Something for the weekend, Week 31 2018

Haven’t done any of these in a while, but here goes:

  1. In NPR’s Hidden Brain podcast “Creating God“, social psychologist Azim Shariff explains how religious rituals and psychological manipulation by religions throughout the ages have an evolutionary origin and helped groups become more cohesive and thrive more than competing groups. What’s new here is that religious spread can be viewed like that of an organism under Darwinian rules, explaining much of what was previously unclear about how religions operate, what rituals accomplish, etc. The true functions of many of these rituals aren’t even obvious to the religious practitioners themselves (the researchers call this functional opacity).
  2. In Germany, utterly clueless police raided the offices of Zwiebelfreunde (onion friends), an association that supports Tor among other things, as well as the maker lab OpenLab in Augsburg. Just because they had a donation button supporting independent e-mail provider riseup.net. Press and experts are widely condemning the police operation, in which a 3D printed toy model of an atomic bomb (article in German) was confiscated for “causing of explosions”.

That was that. A very hot week 31 of a very hot year.

Starting a second year of game-buying abstinence

The last time I tried this went OK, but I think it didn’t really cure me yet. This is evidenced by my growing list of games on Steam, mostly coming from sales and bundles.

So for this second attempt at game-buying abstinence, I follow all the rules from my earlier attempt and add some additional restrictions:

  • No looking at bundles
  • No looking at sales

I found out that psychologically, what always gets me are very good deals (-75% or such). I might not actually play that game or anything from a bundle for several years  because my backlog is so long, but I always end up buying it anyway. That’s idiotic — if I waited two more years without buying any games, whatever is at -75% now will likely be even cheaper by the time I actually have time to play it. And my backlog should be shorter.

Of course it’s the crafty pricing psychologist that Valve hired in 2011 who is to blame for my failing. Not me! How could it be me?

Not even looking at any sales should help with this. As I found out last time, you can disable all sales notifications in Steam’s interface settings, and also skip directly to your library view instead of going to the store first. This helps more than you might think.

I’ll report in a year. Maybe I can make an improved list of suggestions.

Some hints for coping with stress, by someone who has coped with stress

I don’t want to bore you with my life story, but I had several years of stress that ended up manifesting themselves bodily in the form of nausea, rapid heart palpitations, erratic sleep and eating patterns, depression, permanent exhaustion, mood swings, memory loss, light hallucinations and very painful cramp-like symptoms in various body parts

It was so bad for some time that I couldn’t lie on my back anymore and had to sleep while sitting. How do I know that it was stress that caused this? I am only guessing, but I got rid of the stress, and now the symptoms are gone as well. Symptoms that I had for years and that no doctor could explain. So maybe here are some hints you could probably also get from anyone else with a similar backstory:

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How Microsoft and Google are manipulating your children into addiction

Microsoft yesterday announced Windows 10 S, a cut-down version of Windows 10 for the education market. They plan to make it available to PC makers to sell laptops with, for as little as US$ 200 a pop. “Like a Chromebook, then”, you say? Exactly, like a Chromebook.

Services as drugs for kids

This is the start of a new turf war for child mindshare. Like drug dealers, Microsoft and Google know that it’s best to get them early, get them young, make them depend on your products. Microsoft even helpfully supplies teaching aids to make sure that only Microsoft technologies are taught to these poor children, who would probably go through IT life without guidance and learn independent thinking otherwise, like programming Python or having the ability to choose between different word processors. Microsoft does not want independent child minds, they want dependence. If they could, they’d add heroin injections to Windows 10 just to cause a bodily addiction.

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Applied Buddhism: Fight your inner demons on a higher plane

The demon shown above this post is Mara, the tempter. It’s no wonder folklore uses demons to represent temptation and struggle; that’s exactly what they look like while you’re fighting them. And the fight can be won.

Here’s some shameless self-marketing to see if I can trick you into reading on: during the last nine months, I’ve battled three addictions at the same time and destroyed them. They were:

  1. Alcohol. I used to drink up to three strong beers (7 – 14%) and a whiskey every evening. During the last 6 months, I had exactly five beers and one whiskey total.
  2. Game sales. I used to watch out for new games to buy in game sales, scouring half a dozen websites, subscribing to price comparison services, wasting so much time that I never actually played the games I bought. I only bought one thing from a game sale since March and played through my backlog instead.
  3. Coffee. I used to drink five to seven cups a day. Now I drink one in the morning.

I don’t say this just to enjoy the smell of my own farts, but more because I think I’ve discovered a connection between these types of addiction that can be used to control them, and I think anyone can practice to do the same.

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