Central Park Walking; Good Boredom; Status Anxiety and Mafia Bosses; Daft Beliefs; Oldest Institutions

  1. Let’s go for a walk in the park - Central Park, NYC: In an interview with Kaitlyn Zafonte of Central Park Conservancy, I discuss the benefits of walking in nature, even if you live in urban setting. And is there anywhere more urban than New York? (Yes, of course - lots of places have higher urban population densities than NYC. As a vision of a city, of course, it looms large, though). Lots of other good stuff in this piece, too: park design is vital, as is universal accessibility, and ease of use.

  2. Boredom can be good for you - if you channel it correctly. Embrace the discomfort, rather than deflecting it: ‘Boredom is the yearning for a goal to pursue in the first place. When you’re bored, whatever you’re doing right now is unfulfilling in some important way; you really want to be engaged, and you’re urgently looking for an activity to satisfy your deep restlessness.’ Don’t reach for the phone to escape boredom! Go with it, and see where your thoughts take you - maybe somewhere creative and unexpected.

  3. Status anxiety afflicts everyone, even mafia bosses: status seeking and status anxiety are a pervasive feature of all human groups and societies (as well as non-human primate societies, and many other animal groupings). And, of course, it seems that the more you have, the more you want! And those with higher social class predicts a greater desire for wealth and status’ (it’s always about resources and relative positioning).

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  4. Daft beliefs: ‘Here in Italy people started to share this figure claiming that this is the diagram of the 5G chip that has been inserted in the covid vaccine. In reality it is the electric circuit of a guitar pedal and I believe that putting it in the covid vaccine has been an excellent idea.’ It’s even marked ‘treble’ and ‘bass’. Of course, people have no problem carrying around their personal tracking devices (aka smartphones - hmm!).

  5. An inherently-interesting list of the oldest continually-functioning institutions, including Kongō Gumi, a construction company founded in 578 in Japan! Institutional functioning needs a lot more attention, imho: institutions of differing stripes and types (from universities to armies to companies to the courts and beyond) are a universal feature of human life. Institutions and institutional theories are usually considered within sociology or political science; I think institutions might also be usefully considered as shared and extended cognitive structures, embodying extra-personal decision-making processes, and possessing formal and informal repositories of memory and information transmission, and in turn, supporting some form of collective action (more on this way of thinking in a future post).


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