What I learned last week

What I learned last week (#79)

Learned last week: Reality is in our minds, cards don’t owe you anything, wisdom from Philip Glass, and more!

Inspiration for changing the world in seven charts:

Sound and vision facts about birds:

Barn Owls can pinpoint the location of a mouse thirty from feet away, strictly by sound, and then fly to that exact spot even if the mouse makes no further sound.

“Reality” is constructed by your brain:

Facinating collection of optical illusions and the research behind why they work.

Color is an inference we make, and it serves a purpose to make meaningful decisions about objects in the world. But if our eyes acted as scientific instruments describing precise wavelengths of light, they’d constantly be fooled. Red may not appear red when bathed in blue light.

Our brains try to account for this. “We’re not trying to measure wavelengths, we’re trying to tell something about the color,” Sam Schwarzkopf, a vision scientist at the University of Auckland, says. “And the color is an illusion created by our brain.”

The cards don’t owe you anything:

“In video games where there are random events — things like dice rolls — they often skew the randomness so that it corresponds more closely to people’s incorrect intuition,” he says. “If you flip heads twice in a row, you’re less likely to flip heads the third time. We know this isn’t actually true, but it feels like it should be true, because we have this weird intuition about large numbers and how randomness works.” The resulting games actually accommodate that wrongness so that people don’t feel like the setup is “rigged” or “unfair.”

“Poker wasn’t designed by a game designer in the modern sense,” Lantz points out. “And it’s actually bad game design according to modern-day conceptions of how video games are designed. But I think it’s better game design because it doesn’t pander.” If you want to be a good player, you must acknowledge that you’re not “due” — for good cards, good karma, good health, money, love, or whatever else it is. Probability has amnesia: Each future outcome is completely independent of the past. But we persist in thinking that its memory is not only there but personal to us. We’ll be rewarded, eventually, if we’re only patient. It’s only fair.

What it’s like trying to parent black teenagers through protest and pandemic:

As a Dad, this is spectacular, and as a white male who has not experienced racism, it’s very eye-opening. So well-written.

To be asked for life advice in one moment, and to be told you are a bad parent and have ruined your child’s life the next — this is what parenting is. It is a thing that you do alone, because your kids cannot and must not understand all of what you are living. It is terribly painful that my son thinks I have ruined his life. He’s not entirely wrong. I am a wildly imperfect parent. I have lost my temper, neglected his emotional needs, taken his normal childish behavior as a personal attack. I have made tremendous mistakes. Perhaps the biggest mistake was bringing him into a world where we all have to wear masks, where riot squads assemble in front of our minivan, where the climate is on a collision course with the destruction of the human race, where the encampments of houseless people grow larger and wilder every day, where he can watch himself be murdered over and over again just by clicking a link.

Trying to Parent My Black Teenagers Through Protest and Pandemic

Creating the appropriate distance:

Some inspiration from Philip Glass’s Music Without Words.

Book excerpt I enjoyed:

“I came to realize that the key to a great life is simply having a bunch of great days. So you can think about it one day at a time. And it turns out there are some pretty simple buttons you can press to give yourself a great day. Start by waking up from a good sleep, eating good food, leaving your phone/newspaper/computer behind, and simply writing down your plan for what will make the day great. Several hours of physical activity, some hard work, a chance to laugh with and help out other people—and you’re pretty much there.” (Mr Money Mustache via Tribe of Mentors)

Lastly, check out what we’re up to now.

By Nick

I'm a father, husband, son. I love reading, drawing, writing, being active, having a beer or a glass of wine with my wife, and am curious about everything.

Comments welcome!