How to be miserable

CGP Grey has an insightful new video essay on YouTube, listing 7 ways to maximize misery:

Beyond its dry wit, this video illustrates that it can often be useful to think of our unhealthy behaviors in terms of what outcome they are driving us towards versus away from.

Crowdfunding healthcare perpetuates different kinds of inequities

Anne Helen Petersen, writing for Buzzfeed, on the trend of people using crowdfunding websites to raise money for healthcare:

Both GoFundMe and YouCaring provide step-by-step instructions for what they call a “successful campaign.” “Use a great photo or make a video,” GoFundMe advises. “This is your shot at a first impression and it should create a strong reaction, like ‘Wow!’ or ‘Awe!’ or ‘I need to know more about this’ … Try to use photos of the people involved whenever possible. They get stronger reactions than a graphic or text. Be sure to avoid blurry or low-quality images.” YouCaring suggests users pay particular attention to choosing their fundraiser’s name: “Many people will decide whether to read about your cause based solely on your fundraiser’s name.” Or, as GoFundMe puts it, “Which title sounds better? ‘I Need Money!’ or ‘Julie’s Rally Against Cancer?’…the second one, right?” […]

Of course, packaging need isn’t necessarily new. Every time we ask a family member or friend for money, we’re presenting our need in a way that makes it more likely they’ll respond; some people are better at it than others. But that’s also why most would rather not rely on their family, friends, or an ability to convincingly ask someone for money as a means of survival. It’s subjective and depends, at least in part, on a flair for drama. Marketing a need through crowdsourcing demands similar skills — creating or choosing a compelling image and an eye-grabbing, keyword-searchable title — but a campaign must also transform the underlying need into a persuasive narrative. As YouCaring points out, “Julie’s Rally Against Cancer” is more compelling than “I Need Money” — one situates “Julie” as the hero fighting a good fight; the other de-romanticizes the struggle down to its most essential (and truest) form: My need? Money.

This paradigm sets up a dangerous expectation in which giving is contingent upon being moved, entertained, or otherwise satisfied with the righteousness of a fight. I’ll give, this arrangement suggests, but only if you give something to me — tears, sadness, hope, cuteness — first. As Jeremy Snyder argues in the Hastings Center Report, this paradigm also creates a “strong incentive to sensationalize or embellish their stories in order to receive donations,” in part because the narrative has to be striking enough to compel individuals outside of one’s existing social network to give. You’re not just selling to your family members, in other words — you’re trying to sell to the entire internet.

If there was anyone that thought crowdfunding was in any way a proper solution for rising healthcare costs, this piece will disabuse you of that notion.

Sit, Don’t Stand

It used to be that standing desks were thought of as the solution to that age old problem of not allowing our sedentary lifestyles to kill us slowly. But now, new research from Cornell reveals that the best solution is somewhere in between (via Gruber):

Sit to do computer work. Sit using a height-adjustable, downward titling keyboard tray for the best work posture, then every 20 minutes stand for 2 minutes AND MOVE. The absolute time isn’t critical but about every 20-30 minutes take a posture break and move for a couple of minutes. Simply standing is insufficient. Movement is important to get blood circulation through the muscles. Research shows that you don’t need to do vigorous exercise (e.g. jumping jacks) to get the benefits, just walking around is sufficient. So build in a pattern of creating greater movement variety in the workplace (e.g. walk to a printer, water fountain, stand for a meeting, take the stairs, walk around the floor, park a bit further away from the building each day).

Eating Animals Is Wrong Under Most Circumstances

B.R. Myers writes (with incredibly florid language) about the disturbing hypocrisy and amorality of foodies such as Michael Pollan and Anthony Bourdain:

Even if gourmets’ rejection of factory farms and fast food is largely motivated by their traditional elitism, it has left them, for the first time in the history of their community, feeling more moral, spiritual even, than the man on the street. Food writing reflects the change. Since the late 1990s, the guilty smirkiness that once marked its default style has been losing ever more ground to pomposity and sermonizing. References to cooks as “gods,” to restaurants as “temples,” to biting into “heaven,” etc., used to be meant as jokes, even if the compulsive recourse to religious language always betrayed a certain guilt about the stomach-driven life. Now the equation of eating with worship is often made with a straight face.

Some good responses to this piece in Time magazine and in The Atlantic itself.