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Thursday, 9 May 2019

Weekend Reading - Some Interesting Stuff

1) Do nothing to achieve more
All of us have a problem with busyness. But being busy and being successful are not one and the same. But, doing less or nothing at all is easier said than done, especially in a society that suffers from extreme busyness. Bill Gates attributes much of Microsoft’s success to the big ideas and concepts he stumbled upon while doing nothing.
On either Saturday or Sunday, force yourself to step away from all forms of technology — a practice known as a digital sabbath. Shut off your smartphone and hide it in your closet. Power down the laptop and slide it under your bed. Give your brain space to think by stepping away from the daily grind and doing nothing. Your mind will have time to stumble upon new ideas and further process old ones.

2) Can you do better by working 4 days-a-week?
A 4-day work-week is being discussed by a lot of corporates and productivity experts. Here is one company in Australia which has tried it.
A mid-week break lets staff go to the gym, get on top of housework, look after young children, schedule appointments, work on their start-up or just watch Netflix. Sometimes, they’ll catch up on work. Sick days are down, staff satisfaction is up, says Blackham. “You get that Monday feeling a couple of times a week.”
For employers, shutting down mid-week gives “more bang for your buck”. he says. “The Wednesday break means you return to Thursday fresh, and this is when people feel most productive.”
Some start-ups which have trialled the four day week in the US have had to return to five day working after finding the day off made the company less competitive and staff more stressed. 

3) Is free good for you?
Technology companies based in Seattle or Silicon Valley now account for five out of the five most valuable companies in America.
Big Tech has, in some sense, gotten “too big.” And in 2019, politicians are starting to listen.
The issue is complicated by the fact that even though it’s convenient to shorthand Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Apple, and Facebook as “Big Tech,” these five companies are actually structured in very different ways.
Contemporary antitrust law mostly cares about high prices. The standard, in other words, isn’t that one company dominating a market is bad. It’s that it’s bad if a company’s market domination leads to bad outcomes for consumers.
However, most of the big tech is cheaper or provide better service to the end customer making them difficult to prosecute. Google provides nearly all of its services for free. Amazon makes shopping cheaper. Anti-trust needs to find out a balance between low prices and utility to the customers.

4) We are killing the planet and ourselves; we just don't realize it yet
Humans are transforming Earth’s natural landscapes so dramatically that as many as one million plant and animal species are now at risk of extinction, posing a dire threat to ecosystems that people all over the world depend on for their survival
Humans are producing more food than ever, but land degradation is already harming agricultural productivity on 23 percent of the planet’s land area.
Over the past 50 years, global biodiversity loss has primarily been driven by activities like the clearing of forests for farmland, the expansion of roads and cities, logging, hunting, overfishing, water pollution and the transport of invasive species around the globe.

5) The food we eat is killing us
Health officials around the world are struggling with the explosive rise of deadly drug-resistant strains of the fungus Candida auris, which prey on people with weakened immune systems. Worryingly, their emergence may be tied to indiscriminate use of fungicides in agriculture and food production.
Antibiotics are applied on a massive scale in food production, pushing the rise of bacterial drug resistance. A British government study published in 2016 estimated that, within 30 years, drug-resistant infections will be a bigger killer than cancer, with some 10 million people dying from infections every year.
“Food is no longer valued for its ability to sustain life,” Walker concludes, “but only for its ability to generate profits.” 

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