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Alexandra Riecke-Gonzales
11,284 followers -
Social Media Strategist and Project Manager at Creative Company | Student
Social Media Strategist and Project Manager at Creative Company | Student

11,284 followers
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Alexandra's posts

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Oh look, it's #NationalDogDay  

Guess what that means?! Excuse for dog pictures :D :D :D The #cattledog  is Tigger (deaf and partially blind). The #Malamute  Husky mix is King (he's gained quite a few pounds since that picture). The #goldenretriever  is Sandy. And the #pitbull  is Rex.
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2015-08-26
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Getting stuck on the decision, is a decision

+David Amerland writes in this week's #sundayread about something that I struggle with constantly ... Choices.

"Whether we like it or not we are in a world where no choice we make is easy and no action we undertake is lost."

Each choice - or non choice - moves us forward

Which means that each choice is important. Obviously, some more important than others, but I try to not let myself slip into that mentality ... Because sometimes, it's those very small, seemingly insignificant choices that change everything. I mean think about some of the biggest moments in your life. Which choice did you make that started that spiral of events? Did you choose a new coffee shop one day, which lead you to meet the love of your life? Or maybe you chose to strike up a conversation with someone who ended up offering you your dream job? Or, if you're me, did you happen to speak to a friend one day who happened to purchase an iPod from someone who happened to also be trying to re-home the family Golden Retriever because they happen to be moving to Austria because her husband happened to get a job there?

Consider choices carefully ... But I warn you now...

There's a dangerous aspect to careful decisions, and that's that if you think too hard about them, you'll end up in indecision. If you're going to consider your choices carefully then you have to embrace one more aspect of that practice: Indecision is decision. So as you make your mental pro/con list, make sure you make a list for indecision as well. That way, you always move forward on your terms ... And you aren't simply pushed forward by a fear of the responsibility of taking the step yourself.
The Safety Net We Need

When I was at school I read Robert Bolt’s (https://goo.gl/XpBrQD) play, A Man For All Seasons (https://goo.gl/BPnl3V) which, in retrospect, suddenly seems more apt than ever in our times: https://goo.gl/N3J5VM. In it a particular dialogue between Sir Thomas More (https://goo.gl/NWEXJD) and a young lawyer captured my attention: https://goo.gl/eHkFLG to the point that I have always remembered it and frequently thought about it.

Beyond the obvious logic of the argument that no one should be above the law the subtext of More’s dialogue on that particular occasion is that nothing takes place in a vacuum. If everything has an effect it goes to reason that some of the effects of our actions are unforeseeable (https://goo.gl/ekMgTE) which is why we try to place reasonable boundaries in our behavior.

Unintended consequences, of course, are not just limited to lawyers, playwrights or governments. They are pretty much everywhere, including fields where innovation takes place: https://goo.gl/oZYvCu. Knowing that our actions can have far-reaching effects doesn’t make us any less likely to impact the world it seems: https://goo.gl/HlEZYy nor do we often take it into account when making public policy (https://goo.gl/S7VpKB). We don’t even take it into account when it comes to other species: https://goo.gl/6wx5VV or technology like Google Maps: https://goo.gl/jpuhLz.

Whether we talk about the vision of two economic systems like Capitalism and Socialism (https://goo.gl/IuYhKs) or Peacekeeping (https://goo.gl/XJ0WLx) or even Brexit (https://goo.gl/BasDmY) the real lesson is that everything that occurs becomes a layer upon which other things will be built and other events will happen: https://goo.gl/d0hvDH.

The interesting quandary facing us now is that the moment we take all this into account we run the risk of either making the choices that guide some of our biggest and most important actions so slowly that they become redundant and useless or running through the many tendrils of the consequences of our potential actions so exhaustively that we never get anything done.

The other paradox is that we may really have no free though, as Peter Voss (https://goo.gl/NQFIj3) suggests, this may not necessarily mean that everything is also predetermined and predictable either: https://goo.gl/fIVN4k. How we square these two particularly difficult ‘circles’ is perhaps shown by two examples of our approach to thorny problems. The first one is automation, AI and robots where, inevitably, we realize that we are playing with fire that may burn us: https://goo.gl/0zZiST.

We try to make sure it doesn’t by applying a moral compass (not unlike Thomas More’s approach to his predicament which, unfortunately in his case led to his death) - https://goo.gl/NvvwEg. It seems that in a world where digital makes so many things possible, we have to relearn how to apply moral codes to what we can do: https://goo.gl/41hnhp.

The second approach is even less complex and even more energy intensive and even more intentional: https://goo.gl/sGDGf. Empathy and the willingness to build a comprehensive network of diverse relationships: https://goo.gl/HLt6Uh.

Both of these create a far from fool-proof safety net that at least allows us to act with the sense that our actions are guided by temperance and wisdom as opposed to blind self-interest and self righteousness. Whether we like it or not we are in a world where no choice we make is easy and no action we undertake is lost.

If we do not use our smarts to be clever in what we do so we decrease the long-term harm of our actions we shall reap whirlwinds the kind of which quite possibly might undo us. As in most cases throughout our history, the solution is within our grasp. We just need to grasp it.

Hopefully you’ve made the right choices today and the coffee is brewing, the croissants, cookies, donuts and chocolate cake are at hand and you’re ready to dive deep into each link and give your little grey cells a hefty dose of a mental workout. Have an awesome Sunday wherever you are.









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This is cool ... For all naysayers: They say association in the actual research, not cause or effect.
It's really nice to be able to share good news for once. A new study in JAMA Pediatrics studied the effect of same-sex marriage laws on teen suicide rates. They looked at 32 different US states which changed their laws at different times, as a way of disentangling this effect from other effects.

The net result? Legalizing same-sex marriage leads to a 7% overall drop in teen suicide attempts, and a 14% drop among LGBT teens.

It turns out that being publicly told that you're an accepted member of society and not a pariah does make a difference in people's lives, especially teenagers. Who woulda thunk?

But the upshot of this is: All of you who worked on this, in one way or another? You just saved some lives. Well done.

The article itself is available online: http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/2604258

(NB: For clarity, that's a 7% drop in the rate, not a seven percentage point drop drop. We should be so lucky as to have any one thing eliminate seven percentage points. As a baseline, a weighted 8.6% of all high school students, and 28.5% of LGBT high school students, attempted suicide in the year before same-sex marriage legalization. Suicide is the second most common cause of death among people aged 15-24 in the US.

For those who want technical notes: The paper seems to have done a very careful job on statistics, testing a wide variety of alternate hypotheses and ruling them out from the data. One test worth calling out: the two-year leading indicator (suicide rates two years prior to law changes) was not correlated to suicide rates, indicating that this was not triggered by general changes in the state which were also leading to this; the two-year trailing indicator (two years after), however, was correlated, with the same correlation as the immediate future, indicating a lasting effect rather than a one-off.)

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"But I want candy now dad"
"It's your choice Alex. You can have the candy now but that means you won't have the money saved to get something better later."

Playing mind games with a 7 year old

That's how old I was when my dad helped me open my first ever savings account. From then on any money I was gifted or earned he let me decide what to do with: save it for later or spend it on the now. And every time I made that decision I thought of my dad giving me my options ... Which he clearly framed to encourage me to save rather than spend.

I wasn't a saver or a spender... And then 2008 happened

I didn't mean to heavily one way or the other on saving or spending. Growing up I did a combination of the two so that by the time I was 18 I had a healthy savings for an 18 year-old but it could've been fatter. Then, when 2008 hit (just my luck the year I graduated high school), my view of that balance changed. Watching my dad's company downsize, seeing friend's parents suddenly struggle to make ends meet, seeing foreclosure after foreclosure ... And yet throughout that hard time I got to go to college because my parents had saved me a college fund. And during that time I was still able to fly home for Christmas and we still had a Christmas because my parents had budgeted for crisis. And to this day my parents can still afford to live on Maui, one of the more expensive places to live globally. Seeing all of that happen at the age of 18 ... That definitely changes your perspective on saving.

Omg just come to the movies!

I can't tell you how many times I've heard that. Or "just get the dress! It's only $60!" It amazes me how complacent my generation seems to have gotten about the 2008 stock market crash. How little they're saving and how comfortable they are living paycheck to paycheck so that even when they have a slightly abnormal issue with their car they're struggling to find the cash. It amazes me until I remember that what my dad has taught me about saving (and diversifying) is actually quite abnormal ... And for others my age maybe they thought the crash was just fluke, whereas I've been taught it's a reality that could very well, and probably will, happen again.

+David Amerland​ writes it today's #sundayread

"Despite our hardwiring we are always capable of acting against our own self-interest by taking a much more narrow approach. We can, as an example, smoke an entire pack of cigarettes, drink a bottle of wine in one sitting or eat an entire chocolate cake because these acts activate the intrinsic reward system in our brains."

The question, though, that raises for me is ... By being so frugal with my money am I too, in some backwards way, acting against my own self interest? Am I so focused on not giving in to the intrinsic reward system that I'm actually hurting myself by not living in the now? Just because the market will crash again doesn't mean it'll happen in my lifetime ... But if it does, I'm one of few in my generation prepared to get through it without giving up my lifestyle, my home, and living in an uncertainty that I don't see an end to ... But is my preparation in my self-interest or is it feeding a fear that's holding me back in life? I'm probably just over thinking it ;)
Getting Along

“Can we get along?” asked Rodney King (https://goo.gl/sGsh4r) of Los Angeles rioters back in 1992. Thanks to the unfortunate incident in which he experienced unjustified levels of violence he perhaps had a unique perspective on the fortitude it takes to get along not just with those around you but with those you feel have somehow wronged you.

Dealing with toxic people, learning to get past perceived slights requires a healthy sense of self-awareness (https://goo.gl/nTbI2k) and a sound emotional base, at individual level. Most people, of course, tend to avoid conflict. But if we’ve learnt anything over extensive interactions in G+ it’s that healthy questioning can frequently lead to a greater degree of honesty than simply blindly accepting something simply because someone has said it: https://goo.gl/05t6ji.

The problem with being questioned is that frequently it feels like an attack which means that a response may have to feed into a win/lose scenario when, actually, this is not the case: https://goo.gl/Fw8ZD0. It helps when we have a broad enough perspective to understand that even when we come up against individuals or corporations that appear to be evil, they are reacting to the environmental parameters they find themselves in: https://goo.gl/lw1i0x.

When even the Klingons can join the Federation (https://goo.gl/aB76eM) it would seem that most relationships can be reduced to a transactional root (https://goo.gl/UApgqh) where perceived self-gain is the motive power that drives us forward. That, of course, presents a narrow point of view. One that doesn’t always take into account trust (https://goo.gl/kVZdxx) which itself is part of a much broader, equation that’s written in our behavior.

If we are wired to trust (https://goo.gl/L344rq) and have also evolved complex, knowledge-based strategies for apportioning it (https://goo.gl/QE8TJO) is it fair to say that self-gain or at least self-interest does not immediately come into that picture? The theory of Transactional Analysis (https://goo.gl/HCvEWV) suggests that all behavior is motivated by self-gain but the parameters through which that is expressed can often be broad enough to include selflessness and altruism (https://goo.gl/ABHKLe).

The picture that emerges appears to be complicated, particularly when we attempt to include all human behavior in it but as I wrote in The Tribe That Discovered Trust (https://goo.gl/OpHlN2) we choose to trust for the same reasons we choose to cooperate (https://goo.gl/kfhQDz) – it provides a viable shortcut to energy expenditure and creates a more optimized existence for us, as individuals. By extension the principle is the same where companies, organization and countries are concerned.

It would appear we are as hardwired to trust (https://goo.gl/YaelRC) as we are hardwired to cooperate, presumably because those ancestors of ours who did neither, didn’t survive long enough in the world to pass on their genes. Admittedly our societies sprung from less enlightened models and we still hark back to them at times (https://goo.gl/rGHi). Trusting and cooperating take more time, more thinking, and a greater degree of engagement than a rules-based, tit-for-tat mutually assured destruction type of relationship. But that’s exactly what also makes them worth so much more.

Despite our hardwiring we are always capable of acting against our own self-interest by taking a much more narrow approach. We can, as an example, smoke an entire pack of cigarettes, drink a bottle of wine in one sitting or eat an entire chocolate cake because these acts activate the intrinsic reward system in our brains. The fact that all of these actions are usually filed under “self-destructive behavior” suggests that at least where they are concerned we know what’s good and what’s bad for us.

We still have to learn to be better: https://goo.gl/9N3asy. Evolution may have shaped us to get along (https://goo.gl/Pg1EKG) but we still need to consciously make the choices that lead us to that point. Having precious few instincts we are the products of our own conscious and unconscious actions (https://goo.gl/JjcvXs). That makes us responsible for a whole lot more than we actually think: https://goo.gl/R1jGCT. To get along we need to create the right reality for ourselves. We need to be the conscious architects of the world we want to live in and then help those around us, through our conduct, to construct their own reality. The areas where those realities overlap are the realities in which we can cooperate, co-create, co-produce and get along. That is something which will not just happen. We are the ones who will have to work to make it happen.

I hope you've done the right thing (again) and are fully equipped with plenty of coffee and cookies, donuts, croissants and chocolate cake. All the things, in sort, required to make this day feel special. Have an awesome Sunday, wherever you are.
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Don't think I've posted my newest family member here yet :)

Answers to the most common questions I get:
- Yes I realize I'm one person with 3 dogs
- His name is Sampson ... But he also responds to "hey!" "Sammie" and "Bubba"
- He's 5 months old
- He's a Saint Bernard
- Pretty sure he's a dry mouth
- All three pups are almost to the point where they've figured out their hierarchy (funny enough, my Saint Bernard is the lowest on the totem poll)
- He'll probably end up somewhere around 140 pounds (currently he feels about 70 pounds)

And it's not a question I get but I know he's as cute as they come :) He has the personality to match ;D
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2/15/17
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I'm right
No, I'm right.

That moment you realize there really isn't a "right" and "wrong..."

Is a tough moment. When you realize that everyone just thinks they're right based on what they think to be real simply because they haven't experienced or been told anything else. When you realize that those who think the world is a place to fear have been told or have experienced only fear ... That those who think life isn't hard haven't ever dealt with life's hardships ... And that moment when you realize that the moment you decide "this is how life is," you're further from the truth than you've ever been.

In some ways, children are closer than we'll ever be to understanding reality...

Think about how open they are to information. No preconceived notions about how things should be or how things are. No denial of new information because it doesn't fit what they believe to be true. Just utter amazement at what they see ... Such amazement in fact that they don't want to sleep because they fear missing out on something new. While my 6 month old nephew refuses sleep I envy the fact that he can. When we're young, sleep is something to resist for fear of missing information. When we're old, sleep is something we look forward to because we're so tired of parcing out the information in our day.

+David Amerland​ writes in today's #sundayread

"In a 1997 Berkeley lecture Bohm famously said: “Reality is what we take to be true. What we take to be true is what we believe. What we believe is based upon our perceptions. What we perceive depends on what we look for. What we look for depends on what we think. What we think depends on what we perceive. What we perceive determines what we believe. What we believe determines what we take to be true. What we take to be true is our reality.”

Wouldn't it be great if we could open ourselves back up to anything being true, rather than only those truths that fit our reality? Wouldn't it be great that those of us who see the world as a place to be feared could open themselves up to the truth that the world doesn't have to be feared? Wouldn't it be great if those of us who think life isn't hard could open themselves to the experience of hardship and the reward of overcoming it? Wouldn't it be great if those who have boxed in their truth experienced the possibilities without that box of safety?

Maybe it's possible...

Maybe it isn't. I don't know if we can ever go back to the open mind of a child... But I suppose I'm going to try.
The Message

Semantic search has allowed us to understand that the existence of something is predicated upon specific characteristics that are driven by its direct value to us: https://goo.gl/g81xJe and supported by independently verifiable attributes (https://goo.gl/SX8M9v) which create a largely undeniable reality.

The idea that perception creates reality seems such a flimsy edifice to built anything of lasting value on. It lays the door open to reality shifting and changing, it opens up the possibility of reality morphing and fragmenting, the solidity of a world based upon undeniable facts held hostage to ideological agendas and, even, nefarious plots.

David Bohm (https://goo.gl/Nkn5NP) who amongst other concepts helped us understand the value of ontology (another key concept in semantic search) - https://goo.gl/9QQZVs and the necessity of constant dialogue as opposed to absolutist reasoning (https://goo.gl/PZdjgH) in order to determine where the shifting boundaries of tolerance between peoples (and opposing views) lie and what, if anything, can be determined to be truly universal. (https://goo.gl/l7quMr).

In a 1997 Berkeley lecture Bohm famously said: “Reality is what we take to be true. What we take to be true is what we believe. What we believe is based upon our perceptions. What we perceive depends on what we look for. What we look for depends on what we think. What we think depends on what we perceive. What we perceive determines what we believe. What we believe determines what we take to be true. What we take to be true is our reality.” - https://goo.gl/8nDhi2.

Bohm’s concept of the role perception plays (https://goo.gl/xDuZHp) is key because according to Cultivation Theory (https://goo.gl/rWd7qU) the medium we spend most time in is the key architect of the reality we choose to create and then inhabit. The Mean World Syndrome (https://goo.gl/0BJsE6) springs right out of the Cultivation Theory and it suggests that those who have the means of controlling our consumption of a particular medium or are capable of reflecting a representational slice of its content can then guide us towards perceptions that are reflective of it, but evidently untrue.

When we need an entirely structured approach in order to determine the reality of just a single word: https://goo.gl/Tw3DzB it might seem hopeless to hope that we can apply anything more than a superficially created and probably self-serving filter to the world at large in order to perceive its reality: https://goo.gl/pV4Msd.

Cultivation Theory talks mostly about television but it can now be applied, equally well to the internet and its filter bubbles (https://goo.gl/qOk2J) and echo chambers (https://goo.gl/yVwNCA). Pariser who first talked about filter bubbles (https://goo.gl/BW9dx1) in an inevitably politicized article discusses their impact upon journalism and our perception of what’s true: https://goo.gl/IKHMZA and its effects on what we now really have to call the democratic experiment: https://goo.gl/19xjKS.

It is ironic that it was Solon (https://goo.gl/y2lXxY), an authoritarian ruler, whose dictates laid the groundwork for what we now call democracy: https://goo.gl/ncK68K. A few years back I took part in Paradigm Shift where +Alexandra Riecke-Gonzales, +John Ellis and I discussed Cultivation Theory and its development in the medium of the web: https://goo.gl/SOU7uV. In what is, in retrospect, a much more innocent approach, we believed that the world had changed irreversibly for the better.

It hasn’t, but neither has it got worse. We live in a time of great challenges and incredible potential marked by a hesitancy to move forwards because of fear of the unknown. That fear has always been there. It is a healthy response. It requires us to, once again as a species, choose to be brave. Bravery requires cooperation, compassion and empathy to manifest itself (https://goo.gl/IBxLix). It requires us to, once again, be resolute and mindful: https://goo.gl/lpx2Nr.

With all the digital tools at our disposal, it is not our fears that can hold us back, nor our perceived weaknesses. We are all afraid at some point just like we are all, individually, weak. It is only when we find the strength to overcome our reluctance to fully engage with other people and work to forge commonalities that can benefit us all that we can truly begin to become more than what we are. It doesn’t matter who our leaders are and it doesn’t matter how they got to be there. Today, now, the power resides with us. We just need to use it wisely.

I hope you’ve all been wise in your choices today which means the coffee pot is full to the brim and you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to donuts and cookies, croissants and chocolate cake. Have an awesome Sunday wherever you are. 
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"So he's your boyfriend?"
"No, I didn't say that."
"So you're just dating..."
"No, I wouldn't say that either."
"Then WTF are you guys?"
"People who are interested in spending time with each other and don't want to spend time, like that, with others."

Why not just take the label?

The conversation above is one I've had many times. I resist labels. Because I have come to learn that the minute we accept the label we forever combat the assumptions of that label that we don't fit. An example? I accept the label of female. Immediately you all, naturally, make assumptions about me that fit the social norms we've constructed ... Assumptions such as I like feminine activities like crafting or sewing or baking; and maybe you assume I enjoy more feminine colors like pink and purple; maybe you assume I'm naturally a care-taker and more compassionate. With labels, assumptions naturally follow. Some of which are accurate, while others are not.

What am I really avoiding? A box

With labels comes assumptions, which puts us in this box of being. Because I am labeled as female, I feel abnormal and sometimes even ashamed when I do or think things that don't fit that box of being. Like when I see babies and feel no real desire to hold them or talk baby-talk to them ... I feel ashamed and even wrong for not doing those things. When people ask about my plan for kids, I feel awkward and prepare myself for the "looks" I get when I say, "I'm not sure I want any..."

These labels, these words put us in these boxes we feel we must stay within. Because if we don't fit the labels, the words, then ... What do we fit?

+David Amerland writes in today's #sundayread "In its global dominance English has often regarded anything it doesn’t immediately understand with a certain air of disdain (https://goo.gl/1ZNv0g) finding it quaint and, perhaps, less worthy of inclusion in the language or even translation."

So rather than feel the disdain and unworthiness...

I just very carefully choose which labels, words, fit me. And when there isn't a word I think that fits or if I don't think that the label is close enough to who I am that I'm willing to combat the parts of that word that don't fit ... Then I just say, "I don't really know how to explain it ... I don't think there's a word for it." Though some may see this as uneducated (I mean, how could someone not describe themselves or their own relationship status?), I see it as letting myself develop my own path, my very own label, that produces a type of judgement I can handle.

Happy Sunday!
The Inexpressible Things We Feel

In Shibui (https://goo.gl/L3D5qo) practitioners reconcile opposites in an exquisite existential edge. Meraki means doing something not just with your hands and mind, but your soul (https://goo.gl/YqrqqM). The work itself becomes the conduit through which a fusion of internal self and the external world take place and something akin to Zen (https://goo.gl/6C5V87) occurs.

In music, Arabs, experience Tarab (https://goo.gl/1Pxrca) an existential understanding of the notes and the lyrics that transforms how they feel themselves in the world, while no one knows how to have uninhibited fun quite like the Portuguese with their notion of Desbunder (https://goo.gl/tv6b8I) which, in Brazil, has given rise to its own counterculture: https://goo.gl/e21OOe.

Despite the ability of the English language to provide subtle, nuanced descriptions and translations and its capacity to freely borrow words from other languages (https://goo.gl/IFALz5) and appropriate them: https://goo.gl/I2CCR2 there are still a great many words associated with particular states of being, feelings if you like, which English cannot adequately describe: https://goo.gl/d7rBG9.

These words that you won’t find in the English language: https://goo.gl/88fh58 are a signpost of limitations. A sign where the cultural differences between the speakers of one language and another become obvious. While language, most of us would agree, is there to describe the world and provide a utilitarian approach to description so we can all understand what it is we are seeing, its role as a channel for communicating the less substantial is less well understood: https://goo.gl/A6Fuut.

There is an interesting quandary revealed by lack of words in English that explain certain feelings. In the dynamic interface where we all assume that all languages do, more or less, the same thing: communicate facts about the world. We see, through the existence of untranslatable words the inherent suspicion and maybe even lack of trust from one people’s to another over things they cannot see and hold: https://goo.gl/EeTFla. Here, more than in any other facet of inter-cultural interaction, we see the true limits of tolerance and the clear boundaries raised by fear, however subliminal, of the unknown.

Would the English sense of satisfaction at having completed a difficult project somehow be altered by calling Yuan Bei a sense of complete and perfect accomplishment in Chinese? Would pining be any less real or accurate if we called it Sehnsucht? (https://goo.gl/nJuXPK). Beyond its utilitarian approach language plays a vastly deeper role in expressing the identity of those who speak it (https://goo.gl/ctWvgR). It encodes hopes, dreams and understanding. It provides a Point-of-View of the world that is as different for each peoples as it is for each individual.

It’s no accident that psychology is replete in untranslatable German concepts (https://goo.gl/S0oPVI). Its founder was looking at the human psyche through the eyes of 19th century Vienna (https://goo.gl/2pCO3). Yet the words of one culture to another are just like the words of one person to another: in their differences we find the value of the connection. We see the depth of more than one point of view being directed at what we call “reality”.

The Positive Lexicography Project (https://goo.gl/EeTFla) charts some of these depths to try and find the missing dimensions we’ve overlooked. In its global dominance English has often regarded anything it doesn’t immediately understand with a certain air of disdain (https://goo.gl/1ZNv0g) finding it quaint and, perhaps, less worthy of inclusion in the language or even translation. That’s the stuff we miss out on the most: https://goo.gl/zTsq9l.

Words, used correctly, can totally transform our lives (and minds) - https://goo.gl/rWsTSk. Language is, indeed, a “social technology” whose development and usage reveals as much about society as its does about human development as a whole: https://goo.gl/LTVBCr.

Restoring the power of words: https://goo.gl/dh7pyE is something that opens our minds to possibilities we hadn’t considered before: https://goo.gl/m4Q1U3. By being exposed to concepts we hadn’t quite considered we open up our minds to fresh possibilities that may remain closed to us: https://goo.gl/oZYG4E.

We can no longer afford to be bounded by one language or just one culture. It is only by broadening the boundaries of what is permissible to say that we can lift the veil on what is permissible to experience. When we do that the adventure of life and living is immeasurably enriched.

Words: Coffee. Donuts. Croissants. Cookies. Chocolate cake. You all know the power they hold this day. Have an awesome Sunday, wherever you are.

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The weight of decisions...

I am the definition of indecisive. Every decision I make feels like this monumental moment in my life where if I make the wrong decision the consequences could be something I can't live with. I mean, I even struggle when someone asks me where I want to eat to the point where I just resort to "Oh, I don't care. Whatever you want."

But I often forget the weight of my indecision...

Because as a friend reminded me last weekend, even indecision is ultimately a decision. So being indecisive doesn't mean I can avoid responsibility... Which it's pretty clear I'm trying to do. We have to remember, even inaction is action. Not choosing a restaurant still makes me responsible for the decision of the restaurant chosen. So if something happens at that restaurant I don't really get to say "well it wasn't my decision."

+David Amerland​ writes in today's #sundayread

"If that’s the case not only are we responsible for ourselves, our communities, the world and each other but we are also responsible, through the many tiny acts that affect bigger and bigger things, for the direction the world turns towards."

I don't know about you but that stresses me out a little lol But hey, at least we're in this together right?
The Butterfly Effect

The Butterfly effect (https://goo.gl/QcSdL5 ) “…is the concept that small causes can have large effects.” Particularly where the weather is concerned: https://goo.gl/ZUksV. Despite its colorful name and the butterfly imagery (https://goo.gl/7txRP7) the power of a butterfly’s wings to cause tornadoes thousands of miles away is not quite true, but it’s a pretty good metaphor.

The global weather system, like the rest of this planet and everything else upon it, including us, is connected. What happens in one part affects others and, not unreasonably, the more violent the effect in one part is, the greater is its impact upon the whole: https://goo.gl/CIR0ZG.

The idea of small acts having a great impact that can result in alternative scenarios of reality was something Philip K. Dick (https://goo.gl/2b6PxD) explored in The Man In The High Castle (https://goo.gl/t1d6GR). His idea has found fertile ground amongst those who look at history and wonder whether there are indeed nexus points (https://goo.gl/ccPa8m) at which decisive action alters the course of everything, ushering in an alternative reality (https://goo.gl/vh2mWr).

It was the quintessential renaissance man, Leonardo da Vinci (https://goo.gl/cySp1 ) who said that “To develop a complete mind: Study the art of science; study the science of art. Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else”.

We can’t consider interconnections and holistic global systems without some kind of philosophical framework and Dialectical materialism (https://goo.gl/cEmdO5) has looked at the principal of universal connection (https://goo.gl/qpHgPx). For a more up to date though no less mystical approach to the interconnectedness of things consider Brian Cox’s (https://goo.gl/cxi5h1) quantum mechanical explanation (https://goo.gl/hZf5lt).

Connectivity is not without its challenges however: https://goo.gl/a25kX7 nor is it something that we haven’t discussed before: https://goo.gl/BP5ihV. The global economy is interconnected: https://goo.gl/Vpcqq4 as are the socioeconomic structures that support it: https://goo.gl/WpcPtA. But while these practicalities are relatively obvious to see and analyze there are other, less obvious connections such as politics and religion (https://goo.gl/ZXE9F5) that have not yet reached the stage where they can easily integrate with each other.

In the meantime, as large connections are made outwards, with countries and nations and systems reaching out tendrils to one another, internally, in cities more minute but vital connections are made: https://goo.gl/GIajcw supplying a kind of connective density that accelerates the rate of change at a microlevel.

Now this is where things get really interesting. When everything is connected and nothing can quite exist without it having first been, somehow, contemplated by the brain could quantum physics explain consciousness? (https://goo.gl/ktJo3o). One form of consciousness is, apparently, connected to another: https://goo.gl/rncn84 and consciousness itself may power the physical world: https://goo.gl/u8LUfp.

Mind and brain may be connected via a quantum bridge: https://goo.gl/5xR9KT and there may well be a real, physical mechanism that actually makes that happen, inside the brain itself: https://goo.gl/BNEhy2. That would then mean that consciousness creates reality: https://goo.gl/NMCjnj.

If that’s the case not only are we responsible for ourselves, our communities, the world and each other but we are also responsible, through the many tiny acts that affect bigger and bigger things, for the direction the world turns towards. That brings us back to the importance of principles and values. Ethics and a highly developed sense of what is right and what is wrong.

Leonardo da Vinci famously said: “I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death.”

I wish coffee aplenty upon you. And donuts. Croissants, cookies and chocolate cake. Have an awesome Sunday wherever you are.

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"Ughhh ... I hate American culture"

"It's totally ____'s fault."_

Fill in the blank with whoever you want. Obama. Madonna. Your parents ... To think how many times we've all resorted to that is actually astounding. Myself included. Even recently. It's hard to sit back and reflect just how we, ourselves, have participated in making American culture what it is. Frustrated with the objectification of women but still reading about which female celebrities were looking fat. Angered by the racial profiling of a Hispanic American but still assume that all people who look Hispanic speak Spanish. Hate that processed foods are still a more lucrative business than locally-sourced produce but keep buying Kellogg's products because it seems cheaper and easier.

Pick your poison ... We all make American culture what it is

Over the weekend with the massive #womensmarch I kept hearing the phrase "Trump doesn't make America. We do." Though I love that we are remembering this in a time of true division, I wish we would also remember this in times that seem more peaceful. Because the reality is, even when things are calm, there is always room for growth. For our culture and society to be better. Do better.

+David Amerland writes in today's #sundayread

"Ethics and morality just like just leadership and a just society are the direct result of our collective actions and the collective responsibility of us all."

I just hope, as time goes on, that we remember this collective responsibility ... And that it starts with ourselves. Pointing fingers may be easier, but come on guys ... We can't say it's Obama's or Trump's fault but claim it's our America. Responsibility is 24/7. We must remember that.
Living

In The Republic (https://goo.gl/br8tmB) Plato (https://goo.gl/Yu60RI) asks (and answers the question of whether it is always better for the individual to be just than unjust. The ideals of Greek ethics have been the foundation of moral theory (https://goo.gl/x7YIo1) not because somehow the ancient Greeks were more moral or personally just than any of the peoples before them or after them, but perhaps because they lived in a time when life was so precarious and things so uncertain that understanding the value of a person’s life was of paramount importance.

While in our super hi-tech world we have managed to advance our thinking on ethics a little by creating a greater level of taxonomy (https://goo.gl/ruUJAg) our questions (and answers) show that we have not really moved the needle that far from ancient Greek times (https://goo.gl/sSlxrv). We are concerned with how we ought to act because we want to have at least some concrete answers to how we ought to live (https://goo.gl/dBjBGS). And therein lies the rub. If self-interest is our primary motivation, can that be successfully reconciled within a broader personal and then national context? - https://goo.gl/beifIF.

In our search for ethics we are really looking for morality (https://goo.gl/EuAhuV). More than that, really, what we want is clarity of the sort that will allow us to say “There! See? That’s how things ought to be!”. Consider the bind, for a minute, presented by former American coach Lou Holtz (https://goo.gl/D27u1N) whose quote on doing the right thing (https://goo.gl/f1Bo8C) is the kind of motto that should be graven on everyone’s wall. And then wonder how, in through that one man’s mind, we go from the high aspirations of his kindness to others, to this: https://goo.gl/q2JQJI.

Plato’s answer that it is always better to be just than to be unjust (https://goo.gl/3TFDFK) relies on proofs that revolve around life, living, meaning and happiness and the cultivation of specific attributes and virtues. In Plato’s time the world was decidedly smaller, though perhaps not from his perspective, and arguably simpler in its belief systems which might have made one ‘better’ than others. A luxury which perhaps we can no longer enjoy: https://goo.gl/mGG3dA.

Cultural (and ethical) relativism raises some pretty important questions regarding authority, acceptance and our collective sense of right and wrong. Or maybe the ancient Greeks were right all along: https://goo.gl/W5mkLl and we need to go back and reconsider some of the deeper aspects and implications of their concept of a life “well lived”.

“At the heart of ethics is a concern about something or someone other than ourselves and our own desires and self-interest.” - https://goo.gl/g5Or5s. It is, it seems, upon us to create ethical cultures and ethical people: https://goo.gl/d55SGd. We hold those who hold High Office accountable to greater standards because they set the tone of what’s acceptable, they create the atmosphere of permissiveness that allows us to be more or less ethical ourselves: https://goo.gl/IZnWoi. But it is perhaps wrong of us to expect those who lead us, just like those around us, to do everything by themselves.

Ethics and morality just like just leadership and a just society are the direct result of our collective actions and the collective responsibility of us all: https://goo.gl/AEcwf0. If we have the power to create the world we want to see, then not using it to create a better place for everyone: https://goo.gl/d55SGd is akin to living a life, half-lived. Our eyes, made to see far and wide, failing to raise themselves from the ground. Passing from this world without once having looked up at the sky and wondered just how far we can go? How high can we fly? How much better can we be?

Now, sugar, is not the best thing in the world, but taken in small doses on the one day of the week when we have coffee aplenty and time to think, may not be the worst thing we can do. So, I hope you’ve got your donuts and your croissants, your cookies and your chocolate cake and, as always, have an awesome Sunday, wherever you are.





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"Just be a good person"
"Mhm... Yeah... What's your definition of good?"
"I dunno, be kind."
"I did that once ... And they immediately asked me why I'm being so nice!"

Be honest, how often do you question the motives of others?

Even when Especially when they're doing something nice for you. You know that moment when you realize they did something for you and you're like wait ... why are you being so nice? I do it all. The. Time! Like when a man shows genuine interest in talking to me my first thought is "is he hitting on me?" Or when an acquaintance does something nice my first thought is "shit ... what do they want in return?"

Can people just be kind ... to be kind?

+David Amerland​ writes in today's #sundayread "Connectivity, whether between people or neurons, nations or tribes, nodes in a network or atoms in a matrix, requires the same thing. In chemical engineering we call it affinity. In a social context we call it kindness."

If kindness is in fact what connects us ... what does that mean for humanity when we question the motives of that connector? Are we questioning genuine connection in general? If we think all connection comes with a hidden agenda...

How do we get past that?

I think it's going to depend on those people capable of being kind simply to be kind and rebuilding our trust in human connection. Those people who just spread good will and teach us skeptics that they exist. They care. No strings attached. And hopefully the rest of us can learn to be kind for the sake of kindness and connection. 
”…there are other worlds to sing in.”

On days when the world just gets too much to bear I play a mental game. I sit and I think back on the person I have been and the journey (and choices) that have taken me to where I am, here. Now. Because I know well just how unreliable human memory really is (https://goo.gl/1skcpc) I focus on the ones where the emotional connection was so strong that the events remain crystal clear. Moments in which I can hear other people’s tone of voice like it was yesterday. Remember what I felt where I stood. See the color of the sky and recall the smells of my surroundings. Those moments and those events are always of other people and they always involve connecting with them, in some way.

In the quantum universe of my mind (https://goo.gl/ys095V) I know the risks involved in recalling the past (https://goo.gl/QxPO8A), each memory can be possibly subtly altered or even erased to fit a new narrative. This makes me all the more cautious, methodical and it makes the moments I do bring up all the more precious. Rare.

If our memories are constantly being rewritten (https://goo.gl/7OA1So) and who we are is a product of what we can recall (https://goo.gl/fWWrfu) what we then become is the result of what we have learnt and what we can remember: https://goo.gl/hkFqu0. In the 1987 classic Robocop helmer, Paul Verhoeven (https://goo.gl/FVsRtF) deftly and seemingly so easily encodes the empathy that the FX superior but empty shell of a movie 2014 remake (https://goo.gl/K9o26V) totally lacked, with a scene where the recently awakened Cyborg, Murphy, recalls the feeling of his missing family and lost humanity but can no longer recall their erased memory (https://goo.gl/UTNyFA).

And that’s just the point. Emotion helps anchor memory (https://goo.gl/SGuXq2), memory then shapes identity in a binary component of recall and ownership (a.k.a. personal feeling) - https://goo.gl/6P70VB. Our most vivid memories make us who we are: https://goo.gl/RVPvpf. A person may be defined by his actions, not his memories as Kuato (https://goo.gl/pXh6sp) so famously says (https://goo.gl/fAepke) in that other Verhoeven 1990 classic, Total Recall (https://goo.gl/s4rBCK) which, again, blows the remake (https://goo.gl/66fT8) out of the water (https://goo.gl/beUB8a) but it’s the recall of those memories that determines our actions.

Daniel Kahneman goes one step further linking memory and experience, the gap between the two and the narrative that ensues, with happiness: https://goo.gl/0miu1E. Memory does more than this, of course. It takes some very specialized hardware inside our heads (neurons) which interconnect and perform a complex, synchronized electrochemical dance so that we know where, physically, we are in the world: https://goo.gl/eNXaOr. A brain connecting disconnected neurons is one that is misfiring, forgetting not just where it is in the world, but also where we are.

In a way, disconnected memories have the same effect upon our sense of identity. Lacking an internal map (or recipe) of where to fit them and how, we lose sight of what it is that we actually are. As Julian Baggini says it is the narrative and the interconnection, the connectivity if you like, which actually creates the emergence of us: https://goo.gl/EFOSNX.

Connectivity, whether in the neural sense or a more physical manifestation as in this case of a ‘simple’ phone mast in a remote African village: https://goo.gl/NMsFYI is always transformative. It allows layers of meta data to emerge. Fresh classifications that redefine the world we see because we can better understand the context of what we see and judge its relevance.

Connectivity then is what adds content, context, narrative, meaning and a sense of self. It makes the brain happen (https://goo.gl/M00Eh4) as James Gleick suggests in The Information (https://goo.gl/OJRcBb). It also makes life itself happen as Paul Villard’s devastatingly touching story shows: https://goo.gl/C9ZqNK. Connectivity, whether between people or neurons, nations or tribes, nodes in a network or atoms in a matrix, requires the same thing. In chemical engineering we call it affinity. In a social context we call it kindness.

On that note I hope you are in the right physical context. Your brain knows where the percolator is and you have mapped the locations of the cookies, chocolate donuts, croissants and chocolate cake you need to make this day feel special. Have an awesome Sunday, wherever you are.

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