links of the week

Favorite links of the week (June 25 to July 8, 2012)

This is a photo of one of my cats. It has nothing to do with the article. So why? Because I can.

Between the preparation for my first triathlon, the triathlon itself, and the recovery after the triathlon, I did not tweet links as often as I normally do. Isn’t this an original and grand excuse for me failing to upload the supposedly weekly installment of “my favorite links of the week”?

Anyway, here they are. I also classify them based on the topics.


God’s Flipside: Religion Without Kindness
This article is my utmost favorite in this 2-week period. It is a summary of brilliant experiments in the field of religious cognition, a branch of psychology of religion. The big question they want to answer is, “What is it about religious thinking that it can create both kindness and hatefulness from the same basic beliefs?”

The researchers have proposed a provocative thesis: Religion and God are not synonymous. They have different psychological roots, and lead to very different human actions. How so?

  • Religion is not just a belief system, but also a form of group affiliation. Religion is an in-group that excludes many more than it welcomes. Altruism, community building, inclusiveness that comes with religion is not universal, but instead is reserved only for others of the same beliefs.
  • Yet there is also a more spiritual aspect of religion, including a genuine concern for all others, even those who don’t share the same beliefs. The love and kindness are universal.
  • When people are primed to think about religion, they would demonstrate insular thinking and restrict caring to the in-group.
  • When people are primed to think about God, by contrast, they should activate concerns for moral virtue more broadly, leading to a more inclusive kind of generosity.

The researchers conducted two experiments –one was lab-bound and the other was using real-life context– and both confirmed the above-mentioned hypotheses.

Hell Keeps Society Safe
A long-term correlational study shows that a strong belief in fiery punishment is good for a country’s crime rates. Yet interestingly, a strong belief in heaven is related to higher crime rates. This seems to reinforce the theory that belief in supernatural punishment is a cultural innovation that effectively motivates people to cooperate and suppress anti-social behavior.


7 Strategy Tips From The World Of Screenwriting
I believe that good strategists who present and sell ideas for a living should be interested in storytelling. In this article I learn how the practices in screenwriting (expressing an idea into a logline, testing if your idea is a “high concept” or not, understanding the tension between what the hero wants vs. the hero needs) can help me in writing a watertight, compelling communication strategy to solve a brand’s business problem.

Briefing for Participation
There’s this trend in marketing communication that calls for brands to engage with their (loyal) consumers, in order to seal loyalty and facilitate advocacy. In this perspective, the challenge is how to make consumers participate in conversations or programs that are held by brands.

I’m skeptical about the financial merit of engagement (a brand grows because more light buyers who don’t know or won’t care about it buy the brand a bit more often than its competitors, as explained in this book). This article is also challenged by an intelligent criticism. Nevertheless, I find the article to be really valuable.

Firstly, this is useful for non-commercial sectors, like when we want people to participate in a social program or activism. Secondly, certain kind of business models genuinely requires consumers’ participation (e.g. AirBNB or anything that calls for crowd funding).

What I find brilliant about this article:

  • It reminds me that a business problem is a behavioral change in disguise.
  • It reminds me that we should stop treating our consumers as autonomous individuals exclusive of social context.
  • It makes me understand what “Behavior is motivation filtered by opportunity” really means.

Presentation and storytelling

6 Presentation Secrets From The Co-Founder Of Story Collider
This article gives 6 valuable lessons from the consultant who conducts workshops with TED speakers who sign up with him. My favorites (I like them because they confirm the points I made in my e-book) are, every presentation must have a point or one big idea, the importance of emotions, and the danger of visual aids.

22 Rules Pixar Uses To Create Appealing Stories
My favorites:

#2: You must keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be very different.
#17: No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on – it’ll come back around to be useful later.
#19: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.

How To Write A Screenplay. Or Tell A Better Story. (slide show)
This slide show is written by Victor Piñerio, the same person who writes 7 Strategy Tips From The World Of Screenwriting. I find it to be very concise and clear, and it enhances my understanding about what makes a good story. I also think it helps me to be more educated about movies.


June is practically LGBT Month, where Gay Pride is held in hundreds cities around the world, including in countries that are quite repressive. My favorite:

PFLAG Turns 40, And Friends And Family Still Help Pave The Way For Gay Acceptance
PFLAG stands for “Parents and Family of Lesbians and Gays”, but of course it also extends to bisexuals and transgender. This article tells the history of Jeanne Manford, the founder of PFLAG. It is a real story of courage and love that makes me welled up whenever I re-read it.

It was 1972 in the US, and homosexuality was still considered a mental illness by the American Psychological Association. One night, she saw on the evening news that her gay son Morty being beaten while participating in a gay activist demonstration in April. She then sent an open letter to New York Post, declaring, “I have a homosexual son and I love him.” At that time, it was largely unheard of for a parent to publicly support a gay child in the mainstream press.

Shortly afterward, Manford and her son walked together in the Christopher Street Liberation Day Parade –a predecessor to the New York City Pride Parade. She carried a placard “Parents of Gays Unite in Support for Our Children.”

The rest is history.

PFLAG now has 350 chapters around the world but not yet in Indonesia. I solemnly believe if PLFAG is present in Indonesia, it will immensely help LGBT youth and their families.

It is my dream to see PFLAG Indonesia happens before I die. Would any of you be kind enough to help me to make it happen?


10 Shocking Secrets of Flight Attendants
This is based from a confession of an ex flight attendant. She tells us why flight attendants hate Diet Coke, and she asks you to think twice to have sex inside the lavatory.

Narcissism: The Difference Between High Achievers and Leaders
I don’t normally like business articles, but this one warrants my attention. It tries to answer a good question, “Can any high performers be leaders?” Well, no. Not any high performers can be leaders (in this case, CEO).

Only an individual who feels genuinely invigorated by the growth, development, and success of others can become an effective leader of an enterprise. And it remains the most common obstacle of success for those trying to make that leap.

In other words, the high performers who will make good leaders are those who are lacking narcissism. Unfortunately, narcissism fuels self-promotion and this what gets people promotion up to the highest level.

How Cycling Became Chic in Paris
How Sydney Got Non-Cyclists On Two Wheels
Two cities, one story: how a city can build a cycling culture for its residents. The formula is the same: the city government that has a strong will, enough money to develop the infrastructure like bike-sharing system in Paris and dedicated bike lanes in both cities, continuous programs to involve communities and business.

I like these articles because I realize now biking makes me happy. This article is also a good example of how behavior (commuting with bikes) is motivation (e.g. to be free from traffic jams, to exercise) filtered by opportunity (non-existent infrastructure).

I don’t know which one I will see first: Indonesian branch of PFLAG, or a strong bike culture in Jakarta.

Does Morality Depend on Religion?
This is Chapter 4 of The Elements of Morality, 4th edition by James Rachels. It is a textbook on introduction to ethics I stumbled upon around 20 years ago. This book changed my life. It convinced me that people could live an ethical life without religions, and this mainly came from this particular chapter. It triggered my interests in moral philosophy and critical thinking.

Dua Anak Muda Di Balik Restorasi Film Bersejarah
What I really like from this article is that it rekindles my optimism about Indonesia: we have young people who quietly but persistently pursue their passions while simultaneously make a meaningful contribution to society.

For the non-Indonesian speakers, this article features two girls, my heroes du jour, Lisabona Rahman and Lintang Gitomartoyo, who made the restoration of the classic (if not the best) Indonesian movie Lewat Djam Malam (produced in 1954) possible.

I feel so fortunate that the movie gets restored and can be seen by more people. I believe no Indonesian movies are written as well as Lewat Djam Malam.

Finding a Sustainable Running Stride
I try to run regularly, at least 3 times a week, minimum 5 km each time –although if you see me in person you probably won’t believe me. I’m not going to lie to you to say that running is easy. No, running is hard, even more so if you’re heavy. The heavier you’re, the more likely you can get injured from running. This is why technique is important. A good running stride makes running more comfortable (so we can run further, faster, more painlessly) and less injury-prone.

This article gets me very interested in Chi running. I have done some extensive googling about this technique. The ‘philosophy’ behind Chi running seems too “new-age” for me. Yet even the most skeptical reviewers attested they could run further more comfortably after adopting the technique, and some of them had bad injuries before. I’m trying to get the video of this technique, and I’ll keep you posted on whether it works for me or not.


I see you hopefully next week.


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