In this late October issue, what to do with #MeToo, the web since 2007, harvesting a wild lunch with a master forager, and new research on mushrooms to treat depression. Go in-depth in the two long reads on revolutionizing interrogation practices and a Black Mirror-esque citizen behavior rating system going live. Then listen to an intense Q&A from a relationship expert and TED speaker, and check out art, movie and music recommendations in our digs.
◦ selected words
For Guys Reading #MeToo Posts
You’re reading #MeToo stories on your online feeds with feelings of shock and anger. A discomfort and sadness settles in, and maybe you even reflect on the times where you may have crossed the line as well. But then what? Advice on what you can do after this pivotal moment where the silence has been broken, with ramifications far outside of Hollywood.
onbeing.org (4min read)
Harvesting A Wild Lunch with A Master Forager
“When you pick wild edibles, several considerations need to be carefully thought out: You need to pick responsibly, you need to pick ethically, and plants are living animals, so you just don’t want to rip them out of the ground. You want to be thankful for what you pick and pick responsibly,”. Expertise and wisdom from Nick Spero, biologist and master forager, sharing his skills by leading walks and programs on foraging in Maryland.
npr.org (3min read + 3m35s video)
A Decade of Web Development, Explained to a Time Traveler from 2007
Ten years ago, the most popular browser didn’t exist. Apps were called programs (and in case of web apps, websites), Chrome rules the browser wars, Flash is thankfully dead, and we’ve made advances in data, storage, learning, and more. A humorous take on how far we’ve come in a decade of web development.
medium.freecodecamp.org (11min read)
Magic Mushrooms for Untreatable Depression
A small study released yesterday in the journal, Scientific Reports, found that psilocybin “resets” the brain by affecting two key areas: the amygdala and the default-mode network. The team at Imperial College London performed fMRI brain scans on patients with treatment-resistant depression before and after two doses of psilocybin (10 mg followed by 25 mg, one-week apart). The researchers observed decreased depressive symptoms in all 19 patients at 1-week post-treatment and 47% met criteria for response at 5 weeks. We’ll be seeing a lot more research like this, soon.
bbc.com (2min read with link to the paper)
◦ listen in
Q&A with Relationship Counselor & TED Speaker Esther Perel
In her 34 years as a couple’s counselor, Esther Perel has accumulated a vast collection of experiences to draw on in the area of relationship therapy. Her two TED talks, “The secret to desire in a long-term relationship” and “Rethinking infidelity … a talk for anyone who has ever loved” total over 20M views. Fluent in nine languages, Perel’s ability to communicate directly but with nuance has her sought out by Tony Robbins and for events like SXSW. This Q&A session is full of sage advice, including:
- Dating with a checklist is doomed, it takes the romance and story out.
- Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: criticism, defensiveness, stonewalling and contempt.
- How to stay connected amidst disagreement, and the triad of relationships: connection, disconnection, repair.
- The place for jealousy.
- When is a relationship really done?
- How she deals with critics.
Read more about Esther in this article in The New Yorker (10min read) and The New York Times (14min read).
Q&A on The Tim Ferris Show at tim.blog (1hr 8min podcast)
◦ eat well
How to Make Soup
My mother used to make a simple dinner of Campbell’s cream of mushroom over a bed of white rice, with stir fried broccoli and oven-baked chicken. I still crave it today, but since I’ve abandoned the canned soups when I learned how simple, healthy, and affordable they are. They’re not just a side — I often have them as a quick meal with a bagel or sliced avocado, and they freeze well. This guide starts with an introduction to the three main types of soup, explains the classic aromatics and seasonings, and then teaches the foundation — the soup’s broth. An informative and visual feast from The New York Times.
◦ read slow
The Scientists the Spy Agencies Hired to Change Interrogation Practices
Since the 1950’s, American police officers have been trained in the Reid Technique, a confrontational, psychologically manipulative interrogation method. You’ve likely seen this in movies — the suspect is treated as guilty to get them to confess. But the main critique is the number of false confessions this produces, especially among younger interviewees.
In 2009, recognizing this and also in an attempt to avoid abusive practices, Obama’s administration setup the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group to research better methods. This in-depth article takes you into the process of two British psychologists (who are also married) revolutionizing the practice of interrogation. Previous studies relied on role-playing with student volunteers. However, working closely with police, the two were granted access to over 1,000 hours of tapes. After analyzing each on 150 variables, their research resulted in the “world’s first empirically grounded and comprehensive model of interrogation tactics”. The main strategy? Be nice.
theguardian.com (28min read)
Black Mirror-esque Rating System Goes Live in China
In 2014, the Chinese government released a document describing a national trust score to rate what kind of citizen you are, called the Social Credit System (SCS). Most of your activities are already tracked by your phone and through the Facebook/Google/Instagram’s of the world, but now imagine a system where ALL behaviors are rated good or bad. Playing video games for hours? You’re in the idle box. Bought diapers? You’re probably a parent, so you’re most likely responsible. And your score goes up if you display “positive energy” online — tweeting kind words about the country and its all-seeing government. The system even “nudges” you towards what the government deems is a more desired behavior, including the people you should spend time with.
Sounding frighteningly familiar? Black Mirror’s Season Three opener, “Nosedive”, depicted a social version of this dystopia, and the show’s second episode, “Fifteen Million Merits”, incorporates a points system, and both are difficult to watch.
So why are people signing up voluntarily for the trial run? Gamification and privileged access. Earn 650pts and you can rent a car without a deposit. 750? Fast-track for a European visa. Chinese citizens are already bragging about their high scores on the Internet while the government is providing tips on how to improve your ranking, warning against friending someone with a low score, which can affect your job applications, where you can vacation and even what restaurants you can eat at. Though currently voluntary, by 2020 this system will be mandatory for all 1.3Bn citizens. You were warned.
wired.co.uk (19min read)
◦ current read
A touching story of Asterios Polyp, a fifty-year-old charismatic and intellectual architect at the top of his field, but who’s never had a building built. On a journey of self-discovery, love, and meaning, Asterios struggles to break free from the systems he was unknowingly chained to. He leaves the big city for the heartland, trying to make sense of his perceptions versus reality. With ingenious use of color and geometric vs organic shapes combined with philosophical asides and allusions to Greek tragedies, author and artist Mazzucchelli makes the most of the medium to tell an engaging coming-of-age tale.
goodreads.com (David Mazzucchelli, 334p book)
◦ dig this
What I’m digging lately:
- Beautiful in English – Google Translate’s most often translated word into English for the most popular 10 languages, visualized beautifully.
- Ai Wei Wei’s Big NYC Art Project – 300 public installations by the Chinese artist-activist on the topic of immigration.
- All the Films of Studio Ghibli, Ranked – Celebrating the newest release of the collection on DVD. Miyazaki’s masterpiece, Princess Mononoke, is my #1.
- Ciaran Lavery – The Irish singer/songwriter is like a folkier Glen Hansard, whose single “Shame” has 37M listens on Spotify, but he doesn’t yet have a Wikipedia page.
◦ humble thought
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” – George Bernard Shaw
In this recent piece in the New Yorker (11min read) by the consistently engaging Maria Konnikova, the author and psychologist draws out a history for how quickly and by how much norms of a whole society can change. Though the article uses political examples, we can learn how to better shift behaviors in other areas as well by learning from the past and strategically going beyond our echo chambers. Amidst recent earth-shaking events like the Vegas shootings, Hollywood’s sexual harassment divulgences, and racism in the headlines, the new normal can change overnight. The lessons are that we must engage leaders in all groups to influence behavior positively or risk further fracturing of our society.
What does that mean for one person? It goes back to having meaningful conversations, creating safe spaces, healing, and speaking with nuance and respect across differences. Start with small conversations with your family and partner, and then practice this in your workplace and your community. Echoing the goal of the Civil Conversations Project, we must speak together differently to live together differently.