The Trouble With Manhattan

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Zadie Smith: “To find your beach you have to be ruthless. Manhattan is for the hard-bodied, the hard-minded, the multitasker, the alpha mamas and papas. A perfect place for self-empowerment — as long as you’re pretty empowered to begin with. As long as you’re one of these people who simply do not allow anything — not even reality — to impinge upon that clear field of blue.”

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What If Procrastination… Is Good For You?

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“If procrastination is so clearly a society-wide, public condition, why is it always framed as an individual, personal deficiency? Why do we assume our own temperaments and habits are at fault — and feel bad about them — rather than question our culture’s canonization of productivity?”

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How Exactly Does The Human Brain Pay Attention To Something?

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“Every moment, our brains are bombarded with information, from without and within. The eyes alone convey more than a hundred billion signals to the brain every second. … How do our brains select the relevant data? How do we decide to pay attention to the turn of a doorknob and ignore the drip of a leaky faucet? How do we become conscious of a certain stimulus, or indeed ‘conscious’ at all?”

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Perfectionism Can Be Really, Really Bad For You

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“Perfectionism is a trait many of us cop to coyly, maybe even a little proudly. … But real perfectionism can be devastatingly destructive, leading to crippling anxiety or depression, and it may even be an overlooked risk factor for suicide, argues a new paper.”

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What Does It Mean That We Seem To Want To Document Everything Now?

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“What if the omnipresence of cameras and the act of recording helps some people to be more firmly in the moment than if they weren’t documenting it? Maybe it isn’t so much about the result of that documentation – the arguably inflationary numbers of selfies, time-lapses and photos – but about the mere act of consciously documenting?”

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The Daydreaming Disorder: Is “Sluggish Cognitive Tempo” The Next ADHD? (Is It Even Real?)

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“The name of [this] ‘new attention disorder’ sounds like an Onion-style parody … It also sounds like a classic case of disease mongering: blurring normality with sickness to boost drug companies’ bottom lines. … Disease mongering is a tough concept to define – but if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck. What we have here seems to be a duck egg.”

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Tech Companies Begin To Understand That Changing The World Isn’t Just About Tech, It’s Politics Too

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“A new generation of tech companies, however, have made Silicon Valley’s political needs less theoretical, and more immediate. They are taking on pre-existing, real-world industries. (The purely virtual ideas — search, portals, email — have been taken.) It’s harder to ignore politics when you’re changing the world, not just the web. And so these companies — Uber and Airbnb are the most obvious — have found a sweet spot where founders’ disdain for politics and regulators meets the smartest political strategy money can buy.”

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Social Trust And Personal Trust: What Policymakers Can Learn From The Self-Help Gurus

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“Even some of the most seemingly unemotional forms of trust can be deeply emotional. In other words, policymakers who want to improve our faith in others should take a page from the self-help crowd and do more to build a sense of social intimacy and promote what neuroeconomist Paul Zak once called the ‘empathic human connection’.”

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What Happens When You’re The Only One?

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“Every minute she’s asked to spend serving that function, valuable and necessary as it is, and perfectly understandable as it is that people are curious about her experiences, is a minute she’s not answering the same questions Damon Lindelof gets, or Joss Whedon gets, or Chuck Lorre gets. She’s not talking about her process, she’s not talking about her characters, she’s not telling her silly show business stories.”

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Is This The City Of The Future?

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“The city was built for a future that hasn’t yet arrived. Songdo’s wide sidewalks and roads—evoking a movie set—are still waiting for pedestrians and cars to fill them.”

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Let’s Reconsider This Idea Of “Genius”

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The term “genius” in its modern sense was first adopted in the eighteenth century and it involved a conflation of two Latin terms: genius, which for the Romans was the god of our conception, imbuing us with particular personality traits but nevertheless a supernatural force external to us, and ingenium, a related noun referring to our internal dispositions and talents, our inborn nature.

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What the Marshmallow Test Really Teaches About Self-Control

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“Over the last 50 years, the ‘Marshmallow Test’ has become synonymous with temptation, willpower, and grit. Walter Mischel’s work permeates popular culture.” In a Q&A, Mischel discusses “what the [test] really captures, how schools can use his work to help problem students, why men like Tiger Woods and President Bill Clinton may have suffered ‘willpower fatigue'” – and whether to worry if your pre-schooler flunks the test.

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Art Is Science, Science Is Art (Is That Really Radical?)

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John Brockman has a “fundamental opposition to the separation of art and science. Instead, he sees art as science and science as art. This way of thinking beyond the boundaries is a guiding theme that defines his activities, which focus on establishing networks.”

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Do Ideas Actually Matter?

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“If you go to the Boston Review Web site, you’ll find the slogan ‘Ideas Matter’ gracing the top of the homepage. … But in the social sciences, the idea that ideas matter has always been controversial. How much do ideas really matter? Do they affect individuals and societies more or less than do material circumstances such as economic incentives, physical constraints, and military force?” (In one way, definitely.)

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If Empathy Doesn’t Work, Try Religion

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“Relying on empathy to motivate charity means that it is not enough that the needy are humans, but they must also be lucky … The needy must also not be repulsive, but preferably be adorable. … The Abrahamic tradition has a different approach to altruism. The New and Old Testaments largely command people who are comfortable to give to people who aren’t – unconditionally.”

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New York’s New Identity Card Comes With A Lot Of Free Culture

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“The incentives are meant, in part, to encourage cultural activity among immigrants and other New Yorkers who may feel they cannot afford to visit the symphony or ballet. That anyone can sign up is by design: The de Blasio administration clearly hopes the cards will be embraced by a wide swath of residents, reducing any potential stigma they may carry.”

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