News 12.01.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 12.01.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 12.01.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 12.01.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

A couple of years ago, following the publication of my book The Art of Decision Making (2019), I took part in the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go?’ named after the 1981 hit song by the Clash. This is the question we face time and time again, whether it applies to a relationship, a job, the home we inhabit, or any other critical dilemma.

My work as an executive coach involves helping people make these tough decisions for themselves and ultimately by themselves. Unlike a mentor, this is not about giving advice. It is about giving people the tools and confidence to trust their own choices and to act upon them.

In this Guide, I will give you an overview of some of these tools and techniques, and how you can use them to accelerate and improve your decision-making.

Why decisions can be so difficult

Ultimately, what defines a hard decision isn’t so much the decision itself, but how it is perceived by the decision maker. You might feel that a decision is hard because:

  • the stakes, for you, are particularly high;

  • two or more options weigh the same in your mind; or

  • this decision brings back unhelpful memories or fears. This is the case, for example, where a choice is reminiscent of disappointing past choices. It is also the case for the individual whose psychological complexes are triggered by certain challenging situations. For example, a decision might unconsciously reignite a past traumatic event and alter your judgment as a result.

Read the rest of this article at: Psyche

News 12.01.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 12.01.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

An estate sale is only a true estate sale if the homeowner is dead. If the owner is living, then it’s a tag sale, though many people use the terms interchangeably. When I went to one of my first “estate sales,” in Hewlett Harbor, Long Island, roughly two years ago, just before the pandemic temporarily forced much of the industry online, I was surprised to discover that the owner was not only alive but there, in her soon-to-be-former house. A recent widow, she wandered through the rooms, dazed, dressed in a fringed denim vest.

The house was a beige Colonial-style four-bedroom with prim hedges and a small, sloping lawn. I arrived thirty minutes early, but a long line had already formed outside; people were peering into the windows, hands cupping their eyes. When I introduced myself to one of the elderly women up front and admitted to her that I was a newbie, she promptly pulled me into a hug. “You’ll find that this is a culture,” she said. “It’s like an addiction!”

At 10 A.M., a slim, brunette woman wearing a long-sleeved shirt that read “Full of Surprizes Estate & Tag Sales” emerged from the house and walked onto the lawn. The regulars recognized her—she was Madeline Winn, the owner of the company that was hosting the sale. The group surged toward her like an audience at a concert as she removed a sheet of paper from a plastic shopping bag and cleared her throat. “Ricardo M.?” she asked, reading off the sheet. “Allen C.?”

The sheet, I later learned, was “the list”—one of the many aspects of estate-sale culture that is at once quaint and slightly murderous. Hours before a sale begins, an estate- or tag-sale company will put out a sign-in sheet that determines the order in which people will be allowed into the home. The first few names on the list are always “pickers”—estate-sale obsessives, usually low-level furniture, silver, or jewelry dealers—who wait outside the sales for most of the night in their cars, sometimes in teams, with each person taking a shift. Next are the fervent hobbyists—one of Winn’s regulars, for example, is a man who really enjoys carving things out of oak, “so he’ll buy anything oak”—and the decorators on repeat pilgrimages for a client, such as an interior designer I met, who was working for a woman who “loves everything parrots.” There are also the higher-level dealers with brick-and-mortar stores (or storage units), who show up in vans and take four or five of the most expensive furniture pieces first thing in the morning. They resell the pieces at secondhand boutiques in Williamsburg and Chelsea or on eBay, charging at least thirty-five per cent of the original price.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

The Balmoral in Chestnut

Shop the Balmoral in Chestnut
at Belgrave Crescent &

Ben Affleck will turn 50 this year. “Eight months and 14 days,” he said on a December afternoon in Los Angeles, letting out a dry laugh. “But who’s counting?“

It’s not surprising that a movie star would approach such a milestone with a certain degree of self-reflection, if not dread. But after a tumultuous decade in his career and his personal life — marked by great highs, including his 2013 best picture win for “Argo,” which he directed, and deep lows, including his divorce from actress Jennifer Garner, with whom he has three children, and his public struggles with alcoholism — Affleck says he is at peace these days.

“The common thread I’ve found from the people I know who’ve turned 50 who are the happiest is that they’ve stopped worrying so much about what other people think,” he said. “I think that’s the gift of that age. When you hit 30, you think, ‘Now I’ve figured it out,’ then you hit 40 and you’re like, ‘I had no idea.’ Now, when I think about being in my 20s, I wonder, ‘How was my brain distinguishable from a gorilla’s at that age?’”

Read the rest of this article at:  Los Angeles Times

News 12.01.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 12.01.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

In a Swiss valley, an unusual multi-armed crane lifts two 35-ton concrete blocks high into the air. The blocks delicately inch their way up the blue steel frame of the crane, where they hang suspended from either side of a 66-meter-wide horizontal arm. There are three arms in total, each one housing the cables, winches, and grabbing hooks needed to hoist another pair of blocks into the sky, giving the apparatus the appearance of a giant metallic insect lifting and stacking bricks with steel webs. Although the tower is 75 meters tall, it is easily dwarfed by the forested flanks of southern Switzerland’s Lepontine Alps, which rise from the valley floor in all directions.

Thirty meters. Thirty-five. Forty. The concrete blocks are slowly hoisted upwards by motors powered with electricity from the Swiss power grid. For a few seconds they hang in the warm September air, then the steel cables holding the blocks start to unspool and they begin their slow descent to join the few dozen similar blocks stacked at the foot of the tower. This is the moment that this elaborate dance of steel and concrete has been designed for. As each block descends, the motors that lift the blocks start spinning in reverse, generating electricity that courses through the thick cables running down the side of the crane and onto the power grid. In the 30 seconds during which the blocks are descending, each one generates about one megawatt of electricity: enough to power roughly 1,000 homes.

This tower is a prototype from Switzerland-based Energy Vault, one of a number of startups finding new ways to use gravity to generate electricity. A fully-sized version of the tower might contain 7,000 bricks and provide enough electricity to power several thousand homes for eight hours. Storing energy in this way could help solve the biggest problem facing the transition to renewable electricity: finding a zero-carbon way to keep the lights on when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining. “The greatest hurdle we have is getting low-cost storage,” says Robert Piconi, CEO and cofounder of Energy Vault.

Without a way to decarbonize the world’s electricity supply, we’ll never hit net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Electricity production and heat add up to a quarter of all global emissions and, since almost every activity you can imagine requires electricity, cleaning up power grids has huge knock-on effects. If our electricity gets greener, so do our homes, industries, and transport systems. This will become even more critical as more parts of our lives become electrified— particularly heating and transport, which will be difficult to decarbonize in any other way. All of this electrification is expected to double electricity production by 2050 according to the International Atomic Energy Agency. But without an easy way to store large amounts of energy and then release it when we need it, we may never undo our reliance on dirty, polluting, fossil-fuel-fired power stations.

Read the rest of this article at: Wired

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News 12.01.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

In September 2015, U.S. President Barack Obama stood beside Chinese President Xi Jinping in the White House Rose Garden and announced a historic deal to curb cyber-related economic espionage. The scope of the agreement was modest, committing China and the United States only to stop stealing or aiding in the cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property in order to boost domestic industry. It was an easy promise for the United States to make, since Washington had long prohibited U.S. intelligence services from conducting economic espionage for the benefit of private companies. But it was a groundbreaking pledge for China, whose military and intelligence agencies had for more than a decade engaged in massive cyber-enabled theft of U.S. intellectual property and state secrets in order to advantage Chinese companies.

The agreement was equally groundbreaking because of how it came about. In the weeks leading up to the Rose Garden ceremony, Obama had threatened to sanction Chinese companies and citizens who continued to target U.S. companies with cyberattacks or exploit stolen intellectual property for commercial gain. These threats, the first that an American president had ever issued in response to Chinese economic espionage, were calibrated to address not just China’s cyber-activities but also its broader economic and strategic objectives. “We are preparing a number of measures that will indicate to the Chinese that this is not just a matter of us being mildly upset, but is something that will put significant strains on the bilateral relationship if not resolved,” Obama told business leaders the week before Xi’s visit. “We are prepared to take some countervailing actions in order to get their attention.”

Initially, the agreement was a limited success. Intrusions from Chinese government-affiliated groups dropped to their lowest level in over a decade in 2016. And for the next two years, American companies enjoyed a brief respite from what had previously been an unrelenting assault by Chinese military- and intelligence-affiliated hackers. But the détente was short-lived. In 2018, U.S. President Donald Trump launched a trade war that undercut the United States’ economic leverage over China and reduced Beijing’s incentives to adhere to the pact. Later that same year, the National Security Agency accused China of violating the agreement, and the U.S. Justice Department proceeded to indict Chinese hackers on charges of cyber-enabled economic espionage. The Trump administration threatened to impose broad sanctions on Chinese companies, but it ultimately sanctioned only a few firms.

Read the rest of this article at: The Economist

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M.