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How to Develop Yourself as a Knowledge Worker

Tyler Cowen is an economist and general polymath. His blog, Marginal Revolution, is a long parade of his thoughts on a vast variety of subjects. He's not an expert on everything, but he has boundless curiosity and deep knowledge of topics as diverse as Sichuan food and game theory.

He's a knowledge worker; that is, he gets paid to use his brain. Recently, he was asked how he develops himself accordingly. Cowen has a lengthy list of regular practices. It includes:

1. I write every day. I also write to relax.
2. Much of my writing time is devoted to laying out points of view which are not my own. I recommend this for most of you.
3. I do serious reading every day.
4. After a talk, Q&A session, podcast — whatever — I review what I thought were my weaker answers or interventions and think about how I could improve them. I rehearse in my mind what I should have said. Larry Summers does something similar.
5. I spent an enormous amount of time and energy trying to crack cultural codes. I view this as a comparative advantage, and one which few other people in my fields are trying to replicate. For one thing, it makes me useful in a wide variety of situations where I have little background knowledge. This also helps me invest in skills which will age relatively well, as I age. For me, this is perhaps the most importantly novel item on this list.
6. I listen often to highly complex music, partly because I enjoy it but also in the (silly?) hope that it will forestall mental laziness.

For myself, I'm usually reading a work of high literature in addition to baser literature. I also try to learn at least one new technological skill, no matter how small, every work day.

What daily or regular practices do you have to develop yourself in an increasingly knowledge-based economy?

Photo: Foundation for Economic Education


Police Warn That Flushing Meth down the Toilet Could Lead to "Meth-Gators"

It's a staple of science fiction: people unwisely dispose of toxic chemicals, animals eat or are immersed in them, and then become mutant super predators.

The latest toxic chemical to induce our horror movie nightmares is methamphetamine. Police in Loretto, Tennessee are asking people to dispose of their meth safely. Don't just flush it down the toilet. The alligators could get to it and then...change. quotes the Loretto Police Department:

Ducks, Geese, and other fowl frequent our treatment ponds and we shudder to think what one all hyped up on meth would do. Furthermore, if it made it far enough we could create meth-gators in Shoal Creek and the Tennessee River down in North Alabama. They’ve had enough methed up animals the past few weeks without our help. So, if you need to dispose of your drugs just give us a call and we will make sure they are disposed of in the proper way.

-via Instapundit | Photo: Rusty Clark


The Artificial Glacier Growing In The Desert Of India

In the far north of India, a cold mountain desert that is sandwiched between two of the world’s tallest mountain ranges, Himalayas and Kunlun, can be seen. 

This is a land of extremes, where rainfall is scarce and temperatures range wildly from torrid to far below freezing. The locals say it's the only place in the world where a man, sitting in the sun with his feet in the shade, can suffer sunstroke and frostbite at the same time.

Since rainfall is rare, farmers rely on melting snow and ice for water in irrigating the farmlands. But because of climate change, that land gets drier, which compromises the livelihood of the farmers. 

A proposed solution for this problem is to make more glaciers.

In 2014 a local mechanical engineer, Sonam Wangchuk, set out to solve the water crisis of the Ladakh. [...]
Wangchuk had a simple idea: he wanted to balance this natural deficit by collecting water from melting snow and ice in the cold months, which would normally go to waste, and store it until spring, just when farmers need it the most. [...]
He then built a two-story prototype of an "ice stupa", a cone of ice that he named after the traditional mound-like sacred monuments that are found throughout Asia. 

For the ice stupa to build its first full-scale version, a budget of$125,000 is needed. Wangchuk said that, "It was too radical for any government to support, but I knew the people of the world would back it,".

He decided to crowdfund the project, asking people for contributions through Indiegogo, a popular crowdfunding platform. The campaign was successful and piqued the interest of the local institutions: "Now that the idea has been proven, the Ladhaki government is incorporating it its development plans."

Learn more about the artificial glacier over at CNN Style.

Image: Sonam Wangchuk 


This Picture Is Not A Beach, But Actually A Photo Of A Broken Car Door

Don’t worry, you’re not alone if you thought that this was a photo of a beach. This “optical illusion” has been causing confusion - driving people wild. The majority thinks that this is a stormy shore or a beach scene.

Twitter user @nxyxm uploaded the photo with a caption:

if you can see a beach, ocean sky, rocks and stars then you are an artist, But its not a painting its lower part of the car gate which needs to be repaired.

Wow, majority of us are artists then. If you still can’t see the photo as a broken car door, then try focusing on the larger pebble. 

Image: @nxyxm/ Twitter


It Took A Team of Mechanics To Get This Kitten Out Under A Car

Poor kitty, she must have been confused and scared after being stuck under that car. 

The cat was found by the driver of the car while he was waiting at the drive-through window at a Hardee’s restaurant in Kentucky. He noticed that the employee there was giving him some weird looks. He then realized that the loud meows coming through the speaker at the drive-through window were actually coming from somewhere under his car.

The driver, however, couldn’t seem to help the cat get out. Fortunately, there was an auto shop (Midas of Frankfort) just beside the restaurant. Upon knowing about the cat being stuck, the mechanics immediately helped. 

How then did the cat get stuck under the car? According to D. Scott Bourne, owner and managing director of the Midas of Frankfort, “She tried to crawl through a hole in the rear subframe and got lodged after realizing she couldn't retreat backwards”.

Finally, after over an hour of work and dismantling parts of the car, the mechanics were able to pull the kitten free, and everyone was overjoyed to see that she appeared to be mostly OK. The man who owned the car was so grateful to the mechanics for helping out and offered to pay them, but they refused. All they had wanted was to help the kitten, and knowing she was safe was payment enough. 

Image: Midas of Frankfort 


This Giant Rubik's Cube Houses A Tasting Room And A Restaurant

It cost A$16 million to build the d'Arenberg Cube, a five-storey rubik's cube inspired structure which was the brainchild of Chester Osborn, a fourth-generation winemaker of d'Arenberg wines.

It was opened to the public in December 2017 and has received numerous accolades including the NECA excellence award for commercial project, the McLaren Vale tourism award, and the award for Best Tourist Attraction at the South Australian Tourism Awards 2018 among others.

Chester Osborn had the idea to build the d'Arenberg Cube in 2003 but it took a while before the concept could be realized.

It took him about nine years to get the five-storey oddity – which houses a tasting room and a restaurant – built, despite the 2008 financial crisis and opposition from his father and the rest of his family. He also had to fight most of his business managers.

And why a Rubik's Cube as inspiration, here's what Osborn thought:

Osborn’s thinking was that wine is a puzzle to work out, and his vineyard’s names for its wines are also a puzzle. So he asked himself what was the world’s most iconic puzzle, and then, after struggles with architects, engineers and government paperwork, he had his answer – a Rubik’s Cube – built in glass and steel at a cost of about A$16 million (HK$88 million).

Read more about it on SCMP.

(Image credit: Rikx/Flickr)


Meet The Artist Behind Bubble_T’s Instagram Filters

Instagram users are very familiar with one of the app’s most used features - face filters. Paper Magazine sits down with Thomas Jeon, the artist who created a boba-themed face filter. This fun, simple and interactive filter also doubles as a promotion of the queer Asian collective, Bubble_T

Thomas Jeon tells Paper Magazine what goes into the making of a hit face filter and how he came to be involved with Bubble_T. 

image credit: screenshot via Paper Magazine


Stunning video of the sun's surface emerges

Jorrit Leenaarts, director of Stockholm University's Institute for Solar Physics, led a study that was published in the Journal of Astronomy & Astrophysics last year.

In the video we can see the result of that study, which photographed a vast area of the sun. In them we see the sun's "skin", or photo-sphere, appears to be seems to be pulsing and moving. That is where the hot gases from the sun rise to cool down and afterwards fall back down. We can also see a dark spot which is a collection of sunspots. Each sunspot is a region of strong magnetic disturbance on the sun. 

These images can help scientist understand the inner workings of our sun and for the rest of us offer a closer look at our life giving star.

Read more at "This Stunning Video Shows Sun's Pulsing 'Skin' in Incredible Detail" - Via: Space


No Doughnuts With Syringes at Minnesota State Fair

The headline sounds like a rumor that has been debunked, but it's more complicated than that. When the new foods of the Minnesota State Fair were announced, a curious gimmick called Wingwalker Donut Flight was introduced. They are doughnut holes that you inject with filling yourself, served with syringes of Bavarian cream, chocolate custard, or Minnesota lingonberry jam. Now, many fair foods are traditionally served "on a stick" to make them easier to eat while standing and walking. Filling doughnut holes requires two hands, and possibly three. It's not clear why anyone thought that fairgoers would get excited about preparing their own snacks. The pushback was immediate.

“Incredibly wasteful,” “a gimmick,” and “gross” were some of the comments on the Minnesota State Fair’s Facebook page. Both the environmental impact of single-use plastics and the optics of drug paraphernalia littered on the ground at the fair drew complaints.

An online petition launched last weekend has so far garnered more than 3,000 signatures to “Stop the Minnesota State Fair from allowing Wingwalker Donut to use plastic syringes!”

The vendor withdrew the gimmick, and now doughnut holes will be served with recyclable trays featuring the fillings as dips. You can see the revised list of new foods at the Minnesota State Fair, featuring Cheesy Sriracha Funnel Cake Bites, Irish Whiskey Boneless Wings, and Fried Tacos on-a-Stick, among other extreme treats.  -via TYWKIWDBI

(Image credit: Minnesota State Fair)


Towing a Car

Somehow, a Land Rover gets stuck and has to be pulled out of a pasture by what appears to be the world's first tractor. What is this, opposite day? No, this is Russia. The tractor goes wrong, its winch keeps going, and somehow things get worse. Then we see that the vehicle is not a Land Rover at all, but a Lada with a sticker on the front that says "Land Niver." This video might contains NSFW language, I don't know, since it's in Russian. -via Digg


The Life and Works of Sci-Fi Superstar Octavia E. Butler

I often thought of science fiction as stories that talk about science and the future. In a way, that is partly what science fiction does. But, as with a lot of stories, they also reflect the values prevalent in society as well as provide social commentary and a means to effect change in society. In this regard, science fiction writer Octavia Butler was a pioneer.

“Science fiction, more than any other genre deals with change—change in science and technology, and social change. But science fiction itself changes slowly, often under protest.”

Some of Octavia Butler's popular works are the Parable series, the Xenogenesis trilogy, and Bloodchild. However, she died young in 2006 at the age of 58. But her works are still very relevant in today's culture and society.

Butler’s work “helped define the literary cornerstone of Afrofuturism,” notes Grinberg. Her writing was strategic, a way to confront dehumanizing political and social political realities.

So why should we read Octavia Butler's works? I think Open Culture summarized it best:

...because she had a better read on how the time she lived in would turn into the time we live in now than nearly anyone writing at the time; because she told strange, wonderful, outlandish, compelling stories that stretched the imagination without losing sight of the human core;
because, like Ursula K. Le Guin, she challenged the world as it is with profound visions of what it might be; and because she not only excelled as a storyteller but specifically as a committed science fiction storyteller, one who deeply touched, and thus deeply changed, the form.

(Image Credit: Nikolas Coukouma/Wikimedia Commons)


Man plays saxophone for cows and they love it

Eric Herrmann has been learning how to play the saxophone and when he mastered a few songs he took to the fields to play them for the cows. To everyone's surprise the cows loved his song, flocking around him to enjoy his music.

Herrmann's daughter posted a video of her father playing his sax for the cows and immediately went viral on twitter. She claims her father did this just for fun and that her parents are just goofy that way.

The video already has 11 million views on twitter and counting!

Read more about Mr. Herrmann and his adventures at "The Saxophone Man Serenading Cows Who Respond Accordingly Is the Real Song of Summer in Everyone's Hearts" - Via: TIME


Mom Discovers She Has ADHD After Her Son Was Diagnosed

It wasn't until her six-year-old son was diagnosed with ADHD and getting a diagnosis of her own that Charlene Harrison finally found peace with what she had been going through all her life. Not a lot of people are diagnosed with ADHD as an adult so it carries a bit of stigma and it's more difficult to find a support system.

“When my son was diagnosed, I read everything I could to learn more about ADHD. I found out that ADHD was highly genetic right at the time my 12-year-old daughter was struggling with high school so I started asking questions about ADHD presentation in girls and found that girls are more likely to exhibit inattention.
"So I had my daughter assessed and she received a diagnosis. And then I realised that my daughter’s behaviour was so much like mine that I thought maybe this might answer a few questions for myself”.

(Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)


Three Stories of Unconventional Funerals and How They Helped Families in Their Grieving Process

Funerals are as much for our loved ones who have passed away as it is for our own closure and healing process. Different people have certain traditions or customs with which they conduct funerals. But at times, loved ones may have wishes on how they want their funerals to be conducted and there are not-for-profit funeral services that help them fulfill these wishes.

Jenny Briscoe-Hough, founder and director of not-for-profit funeral service Tender Funerals, says that everyone should tread their own path when it comes to farewelling someone they love.
"People should be involved as much or as little as they wish in the process of saying goodbye," she says. "It's not just about a funeral. It starts from when someone dies, through to transporting their body to the mortuary, and all the other aspects.

The family of the deceased loved one has the right to be involved in the process and grieve in their own way. And these three stories show how it could benefit the families as much as it does their loved ones who have gone.

(Image credit: Rhodi Alers de Lopez/Unsplash)


Yet another use for the glorious instant ramen

Dwindling food portions and less meals per week have led more and more prisoners to resort to buying ramen noodles from commissary.

Although ramen prices in prison are not the same as Walmart. It is almost twice as expensive, and it has replaced cigarettes as "prison currency". Inmates need to cover the need to eat, while tobacco is considered a luxury. They exchange ramen noodles for other necessities such as toothpaste or other food.

Read more at "Forget cigarettes -- there's a new prison currency" - Via: CBS news

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