Smartphone Detox: How To Power Down In A Wired World ~ NPR

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If the Russian psychologist Ivan Pavlov were alive today, what would he say about smartphones? He might not think of them as phones at all, but instead as remarkable tools for understanding how technology can manipulate our brains.

Pavlov’s own findings — from experiments he did more than a century ago, involving food, buzzers and slobbering dogs — offer key insights, into why our phones have become almost an extension of our bodies, modern researchers say. The findings also provide clues to how we can break our dependence.

Pavlov originally set off to study canine digestion. But one day, he noticed something peculiar while feeding his dogs. If he played a sound — like a metronome or buzzer — before mealtimes, eventually the sound started to have a special meaning for the animals. It meant food was coming! The dogs actually started drooling when they heard the sound, even if no food was around.

Hearing the buzzer had become pleasurable.

That’s exactly what’s happening with smartphones, says David Greenfield, a psychologist and assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Connecticut.

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This girl scout is a very shrewd business woman …

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Selling Girl Scout cookies is meant to accomplish more than just distributing Samoas and Thin Mints to the world. Ideally, the girls would learn about setting goals, teamwork, money management and communicating with adults, among other things.

If the girls can develop some business acumen, all the better. And one young scout in San Diego has received nationwide plaudits for her shrewd entrepreneurial sense, setting up shop last week outside a marijuana dispensary.

The girl, who has not been publicly identified, sold more than 300 boxes in six hours, her father told ABC 10. Boxes now sell for as much as $5 in parts of the country, so she probably raised more than $1,500. Yes, there’s money in the munchies.

While some have praised the plucky scout for figuring out where the demand would probably be, the Girl Scouts organization has been wrestling with how to handle marijuana-adjacent sales as more states have legalized the drug.

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Donald Trump’s Twilight Zone ~ Matt Taibbi ~ RollingStone

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llustration by Victor Juhasz

 

January 2018. We’re trapped in an intellectual prison from which there is no escape. The modern American experience has been reduced to a few grim lines: President Donald Trump says something crazy; we freak out. A leak comes out; we obsess over it. Someone gets fired; the deck chairs on the sinking ship of state get rearranged a little. Trump says something crazy again. Rinse, outrage, repeat.

It’s a fatal mind loop worthy of an early Twilight Zone episode, and if you think about it (although the next presidential tweet will likely pre-empt that possibility), we’ve been riding in this same moronic circle for more than two and a half years. Cycling through the Twitter opinions about the president’s latest brain belch has become an irresistibly shallow national ritual. It’s clearly a monster distraction from something. But what, exactly?

At the one-year anniversary of his inauguration, several crises seem to have quietly worsened under the cover of Trump’s insanity. A big one is the continuing collapse of the two major political parties – particularly the Republicans, whose dysfunction now seems beyond terminal. With characteristic myopia, the GOP establishment spent most of the past year trying to rid Washington of alt-right icon and former chief Trump strategist Steve Bannon, instead of worrying about the larger problem, i.e., the voter rage that put Trump in the White House.

An intense inside game of leaks targeted the self-proclaimed Lenin of the alt-right. Bannon was blamed for the violent neofascist-march fiasco in Charlottesville and booted from the White House in response to it, despite being the only staffer to correctly predict the boss’s inability to believably denounce Nazis in public. Then Bannon was chucked from Breitbart by Trump’s billionaire pals, the hedge-fund Mercers. That was after sleazebasket wallflower author Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury depicted Bannon dumping on Trump’s “treasonous” Large Adult Son and Fredo-esque ex-bed-wetter, the embarrassing Donald Jr.

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Where the Real Los Angeles Meets the Dream ~ NYT

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Like Broadway in New York and Ocean Drive in Miami, Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles is both a real street and a myth. It’s where you go to gas up at the Arco station (5007 Sunset Boulevard) or grab a meal at In-N-Out Burger (7009 Sunset), and also to chase the dream of fame and eternal sunshine. Remarkably, Sunset lives up to the postcard.

Drive east to west, from where the street begins downtown to where it ends 22 twisting miles later at the Pacific Ocean, and at any point along the route, you will see the images that movies, TV shows and magazines have implanted in your brain.

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In hip and historically Mexican Echo Park and Silver Lake, you’ll find trendy boutiques beside a 99 Cents Only store (3612 Sunset), and cool kids scarfing down tacos at Guisados (1261 Sunset).

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In Hollywood, there are always weird Hollywood people, and tourists hoping to see weird Hollywood people, walking around near where Sunset meets Vine.             Like Bukowski.

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“my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart,” ~ When are we going to get rid of this guy?

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Illustration by Tom Bachtell

“Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart,” Trump tweeted, noting: “I went from VERY successful businessman, to top T.V. Star … to President of the United States (on my first try). I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius … and a very stable genius at that!”

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How Actual Smart People Talk About

Themselves

Hint: not by discussing IQ

James Fallows ~ THE ATLANTIC

I’ve never met or interviewed Donald Trump, though like most of the world I feel amply exposed to his outlooks and styles of expression. So I can’t say whether, in person, he somehow conveys the edge, the sparkle, the ability to connect, the layers of meaning that we usually associate with both emotional and analytical intelligence.

But I have had the chance over the years to meet and interview a large sampling of people whom the world views the way Trump views himself. That is, according to this morning’s dispatches, as “like, really smart,” and “genius.”

In current circumstances it’s relevant to mention what I’ve learned this way.

I once spent weeks on interviews for a magazine profile of a man who had won a Nobel prize in medicine while in his forties. Back in my college days, one afternoon our biology professor passed around Dixie cups full of champagne before beginning the day’s classroom lecture, because of news that he had just won the Nobel prize. In decades of reporting on the tech industry, I’ve interviewed people—Gates, Jobs, Musk, Page—whose names have become shorthands for their respective forms of brilliance, plus several more Nobel winners, plus others who are not famous but deserve to be.
During a brief stint of actually working at a tech company, I learned that some of the engineers and coders were viewed as just operating on a different plane: the code they wrote was better, tighter, and more elegant than other people’s, and they could write it much more quickly.

I’ve had the chance to interview and help select winners of fancy scholarships. Recently, in Shanghai, I interviewed a Chinese woman now in her early twenties who became the women’s world chess champion at age 16—and we were speaking in English.

If you report long enough on politics and public life, even there you will see examples of exceptional strategic, analytic, and bargaining intelligence, along with a lot of clownishness.

In short (as Lloyd Bentsen might once have put it): I’ve known some very smart people. Some very smart people have been friends of mine. And Donald Trump…

Here are three traits I would report from a long trail of meeting and interviewing people who by any reckoning are very intelligent.

  • They all know it. A lifetime of quietly comparing their ease in handling intellectual challenges—at the chess board, in the classroom, in the debating or writing arena—with the efforts of other people gave them the message.
  • Virtually none of them (need to) say it. There are a few prominent exceptions, of talented people who annoyingly go out of their way to announce that fact. Muhammed Ali is the charming extreme exception illustrating the rule: he said he was The Greatest, and was. Most greats don’t need to say so. It would be like Roger Federer introducing himself with, “You know, I’m quite graceful and gifted.” Or Meryl Streep asking, “Have you seen my awards?”
  • They know what they don’t know. This to me is the most consistent marker of real intelligence. The more acute someone’s ability to perceive and assess, the more likely that person is to recognize his or her limits. These include the unevenness of any one person’s talents; the specific areas of weakness—social awkwardness, musical tin ear, being stronger with numbers than with words, or vice versa; and the incomparable vastness of what any individual person can never know. To read books seriously is to be staggered by the knowledge of how many more books will remain beyond your ken. It’s like looking up at the star-filled sky.

    We can think of exceptions—the people who are eminent in one field and try unwisely to stretch that to another. (Celebrated scientists or artists who become ordinary pundits; Michael Jordan the basketball genius becoming Michael Jordan the minor-league baseball player.) But generally the cliche is true: the clearest mark of intelligence, even “genius,” is awareness of one’s limits and ignorance.

 

On the other hand, we have something known as the Dunning-Kruger effect: the more limited someone is in reality, the more talented the person imagines himself to be. Or, as David Dunning and Justin Kruger put it in the title of their original scientific-journal article, “Unskilled and unaware of it: how difficulties in recognizing one’s own incompetence lead to inflated self-assessments.”

Odds are that the world’s most flamboyant illustration of this dangerous mis-perception, despite his claimed omniscience, would not even recognize the term, nor its ominous implications in his case.