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Graham Poulter
Sharing articles in science, technology and humanity that changed me.
Sharing articles in science, technology and humanity that changed me.


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Next months salary donation goes to the One Acre Fund, which provides financing for farm inputs, distribution of seed and fertilizer, training on agricultural techniques and helps in finding a market for their produce. All can help improve food security where it's needed most.

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This week I went from 49 TODOs left in my previously-submitted code to just 6 TODOs, but I'm not proud of checking so many things off my literal TODO list, because I did so by procrastinating on more-important work.

Paul Graham's insight here is that there are always so many options that no matter what you do, you are procrastinating on something else. The most effective people manage to procrastinate on the trivial things by working on the the big problems that will actually leave some positive legacy to the world.

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Andy Puddicombe of Headspace, in the "Headspace on Stress" series, day 12:

"Look at this tendency to fuel these so-called negative emotions with our own thoughts. It's amazing that we do it to ourselves, but we do. And, sure, sometimes we can change the things that stimulate stress in our life around us, but very often things are out of our [immediate] control so the only thing we can change is the way we relate to them in our mind, and we do that through changing our perspective.

We have a choice. We can either carry these things around with us: life feels really heavy, we feel kind of maybe a sense of injustice or indignation, if something is really frustrating us, it doesn't seem fair, we're getting stressed about it. Or we can say ok, well, I really can't do anything about that so I'm going to find a way of letting go of that, so that I don't have to experience this for any longer than I have to."

I would add, by way of clarification, that there is no inherent contradiction between this shift of perspective to not suffer in your thoughts for things you can't change right now, and continuing to work toward a better life for yourself and others. Sometimes the effective steps you can take will take days or months or years to show results, so why suffer needlessly in your thoughts along the way?

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My June payroll donation of 10% of my take-home pay, which is then employer gift-matched, goes to Mercy For Animals.

They are a top charity on Animal Charity Evaluators (

Primarily Mercy for Animals do investigations and promote their results in media, to raise public awareness of exactly how much animals are suffering on some farms, and engage in grassroots campaigns. They also started the Good Food Institute which is funding research into cruelty-free alternatives to farming animals.

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From 17:52 ... "Now most of us do our best not to think about death. But there's part of us that knows this can't go on forever. Part of us always knows that we're just a doctor's visit away or a phone call away from being starkly reminded of the fact of our own mortality, or of those closest to us. Now, I'm sure many of you in this room have experienced this in some form. You must know how uncanny it is to be suddenly thrown out of the normal course of your life and just be given the full-time job of not dying, or caring for someone who is. ...

But the one thing people tend to realise at moments like this is that they wasted a lot of time, when life was normal. It’s not just what they did with their time, it’s not just that they spent too much time working or compulsively checking email. It’s that they cared about the wrong things, they regret what they cared about. Their attention was bound up in petty concerns, for year after year, when life was normal.

This is a paradox of course, because we all know this epiphany is coming. Don’t you know this is coming? Don’t you know that there’s going to come a day when you’ll be sick or someone close to you will die, and you will look back on the kinds of things that captured your attention, and you’ll think "What was I doing?"

You know this and yet if you’re like most people, you’ll spend most of your time in life tacitly presuming you’ll live forever. Watching a bad movie for the for the fourth time, or bickering with your spouse. These things only make sense in light of eternity. There had better be a heaven if we’re going to waste our time like this. So unlike religious people, we atheists really have a good reason to make the most of life, to make the most of the present moment. Because even if you live to be a hundred, there's just not that many days in life."

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"Good decision making is not a trait of the person, in the sense that it’s always there. It’s a state that fluctuates. The best decision makers are the ones who know when not to trust themselves."
-- Roy F. Baumeister

(his studies show that people with the best self-control are the ones who structure their lives so as to conserve willpower)

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"Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."

- Steve Jobs

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"Lucky people generate their own good fortune via four basic principles. They are skilled at creating and noticing chance opportunities, make lucky decisions by listening to their intuition, create self-fulfilling prophesies via positive expectations, and adopt a resilient attitude that transforms bad luck into good."
— Richard Wiseman, summarising “The Luck Factor”

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"The power output of the Saturn first stage was 60 gigawatts. This happens to be very similar to the peak electricity demand of the United Kingdom."

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I've already logged out of Facebook everywhere except my laptop. Now, just one more step to make it less of a time waster without losing out on events / notifications / groups / friends.
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