fortune and bliss, music by matisse, just in case finding a future earth

Achieving Fame, Wealth, and Beauty are Psychological Dead Ends, Study Says

“People understand that it’s important to pursue goals in their lives and they believe that attaining these goals will have positive consequences. This study shows that this is not true for all goals,” says author Edward Deci, professor of psychology and the Gowen Professor in the Social Sciences at the University. “Even though our culture puts a strong emphasis on attaining wealth and fame, pursuing these goals does not contribute to having a satisfying life. The things that make your life happy are growing as an individual, having loving relationships, and contributing to your community,” Deci says.

The research paper, to be published in the June issue of the Journal of Research in Personality, tracked 147 alumni from two universities during their second year after graduation. Using in-depth psychological surveys, the researchers assessed participants in key areas, including satisfaction with life, self-esteem, anxiety, physical signs of stress, and the experience of positive and negative emotions.

Aspirations were identified as either “intrinsic” or “extrinsic” by asking participants how much they valued having “deep, enduring relationships” and helping “others improve their lives” (intrinsic goals) versus being “a wealthy person” and achieving “the look I’ve been after” (extrinsic goals). Respondents also reported the degree to which they had attained these goals.

Even if the questions such as which is more important, a large income or family is asked by an interviewer or the study participant is alone in a room there is a socialization barrier to answering with absolute honesty. Society says that the quality of our lives is determined by the intangibles – valuing intrinsic values. I would not argue that we do not have ideals as a society, only that many people are very quick to rationalize compromising those high ideals to get ahead at work, to buy a bigger house, to drive a car brand that carries a certain social status. We’re not all shallow materialists or saints, but rather continually conflicted. In Intro to Business 101 the fundamentals begin with talking about people’s basic motivations – shelter, food and clothing. Yet, because no person is an island those things are not enough especially in western culture, but more and more so in authoritarian capitalist systems like China and Russia. Most people in those cultures would consider a TV, radio, refrigerator, clothes washer necessities. In the U.S. a net connection and cell phone are considered among the basics, along with personal transportation. For even the most idealistic loners among us there is a tipping point where society, the crowd, has decided that to live below a certain level of material possessions and services equates to a life lived as an outsider, a life that that goes wanting. In an odd way having a cell phone and the number of messages we get equates to how many friends and family value us enough to constantly barrage us with voice mail and texts, a barrage that validates our intrinsic values. Its gets difficult to differentiate between the extrinsic and the intrinsic because possessions made possible by income are enmeshed in how we evaluate how happy we are. If because of age or disability you’re shut off from much of the daily human contact that other people enjoy, the material means to afford a netbook and a net connection items that become your lifeline to the outside world – they are material goods that make it possible for one to participate in society. You might value that interaction more then the money to pay for them, but money makes it possible to read, write, comment, blog, e-mail, instant message – the intrinsic things that make one’s isolation an easier adjustment.

Music by Henri Matisse. 1910. Oil on canvas

New technique could find water on Earth-like planets orbiting distant suns

Since the early 1990s astronomers have discovered more than 300 planets orbiting stars other than our sun, nearly all of them gas giants like Jupiter. Powerful space telescopes, such as the one that is central to NASA’s recently launched Kepler Mission, will make it easier to spot much smaller rocky extrasolar planets, or exoplanets, more similar to Earth.

[   ]…Using instruments aboard the Deep Impact spacecraft, a team of astronomers and astrobiologists has devised a technique to tell whether such a planet harbors liquid water, which in turn could tell whether it might be able to support life.

Liquid water on the surface of a planet is the gold standard that people are looking for,” said Nicolas Cowan, a University of Washington doctoral student in astronomy and lead author of a paper explaining the new technique that has been accepted for publication in Astrophysical Journal.

At some point did the heavenly body required to sustain life as we know it, regardless of income, political power, or completeness of one’s old Blue Note Records catalogue, become disposable. Contrary to some odd bred of optimists, that almost make Mary Poppins seem dour, who still keep chanting that left to our own devices people will act in their own best interests, regulations be damned. Shellfish reefs are ‘most imperilled sea habitat’

In most bays, shellfish reefs are down to around 10 per cent of their historical abundance. In many former strongholds – such as in North America, Europe and Australia – they are all but extinct.

So, you know, just in case we can not bring back the 90% of the shellfish reefs that constitute so much of the oceans essential food web, maybe we should be looking for some new earth to which to move.

bus in a storm

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