Tidbits | Dominik Mayer – Products, Asia, Productivity

Interesting articles, videos and other tidbits from around the web.

When all is said and done, much more is said than done.

–– Dave Cutler

How to Raise a Human

As part of NPR’s parenting series #HowToRaiseAHuman Michaeleen Doucleff visited a Maya village in Yucatán where even the youngest kids take great joy and pride in helping out in the house.

The Maya achieve this by letting the kids help whenever they want and however small the contribution is. In the beginning this takes longer than if the parents would do the task on their own.

Doucleeff writes:

The moms see it as an investment, Mejia-Arauz says: Encourage the messy, incompetent toddler who really wants to do the dishes now, and over time, he’ll turn into the competent 7-year-old who still wants to help.

Research supports this hypothesis, says the University of New Hampshire’s Andrew Coppens. “Early opportunities to collaborate with parents likely sets off a developmental trajectory that leads to children voluntarily helping and pitching in at home,” he says.

Or another way to look at it is: If you tell a child enough times, “No, you’re not involved in this chore,” eventually they will believe you.

Back in San Francisco Doucleeff tried it with her then two-year-old daughter:

So how did I turn a tantrum-fueled toddler into a chore-loving cherub (as if). To be honest, I needed to revamp the way I parent. I changed the way I interact with Rosy and the way I view her position in the family.

She made the chores the fun activity of the day, took her time doing them and included her daughter whenever possible.

For another article Doucleeff and colleague Jane Greenhalgh went to Iqaluit, Canada to learn how Inuit parents raise their kids to be calm adults that don’t get angry.

One part is not to yell:

“Shouting, ‘Think about what you just did. Go to your room!’ " Jaw says. “I disagree with that. That’s not how we teach our children. Instead you are just teaching children to run away.”

And you are teaching them to be angry, says clinical psychologist and author Laura Markham. “When we yell at a child — or even threaten with something like ‘I’m starting to get angry,’ we’re training the child to yell,” says Markham. “We’re training them to yell when they get upset and that yelling solves problems.”

Another one is storytelling:

For example, how do you teach kids to stay away from the ocean, where they could easily drown? Instead of yelling, “Don’t go near the water!” Jaw says Inuit parents take a pre-emptive approach and tell kids a special story about what’s inside the water. “It’s the sea monster,” Jaw says, with a giant pouch on its back just for little kids.

And one is role play:

When a child in the camp acted in anger — hit someone or had a tantrum — there was no punishment. Instead, the parents waited for the child to calm down and then, in a peaceful moment, did something that Shakespeare would understand all too well: They put on a drama. (As the Bard once wrote, “the play’s the thing wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.")

“The idea is to give the child experiences that will lead the child to develop rational thinking,” Briggs told the CBC in 2011.

In a nutshell, the parent would act out what happened when the child misbehaved, including the real-life consequences of that behavior.

All three articles are highly recommended.

Hire Less  

Basecamp in Getting Real:

Don’t hire people. Look for another way. Is the work that’s burdening you really necessary? What if you just don’t do it? Can you solve the problem with a slice of software or a change of practice instead?

Whenever Jack Welch, former CEO of GE, used to fire someone, he didn’t immediately hire a replacement. He wanted to see how long he could get along without that person and that position.

I genuinely believe that with the right processes and the right people most companies need only half their headcount.

Nurses, Doctors and a Pilot  

In case you’re not following Vietnam’s Coronavirus success story you might not be aware of “Patient 91”, a British Vietnam Airlines pilot that was the most severe Corona patient in the country.

He caused one of the largest clusters of infections in Southern Vietnam and was comatose for over two months. During this time the news media reported on all the details of his health. From blood levels to treatment plans.

Now the pilot is awake and the media shares pictures, videos and a conversation between patient and doctor.

Today, VnExpress’s Anh Thu wrote an article about the nurses and it’s pure gold. Some of my favorite parts:

The patient is over 1.8 m tall and weighs 88 kg, while the average female nurse only weighs around 40 kg.

And:

After the patient exited a two-month coma, one of the biggest challenges proved to be his Scottish accent, which the nurses found hard to understand, fueling his bad moods and the frequent scolding of nurses.

And:

He is quite sensitive and has a low pain tolerance. Nurses must inform and explain in detail any procedures prior to commencement, according to gentle and resilient Tham.

The patient’s eating regime and taste also proved a major obstacle. When he started eating again, Vietnamese cuisine simply did not appeal, forcing the hospital kitchen to dish up anything from spaghetti to western-style lamb chops.

And:

“He is very sensitive and cries easily,” Thi said.

Do yourself a favor and read the whole thing 😆.

Phuc Bui

An American college professor asked Vietnamese-American student Phuc Bui Diem Nguyen to change her name:

Could you Anglicize your name. Phuc Bui sounds like an insult in English.

Understandably, she did not think this was a good idea and so in a subsequent e-mail he would go so far as to explain:

Your name in English sounds like Fuck Boy. If I lived in Vietnam and my name in your language sounded like Eat a Dick, I would change it to avoid embarrassment both on my part and on the part of the people who have to say it.

Phuc Bui’s sister Quynh shared the exchange on Instagram from where it was picked up across the globe.

Now Vietnamese names can be tricky. But suggesting a student to change her name…

As for the professor: Should he ever visit Vietnam, he might want to check out Phuc Long Coffee & Tea 😄.

Tones and Humidity  

The Max Planck Society:

Their study has revealed that languages with a wide range of tone pitches are more prevalent in regions with high humidity levels. In contrast, languages with simpler tone pitches are mainly found in drier regions. This is explained by the fact that the vocal folds require a humid environment to produce the right tone.

I’m from a very non-humid climate. Maybe that’s the reason why it’s so hard for me to learn Vietnamese…

The Value of Ignorance  

The American Management Association published an excerpt from William A. Cohen’s book A Class with Drucker:

“I never ask these questions or approach these assignments based on my knowledge and experience in these industries,” answered Drucker. “It is exactly the opposite. I do not use my knowledge and experience at all. I bring my ignorance to the situation. Ignorance is the most important component for helping others to solve any problem in any industry.”

Hands shot up around the room, but Drucker waved them off. “Ignorance is not such a bad thing if one knows how to use it,” he continued, “and all managers must learn how to do this. You must frequently approach problems with your ignorance; not what you think you know from past experience, because not infrequently, what you think you know is wrong.”

Cohen continues with a story about Americans building British cargo ships during World War II without having any knowledge about building ships.

This reminds me a lot of John Ramsay, the designer of the Limiting Factor, the “first commercially certified full ocean depth manned submersible” (Wikipedia), portrayed in The New Yorker:

Ramsay, who works out of a spare bedroom in the wilds of southwest England, has never read a book about submarines. “You would just end up totally tainted in the way you think,” he said. “I just work out what it’s got to do, and then come up with a solution to it.”

Elon Musk, quoted in one of Tim Urban’s amazing articles:

I think generally people’s thinking process is too bound by convention or analogy to prior experiences. It’s rare that people try to think of something on a first principles basis. They’ll say, “We’ll do that because it’s always been done that way.” Or they’ll not do it because “Well, nobody’s ever done that, so it must not be good.” But that’s just a ridiculous way to think. You have to build up the reasoning from the ground up—“from the first principles” is the phrase that’s used in physics. You look at the fundamentals and construct your reasoning from that, and then you see if you have a conclusion that works or doesn’t work, and it may or may not be different from what people have done in the past.

68 Bits of Unsolicited Advice  

Kevin Kelly:

It’s my birthday. I’m 68. I feel like pulling up a rocking chair and dispensing advice to the young ‘uns. Here are 68 pithy bits of unsolicited advice which I offer as my birthday present to all of you.

Great list. Some of the bits I like particularly:

  • Being able to listen well is a superpower. While listening to someone you love keep asking them “Is there more?”, until there is no more.
  • If you are looking for something in your house, and you finally find it, when you’re done with it, don’t put it back where you found it. Put it back where you first looked for it.
  • Before you are old, attend as many funerals as you can bear, and listen. Nobody talks about the departed’s achievements. The only thing people will remember is what kind of person you were while you were achieving.

Colors  

Stephen Anderson and Karl Fast in Figure It Out: Getting from Information to Understanding:

All cultures start with the ability to distinguish dark things from light things. This is followed by the recognition of red. After that, it might be the addition of yellow or green. And blue always seems to come last. Not every language follows the exact same path, but they adhere to this same general pattern.

One of the many odd things of the Vietnamese language is that both “blue” and “green” are “màu xanh”. In case you need to differentiate between the two you would add something like “of the sky” (màu xanh da trời) or “of the tree” (màu xanh lá cây).

I had one Vietnamese teacher that would mark the traffic light with “blue light” and the Korean presidential offices with “green house”.

Cold War 2.0  

Christopher Balding writing about China:

Second, better negotiation or communication will have little to no impact on Chinese government policy. A common argument whether it is on bilateral basis, whether the personnel at the negotiating table, or at international organizations, a common argument is that better communication or negotiation strategies will give the US influence. However, the CCP will never negotiate its authoritarian stranglehold on China willingly. The CCP will not change its intent to establish a loose alliance of global authoritarians as a bulwark against open democracy due to better PowerPoint slides from well meaning DC think tanks. The CCP will not change its policies on import substitution and policies after reading a report from about what is really in its best interest in a Washington Post oped. It has not happened in since the turn of the century and it is not going to happen going forward.

Exactly.

He goes on to suggest measures that could work.

Read the whole article. Great analysis.

Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.

–– James Baldwin

The Deepest Point of Every Ocean  

Ben Taub of The New Yorker followed Victor Vescovo who managed to dive to the deepest point of every ocean:

“Patrick retrieves a piece of equipment from the deepest point on earth, and it’s just me, going, ‘Yay, congratulations, Patrick.’ No one seemed to notice how big a deal it is that they had already made this normal—even though it’s not. It’s the equivalent of having a daily flight to the moon.” McCallum, in his pre-dive briefings, started listing “complacency” as a hazard.

And:

“It’s quite mind-blowing, when you sit down and think about it, that, from the dawn of time until this Monday, there were three people who have been down there,” he said. “Then, in the last ten days, we’ve put five more people down there, and it’s not even a big deal.”

Read the article, look at the pictures.

How to Fix a Broken Knee

In case you’re ever hit by another motorbike and break your tibial plateau, that’s what they’re gonna do. Just saying…

Knowledge is the compound interest of curiosity.

–– James Clear

Open Air 2020

German singer-songwriter Reinhard Mey playing an open air concert in his garden, singing

The english translation of „A quarter to seven“ is especially good:

Dark heavy clouds gather on the horizon
Like a ragged grey quilt in the sky
Dusk sets in, darkness is rising
Lights going on by and by
“Where have you been so long, dinner is ready,
take your shoes off, they’re covered in loam”
Sometimes I wish it was once again a quarter to seven
And I wish I was back at home