Email, Productivity, And How You Feel

Dealing with an endless stream of emails is challenge in any office environment – even just socially it can be rather taxing. The solution to email always seems to be just around the corner with a new startup from Silicon Valley appearing every year to “save” us from email. Here’s an idea it’s not that the problem is email itself rather it’s how we think about email.

Be free from the chains of email oppression by approaching email as something actionable rather than something to be organized. It’ll make you feel better rather than feeling pushed around by other people’s desires via email.

And that is the one way that email, in the sense of the tools and programs we use to process it, is at fault: technology has made it easier and easier to ask people to do more and more things, without giving us better tools or training to deal with the increasingly huge array of demands on our time. It’s easier than ever to say “hey could you do this for me” and harder than ever to just say “no, too busy”.

Decide you are not going to do those tasks, and simply delete them. Sometimes, a task’s entire life-cycle is to be created from an email, exist for ten minutes, and then have you come back to look at it and then delete it. This might feel pointless, but in going through that process, you are learning something extremely valuable: you are learning what sorts of things are not actually important enough to do you do.

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Hitting Children Doesn’t Help

We now have solid evidence that spanking is more harmful than good for children. In the largest study of its kind researches have found that children who were spanked displayed more adverse socialization than others. They also conclude that spanking does not improve the behaviour of children when they are hit or afterwards.

Spanking is not a good behaviour, so you are probably wondering why this is mentioned here. We can use this knowledge that hitting kids (spanking) to change laws and the behaviour of adults. Let’s all go out and make the world a little better by not hitting people no matter their age.

Their study, which was published in the April edition of the Journal of Family Psychology, was based on five decades worth of research involving more than 160,000 children. They are calling it the most extensive scientific investigations into the spanking issue, and one of the few to look specifically at spanking rather than grouping it with other forms of physical discipline.

“We as a society think of spanking and physical abuse as distinct behaviors. Yet our research shows that spanking is linked with the same negative child outcomes as abuse, just to a slightly lesser degree,” explained Gershoff. “We hope that our study can help educate parents about the potential harms of spanking and prompt them to try positive and non-punitive forms of discipline.”

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Smart Kids, Depression, Existential Crisis, And What You Can Do

Kids think a lot about the world around them thanks to their natural curiosity. As adults we can embrace their curiosity and encourage it or we can dull their intellectual indulgences. How we react and support kids in their process of learning can have a big impact.

At various ages kids learn that their lives are finite and this can lead to what is referred to existential depression. They ask fundamental questions about life and what one ought to do while alive (something that many adults only do when they reach their midlife crises). Denying proper answers to kids who are questioning the meaning of life can cause more harm than good. So when confronted by the “big” questions of life don’t discourage the line of inquiry, instead you ought to embrace the discussion.

How can we help our bright youngsters cope with these questions? We cannot do much about the finiteness of our existence. However, we can help youngsters learn to feel that they are understood and not so alone and that there are ways to manage their freedom and their sense of isolation.

The isolation is helped to a degree by simply communicating to the youngster that someone else understands the issues that he/she is grappling with. Even though your experience is not exactly the same as mine, I feel far less alone if I know that you have had experiences that are reasonably similar. This is why relationships are so extremely important in the long-term adjustment of gifted children (Webb, Meckstroth and Tolan, 1982).

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Drone Built By A Small Tribe Is Protecting Land

We Built a Drone from Digital Democracy on Vimeo.

In Guyana there are a lot of illegal mining and logging operations that the government doesn’t pursue due to a lack of evidence. To protect their lands from such activity a small tribe, the Wapichan community, have built a drone to record the damage being done. They used videos on YouTube to find out how to build the drone and designed their drone to be repairable using locally found products (like discarded plastics). It’s a good story about how access to technology and knowledge by small groups can have a big impact!

“With the drones, we can go into really inaccessible areas,” Fredericks told Quartz. Using its footage, the Wapichan are assembling a “living map” to document their customary land use—and to demonstrate to the government how outside interests were impinging upon lands the Wapichan have safeguarded for centuries.
Their drone confirmed what the Wapichan had long suspected: In the south, close to the border with Brazil, illegal loggers were harvesting trees in lands that were supposed to be protected. And the gold mine at Marudi Mountain, to the southeast of Shulinab, appeared to be leaching pollution into the headwaters upon which the Wapichan depend.

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How We Can Fend Off Drought

In this TED talk David Sedlak explores options that can be used to fend off drought in cities. The last century saw massive developments that treated water in a very unsustainable way (from dams to pathetic water policies). This century we will have to correct the mistakes of the past and focus on changing how we approach water as an ecological system.

As the world’s climate patterns continue to shift unpredictably, places where drinking water was once abundant may soon find reservoirs dry and groundwater aquifers depleted. In this talk, civil and environmental engineer David Sedlak shares four practical solutions to the ongoing urban water crisis. His goal: to shift our water supply towards new, local sources of water and create a system that is capable of withstanding any of the challenges climate change may throw at us in the coming years.

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