May 5, 2017

Written by

Chris Gonzales


Michał Grosicki

Welcome to this week’s edition of our Friday Quality Linkage column. Please enjoy this week’s collection of interesting and entertaining links. Brew a fresh cup of coffee, find a comfortable place, and relax.

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Your Brain is Being Tricked…On Purpose »

This TEDx talk by Mike Williams — the guy who ran David Allen’s company for a while — discusses how our phones trick us all into giving ourselves dozens of shots of dopamine a day, and offers a neat home screen organization trick to give yourself a chance to pause before engaging:

  1. Set the background photo to be something you find calming or inspiring.
  2. Move every non-docked app on your main home screen to the second page.
  3. Turn off all notifications. Turn back on only as many as you need and as few as you can get by with.

Give it a try, you may find it works better than expected.

(via Patrick Rhone)

Why Don’t People Return Their Shopping Carts? »

Krystal D’Costa of Scientific American examines why some people are horrible about returning their carts:

While there are always outliers—people who behave contrary to the norm for the sake of doing so—these scenarios are fairly illustrative of the ebb and flow of the social order. There are norms that are intended to provide overall governance for the benefit of society at large but as individuals we have goals that intersect with these norms and can create conflicts. Yes, we want to generally behave like others of our choosing because we want to be accepted, but we also have goals that serve ourselves or provide us with immediate satisfaction. The data above suggests that as a situation broaches on deviance, more people will trend toward disorder; once we have permission to pursue an alternative action, we will do so if it suits us. Not returning our shopping carts opens the door to throwing our circulars on the ground to parking haphazardly or in reserved spaces to other items that impact the quality of our experience at that establishment.

Via John Gruber, who adds:

I always return my shopping cart. I don’t think I’ve ever once not done it. Part of it is that I had a job for two summers where I was the kid who had to collect them in the parking lot, so I sympathize, but I think it’s mostly just being a decent human being.

My first job at 16yo was being a sacker and cart pusher at a large grocery store here in my hometown. I learned very early about the etiquette of returning carts, and I’ve been ardent about doing so ever since. It makes me so mad when I see others blatantly do it — with obvious exceptions for the elderly, the disabled, and parents with small children in the car — especially if they’re only a few feet away. C’mon, you’re right there!

I often make a point of returning multiple carts if they’re on my way to the return stile, which I’d like to think inspires others to do the same but who knows. Either way, I find it’s best to make uncomfortable eye contact with anyone who just abandoned their own cart for no reason while you return it for them, as if to say, “Yes, I’m judging you.”

Illustration: Matthew Inman

Illustration: Matthew Inman

You’re Not Going to Believe What I’m About to Tell You »

As popular as they are, Matthew Inman’s comics at The Oatmeal tend to be hit-or-miss for me. This one is definitely a hit:

Why do we easily soften to some ideas, but not to others?

Why do we gnash our teeth when presented with evidence counter to our beliefs?

Why do we not only ignore this evidence, but dig our heels in deeper and believe more strongly in the opposing argument?

Why would providing MORE evidence make someone LESS likely to believe an idea?

It turns out [this craziness] has a name in the world of neuroscience. It’s called the backfire effect and it’s a well-documented psychological behavior.

I linked the clean version of this comic above, but if you’d rather read the explicit version, it’s right here.

Vuelo Nocturno – The Magic of Flying at Night »

Airline pilot and film producer Sales Wick posted the “flightlapse” video embedded above, which shows a spectacular view of the Milky Way as seen from a pilot’s perspective during a nighttime flight from Zurich to Sao Paolo. Take a few minutes to watch and enjoy.

From a blog post he wrote about the video:

Flying through the night, while the world beneath us is at sleep, is a pretty common thing as a longhaul pilot. Late evening departures lead to far distant destinations like Singapore, Hong Kong, Sao Paolo or J’burg. Depending on the direction of the flight the crew and the passengers either have a short night up ahead if flying eastbound or almost eternal darkness if headed westwards. […] Just as the bright city lights are vanishing behind us, the Milky way starts to become clearly visible up ahead. Its now us, pacing at almost the speed of sound along the invisible highway and the pitch-black night sky above this surreal landscape. Ahead of us are another eight hours flight time, but we already stopped counting the shooting stars. And we got already to a few hundred.


Pixel Thoughts — A 60-Second Meditation Tool »

A guy named Marc Balaban created Pixel Thoughts, a simple tool to help clear your mind. You type a stressful thought into a star, where it then fades into the universe while reminding you that everything will be okay and that this thought does not matter. Might come in handy more than once, so keep it bookmarked.

The Biggest Threat Facing Middle-Aged Men Isn’t Smoking or Obesity — It’s Loneliness »

Billy Baker of Boston Globe came across some worrysome research concerning men who let their friendships lapse as they grow older:

Beginning in the 1980s, [Cambridge psychiatrist Dr. Richard S. Schwartz] says, study after study started showing that those who were more socially isolated were much more likely to die during a given period than their socially connected neighbors, even after you corrected for age, gender, and lifestyle choices like exercising and eating right. Loneliness has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke and the progression of Alzheimer’s. One study found that it can be as much of a long-term risk factor as smoking.

The research doesn’t get any rosier from there. In 2015, a huge study out of Brigham Young University, using data from 3.5 million people collected over 35 years, found that those who fall into the categories of loneliness, isolation, or even simply living on their own see their risk of premature death rise 26 to 32 percent.

Hmm. I’m only 31 and already living a deeply hermitic life. Although it may prove problematic for my health at some point (according to this article), most of the time I’m perfectly content to be a recluse.


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Got any suggestions for articles, videos, stories, photographs, and any other links you think we should be posting in our weekly Quality Linkage? Please do let us know on Twitter.