Walter Mischel on his secret

"It's to keep living in a way one wants to live and work; to distract constructively; to distract in ways that are in themselves satisfying; to do things that are intrinsically gratifying." Click.


This month's Findings

Three things I underlined in the feature in this month's Harper's:

1. A Notre Dame sociologist concluded that attractive and successful Americans tend to marry one another and that trophy wives are very rare.

2. Fist bumps are more hygienic than handshakes.

3. The kangaroo's tail is a fifth leg.


Paul Roberts in The American Scholar

Something I underlined in his essay on our impulse society:

... consumer culture in the Impulse Society does everything in its power to convince us that difficulty has no place in our lives (or belongs only in discrete, self-enhancing moments, such as really hard ab workouts). Discomfort, anxiety, suffering, depression, rejection, delays, uncertainty, or ambiguity—in the Impulse Society, these aren't opportunities to mature and toughen or become. Instead, they represent errors and inefficiencies, and thus opportunities for correction—nearly always with more consumption and self-expression.


MIT's Sherry Turkle on us and screens

Seven things I underlined in what she said to Mark Fischetti in the September Scientific American:

1. "One primary change I see is that people have a tremendous lack of tolerance for being alone."

2. "Every bit of research says people's capacity to be alone is disappearing."

3. "... children especially need solitude. Solitude is the precondition for having a conversation with yourself. The capacity to be with yourself and discover yourself is the bedrock of development. But now, from the youngest age — even two, or three, or four — children are given technology that removes solitude by giving them something externally distracting. That makes it harder, ironically, to form true relationships."

4. "... I interviewed a woman who said to me that she's okay with a robot boyfriend."

5. "We want more from technology and less from each other? Really?"

6. "... I think we are at a point of inflection. While we were infatuated with the virtual, we dropped the ball on where we actually live. We need to balance how compelling the virtual is with the realities that we live in our bodies and on this planet. It is so easy for us to look the other way. Are we going to get out there and make our real communities what they should be?"

7. "My message is not antitechnology. It's pro conversation and pro the human spirit."


Humans and monogamy and why

Blake Edgar in this month's Scientific American:

When a baby becomes too costly in terms of calories and energy for a mother to raise on her own, the father who stays with the family and provides food or other forms of care increases his offspring's chances of survival and encourages closer ties with the mother. A related idea, proposed by anthropologist Lee Gettler of the University of Notre Dame, holds that the mere carrying of offspring by fathers fosters monogamy. Mothers have to meet the considerable nutritional demands of nursing infants. Yet for primates and human hunter-gatherers, hauling an infant, especially without the benefit of a sling or other restraint, required an expense of energy comparable to breast-feeding. Carrying by males could have freed females to fulfill their own energetic needs by foraging.


Sports are important

Two things:

1. People who read this last week from Rick Maese learned that Adam Schefter, ESPN's "NFL reporting machine," went to zero games in 2013.

2. Then this in today's New York Times:

Last November, TMZ broke the news that the Heisman Trophy candidate Jameis Winston was being investigated by the Tallahassee Police Department over an allegation that he had sexually abused a fellow student at Florida State University.

In April, it posted an audio recording of the Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling making racist remarks.

And on Monday, it published a video showing Ray Rice knocking out his fiancée in an elevator in Atlantic City.

This remarkable string of scoops has highlighted the unexpected power and reach of a gossip website that's not even 10 years old. But maybe most surprising of all has been the nature of the stories. TMZ, which built a following by exposing the foibles of Hollywood celebrities — often by paying for tips — is now taking aim at a whole new category of prominent people and powerful institutions, including the country's richest, most popular sports league. And its reporting is having an impact.

And a question: What if some significant portion of the journalists who currently go to games and practices and press conferences ... didn't? And instead spent that time reporting on sports ... everywhere else?


Why Janay Rice said what she said

Today on 1A with Sue Carlton:

"I woke up this morning feeling like I had a horrible nightmare, feeling like I'm mourning the death of my closest friend. But to have to accept the fact that it's reality is a nightmare itself. No one knows the pain that the media & unwanted (opinions) from the public has caused my family," said the woman who was punched unconscious by the semifamous football player, then her fiance, now her husband.

"To take something away from the man I love that he has worked his a-- off for all his life just to gain ratings is horrific. THIS IS OUR LIFE! What don't you all get. If your intentions were to hurt us, embarrass us, make us feel alone, take all happiness away, you've succeeded on so many levels."

Surprising sentiments?

Shocking statements?

Not to experts in domestic violence.

Keep reading.


David Halberstam in Telling True Stories

Something he wrote in the book that came out in 2007:

Print journalists have to be better than they used to be. With network television, cable television, the Internet, and even video games it's tougher to compete for people's time. There are more and more sources of information out there, and they demand less and less intellectual energy. People work harder; they have less time. When I started as a journalist, fifty-two years ago, I operated in an age with a single-income middle class. Now it's a two-income middle class. The writer must get better and better, become a better storyteller.

Something else he wrote:

Time is the crucial ingredient for a nonfiction writer. The more time, the more interviews you can do, and the greater the density of your work.