The Science of Stress and How Our Emotions Affect Our Susceptibility to Burnout and Disease


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We all know this intuitively, but ignore the consequences of excess stress.

These effects of stress exist on a bell curve — that is, some is good, but too much becomes bad: As the nervous system secretes more and more stress hormones, performance increases, but up to a point; after that tipping point, performance begins to suffer as the hormones continue to flow. What makes stress “bad” — that is, what makes it render us more pervious to disease — is the disparity between the nervous system and immune system’s respective pace.

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Maria Popova — Brain Pickings

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What’s Behind One of the Biggest Financial Scams in History


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Story of a massive scandal. And how the biggies got away, again..

Knowledge@Wharton: Nobody has been doing any jail time because of this. That’s a disturbing pattern on a lot of fronts, because we’ve seen a similar result here in the U.S. after the financial crisis, and many of the other banking-related scandals that have occurred.

Enrich: You know what’s interesting? As part of the publicity for this book, I’ve done a tremendous amount of radio. And radio, as you know, can be very deeply polarized on both the right and the left in this country. So just as preparation for a lot of these interviews, I did some quick research: Is this a Trump radio station or Clinton or Bernie Sanders radio station? And I was expecting different slanted questions. You know what? Everyone’s asked the exact same thing, which is, ‘Why do the financial elites keep getting away with murder?’ It seems to be this really unifying theme across the country right now. It just makes people’s blood boil. There was so much public pressure on politicians and prosecutors after the crisis to find some individuals to hold to account for the massive harm that the banking industry caused to the country and to the economy, really to the world.

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Knowledge@Wharton

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The Ethics of Donald Trump Jr.’s India Adventure


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This week Trump Jr. visited Delhi. All newspapers were covered with front page ads selling real estate brandishing the Trump brand.

“When these sons go around all over the world talking about, one, Trump business deals and, two, … apparently giving speeches on some United States government foreign policy, they are strongly suggesting a linkage between the two,” Richard Painter, President George W. Bush’s chief ethics lawyer who is a professor of law at the University of Minnesota, told me. “Somebody, somewhere is going to cross the line into suggesting a quid pro quo.”

He added: “It might not be the Trump boys. It might be somebody working for them. It might be somebody over in India or in some other country who believes that’s the way to curry favor with the United States government, to get something in return from the United States government, to do a deal that’s favorable to the Trump Organization.”

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Krishnadev Calamur — The Atlantic

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Why willpower is overrated


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The famous marshmallow experiment showed that children who showed self-restraint went on to do better in their lives. But, what if people who look like they are resisting the temptation are not actually feeling the temptation that strongly in the first place.

If resisting temptation is a virtue, then more resistance should lead to greater achievement, right? That’s not what the results, published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Sciencefound.

The students who exerted more self-control were not more successful in accomplishing their goals. It was the students who experienced fewer temptations overall who were more successful when the researchers checked back in at the end of the semester. What’s more, the people who exercised more effortful self-control also reported feeling more depleted. So not only were they not meeting their goals, they were also exhausted from trying.

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Brian Resnick — Vox

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How President Trump Changed Your Imagination


Scott Adam’s views.

In 2015 I told you that candidate Trump would change far more than politics. I said he would change how we understand reality itself. And one of those biggest changes is in the scope of our imaginations. One year ago it was hard for me to imagine Saudi Arabia taking a sudden turn toward modernization. One year ago it was hard for me to imagine an uprising in Iran that could reshape its destiny. I assume it was hard for the Iranian public to imagine it as well. But they sure are imagining it now.

President Trump isn’t the only variable in the world. But he does create a pattern in our minds of making the impossible seem achievable. Don’t underestimate the impact that pattern has on the imaginations of everyone watching.

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Scott Adam’s Blog

Love and Ruin


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The story of Louis & Nancy Dupree.

More than any other foreigner, Dupree knew Afghans, all kinds of Afghans; he was as charmed by goatherds as he was by the royal family. They all had something to teach him, he felt. He assumed that Afghans found him charming, too, and indeed many did. What Dupree failed to see—what other Americans who knew and loved the country less did see—was that while Afghans liked him, that didn’t mean they trusted him. “Afghans were very cautious with Americans,” Ted Eliot, the former ambassador, said. “Their long history with foreigners taught them that you never knew who would be in charge next.”

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James Verini — The Atavist Magazine

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Why Silicon Valley billionaires are prepping for the apocalypse in New Zealand


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Would the billionaires have the same exalted status without common people? Interesting to see what people do when they are right at the peak of the pyramid.

Because this is the role that New Zealand now plays in our unfurling cultural fever dream: an island haven amid a rising tide of apocalyptic unease. According to the country’s Department of Internal Affairs, in the two days following the 2016 election the number of Americans who visited its website to enquire about the process of gaining New Zealand citizenship increased by a factor of 14 compared to the same days in the previous month. In particular, New Zealand has come to be seen as a bolthole of choice for Silicon Valley’s tech elite.

In the immediate aftermath of Trump’s election, the theme of American plutocrats preparing for the apocalypse was impossible to avoid. The week after the inauguration, the New Yorker ran another piece about the super-rich who were making preparations for a grand civilisational crackup; speaking of New Zealand as a “favored refuge in the event of a cataclysm”, billionaire LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, a former colleague of Thiel’s at PayPal, claimed that “saying you’re ‘buying a house in New Zealand’ is kind of a wink, wink, say no more”.

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Mark O’Connell – The Guardian

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