Happiness!

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We all want to be happy. But how do we do it? Arthur Brooks offers some amazing advice in his lead NYT article, “Love People, Not Pleasure.” Here’s how he begins:

ABD AL-RAHMAN III was an emir and caliph of Córdoba in 10th-century Spain. He was an absolute ruler who lived in complete luxury. Here’s how he assessed his life:

I have now reigned above 50 years in victory or peace; beloved by my subjects, dreaded by my enemies, and respected by my allies. Riches and honors, power and pleasure, have waited on my call, nor does any earthly blessing appear to have been wanting to my felicity.”

Fame, riches and pleasure beyond imagination. Sound great? He went on to write:

I have diligently numbered the days of pure and genuine happiness which have fallen to my lot: They amount to 14.”

But there is more – MUCH MORE – in this astoundingly-useful article full of practical advice we all can use. Some highlights:

This is one of the cruelest ironies in life. I work in Washington, right in the middle of intensely public political battles. Bar none, the unhappiest people I have ever met are those most dedicated to their own self-aggrandizement — the pundits, the TV loudmouths, the media know-it-alls. They build themselves up and promote their images, but feel awful most of the time.

That’s the paradox of fame. Just like drugs and alcohol, once you become addicted, you can’t live without it. But you can’t live with it, either. Celebrities have described fame like being “an animal in a cage; a toy in a shop window; a Barbie doll; a public facade; a clay figure; or, that guy on TV,” according to research by the psychologist Donna Rockwell. Yet they can’t give it up.

Read the entire article here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/20/opinion/sunday/arthur-c-brooks-love-people-not-pleasure.html?module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3Ar%2C%7B%221%22%3A%22RI%3A5%22%7D

The Lone Genius?

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The idea of the “lone genius” has become something of an urban legend especially as it involves innovation. But Joshua Wolf Shenk challenges that in his new book, Powers of Two. Here is an excerpt from the New York Times review of his book.

The pair is a precious unit — private, generative, even holy. We can explore a couple’s inner workings if we have an invitation to do so. Otherwise, we must use any available external means: letters in archives, revealing anecdotes, loose-lipped quips in interviews. In order to understand creativity, we must learn from couples, Joshua Wolf Shenk argues in his new book, “Powers of Two.” Defying the myth of the lone genius, he makes the case that the chemistry of creative pairs — of people, of groups — forms the primary (albeit frequently hidden) structural basis of innovation.

Pairs don’t often let us pry them apart, looking to see who contributed what. John Lennon wrote what would become “Strawberry Fields Forever” and Paul McCartney came up with “Penny Lane” as a rejoinder, yet their music is credited to both of them, written “eyeball to eyeball,” as Lennon put it, or “like mirrors” in McCartney’s view. Neal Brennan and Dave Chappelle have long agreed to keep private who wrote what in their comic sketches. “People always ask Ulay and me the same questions,” the artist Marina Abramovic told Shenk about her former partner. “ ‘Whose idea was it?’ or ‘How was this done?’ . . . But we never specify. Everything was interrelated and interdependent.” The daughter of Marie and Pierre Curie said that her parents’ work was a fused endeavor. It’s nearly impossible to distinguish their contributions by looking at their laboratory notebooks, where handwriting by each covers the pages. Shenk’s “Powers of Two” is a rare glimpse into the private realms of such duos. He writes with his face “pressed up against the glass” of paired figures from the present and the past — adding the likes of Steve Jobs and Steve ­Wozniak, ­Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. ­Tolkien to the pairs mentioned above.

Read more of this review here:

 

And, read more about his provocative theory here in his article: “The End of Genius.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/20/opinion/sunday/the-end-of-genius.html?module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3Ar%2C%7B%221%22%3A%22RI%3A5%22%7D

Who Rules the Tech Economy?

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Where will technology flourish tomorrow? Michael Malone tells us where in his hard-hitting WSJ piece: “Why Silicon Valley Will Continue to Rule the Tech Economy.”

Silicon Valley, especially its San Francisco wing, is richer and more powerful than ever. Yet there are growing murmurs—underscored by plateauing new-jobs numbers and housing prices, street protests in San Francisco over the new ‘plutocrats,’ the lack of exciting new products and a decline of early-stage new investments—that Silicon Valley has finally peaked and begun the downhill slide to irrelevance.

Slide? Perhaps. The Valley has always been characterized by a four-year boom-bust cycle, and the electronics industry is overdue for such a downturn. Yet there is very good reason to believe that not only will the Valley return bigger and stronger than ever, but that it will further consolidate its position against all comers as the World’s High Tech Capital.

Read more here on why:

http://online.wsj.com/articles/michael-malone-why-silicon-valley-will-continue-to-rule-the-tech-economy-1408747795?KEYWORDS=Michael+S+Malone

Promoting Your Writing – Gently

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With the explosion of e-publishing and the need for writers to help promote their own work, all writers – first-timers and best-selling pros face the ongoing dilemma of promoting their work without being shrill about it. But much self-promotion on social media seems less about utility and effective advertising and more about ego sustenance. How do you avoid this pitfall?

In April, Rebecca Makkai, a fiction writer, published a satirical piece on the blog for the literary magazine Ploughshares titled “Writers You Want to Punch in the Face(book).” In it, she depicted the Facebook posts of a fictional writer, Todd Manly-Krauss, who is “the world’s most irritating writer.” Teddy Wayne offers some useful tips for all of us in his “Of Myself I Sing” NYT piece.

Read more here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/24/fashion/of-myself-i-sing.html?module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3Aw%2C%7B%221%22%3A%22RI%3A5%22%7D&_r=0

Hitting the Gym

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Who hasn’t heard – or doesn’t suffer from the lament “No time to hit the gym?” No worries: Recent studies have found that when it comes to exercise, intensity matters more than duration. Even if you have just 15 minutes to spare, you can still squeeze in an effective workout pretty much anywhere that’s convenient—the office, the airport or your kitchen.

This Wall Street Journal article walks you through the process of finding the right time and the right place to get your exercise in:

http://online.wsj.com/articles/fitness-apps-for-exercising-in-15-minutes-or-less-1409353121?KEYWORDS=workouts+for+the+overworked

ISIS and the New Caliphate

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CNA Strategic Studies press just released Reviving the Caliphate: Fad, or the Future? < http://www.cna.org/research/2014/reviving-caliphate by Julia McQuaid.

This paper examines the concept of restoring the caliphate in modern times, a notion that some extremist groups have supported in recent years. It focuses on the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant’s declaration of a caliphate in Iraq and Syria in June 2014 and discusses the potential ramifications of this action on the region, the global jihadi movement, and U.S. interests in the broader Muslim world.

When we created the high Concept for Out of the Ashes several years ago we knew we wanted the focus of the story to be in the Middle East – the Greater Levant. This CNA study confirms the churn we anticipated would persist as the book hit the streets in May of this year.

The Wired World

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The Internet as we know it has only been around for a generation.  Pretty much everyone in the industrialized world takes the Web for granted by now, as it has become a ubiquitous component of business, government, and our social lives.  Yet, most of us probably don’t give much thought to the 77 undersea fiber optic cables spanning nearly a million kilometers that carry 99% of the world’s communications and data. Fortunately, one website has done the service of providing not only an amazing visualization of this vital, yet vulnerable infrastructure, but tied its importance to naval history and military operations.  Even the Air Force’s UAV operations rely on undersea cables to reduce the latency inherent in satellite networks. Built Visible’s Messages in the Deep page serves as a reminder that our daily lives remain inextricably linked to the oceans. (for even more details, see Submarine Cable Map). This overlooked aspect of sea power facilitates global commerce today much as surface shipping has done for centuries.

Who Do You Chase?

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You can learn a lot from watching awards ceremonies. For my money, Matthew McConaughey’s acceptance speech at the Oscar’s is for the ages. Why, here’s what we all can learn.

You should absolutely be proud of your achievements. However, unless you’re content with that being the capstone of your life, there’s a time to celebrate and a time to get busy again.

Here are three ways to get past “I Made It” mode when you succeed:

  1. Don’t say those three words. Instead, be grateful. Understand that you, more than likely, did not succeed on your own. I know I didn’t. There were many people that were divinely positioned in my life during my toughest moments to help me get back on my feet and make small steps to turn my life around. Celebrate with the people who helped you along the way and share your genuine appreciation for their time, support and sacrifices.
  2. Understand you have a target on your back now. Don’t get big-headed. Once the news is out about your great achievement, you are no longer “underground”. People know about you and what you’re doing, even though you don’t know them. Don’t let all the new (and extra) attention get to your head, for it may one day catch you offguard and cause you to lose what you worked so hard for. If you don’t believe me, ask the Miami Heat after winning the championship last year. Who won the NBA championship THIS year?
  3. Humble yourself to know you have MORE work to do. Begin again. Oftentimes, once we set a goal, we become focused on reaching it. After achieving that big promotion, set yourself another challenging goal to keep you grounded and driven to do even better than before. If you need a best practice, follow Matthew McConaughey’s example during his 2014 Oscars acceptance speech:

An excerpt:

And to my hero, that’s who I chase. Now, when I was 15 years old, I had a very important person in my life come to me and say, “Who’s your hero?” And I said, “I don’t know, I’ve got to think about that. Give me a couple of weeks.” I come back two weeks later; this person comes up and says, “Who’s your hero?” I said, “I thought about it. It’s me in 10 years.” So I turned 25. Ten years later, that same person comes to me and says, “So, are you a hero?” And I was like, “Not even close! No, no no!” She said, “Why?” I said, “Because my hero’s me at 35.”

So you see every day, every week, every month, and every year of my life, my hero’s always ten years away. I’m never going to be my hero. I’m not going to attain that. I know I’m not. And that’s just fine with me, because that keeps me with somebody to keep on chasing. — Matthew McConaughey

Technology Builds Fortunes

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The great growth of fortunes in recent decades is not a sinister development. Instead it is simply the inevitable result of an extraordinary technological innovation, the microprocessor, which Intel INTC in Your Value Your Change Short position brought to market in 1971. Seven of the 10 largest fortunes in America today were built on this technology, as have been countless smaller ones. These new fortunes unavoidably result in wealth being more concentrated at the top.

But no one is poorer because Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, et al., are so much richer. These new fortunes came into existence only because the public wanted the products and services—and lower prices—that the microprocessor made possible. Anyone who has found his way home thanks to a GPS device or has contacted a child thanks to a cellphone appreciates the awesome power of the microprocessor. All of our lives have been enhanced and enriched by the technology.

Read More Here…

The Computer Language for Everyman

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A bit over fifty years ago, in the spring of 1964, in the basement of College Hall at Dartmouth College, the world of computing changed forever. Professor John Kemeny, then the chairman of the mathematics department at Dartmouth and later its president, and Mike Busch, a Dartmouth sophomore, typed “RUN” on a pair of computer terminals to execute two programs on a single industrial-sized General Electric “mainframe” computer. The programs were written in Basic (Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code), a fledgling computer language designed for the everyman, by Prof. Kemeny, Professor Tom Kurtz and a team of eager students.

Back then, using a computer was almost exclusively the privilege of a select minority of scientists and engineers who were conversant in the early languages of assembly code and Fortran. Prof. Kemeny, who had been a programmer on the Manhattan Project for Richard Feynman and an assistant to Albert Einstein, and Prof. Kurtz, a former student of the computing pioneer John Tukey, saw great potential in computers for advancing teaching and research, but they realized that this would require a whole new level of accessibility.

Read More Here…