Happiest Countries According to Studies

There are a lot of different approaches to measure happiness levels in a given country and, of course, they are all imperfect. These two recent studies seem interesting though: According to the latest Gallup, these are the happiest countries:

% Thriving in 3+ Elements of Well-being

  1. Panama 61
  2. Costa Rica 44
  3. Denmark 40
  4. Austria 39
  5. Brazil 39
  6. Uruguay 37
  7. El Salvador 37
  8. Sweden 36
  9. Guatemala 34
  10. Canada 34

And these lists are by the UC Berkeley professors, teaching “Science of Happiness” EdX MOOC:

Subjective Happiness

  1. Costa Rica
  2. Croatia
  3. Chile
  4. Malaysia
  5. Colombia

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How Can an Entrepreneur Move to the US

To respond to this question Funders and Founders designed an infographic that is a reasonable starting place for an online research:

coming-to-america-visas-infographic

In reality, of course, everything is much more complicated. For instance, the picture mixes EB petitions that allow one to become a permanent resident right away with temporary visas. E-2 visa does not work for Russia, thank the politicians. Getting an H1B entails a serious risk because of the caps, especially if you do not already have a degree from a top American university. The majority of visas do not allow a spouse to work. There are lots of other details as well, the immigration law is probably #1 thing that I dislike about the US. But overall it is a good summary of the situation. There is also a bill for Startup Visa, but it does not seem to be become a reality any time soon.

Information diet, news and content filters

I have been struggling to figure out the optimal way to inform myself about the news for quite a while. There is a million of issues here: negativity, irrelevance, lack of proper filters, biased views of certain journalists/newspapers and noise, noise, noise. So, it is not easy at all to maintain a conscious sensible information diet without completely stopping reading any news. But in this case it is not easy to remain a well-rounded and well-informed individual with own vision and interpretation of world’s events and trends.

Long story short. I recently found couple of startups that try to tackle this issue and make it at least a little bit easier to get through all the noise.

In addition to strictly curated collection of blogs I read with Feedly (~60%, the main source of content and probably, the best alternative to discontinued Google Reader) and to imperfect social filters, such as Facebook (~20%) here is what I have been experimenting with recently (~20%):

1. Quartz.com daily briefs to stay in the loop (email, no RSS, unfortunately)
It is a curated selection of headlines sent each morning with links to longer articles. I like that headlines are formulated to be informative, not to seduce you to click and read full article. It is mostly focused on business and key events around the globe.

2. Vox.com “understand the news” section to research a given topic
I use it occasionally (rarely?) to get a quick first, but superficial understanding of a given issue that I know nothing of, but do not want to spend a ton of time researching. I like that Vox strives to be impartial.

3. Tweeted times for a couple of headlines popular among my Twitter friends
Daily newspapers are populated with content based on links posted by your Twitter friends and friends of friends. The more people post a certain link the higher it will rank. Assuming that you follow people with similar interests and/or whose judgment you trust, it should be relevant.

4. 10 things to know by BI for tech news (in Feedly)

I usually just skim the above from time to time, certainly not daily. Even this is too much and I would love most of these services to have “top 10 weekly” editions or some custom way to limit the number of items. I also wish most of them went for shorter articles with more data (think The Economist Facebook charts and infographics). New Yorker style long-reads are obsolete in most cases these days, at least as a main type.

Would love to hear your thoughts! How do you stay informed of the most important and relevant stories in the shortest time possible?

PS Related to this. An interesting Quora thread about the reasons why most personalized news startups failed.

Italy and a little bit of France

It’s been more than seven months already and I finally found some time to blog about our Italy and France honeymoon trip in May, 2013.

We wanted to see many things, but didn’t want to spend the entire holiday in a car, so we tried to leave some time to chill. This resulted in the following plan:

Rome and Vatican → San Marino → Bologna → Florence → Cinque Terre  – Riomaggiore → Monaco / Menton → Nice.

IMG_1489

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Romania today: what to be ready in Bucharest and where else to go

I came to Romania to work for 3 months. Frankly speaking I wasn’t full of enthusiasm about it from the very beginning. It’s not all that exotic — same old Eastern Europe, it’s not widely known as a perfect place for tourism and vacations with great beaches and service, it’s not in the list of the most developed and advanced countries in the world that would be interesting to see. In other words, I could not find a single reason to see it.

But at the end of the day why not to use the opportunity to visit country which I would otherwise most probably miss? Wouldn’t it also be interesting to see the country that only left its Soviet past behind in 89 and already joined EU in 07? Aside from that I didn’t know much about the country to be honest. Others around me didn’t seem to know significantly more though: I was quite tired of jokes about Count Dracula long before actually going there… In fact, it appeared to be quite an interesting country to visit.

Romania, Bucharest

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Japan: temples, palaces and gardens

I would like to devote this post to Japanese temple, imperial palaces and just gardens. I believe, you can enjoy their beauty and sophistication regardless of your attitude towards monarchs, religion or concept of God in general.

Japan, Tokyo, Shinto shrine

A couple of words about religion. Buddhism and Shinto prevail in Japan, so these are the ones that I’m going to cover here. However, in general Japanese tend to associate themselves with few religions at the same time. Moreover, only 20% of population actually believes in any God.

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Japan: devil is in the detail

Distinctive features of Japan are well-thought design and attention to details. Compared to Russia the difference is easily visible: economy instead of wide scope, neatness instead of coarseness.This post is going to be a mixture of various interesting and maybe funny things that didn’t match any particular topic of other posts. So, what caught my inquisitive sight?

Take elevator, for instance. Notice additional buttons for children and disabled.

Japan Tokyo elevator design

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Japan: cuisine and food

Well, you need to be the Captain Obvious to state that Japan has a very original and delicious cuisine. Variety of fish and seafood, unusual soups, seaweed, sashimi and of course sushi. Everything is fresh and delicious. You will like it if you’re open-minded in the first place.

Fortunately, we had an opportunity to try it all: the authentic cuisine in the expensive traditional restaurants, cheap fast-food-like cafes and a regular bento (Japanese lunch box) in the shinkansen (Japanese high-speed train). And all were good.

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Trip to Japan, impressions and beautiful pictures

My plans to visit Japan turned into reality! Thank you all for your recommendations! If I were to describe the trip in one word I would call it unforgettable. We usually slept for 4-7 hrs a night trying to experience as much as we could.

Japan, Tokyo, Shibuya crossing

Let me answer expected questions right away. How did I get there? Well, have been a PhD student in Higher School of Economics during the last year and a half. As I surprisingly still didn’t get kicked out I decided to participate in the organization of the student exchange with the Japanese Masters and PhD students in June 2009. Took days off at work and helped guys to get around the city and see lots of cool things.

Then, there was a long delay with no news. So, I saved some money and vacation days at work. But after 10 months the reciprocal trip was organized! And it was organized on the breath-taking level!

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