Shared posts

14 Apr 20:46

ShadowBrokers: The NSA Compromised the SWIFT Network

by raesene9
14 Apr 20:45

Research principles of the legendary Xerox PARC

by Jason Kottke

Xerox PARC was one of the most influential technology companies of the past 50 years. Among the technologies invented and/or developed there include Ethernet, laser printers, the modern mouse-controlled GUI, and WYSIWYG text editing. On Quora, former PARC researcher Alan Kay shared the principles under which research at the company operated; here are the first five:

1. Visions not goals

2. Fund people not projects — the scientists find the problems not the funders. So, for many reasons, you have to have the best researchers.

3. Problem Finding — not just Problem Solving

4. Milestones not deadlines

5. It’s “baseball” not “golf” — batting .350 is very good in a high aspiration high risk area. Not getting a hit is not failure but the overhead for getting hits. (As in baseball, an “error” is failing to pull off something that is technically feasible.)

(via @pieratt)

Tags: Alan Kay   lists   Xerox PARC
14 Mar 20:38

Pothole in your neighborhood? Tell Portland Anarchist Road Care to fix it

by Mark Frauenfelder
Ian Hall


The reason people like to complain about municipalities' slow response to pothole complaints is because municipalities are slow to respond to pothole complaints. But group that calls itself Portland Anarchist Road Care is taking matters into its own hands by illegally repairing potholes around town.


Because we believe in building community solutions to the issues we face, outside of the state.

Because society portrays anarchists as only breaking windows and blocking roads.

Because when faced with anarchism as a political theory, statests often ask "But who will fix the roads."

Because the city of Portland refuses to adequately repair roads in a timely manner.

We are Portland Anarchist Road Care. We believe in community oriented direct action. We believe the state cares more about funding a militarized police force to suppress free speech than caring for and repairing the roads.

The city of Portland has shown gross negligence in its inadequate preventative care through this winter's storms, and through its slow repair of potholes as weather has improved. Daily, this negligence is an active danger to cyclists and causes damage to people's automobiles, and an increased risk of collision and bodily injury.

Portland Anarchist Road Care aims to mobilize crews throughout our city, in our neighborhoods, to patch our streets, build community, and continue to find solutions to community problems outside of the state.


11 Mar 03:45

An epidemic of middle-aged male loneliness

by Jason Kottke
Ian Hall



Vivek Murthy, the surgeon general of the United States, has said many times in recent years that the most prevalent health issue in the country is not cancer or heart disease or obesity. It is isolation.


Beginning in the 1980s, Schwartz says, study after study started showing that those who were more socially isolated were much more likely to die during a given period than their socially connected neighbors, even after you corrected for age, gender, and lifestyle choices like exercising and eating right. Loneliness has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke and the progression of Alzheimer’s. One study found that it can be as much of a long-term risk factor as smoking.

The research doesn’t get any rosier from there. In 2015, a huge study out of Brigham Young University, using data from 3.5 million people collected over 35 years, found that those who fall into the categories of loneliness, isolation, or even simply living on their own see their risk of premature death rise 26 to 32 percent.


Tags: medicine
05 Mar 15:12

Arkansas wants to ban all classroom mentions of Howard Zinn (teachers, get your free books!)

by Cory Doctorow

The Arkansas legislature is considering a bill that would prohibit "any books or other material authored by or concerning Howard Zinn" in its schools, on the grounds that Howard Zinn says means things about America, like, "It has the kinds of censoring, undemocratic state governments that ban all books by and discussions of critics of America and its actions." (more…)

02 Mar 15:12

Norwegian news site makes readers pass test proving they read the post before commenting on it

by Rob Beschizza
Ian Hall

Great idea.

NRKbeta, the tech page of Norway's public broadcaster, ran a story about proposed internet surveillance laws. But to comment on it, you had to know what was in the story.

The team at NRKbeta attributes the civil tenor of its comments to a feature it introduced last month. On some stories, potential commenters are now required to answer three basic multiple-choice questions about the article before they’re allowed to post a comment. (For instance, in the digital surveillance story: “What does DGF stand for?”)

My first thought is that it couldn't work in America or Brexit because the presence of the test itself would only generate its own towering buttnami of rage. People would pass the test just so they could chock up the comments with complaints about how the test censors them.

21 Feb 15:59

Simple Green Concentrated All-Purpose Cleaner

by mark

I bought a gallon of Simple Green about 3 or 4 years ago at Home Depot for about $10. It works great as a cleaner and degreaser. We use it to clean every room in the house. It has a nice pleasant kind of neutral smell. (You go into some people’s houses, and the smell of their heavily fragranced cleaners is kind of overwhelming.)

It is non-toxic and biodegradable. So it is not only better for you and your family but also better for the environment when that soapy water ends up out in the environment. I am still using the original gallon I bought 3 or 4 years ago, and I am still using the sprayer bottle I bought back then. That is probably at least 30-40 bottles that I would have otherwise bought. Recycling such plastic waste helps, but not even buying it in the first place is the best thing to do.

It saves trips to the store to buy cleaner. I have not had to even think about buying an all-purpose cleaner for years. On the bottle, it tells you how to dilute the product. 1 to 30 for light cleaning, and 1 to 10 for heavier duty cleaning. The re-usable spray bottle I bought has volume markings on it, so it’s easy to get the ratio correct. Home Depot also sells an empty bottle that says Simple Green on it. That would negate the need to mark the generic bottle with indelible ink to show what it contains. It is widely available at Home Depot, Lowe’s, and other larger stores. Also your local hardware store probably carries it.

-- Justin Lamar

Simple Green 1 Gal. Concentrated All-Purpose Cleaner ($10)

21 Feb 15:24

Avocado Sticker

by swissmiss

Where has this Avocado sticker been all my life?

09 Feb 15:07

Republicans Are Moving to Scrap Rules That Limit Overdraft Fees

by John Gruber

Matthew Zeitlin, reporting for BuzzFeed:

Last week, Georgia Republican Sen. David Perdue introduced a resolution in Congress, alongside other Republicans including his fellow Georgian Johnny Isakson, to throw out a new package of rules for the prepaid debit card industry.

The rules, finalized by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in October, include limitations on overdraft fees, which have become a significant source of consumer complaints about the financial industry — and an important revenue stream for Georgia-based financial firm Total System Services, whose NetSpend unit is the country’s largest manager of prepaid cards, according to a 2015 financial filing.

The vast majority of prepaid debit cards don’t come with overdraft fees, but NetSpend’s do, and the fees accounted for 10-12% of its overall revenue in 2016, or $80-85 million, the company told investors in October. Its parent has spent big on lobbying and political donations in a bid to kill the rules: in the last three months of 2016 alone, it spent some $270,000 lobbying Congress.

Again, this should be absolutely bipartisan. The people who are hit by these usurious overcharge fees are Republicans and Democrats alike. There’s no liberal/conservative angle to this. It’s just wrong.

And look at the deal Total Shitbag Services gets out of this: they spend $270 thousand lobbying Congress in order to preserve nearly 100 million in fees.


06 Feb 21:40

Trump’s F.C.C. Pick Quickly Targets Net Neutrality Rules

by phaedryx
31 Jan 17:48

Welcome, ACLU

by katm
30 Jan 15:04

The Department of Labor's Wells Fargo whistleblower site has disappeared

by Cory Doctorow

Shortly after Donald Trump was sworn in as president, the Department of Labor's whistleblower site -- for Wells Fargo employees who wanted to report fraud in the ongoing scandal affecting millions of Americans -- disappeared. (more…)

27 Jan 21:44

Were police snooping on Women’s March protesters’ cellphones? Too many departments won’t say

by Curtis Waltman
27 Jan 16:25

Felony Charges for 6 Reporters at Inauguration Protests

by RA_Fisher
20 Jan 19:34

Hunter S. Thompson’s Obituary for Richard Nixon

by John Gruber

Feels appropriate today:

Some people will say that words like scum and rotten are wrong for Objective Journalism — which is true, but they miss the point. It was the built-in blind spots of the Objective rules and dogma that allowed Nixon to slither into the White House in the first place. He looked so good on paper that you could almost vote for him sight unseen. He seemed so all-American, so much like Horatio Alger, that he was able to slip through the cracks of Objective Journalism. You had to get Subjective to see Nixon clearly, and the shock of recognition was often painful.

15 Dec 19:00

Inside The Psychology Of The Rebel Electors Who Seek To Overturn Trump's Election

by Elizabeth Segran
Ian Hall

Save us emoluments clause, you're our only hope...

How can an Electoral College member go against the will of voters in their state? This Harvard professor explains their moral logic.

How can an Electoral College member go against the will of voters in their state? This Harvard professor explains their moral logic.

What does it take to be a rebel, when your instinct is to follow the herd?

That's the question that comes to mind when you consider the Hamilton Electors, the growing movement of Republican electors who are choosing not to vote for Donald Trump next Monday. That's when all 538 members of the Electoral College will traipse to the capital cities in their states and cast their votes: 306 are Republicans and 232 are Democrats. In a normal election year, the Republicans would vote for their party's nominee. But, as we all know, this was no normal election year.

Read Full Story

13 Dec 19:51

Things you notice when you quit the news

by Jason Kottke
Ian Hall

I abandoned Al Jazeera, Mother Jones (rss), and The Intercept. Feels so much easier.

David Cain quit following the news many years ago — “I’m mostly talking about following TV and internet newscasts here” — and noticed several benefits.

A common symptom of quitting the news is an improvement in mood. News junkies will say it’s because you’ve stuck your head in the sand.

But that assumes the news is the equivalent of having your head out in the fresh, clear air. They don’t realize that what you can glean about the world from the news isn’t even close to a representative sample of what is happening in the world.

The news isn’t interested in creating an accurate sample. They select for what’s 1) unusual, 2) awful, and 3) probably going to be popular. So the idea that you can get a meaningful sense of the “state of the world” by watching the news is absurd.

Their selections exploit our negativity bias. We’ve evolved to pay more attention to what’s scary and infuriating, but that doesn’t mean every instance of fear or anger is useful. Once you’ve quit watching, it becomes obvious that it is a primary aim of news reports-not an incidental side-effect-to agitate and dismay the viewer.

What appears on the news is not “The conscientious person’s portfolio of concerns”. What appears is whatever sells, and what sells is fear, and contempt for other groups of people.

Curate your own portfolio. You can get better information about the world from deeper sources, who took more than a half-day to put it together.

I watch and read plenty about current events, but the last time I “followed the news” was probably in high school. 95% of it is gossip & soap opera and the 5% that isn’t, you can get elsewhere, better.

Tags: David Cain   journalism
12 Dec 17:27


by John Gruber

The entirety of the Trump transition team’s response to the extraordinary news that the CIA believes Russia interfered with the election with the intention of helping Trump win:

These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It’s now time to move on and “Make America Great Again.”

Put aside that every single word of that statement is false. (It was George W. Bush’s White House that claimed to be convinced that Iraq had WMDs, not CIA intelligence officers. The election was only a month ago — we’re still closer to election day than we are to Trump’s first day in office. Trump lost the popular vote by almost 3 million votes and his Electoral College win ranks 46th out of 58 in history.) Put aside that the statement doesn’t even claim the report is false — the implication is that it doesn’t matter whether or not Russia interfered in a U.S. election to help one side, when, clearly, anyone with an interest in ours being an honest democracy would call for a thorough and immediate investigation of these claims.

That’s a lot to put aside. But here’s the best part. One of the people who did claim in 2002 that Iraq had stockpiled hidden weapons of mass destruction was John R. Bolton, then Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security. Today comes news that Trump’s team is considering nominating Bolton to be Deputy Secretary of State.

So within the span of a breath, Trump’s team is claiming that the people who claimed Iraq had WMDs in 2002 have no credibility on matters of foreign intelligence, and are thinking about nominating one of them as second-in-command at the State Department.

01 Dec 20:58

You Must Watch This Video Clip Immediately

by Kevin Drum

Seriously. Do it now.

01 Dec 20:55

Trump's Commerce Secretary Pick Led a Secret Wall Street Fraternity

by Hannah Levintova

On Wednesday, Donald Trump announced that he'd tapped billionaire investor Wilbur Ross to be his commerce secretary. Ross is known as the "king of bankruptcy," a moniker he earned thanks to his longtime business of buying troubled companies for cheap, often in manufacturing industries like steel or coal, and then restructuring them to turn a profit. "Wilbur Ross is a champion of American manufacturing and knows how to help companies succeed," Trump said in a statement announcing his nomination of Ross.

But Trump neglected to mention one of Ross' other credentials: He's connected to some of the world's most powerful investors and businessman via a secret Wall Street fraternity called Kappa Beta Phi.

In January 2012, New York Times reporter Kevin Roose snuck into the society's annual black-tie induction ceremony, which was led by Ross, who at the time was the fraternity's "Grand Swipe." The fraternity, Roose wrote in his 2014 book, Young Money, was founded at the beginning of the Great Depression, and since then the induction ceremony had been subject to the utmost secrecy. The group's mantra, according to Roose, is "What happens at the St. Regis stays at the St. Regis."

It's not hard to see why. At the 2012 event, Roose witnessed outlandish behavior by Ross and other financial tycoons that demonstrated vulgarity, greed, and a Wall Street callousness toward the nonwealthy masses. Some attendees made homophobic, racist, and sexist jabs about the likes of Hillary Clinton and former Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts. Others joked about the financial crisis. One even wore a Confederate flag hat. And when Roose was outed as a reporter partway through the night, Ross himself took Roose into the St. Regis hotel's lobby and tried to convince him not to print the story by offering himself up as an "anytime" source for Roose's future reporting.

While leading the event, Ross wore purple velvet moccasins embroidered with the fraternity's Greek letters. The group's name is an inversion of the college honor society Phi Beta Kappa, whose ruffled-sleeve logo, Ross said on the ballroom stage, is a "tacit confession of homosexuality." The main event of the night was the induction of 21 "neophytes" into the fraternity. Roose described what happened when the inductees, who were required to dress in drag costumes that included leotards and sequined skirts, took the stage:

Paul Queally, a private-equity executive with Welsh, Carson, Anderson, & Stowe, told off-color jokes to Ted Virtue, another private-equity bigwig with MidOcean Partners. The jokes ranged from unfunny and sexist (Q: "What's the biggest difference between Hillary Clinton and a catfish?" A: "One has whiskers and stinks, and the other is a fish") to unfunny and homophobic (Q: "What's the biggest difference between Barney Frank and a Fenway Frank?" A: "Barney Frank comes in different-size buns")...

Warren Stevens, an investment banking CEO, took the stage in a Confederate flag hat and sang a song about the financial crisis, set to the tune of "Dixie." ("In Wall Street land we'll take our stand, said Morgan and Goldman. But first we better get some loans, so quick, get to the Fed, man.”)

The performances continued, including a parody of ABBA's "Dancing Queen" called "Bailout King" and a comedic skit depicting a debate between the 99 percent and the 1 percent. When Roose pulled out his phone to record part of the inductees' performance, he caught the eye of one of his billionaire table-mates, Michael Novogratz. He angrily asked Roose who he was, which left Roose with no choice but to disclose that he was a reporter. Novogratz grabbed Roose and tried to pull away his cellphone. That's when Ross stepped in to attempt damage control:

Once we made it to the lobby, Ross and Lebenthal reassured me that what I'd just seen wasn't really a group of wealthy and powerful financiers making homophobic jokes, making light of the financial crisis, and bragging about their business conquests at Main Street’s expense. No, it was just a group of friends who came together to roast each other in a benign and self-deprecating manner. Nothing to see here.

But the extent of their worry wasn’t made clear until Ross offered himself up as a source for future stories in exchange for my cooperation.

"I'll pick up the phone anytime, get you any help you need," he said.

29 Nov 22:12

Fighting authoritarianism: 20 lessons from the 20th century

by Jason Kottke

Do Not Obey In Advance

Yale history professor Timothy Snyder took to Facebook to share some lessons from 20th century about how to protect our liberal democracy from fascism and authoritarianism. Snyder has given his permission to republish the list, so I’ve reproduced it in its entirety here in case something happens to the original.

Americans are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience. Now is a good time to do so. Here are twenty lessons from the twentieth century, adapted to the circumstances of today.

1. Do not obey in advance. Much of the power of authoritarianism is freely given. In times like these, individuals think ahead about what a more repressive government will want, and then start to do it without being asked. You’ve already done this, haven’t you? Stop. Anticipatory obedience teaches authorities what is possible and accelerates unfreedom.

2. Defend an institution. Follow the courts or the media, or a court or a newspaper. Do not speak of “our institutions” unless you are making them yours by acting on their behalf. Institutions don’t protect themselves. They go down like dominoes unless each is defended from the beginning.

3. Recall professional ethics. When the leaders of state set a negative example, professional commitments to just practice become much more important. It is hard to break a rule-of-law state without lawyers, and it is hard to have show trials without judges.

4. When listening to politicians, distinguish certain words. Look out for the expansive use of “terrorism” and “extremism.” Be alive to the fatal notions of “exception” and “emergency.” Be angry about the treacherous use of patriotic vocabulary.

5. Be calm when the unthinkable arrives. When the terrorist attack comes, remember that all authoritarians at all times either await or plan such events in order to consolidate power. Think of the Reichstag fire. The sudden disaster that requires the end of the balance of power, the end of opposition parties, and so on, is the oldest trick in the Hitlerian book. Don’t fall for it.

6. Be kind to our language. Avoid pronouncing the phrases everyone else does. Think up your own way of speaking, even if only to convey that thing you think everyone is saying. (Don’t use the internet before bed. Charge your gadgets away from your bedroom, and read.) What to read? Perhaps “The Power of the Powerless” by V’aclav Havel, 1984 by George Orwell, The Captive Mind by Czeslaw Milosz, The Rebel by Albert Camus, The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt, or Nothing is True and Everything is Possible by Peter Pomerantsev.

7. Stand out. Someone has to. It is easy, in words and deeds, to follow along. It can feel strange to do or say something different. But without that unease, there is no freedom. And the moment you set an example, the spell of the status quo is broken, and others will follow.

8. Believe in truth. To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights.

9. Investigate. Figure things out for yourself. Spend more time with long articles. Subsidize investigative journalism by subscribing to print media. Realize that some of what is on your screen is there to harm you. Bookmark PropOrNot or other sites that investigate foreign propaganda pushes.

10. Practice corporeal politics. Power wants your body softening in your chair and your emotions dissipating on the screen. Get outside. Put your body in unfamiliar places with unfamiliar people. Make new friends and march with them.

11. Make eye contact and small talk. This is not just polite. It is a way to stay in touch with your surroundings, break down unnecessary social barriers, and come to understand whom you should and should not trust. If we enter a culture of denunciation, you will want to know the psychological landscape of your daily life.

12. Take responsibility for the face of the world. Notice the swastikas and the other signs of hate. Do not look away and do not get used to them. Remove them yourself and set an example for others to do so.

13. Hinder the one-party state. The parties that took over states were once something else. They exploited a historical moment to make political life impossible for their rivals. Vote in local and state elections while you can.

14. Give regularly to good causes, if you can. Pick a charity and set up autopay. Then you will know that you have made a free choice that is supporting civil society helping others doing something good.

15. Establish a private life. Nastier rulers will use what they know about you to push you around. Scrub your computer of malware. Remember that email is skywriting. Consider using alternative forms of the internet, or simply using it less. Have personal exchanges in person. For the same reason, resolve any legal trouble. Authoritarianism works as a blackmail state, looking for the hook on which to hang you. Try not to have too many hooks.

16. Learn from others in other countries. Keep up your friendships abroad, or make new friends abroad. The present difficulties here are an element of a general trend. And no country is going to find a solution by itself. Make sure you and your family have passports.

17. Watch out for the paramilitaries. When the men with guns who have always claimed to be against the system start wearing uniforms and marching around with torches and pictures of a Leader, the end is nigh. When the pro-Leader paramilitary and the official police and military intermingle, the game is over.

18. Be reflective if you must be armed. If you carry a weapon in public service, God bless you and keep you. But know that evils of the past involved policemen and soldiers finding themselves, one day, doing irregular things. Be ready to say no. (If you do not know what this means, contact the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and ask about training in professional ethics.)

19. Be as courageous as you can. If none of us is prepared to die for freedom, then all of us will die in unfreedom.

20. Be a patriot. The incoming president is not. Set a good example of what America means for the generations to come. They will need it.

A great thought-provoking list. “Corporeal politics”…I like that phrase. And I’ve seen many references to Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism in recent weeks.

See also Five Steps to Tyranny and The 14 Features of Eternal Fascism.

Note: Illustration by the awesome Chris Piascik.

Tags: history   lists   politics   Timothy Snyder
29 Nov 19:45

How Stable Are Democracies? ‘Warning Signs Are Flashing Red’

by jseliger
29 Nov 17:48

Donald Trump threatens US flag-burners with jail time

Tweet posted by US president-elect suggests a year prison sentence or loss of citizenship for burning the American flag.
29 Nov 17:16

Is liberal democracy in trouble? “Warning signs are flashing red.”

by Jason Kottke

Political scientists Yascha Mounk and Roberto Stefan Foa have been doing research on the stability of contemporary liberal democracies, looking in particular at the assumption a country becomes a democracy, it will stay that way. Their conclusion? We may be in trouble: “liberal democracies around the world may be at serious risk of decline”.

But since 2005, Freedom House’s index has shown a decline in global freedom each year. Is that a statistical anomaly, a result of a few random events in a relatively short period of time? Or does it indicate a meaningful pattern?

Mr. Mounk and Mr. Foa developed a three-factor formula to answer that question. Mr. Mounk thinks of it as an early-warning system, and it works something like a medical test: a way to detect that a democracy is ill before it develops full-blown symptoms.

The first factor was public support: How important do citizens think it is for their country to remain democratic? The second was public openness to nondemocratic forms of government, such as military rule. And the third factor was whether “antisystem parties and movements” — political parties and other major players whose core message is that the current system is illegitimate — were gaining support.

Regarding that first factor, public support for democracy, their research indicates a worrying trend: younger people around the world think it’s less “essential” to live in a democracy.

Essential Democracy

Younger people would also be more in favor of military rule:

Support for autocratic alternatives is rising, too. Drawing on data from the European and World Values Surveys, the researchers found that the share of Americans who say that army rule would be a “good” or “very good” thing had risen to 1 in 6 in 2014, compared with 1 in 16 in 1995.

That trend is particularly strong among young people. For instance, in a previously published paper, the researchers calculated that 43 percent of older Americans believed it was illegitimate for the military to take over if the government were incompetent or failing to do its job, but only 19 percent of millennials agreed. The same generational divide showed up in Europe, where 53 percent of older people thought a military takeover would be illegitimate, while only 36 percent of millennials agreed.

What’s interesting is that Trump, who Mounk believes is a threat to liberal democracy in the US, drew his support from older Americans, which would seem to be a contradiction. It is also unclear if young people have always felt this way (i.e. do people appreciate democracy more as they get older?) or if this is a newly growing sentiment (i.e. people are now less appreciative of democracy, young people particularly so).

Something I think about often is cultural memory and how it shifts, seen most notably on in my mild obsession with The Great Span. Back in July, writer John Scalzi tweeted:

Sometimes feels like a strong correlation between WWII passing from living memory, and autocracy seemingly getting more popular.

Scalzi is on to something here, I think. Those who fought in or lived through World War II are either dead or dying. Their children, the Baby Boomers, had a very different experience in hunky dory Leave It to Beaver postwar America.1 Anyone under 50 probably doesn’t remember anything significant about the Vietnam War and anyone under 35 didn’t really experience the Cold War.2 Couple that with an increasingly poor educational experience in many areas of the country and it seems as though Americans have forgotten how bad it was (Stalin, Hitler, the Holocaust, Vietnam, the Cold War) and take for granted the rights and protections that liberal democracy, despite its faults, offers its citizens. Shame on us if we throw all of that hard-fought progress away in exchange for — how did Franklin put it? — “a little temporary safety”.

Update: The graph above showing public support for democracy is misleading and overly dramatic. Looking at the average scores is more instructive for people’s feelings on democracy:

So where does this graph go wrong? It plots the percentage of people who answer 10, and it treats everyone else the same. The graph treats the people who place themselves at 1 as having the same commitment to democracy as those who answer 9. In reality, almost no one (less than 1 percent) said that democracy is “not at all important.”

Here’s a less misleading graph:

Essential Democracy

The kicker?

Vast majorities of younger people in the West still attach great importance to living in a democracy.

  1. Well, white male Baby Boomers did. Everyone else, less so.

  2. I remember the Cold War vividly — it’s why an increasingly autocratic Putin-led Russia scares the shit out of me — that feeling of ominous dread, day after day, that the world could end, actually end. I’ve only felt that way one other time in my life: in the months after 9/11. And that feeling passed after many months…the Cold War dread was constant for years.

Tags: Donald Trump   John Scalzi   politics   Roberto Stefan Foa   Yascha Mounk
29 Nov 14:57

AP Style Guide on the ‘Alt-Right’

by John Gruber

John Daniszewski, vice president for standards at the Associated Press:

“Alt-right” (quotation marks, hyphen and lower case) may be used in quotes or modified as in the “self-described” or “so-called alt-right” in stories discussing what the movement says about itself.

Avoid using the term generically and without definition, however, because it is not well known and the term may exist primarily as a public-relations device to make its supporters’ actual beliefs less clear and more acceptable to a broader audience. In the past we have called such beliefs racist, neo-Nazi or white supremacist.

Again, whenever “alt-right” is used in a story, be sure to include a definition: “an offshoot of conservatism mixing racism, white nationalism and populism,” or, more simply, “a white nationalist movement.”

01 Feb 22:17

How To Be A Better Parent: 4 Secrets Backed By Research

by Eric Barker


“How to be a better parent” is discussed endlessly on the internet. But what we don’t see enough of is research-backed advice that can make your kids both more ethical and more successful.

And I don’t mean “gets good grades” successful. I mean kids who go on to make a name for themselves with breakthroughs that help improve the world for everyone.

Adam Grant is the youngest tenured professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and author of the New York Times bestseller, Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success.

His awesome new book is Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World and not only does it give tips on how all of us can be more successful but it has research-backed solutions for how to be a better parent.

Want to raise kids that are movers and shakers as well as ethical citizens? I gave Adam a call to find out what you and I need to know…


1) Ask Kids, “What Would Harry Potter Do?”

As a parent, you want to be a good role model. But what Adam found was that while parents are important role models in terms of morals, they may not be the best when it comes to career if you want your kids to really soar. Here’s Adam:

Parents are great role models when it comes to important values. They’re not great role models if you want to be original because it’s very easy that you end up copying one of your parents.

So where do the best career role models comes from? Oddly enough, it might be fiction.

From Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World:

Growing up, many originals find their first role models in their most beloved novels, where protagonists exercise their creativity in pursuit of unique accomplishments. Elon Musk and Peter Thiel each chose Lord of the Rings, the epic tale of a hobbit’s adventures to destroy a dangerous ring of power. Sheryl Sandberg and Jeff Bezos both favored A Wrinkle in Time, in which a young girl learns to bend the laws of physics and travel through time. Mark Zuckerberg was partial to Ender’s Game, where it’s up to a group of kids to save the planet from an alien attack.

Kids who go on to mold the future of the world we live in need to see past the day to day and dream of what might be possible. Here’s Adam:

As I read this research about how children’s stories could actually predict innovation, I started to think maybe there’s something to this. I think that we really underestimate the importance of these stories. Sometimes fiction is better for sparking the imagination than reality is. If you want to create something that doesn’t exist, why not go to a source that’s trying to dream that something up?

This strategy of leveraging a child’s favorite fictional character can even get kids to eat better. Brian Wansink of Cornell found that asking children, “What would Batman eat?” got kids to pick apple slices over french fries. Here’s Brian:

We found we could get kids to choose the healthier food much more often if we simply asked what their favorite superhero or their favorite princess would do. Even if they responded “french fries”, half the time they took the apple slices. It simply causes an interruption in their thinking that causes them to pause, hit the reset button inside their head and think again.

Research shows that thinking about fictional characters you love can help you make better decisions. In fact, thinking about superheroes can even make you physically stronger.

(To learn the 4 new parenting tips that will make your kids awesome, click here.)

Okay, so you’ve got wizards and Batman on your side now. But how many rules should you set for your kids? The right answer just might be “zero”…


2) Emphasize Values Over Rules

Research shows that most families have an average of six rules for children. But what about the families of kids who scored as highly creative?

Their families averaged less than one rule. Here’s Adam:

Children who scored in the top 5% in creativity tended to come from households with, on average, less than one rule. The families of kids who were less creative typically had six rules.

Kids need rules but making things so concrete might encourage them to be little lawyers who look for loopholes. By emphasizing values over rules, it starts a good conversation about right and wrong.

This way, children internalize ethics and are more likely to do the right thing because they generate rules for themselves. Here’s Adam:

You need to have some boundaries for kids. They can’t be allowed to do whatever they want, but in these families that mention creativity, the emphasis was not on, “This is what you do because I say so,” it was, “These are principles that we believe in and here’s why we think they’re important. What do you think? Let’s have a discussion about that.” There was reflective dialogue going on. Because of that, kids took ownership of the values and essentially made some of the very rules that the less creative parents were busy trying to enforce. Instead of enforcing them, these few parents got their creative children to endorse the rules themselves because they helped to generate them.

(To learn the #1 mistake parents make when arguing with kids, click here.)

Okay, we’ve tossed the rules and we’re focused on values. Awesome. Now what’s the right way to praise good behavior? Sorry, that’s another trick question. Don’t praise good behavior at all…


3) Praise Character, Not Actions

Next time your kid does something kind, don’t tell them, “What you did was nice.” Nope. What should you tell them?

“You’re a really nice person.”

Don’t praise the action, praise their character. When they see good behavior as part of their identity, they’re more likely to make good choices in the future. Here’s Adam:

There’s a bunch of evidence suggesting that it can be more powerful to praise the person rather than the behavior. Instead of saying, “Wow, that was really nice,” you say, “Wow, you are a really nice person.” What that does is it helps them internalize that behavior as part of their identity so that the next time they have a chance to consider, “Do I want to share or help?”, they think, “That’s who I am.” You can do this on the negative side too. If you want to make sure that your kids have integrity, instead of saying, “Don’t cheat,” you should say, “Don’t be a cheater,” and you can literally cut cheating in half.

What happens when you ask kids “to be helpers” instead of “to help”? They’re up to 29% more likely to clean up after themselves.

From Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World:

In an ingenious series of experiments led by psychologist Christopher Bryan, children between ages three and six were 22 percent to 29 percent more likely to clean up blocks, toys, and crayons when they were asked to be helpers instead of to help.

(To learn the science of raising happy kids, click here.)

Alright, no praising good behavior. How do you correct bad behavior? Turns out the best way to punish might be to explain


4) Explain How Bad Behavior Affects Others

During World War 2, there were non-Jews who put their lives on the line to save Jews from the Holocaust. What did these rescuers have in common?

They were more than three times as likely to have had parents who focused less on punishment and more on explaining how bad behavior affected others.

This emphasis on explanation is also disproportionately seen in both kids who don’t commit crimes and children that go on to make a difference in their chosen field. Here’s Adam:

When you punish kids for bad behaviors, if you just stop there, then there’s a big risk that they don’t understand why the behavior was wrong. What parents who do a really good job teaching moral values do is they explain, “This is how your behavior hurt others. Think about what kind of pain this child was in when you hit him.”

What’s the secret sauce here? Two ingredients: it helps kids develop both empathy and guilt. Here’s Adam:

When you emphasize consequences for others, that tends to make children feel two things: Empathy and guilt, which I think are the king and queen of moral emotions. Empathy makes you want to right the wrong that you’ve done and help so that the destructive suffering goes away. Guilt has this anticipation effect where it feels really bad to have this remorse over, “Gosh, I did something wrong,” and next time you’re in that situation, you want to make sure you don’t do that again.

Plenty of research backs Adam up. Studies show guilt works. And people who feel guilt are better leaders and better friends. Adam quotes Erma Bombeck who said:

Guilt is the gift that keeps on giving.

(To learn how to have a happy family, click here.)

Let’s round up all these great ideas from Adam and learn the secret to dealing with the flood of parenting advice that makes raising successful kids such a challenge…


Sum Up

Here’s what Adam had to say about how to be a better parent:

  • Ask kids, “What would Harry Potter do?” Little wizards can be a big help in getting kids to do the right thing.
  • Emphasize values over rules. Get values right and they’ll build the rules themselves.
  • Praise character, not actions. Don’t make good choices seem like one-time things. Help them craft a positive identity.
  • Explain how bad behavior affects others. Empathy and guilt will forge them into awesome adults.

There’s an overwhelming amount of parenting advice out there. But Adam has some reassuring thoughts for everyone who wants to raise an ethical child that goes on to make a difference in the world. Here’s Adam:

Parenting is one of the domains in our lives where bad is really stronger than good. It is far, far easier to extinguish the creative spark of a child than it is to light that spark. The good news about that is, kids are born with that spark. They have a natural urge to ask questions, to create, to explore. At the end of the day, all you really need to do as a parent is not get in the way of that. I’ve become less hard on myself through this process, knowing that, “Don’t screw it up,” is probably better advice than, “Here are all the steps you need to take in order to be a parent who nurtures original thinking.”

You don’t need to struggle to memorize a thousand pieces of advice when it comes to instilling that creative spark in a young mind. It’s more important to make sure you’re not extinguishing that flame.

The spark is already there. Just nurture it, support it and give it love.

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The post How To Be A Better Parent: 4 Secrets Backed By Research appeared first on Barking Up The Wrong Tree.