“Mi conducta de lector, tanto en mi juventud como en la actualidad, es profundamente humilde. Es decir, te va a parecer quizá ingenuo y tonto, pero cuando yo abro un libro lo abro como puedo abrir un paquete de chocolate, o entrar en el cine, o llegar por primera vez a la cama de una mujer que deseo; es decir, es una sensación de esperanza, de felicidad anticipada, de que todo va a ser bello, de que todo va a ser hermoso.”—
This weekend, LA experienced the much hyped “Carmageddon.” In a brilliant and wasteful act of publicity, JetBlue offered $4 flights across the city. A group of bicyclists countered by saying they could beat the plane. Here’s a great, little story of environmental awareness from the event that somehow snuck under the radar.
The man who revolutionized the personal computer is putting his efforts — and foundation — to revolutionizing toilets. Microsoft founder Bill Gates said he will dedicate $42 million towards reinventing the toilet. Water hygiene and safe waste disposal are two of the biggest causes of infan…
“Rowling wrote Hermione to eschew stereotypes. She doesn’t end up with the hero; she is never there to function as Harry’s love interest. She prefers Arithmancy to Divination in school. Hermione is also a total badass, despite her prim and proper reputation. (…) So often, female characters are allowed to be aggressive or rebellious, but in exchange are stripped of any traditionally feminine qualities and instead are forced to pick up traditionally masculine traits. However, Hermione is never made to do that. Most notably, she is written to be highly logical AND emotionally expressive, a combination not commonly afforded to most of today’s leading ladies.”—
TPN: I’m not going to lie, as a bookish young grade-school feminist, Hermione Granger was definitely my spirit animal. It’s genuinely rare to see girls portrayed like she’s portrayed, as someone with an intense range of individuality, passion and capabilities, whose life doesn’t follow the stereotype (because, let’s face it, no one’s does). Being unapologetic about the things you love and the person you are isn’t something promoted often enough for anyone, but very much so for girls.
The Misconception: You procrastinate because you are lazy and can’t manage your time well.
The Truth: Procrastination is fueled by weakness in the face of impulse and a failure to think about thinking.
Netflix reveals something about your own behavior you should have noticed by now, something which keeps getting between you and the things you want to accomplish.
If you have Netflix, especially if you stream it to your TV, you tend to gradually accumulate a cache of hundreds of films you think you’ll watch one day. This is a bigger deal than you think.
Take a look at your queue. Why are there so damn many documentaries and dramatic epics collecting virtual dust in there? By now you could draw the cover art to “Dead Man Walking” from memory. Why do you keep passing over it?
Psychologists actually know the answer to this question, to why you keep adding movies you will never watch to your growing collection of future rentals, and its the same reason you believe you will eventually do what’s best for yourself in all the other parts of your life, but rarely do.
A study conducted in 1999 by Read, Loewenstein and Kalyanaraman had people pick three movies out of a selection of 24. Some were lowbrow like “Sleepless in Seattle” or “Mrs. Doubtfire.” Some were highbrow like “Schindler’s List” or “The Piano.” In other words, it was a choice between movies which promised to be fun and forgettable or would be memorable but require more effort to absorb.
After picking, the subjects had to watch one movie right away. They then had to watch another in two days and a third two days after that.
Most people picked Schindler’s List as one of their three. They knew it was a great movie because all their friends said it was. All the reviews were glowing, and it earned dozens of the highest awards. Most didn’t, however, choose to watch it on the first day.
Instead, people tended to pick lowbrow movies on the first day. Only 44 percent went for the heavier stuff first. The majority tended to pick comedies like “The Mask” or action flicks like “Speed” when they knew they had to watch it forthwith.
Planning ahead, people picked highbrow movies 63 percent of the time for their second movie and 71 percent of the time for their third.
When they ran the experiment again but told subjects they had to watch all three selections back-to-back, “Schindler’s List” was 13 times less likely to be chosen at all.
The researchers had a hunch people would go for the junk food first, but plan healthy meals in the future.
Many studies over the years have shown you tend to have time-inconsistent preferences. When asked if you would rather have fruit or cake one week from now, you will usually say fruit. A week later when the slice of German chocolate and the apple are offered, you are statistically more likely to go for the cake.
This is why your Netflix queue is full of great films you keep passing over for “Family Guy.” With Netflix, the choice of what to watch right now and what to watch later is like candy bars versus carrot sticks. When you are planning ahead, your better angels point to the nourishing choices, but in the moment you go for what tastes good.
As behavioral economist Katherine Milkman has pointed out, this is why grocery stores put candy right next to the checkout.
This is sometimes called present bias – being unable to grasp what you want will change over time, and what you want now isn’t the same thing you will want later. Present bias explains why you buy lettuce and bananas only to throw them out later when you forget to eat them. This is why when you are a kid you wonder why adults don’t own more toys.
Present bias is why you’ve made the same resolution for the tenth year in a row, but this time you mean it. You are going to lose weight and forge a six-pack of abs so ripped you could deflect arrows.
You weigh yourself. You buy a workout DVD. You order a set of weights.
One day you have the choice between running around the block or watching a movie, and you choose the movie. Another day you are out with friends and can choose a cheeseburger or a salad. You choose the cheeseburger.
The slips become more frequent, but you keep saying you’ll get around to it. You’ll start again on Monday, which becomes a week from Monday. Your will succumbs to a death by a thousand cuts. By the time winter comes it looks like you already know what your resolution will be the next year.
Procrastination manifests itself within every aspect of your life.
You wait until the last minute to buy Christmas presents. You put off seeing the dentist, or getting that thing checked out by the doctor, or filing your taxes. You forget to register to vote. You need to get an oil change. There is a pile of dishes getting higher in the kitchen. Shouldn’t you wash clothes now so you don’t have to waste a Sunday cleaning every thing you own?
Perhaps the stakes are higher than choosing to play Angry Birds instead of doing sit-ups. You might have a deadline for a grant proposal, or a dissertation, or a book.
You’ll get around to it. You’ll start tomorrow. You’ll take the time to learn a foreign language, to learn how to play an instrument. There’s a growing list of books you will read one day.
Before you do though, maybe you should check your email. You should head over to Facebook too, just to get it out of the way. A cup of coffee would probably get you going, it won’t take long to go grab one. Maybe just a few episodes of that show you like.
You keep promising yourself this will be the year you do all these things. You know your life would improve if you would just buckle down and put forth the effort.
You can try to fight it back. You can buy a daily planner and a to-do list application for your phone. You can write yourself notes and fill out schedules. You can become a productivity junkie surrounded by instruments to make life more efficient, but these tools alone will not help, because the problem isn’t you are a bad manager of your time – you are a bad tactician in the war inside your brain.
Procrastination is such a pervasive element of the human experience there are over 600 books for sale promising to snap you out of your bad habits, and this year alone 120 new books on the topic were published. Obviously this is a problem everyone admits to, so why is it so hard to defeat?
“Los científicos pueden plantear los problemas que afectarán al medio ambiente con base en la evidencia disponible, pero su solución no es responsabilidad de los científicos, es de toda la sociedad”—Dr. Mario Molina (Premio Nobel de Química)
He will get his bail money back. He won’t be able to travel freely, however, and will be restricted in his travels. This whole mess kinda unspun fairly quickly — with more twists than an episode of “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.”