What Ferguson is really about

Jon Stewart had a great segment on race during a recent show.

This isn’t all about just one man killed in one town, it’s about people of color, no matter their socioeconomic status, face obstacles in this country with surprising grace.

He goes on to tell a story about how his not-so-well-dressed white producer walked into a building before an interview with no problem, while the well-dressed black correspondent got stopped at the door.

And that shit happens all the time. Race is there and it’s constant. You’re tired of hearing about it? Imagine how fucking exhausting it is living it.”

Please watch the video.

(via Vox.com)

The ice bucket challenge isn't a waste of water, and this chart proves it

Vox.com tries to pour water on one of my complaints:

I’ve seen a few different people criticize the trend for wasting perfectly good, clean water. That may be true, but when you look at the amount of water wasted in the context of the staggeringly huge amounts of water we use to produce food — especially animal products — the ice bucket challenge is truly a drop in the bucket (sorry).

While the amount of water used to produce food is suprising in most of the examples, I still think this is a poor comparison. Comparing an internet meme to something that is a necessary component to producing life sustaining food seems kind of silly.

Paradox and Perspective

Nick Wynja’s post on Hack/Make hits close to home:

Having a trusted system means you gain the mental capacity to take on more but do we always have the human capacity to take on more?

Productivity. Doing more. Always more. It’s something I’ve been wrestling with lately and I know a few others in the same boat. But here’s the rub: there is always more to do if you are looking.

And this is where focusing on productivity fails:

But the most rewarding stuff in life doesn’t manifest itself on a list, so our focus on organizing life is futile.

So true.

The hardest thing is figuring out what you need to do… need, meaning the things that will keep you (and the people you are responsible for) happy and healthy. Many of those decisions involve living outside your personal bubble.

How to Find Your Life Purpose: An Unconventional Approach

Leo Babuata of Zen Habits on the benefit of going outside your personal bubble to find your purpose:

We become less self-centered, and begin to have a wider view. Everything changes, from letting go of fear and anger and procrastination, to changing our habits and finding work that matters.

A great read. I could literally quote the entire thing, so it’s definitely worth 10 minutes of your time to tackle the whole post.

The truth about the Ice Bucket Challenge: Viral memes shouldn't dictate our charitable giving

Vox.com takes a look at charitable donations:

The choices we make about where to donate money for health causes aren’t always rational. We are probably more often driven to give by a disease that has touched a loved one than by utilitarian calculations about which illnesses impact the most people or receive the least investment from pharmaceutical companies.

If you make regular donations, there are some good resources at the bottom, so be sure to click through and check those out.

Thoughts on Slacktivism

From Seth Godin’s blog post on slacktivism:

According to recent data about the ice bucket challenge making the rounds, more than 90% of the people mentioning it (posting themselves being doused or passing on the word) didn’t make a donation to support actual research on an actual disease. Sounds sad, no?

Truly sad. I get raising awareness and that a lot of money has been donated, but for a vast majority of people it seems like a classic case of slacktivism. I think it’s especially valid when awareness reaches a critical mass. Once that point has been hit, additional “awareness” has less of an impact if donations are not increasing at the same rate as the meme.

My wife and I were challenged and didn’t respond with a video or immediate donation, so with that said we will be donating today to the following organizations:

  • charity:water: If, based on the estimates from the NY Times article above, a few million people did the Ice Bucket Challenge, that’s a million plus gallons of water wasted. With the drought in the western U.S. and the fact that over a billion people have no access to clean drinking water, that seems kind of dumb.
  • MS Society: for my sister and the two million plus people that have the disease globally.
  • Lupus Foundation of America: for my mom, grandfather, and a million plus people that have the disease globally.
  • ALS Association: for inspiring a lot of people to make donations to a cause.

Will you join me in making a donation to a cause that means something to you? No video necessary.

Updated 8/19 with additional thoughts on awareness.

Dogmatic vs. Practical Minimalism

I aim to simplify every aspect of my life, from my closet to how many obligations I decide to take on, and even how many relationships I maintain at a time. Streamline life, maintain a low impact on the world around you and improve yourself physically and mentally. Own only what you need to own, and make sure it is high-quality so you’re not constantly spending money to replace cheap things (which also become refuse and pollute the earth).

I love this definition of practical minimalism.  It jives so well with the Buddhist Economics post from a few days ago.

Find that speck

Almost a year ago, someone wrote to Matt Fraction (a famous comic book writer) with a question on depression and suicide. He answered and the result was amazing: so heartfelt, raw, and deeply personal. Today’s news of Robin Williams’ passing made it so relevant and crucial to re-visit. It still puts lumps in my throat.

I’m saying: Get help. Now, today, tonight, whenever — get to a phone and find a doctor that can try to help you heal, that can try to recolorize your world again, that can help you start caring again. All you need is that one tiny thing, that speck, that little grain of sand.

I Liked Everything I Saw on Facebook for Two Days. Here’s What It Did to Me

Mat Honan at Wired.com recently experimented with liking everything on Facebook and had some interesting experiences for himself:

My News Feed took on an entirely new character in a surprisingly short amount of time. After checking in and liking a bunch of stuff over the course of an hour, there were no human beings in my feed anymore. It became about brands and messaging, rather than humans with messages.

And how quickly algorithm based feeds can turn into a serious echo chamber:

This is a problem much bigger than Facebook. It reminded me of what can go wrong in society, and why we now often talk at each other instead of to each other. We set up our political and social filter bubbles and they reinforce themselves—the things we read and watch have become hyper-niche and cater to our specific interests. We go down rabbit holes of special interests until we’re lost in the queen’s garden, cursing everyone above ground.

What was most interesting to me is how much his actions affected the feeds of his friends. His likes completely dominated many of their feeds, prompting ocmplaints and questions. So crazy.