Reader's Indigestion

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Elon, I’m sorry,

I just finished reading Ashlee Vance's book; "Elon Musk; Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future" and for me, everything change. I was ready to name my first born Elon but after reading the book I don't feel comfortable enough with the idea. I believed that the problem is that although the book is very well written, Vance's style is way too aggressive and overtaking. It is common for this book to be constantly and unnecessarily rough.

Not everything is bad, the way Vance presents Tesla, Space X and many of Musk's endeavors is magnificent but it is always surrounded by an air of arrogance and that's not even the worst part. The worst part is that if you want to really want to learn about Musk's work and his persona, you won't really get satisfied by this book. Is not that the book does not present some historical background of Musk's life, cause it does and it's interesting information about basic aspects of the companies he has been involved in and its struggles, but you will feel some shortages. You most likely will feel that you read a lot but you didn't get to know enough.

I'm a fan of everything Musk, but after reading the book I get a bad taste about how he is presented. It's not that I would have wanted Vance to present Elom as a saint or even a genius, I actually liked the fact that he is presented as a normal human being, but the book does lack a healthy presentation of his humane side.

That probably is because the emphasis is toward his entrepreneurial skills, his failures and a constant admiration of his successes, but in a staggering angry and strangely unemotional way.

Thinking about this small review of the book makes me realize what for me seems to be the central situation with the book. It is the lack of sensibility on the narrative. It is not a bad story, it is actually a great modern inspirational story but it is a story focused on character creation, but not about Musk's character, which is actually portrayed as a control-freak compulsive dictator, which if the rest of the accounts of him is correct does not even draws an accurate portray of him. The character creation seems to be about the author.

But judge it by yourself if you want;

Note to the reader.

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The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid's Tale is among other things a television series by Bruce Miller presented on Hulu. I first heard about it when a friend of mine asked me if I had a subscription to Hulu Plus. I said no, I only had Netflix and Amazon Prime. Then my wife, influenced by my so-called friend decided to join the free Hulu trail to watch the series.

She binge watched it in about a day or two and freaking loved it. She started asking me questions about how I think the story is going to develop and so on. Consequently, I started to do some research and found out that the series is based on a 1985 novel of the same name by Margaret Atwood.

The story goes like this; In the near future, the world has become a dystopian society in which the ultraconservatives have seized power and implanted a theocratic republic, in which the most fortunate women are second-class citizens and, the less fortunate ones, are simply slaves. Due to pollution and other factors like sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancies have become an oddity and therefore, fertile women are highly valued and constitute a separate class: "the maids."

They wear red tunics and a white cap that prevents them from looking to the sides and being seen. They are intended for the houses of the ruling class, mostly sterile couples, to serve as slaves, reproductive slaves. Their masters have sex with them aseptically and brutally at the same time, in the presence and with the collaboration of their wives; and the children fathered by this process legally belong to the sterile family.

The narrative is in the first person, from the point of view of a "maid," named Offred (the names of all the maids begin with "of," as the preposition, followed by the name of the owner to whom they belong, so Offred means "belonging to Fred.")

The story is excellent, smart, deep and clever but it has something else to it. This story is a dystopia from a woman's point of view. Most, if not all of the dystopian stories are written by men. But this is the narrative perspective of a woman, therefore it gives a different vibe, a social intuitive difference not seen in other dystopian stories.

All that said, we would like to suggest you give the book a try or if you prefer, check out the series.

book:

TV series:

Note to the reader.

Our only income strategy is our association with Amazon.com so if you want to support us please consider buying through our links. Also, it would be super cool if you add us on Twitter (twitter.com/The_R_e_a_d_e_r) and share us on your social media.

Hating Thanksgiving Day

We are going straight forward to the Christmas season but before the holidays we must suffer Thanksgiving Day. Yes, I hate Thanksgiving Day. It is a pretentious, arrogant, stupid celebration.

Let's begin with the supposed meaning and tradition. Thanksgiving is supposed to be a day to be gracious about what God did for us in the year. Supposedly it started with the pilgrims celebrating with the natives in America but I suspect that if that ever happened there were celebrating how they killed, raped and conquered the natives, not exactly celebrating with them. But that is a conversation for another day.

The horror of Thanksgiving starts with the hypocrisy. It is the day in which more turkeys die. We consume more turkey on Thanksgiving Day than any other day of the year or even the whole year combined. At this point, you probably get where I'm going. Thanksgiving day is, among other things, a wasteful tragic day. If your family is like mine, you threw away a lot of turkeys after Thanksgiving.

What is the point of that celebration nowadays anyways? Are we supposed to hold all the gratitude that we felt within the year to that day? Aren't we suppose to be thankful all year long? Why do we gather the family to that day if we don't care about seeing them or even hearing from them the whole year long?

That's why it's so pretentious because we in our society do not give a rat's ass about family, God or being thankful, but then, we hold a day to do just that, to lie to ourselves and pretend that we cared. At this moment in this rant, I'm going to take sides with the religious people that want a "purer" Thanksgiving experience. Cause what I hate the most is not that we do not care about anything or anyone, what I hate the most is the inconsistencies.

If you want to be a good religious person, be thankful to God every day. If you want to care for your family, contact them every couple of weeks or even months but not once a year, that is just wrong. A false display of values which we do not possess.

If you want to get a different take for this Thanksgiving and generally in your life we are going to suggest a couple of books.

In the christian side:

On the secular side:

Note to the reader.

Our only income strategy is our association with Amazon.com so if you want to support us please consider buying through our links. Also, it would be super cool if you add us on Twitter (twitter.com/The_R_e_a_d_e_r) and share us on your social media.

Again, thanks for reading.

#GunControlNow

It has to sadden every time you turn on the news and hear about some mass shooting taking place. Even sadder is the fact that in the United States of America, the mass-shooting phenomena is becoming common news.

Today there is another mass shooting in the news. At this point, it is unimportant the place where the shooting took place. The important matter should be trying to understand why such thing has happened and how we can work toward preventing it.

Like is common in this kind of situation the killer is already dead by the time we heard of the matter on the news, usually the police killed the person, or sometimes it commits suicide, either way, there is not much we can do to understand why the person did such a thing. But more important than knowing why is to determine what we can do to prevent or stop this kind of situations. Here comes the dreaded gun control issue.

The facts are simple. Americans have six times as many firearm homicides as Canada, nearly 16 times as many as Germany, 21 times as many as Australia and even the next country in terms of gun homicides which is Switzerland, has 4 times fewer gun homicides. Americans have 4.4 percent of the world’s population, but almost half of the civilian-owned guns around the world.[1]

The crisis is massive. Since December 2012 we have had at least 1518 mass shootings taking no less than 1715 people and no less than 6800 injured. Meaning that on average there are fewer days in a year than mass shootings on average... [2]Although, obvious is needed to be addressed because people in the government does not seem to understand. The states with more guns and gun owners have more mass shootings. [3] Again, it's obvious but this does not only happens in the United States, those countries with more guns and guns owners have more mass shootings, also.

Now, let's enter directly on the theme of gun control. What is it you ask? Simply put, Gun control (or firearms regulation)

[4][5] is the set of laws or policies that regulate the manufacture, sale, transfer, possession, modification, or use of firearms by civilians. What we want is simply to harden the legislation that controls who buys, sells, distribute, transfers, posses, modifies or manufacture a weapon. The reason is obvious and simple too, good gun control legislation saves lives.[7]

"Last year, researchers from around the country reviewed more than 130 studies from 10 countries on gun control for Epidemiologic Reviews. This is, for now, the most current, extensive review of the research on the effects of gun control. The findings were clear: “The simultaneous implementation of laws targeting multiple firearms restrictions is associated with reductions in firearm deaths.”"[8]

What is needed to be done? Call your congressman, and do so now, later, today and tomorrow. If you don't understand the importance of calling your congressman please see this video:

If you want to dig deeper we suggest you “Reducing Gun Violence in America: Informing Policy with Evidence and Analysis 1st Edition” which you can get from internet or can buy from us:

Last, be vocal! Have a strong constant message. Check this t-shirts:

Note to the reader.

Our only income strategy is our association with Amazon.com so if you want to support us please consider buying through our links. Also, it would be super cool if you add us on Twitter (twitter.com/The_R_e_a_d_e_r) and share us on your social media.

Again, thanks for reading.

Footnotes

[1] - UNODC, Small arms survey, via The Guardian "theguardian.com/news/datablog/2012/jul/22/gun-homicides-ownership-world-list"

[2-3] - America’s unique gun violence problem, explained in 17 maps and charts {VOX} "vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/10/2/16399418/us-gun-violence-statistics-maps-charts"

[4] - Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (2005). Federal Firearms Regulations Reference Guide (PDF). U.S. Department of Justice. Retrieved: January 3, 2016. - "atf.gov/file/58686/download"

[5] - Firearms-Control Legislation and Policy {Library of Congress} "loc.gov/law/help/firearms-control"

[6] - America’s unique gun violence problem, explained in 17 maps and charts {VOX} "vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/10/2/16399418/us-gun-violence-statistics-maps-charts"

[7-8] - The research is clear: gun control saves lives {VOX} "vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/10/4/16418754/gun-control-washington-post"

A prepper's guide from the apocalypse.

Like I ones said on Twitter, I’ve been living in paradise for a couple of years now. Puerto Rico is literally a paradise on this earth. The people, the beaches, the weather, and by the way, talking about the weather two big hurricanes came to Puerto Rico this year (2017) and it was awful. First, it was Irma, which took most of the electrical grid, followed by Maria who took everything else.

Now it’s been two months and there is no electricity, the stupid local governor seems afraid of the dark so is constantly setting curfews and the military, and the police are stopping people for a stop sign ticket with long range assault weapons. Basically, because of bad urban planning and political incompetence, paradise has turned into a military post-apocalyptic dystopia.

My wife and I, talked a lot about this the days before the hurricane. I told her that if we wanted to be sure, we should prepare for at least a month with basic supplies. But the days past by and we did not prepare. We thought that, like most of the time, the hurricane was going to past by, close enough for us to feel the winds and the rain but not close enough for the absolute destruction that we faced.

So, what I learn about this? First, that I’m an idiot and that we should definitely have prepared. Second, and a little more useful information, now I’m almost certain, from the perspective of someone in the middle of the apocalypses, of knowing what you could possibly need in a situation like this.

We would like to divide this in three levels of preparation. Lightweight survival, strong survival and OMG-Hardcore survival mode.

Lightweight

In the first days after the hurricane there were no Walgreen’s, CVS or Walmart opened. So, the less concern prepper should at least have the following:

Medication – if you are diabetic or hypertensive or any other chronic medical condition you should at least have a month of medication and another month of prescription. You should also have the basics; Pepto-Bismol, Panadol, cough syrup, an allergy medication, etc. You never know what is going to happen this is strictly basic precautions.

There were no supermarkets open. You should definitely at least have a week or two of well-thought food supplies that do not require refrigeration. You would most likely lose electricity and maybe even water, therefore, you should also at least have two weeks of drinking water and a week or two of cleaning water.

Strong survival

If you want to bring it up a notch you should definitely turn your supplies from one or two weeks to a month. Also, you should be prepared for a way of purifying water and cooking with gas and camping equipment, with a reserve of no less than 4 little tanks of gas. Something that I did not expect was the enormous quantity of mosquitos, therefore you need to have mosquito repellant, battery fans, and mosquito nets. You should consider alternative equipment to launder clothing, a machete and some form of fire making. Last in this category but not least you imperatively need to get at least 4 tanks of gasoline. There were people that had to do up to 30 hours of lines to get a regulated 10 bucks of gasoline. Even nowadays, two months after the hurricane, there are 30 and 40 minutes lines for gasoline and a general lack of gasoline and diesel.

OMG-HardCore survival.

This is the way I would have liked to have been prepared. All that I have said so far is obviously adds to this next part of the list. If you want to be able to feel atleast kind of normal in the post-apocalypse you need to have a good source of electricity. People in Puerto Rico used is diesel, gas or gasoline power generators, but they are a waste of too much money. Is also important to consider that gasoline is not a resource which you will be able to acquire easily so is a good idea to be prepared with solar energy equipment. That does not mean that you would be able to survive without gasoline but your gasoline dependency would be less so it's going to be easier. Similarly, if you are really planning ahead, you should acquire a pool. Yes, a pool, because with proper filtering you will have clean water and cleaning water, much needed in the apocalypse.

There are at least one more things you should really consider. As part of any survival effort. Secure your house, preemptively. What does that mean for each of us is relative, but it is very important that you consider it. If, for example, your sliding door, or big glass windows are appropriated for your climate and living situations.

If you are serious about all this you should check this prepper's books and gears.

books:

gear:

Note to the reader.

Our only income strategy is our association with Amazon.com so if you want to support us please consider buying through our links. Also, it would be super cool if you add us on Twitter (twitter.com/The_R_e_a_d_e_r) and share us on your social media.

Again, thanks for reading.

War, war never changes.

(Fallout 3 and 4 and not Fallout New Vegas)

It’s been a couple of years since I played Fallout 3 for the first time. Fallout 3 meant for me one of the most time-consuming endeavors of my life. I started playing casually like I guess everyone does, then it became a full-time job. The problem was that at that time I had a real full-time job and I was also studying in college. I bought the game for the computer. Then, because I bought a PS3, I bought the game again for the console and later I bought it again for the computer this time buying the game of the year edition. I was officially addicted to the game, having started the game more than five times.

Many games are great works of art. But being the post-apocalypse theme one of my favorites themes, this game is something else. I would be in college, or on my job and I would suddenly and deeply desire to go home to play. I made a schedule for playing. I would wake early to play an hour and then after college and work played another 2, 3 or sometimes even 4 hours more.

I felt inspired. Profoundly inspired by that game. I have to admit that the game had some rough edges but the game was a masterpiece. Then came Fallout New Vegas. That game was kind of fun but it lacked heart. It was playable, but nothing more. It was not an inspiring game and when I get to the end of it I even decided that I no ending was good enough and therefore I would refuse to finish it.

Many years later came Fallout 4. The wait was long and I considered myself a lot more mature. I was now a married person and I was worried that I wouldn't be able to enjoy the game like I did when I was younger. Also, the reviews were saying that the game was too similar to the last two games. I took some savings and went to BestBuy and bought a PS4 and a Fallout 4 game.

Again, and just like the 3rd edition of the franchise Fallout 4 turns to be a crazy time-consuming endeavor. But this time was different I sat down with my wife and we started playing day in and day out. It was like playing a novel. We played together, every night, every day, every holiday, and every opportunity. Yes, I was more mature, but Fallout 4 was more mature too and my approach to playing was also more mature.

Maybe for people who had not grant themselves the opportunity to play video games won't be able to understand how deep, profound and meaningful, they could be. Obviously, we are not talking about, car games or pointing and shooting games, we are talking about the video game as an art form, as a way of expression, like a good book, a sculpture or a great painting.

The game, played in the context of our relationship, unified us as a couple. We even started to understand a deeper part of us as individuals and as a couple, cause we use the game express our thought about life, priorities, dreams, desires and much more. We can not guarantee that the game is going to make your relationship stronger but we can assure you that the game is a great game.

If interested in the game, here are both Fallout 3, Fallout 4 and Fallout 4 VR which is coming December 1.

Note to the reader.

Our only income strategy is our association with Amazon.com so if you want to support us please consider buying through our links. Also, it would be super cool if you add us on Twitter (twitter.com/The_R_e_a_d_e_r) and share us on your social media.

The Old Man and the Sea

Reading for the sake of reading is nice. I remember when I was a kid I had the chance to choose between playing Nintendo or reading and although there was a collection of books for children which I had much desire to read, the truth is that my desired was not enough for me to engaged in reading because every time I choose Mario's jumping around and trying to rescue the princess. At this point, I don't regret it, although I recognize that I would like to find those books these days and read them. I remember with melancholy, my parents buying that collection in times of great economic need and I did not read them because of Mario... Maybe I do regret it a bit...

Letting the guilt aside and pondering on the decisions one makes in life; I'm going to talk about a book. Looking at the friendly side, thanks to all the time I lost playing NES, today I enjoy the need to read what escaped me in another time.

So, I recently discovered this great classic book. The book won the 1952 Pulitzer Prize for Literature, been the intellectual son of one of the most acclaimed and beloved authors in the United States. I'm talking about Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea.

I read a lot, but I usually read technical books and books related to my line of work. Lately, I've have been interested in reading to develop personal growth and to entertain myself. Literature has an important function in the synergy of our minds. While reading, and especially reading good literature, our brain gets into the action of what is reading and it begins to see itself in the text. Our brain starts to wonder how he would react, how he would have felt in a parallel situation, therefore, the things we read serve as clues for our own conduct. The behavior of the heroes we read, their situations, their trials and their mourning bring context and example to the situations, trials, and mourning of our life.

In the Old Man and the Sea, Hemingway gives us only one great scene. The scene of a man who struggles with his age, his reality, his life and his circumstances.

**//Spoilers ahead\\**

Santiago, the main character, is an old fisherman in the twilight of his life, although he is old he feels full of vitality. He who has not had luck in fishing for more than 84 days starts a journey to change his luck. This is how Hemingway puts us in the story of his own life while talking about a fisherman in Cuba because his writing in a similar situation. Hemingway's character is making a come-back and he as a writer is also making a comeback after years of not writing. The Old Man and the Sea is the story of a man in a desperate situation; he is frustrated, he is in financial need and he embarks on a mission, a mission to change his life, to break his bad streak and to make a great catch that potentially can change everything.

The book takes us on a modern odyssey. Where the author tells us the martyrdom of Santiago while compelling us to think about our lives, our struggles, and our own martyrdom. The story becomes the story of a great failure, when after three days of fighting in the sea, Santiago manages to capture the largest fish he has ever seen, but between the long way back to land and the fierce sharks, the fish is destroyed. Santiago arrives defeated to the port in the same way as sometimes we arrive also defeated at our destinies, but his fight, his effort, his great loss was his great victory too, as also often seem like that in our lives.

Upon his return, Santiago, who believed himself defeated by his circumstances, showed that he had brought the largest fish that anyone had seen, proved that he was better than those who mocked him. He also showed that he was still a capable fisherman, and above all showed that he had the courage to fight and fight to the end.

The story seems to me to be interesting because it is a good story of a fisherman who, to the quick and superficial reader's eye, is a brief history of life at sea, but for the insightful reader is the story of life and struggle that all of us face. The story puts us in an absolute question. Are we tireless fighters willing to live a life radically and meaningfully? Do we really believe in us? How far are we willing to go to prove ourselves our worth?

Written with sweetness, clarity, and poetry, full of simplicity and depth, The Old Man and the Sea is a story to enjoy and feel inspired. So it is a reading that we definitely recommend and hope that it will also be of inspiration for you.

Note to the reader.

Our only income strategy is our association with Amazon.com so if you want to support us please consider buying through our links. Also, it would be super cool if you add us on Twitter (twitter.com/The_R_e_a_d_e_r) and share us on your social media.

Just the beginning.

I remember back in 2006 a documentary where Al Gore, a man I only knew for being the Vice President of the United States under Bill Clinton, showed and warned us about Global Warming. In my arrogance I said; I have already experienced some hurricanes and some earthquake, how much more terrible can it be? So, although I was interested and smart enough to realize that we humans are responsible for the climatological atrocities that we suffer today, I gave not much importance to the matter. In fact, I think I did not even think much about it until now, 2017.

The reason is simple. In my specific case, there have been many days since I haven't enjoyed electricity, and at this point, I'm able to write this words only because I have essentially swapped myself to my other office about 45 minutes from my home where there is electric light. It is sad that we have to face these circumstances to finally consider that it might be time to seriously pay attention to the Global Warming issue as a pressing problem.

Irma, Harvey, Katia... is only what has happened this month. All this at the beginning of the hurricane season. The problem is way bigger than this. We have a very scary count of what has happened in 2017 so far. It goes like this:

  • Hurricanes, so far this year, had carried 174 deaths and $ 132 billion in losses. [1]
  • There have been more than 1,300 deaths with floods in Asia alone and thousands more in the rest of the world. The economic losses are not insignificant either, they sum millions of dollars already. [2] Just for reference sake, remember that the 2016 data says that 44 million people have been affected, one way or another, by floods. [3]
  • We have felt 1,124 tornadoes this year with an approximate of $ 5 billion dollars in damages. [4]
  • Typhoons have carried more than 114 deaths and 3.97 billion dollars in costs. [5]
  • All this without counting heat waves, snows, landslides, and many other natural hazards.

I'm not sure what we are going to do about all this, but I think we should start by becoming aware. So today, from the darkness of the lack of electricity I suggest you the two Al Gore documentaries about Global Warming.

Be aware of this crisis. Let's save the planet or at least let's try harder.

Note to the reader.

Our only income strategy is our association with Amazon.com so if you want to support us please consider buying through our links. Also, it would be super cool if you add us on Twitter (twitter.com/The_R_e_a_d_e_r) and share us on your social media.

Footnotes.

Money can buy you some happiness.

I read and heard an article in NPR called, "Need A Happiness Boost? Spend Your Money To Buy Time, Not More Stuff ".[1] Where they say something super interesting, which is something that I have intuited many times but nevertheless is remarkable to confirm. A group of researchers has found that "buying free time" increases happiness.

You have not read wrong, we have too much of our time committed and apparently, this is one of the factors that prone us to not feel pleased or to feel unhappy with our experiences in life. For such reason releasing a little time makes us happy.

It seems to some extent evident, very often we hear people saying that they do not have time for this or that. This mostly talks about our inefficacy in prioritizing correctly, but it is true, anyway that it genuinely feels this way. It feels like we do not have time to do enough things and especially do the things that we like, have or must do.

Being sincere, it is a sad thing to come from a long day of work, tired and with a million commitments to attend and then also having to sweep or mop the house. Recognizing that in another era, and elsewhere today, it would have been also necessary to go get some water from the river and wash clothes by hand or simply search for water from the river to drink.

In our erroneous journey seeking happiness, we tend to buy new things that often force us, ironically, to take more time to maintain them. They say, for example, that the two happiest days in the life of one who buys a boat is the day he bought it and the day he manages to sell it.

Is understandable too that not everyone can, or want to hire a person to clean the house and buy in that way buy some extra hours. To some extent, we feel bad when we are fully capable of doing stuff and yet we hire personnel for our chores. Many people also believe that doing it themselves is the right way to do things. However, that can be left for our jobs and for our hobbies, but when it comes to doing chores this is not helpful for our growth.

In my personal experience, I purchased an iRobot Roomba 980 and being honest is one of the best purchases I have ever made. Not because my wife and I are lazy, which we possibly are, but because it brings us some extra free time and that makes us happy. We bought the Roomba not because I read the article, we bought it a few months ago as an anniversary gift for our marriage, but reading the article made us understand why a product that I hide under the sofa so that no one sees it, makes me privately so happy.

In summary, three things;

  • Our prioritization is the key to the happiness in our time.
  • Buying things does not make us happy but buying extra time does.
  • Technology can help us, we can obtain free time acquiring things that work for us.

Three things to address the three previous points;

For time management we recommend this book:

For the understanding and study of happiness we recommend this books:

To buy something fabulous that will free you time we recommend this product:

Note to the reader.

Our only income strategy is our association with Amazon.com so if you want to support us please consider buying through our links. Also, it would be super cool if you add us on Twitter (twitter.com/The_R_e_a_d_e_r) and share us on your social media.

Footnotes

How you remember that?

The process of learning and memorization, to say the least, is usually complicated, for this reason, methods or strategies have been developed which force and make viable the memorization of information.

This kind of strategies are called mnemonic methods, they are different systematic procedures that are used to make the memorization process a smoother one [1]. These methods or strategies allow new information to be associated with images or words that are already on the person's vocabulary, making easier mental associations.

Therefor mnemonics are techniques for remembering information that is otherwise quite difficult to recall. [2]

The functionality of mnemonic methods is that information is learned through associations and that these associations are actually remembered better and easily so the information can be synthesized. Several studies have been carried out which show that the strategy of mnemonic methods are more effective than repetition for memorization and are obviously much more dynamic and entertaining, facilitating not only the learning process but also facilitating the exercise of practicing what one wants to learn.

These are the most common mnemonic methods:

Method of loci

The loci method is a technique where facts and keywords are associated with specific places. This technique has been practiced since antiquity, specifically the Greek and Roman speakers. This method is used to recall sections of long speeches and to recall lists of names or objects through the association of places that people know well.[3] You can use humor, exaggeration to make the recall process faster.

Mnemonics in chain

The string method is used by connecting the words to be memorized to each other. It was presented by Henry Lorayne in his book "How to acquire a super memory" the words are based on imaginary representations and after the imaginary representations are chained. The first word of the list is connected with the second word and the second word with third and so on. [4] The chain method is considered one of the simplest mnemonic methods since it relates the words to each other. This method is efficient for memorizing many words. For the effectiveness of this method and most mnemonic methods, it is necessary to practice visualization and imagination a lot. For the association to work perfectly the image that is presented should be as bizarre as possible because when the image is logical it will not be remembered or it will be difficult to remember it. In addition to the bizarre, one must imagine the words in action, an image or scene in action, with movement, as if it were a movie, always chaining the words.

Acronym

This strategy consists of forming a word or phrase with the first letters or syllables of the words to be memorized, the same is used to remember for long periods. This technique consists of first remembering the acronym and then decoding it to get the words that had to be memorized. As this technique gives us the first letters of each word that we want to remember gives us a clue that facilitates the collection of the memorized data.

Keyword Method

The keyword method is one of the most studied and applied methods of mnemonics. This method is used to learn languages. [5] To apply this method follow these steps:

1. Use a specific keyword for the vocabulary to be learned; this is the keyword.

2. Match the keyword with the vocabulary definition by a sentence.

3. Retrieve the desired definition.

For this method to be effective the person using it has to assign the keyword. If another person is the one assigning the keyword it will not have the same effect and could easily be forgotten because it will not be personal enough.[6]

A couple years back I found this book about a guy who decides to win a memory championship with no previous experience. The book is full of strategies and is a very colloquial approach on the subject. If you want to start emerging yourself in this methods I suggest you start by checking up this book.

Note to the reader.

Our only income strategy is our association with Amazon.com so if you want to support us please consider buying through our links. Also, it would be super cool if you add us on Twitter (twitter.com/The_R_e_a_d_e_r) and share us on your social media.

Footnotes.

1 - [Rummel, Levin and Woodward, 2003]

3 - [Gerrig, R., & Zimbardo, P., 2005]

4, 5, 6 - [Woolfolk, A., 2010]

The modern magician

I was about 10 years old when I first repaired a computer. To be perfectly sincere I should probably admit that I might have been the culprit of the malfunction of the mentioned computer in the first place.

At that time my father was an insurance salesman and he bought a state of the art super expensive laptop with Windows 3.11 and somehow it broke, …on my hands…, which at the moment was almost a tragedy for my father. He looked at me very mad and told me; you broke it, you fix it. I was sick that week so I skipped school and spent the whole day trying to fix the computer and by the time my father came back from work, it was working properly.

Oh, I felt so good that day. But I wasn’t completely sure of what I did. I remember having read almost a whole manual on DOS. But the important thing was that something change inside of me, from that day on I tried to understand everything could about computers. A couple of years later I started programming with HTML and at the age of 16, I received a phone call from the local internet service provider saying that if I continue “illegally accessing those servers” I would get my account closed and that they would give us a fine.

It's been many winters since that phone call and I don’t do hacking anymore. Not because of new moral standards but basically because the main reason for me to hack in those days was to access porn site and I have already overcome puberty and also because I was so afraid of getting into trouble that I lose all practice. It’s true that I became a proficient computer user but for a couple of years, that was it. A boring user with nothing more than an incredible ability to do spread sheets.

In my mid-20s, I rediscovered programming through Python. Learned about the Linux community and from that on I got impressed with Arduino, the Raspberry Pi, and the fairly new Swift programming. It’s not like I’m a good programmer or anything, I have actually attempted to do something useful many times and failed miserably, I haven’t been able to put my first app in the App Store and I don’t think that I have done anything in a field that I genuinely love. But with all that said, I still noticed that I’ve become a magician.

From the things that I’ve done, I made a program to calculate my calories while going up and down in my stairs and the program speaks to me. It’s ugly, it’s buggy but is incredible. I made another program to play a long lost game from childhood, again, buggy, maybe ugly and definitely useless but a brilliant piece of software in the sense that makes me happy and that make all my friend believe that I’m some kind of genius or, you guess it, some kind of magician.

If you would like to learn to program, my best suggestion is that you go to edx.org and look for Harvard’s CS50. [edx.org/course/introduction-computer-science-harvardx-cs50x#!] .The class is free unless you want an official certification. Also, a new course is starting today! Visit: cs50.harvard.edu The class is super hard but doable and it can literally change your life.

Today, because this is kind of a testimonial I did not put any footnotes and I did not try to sell you any books but please remember that our only income strategy is our association with Amazon.com so if you want to support us please consider buying through our links on the other posts. Also, it would be super cool if you add us on Twitter (twitter.com/The_R_e_a_d_e_r) and share us on your social media.

Thanks for reading.

Let’s talk coffee.

So I went to this local coffee shop with a couple of friends and when everyone order, the barista asked for my order. I looked at her and told her: “Sorry, I don’t drink coffee, I have more refined and delicate addictions than coffee.” Error… She ranted for about half hour emphasizing on how the most delicate and refined addiction possible was coffee. She started with how coffee is a processed embryo and how much has to happen for a great cup of it to get to your table. I wanted to reply something like “oh, but my addiction is more delicate because I drink baby’s blood” or something like that, but I was starting to get worried about my safety. At that point, let's say she was aggressively inspired.

As you may have guessed, I went home and started researching coffee and Oh my God! did you know that the most expensive coffee is from a feline’s poop?[1] Freaking civet cat poop… but even more interesting I found out that coffee has been banned at different times in history and that it is considered to be super healthy.

Let's start with the banning. Coffee was banned in Mecca in 1511 because it was believed to stimulate radical thinking. The clergy in Italy tried to banned it in the 16th century and labeled it as satanic, but Pope Clement VIII taste it and found it so tastefully that he tried to baptize it. In the 1623 Murad IV of the Ottoman Empire declared it illegal. If anyone was caught with coffee once, the punishment was a beating but if the same person was caught a second time the punishment was to be sewn into a leather bag and thrown into the Bosphorus’s waters. In Sweden was banned with its paraphernalia, so cups and dishes related to coffee were also confiscated and in 1777 Frederick the Great of Prussia issued a manifesto claiming beer’s as the drink for the Prussians instead of coffee, vaguely prohibiting its consumption.[2]

Since then coffee has been studied and the scientific reaction was way different. Some of the believed benefits include preventing type 2 diabetes, preventing Parkinson’s disease, reducing the risk of liver cancer and other liver diseases, and lowering the risk of heart problems.[3] Different levels of consumption are believed to lead to different results so you should verify what you want to accomplish and determine how much coffee is good for you and for sure you should never consider coffee as medicine.

Is interesting to consider that much of what we have learned about coffee does not come from our interest in learning about this particular substance but from our desire to drink it. There is much more to learn and there is much more research that has to be done but for now, it will keep being the world’s favorite drug.

If you are interested in more general information about coffee please consider one of these two books to support us.

Note to the reader.

Our only income strategy is our association with Amazon.com so if you want to support us please consider buying through our links. Also, it would be super cool if you add us on Twitter (twitter.com/The_R_e_a_d_e_r) and share us on your social media.

Footnotes

Our changing brain

It is incredible how well we work. When we talk about computers, cars, or basically anything, we commonly consider how well we do maintenance at the time of questioning if something is going to last. But when we think about our bodies, we tend to forget that the same rule applies.

This is even more significant when we talk about the brain and the health of the brain. In this post, we are going to talk about our changing brain and one of his most amazing capabilities, neuroplasticity.

Let's start with a working definition. Neuroplasticity is the brain's ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life.[1] That is the best news but is also the worst news possible. Why may you ask? The reason is simple. Our brain changes with everything we do and everything we don’t do. That would be good if we were aware of everything we do, but in reality, we spend most of our time in the equivalent of automatic pilot.

All that social media, facebook, porn, Netflix, etc. is literally rewiring our brain, making us, think, live, and be different. The question that Nicholas Carr asks in his book, The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, is exactly that. What is all the stuff that we do online doing with our brains? As you would imagine, the answer is not good. Here is the book if you are interested;

Also here is a 49 minutes video of the author commenting his book;

But we are not so much invested on the risk of learning and rewiring badly our brains all day long, but the potential of a good rewiring.

Let's talk about the positives, like learning a new language, which in a 2014 study on the Brain and Language journal has proven to literally increase the actual size of the brain, not only in the areas associated with language learning but in areas associated with what we perceive to be intelligence.[2] One of the interesting facts about it and evidence of the need to be a lifelong learner is that if you learn multiple languages at birth the increase of brain matter is not different from babies which only learned one language. The difference occurs when you learn as an adult. Things like memory, attention span, and decision making are among the skills that improve with learning a new language.[3]

But it is not the only language, learning to play an instrument has proven to help with, both in children’s and adult’s, memory capacity, time management and organizational skills, perseverance, mathematical ability, reading and comprehension skills, concentration, listening skills and promote happiness. [4]

In this video, Lara Boyd speaks about how brain neuroplasticity impacts our daily life.

If you are interested. Please consider this books.

I hope that this has inspired you to keep learning. Thank you for reading.

Bonus video;

Note to the reader.

Our only income strategy is our association with Amazon.com so if you want to support us please consider buying through our links. Also, it would be super cool if you add us on Twitter (twitter.com/The_R_e_a_d_e_r) and share us on your social media.

Footnotes

2 - [Age of language learning shapes brain structure: A cortical thickness study of bilingual and monolingual individuals, Brain and Language,Volume 131,April 2014, Pages 20-24]

…and the day was covered in darkness.

OK, maybe that title is a little dramatic. But being completely honest we were a little bit skeptical about the importance of the solar eclipse. So, some mocking seemed ok. At the end of the day, we thought, what is the importance of the repetitive fact of our gigantic floating night rock getting in the middle of the even larger gas orb that sends toward the rest of the Universe radiation in form of light and heat?

It was almost time for the eclipse and suddenly we realize; Oh God! This might be the last time in our life that we’re able to see this, this, this… this thing! We went to the internet and because of the lack of special solar glasses, we did a state of the art shoe box solar eclipse projection box.

I mean, our shoe box was better. It was costume made out of an expensive shoe box. Then we went to a local park because we knew that we would find some people to share the experience. Once there we started sharing our eclipse box. Some people brought glasses so we started sharing glasses, my shoebox, and a pathetic cereal box that someone fails to use as an appropriate eclipse projection box. All that sharing was important, in our society we have so much to share but so little intentions of doing so.

But this eclipse thing was not always as cool as nowadays. Some ancient cultures tried to understand why the Sun temporarily vanished from the sky, and they came up with many reasons for what caused a solar eclipse.[1]

In many cultures, the legends surrounding solar eclipses involve mythical figures eating or stealing the Sun. Others interpreted the event as a sign of angry or quarreling gods. Solar eclipses were considered as a sign of angry gods and that it was the beginning of disasters and destruction. [2]

Ironically fear of solar eclipses still exists today. People around the world still believe that eclipses as evil omens that bring death, destruction, and disasters. Another interesting misconception is that solar eclipses can be dangerous to pregnant women and their children. In some cultures, young children and pregnant women are asked to stay indoors during a solar eclipse. Some people in India even fast during the eclipse because they think that the cooked food will become poisonous. [3]

For more information like this, we suggest you this book;

Now there is much less fear and much more wanderlust in the scientific endeavor of eclipses, the sun, the cosmos, etc. Science and its knowledge seem to be starting to get deep into the conscience of the general population. I feel like people prefer to ask and wonder, instead of fearing and worrying. If you ask me. That is a good working definition of progress.

We might be talking about you. In which case we would like to suggest you another book;

To end this entry we would really like you to see a very good video from a great YouTuber. Veritasium did in less than 24 hours a fantastic montage about his experience in the eclipse. It is simply a perfect recollection of the event. He was able to capture all the emotion and energy of the moment.

Note to the reader.

Our only income strategy is our association with Amazon.com so if you want to support us please consider buying through our links. Also, it would be super cool if you add us on Twitter (twitter.com/The_R_e_a_d_e_r) and share us on your social media.

Again, thanks for reading.

Footnotes

Main image - [The image is a total solar eclipse is seen on Monday, August 21, 2017 above Madras, Oregon. A total solar eclipse swept across a narrow portion of the contiguous United States from Lincoln Beach, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. A partial solar eclipse was visible across the entire North American continent along with parts of South America, Africa, and Europe.https://www.flickr.com/photos/nasahqphoto/36548089062/NASA/Aubrey Gemignani]

Just breathe

At the beginning of this year, I had a couple of New Year’s resolution, the first one was not to be bothered with New Year’s resolutions. I failed miserably. I started waking up earlier, much much earlier, in order to keep up with the new stuff I had to do, I started eating better, which means I have fully become vegan, I started exercising, reading more, writing more, well you name it. Most things I started lasted about a month, which isn’t so bad but isn’t ideal either.

Not all was lost, at the end, some of the habits stuck. The eating habits, the will to exercise and meditation. I know, meditation, right? But hear me now; from the things that I have done in a New Year’s resolution, meditation has been the best so far.

I had heard that meditation was good for you. Like, very good. Some scientist believes that the benefits of meditation go a long way when dealing with health issues such as; anxiety disorders, asthma, cancer, chronic pain, depression, heart disease, high blood pressure, irritable bowel syndrome, sleep problems and tension headaches.[1] So my intention was to give it a try. The problem was that I had no idea how to.

I mean, I read a preliminary study in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease [2] named Meditation Effects on Cognitive Function and Cerebral Blood Flow In Subjects with Memory Loss: A Preliminary Study that suggests that meditation helps improve blood flow and therefore memory in patients with memory loss.[3] For the rest of us we found a study in the journal Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience [4] that found that after investigating whether mindfulness training, a type of meditative state, influences information processing in a working memory task with complex visual stimuli, participants responses times were faster and significantly less variable in the mindfulness training group versus the control group. [5] Last, the Mindfulness meditation improves cognition: Evidence of brief mental training study [6], that used only short term meditation training, only 4 days of practice, showed an improvement of mood, reduced fatigue, anxiety, and increased mindfulness. Moreover, brief mindfulness training significantly improved visuospatial processing, working memory, and executive functioning (The executive functions are a set of processes that all have to do with managing oneself and one's resources in order to achieve a goal.[8]). [7] So, I really want it to try out meditation.

I did some research on the internet and found out a well-recommended app called calm. So I started with it and even when at the beginning it felt very hard, I soon got used to it and nowadays I really love it. Speaking about the app, it is free, but you have to pay for the extra features otherwise it is very basic with just a couple of sessions to start with. The website is calm.com and they have the app both for iOS and Android. That is free promo for the good people of calm.com and Tamara Levitt who is like our teachers in the calm app. Go visit them and if you are interested you can go and check Tamara’s website, beginwithin.ca she also has a blog but I don’t think she is working on it anymore, anyway here it is blog.beginwithin.ca.

If you want to dig deeper with meditation I would really suggest you checking out the book Mindfulness In Plain English by Ven. Henepola Gunaratana. Obviously, because we would like to make money we want you to buy it. And this is the link,

which is an awesome 20th-anniversary edition that is available for kindle and audiobook. If you prefer, you can search for it on the internet and the first edition of the book is available free.

So what now? I can’t tell you that meditation is magic. It is not. But I have to say that I think that my memory has become sharper, my humor has become better and my levels of stress and anxiety have significantly decreased, especially when deep into the full month everyday meditation strike.

Try it for yourself and tweet me or email me to know how you did. It is free, what you have to lose?

Note to the reader.

Our only income strategy is our association with Amazon.com so if you want to support us please consider buying through our links. Also, it would be super cool if you add us on Twitter (twitter.com/The_R_e_a_d_e_r) and share us on your social media.

Foot notes:

2 - [Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, vol. 20, no. 2, pp. 517-526, 2010]

4 - [Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience, September 2011, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 344–353]