The Blessed Childhood of the Confident

I was reading “On Confidence” where it discussed about why some people don’t have the confidence to face others who might judge or oppose them, something I am certainly still struggling with. The discussion moved, interestingly, toward some thoughts about proper parenting, which I copied below as something I’d like to keep strongly in mind:

The judgement of others have been given a free pass to enter all the rooms of our minds. There is no one manning the border between them and us: the enemies are freely in us, wandering wildly and destructively through the caverns of our inner selves, ripping items off the shelves and mocking everything we are. […]

Where does such underconfidence around enemies come from? We should, as ever, begin with parents and sketch an imaginary portrait of types who could unwittingly create such tortured mindsets. However ostensibly loving these parents might have been, they are also likely to have felt a high degree of trust in the system. If the police were investigating one of their friends, their guess would be that the authorities were correct in their suspicions. […]

When it came to their own children, these underconfidence-generating parents would have applied a similar method of judgement: the issue of how much and where to love would have been to a large extent determined externally. if the world felt the baby was adorable, they probably were (and if not, then not so much). Later, if the child won a maths prize, it was a sign not just of competence at algebra but of being, far more broadly, a love-worthy person. Conversely, if the school report described the child as an easily distracted dreamer, who looked as if he would flunk his exams, that might mean the offspirng didn’t quite deserve to exist. The lovability of the child in the eyes of the parents rose and fell in accordance with the respect, interest and approval of the world.

To be on the receiving end of such parenting is a heavy burden. We, the recipients of condiitional love, have no option but to work manically to fulfil the conditions set up by parental and worldly expectations. Success isn’t simply a pleasant prize to stumble upon when we enjoy a subject or a task interests us; it is a psychological necessity, something we must secure in order to feel we have the right to be alive. We don’t have any memories of success-independent affection and therefore constantly need to recharge our batteries from the external power source of the world’s flickering and wilful interest. Unsurprisingly, when enemies come on the horizon, we are quickly in deep trouble, for we have no ability to hold in our minds the concept that they might be wrong a we right; that our achievements are not our being, and that the failure of our actions does not presuppose failure of our entire selves. Rendered defenceless by our upbringing, we have no border post between inside and out. We are at the mercy of pretty much anyone who might decide to hate us.

Contrast this with the blessed childhood of the confident. Their parents would have maintained a vigorously sceptical relationship to the system. The world might sometimes be right, but then again, on key occasions, it could be gravely and outrageously wrong. Everyone was, in their eyes, endowed with their own capacity to judge. It is not because the crowd is jeering that the accused is guilty, or vice versa. The chief of police, the lead reviewer of the Times, or the head of the Pritzker Architecture Prize might well be idiotic; these things happen. In their role as parents, the messages of the confidence-inducing were no less generous in their scepticism: ‘You are loved in and of yourself because of what you are, not what you do.

You aren’t always admirable or even likeable, but you are always deserving of affection and charity of interpretation. It doesn’t matter to me if you end up the president or the street cleaner. You will always be something more important: my child. If they don’t have the wisdom to be kind, fuck them!’. Without necessarily intending this, the parents set up a soothing voice that still plays on a loop in the recesses of the mind, especially at moments of greatest challenge. It is the voice of love.

Happy and Uplifting Facts

Stumbled upon a list of happy and uplifting facts on Reddit. Here are some of my favorites:

Bees get sleepy after drinking nectar and occasionally take naps on flowers.


Sunflowers face the sun. When they cannot find the sun, they face each other.


Mother dolphins sing for their babies while they’re in the womb.


Your dog really does genuinely love you, it’s not just a case of depending on you for toys and food.

It’s been studied that the oxytocin levels in a dog’s brain sharply elevate when they see a human they have a positive relationship with. When exposed to the scent of their owners in an MRI machine, the dogs’ levels elevated higher than any other scent.

EDIT: For those asking, yes, cats love you too. Similar studies have been conducted on them. If your cat follows you around, purrs, wiggles the tip of their tail, or stares at you/stares into your eyes and blinks, these are telltale signs your cat adores you.


Physical activity releases dopamine so by motivating yourself to work out you will be more happy because of the actual action and from the results if you stick with it. Now if you haven’t exercised today do a few pushups or situps!


Sometimes in movies, when dogs/wolves are supposed to look mean and threatening, their tails would have to be redone with CGI because their tails won’t stop wagging from doing such a good job acting.


And the last one got me thinking:

Mr. Rogers was the same both on-camera and off-camera.

Sounds simple, yet at this point of my life I find it to be a constant challenge and effort to understand myself, so I can both be kind and genuinely true to myself regardless of the situation.

Top 15 Sci-fi Books, According to a Redditor

Someone on Reddit claimed that they have been reading nothing but science fiction for the past 6 years, and made this list as a recommendation:

  1. The Sparrow (Mary Doria Russell)
  2. Hyperion Series (Dan Simmons)
  3. The Stand (Steven King)
  4. I, Robot (Isaac Asimov)
  5. Dune (Frank Herbert)
  6. The Forge of God (Greg Bear)
  7. The Forever War (Joe Haldeman)
  8. Not Alone (Craig Falconer)
  9. The Sirens of Titan (Kurt Vonnegut)
  10. Nightfall (Isaac Asimov, Robert Silverberg)
  11. Old Man’s War (John Scalzi)
  12. Childhood’s End (Arthur C. Clarke)
  13. Spin (Robert Charles Wilson)
  14. Starship Troopers (Robert Heinlein)
  15. Footfall (Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle)

There is more summary of each book, and honorable mentions, in the Reddit thread.

Multitasking Considered Harmful?

Psychology professor Anthony Wagner:

In about half of the studies, the heavy media multitaskers are significantly underperforming on tasks of working memory and sustained attention. The other half are null results; there’s no significant difference. It strikes me as pretty clear that there is a negative relationship between media multitasking and memory performance – that high media multitasking is associated with poor performance on cognitive memory tasks. There’s not a single published paper that shows a significant positive relationship between working memory capacity and multitasking.

Study Arabic Sometime

From “Why Arabic Is Terrific”:

Nearly all Arabic words consist of a three-consonant root slotted into a pattern of vowels and helper consonants. The root gives the word its base meaning, while the pattern modifies this meaning in a systematic and predictable way. This idea is so cool that you’d think it came from a constructed language, and yet Arabic has actual native speakers who live completely normal lives and will not try to talk to you about Runescape.

For example, the pattern ma--a-, where the hyphens are placeholders for three root consonants, is nearly always a place name in Arabic. The pattern  i-a-a-a generates a verb meaning “to cause someone to do X”, where the meaning of X is determined by that three-consonant root.

Can’t Pass Down the Cloud

The leather notebook is a combo of a lot of things. It’s lyrics from songs, and it’s turned into a weird kind of diary for me, and I keep my to-do list in it. My sister gave it to me as a gift. She makes fun of me because I’m on my phone all the time. She said when I’m writing songs I should write them in a book, because when I’m older I won’t want to go back and look at my notes on the cloud, I’ll want a physical thing. That resonated with me. You’re not going to want to pass down your cloud to your kids. It’s just nice to have something physical to write in.

B-Roc, from electronic duo The Knocks.

Dogs in Ancient Islamic Culture

From Alan Mikhail, author of The Animal in Ottoman Egypt:

It’s no surprise that the first Muslims had so many dogs. Most of them kept large flocks of sheep and goats, and dogs helped to manage and protect these other animals, preventing them from running away and scaring off would-be thieves and predators. Sheep and goats were these early Muslims’ food and capital, and dogs helped to protect these investments.

[…]

As Islam spread throughout the Middle East and the world, it moved from being a religion of nomadic peoples to one centered in cities. Many of the world’s largest cities in the millennium between 700 and 1700 were Muslim cities. As they did in the countryside, in cities too dogs played vital roles. They of course continued to protect property and shoo away intruders, but in cities dogs served an even more important function—they ate garbage. From Damascus and Baghdad to Cairo and Istanbul, urban authorities supported dog populations as consumers of waste to keep city streets clean. Muslim leaders built watering troughs for dogs, many mosques threw out food for them, and butchers used them to keep away rats and other vermin. Humans who committed violence against urban canines were often punished. Muslim cities were much cleaner and more pleasant places with dogs than without them.

All of this meant that Muslims throughout the world were in regular daily contact with the many dogs in their midst. They recognized how useful canines were as guards and cleaning agents and, we can only presume, developed quite intimate relationships with them built around regular contact and the kind of affection bred from codependence.

Not The Most Important Thing in the World

There’s a new profile article on Bleacher Report about Golden State Warrior’s current head coach, Steve Kerr. It includes a lot of interesting bits and quotes, and these ones are my favorite:

Popovich, then as now, was not surprised either. “The guy is there before and after practice, running and shooting until he’s dripping wet,” he told reporters before the ’03 Finals. “He hasn’t stopped practicing every day, working every day, even though he hasn’t played.”

“Life is too short to be with jerks,” Popovich added. “This is a business, and it’s not the most important thing in the world.”

No, you can never have too many shooters.

And, no, Kerr does not think basketball is the most important thing in the world, or that his team’s very public failure to win another title last year—the seventh ring coming down to the seventh game—was the end of it. “You’ll wish that you had won that game forever,” Kerr says of the Game 7 loss to his former team. “But you go home and you have dinner with your family and you take a vacation and you remember it’s not life or death.”

A Little Bit of Your Abilities

A very important piece of information I want you to understand is that these tests only measure a little bit of you and your abilities. They are important and you have done so well, but Ben Twist is made up of many other skills and talents that we at Lansbury Bridge see and measure in other ways.

Unmournable Bodies

From Teju Cole:

The scale, intensity, and manner of the solidarity that we are seeing for the victims of the Paris killings, encouraging as it may be, indicates how easy it is in Western societies to focus on radical Islamism as the real, or the only, enemy. This focus is part of the consensus about mournable bodies, and it often keeps us from paying proper attention to other, ongoing, instances of horrific carnage around the world: abductions and killings in Mexico, hundreds of children (and more than a dozen journalists) killed in Gaza by Israel last year, internecine massacres in the Central African Republic, and so on. And even when we rightly condemn criminals who claim to act in the name of Islam, little of our grief is extended to the numerous Muslim victims of their attacks, whether in Yemen or Nigeria—in both of which there were deadly massacres this week—or in Saudi Arabia, where, among many violations of human rights, the punishment for journalists who “insult Islam” is flogging. We may not be able to attend to each outrage in every corner of the world, but we should at least pause to consider how it is that mainstream opinion so quickly decides that certain violent deaths are more meaningful, and more worthy of commemoration, than others.