The Escherian Stairwell.  I can't figure it out.

Two Stars Slammed Into Each Other And Solved Half Of Astronomy’s Problems. What Comes Next?

Farmers urged to bury their underpants to improve quality of their beef

The ‘Soil my Undies’ challenge was first launched by the California Farmers’ Guild in July and is slowly being adopted by agricultural organizations across the world.  The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) and Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) claim interring a pair of cotton smalls in a pasture can reveal vital information about soil fertility. According to the experts, sterile and lifeless soil will keep underwear intact, but organically thriving soil will eat away at the briefs, leaving nothing but the elastic waistband. Dig up the pants after just two months, and it is possible to judge how healthy the land is.

Prehistoric Dinosaur-era Shark with Insane Teeth Discovered Swimming off the Coast of Portugal


The rare frilled shark is considered a “living fossil,” because evidence of its existence dates back to at least 80 million years ago. This summer, researchers found one alive and thriving off the coast of Portugal. Named after its gills, the frilled shark has six pairs of gills that have “frilly” edges.  And  300 teeth neatly lined in 25 rows... specifically designed to help it “to trap squid, fish and other sharks in sudden lunges.”

Turquoise Icebergs Dot Iceland’s Black Sand Beach

 Turqoise Icebergs Black Sand Beach

Learning About Cities by Mapping Their Smells

The English artist Kate McLean is trying to preserve our olfactory memory with smellmaps.
“People expect Amsterdam to smell primarily of cannabis,” she says. But in her spring 2013 smellwalk, participants recorded the sugary sweetness of waffles, the spices of Asian and Surinamese restaurants, and pickled herring from the markets, which McLean notes is a link to one of the city’s old industries. These food smells were accompanied by the wafting aromas of old books in basement doorways and laundry odors from the city’s house hotels.
During a smellwalk in Brooklyn, one of her participants reported the “smell of shattered dreams.” McLean asked each person in the group what that meant and eventually a consensus was reached. “We agreed that the ‘smell of shattered dreams’ is the smell of walking out of a bar, with that typical stench of beer and cigarettes, and going home alone again.”

The frozen Siberian that 'sounds like whales singing'

 Singing Siberian Lake

A photographer in the Altai Mountains recorded the extraordinary haunting noises while walking on the frozen water of Lake Ak-Kem which she posted on Facebook.  Svetlana Kuzina said she was frightened the first time she heard the 'alien-like' sounds in the middle of the night while photographing shooting stars at Lake Ak-Kem.  The noise was 'soft, low, thick, long, taut, howling, changing between quiet and very loud - somewhat reminiscent of whales 'singing'.''The mournful howling sounds made me really feel aliens must be close by."  The frozen acoustics are from the ice expanding and contracting, say experts.

The typeface that helps dyslexics read
Designer Christian Boer had problems reading as a child because of dyslexia. Now he’s created a downloadable font called Dyslexie  that can untangle the jumbled letters that many dyslexics see. 

How the sandwich consumed Britain

 British Chilled Sandwiches

Mass-producing a meal that you could, if necessary, rip open and consume in the street was transforming people’s behavior. “Instant gratification and total convenience and delivery,”....The rise of the British chilled sandwich over the last 40 years has been a deliberate, astonishing and almost insanely labor-intensive achievement. 

For the first time, the Ratzinger Prize is awarded to a non-theologian: the Orthodox composer Arvo Pärt  He's extraordinary.

Somebody wrote an email bot to waste scammers' time

When you get a scam email, forward it to and a bot will keep the scammer busy emailing back and forth with it, giving the scammer less time to rob gullible humans....Re:scam is an initiative aimed at helping people from becoming fraud victims by occupying the time and resources of scammers through deploying a well-educated artificially intelligent chat bot. Instead of junking or deleting a scam email, you can now forward it to Re:scam who will continue the conversation indefinitely – or until the scammer stops replying.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:47 PM | Permalink