The dreams and aspirations of the homeless, by Horia Manolache

Tuesday, 23 August, 2016

The Prince and the Pauper is a poignant photo series by San Francisco based photographer Horia Manolache. He took two photos of homeless people, one of how they look today, and one of what they once saw themselves becoming.

There is always the hope that his subjects may yet come to realise their dreams and aspirations.

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Too much social stimulation results in a hangover for introverts

Thursday, 18 August, 2016

Unlike extroverts, introverts have limited social capital. There’s only so much time they can spend in the company of other people, especially large groups, before the desire to seek out a quiet, solitary space, becomes overwhelming.

If you’re an introvert, you already know what I’m talking about because you have likely experienced it more than once. But if you aren’t, or you need help explaining the idea to extroverted friends, here’s an attempt at a description. Introverts have a more limited ration of energy available for socializing, compared to our more extroverted counterparts. When we push past those reserves, we hit a tipping point where we go from being “fine” to “definitely not okay.” An “introvert” hangover is, simply put, a withdrawal into oneself brought on by overstimulation.

I’d have never thought to call the resulting social overstimulation a hangover though, but that’s what it feels like sometimes.

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Need to make a tough life choice? Then toss a coin. Seriously

Tuesday, 16 August, 2016

This is interesting. If you need to make a choice, say whether to leave a job, or move to another city, but are undecided as to how to proceed, then toss a coin. That’s it, toss a coin. If heads is for yes, and that’s what comes up, then go ahead and resign, or prepare to leave town.

This is the advice that US economist Steven Levitt, author of Freakonomics, dispensed to people who didn’t know what way to go on a choice, through his website. When people who had accepted the coin toss outcome were contacted several months later though, more were found to be happier than those who had not.

The people who committed to a course to action, albeit through the mere flip of coin, made a real change in their lives. Those who did not presumably stayed put, and wallowed in their indecision, and lack of action.

Doing what the coin said seemed to really matter. Levitt thinks he knows why. The people who did changed more often than the people who did not. Left to our own devices we’ve an inbuilt bias against change. Yet more often than we realise it’s the best thing we can do. Levitt’s no counsellor (he leaves that to his machine) but his advice would be that it’s often worthwhile taking a leap into the unknown – far more worthwhile than we think.

It brings to mind the line from the 1999 spoken word song, Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen, produced by Australian film director Baz Luhrmann, “your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s.” Exactly what the flip of coin is.

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A fake funeral, a new way to help you appreciate your life?

Monday, 8 August, 2016

Some people fake their deaths in an attempt to, say, start a new life, or escape heavy debts. South Koreans, however, do things a little differently.

They attend mock funerals for themselves, complete with an eulogy they wrote, and coffins that they lie in for a short time. The exercise gives participants the chance to reflect on their lives, and give thought to their eventual – real – deaths.

The program, led by Mr. Kim Ki-ho brings participants together to reflect on their lives by experiencing their own fake funeral. They write their own eulogies, make out mock wills, and pen farewell notes. Then, they dress in traditional burial linens, climb into coffins in a darkened room, and meditate on their lives for 30 minutes. Responses vary, but many said that acting out their own deaths made them appreciate their lives more, and to consider the consequences of their deaths more seriously.

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A good life is one lived without working any overtime, right?

Friday, 5 August, 2016

Work less. Live a better life. Easier to say, than to do, though?

Countless studies have shown that people who work less are more satisfied with their lives. In a recent poll conducted among working women, German researchers quantified the “perfect day”. The largest share of minutes (106) would go toward “intimate relationships”. Down at the bottom of the list were work (36) and commuting (33). The researchers noted that “in order to maximise wellbeing it is likely that working and consuming (which increases GDP) might play a smaller role in people’s daily activities compared with now”.

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What does eating paper, or fruit, have to do with political beliefs?

Friday, 5 August, 2016

I would rather eat a piece of fruit than a piece of paper.

If, for whatever reason, you’re uncertain as to your political beliefs, choosing how you feel about eating fruit or paper, may help identify your leanings.

It’s US-centric, but will tell you if you lean to the left or the right. Try it out here.

I have the brain of a Democrat, I am told.

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The office has had its day, yet we’re still stuck with it

Thursday, 4 August, 2016

Open plan working arrangements. The time wasting, and fuel inefficient, commute. Colleagues who specialise in doing nothing. Office politics. Who needs it? The office has had its day, writes home based researcher, broadcaster, and writer, Erin Stewart.

Anyone can adapt to a lifestyle of no commute, no brittle mornings, no cringey small talk. It’s no less natural than sitting under flickering fluorescent lights in a maze of desks. With existing technology, most jobs can be done remotely. After all, doctors can even conduct telesurgery these days. While colleagues would ideally meet in-person sometimes, managers of a decentralised workforce would need better justifications for meetings than “we’re all here, so why not?”

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Is Pantone 448C really the world’s ugliest colour?

Wednesday, 3 August, 2016

Pantone 448C

Could a single colour ever be called the ugliest colour? I know there are certain colours we dislike as individuals, and collectively there may be one or two we find disagreeable, but could a particular hue ever be truly declared the ugliest?

If such a thing is possible, then Pantone 448C is said to be it. At least this was the determination reached by market research company GfK.

To me, it looks like a dark olive/brown shade. Nothing especially hideous about it though. Wouldn’t something like “vomit yellow” be a better contender for the ugliest colour?

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The camera makes us look heavier, and the camera never lies, right?

Wednesday, 3 August, 2016

Photography by Dan Vojtech

Does the camera really make us appear heavier than we actually are? A sequence of images, by Prague based photographer Dan Vojtech, where focal lengths used to take photos of a subject’s face varied between twenty millimetres to two hundred millimetres, suggests so.

The human eye would perceive vision at a focal length of about thirty to fifty millimetres, so I guess that forms the baseline for “normal”. Focal lengths above or below that range might therefore appear to make the subject look bigger, or smaller, as the case may be.

Via Digg.

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Are you cast under the spell of the default setting?

Tuesday, 2 August, 2016

How often do you buy a new device, be it a smartphone, a laptop, or household appliance, and adjust the factory, or default, settings? Do you customise whatever you’ve just acquired to specifically suit your needs, or do you leave it as is? Often times, people don’t change anything, handing the manufacturers a certain degree of control in the process.

They might not seem like much, but defaults (and their designers) hold immense power – they make decisions for us that we’re not even aware of making. Consider the fact that most people never change the factory settings on their computer, the default ringtone on their phones, or the default temperature in their fridge. Someone, somewhere, decided what those defaults should be – and it probably wasn’t you.

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