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Nothing really matters, or does it?

Nothing that I will ever say or do has any lasting meaning. Whether I pick a black or white shirt today, whether I donate to charity or not, whether I murder a child or save a life, the odds are that in 10 trillion years it will have made a total difference of 0.

Whatever we do, ultimately, has no meaning. In the grand scheme of things, we are but a tiny speck of dust on a meaningless planet in a meaningless universe drifting silently through vast cold space. Reanimating dying people, curing cancer, trying to find a formula for immortality, hell, any medical or engineering advances made by humanity make absolutely no difference.

Life is inherently worthless because it has no objective purpose or value. Why would anyone choose to live? Happiness, procreation, advancement of the species are all empty answers. Especially happiness, since it’s just an empty concept that gives us an illusion of worthiness. People delude themselves in thinking that life is meaningful and beautiful.
– nTrophy

bozoconnors responds;
@nTrophy
While perhaps insignificant in the grand scheme – you’re likely very important to lots of folks in your own little microcosm. Plus – I think you’re underestimating the human race – I think we’re on the cusp of mattering, given the technological leap in the last century. These are exciting times. If we do indeed manage to escape this rock (essentially at least doubling our chance of non-extinction from anything but galactic scale disasters,) I predict big things for our future.

Risk-Taking

Question: Is society conditioning us to think that we have to have a job to get money?

Answer: Yes.

Society IS conditioning us to think we have to have a job to make money. Intellectually, we all recognize that of course it’s only one way and there’s other ways (all varieties of risk-taking entrepreneurship). There’s also ways to become wealthy via other forms of economics like barter and so forth.

But we don’t recognize this emotionally and viscerally.

Why?

Industrial age middle-class lifestyles have conditioned the natural range of wild human risk-taking behaviors down to a much narrower and artificial range of domesticated risk-taking behaviors. To see how far we’ve come, consider that prior to about 3000 BC, the probability of an adult human male dying via being killed in a fight with another male was between 15-60% (statistic from Pankaj Ghemawat’s excellent World 3.0). From that nature-red-in-tooth-and-claw level, we’re now at the far end of the pendulum’s swing, where we aren’t even willing to risk a day of hunger in order to get some potential value in return. We’ve mostly lost our ability to gamble except in the form of entertainment.

I think William James said it best, something like ‘The progress from brute to man is characterized by nothing so much as by the decrease in frequency of proper occasions for fear’

Civilization has certainly proved valuable in some ways. But the cost has been the constant narrowing of our appetite for risk. I’d estimate that about 50% of this narrowing happened in the last 100 or so years. One of its effects has been this addiction-to-paychecks syndrome you’re pointing out (and one that plenty of others have been pointing out in recent times).

I keep repeating one statistic ad nauseum, because people simply don’t get how dramatic an effect the creation of an industrial middle class has had on average risk tolerance. In the 1790s, less than 20% of America had a paycheck income. By 1980, more than 80% did, at which time the trend reversed.

This didn’t happen without a reason. The reason was that industrial age of mass-scale production required paycheck workers. People who had to be trained in industrial-style schooling.

The nominal purpose was to teach them the skills needed to work within the infrastructure of industrial society. The other, unpublicized purpose was to create a class of people that was far more disciplined and risk-averse than natural for the human species. In other words, a domesticated, comfort-loving species. This was achieved through, quite literally, conditioning. Bells rang for waking up and meal-times. Food appeared magically. Retirement was taken care of. Everything happened like clockwork.

The first few generations resisted being drafted into the industrial workforce mightily. Not despite their intimate familiarity with risks ranging from bad harvests to disease, hunger and death through poverty, but because of it. Because they understood that with those risks came freedom.

After that, the next generations were born and raised in captivity and never had a chance to sample the environments that might have made their wilder risk-taking instincts come out.

And so today, we have what you’re pointing out. A populace that understands risk, entrepreneurship and gambling in the abstract, but not at gut-level, and seeks the security of a paycheck, even when that security is rapidly turning into a complete illusion.

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How to store MiniDV tapes for archival

You got lots of family MiniDV or Hi8 tapes and you want to preserve those memories as long as possible. First rule of thumb; Digitize/capture/transfer all the tapes using Firewire connection onto hard drive and name each video file logically for future retrieval. This step prevents you to go through all the tapes in the future to retrieve just one clip you need. Also, in the future there may not be a PC around with 1394 Firewire capture card, so you save yourself a headache.

Now on to MiniDV tape storage; Remember, never get rid of the original source footage, even if you already digitized them. This way you can always re-digitize them in case if the hard drive with your footage failed to spin in 10 years or so or you simply lost it, things happen..

  • Keep tapes in a dust free environment, away from direct sunlight.
  • Avoid high humidity and moisture. Use Silica gel packets, they are an effective and low cost desiccant. Periodically bake them dry if container been somewhere humid.
  • Never store tapes near magnetic fields, (top of TV, speakers, etc.).
  • Try to give tapes 24 hours to adjust to extreme temperature and climate changes.
  • Fast-forward & rewind tapes every 2 years to prevent sticking. Early tapes did stick but there’s been no reports of that with current DV tapes.
  • Store tapes rewound in their case.
  • Store the tapes standing upright to the ground, not laying flat.
  • The storage environment should not be hot, humid, dusty or smoky.
  • Store them in a plastic airtight container, like the one shown below, with some fresh silica gel .. in a temperature stable environment. Cardboard can absorb humidity.

DV tapes stored like that, have a life of about 30yrs. if you can then find a machine to play them 🙂


 

What you will need:

Sistema Klip It Rectangular Food Container

More info on this container here.

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Silica Gel Packets Desiccant Dehumidifier

 

Mike Cockrill: Artist Spotlight (New York 2013)

Mike is a Virginia-born artist who lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. He was interviewed in his Brooklyn studio on May 9, 2013. In this in-depth interview, Mike talks about how he emerged as an artist, who he considers his role-models, the state of representational art and its role in the contemporary art saturated market. He also talks about his experience collaborating with Judge Hughes on the White Papers – a picture book about assassination of JFK to the assassination of John Lennon. His works can be seen at his web site: http://mikecockrill.com About Mike Cockrill has been making conceptually engaged, socially challenging work since he first began showing in the East Village in the early 1980s. Cockrill—who grew up in the suburbs of Washington, DC, in the late 50s and early 60s—has a particular affinity with the pop-culture images of postwar America, and their darker subtexts. A classically trained painter, Cockrill also has the skills to understand an idiom and then deftly twist it, literally and conceptually. He has been doing this from his early cartoons, which are hybrids of suburban cheeriness and Indian-miniature eroticism, to his later paintings that adopt the cloying style of 1950s children’s book illustrations while exposing their undercurrent of sexually charged fantasy. Existential Man 14 November 2013 — 25 January 2014 With Existential Man, Cockrill has invented a character who seems to have stepped out of the 1960s, but who, unlike the confident adman in his Brooks Brothers suit, is a hapless middle-manager in a cotton-poly, short-sleeved shirt, with a bad buzz cut. Cockrill’s deft use of period detail signals to us what his character is not as much as what he is. He will not be having martini lunches and rising to the top of the postwar American dreamscape. Instead, Cockrill’s Existential Man is an everyman who inevitably finds himself in extremis in the midst of mundane everyday routines, who has no real chance in the land of opportunity, and who still carries dutifully on. For further information, contact Douglas Walla (dkw@KentFineArt.net) or Jeanne Marie Wasilik (jmw@KentFineArt.net).

The First Principles Method Explained by Elon Musk

In an interview with Kevin Rose Elon Musk has beautifully explained how thinking based on first principles can lead to remarkable insights. Here are the gems:

“I think its important to reason from first principles rather than by analogy…The normal way we conduct our lives is we reason by analogy…

We are doing this because it’s like something else that was done..or it is like what other people are doing…slight iterations on a theme…

“First principles” is a physics way of looking at the world…what that really means is that you boil things down to the most fundamental truths…and then reason up from there…that takes a lot more mental energy…

Someone could –and people do — say battery packs are really expensive and that’s just the way they will always be because that’s the way they have been in the past…

They would say it’s going to cost, historically it cost $600 KW/hour.  It’s not going to be much better that in the future…

So first principles..we say what are the material constituents of the batteries.  What is the spot market value of the material constituents?  It has carbon, nickel, aluminum, and some polymers for separation, and a steel can..break that down on a material basis, if we bought that on a London Metal Exchange, what would each of these things cost.  oh geez…It’s $80 KW/hour.  Clearly, you need to think of clever ways to take those materials and combine them into the shape of a battery cell, and you can have batteries that are much cheaper than anyone realizes.”

lemons
lemons

 

Leadership to Inspire

In this in-depth talk, ethnographer and leadership expert Simon Sinek reveals the hidden dynamics that inspire leadership and trust. In biological terms, leaders get the first pick of food and other spoils, but at a cost. When danger is present, the group expects the leader to mitigate all threats even at the expense of their personal well-being. Understanding this deep-seated expectation is the key difference between someone who is just an “authority” versus a true “leader.”

For more on this topic, check out Sinek’s latest book Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t now available for pre-order.

About Simon Sinek

A trained ethnographer and the author of Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, Simon Sinek has held a life-long curiosity for why people and organizations do the things they do. Studying the leaders and companies that make the greatest impact in the world and achieve a more lasting success than others, he discovered the formula that explains how they do it.

Sinek’s amazingly simple idea, The Golden Circle, is grounded in the biology of human decision-making and is changing how leaders and companies think and act.

His innovative views on business and leadership have earned him invitations to meet with an array of leaders and organizations, including Microsoft, Dell, SAP, Intel, Chanel, Members of the United States Congress, and the Ambassadors of Bahrain and Iraq.

Sinek recently became an adjunct staff member of the RAND Corporation, one of the most highly regarded think tanks in the world. He also works with the non-profit Education for Employment Foundation to help create opportunities for young men and women in the Middle East region. He lives in New York, where he teaches graduate level strategic communications at Columbia University.

Cheapest way to JFK airport

This is the cheapest way to get to JFK airport. Total time around 2 hours.

Flying out of NYC:
1. Take the 3 train to New Lots ave (last stop)
2. Take B15 bus to Leffers Boulevard stop*
3. Take Airtrain to your airline terminal – avoiding the $5 entry fee

*If your flying JetBlue go past Leffers Boulevard stop to Terminal 5 (last stop on B15) bus.

Total amount one way is $2.50, that includes transfer from subway to bus. I have used this path many times traveling abroad and back to NYC and it works every time.

Flying into NYC:

Returning back to NYC, all you need is Metrocard that has at least $2.50 on it to board the B15 bus at the airport. At any terminal in JFK airport, simply go to information desk and ask where you can take the B15 bus to New Lots ave number 3 subway train.

Future Proof software

It was an unexpected blow to all users of Catch Notes when its company announced that it will no longer support this app, leaving all of its users and their notes without the online sync feature future development. It was a very useful app that provided seamless sync of user’s notes to the cloud. All this happened in the wake of Snowden’s whistle-blowing about the U.S. government’s illegal collection of people’s private online data without their consent of knowing.

What if there was a open standard, a commitment to users to future proof software, which provided the would be user assurance that the sudden shut-down of service like Catch Notes wouldn’t happen? This would require app labeling, for instance “Future-Proof”. This way when a user is about to decide to install a given software he’d look for this label. No label, no trust. So what if the company decides to no longer focus on a piece of software? In that case, if this software has the “Future-Proof” label, they would have to find a trustworthy provider who would continue this service uninterrupted.

estaphette

Recalibrate your Senses

By Douglas Lisle, Ph.D. and Alan Goldhamer, D.C.

When you climb into a hot tub, it pays to edge in slowly. The water can be so hot as to be unpleasant—until you get used to it. Then it will feel pleasant. When you step into a swimming pool, the water sometimes feels cold. But after a few minutes, you get used to it. The scent of a Christmas tree or fragrant flowers is wonderful—at first. But then you get used to it, and soon you may hardly even notice it. How is it that our internal experience can change so dramatically, even when our environment is staying the same? How is it that we so easily “get used to” things? It turns out that scientists have carefully studied this striking phenomenon, which they refer to as neuroadaptation. This process is called “neuroadaptation” because it involves nerves and adaptation.
Our sensory processes are dependent upon the activation of sensory nerves. It is through the activation of various sensory nerves that we are able to see, hear, smell, sense touch, and to taste. The activity of these various sensory nerves tells our brain what is going on, and to what degree of intensity. For example, when you are sitting in a dimly lit room, and you turn on more light, your visual nerves become more active. This causes you to notice an increase in brightness. Similarly, if you increase the volume on your stereo, your auditory nerves become more active. This same principle works for all of the five senses.

Relative perception

We tend to think that our nerves provide us with a very accurate depiction of real-world stimulation. Surprisingly, this is not the case. Let’s go back to the example of sitting in a dimly lit room. If you turn on all of the lights, it will seem very bright. However, if you later go outside into full sunshine, that will seem brighter still. When you go back inside, it will seem dim—even though all of the lights are still on. Clearly, your nerves are not providing you with an “accurate” depiction of reality in these instances. They are providing a relative depiction. Your senses are highly responsive to change. They tell you when a new stimulus is brighter or dimmer, louder or softer, hotter or colder, and so forth, but not precisely how bright, or loud, or hot. Perception is largely a gauge of relative change.
When there is a sudden increase in stimulation, your nerves increase their rate of “firing” (the basic mechanism that communicates sensory information to the brain). Any change in the intensity of a stimulus results in a change in the firing rate of the appropriate sensory nerves. For example, when you brighten the lights, your visual nerves will increase their firing rate. When you later dim the lights, the firing rate will be reduced.

Dangerous adaptations

In this article, we shall focus on an aspect of “getting used to” things that can lead to life-threatening mistakes.
After we brighten the lights in a room, our visual nerves increase their firing rate—but only for a short while. After a few minutes, the firing rate will slow down, or “adapt,” to the new, higher rate of stimulation. Sometimes, the nerves may even slow down their response to the level that they were previously firing at the lower level of illumination. This is why even a brightly lit room will seem merely “normal” after your sensory nerves adjust to it.
All of our sensory nerves work in this manner. When we first enter an office, we might be distracted by a noisy air conditioner. But after a while we may cease to notice it. When a person first starts smoking cigarettes, he is acutely aware of the smell of the smoke. He smells it on his fingers, in his clothes, and in his car. But before long, he won’t notice it at all. He will have “gotten used to it.” His sense of smell has adapted to the constant presence of this stimulus. The smoker may not notice much of the smell unless he quits smoking. Only then will his sense of smell re-calibrate to a more smoke-sensitive state. Then he will be able to smell the smoke—just like everyone else does.

Taste troubles

Like our other sensory nerves, our taste buds also will “get used to” a given level of stimulation—and this can have dangerous consequences. The taste buds of the vast majority of people in industrialized societies are currently neuroadapted to artificially high-fat, high-sugar, and high-salt animal and processed foods. These foods are ultimately no more enjoyable than more healthful fare, but few people will ever see that this is true. This is because they consistently consume highly stimulating foods, and have “gotten used to” them. If they were to eat a less stimulating, health-promoting diet, they soon would enjoy such fare every bit as much. Unfortunately, very few people will ever realize this critically important fact. Instead, nearly all of these people will die prematurely of strokes, heart attacks, congestive heart failure, diabetes, and cancer as a result of self-destructive dietary choices.

How To Find And Do Work You Love

Scott Dinsmore’s mission is to change the world by helping people find what excites them and build a career around the work only they are capable of doing. He is a career change strategist whose demoralizing experience at a Fortune 500 job launched his quest to understand why 80% of adults hate the work they do, and more importantly, to identify what the other 20% were doing differently. His research led to experiences with thousands of employees and entrepreneurs from 158 countries. Scott distilled the results down to his Passionate Work Framework – three surprisingly simple practices for finding and doing work you love, that all happen to be completely within our control. He makes his career tools available free to the public through his community at http://LiveYourLegend.net