Zen News: My Weekend Project

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Just wanted to write a quick post to point out a project I worked on this weekend. I’m calling it Zen News.

Have you ever noticed how much time you spend each day reading the news? It is probably more than you think, because news sites are designed to suck you in and click around as much as possible. This kills productivity.

Also, most news isn’t very important anyway. Think back to the previous week. How many news stories did you read that you can actually recall now? It is likely only one or two stories that actually were somewhat important and stayed in the headlines for days at a time. The rest have already been forgotten.

Zen News gets the top stories, summarizes them, and displays them in a clean, organized fashion, without any distractions. It lets you skim the news, then get back to more important things.

Go check it out

The war on “war”

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Have you ever noticed how we like to declare war on everything? Whenever we have a problem, we declare war on the source of that problem. For example, here are a few “wars” that have been mentioned in the media:

  • The war on terror
  • The war on crime
  • The war on drugs
  • The war on poverty
  • The war on AIDS
  • The war on cancer
  • The war on women
  • The war on men
  • The war on science
  • The war on kids
  • The war on gangs
  • The war on Christmas

All of this “war” is detrimental to cooperation. With politics already being so divisive, the last thing we need to be doing is turning every disagreement into a “war”.

Unfortunately, politics is usually the reason why we declare so many wars. Because of the fact that war forces everyone to take a side, politicians can often further their agenda by declaring war on a seemingly unrelated foe, or by claiming that the other party has declared war on their beliefs.

Do you want to increase funding for police? Easy, just declare war on gangs. Do you have some social programs that need to get through Congress? Just declare war on poverty. Do you feel victimized because your religion has to be separate from government? Then claim that there is a war on Christmas.

At best, the overuse of the word “war” is not constructive. At worst, it only further divides an already fractured country into even more disparate groups. I propose a war on the word “war”. Let’s stop using it to describe every problem, and maybe actually make progress toward a solution. Let’s make this the war to end all “wars”.

The need for entrepreneurship in schools, explained in science terms

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I’ve always been a big fan of the idea that we should be teaching entrepreneurship in our schools. To understand why that is important, I like to think about it in terms of ecology.

Put simply, jobs are a resource. People who look for jobs are consumers, those who create jobs are producers. Our education system is producing far too many consumers by teaching kids to go to college and get a good job, while there aren’t enough producers to keep up by creating new jobs.

Instead, we should be teaching kids in a way that leads them to become producers. We need to teach them to find an income, rather than find a job. We need to to teach entrepreneurship in schools. That’s how you bring jobs and innovation back to this country.

Why some male animals eat their young

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On David Letterman tonight, Jack Hanna was on again. He had some leopards, and said that sometime male leopards eat their young. When Dave asked why, Jack didn’t give a straight answer, so I’m not sure if he didn’t know or if he was joking. In any case, I think this is a good time for some science education. Then again, every time is a good time for science…

Anyway, the reason some males eat the young is because it causes the female to go into heat again. If the young die, she no longer has any young to care for, so from an evolutionary standpoint, it is beneficial for her to go into heat and “try again”.

However, from the perspective of the male, killing the young is also genetically beneficial, because if the young aren’t his, killing them gives him the opportunity to get the female pregnant with his own young, thus passing on his own genes.

When a male kills the young, the evolutionary interests of the male and the female are influencing each other.

It is interesting to note that as you look at various organisms, this behavior varies depending on how the organisms care for their young. The tendency for males to eat young is more typical of more complex animals, like leopards. Alligators exhibit this behavior as well.

This all changes as you move down to simpler organisms. When you look at insects and spiders, it is actually the female who frequently eats the male. Such organisms usually provide very little care to their young, and instead utilize a reproductive strategy based on sheer numbers. In other words, have as many babies as possible, and even if most die, a few will go on to continue the gene line.

With this kind of reproductive strategy, the female doesn’t really bother to care for the young anyway, so there is no evolutionary incentive for the male to eat the offspring. There is, however, an incentive for the female to eat the male. Once the male has done his deed, he is pretty much useless. Meanwhile, the female is going to need quite a bit of energy to produce hundreds of little eggs. As a result, she gets the after-sex munchies and eats the male.

The tendency for some animals to eat their young or each other is the result of the male and the female doing what is in their best interest from a genetic point of view. In species that spend a lot of time caring for young, the male will sometimes eat the young. In species that don’t really bother caring for young, the female sometimes eats her partner.

As a male, I’m just glad I’m not a spider.

FyreDo Introduces Public Goals

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It has been a busy morning. Today, I introduced a new feature on FyreDo, my goal planning and tracking tool. The new feature allows people to make their goals public, which empowers people to work together and help each other toward their goals.

One of the most powerful lessons I have learned in life is to ask for help when you need it. If you want to achieve massive success, you need to get help from people who have already achieved the goal you want, or at least people who are working on that goal at the same time. FyreDo now makes that easy to do.

I’m excited to roll out this feature. I put a lot of thought into the best way to organize public goals and discussions, and a lot of work has gone into it. For more info, check out the blog post on the FyreDo Blog.