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Link pack #01

Following the lead of my dear friend Daniel and his fantastic and addictive “Summing up” series, here’s a link pack of recent stuff I read around the web.

Link pack is definitely a terrible name, but I’m working on it.


How to Silence Negative Thinking
On how to avoid the pitfall of being a Negatron and not an Optimist Prime. You might be your own worst enemy and you might not even know it:

Psychologists use the term “automatic negative thoughts” to describe the ideas that pop into our heads uninvited, like burglars, and leave behind a mess of uncomfortable emotions. In the 1960s, one of the founders of cognitive therapy, Aaron Beck, concluded that ANTs sabotage our best self, and lead to a vicious circle of misery: creating a general mindset that is variously unhappy or anxious or angry (take your pick) and which is (therefore) all the more likely to generate new ANTs. We get stuck in the same old neural pathways, having the same negative thoughts again and again.

Meet Harlem’s ‘Official’ Street Photographer
A man goes around Harlem with his camera, looking to give instead of taking. Makes you think about your approach to people and photography, things can be simpler. Kinda like Humans of New York, but in Harlem. And grittier, and on film —but as touching, or more:

“I tell people that my camera is a healing mechanism,” Allah says. “Let me photograph it and take it away from you.”

What Happens When We Let Industry and Government Collect All the Data They Want
Why “having nothing to hide” is not about the now, but about the later. It’s not that someone is going to judge for pushing every detail of your life to Twitter and Instagram, it’s just that something you do might be illegal a few years later:

There was a time when it was essentially illegal to be gay. There was a time when it was legal to own people—and illegal for them to run away. Sometimes, society gets it wrong. And it’s not just nameless bureaucrats; it’s men like Thomas Jefferson. When that happens, strong privacy protections—including collection controls that let people pick who gets their data, and when—allow the persecuted and unpopular to survive.

The Sex-Abuse Scandal Plaguing USA Swimming
Abusive coaches and a bullying culture in sports training are the perfect storm for damaging children. And it’s amazing the extent to which a corporation or institution is willing to look the other way, as long as they save face. Very long piece, but intriguing to read.

What Cities Would Look Like if Lit Only by the Stars
Thierry Cohen goes around the world and builds beautiful and realistic composite images of how would big cities look like if lit only by stars. The original page has some more cities: Villes éteintes (Darkened Cities).

On Muppets & Merchandise: How Jim Henson Turned His Art into a Business
Lessons from how Jim Henson managed to juggle both art and business without selling out for the wrong reasons. Really interesting, and reminds you to put Henson in perspective as a very smart man who managed to convince everyone to give him money for playing with muppets. The linked video on How the Muppet Show is Made is also cool. Made me curious enough to get the book.

Barbie, Remixed: I (really!) can be a computer engineer
Mattel launched the most misguided book about empowering Barbie to be anything but a computer engineer in a book about being a computer engineer. The internet did not disappoint and fixed the problem within hours. There’s now even an app for that (includes user submitted pages).

Universidades y libre tránsito

Lo que pasa en los 2.5Km entre Harvard y el MIT, comparado a las universidades del sur:

“El trato que me dan es más propio de un sospechoso que el de un invitado que ni siquiera cobra un peso por la gracia. En la biblioteca de otra universidad que también se cree importante veo que un guardia impunemente le registra el bolso a una distinguida profesora, no vaya a ser que esté robando los libros que pocos de sus alumnos leen. Es más importante cuidar los computadores que el conocimiento vertido en ellos.”

En la práctica estas cosas no detienen a nadie. Lo único que se detiene es el intercambio de ideas e información, cerrando más la burbuja en la que cada universidad está.

Mientras tanto, las universidades locales no tienen casi nada de investigación seria y casi nada de cultura universitaria.

Peor, festejan quedar en el “top 10″, de un concurso con solo 14 participantes de más de 100 posibles.

Bonus: Universidades en Perú: círculo perverso

Habit Fields

Consider the desk in your office. Maybe it reminds you of when you opened the box and put the pieces together. Or maybe it recalls your first day at work, when your colleague showed you where you would sit. The desk, the computer on top of it, the chair you sit in, and the space they comprise are all repositories for memory. But these things don’t just store our memories; they store our behaviors too. The sum of these stored behaviors is an object’s habit field, and merely being around it compels our bodies and minds to act in certain ways. By understanding these invisible forces and employing strategies to shape them, we can enjoy more frequent, sustained periods of flow.

Habit Fields, by Jack Cheng

Here lies he who would have done great, but had to pay rent

A few years back after one of my more impassioned lectures, a young buck in the back row raised his hand. “Mr. Victore,” he said, “I understand what you’re saying about taking risks in your career, but I’ve got rent to pay.”

“What’s your name?” I asked. “Thomas,” he said.

“Thomas, here’s your tombstone: Here lies Thomas, he would have done great work, but he had to pay the rent.”

You Can Have an Easy Life or an Awesome One. Choose Wisely