I’m precisely one hour, ten minutes late, let’s get this party started

Thursday, 23 October, 2014

There’s nothing worse, this I know from years of trials and tribulations, than arriving too early, or for that matter, too late, to a party. So, what’s the happy balance in this regard? For an average size sort of gathering, arriving around seventy minutes late, seems to be about right:

The median number of guests at each party was 23 people. When we look at parties with 23 or fewer attendees, the median arrival time – that is, when the middle person showed up at the party – was 29 minutes late. For parties of 25 or more – your ragers, throw-downs, events with a keg – the median arrival time was 70 minutes after the designated start time.

The size of the gathering makes a difference though, the smaller the bash, the more promptly you should arrive.

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Whoever said as life as a billionaire was easy?

Monday, 20 October, 2014

It may come as some comfort to those of us who are not billionaires, that life as a billionaire is not always beer and skittles, or caviar and private jets, as the case may be. In fact, life for the super well off may very much be caviar and private jets, but it is often devoid of some of the simpler pleasures, and that it seems, can be a drawback. Apparently.

“Mark Zuckerberg will never get to bum around a foreign country,” Graham writes. “He can do other things most people can’t, like charter jets to fly him to foreign countries. But success has taken a lot of the serendipity out of his life.”

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How do you get ahead? That depends on what country you live in…

Monday, 20 October, 2014

Hard work aside, is our success, be it personal or professional, out of our hands? Does it come down to luck, or to the people we know? The part of the world where we live, seemingly, looks to hold some sway in this regard:

People in developing economies were far more likely to say that “having a good education” and “working hard” were 10/10 in terms of importance. That appears to be something of a paradox, since many respondents in those same countries also claimed that “giving bribes” and “being lucky” were very important. Although people in wealthy countries also think diligence and education are important, a smaller share of respondents gave those factors top marks in determining their lives.

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Empathy, something useful to bring to an argument

Thursday, 16 October, 2014

Ten things to keep in mind when arguing a point of view, culled from a book written on the topic by Jonathan Herring.

Arguments, and for that matter discussions, should be about seeing things through the other person’s eyes. They should lead to a better understanding of another person’s view.

That’s what I call lucid thought.

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Ok, so you can run, but can you properly imagine a person running?

Wednesday, 15 October, 2014

Well, this is embarrassing. People have been running for what, tens of thousands of years, but we, the same people, still don’t how to properly depict, or even imagine, this physical activity?

Wilson also points out that there’s a huge difference between asking someone to strike a running pose, and asking someone to run. “The only thing your postural systems cares about is staying upright, maintaining balance,” he says. “Running is about dynamic balance; maintaining balance as your mass moves. This is why we run in a contralateral pose – that’s how you balance out all the various forces and preserve your upright posture. Posing as if running is static balance.” In other words, the body asked to pose and asked to run is acting on two very different requests.

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Putting aside life’s bigger problems to focus on smaller annoyances

Monday, 13 October, 2014

A latter day list of minor irritations that can cast a pall over what was otherwise an OK day… inspired by The Pillow Book, written by Sei Shonagon, a courtier serving the Japanese Emperor just over one thousand years ago.

  • Having to call customer service with a complaint
  • Having to call customer service for anything, really
  • Arranging affairs to a subtle degree of perfection for the benefit of one who has no subtlety
  • Walking very fast to catch a train that turns out to be delayed

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And I, I’m not sorry anymore

Monday, 6 October, 2014

For many of us it slips out almost involuntarily, often when we’re mildly flustered. Does overuse diminish its meaning, its intent, though? Saying sorry, or apologising, virtually every which time, even for a triviality that likely went unnoticed, that is…

It’s what a psychologist would call a “low-cost interpersonal strategy” – on the off chance that you might have been offended by something I did, I’ll defuse it with a two-syllable word, and show that I’m attuned to your troubles, however minor. It’s a social lubricant, a little bit of which helps reduce the need for major repairs later on.

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The actual value of advice can be only be appreciated in hindsight…

Monday, 29 September, 2014

If I was asked to write a letter to my decade or two younger self, offering a little wisdom – and if I could be so… audacious, a tip or two as to when to turn, say, right rather than, say, left – I’m not sure I’d know where to begin.

That’s of course not correct, but put it this way, I’d have a lot to say to my youthful self. Anyway, it’s a premise that was recently put to seven Australian writers including Mark Dapin, Amanda Hooton, and Charlotte Wood. Then there’s this astute observation from Anna Funder:

At the beginning of anything important – writing a book, starting a friendship – it’s a case of imagining something that doesn’t yet exist and calling it into being: with desire, curiosity, knee-quaking trust in its future. When I think about you, starting out at university and feeling like you’re starting out in your real life, that’s how I see you. Know this: reality – the world’s and your own private path – will far outstrip what you could ever have imagined. You’re not as lost as you feel, though possibly you’ll never feel as found as you’d like.

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Now that we’ve lived our best years, let’s bow out at 75

Friday, 26 September, 2014

Ezekiel Emanuel, writing for The Atlantic, thinks age seventy-five would be about a good time for him to make an exit from this life.

But here is a simple truth that many of us seem to resist: living too long is also a loss. It renders many of us, if not disabled, then faltering and declining, a state that may not be worse than death but is nonetheless deprived. It robs us of our creativity and ability to contribute to work, society, the world. It transforms how people experience us, relate to us, and, most important, remember us. We are no longer remembered as vibrant and engaged but as feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic.

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Fredkin’s Paradox and the difficulty in making some decisions

Friday, 26 September, 2014

Do you find yourself unable to decide whether to have a choc-top ice cream, or pop-corn, while at the movies, or stuck when it comes to choosing between a three-door hatch back car, or a four-door sedan? It just may be a mild case of Fredkin’s Paradox

As the options get closer to each other in quality, the difference in the effect they have on your life necessarily shrinks. This is true for big decisions as well as little ones. Sure, buying a car means making a large investment, but there’s only so much one mid-sized practical car can do for you that another mid-sized practical car can’t. If you try to distinguish between them by cup-holder size, you’ll spend a long time thinking about something that you know is just going to hold one half-full bottle of water and two paper napkins until you set the whole car on fire and roll it into a ditch.

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