Saturday, November 10, 2018

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A Guide to Buying the Best Books for 20-Year-Olds



Hi! This is a new post from my series of guides for people who love reading. In today’s ‘episode’, I’ll show you a couple of tips on how you can find the perfect book for a 20-year-old. It can be tricky navigating through all of the books available for sale these days, and if you don’t know the person you’re planning to give a gift to, it can be even trickier. Here’s what you should consider if you want to get a good book for a 20-year-old.




Find out as much as you can about that person
As much of a cliche as it might sound, this is the first thing you have to do. You definitely wouldn’t enjoy receiving a book that offends you or that you have zero intention on reading, right? The point here is that you should get a book that actually has a chance of being read, both for the sake of the book and for the sake of the person that got it as a gift.

If you’re a close friend of that person or if he or she is a family member, you’re probably already aware of what they’re passionate about. Don’t just think that someone who doesn’t enjoy reading will take it up just like that - it isn’t true. However, you could start by analyzing that gift recipient’s tastes and preferences.

I’m going to give you an example to make things a bit easier. Let’s say you’re trying to get a book for your brother. What does your brother enjoy to do in his spare time? Does he like DIY-ing? Does he like fishing, hunting, camping, hiking, or any other type of outdoor activity? Does he like humor?

If you take the time to answer these questions, you’ll find out what type of book you can consider. For example, for DIY people, you could get them a book on home repair and improvement, homemade products, DIY solar power, car repair, wood pallet projects, or anything else. For those who like fishing, a book on several species or techniques could be a good choice, but don’t underestimate those that are collections of fishing stories, either. For people who like to laugh, nothing’s better than a book in the humor category, for example.




20 is a difficult age
There are a lot of challenges to overcome when you’re 20, and a practical book such as one on making smart financial decisions could be the right way of going about things. While they are in their 20s, many people make bad money mistakes - whether it’s ruining their credit, too many credit cards, too many bank accounts - whatever it is that has gone through your mind, one of them has to be it.

If you’re the parent of a 20-year-old, choosing a book like The Financial Diet (which is very easy to read even for someone who is bad at math or making financial decisions) can both be a good thing for your son or daughter, but it can also put your mind at ease.




Format

Another aspect that you ought to consider is the fact that not all books are the same. Just like some are paperbacks and hardbacks, there’s also the option of you choosing the electronic version (the e-book). Sure, that might not be so glamorous since you won’t be able to hand the book to the gift recipient - but still, if you know for sure that the 20-year-old you’re getting it for doesn’t have any physical copies and is maybe trying not to buy printed books just to be eco-friendly, an e-book might be a logical choice.




Genre

This is pretty tricky. If you don’t know that much about the person, you’ll have to do a bit of investigating - ask his or her friends to find out what genre he likes. Keep in mind that there are people who like to read non-fiction (such as The Financial Diet book we’ve mentioned before), but there are others that only read fiction and can’t stand non-fiction, no matter how well it might be written.

I used to be like that. When I was in my 20s, I loved reading mysteries and thrillers, but also memoirs and contemporary lit. I never even thought that I’d get to the point where I’d start to enjoy reading non-fiction. And guess what? It did happen, but once I was past the age of 29. I made the mistake of starting my ‘non-fiction journey’ with one of Seth Godin’s books, and since I wasn’t even in the same industry at that time and it seemed like his book was an endless repetition of whatever he said in the first chapter, I gave up the whole genre.

Much later on, when I came across Mindset: Changing The Way You think to Fulfil Your Potential by Carol Dweck, I understood that not all non-fiction books are the same. Some can actually help you.

So, what does this 20-year-old usually read?



So, there you have it. Here are my two cents on how you can pick a great book for a 20-year-old. If you liked this post, consider sharing it with your friends.
Continue reading A Guide to Buying the Best Books for 20-Year-Olds

Monday, November 5, 2018

A Guide to Buying the Best Pens for Coloring Books



Like I said in one of my recent posts, I would start publishing buying guides for pretty much anything book-related. Today, I’m coming at you with a post on getting the best bang for the buck when you’re in the market for the best pens for coloring books. I know that it can be challenging getting the right ones, so that’s why I’m here - I’ll give you my advice since I’ve been researching book stuff topics for years and years now.

I made a list of factors that you ought to mull over to make sure that you’re purchasing just what you need. Keep in mind that the definition of ‘pens’ differs largely from one product to the other and that some people like markers, crayons, or something else, so the diversity might baffle you.




Types of colored pens

There are several kinds of pens for coloring books out there. First, we have the fountain pen, which is slowly but surely becoming obsolete, and that’s because it is difficult to control, it can be expensive, but it does provide flexibility and smooth application. Unfortunately, changing or replacing the ink is anything but hassle-free, so given the array of cons to this option, it might not be the right one to take into account.

Next, we have the ballpoint pen, which is typically affordable, has a good ink life, and requires little to no maintenance. It might not give you the same amount of freedom with regard to the application, and if you don’t use it for a while, the ink can become blobby or sticky.

Fiber tip pens have excellent color output and another advantage is that the ink dries a lot faster than with other pens. However, you might notice that you’ll go through the ink rather quickly.

Gel ink pens are also rather popular because they offer benefits such as a powerful color output, smooth color application, and very little effort when they’re used. However, they also run out of ink rather fast and they might not provide that much flexibility.

I know that a pen isn’t the same as a pencil, but people who like coloring books might appreciate the second instead of the first strictly because you can use an eraser for times when you went outside the pattern, for example.

Colors

You should have a pen for each color because that’s the only way that you can make sure that they are accurate. You can’t blend them as you would if you were to paint, for example. Some types come in rather wide ranges of color selections, but with others, you’ll notice that the selection is somewhat limited. Water-based pens come in fewer colors compared to their gel-based counterparts, for example.


Ink type

Probably the most important aspect that you have to consider when you’re in the market for colored pens for coloring books is the fact that the color should not bleed through the paper and get on the other side. Cheaper coloring books usually come with patterns on both sides of the paper, so the last thing you might want to do would be to ruin the next pattern because of a cheap or poorly made pen.

Each type of ink has pros and cons in this respect. For example, gel ink can bleed through paper but it provides deep and intense colors. Oil-based ink is prone to bubbling, but it dries somewhat quickly. Water-based ink takes a long time to dry, and the colors might not be extremely deep or precise.

The ink does matter, it’s true, but the quality of your coloring book does, as well. If it’s cheaply made, the paper will be thin, and so regardless of how carefully you apply the colors, it will bleed and get to the other side, thereby ruining a pattern.




Final advice

If you’re having a hard time telling which product you ought to spend your cents on, perhaps you should go through some reviews of pens for coloring books. Other people, who decide to relax and spend their spare time in the same way you do can assist you when it comes to finding out whether the ink bleeds, whether you can go through the ink quickly, or any other aspect you might need to find out.



Sometimes, it makes more sense to invest in a set rather than getting individual pens separately. You get a lot more colors and therefore, you have the opportunity to express your creativity in an effective manner.


*image via Pixabay
Continue reading A Guide to Buying the Best Pens for Coloring Books

Friday, November 2, 2018

The future of this blog

A week ago or so, I was notified by EasyDNS that my domain would expire. It's been three years and I have to say that I'm truly sorry about the way I managed this blog in the sense that while I started out enthusiastic and published fairly regularly, doing the same became impossible because of my job. I also felt rather disappointed that I didn't have the audience I was looking for, so basically - I quit before things would start to look up.

Because I am running out of ideas about what I could write here and because I don't feel particularly excited about publishing reviews of the host of books I read during the summer (of which many were Erotica), I'm going to do something I am fairly good at. I'm going to be publishing buying guides about all sorts of book-related things. 

I've been working in affiliate marketing for over four years now and I have amassed a lot of experience in the field. I am not looking to overly monetize the site and I will not be reviewing any products that I haven't personally tried. I will, however, provide you with my personal advice on buying book-related stuff - both because I have bought so much myself over time, and because if I'm good at writing something, I'm definitely good at writing buying guides.

On occasion, I'll still publish excerpts from the non-fiction books I read (mostly for my job and for my personal development), and maybe I'll start writing some reviews, too. It's been just a couple of weeks, but I think I'm finally done with reading Erotica of any kind. I'm so over the cliches I find in these books and I honestly can't think of a good reason for which I read mostly books from this genre for almost a whole year. I did discover several interesting authors whose works I might return to in the future (Golden Angel being the one I love the most), but the rest of the books I read don't even deserve to be reviewed here, and I don't recommend them to anyone. 

If you have taken the time to check out this blog every once in a while, thank you. If you've quit doing so, I understand. 

2018 has been a really trying year for me in every way. Aside from my job, pretty much nothing went well this year. Fortunately, I still love what I do very much and I'm not really looking to do any changes on this account. Personally, 2018 was probably the most horrible year of my life. I've had to deal with several depression bouts, I even considered going to a therapist because I felt like crying all the time, and just last week, I had the most severe existential crisis of my life. I found it so hard to have a purpose and really understand what I was put on this Earth for... it's a feeling I can't even describe, but I felt incredibly lost.

Now that I am feeling just a little better and that I've realized that most people actually go through life without any purpose whatsoever and there's nothing wrong with that, I guess I'm beginning to be at peace with myself. I've always put so much pressure on myself, both while I was growing up and with regard to my personal relationships. Although I've been genuine with everyone, I'm starting to understand that people are selfish (just like I've been with some, over time) and sometimes, you just can't stop them from doing whatever they want. It's just how things are and it's not my place to change anyone's mind if they don't want to. 

People make mistakes and so do I, but I'm definitely hoping I'll make fewer in the future. so, I'm being optimistic and it's like a filter that was covering my eyes for so many months has now lifted and I can finally see things as they are. The crap I read this year didn't do anything but idealize the way I looked at relationships. There are no perfect people and there won't ever be any. 

My point is that I'm coming back. I'll probably get back to the schedule of posting four articles per month. I hope everyone who ends up here is happy and healthy and I'm wishing all the best to you, whether you're a reader or not. 


*Image via Pixabay
Continue reading The future of this blog

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

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Capital Gaines: Smart Things I learned Doing Stupid Stuff, Chip Gaines - Excerpts


Capital Gaines: Smart Things I learned Doing Stupid Stuff, Chip Gaines

 1. Some of the greatest success stories of all time come from people who were misunderstood or even miscategorized. Maybe their strengths weren’t noticed or valued. Perhaps they got a slow start or went about things in an unusual manner. They somehow didn’t fit into the world’s narrow definition of what constitutes achievement or success. Here are just a few of them.

2. When baseball was going well, my life was going well. But as soon as one thing went wrong, it seemed as though other areas of my life started to fall apart at the seams. It was a snowball effect, a chain reaction. So I pushed hard to make sure that every aspect of the game was perfect. There was literally no room for error.

3. Getting cut from baseball was something I never saw coming. And looking back, I can see that it could’ve played out one of several ways. First possibility: I could have dropped out of college and spent my days lying around the house with my five lazy roommates, eating a sick amount of pizza and getting really good at the video game RBI Baseball.
My backup plan of moving back in with my parents and having my mom wash my tighty-whities didn’t sound so bad either. The passion had been knocked out of me, and there was seemingly nothing good that could fill its place. Another possibility would’ve been to suck it up and get a part-time job to occupy my time—just a random job that I didn’t care too much about but that paid the bills. Sure, it would have meant giving up on my dreams, but at this point I would’ve resigned myself to barely getting by.
This option involved zero risk, and there’s something really appealing about not rising again after being hurt so profoundly. And although it didn’t sound as good as playing Nintendo all day, at least it would get me out of the house. Another possibility would’ve been to use every instinct and skill I’d developed over the years, find a new passion, and then go for it. I’d get off of the couch and be okay with hanging up my cleats so that I could pursue something different. And even if this new direction was different from what I’d always dreamed about, I would refuse to quit. Sure, it took me a few months to get my head on straight, but I was resolved to figure this all out. I’m smart enough to know that when you put in the effort and find a new passion and get back on track, good things are bound to happen.
This last scenario is just about the way it turned out. I may have dipped my toes in options one and two, but option three was what all of those years prior had equipped me for. So instead of becoming chronically despondent or detached, I chose a different approach. It took everything inside of me to step up to the plate again, but I did it. And then I gave it all I had.

4. I believed the baseball field was the perfect place to train me as a baseball player, but it turned out to be the perfect training ground for life as an entrepreneur. That can be true for you too, no matter what your passion is. Every ounce of energy you invest in pursuing your goals will help you grow toward God’s plan for you . . . even if you end up somewhere you hadn’t counted on. I can’t promise you there won’t be any curveballs in your life. But I’m positive that if you do the hard work and never quit—and pick yourself up when things go sideways—good things will be waiting on the other side.

5. It’s just human nature for couples to turn their insecurities and animosities against each other during life’s more challenging seasons.

 6. Juggling being co-workers along with being a married couple can feel like walking a tightrope at times. The hardest part for us is turning off the work side of things and focusing on us. We have to be really intentional to not talk about business all the time. For example, we have to choose not to discuss project lists, payroll, or an upcoming client on date night. When we get home at the end of the day, the business truly needs to be out of sight and out of mind; our babies and our marriage must be the only things in the world that matter. This has proven to be one of our biggest challenges and is definitely easier said than done.

 7. It starts with being willing to be seen and known and loved for who you are, as you are. Then you have to be willing to turn around and do the same, loving your spouse in their totality: flaws, blemishes, and quirks included. It’s from there that you can begin to forge a trust where creativity and compassion can grow strong. Taking on the world as a unified, fortified duo is not just a romantic notion; it’s a powder keg. Together you can set the world on fire.

 8. I’m still a huge advocate for trusting your instincts and taking leaps of faith when it matters. There are plenty of things worth rushing into the unknown for. But don’t be dumb. Save your courage for when it counts.

9. If I ever run for public office one day, there’s a good chance my stump speech will be about making it illegal to live in fear. The reason I’m so passionate about this topic is that fear will literally ruin every single facet of your life; it cripples everything. You know how hurt people hurt people? Well, scared people scare people. And thus, the cycle of fear continues on. Fact: life isn’t safe. You could do A, B, and C all perfectly right, and then BAM! All of a sudden D will show up and D wasn’t even on the guest list.

 10. A lot of people spend their days walking in fear of failure, pain or even death. But things like disease or war still find their way past triple-locked doors. No alarm system can keep these things away. And I just don’t see the point in putting energy into doing what isn’t possible in the first place.

11. For the rest of your days, you can live in fear of what could happen. You can walk instead of run, drive instead of fly, or leave the big city and move out to the suburbs. But you simply cannot protect yourself from the things beyond your control. I don’t want to make this too depressing or anything, but right now, at this very minute…
There are nuclear weapons being tested and chemical weapons being further developed while a quarter of humanity lives without electricity There are more than a hundred different varieties of cancer, with many different causes, but no dependable cure. There are more than one hundred fifty million orphans in the world, and nearly eight million children die of preventable diseases every year because they are too poor to afford treatment. Twenty-nine thousand kids under five years old die because of poverty every day.
 You see where I’m going? If we let every potential threat out there dictate how we feel, there’s a decent chance we’ll all curl up into the fetal position and never leave the house. Sometimes too much information is immobilizing.

 12. I vote that instead of fretting about the problems in this world, we all become part of the solutions. This happens through our willingness to make small, brave decisions. No one is born a hero. It takes a lifetime of courageous choices to get there. So quit dodging hard things. When you make the choice to duck left to avoid something scary, you could miss a beautiful opportunity on the right.

13. If you don’t ask out the girl (or guy), you risk ending up alone, too scared to pursue a relationship. If the thought of traveling to a foreign country terrifies you and you bow to that, you miss out on experiencing the big, exciting world that’s out there just waiting on you to discover it. Say you never apply for (or accept) a job that feels beyond your capabilities, but instead choose to stay in an easy, safe position that never requires you to grow, change, or build something that matters. That’s not just sad for you; it’s sad for the rest of us, because we need what you have to give.

14. The other thing about the presence of fear in the process of decision making is that it can severely cloud your judgment. Fear dressed up as wisdom provides poor counsel. It lures you into thinking that if you will just trust it, it will afford you some level of control. But guess what? You’re not in control. So I’m calling bull on that illusion. It’s time for a wake-up call. Maybe a little cold water in the face couldn’t hurt. Life isn’t safe, remember. But life can be wonderful if you choose adventure rather than fear.

15. There’s a scene in this movie that I watched with the kids, We Bought a Zoo, where the dad gives his son an amazing piece of advice. This is the direct quote. I know because I made Ella get up and pause the movie so I could write it down. Then I played it back a second time: “Sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage.
Just, literally 20 seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.” That’s it. That’s the stuff. Each time you muster up what it takes and go for it, the next go-round becomes that much easier. Real and important changes begin with small, courageous acts. It’s never too late in your story to take a step away from fear. And the good news is that both optimism and courage are contagious. No hand washing necessary. Simply catch and spread.

16. Nobody remembers if you cross the finish line bruised and bloody. They just remember that you stayed the course. Don’t get hung up on how ugly the race may have looked. In the end, all that matters is that you finish.

17. Listen to me here: if you’re going to make a bet, bet on yourself. Of course you won’t always win. Life doesn’t work that way. But if you don’t at least try, how could you ever know what’s on the other side?

18. I’m a firm believer that figuring things out on your own is more effective than being given something on a silver platter. And that belief is at the heart of my personal leadership strategy. I expect our team to dive in headfirst. They don’t have time to doggie-paddle. We pride ourselves in on-the-job training and solving problems. I like people who work first and ask questions later. As soon as I get a sense that they’re sitting back in their comfort zone, avoiding a challenge, I push them off the ledge. That may sound harsh, but people who know my heart understand my intentions behind this. I’ve got a different take on the whole concept of sink or swim. In my opinion, you win either way. If you swim, that means you’re capable. If you sink, that simply means you need more practice. It’s less of an ‘if you don’t make it, you aren’t good enough’ mindset and more of an opportunity to truly assess where you are and what you still need to work on.

 19. (...) if you want to do well in your work, don’t get caught up in the job-title mentality. Let your work speak for itself rather than relying on some title that someone else gave you or confining yourself to a simple job description. It’s just so easy to let that title box you in. If you’re low man on the totem pole and your title hints at that, then you may put yourself in that box rather than think of ways to go above and beyond, exceeding every expectation. On the other hand, if you’re a head honcho with a big title, then you’re likely to rest on it. You may settle in and get comfortable. And that’s exactly what you don’t want if you really want to grow professionally.
Continue reading Capital Gaines: Smart Things I learned Doing Stupid Stuff, Chip Gaines - Excerpts

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

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Smart Trust - Stephen M. R. Covey (Excerpts)


Smart Trust - Stephen M. R. Covey - Quotes I liked


One time, I hired a guide to take me fly-fishing. While we were fishing, he asked me, “What do you see?”

“I see a beautiful river.”

“Do you see any fish?”

“No.”

Then he told me to put on a pair of polarized sunglasses.


Suddenly everything looked dramatically different. I could see through the water, and I could see fish—a lot of fish. Suddenly I saw enormous possibilities that I had not seen before. The fish were there all along, but until I put on the glasses, they were hidden. (...)
• What kind of glasses am I wearing?

• Where did I get them?


 • Are they creating the results I want in my life?


• Are they enabling me to see the abundant possibilities that exist for creating prosperity, energy, and joy?


2. I remember a time years ago when I was traveling with my parents. We visited a less developed country that was known to be corrupt. We hired a driver we thought we could trust to take us several places, and we left a number of watches and other gifts we had purchased in our bags locked in the trunk of his car while we did some sightseeing. When we returned, we checked inside our bags to make sure the boxes were all there. They were. But when we got back to the U.S. and opened the boxes, we discovered they were all empty!

3. Experiences such as these affect us on a personal level. Even more, deeply wounding experiences—such as discovering someone has lied to you, finding out your spouse has cheated on you, going through a difficult divorce (either as a spouse or a child), having a “friend” talk about you behind your back, discovering drugs in your child’s room, having your wallet stolen, finding out that your child has been mistreated at day care, or having a business partner continually break promises to you—can easily shift an innate propensity to trust into an acquired propensity to distrust.

Just as with blind trust, it’s sometimes easy to put on the glasses of distrust. In fact, if we start out wearing blind-trust glasses but then get seriously burned, we often swing the pendulum to the other extreme and trade them in for thick glasses of distrust and suspicion. It seems like a natural response in a low-trust world. It’s an approach that’s easy to hide behind. It feels safer and less risky and that we’re more in control. It can make us appear more careful, more intelligent. It seems more expedient in an urgency-addicted world where the focus is on short-term gains rather than long-term sustainability. Moving quickly to distrust and suspicion is the common response of society to almost any violation of trust because it is the easiest lever to pull and seems to provide the best legal and defensive cover.

Experiences such as these affect us on a personal level. Even more, deeply wounding experiences—such as discovering someone has lied to you, finding out your spouse has cheated on you, going through a difficult divorce (either as a spouse or a child), having a “friend” talk about you behind your back, discovering drugs in your child’s room, having your wallet stolen, finding out that your child has been mistreated at daycare, or having a business partner continually break promises to you—can easily shift an innate propensity to trust into an acquired propensity to distrust.


Just as with blind trust, it’s sometimes easy to put on the glasses of distrust. In fact, if we start out wearing blind-trust glasses but then get seriously burned, we often swing the pendulum to the other extreme and trade them in for thick glasses of distrust and suspicion. It seems like a natural response in a low-trust world. It’s an approach that’s easy to hide behind. It feels safer and less risky and that we’re more in control. It can make us appear more careful, more intelligent. It seems more expedient in an urgency-addicted world where the focus is on short-term gains rather than long-term sustainability. Moving quickly to distrust and suspicion is the common response of society to almost any violation of trust because it is the easiest lever to pull and seems to provide the best legal and defensive cover.

4. You’ve likely been scripted, conditioned, and/or experienced into primarily one set of glasses or the other. Whichever glasses you wear tend to magnify the evidence that fits your paradigm and filter out the evidence that doesn’t, and they significantly affect the degree of prosperity, energy, and joy in your life. Keep in mind that the differentiation is not all or nothing, black or white. You may be wearing a strong prescription or a mild one. You may switch back and forth. You may even be wearing bifocals, so to speak—looking at your professional relationships with distrust and your personal relationships with blind trust or vice versa. Or you may view your family with blind trust and people dating your daughter with distrust. The point is that whatever glasses you’re wearing at any time are affecting the way you see the world—and as a result the quality of your life and your ability to enjoy relationships with others and work with them to accomplish meaningful goals.

5. In the end, reciprocity works both ways: When we extend trust, we generate trust; when we withhold trust, we generate distrust.

6. Sometimes it’s incredibly hard to overcome intense experiences that can script us for a lifetime. But it’s possible. Even if all we can start with is a bias to believe, we can work on building that bias. We can put on our trust glasses and look more thoughtfully at the world around us. We can analyze how trust plays out in other people’s lives and relationships as well as in our own. We can study it. We can test it. We can take steps to build trust—and perhaps even take an occasional leap of trust—and notice the results.

7. When people work interdependently, most want to be aware of the intentions and motives of the others involved. The best way to address this issue is simply to declare intent. Doing so increases awareness and diminishes suspicion.

When we don’t tell people what we’re going to do, they’re often not aware of it or looking for it. Therefore they may not recognize its fulfillment as a trust-building promise kept or as evidence that we (or our team or our organization) behave in a manner they can count on. In addition, they’re missing an important piece of information they need to assess credibility and make informed decisions. Though it’s clearly better not to declare intent and deliver anyway than to declare intent and not deliver, our failure to declare intent may cause us to come across as someone who stands for nothing—someone with no promise, no purpose, no hope to offer, no brand, or no value. And in today’s crowded marketplace that decreases trust.

8. What happens if you can’t deliver on a promise? What happens if circumstances change or something critical comes up and you absolutely can’t do what you’ve said you’re going to do?

One answer is to create, in addition to a contract, a relationship of trust that reflects the reality of today’s rapidly changing world. (...) Another answer is to be wise in the kinds of commitments we make.




*image via Leclife



Continue reading Smart Trust - Stephen M. R. Covey (Excerpts)

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

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Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman - Excerpts


Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman - My favorite quotes



The psychologist Gary Klein tells the story of a team of firefighters that entered a house in which the kitchen was on fire. Soon after they started hosing down the kitchen, the commander heard himself shout, “Let’s get out of here!” without realizing why. The floor collapsed almost immediately after the firefighters escaped. Only after the fact did the commander realize that the fire had been unusually quiet and that his ears had been unusually hot. Together, these impressions prompted what he called a “sixth sense of danger.” He had no idea what was wrong, but he knew something was wrong. It turned out that the heart of the fire had not been in the kitchen but in the basement beneath where the men had stood.


System 2 also has a natural speed. You expend some mental energy in random thoughts and in monitoring what goes on around you even when your mind does nothing in particular, but there is little strain. Unless you are in a situation that makes you unusually wary or self-conscious, monitoring what happens in the environment or inside your head demands little effort. You make many small decisions as you drive your car, absorb some information as you read the newspaper, and conduct routine exchanges of pleasantries with a spouse or a colleague, all with little effort and no strain. Just like a stroll.


It is normally easy and actually quite pleasant to walk and think at the same time, but at the extremes these activities appear to compete for the limited resources of System 2. You can confirm this claim by a simple experiment. While walking comfortably with a friend, ask him to compute 23 × 78 in his head, and to do so immediately. He will almost certainly stop in his tracks. My experience is that I can think while strolling but cannot engage in mental work that imposes a heavy load on short-term memory


Suppose you must write a message that you want the recipients to believe. Of course, your message will be true, but that is not necessarily enough for people to believe that it is true. It is entirely legitimate for you to enlist cognitive ease to work in your favor, and studies of truth illusions provide specific suggestions that may help you achieve this goal.


The general principle is that anything you can do to reduce cognitive strain will help, so you should first maximize legibility. Compare these two statements:


Adolf Hitler was born in 1892.

Adolf Hitler was born in 1887.


Both are false (Hitler was born in 1889), but experiments have shown that the first is more likely to be believed. More advice: if your message is to be printed, use high-quality paper to maximize the contrast between characters and their background. If you use color, you are more likely to be believed if your text is printed in bright blue or red than in middling shades of green, yellow, or pale blue.


The illusion of pattern affects our lives in many ways off the basketball court. How many good years should you wait before concluding that an investment adviser is unusually skilled? How many successful acquisitions should be needed for a board of directors to believe that the CEO has extraordinary flair for such deals? The simple answer to these questions is that if you follow your intuition, you will more often than not err by misclassifying a random event as systematic. We are far too willing to reject the belief that much of what we see in life is random.


Changing one’s mind about human nature is hard work, and changing one’s mind for the worse about oneself is even harder.


Some regularities in the environment are easier to discover and apply than others. Think of how you developed your style of using the brakes on your car. As you were mastering the skill of taking curves, you gradually learned when to let go of the accelerator and when and how hard to use the brakes. Curves differ, and the variability you experienced while learning ensures that you are now ready to brake at the right time and strength for any curve you encounter. The conditions for learning this skill are ideal, because you receive immediate and unambiguous feedback every time you go around a bend: the mild reward of a comfortable turn or the mild punishment of some difficulty in handling the car if you brake either too hard or not quite hard enough. The situations that face a harbor pilot maneuvering large ships are no less regular, but skill is much more difficult to acquire by sheer experience because of the long delay between actions and their noticeable outcomes. Whether professionals have a chance to develop intuitive expertise depends essentially on the quality and speed of feedback, as well as on sufficient opportunity to practice.


The psychologist Paul Rozin, an expert on disgust, observed that a single cockroach will completely wreck the appeal of a bowl of cherries, but a cherry will do nothing at all for a bowl of cockroaches. As he points out, the negative trumps the positive in many ways, and loss aversion is one of many manifestations of a broad negativity dominance


A good attorney who wishes to cast doubt on DNA evidence will not tell the jury that “the chance of a false match is 0.1%.” The statement that “a false match occurs in 1 of 1,000 capital cases” is far more likely to pass the threshold of reasonable doubt. The jurors hearing those words are invited to generate the image of the man who sits before them in the courtroom being wrongly convicted because of flawed DNA evidence. The prosecutor, of course, will favor the more abstract frame—hoping to fill the jurors’ minds with decimal points.


Regret is an emotion, and it is also a punishment that we administer to ourselves. The fear of regret is a factor in many of the decisions that people make (“Don’t do this, you will regret it” is a common warning), and the actual experience of regret is familiar. The emotional state has been well described by two Dutch psychologists, who noted that regret is “accompanied by feelings that one should have known better, by a sinking feeling, by thoughts about the mistake one has made and the opportunities lost, by a tendency to kick oneself and to correct one’s mistake, and by wanting to undo the event and to get a second chance.” Intense regret is what you experience when you can most easily imagine yourself doing something other than what you did.


Regret is one of the counterfactual emotions that are triggered by the availability of alternatives to reality. After every plane crash there are special stories about passengers who “should not” have been on the plane—they got a seat at the last moment, they were transferred from another airline, they were supposed to fly a day earlier but had had to postpone. The common feature of these poignant stories is that they involve unusual events—and unusual events are easier than normal events to undo in imagination. Associative memory contains a representation of the normal world and its rules. An abnormal event attracts attention, and it also activates the idea of the event that would have been normal under the same circumstances.
Continue reading Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman - Excerpts

Thursday, May 3, 2018

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The Shawshank Redemption (1994) - A Personal Review



My favorite movie – The Shawshank Redemption (1994)




The Shawshank Redemption is one of those movies you always remember after seeing. Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman make an exceptional pair as two convicts that spend their time in a prison. The story of the main character, Andy Dufresne, brilliantly played by Tim Robbins, is an example of courage and tenacity and it lets the film viewer know that everything’s possible when one sets one’s mind to it.

But what’s so special about the story? Andy, the main character, is found guilty of a crime he did not commit. After spending his whole youth as a successful banker, Andy is convicted to a sentence of life in prison.

Naturally, he thinks that he will never be able to integrate into the convicts’ community. To his surprise, however, he doesn’t find a crowd filled with dangerous individuals. Instead, he gets to befriend several of his prison companions, and one of them stands out as Ellis Boyd ‘Red’ Redding.

Red is the guy who can get you anything you want, cigarettes especially. He comes off as a makeshift entrepreneur, and some might believe that his intentions aren’t always pure as he always tries to make more money off of the rest of the inmates, but the truth is that Red is a good guy and is quite honorable. So how do these two eventually become friends?

Although Andy mostly keeps to himself and finds it hard to interact with the rest of the people in prison, he does have to talk to Red at some point to ask him to get him a tiny hammer. Andy claims that he will need the tool for his rock collection, but later on in the movie, the real reason will be revealed.

Red is an enigma to many of the inmates as he manages to keep his hopes up in spite of the fact that the parole board rejects his pardon attempts time and time again. In a way, this is a symbol of how racism might affect the opinion of law enforcers, and how African Americans are always thought of being more prone to becoming criminals than Caucasian Americans.

What makes it so difficult for Andy to integrate with the rest of the inmates is that, as one might expect from a prison, it’s mostly filled with uneducated people. The fact that he’s educated and skilled as a banker, as well as the fact that he comes from a rich background automatically sets him apart from the crowd. It doesn’t take long for Andy to understand that making friends is going to be nearly impossible in a place like this, where most anyone tries to take advantage of another individual. The friendship that grows steadily between Red and Andy is unexpected for both of them.

The prison environment is colorful, to say the least. It holds a wide variety of criminals, and as one might be able to guess, nobody claims they did the crime. Everyone seems to have been framed for their crimes. There are several episodes that might be considered violent, but what impresses the film viewer is their complete realism. It would be wrong to romanticize a place like jail.

Despite desperately wanting to prove his innocence, Andy never gets his case reopened, and that’s because the prison’s warden uses him to sort out his finances. The warden is one of the most vicious film characters ever to have been invented as he tries his best to create as many obstacles as possible for Andy so that he never loses him. As a skilled banker, Andy is a prized ‘possession’ of the warden.

When Andy starts to understand that he might never be able to see the outside world again, he develops a plan and creates an escape method that will never be suspected by his inmates or guardians.

Although it is based on a novel written by Stephen King, the movie has a somewhat happy ending. King is known for his grimy and horror stories, and this one gets in the same category as The Green Mile, another movie masterpiece that’s ironically also based on another of King’s novels.

In the end, Andy did lose part of his life because of an unfair sentence, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t start over anytime. And being so resourceful, that’s precisely what he does. In short, this movie tells us that we can always hope for the better, no matter how difficult our current situation might be.


Photo via IMDB
Continue reading The Shawshank Redemption (1994) - A Personal Review