Friday Jan 09, 2009

Happiness is a healthy social network

Once again New Scientist justifies my subscription - a fascinating article on how your friends' friends can affect your mood such as happiness. In other words, not just your immediate circle of friends.

The tips provided were:

Five tips for a healthier social network

  1. Choose your friends carefully.
  2. Choose which of your existing friends you spend the most time with. For example, hang out with people who are upbeat, or avoid couch potatoes.
  3. Join a club whose members you would like to emulate (running, healthy cooking), and socialise with them.
  4. If you are with people whose emotional state or behaviours you could do without, try to avoid the natural inclination to mimic their facial expressions and postures.
  5. Be aware at all times of your susceptibility to social influence - and remember that being a social animal is mostly a good thing.

The article questions whether Malcolm Gladwell's Tipping Point argument that social epidemics are dependent on certain key individuals is correct - though my recall of that book is that connectors are one of the key individuals who by definition have wide social networks. The key point of this article is that the effect spans several degrees of separation.

The comments on the article are well worth reading too including the slightly concerning consequence of the above advice which means undesirable people (eg depressives) could end up isolated.

Some of the happiest times I've had are hanging out with dance friends. Find the right music, venue and dance partner and your cares and woes are soon forgotten. However, that joy extends beyond the dance itself - it's infectious.

Saturday May 17, 2008

links for 2008-05-17

Tuesday May 13, 2008

links for 2008-05-13

Saturday May 10, 2008

links for 2008-05-10

Saturday Apr 05, 2008

links for 2008-04-05

Wednesday Apr 02, 2008

links for 2008-04-02

Monday Mar 03, 2008

Brompton pizza delivery man!

Pizza delivery by BromptonI knew there was a good reason for ordering a Brompton with a rack ... Just nipped down to our local Pizza Express for a Sunday afternoon treat for the family. Guess what, pizza boxes work better when kept flat. Ordered by phone, cycled down the road, rolled the bike in - no locks required - loaded up and home!

Pizzas were good too :-)

Thursday Feb 21, 2008

Mice or Squirrels?

Loft damage by mice or squirrelsThe mystery of the recent spate of RCD trips and strange scratching sounds from the loft appears to be solved if not resolved. I unscrewed a panel and found a nest made out of roofing and loft materials. I also found a severely nibbled cable - whatever it is has sharp teeth.

The obvious cause is mice or squirrels, I'm not sure which. I toyed with the idea of disabling the RCD but decided that was a little reckless :-)

Having discounted electrocuting them and borrowing a passing cat to post down the eaves we're trying what is politely called rodenticide. If anyone has any other tips I'd welcome them.

More pictures here:

Tuesday Jan 22, 2008

The Moral Instinct - fascinating Steven Pinker article

Alec MuffettI'm indebted to Alec Muffett as a commment on his "How Ethical Are You ?" blog entry lead me to a fascinating article in the New York Times entitled "The Moral Instinct".

Steven Pinker examines the basis of our moral instincts at some length and with great insight. Well worth a read.

Talking of ethics with Alec I briefly mentioned Lost in the Cosmos which, while being a parody of self-help books, asks searching questions. I read it many years ago now but am often reminded of it when pondering moral issues.

One of the ideas presented by Steven Pinker is that of "Reasoning" versus "Rationalizing" - the former leads us to a conclusion, the latter starts at the conclusion and works the other way. He also writes about the moral equivalent of optical illusions - questions that subvert our apparently rational moral senses.

Essential reading.

Wednesday Jan 02, 2008

Gapminder World - beta

Gapminder World thumbnail The excellent TED talks by Hans Rosling I mentioned previously had some dynamic and fascinating graphing of data related to world poverty and development. There's now a beta version of the tool on-line here:

As a reminder, the original TED talks are here:

Friday Jan 05, 2007

The Superhero test

Inspired by Chris's superhero results I am pleased to find I'm even more like Spiderman than him :-)

Results:
You are Spider-Man

Spider-Man
85%
Robin
75%
Superman
75%
The Flash
65%
Green Lantern
55%
Iron Man
50%
Hulk
50%
Supergirl
50%
Wonder Woman
30%
Catwoman
25%
Batman
25%
You are intelligent, witty,
a bit geeky and have great
power and responsibility.
Click here to take the Superhero Personality Test

Thursday Oct 20, 2005

New version of FreeMind - wonderful

FreeMind was updated last month with a load of new features. From the announcement:

  • Undo
  • Many new exports and imports (among others: jpeg, png, new html exports, PDF, MindManager 5)
  • new layout and movable nodes (thanks to Dimitri)
  • Preferences dialog
  • new menu structure
  • new local hyperlinks

The only thing I like less is that folded nodes have a small circle at the end of the node instead of a bubble. Everything else looks pretty good - including the very neat "Moveable Nodes" feature.

Still one of my favourite tools and one I wish I used more often.

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PeteH

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