Your “personal stock”

I don’t necessarily agree with everything said in the following, but I stumbled upon this question in Quora, which was by pure chance that I didn’t instantly delete the newsletter from my email, and found it refreshingly plain, yet (mostly) accurate. My reservations are on the part of social performance and skills of entertaining – i.e. playing the guitar – but I get the main idea. I suppose some of these aren’t interesting to me, but they would apply to someone far more successful than I. Either way… just sharing:

Q: What can I start doing now that will help me a lot in about five years?
I will appreciate any suggestion. You might want to know that I’m 23 years old and currently a physics student with large desire for progress, not only in my profession but also in all aspects of life.
A: Want to see your personal stock double or more in five years? Here’s the prescription.
We are all evaluated and judged in social and work settings all the time and usually in a brief instant. We are not judged on education. We are not judged on grades. We are not judged on IQ.

We are judged on skills, pretty much solely. People prefer the company of those who are physically handy and socially adept. Competence counts. In fact, people with high IQ or lots of schooling but low skill levels can be judged quite negatively.

  • Can you change a flat tire or swap out a dead car battery?
  • Can you pick up a guitar and entertain a room?
  • Are you handy at crafts?

Even more important are the social skills, particularly…

  • Are you an excellent listener?
  • Can you instantly make people at ease in your presence?
  • Can you control the atmosphere in a room, making it light or serious as appropriate?
  • Do you have moral courage? Are you willing to say and do the necessary in any circumstance rather than shrink back?

Other social skills are important…

  • Can you speak from the heart?
  • Are you free from glib, gratuitous, offensive and non-productive remarks?
  • Can you compete when necessary, collaborate when necessary?

The social graces are also important…

  • Can you dance? play the piano? sing? tell rousing stories? etc.

There are bonus points for gender cross-over skills. When a woman can…

  • Use common tools competently.
  • Not shrink in the company of males.
  • Roll up her sleeves and do hard physical work when necessary.

Or a man can…

  • Comfort an upset child.
  • Cook, sew, do laundry.
  • Feel at home in the company of women.

Such cross-over skills indicate androgyny, or high skills across the masculine and feminine range. The highest slots in society are usually home to the androgynous.

Figure out the skills you’d like to possess. Take classes. Read books. Practice every day. Push yourself. Build on your strengths and eliminate your weaknesses. It’s fun, a great way to make friends, and your stock will rise quickly.


Getting Political

Oh look, an update! Fight For The Future Blog

Don’t worry, just for a little bit… only while I have to!
For the record, I generally hate politics and think of it as a system incongruent with our ideals, but almost entirely unresponsive in practice. I feel entirely ineffective as a citizen, and this entire post is most likely going to be useless, but when something has a great enough emotional weight it will move anyone to try what they believe to be impossible.

Net Neutrality = The Internet as you probably think of it right now

It’s important to me to feel that I will always have full access to any corner of the internet. I also don’t like bills, but that’s another story.

What, in broad strokes, the FCC and Internet Service Providers (ISP) are doing:

  • Chopping up the internet website by website, based on demand
    • i.e. Netflix > Yahoo
  • Popular sites become an extra commodity – even if you pay for the service itself
    • i.e. Buying a cable sports/movie “package” for TV
  • Less popular sites, like this one that actually provide a voice for people, will trickle in at much slower speeds.
  • Don’t forget that “popular” is now decided by your provider (Comcast, Verizon, etc) and American politics shows that those with more money are also closer to politics. So, despite sounding like a conspiracy theory, a risk of complete or partial (slow/reduced access) censorship is very real. China has been doing this for years. It’s called the Great Firewall of China by the outside world. Google it while you can.

I’m not suggesting that my site is important – by any means – but the lack of hierarchy, the freedom of choice, the delight of discovery, whatever you want to call it, is dependent on a blind or neutral connection to all of the websites in the world: Net Neutrality.

We have lost this battle. The United States does not legally require your service providers to be neutral with regards to the internet content they serve you. To finish off the saying… we haven’t lost the war.

Illustrated Explanation of Net Neutrality

This video does a much better job than I did:

Related petitions

Fight For the Future: Tell the FCC we need Net Neutrality Remove Tom Wheeler from his position as FCC Chairman


Once we have a firm practice of compassion our state of mind becomes stronger which leads to inner peace, giving rise to self-confidence, which reduces fear. This makes for constructive members of the community. Self-centredness on the other hand leads to distance, suspicion, mistrust and loneliness, with unhappiness as the result.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama



Algae Blooms from Space, Estonia

Mapbox + NASA Satellite

From the Mapbox blog:
This algae, a type of cyanobacteria, can be found in almost every terrestrial and aquatic habitat – but with the right conditions can bloom and be seen from space as blue-green patches that swirl following surface currents. Lines cutting across the image are the traces of ships.

Check out the Mapbox blog for full details and source.


Quality handouts

One thing I’ve found unique to New York (being from the midwest originally), is the occasional street donation of things left behind by people moving. People move so often in this city, that you’re bound to find a good table, fan, or even some clothes and books. Today I came home to see a stack of hardcover books outside my apartment – all in excellent condition – and I couldn’t help but grab four of them!

Thank you, anonymous.

Yours truly,