When Paying Attention Costs Too Much
February 3, 2020
“In an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.” – Herbert Simon
“Do stuff. Be clenched, curious. Not waiting for inspiration’s shove or society’s kiss on your forehead. Pay attention. It’s all about paying attention. Attention is vitality. It connects you with others. It makes you eager. Stay eager.” – Susan Sontag
How About A Little Less Head To Head Action This Year
The outcome of Super Bowl XIV is now known. What isn’t yet known is the price players are paying in terms of their brain health to entertain us. That can’t be judged conclusively until after their deaths.
Football is a contact sport — competition involving massive bodies repeatedly colliding into each other. When someone’s head is hit hard, the brain can rapidly bounce around and twist inside the skull. This rapid motion can create a traumatic injury called a concussion. A person with a concussion can “see stars,” become disoriented, lose consciousness, get headaches, develop sensitivity to light and sound, and have sluggish or confused thoughts for weeks or months. Despite protective headgear, and stringent rules against flagrant helmet-to-helmet hits, concussions are incredibly common in professional football.
Repetitive brain injuries are the cause of the degenerative brain disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Brains with CTE accumulate a protein called tau, thought to be dislodged from brain fibers during an injury. Tau clumps together in brain tissues and interrupts the flow of critical information. CTE symptoms can range from forgetfulness to violent behavior; they take eight to 10 years to manifest, and can worsen over time.
Pittsburgh Steelers Mike Webster was the first to be diagnosed with CTE in 2002. Research published in 2005 contained ominous statistics suggesting the disease could be frighteningly prevalent among players. In 2017 Aaron Hernandez, a former New England Patriots tight-end, committed suicide in his prison cell while serving a life sentence for murder. Doctors found Hernandez suffered the most severe case of CTE ever discovered in a person his age. He was 27.
Globally The Rent is Too Damn High
- A recent spike in rents is driving older and lower-middle-class residents out of their apartments in Germany’s capital, Berlin. Once known for its artists and a creative party scene, the city has been hit with a gentrification movement propelled by real estate investors and infrastructure projects. To slow that trend, last week the city’s leftist government passed new legislation that freezes or lowers rents in more than 1.5 million Berlin apartments.
- Critics say the move will hamper needed growth in the property market. Real estate developers and members of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative party have threatened to challenge the law, arguing under Germany’s constitution rents are to be set by the federal government.
- Renting is more common in Germany than homeownership; less than half the country’s residents own their homes. In Berlin only 18 percent of its three million residents own their homes. (NYT)
- Daily Pnut increasingly believes that homelessness in the USA is one of the most important issues if not the most important issue facing the country.
- In California: Yes, homeless people are from your town (USA Today)
- Unsheltered And Uncounted: Rural America’s Hidden Homeless (NPR)
- The majority of homeless families in America are black, HUD study finds (USA Today)
- California just finished counting its homeless — a tally sure to be inaccurate, and politically weaponized (CBS 8)
- 19th Century Vatican palace turned into homeless shelter at Pope Francis’ behest (NBC)
The League Of Extraordinarily Presumed Countries
- The Trump administration has extended its controversial visa and travel ban policies to include more countries. Now all immigrants from Myanmar, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan and Nigeria are banned from entering the US. Citizens of Tanzania and Sudan will no longer be able to apply for the “diversity visas,” known as the green card lottery. Nationals of the six countries already in the US or those with a valid visa to come to the US will not be affected.
- The ban does not extend to tourism, business and student travel, but could impact US citizens who want to be reunited with family members living in countries on the list. Nigerians were shocked their country was included along with “pariah states” like Myanmar and Eritrea.
- One Lagos-based IT and business consultant tweeted: “You know what it means for Nigeria, Eritrea, Myanmar and Kyrgyzstan to be put in the same category? Eritrea is the “North Korea of Africa”, Myanmar is a pariah state & Kyrgyzstan is in the middle of nowhere. The US Government does not rate us, at all.”
- Nigeria is home to 200 million people and is Africa’s largest economy. The US has been a strong ally in Nigeria’s fight against terror group Boko Haram and cybercrime, among other causes. It’s also been Nigeria’s main trading partner and a close diplomatic ally since 1960. (CNN)
Additional World News
- Palestinians cut ties with Israel and US after rejecting Trump peace plan (Guardian)
- Iraq protesters unconvinced after Mohammed Allawi named PM (Guardian) & Iraqi cleric Sadr tells followers to clear sit-ins after PM appointed (Reuters)
- Probing the Murder of a Pakistani Internet Sensation (NYT, $)
- Australia’s capital lifts state of emergency as fire threat subsides (Reuters)
- Fury in China as footage appears to show officials taking doctors’ face masks (Guardian)
- China counts economic cost of virus as markets plunge, death toll up (Reuters)
- SARS Stung the Global Economy. The Coronavirus Is a Greater Menace. (NYT, $)
- Coronavirus infections predicted to grow exponentially; first death outside China; outbreak becomes political (WaPo, $)
- 11 Confirmed Cases Of Coronavirus In U.S.; 1st Death Outside China In Philippines (NPR)
- Get a grippe, America. The flu is a much bigger threat than coronavirus, for now. (WaPo, $)
A Video So Viral It Needs Medicaid
- An ER doctor, Rob Davidson, who treats the poorer people in western Michigan who depend on the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, met up with Vice President Mike Pence in Des Moines, Iowa last week. Davidson asked Pence about Trump’s plan to cut back on Medicaid funding by letting states file for waivers so they can get block grants, a fundamental change in how Medicaid is funded which results in less money going to states, and less money and coverage for Medicaid recipients.
- Pence seemed confused, said he didn’t know about the cuts, then deflected by talking about the Medicaid expansion that happened in Indiana when he was governor. Davidson pressed Pence to answer the question about the administration scaling back the expansion, which would affect 680,000 in Michigan and 600,000 in Iowa.
- Pence still didn’t understand what the Trump administration was causing to happen, and continued to brag about his health care record in his home state. The polite but astonishing interaction was on videotape, which went viral. (Vox)
Home Is Where The Heart Is And This Heart Is Broken
- Robert Marbut, the head of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, sometimes referred to as the homelessness czar, is proposing a massive shift in the country’s philosophy for aiding the unhoused.
- He opposes offering support services only after a home has been provided and wants to tie services to housing vouchers or placement.
- The number of homeless in the U.S. steadily fell from nearly 650,000 in 2007 to less than 550,000 in 2016 but has rebounded since then, hitting approximately 552,000 in 2018. One of the most successful programs the United States has used to combat homelessness has been the supportive housing program run jointly by HUD and the VA, known as HUD-VASH, which Mr. Marbut strongly supports.
- In his new role, Mr. Marbut also wants to push for deregulation to allow municipalities to have more say in setting policy rather than following the lead of federal agencies. In the past, he has opposed providing some services to the homeless in parks or on the streets, saying that such efforts make it possible to remain in a cycle of homelessness. (WSJ, $)
Additional USA News
- DNC members discuss rules change to stop Sanders at convention (Politico) & Trump Campaign and R.N.C. Spent $9 Million in 4th Quarter, Mostly on Digital Ads (NYT, $)
- Hamburg, Iowa: The impact of the climate crisis on the 2020 election (CNN)
- The Graying of the American Economy Is On Display in Iowa (NYT, $)
- ‘A massive historical story’: Trump’s impending acquittal could have profound ramifications for future presidents (WaPo, $) & While Stained in History, Trump Will Emerge From Trial Triumphant and Unshackled (NYT, $)
- Trump administration reveals it’s blocking dozens of emails about Ukraine aid freeze, including President’s role (CNN)
- A Cancer Patient Stole Groceries Worth $109.63. She Was Sentenced to 10 Months. (NYT, $)
- Daily Pnut’s Tim is a millennial and has only bought Avocado Toast once. And that was to see what all the hubbub was about: Millennials Aren’t Spending All Their Money on Avocado Toast, Actually (NYT, $)
When Paying Attention Costs Too Much
- Mundane chores take up our time and headspace. Bundling life admin into specific time slots – known as GYLIO – might be the ultimate act of self-care. And while there’s no shortage of tools and advice on how to prioritize wellbeing, a New York-based law professor and author of The Art of Life Admin thinks she has important suggestions to add.
- “A large part of why we feel overwhelmed is that life admin is endless and invisible,” she says. “We all have different types of admin that might not be recognisable to someone else – so they don’t know what we are doing or that it is overwhelming.” Her advice involves learning to prioritize and finding focus in order to enjoy some guilt-free downtime. (BBC)
- One ping after another: why everyone needs a notification detox (Guardian)
- Why Google Backtracked on Its New Search Results Look (NYT, $)
- How We Pay Attention Changes the Very Shape of Our Brains (LitHub)
- Doctors on TikTok Try to Go Viral (NYT, $)
- Why you see online ads for stuff you buy in the real world (Vox)
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