I agree with the description on the video, emphasis mine:
In 2005, author David Foster Wallace was asked to give the commencement address to the 2005 graduating class of Kenyon College. However, the resulting speech didn’t become widely known until 3 years later, after his tragic death. It is, without a doubt, some of the best life advice we’ve ever come across, and perhaps the most simple and elegant explanation of the real value of education.
The video’s nice, but it’s the speech that makes me care about it. Because as it says above, pretty much the best life advice.
(via Stellar’s Interesting)
There’s much to like in this piece, but the most memorable bit was this fact I’d not known. It does seem to explain quite a lot of the adds I see though:
What’s the best way to predict whether an advertisement increases sales or not? The marketing field has searched for the answer to this question for decades. … Of all the measures, “likability” was the surprise winner.
Really interesting story from Brendan Koerner in Wired about a speaker installer whose side business in putting secret compartments into vehicles landed him in jail. The heart of the issue in the case:
Alfred Anaya’s case makes clear that the government rejects [the “technology is morally neutral”] worldview. The technically savvy are on notice that they must be very careful about whom they deal with, since calculated ignorance of illegal activity is not an acceptable excuse. But at what point does a failure to be nosy edge into criminal conduct? In light of what happened to Anaya, that question is nearly impossible to answer.
This is one of those points that’s obvious once stated but rarely considered. The Heteconomist breaks down exactly why the kind of job you want to have is precisely the opposite of the kind of job an employer wants to offer.
Satisfying jobs – let’s call them ‘good jobs’ – will generally be ones where learning occurs at a steady pace more or less indefinitely, probably as part of a defined career path. Bosses would prefer not to offer these, and will always be looking for ways to deskill roles that, for now at least, need to allow workers greater autonomy, ingenuity, and scope for on-the-job learning.
(via Marginal Revolution)
Been meaning to post this for a while: a simple sweet video that makes me really glad I pay attention to Ze Frank.
An interesting list: the least commonly visited countries in the world. The thing that elevates it beyond mere trivia is that they list the reasons no one goes, the reasons people might want to go, and other interesting details about the counties.
There’s a lot of good stuff in this essay, but this bit most resonated with me:
I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.
UPDATE (04/05/13): Just came across the magnificent Onion treatment.
A fun little visualization of the vastness of space. Both technologically and practically it’s pretty neat.
A fun little map.
I note this more for its contrarianism than for its validity, but this was truly an unconsidered point in my mind.
But if you want to minimise animal suffering and promote more sustainable agriculture, adopting a vegetarian diet might be the worst possible thing you could do.
The primary means by which this idea is made reasonable:
Published figures suggest that, in Australia, producing wheat and other grains results in:
- at least 25 times more sentient animals being killed per kilogram of useable protein
- more environmental damage, and
- a great deal more animal cruelty than does farming red meat.
(via Marginal Revolution)
A nicely long article about the weakness of the promotion of self-esteem and an introduction of a thoroughly sensible alternative.
As I’ve defined it, self-compassion entails three core components. First, it requires self-kindness, that we be gentle and understanding with ourselves rather than harshly critical and judgmental. Second, it requires recognition of our common humanity, feeling connected with others in the experience of life rather than feeling isolated and alienated by our suffering. Third, it requires mindfulness—that we hold our experience in balanced awareness, rather than ignoring our pain or exaggerating it. We must achieve and combine these three essential elements in order to be truly self-compassionate.
I got this from Kottke, who also gives the best possible description:
NASA astronaut Sunita Williams, who has spent almost a year in space, gives us a 25-minute tour of the International Space Station. AKA the nerdiest episode of MTV Cribs.
I have to add: space does crazy things to long hair, and being able to effortlessly move in three dimensions seems to make navigation a bit harder.
This is an amazing looking sport with a terrible name, but do watch the video. It’s acrobatic and high-flying and otherworldly.
(via Stellar’s Interesting)
In a very brief essay Derek Sivers lays out the case for truly owning everything you can about your life and treating it as your responsibility.
It’s worth saying that it’s easy to (mis)understand Sivers’s thesis as damaging and destructive. But read as intended, there’s a lot of wisdom and power in the perspective.
XKCD may be a poorly-drawn stick-figure webcomic, but this chart — posted as a strip — is damn great. A breakdown of the ideological history of both houses of Congress throughout the over 200 years they’ve existed. It’s not exactly deep or rich history, but it’s both pretty and informative.
Gavin Francis’s piece on his experience being the only doctor in all of Antartica touches elegantly on the increasingly specialization and safety that have become so crucial and prominent to progress in the last hundred years that frequently forget about them.
I asked around Halley, trying to understand how scientists there were unravelling the mysteries of Antarctica. I wanted to find a way to contribute the way my predecessors did. Halley concentrates on atmospheric science, with big-budget projects examining the solar wind, clean air chemistry, the ozone hole, the earth’s magnetic field. But my medical training towards the end of the twentieth century had been so narrow there was little that I could add. It is not only medicine that has become super-specialised over the last hundred years; the sciences have done the same.
(via The Browser)
I’d heard these names a few times, but couldn’t have really told you what they meant. Elisabeth Sifton and Fritz Stern do a good job explaining what they did, but I’ll go ahead and take their concluding paragraph to tell you why you should care:
One truth we can affirm: Hitler had no greater, more courageous, and more admirable enemies than Hans von Dohnanyi and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Both men and those closest to them deserve to be remembered and honored. Dohnanyi summed up their work and spirit with apt simplicity when he said that they were “on the path that a decent person inevitably takes.” So few traveled that path—anywhere.
I’ve never heard of this guy before, and his talk doesn’t seem super scientifically rigorous, but Shawn Achor’s TEDx talk is both inspiring and entertaining. It’s a great example of why people will say they love TED talks.