Samir’s Selection 07/08/2013 (p.m.)

  • Lisa Damour: My six favorite words in parenting: “People make choices, choices have consequences” – kids do best when the rules are clear and the outcomes are predictable.

    When we look at the research on the childhood precursors of adult well-being – the traits we see in children who go on to become happy adults – we find that the driving factor is childhood conscientiousness, not childhood happiness. Children who are industrious, orderly and have good self-control are more likely than their careless or undisciplined peers to grow into happy adults… 

    It turns out that adult happiness doesn’t arise from parents bending the rules to a child’s advantage; it comes from children learning the rules and conforming to them…

    Conscientious people enjoy better health as adults because they chose long-term payoffs over short-term gratifications… 

    conscientious people come out ahead because they do good work even when no one is looking…

    As a parent, every time I dish out a “helpful reminder” (that would be what I call nagging), I am grateful for research linking childhood conscientiousness with adult well-being. My children may call it annoying, but I consider it a down payment on their future happiness.

    tags: wellbeing happiness discipline conscientiousness psychology parenting

  • “Eighty! I can hardly believe it. I often feel that life is about to begin, only to realize it is almost over. My mother was the 16th of 18 children; I was the youngest of her four sons, and almost the youngest of the vast cousinhood on her side of the family. I was always the youngest boy in my class at high school. I have retained this feeling of being the youngest, even though now I am almost the oldest person I know.”

    tags: ageing time life

  • “On a Web site called Flyertalk, I learned from a blogger just how close we are to class warfare in the sky. Disgusted by the grubby conditions on his flight, this Robespierre of the unfriendly skies invokes the French Revolution and warns: If you annoy “the salt of the earth enough, the rank and file and what have you, sometimes you wind up beheaded.” Let them eat Pringles…
    AH, the old days … But it’s true: there was a time when air travel — for everyone, regardless of class station — was synonymous with luxury. 

    tags: socialclass discrimination inequality wealth aviation travel

  • Sometimes technology takes on symbolic, or even religious significance…

    “Technological artifacts become symbols,” Cox wrote [1970s], “when they are ‘iconized,’ when they release emotions incommensurate with their mere utility, when they arouse hopes and fears only indirectly related to their use, when they begin to provide elements for the mapping of cognitive experience.”

    In American Technological Sublime, historian David Nye chronicled the near-religious reverence and ritual that gathered around the railroad, the first skyscrapers, the electrified cityscape, the Hoover Dam, atomic bombs, and Saturn V rockets…

    The symbolism of technology, however, does not always crystalize society’s hopes and ambitions. To borrow Cox’s phrasing, it does not always embody where we want to go. Sometimes it is a symbol of fears and anxieties…

    The sublime experience accompanying the atomic bomb also inspired fear and trepidation. This response was most famously put into words by Rober Oppenheimer when, after the detonation of the first atomic bomb, he quoted the Bhagavad Gita: “I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

    This duality is not surprising given what we know about religious symbols generally. Drawing on sociologist Emile Durkheim, Cox noted that sacred symbols “are characterized by a high degree of power and of ambiguity. They arouse dread and gratitude, terror and rapture. The more central and powerful a symbol is for a culture the more vivid the ambiguity becomes.” The symbolism of technology shares this interplay between power and ambiguity. Our most powerful technologies both promise salvation and threaten destruction…

    Glass has appeared at a moment already fraught with anxiety about privacy, and that was the case even before recent revelations about the extent and ubiquity of NSA surveillance. In other words, just when the fear of being watched, monitored, or otherwise documented has swelled, along comes a new technology in the shape of glasses, our most recognizable ocular technology, that aptly serves as an iconic representation of those fears. If our phones and browsers are windows into our lives, Glass threatens to make our gaze and the gaze of the watchers one and the same.

    But remember the dual nature of potent symbols: we have other fears to which Glass may present itself as a remedy. We fear missing out on what transpires online, and Glass promises to bring the Internet right in front of our eyes so we will never have to miss anything again. We fear experiences may pass by without our documenting them, and Glass promises the power to document our experience pervasively. If we fear being watched, Glass at least allows us to feel as if we can join the watchers. And behind these particular fears are more primal, longstanding fears: the fear of loneliness and isolation, the fear of death, the fear of insecurity and vulnerability. Glass answers to these as well…

     Glass is not quite an implant, but something about its proximity to the body or about how it promises to fade from view and become the interface through which our consciousness experiences reality … something about it suggests the blurring of the line between human and machine. Perhaps that is the greatest fear and highest aspiration of our age. The fears of those who would preserve humanity as they know it, and the aspirations of those who are prepared, as they see it, to trascend humanity are embodied in Glass…

    With Glass, the fear is not that we will blow up the world or unleash a global catastrophe. It is that we will simply innovate the humanity out of ourselves. Remembering how the story turned out, we might put the temptation this way: If we will place Glass before our eyes, they will be opened, and we will become as gods.

    Of course, reading the symbolism of technology is not quite like reading palms or tea leaves. The symbols necessitate no particular future in themselves. But they are cultural indicators and as such they reveal something about us, and that is valuable enough.

    tags: MichaelSacasas technology future progress culture anxiety mystery awe fear religion symbol aviation immortality HarveyCox RobertOppenheimer HenryAdams DavidNye LeoMarx Google GoogleGlass privacy surveillance identity

  • tags: Kiribati Kiritimati ChristmasIsland PacificOcean nuclear 1950s 1960s FOOC

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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