A person of no colour

I am white, pale, pasty, washed out. A white male – privileged and wealthy in comparison to most. Yet in a minority.

Most people in the world have more colour than my type do. They have beautiful skin tones ranging from pale brown to deep black. They are people of colour. We are the non-coloured, the lacking, those who should be seen through.

Trump is not the new normal

An encouraging article by Maria Konnikova for the New YorkerHow Norms Change, gives me hope that the bizarre behaviour of Donald Trump does not need to become a new normal for America.
Konnikova looks at the difference between biases originating from deeply held beliefs, and social norms which are the ways in which we behave in a society. She points out that while a bias is slow to change, social norms can change at whatever rate a society is changing. Norms can also be strongly influenced by leaders.

The fact that a powerful leader can change social norms is worrying when we see someone like Donald Trump. However, a powerful leader who is somewhat removed from your everyday life has less influence on your behaviour than someone you interact with more often:

If the President suggests that some neo-Nazis are “very fine people,” but those in positions of power closer to you—such as a pastor, principal, or governor—speak out against him, you’ll be more likely to call into question the new normal that the President has modelled. The new behavior will look more like an outlier than like a norm. Maria Konnikova

If leaders in a society consistently resist and speak out against a degenerating social norm, there is hope that society can remain a good place to be. This has implications far beyond opposing the madness of Trump, it places responsibility on all of us to lead with respectful behaviour in whatever sphere of influence we have, whether it is large or small we have the advantage of regular interactions with the people in our lives.

The beauty of norms is that, unlike ingrained hatreds, they are flexible. They shift quickly; with the right pressure from the right people, they can shift back. But the response, crucially, must be broad, and it must come from sources of authority across the political spectrum. Otherwise, behaviors we think of as socially stable may prove to be far more fragile than we’d like to believe. Maria Konnikova

The opportunity cost of social media

An article well worth reading on the opportunity cost of social media: Is social media robbing us of our dearest hopes and dreams in life?
The subtitle ‘The biggest problem with social media? It is designed to give us exactly the opposite of what we truly want in life’, sums up the gist of it. Effectively, there is a clash between the interests of those who provide the social media technology and the interests of the people who use it. Think of what Facebook or Twitter are trying to achieve:

What does technology want? It wants more clicks, more time on site, higher conversation rates, etc. It wants your attention

Then consider what your own goals are:

What do we want? Well, presumably our dearest hopes and dreams for our lives go far beyond spending another 20 minutes on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.

A personal action I have decided upon after reading this article is to start breaking my lists of stuff I want to get done into tasks that will take only 10 to 20 minutes so I can see the real opportunity cost of wasting time dicking around on social media when I have other things I can easily do in the time I would waste doing that.

I can agree that social media can serve a useful purpose, and it can be used as a form of entertainment. Some people also consider slot machines to be a benign form of entertainment, but when I look at the money that gets pumped into them it’s easy for me to imagine what else could be done with that money. Our time is a less renewable resource than money so I’d like to retain control of what I spend mine on.

Desperate people dying at sea

An estimated 6,000-20,000 Rohingya from Myanmar/Burma are at sea, fleeing the ethnic persecution that has been going on for years. Their lives have become worse and worse. The Myanmar government keeps denying more than a million people basic rights, such as food, medical treatment and education. Not to mention the freedom to live in their own villages, the freedom to move around freely, and the freedom to marry whom they may want. As life as gotten intolerable for hundreds of thousands of Rohingya, they have seen no other alternative than to flee by sea.

There is, however, no country willing to take these desperate people in. Both Malaysia and Indonesia turned away boats with hundreds of people last week. Thai authorities have also stated that they will not allow any boats to land. For the ones who have decided to turn around and go back to Myanmar/Burma, it has become a reverse smuggling game. Human traffickers are demanding 200-300 dollars to return a person from the boat back to his or her village. Having already spent all their money on the voyage, very few of them have the money to pay such a fee.

(from An Urgent Update On The Rohingya, Partners Relief & Development)
Save the Rohingya from Partners Relief & Developmenton Vimeo.

The Rohingya people are desperately in need. In May 2012, sectarian violence broke out in Rakhine State between the Buddhist Rakhine people and the predominately Muslim Rohingya. Around 140,000 people remain displaced in and around Sittwe and Maungdaw by the violence. These people urgently need food, shelter, medicine and protection. Partners has been providing emergency relief to those in camps near Sittwe, including rice distribution, basic medical support, tarps for shelter as well as animals, seeds and fertilizer to help establish more sustainable food supply. PLEASE HELP provide continuing life-saving care to vulnerable children and families. Learn how you can help at www.partnersworld.org/save-the-rohingya

Faces of meth

So this is how the zombie apocalypse will come about!?

Eight years ago, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office launched a campaign called “the Faces of Meth” to address Oregon’s methamphetamine problem. The images showed the jarring effects of meth on addicts’ faces through before-and-after pictures from their arrest records.

Rehabs.com recently followed suit with this infographic. (From Business Insider)