Self Improvement


Committing to doing something you know will be hard, paradoxically, often results in an easier time than opting for something that seems easy.

When you take on a hard goal, you naturally make room for it. A goal that pretends to be easy doesn’t require those adjustments, so they’re rarely made. Instead, they squeeze down on everything else in your life until those other things start pushing back.

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Self Improvement

“No” or “Not Right Now”

The problem is simply that saying “no” to a particular pursuit can be hard. But saying “not right now” works just as well. 

It prevents the pursuit from taking up time, while leaving open the possibility of change later.

Since time is a fixed quantity, everything you say yes to implies a no to something else and vice versa.

Saying yes subtly squeezes everything else, but rarely in ways we can easily perceive. When saying no, what is left over is enriched, but this additional space is often neglected.

The invention of the computer, microprocessor, and the internet has created a major digital transformation to books. E-books (electronic books) have become common.

However, nothing can change the fact that a book in any form - physical books, e-books or audiobooks, remains a pleasure.

  • In the 1440s, Johannes Gutenberg started to experiment with movable types. He made a metal movable type system of casting letters with screw press and hand mould. The machine was semi-mechanic but was very effective.
  • The first complete book printed on the movable type was the Gutenberg Bible in 1455. 180 copies were created - 45 were printed on vellum (fine parchment) and 135 on paper.
  • Gutenberg's invention led to a revolution in printing all over Europe. By the late 15th century, 20 million books were published as well as newspapers, magazines, and other media.
  • Codex is closer to modern books. The pages were made from folded leaves or parchments (animal skins) and bound together on one side, one after another. The earliest surviving codex dates back to the 4th century and is the greek biblical manuscript known as Codex Sinaiticus.
  • Paper was invented by Cai Lun, an official of the Chinese Imperial court of Eastern Han. He used tree bark, rags hemp, and old fish nets to make paper. Paper started to be used in China, then spread around the world. Illustrated handwritten manuscripts were seen between 400-600 A.D.
  • Block printing probably originated in China. The letter of Chinese alphabets were carved in mirror writing on large wooden blocks. The ink would be applied to the entire block, and then paper was pressed against the block. The oldest surviving printed book is the Buddhist text, Diamond Sutra and dates to 868 A.D.
  • Movable type was invented around 990-1051 A.D. by Bi Sheng of China. He carved single letters on small pieces of clay or wood instead of carving the whole book on a single block. The blocks could be rearranged and reused.
Clay tablets and papyrus scrolls
  • Long before the use of paper, the Stimarians - people of Mesopotamia who lived around 3500-3000 B.C. - invented the Cuneiform writing system. It consisted of pictographs and phonograms that was etched on clay tablets. This method of writing was around for 2000 years.
  • Papyrus Scroll dates from around 2400 B.C. They were made from the stem of the Papyrus plant and were about 10 - 40 metres long. Ancient Egyptians used reeds or bird feathers to write on the scrolls.

Freud and Jung felt that people needed to have a means to redirect the natural drive of aggression.

Listening to a true crime story can give you more than fantasizing about a kickboxing class. Yet, you also want to distance yourself from the criminal. You want to reassure yourself that you are not like that.

Humans are fantastic problem solvers. Without problems to solve, we actually feel restless. True crime stories give our brain something to work on.

We want the real criminals to get caught if we think someone has been wrongfully accused. But we also consider what would happen if we were unjustly accused.

Some real crime stories are more difficult to distance yourself from the victim. Maybe you hear about a college student who was abducted during a midday run, and as a runner yourself, you can think how easily it could have been you.

We have this feeling of cheating death because we're aware that we ultimately can't escape death.

The shock value attracts us to something we've never seen or heard before.

The negativity bias may affect us where the brain pays more attention to negative than positive information. You may also be drawn to true crime because you get a closer look at people who don't care about social norms.

Fascination with true crime shows: they help us learn something

People are fascinated with true crime. It is why so many are addicted to crime podcasts or investing hours in series like Unsolved Mysteries.

Research shows that women are more attracted to real crime than men. One possible reason is that although men are more likely to be victims of violent crime, women may feel more vulnerable to attack, therefore more ready to gain insight on how to survive a true crime scenario.

Experts say watching true crime is a way of comforting yourself that something terrible could never happen to you. "I would never be that naive to marry a man who's been living a double life as a serial killer."

But this is also how we get to blame the victim. We think the person did something to deserve that. Did she walk alone at night? Was she drinking? It's terrifying if the person did everything right and something still happened to them. Then we have to admit that it could happen to us.

  • Mars has captivated people since we first saw the reddish hue object in the night sky. In the late 1800s, telescopes revealed a surface full of patterns and landforms thought to be a bustling Martian civilisation.
  • Now, we know there are no constructions on Mars. However, the toxic planet we see today might have once been as habitable as Earth.
  • Only uncrewed spacecraft have made a trip to the red planet. NASA is hoping to land the first humans on Mars by the 2030s.

When scientists view the Martian surface, they see branching streams, river valleys, basins, and deltas, suggesting that the planet may have once had a vast ocean covering its northern hemisphere. It was likely wrapped in a thick atmosphere able to maintain liquid water.

But somehow, the planet went through a dramatic transformation. Exploring Mars can help scientists learn about climate change that can alter planets. Learning more about Mars may equip us to someday make a living there.

Once every 26 months, Earth and Mars are aligned to enable spacecraft to reach it in about half a year. Space agencies launch probes during these conjunctions.

  • The most recent launches were the Hope spacecraft of the United Arab Emirates, to study its atmosphere and weather patterns.
  • China launched its Tianwen-1.
  • The United States launched its Perseverance rover to study Martian climate and weather, test technologies that could help humans survive, and collect samples from rocks.

The robotic activity is laying the groundwork for sending humans to Mars.

Everything we've learned about Mars over the last century suggests that the planet was once able of hosting ecosystems.

  • Mars is just over half the size of Earth.
  • Gravity is only 38 percent than that of Earth's.
  • It rotates around its axis at about the same speed as Earth, meaning that a day on Mars is just 40 minutes longer than on Earth.
  • One year on Mars takes about 687 Earth days.
  • Mars has the same amount of habitable surface as Earth. It also contains ice on the polar caps.

But Mars is wrapped in a thin carbon dioxide atmosphere and cannot support earthly life forms.

Since 1960, dozens of spacecraft have been sent to Mars. It is difficult to send a spacecraft to Mars and even harder to land on the planet because of the thin atmosphere.

Data revealed the largest volcanoes in the solar system and one of the largest canyons yet discovered. Dust storms regularly sweep over the plains. Several spacecraft orbiting Mars shows an active planet rich in ingredients needed for life - water, organic carbon, and an energy source.

Christmas is one of the few times people feel they can sing together. Christmas songs are one of the few remaining national repertoires.

As you go in from a cold night into a warm pub full of people who want to share the songs, you gain a deep sense of pride and connection, and you're sharing the traditional with past and future generations.

Community singing is on the rise again

Until recent times, community singing was thought to have decreased in popularity, suggesting less of a sense of tradition than there used to be.

But in recent years, there have been signs of a revival in community singing, suggesting people want to get involved again.

  • Carols are thought to be originally pagan songs performed to a circle dance celebrating calendar customs. They gradually became associated with Christian religious festivals, such as Christmas and Easter.
  • Christmas carols are not necessarily about religion. People connect carols with the sense of tradition and community more than a religious association. The main strength of carolling is people coming together.

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