The joy of little clutter; 27-April 2016

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My small study table has piles of stuff on it – papers, books, bags, laptop stand, and files. I have been asked to clean it up. I admit that the cluttered table makes me feel guilty. But it also means that I have work, books to read, or things that can make reading from a laptop comfortable. For me, cleaning up doesn’t come that naturally, although I love a clean, an organized and an airy home. I prefer to delegate it. In an age of small spaces, and in the middle of a culture of minimalism, here are a few beautiful thoughts on how and why a little stuff that we call clutter can brighten up or spice up our living spaces.

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/olmstead/the-joy-of-stuff/

The Attraction of bad art; 12-April-2016

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I have heard of people visiting places to check out beautiful local or global artwork. But, imagine flocking to a place to check out some botched, failed, and bad art! Surprisingly, it is bad art that brought tourist income to this place in Spain. We humans sometimes like to see others fail.

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2016/04/why-do-we-love-bad-art/476502/

The unwanted unwanted advances; 9-March-2016

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What happens when a colleague or superior makes unwanted advances, cracks sexually explicit jokes or plainly makes you uncomfortable with his various tools of sexual harassment? It is rampant not only in the industry but also in the academia. And if the woman is dependent on that colleague or superior for her thesis completion or academic work, the work suffers as well. Today’s write up is on how such behavior leads to many women quitting science for good.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/06/opinion/sunday/she-wanted-to-do-her-research-he-wanted-to-talk-feelings.html?_r=0

Think before adopting man’s best friend; 2-March-2016

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When I was considering adopting a dog, I was advised for and against it by various people. I found that while we have good reasons for adopting a dog, many people somehow don’t have the right reasons to not adopt one. When people talk about how difficult it is bring up a dog, I generally disagree. I don’t think bringing up a dog is more pain and less happiness; rather, I think it is the reverse. (But my opinion is relative – as I compare having a dog with bringing up a baby) The actual reasons for not adopting a dog are different and if you are a dog person considering adopting a dog, you will find them in this article. By the way, you will also find some good arguments on why owning a dog makes sense for a lot of people.

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2015/09/07/great-news-dog-ownership-is-optional/

 

Doing and then not doing drugs; 21-Feb-2016

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This one is a wonderful write-up on drug addiction. It tries to unravel the reasons for addiction and a way to overcome it. The interview is with a Philosophy teacher-writer who got addicted to drugs and later recovered. In the interview she talks about how popular culture can lead people to experiment with drugs and/or alcohol, and how philosophy helped her in beating her addiction.

http://www.vice.com/read/we-asked-a-philosopher-whether-its-ok-to-take-drugs

A Remarkable Woman of Both Art and Science; 11-Feb-2016

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She and her work came much before Carl Linnaeus, a Swedish Naturalist responsible for the modern system of naming and classifying organisms, and even before Charles Darwin. And, even though she is less famous than these great scientists, Maria Sibylla Merian – a painter – contributed to Science primarily with her paintings on caterpillars in their natural environments depicting the relationships between the insects and their environment. Linnaeus used her paintings for his classification. Moreover, this seventeenth century woman was far ahead of her time: in her quest to find tiny organisms in their environment, this courageous woman – now well in her fifties – travelled to South America and funded her journey by selling her paintings. The fruit of her endeavor was perhaps her magnum opus.

http://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/01/the-woman-who-made-science-beautiful/424620/

The reasons for China’s economic slowdown; 2-Feb-2016

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Democracies, even with their faults, are the preferred form of government. In spite of that China, a communist nation, has shown remarkable economic growth. The backbone of such a growth was great reform by two Chinese premiers Zhao Ziyang and Zhu Rongji – as this article puts it. The article goes on to discuss when opaque autocratic rule is useful and when (in today’s times) it is not. The assumption behind good growth was good policymakers in the government. Is China facing a drought of such policymakers? If the policymaking politicians are more interested in personal political gains rather than working towards economic efficiency, the country can go for a toss. Also, with more opportunities in the private sector, why would talented individuals choose to work under a humiliating and autocratic government?

http://asia.nikkei.com/Viewpoints/Viewpoints/Behind-China-s-woes-myth-of-competent-autocrats

We are hardwired to gossip; 1-Feb-2016

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I love gossip especially when it about others and not me. Our gregarious nature and social needs are aspects apart from language and higher cognition that make us (arguably) superior. Gossip, as this author puts it, is not a character flaw but a higher evolved social skill. Gossip may help us figure out who are friends, competitors, cooperators, cheaters, or mates. It can make us more knowledgeable. Not gossiping could mean that we are not trustworthy and that might throw us out of the social circle. I have been at the receiving end of gossip as well. A gossiper can be highly influential and popular even if he is cunning or wily. However, the awareness that others might be discussing us can keep us in check. Read on – there’s more about usefulness of gossip in the write-up.

https://theconversation.com/gossip-is-a-social-skill-not-a-character-flaw-51629

The young – an oppressed minority; 25-Jan-2016

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The youth of today have never had it better – growing up with better nutrition and education, it seems as if they have a sea of opportunities. However this Economist article states that the truth is different – that we are cruelly wasting our talent. Government and employment policies favour the old more. And we don’t want frustrated and jobless youngsters leading our tomorrow. The article offers a few suggestions.

http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21688856-worlds-young-are-oppressed-minority-unleash-them-young-gifted-and-held-back

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