Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Society’

Read Full Post »

The Questions…

1. What breed of dog is the speediest?

2. Which state is the flattest, and which is the most mountainous?

3. The three angles in a triangle always add up to how many degrees?

4. When filmmaker George Lucas was in high school, what career did he plan to pursue?

5. What’s the difference between herbs and spices?

The Answers…

1. The Greyhound. In competitive racing, Greyhounds run at up to 45 mph. From a standing start, they can attain top speed in six strides.

2. Florida is the flattest, followed by Illinois, North Dakota, and Louisiana. West Virginia is, on average, the most mountainous. The mountains of Alaska, California, and Colorado are higher, but the valleys and plains in those states lower the average.

3. 180.

4. Young George was obsessed with motorcycles and fast cars, and he wanted to be a professional race car driver. His mind got changed three days before graduation when he barely survived a car wreck and spent months in a hospital. He went to film school instead.

5. Both come from plants, but herbs are from the fleshy, leafy parts, and spices are from dried, woody parts — root, stalk, seed, etc.

Read Full Post »

Armchair Psychology

Various observations related to brain function and dysfunction…

Emotional Intelligence

In 1995, author and journalist Daniel Goleman wrote Emotional Intelligence, an international best-seller that was printed in, like, 40 languages.

The term “emotional intelligence” means learning to understand your own emotions and those of others so you can act effectively and positively. Currently, Goleman works at Rutgers University and specializes in how the concept applies to organizations.

Empathy

In his 1995 book, Goleman said that empathy is not a single trait, but three — namely, cognitive empathy, social empathy, and empathic concern.

Cognitive empathy is understanding someone else’s perspective so you can communicate with the person more constructively.

Social empathy is sensing what the other person feels so you can establish rapport.

Empathic concern is going beyond understanding the other person’s situation and having a genuine desire to help them. Goleman says we do this by tapping into the “ancient mammalian system for parenting.”

Master all three, he says, and you can build healthy relationships, personally and professionally.

Empathy, it’s fair to say, is a complicated and important commodity. Because humans are such social animals, empathy helps the group function cooperatively and peacefully.

Empathy among all parties greases the skids; a deficiency of empathy, on the part of anyone in the group, introduces problems.

An Abnormal Deficiency

Years ago, I concluded that a root cause of the typical behavior of political conservatives — one of the fundamental reasons Republicans think the way they think, behave the way they behave, and are the way they are — is an abnormal deficiency of empathy.

(This deficiency is one of three common characteristics of present-day right-wingers. The others are an affinity for authoritarianism and being a white person.)

Empathy varies with the individual, of course, regardless of politics, but the conservative brain seems to be wired in such a way that it lacks a normal ability to feel a sense of charity, compassion, mercy, or sympathy for others.

This is why Republicans can justify separating children from their parents at the border as a scare tactic. And why they fear, distrust, and often demonize outsiders.

This is why the most evil boogieman they can imagine is socialism. And why they want to reduce the amount of your COVID relief check.

This is why they fall so easily for conspiracy theories. And why they turn so readily to racism and misogyny.

The Fiction Factor

The degree of empathy in you has an alleged connection to reading fiction.

In 2006, a study found that the more authors of fiction you know (which presumes that you read a lot), the higher you score on empathy tests.

One possible explanation is that empathetic people simply read more. But research indicates that the information you absorb from reading fiction acts to strengthen your empathy.

That’s because reading fiction exposes you to lives, thoughts, and motivations outside of your own. Even though it is fictional, the more you read, the more you are exposed to the experiences of others, which improves your ability to empathize.

Read more fiction, become a better person.

The Shopping Cart Theory

The Shopping Cart Theory is the concept that your willingness to return a shopping cart to the corral reveals whether you are the kind of person who will do the right thing without being forced to.

This theory asserts that returning the cart is universally seen as a proper act. You gain nothing by returning it. You return it because it’s the right thing to do, and you’re a nice guy.

If you don’t return the cart, you face no consequences. You are not punished, and very rarely berated, for failing to return a cart. Thus, abandoning the cart instead of returning it to the corral is evidence that you are inclined to do what is right only when it’s convenient or you face negative consequences.

I’ve read that the Shopping Cart Theory is too judgmental, and legitimate reasons may exist for not returning a cart. The weather is bad. You can’t leave children unattended. You have a disability. The corral is too far away. You think a store employee will collect the carts.

I say the theory is a legitimate test of whether or not you’re a jerk.

The Matter of Face Masks

Speaking of a test to identify jerks, the willingness to wear a face mask when and where you should, as medical experts plead with you to do, zooms to the top of the list.

Here we sit, deep into a deadly pandemic. The infection rate in the US is the world’s worst, and under Trump, the governmental response was feeble, scattershot, and ineffective to a criminal degree.

Until recently, the only protections we had were wearing a mask, physical distancing, avoiding crowded places, and washing your hands.

Yet, vast numbers of people refuse to wear a mask, decline to remain six feet apart, and defiantly gather in crowded places. Whether they wash their hands is anyone’s guess.

The fact that mask-wearing became a left vs. right political issue isn’t surprising. Of course conservatives staked out the anti-mask position. Their nature compelled it when they saw that most liberals believe in wearing a mask.

Refusing to wear a mask is foolish and illogical, but they don’t care. Nor do they care, apparently, about the health consequences to themselves and their families. The behavior of these people is stupid, ignorant tribalism.

Why do so many people boldly go maskless in public places, dine shoulder to shoulder in restaurants, attend large gatherings, and pack the bars?

Some, I suppose, think the risks of COVID are non-existent or exaggerated. Others are weary of all the precautions and restrictions after a year of living with the pandemic. In some cases, malice, stupidity, or arrogance explain the behavior.

Beyond those motivations, I couldn’t identify a single valid, sensible reason for so much risky behavior.

It appears that consequences are needed in order to change the behavior of people who risk public health when the posted rules require a face mask.

My suggestion: for the first offense, one night in jail and a fine of $250. The punishment would double for each subsequent offense.

I’ll bet that would flatten the curve.

Read Full Post »

This Just In

SAULT STE. MARIE, MICHIGAN — Lake Superior State University has released its annual list of words and terms that should be banned because they are over-used and irritating.

The 10 banishments for 2021 are COVID-19 (plus rona, coronavirus, and other variations), social distancing, we’re all in this together, in an abundance of caution, in these uncertain times, pivot, unprecedented, Karen, sus (short for suspicious), and I know, right?

The university has released the list since 1976 to “uphold, protect, and support excellence in language by encouraging avoidance of words and terms that are overworked, redundant, oxymoronic, clichéd, illogical, nonsensical — and otherwise ineffective, baffling, or irritating.”

The list has grown to over 1,000 offending words and terms. They are listed here by year.

LSSU President Rodney Hanley said the terms flatten the curve and new normal almost made the list, but not quite.

RIO LINDA, CALIFORNIA — A local man dressed as Santa Claus was rescued after he crashed his motorized parachute into power lines and became entangled, authorities said.

The incident happened shortly before Christmas as the man was flying to a school to deliver candy canes to the children. He swerved too late to avoid the power lines and wound up trapped and dangling upside down. Power to about 200 customers was shut off during the rescue.

Neighbors said the man flies his parachute around the area regularly, but this was his first time playing Santa for students. He was not injured in the accident.

BEIJING, CHINA — McDonald’s restaurants in China are selling a new “Lunchmeat Burger” consisting of a hamburger bun topped with two slices of Spam, crushed Oreo cookies, and a dollop of mayonnaise.

McDonald’s said the menu addition will be for a limited time and only available on Mondays.

Global brands in several fields are known to introduce offbeat, attention-getting products in China.

Based on comments on the McDonald’s website, Chinese customers have not reacted positively. One comment said the new item is ideal for “when you hate someone, but have to invite him to dinner.”

A comment that read, “There is no need to release unnecessary products” received over 2,000 “likes.”

Read Full Post »

Lessons o’ the Day

Read Full Post »

Useless Facts

More “Useless Facts for Inquiring Minds.”

● The first ATM went into service on September 2, 1969, at a branch of Chemical Bank in Rockville Center, New York.

● Most animals have only one heart, but there are exceptions. Squid and octopuses have three hearts, and hagfish have four. In their cases, the extra hearts are smaller and serve as auxiliary pumps. Earthworms have five hearts of equal size that evolved to deal with the worms’ length.

● In Latin, the word onion means “large pearl.”

● In 1989, rock star Billy Idol checked into a hotel in Thailand and threw a party that continued for three weeks. When he and his friends refused to leave, the Thai army was called in. Idol was shot with a tranquilizer dart and carried out unconscious on a stretcher. Damages totaled $150,000.

● When President Herbert Hoover and his wife Lou wanted to keep a conversation private, they conversed in Mandarin Chinese. President Calvin Coolidge and his wife Grace, a former teacher at a school for the deaf, maintained their privacy by using sign language.

● By long tradition, horse races in England are run clockwise. In 1788, in defiance of the Brits, the American colonies began conducting their races counter-clockwise. Today in the US, horse and auto races still move counter-clockwise; in England and Germany, still clockwise.

● The full name of actor Richard Gere is Richard Tiffany Gere; his mom was Doris Ann Tiffany.

● Among the mammals, only the platypus and the spiny anteater lay eggs instead of giving live birth. Both are native to Australia, New Guinea, and Tasmania.

Read Full Post »

The cure for poverty has a name. In fact, it’s called the empowerment of women. If you give women some control over the rate at which they reproduce, if you give them some say, take them off the animal cycle of reproduction to which nature and some doctrine — religious doctrine — condemns them, and then if you’ll throw in a handful of seeds, perhaps, and some credit, the floor of everything in that village — education, health, and optimism — will increase. Try it in Bangladesh, try it in Bolivia. It works. It works all the time. Name me one religion that stands for that, or ever has.

Christopher Hitchens

###

America will never be destroyed from the outside.

Abraham Lincoln

###

A sign of intelligence is an awareness of one’s own ignorance.

Niccolò Machiavelli

###

Water and air, the two essential fluids on which all life depends, have become global garbage cans.

Jacques Yves Cousteau

Hitchens

Cousteau

Read Full Post »

When Amanda Gorman stepped to the podium to read “The Hill We Climb” at Biden’s inauguration, I had no idea who she was. I was impressed enough to find out.

She is 22, born in Los Angeles, has a twin sister. She was raised by a single mother, a sixth grade English teacher. Amanda attended private school K-12. She went to Harvard College on scholarship and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, the academic honor society. She graduated cum laude in 2020 with a degree in sociology.

In kindergarten, Gorman was diagnosed with an auditory disorder in which the brain doesn’t properly interpret what is heard. She also has a condition that affects her pronunciation of certain words. With therapy and hard work, she was able to overcome both conditions.

Gorman began writing poetry in high school. In 2014, she was named the Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles. In 2015, she published her first book of poetry. In 2016, she founded a nonprofit to promote writing and leadership for young people.

In 2017, she was named the first National Youth Poet Laureate. In 2018, she was named one of Glamour Magazine’s College Women of the Year. In 2019, The Root Magazine named her one of the 25 best and brightest young African-Americans.

When the Bidens asked her to read a poem at the inauguration, “The Hill We Climb” was already written. Gorman amended it after the riots at the Capitol on January 6.

Last month, she signed with IMG Models, an international modeling agency. She plans to run for President in 2036.

The Hill We Climb” has a few rough spots, but it is powerful, positive, uplifting stuff nonetheless.

This lady is smart, talented, focused, and aimed in the right direction. President Gorman sounds good to me.

The text of her poem is below.

Mr. President, Dr. Biden, Madam Vice President, Mr. Emhoff, Americans, and the world…

When day comes, we ask ourselves,
where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry,
a sea we must wade.

We’ve braved the belly of the beast.
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace,
and the norms and notions
of what just is
isn’t always “justice.”

And yet, the dawn is ours
before we knew it.
Somehow we do it.
Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed
a nation that isn’t broken,
but simply unfinished.

We, the successors of a country and a time
where a skinny Black girl
descended from slaves and raised by a single mother
can dream of becoming president
only to find herself reciting for one.

And yes, we are far from polished.
Far from pristine.
But that doesn’t mean we are striving
to form a union that is perfect.
We are striving to forge our union with purpose,
to compose a country committed to all cultures,
colors, characters, and conditions of man.

And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us,
but what stands before us.
We close the divide because we know, to put our future first,
we must first put our differences aside.

We lay down our arms
so we can reach out our arms
to one another.
We seek harm to none and harmony for all.

Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:
that even as we grieved, we grew.
That even as we hurt, we hoped.
That even as we tired, we tried.
That we’ll forever be tied together victorious.
Not because we will never again know defeat,
but because we will never again sow division.

Scripture tells us to envision
that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree
and no one shall make them afraid.
If we’re to live up to our own time,
then victory won’t lie in the blade,
but in all the bridges we’ve made.
That is the promised glade,
the hill we climb
if only we dare.

It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit.
It’s the past we step into
and how we repair it.
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation
rather than share it.
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.
And this effort very nearly succeeded.

But while democracy can be periodically delayed,
it can never be permanently defeated.
In this truth, in this faith, we trust.
For while we have our eyes on the future,
history has its eyes on us.

This is the era of just redemption
we feared at its inception.
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs
of such a terrifying hour,
but within it, we found the power
to author a new chapter.
To offer hope and laughter to ourselves.
So while once we asked,
how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?
Now we assert,
how could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?

We will not march back to what was,
but move to what shall be.
A country that is bruised, but whole.
Benevolent, but bold,
fierce, and free.

We will not be turned around
or interrupted by intimidation
because we know our inaction and inertia
will be the inheritance of the next generation.
Our blunders become their burdens.

But one thing is certain:
if we merge mercy with might
and might with right,
then love becomes our legacy
and change our children’s birthright.

So let us leave behind a country
better than one we were left with.
Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest
we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.

We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the west.
We will rise from the wind-swept northeast
where our forefathers first realized revolution.
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the midwestern states.
We will rise from the sun-baked south.
We will rebuild, reconcile and recover.

In every known nook of our nation,
in every corner called our country,
our people, diverse and beautiful, will emerge,
battered and beautiful.

When day comes, we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid.
The new dawn blooms as we free it.
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to be it.

Read Full Post »

Day One

Being a political liberal, a Georgian, and a life-long Democrat, I am on quite a high these days.

Biden won Georgia and the presidency; both Ossoff and Warnoch won in Georgia, giving control of the Senate to the Democrats; and the unprincipled, lying, cheating, treasonous, twice-impeached orange gasbag is out of office.

It’s true that the country still has an ugly infestation of toxic conservatism, from the elected GOP weasels to the scared/gullible/addled MAGA voters to Fox “News” and the rest of the right-wing disinformation machine, which makes money by telling lies and fleecing the yokels.

But, with the Democrats in charge, we’re seeing an immediate resurgence of competence, compassion, and common decency. By God, it’s like morning in America.

President Biden — President Biden! — had an especially busy first day in office. He signed a flurry of executive orders aimed at, well, making America great again.

The highlights of Biden’s Day One executive orders:

———

We rejoined the World Health Organization.

We rejoined the Paris climate accords.

We now have a functioning national COVID-19 response team.

Face masks must be worn on federal property.

Construction was halted on Trump’s stupid wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

Trump’s ban on Muslims entering the United States was reversed.

Discrimination against LGBT employees in the workplace is now banned.

A Trump order that expanded the categories of who should be detained and deported was abolished.

The moratorium on evictions and foreclosures was extended.

Payments and interest on federal student loans were frozen.

The Keystone Pipeline project was stopped.

Trump’s 1776 Commission, which promoted a right-wing history curriculum in schools, was killed.

Trump’s order to exclude undocumented immigrants from the U.S. census was reversed.

Legal protections for the DACA program to shield young immigrants from deportation were strengthened.

An ethics pledge for Executive Branch appointees was established.

All other Trump regulations were frozen until the Biden Administration can assess them.

———

In all, Biden’s first day was a fine example of how liberals and progressives have a heart and a brain, and the conservative mindset leans more toward the mean and the selfish.

When Republicans control government — whenever and wherever Republicans control government — ordinary people suffer, and the rich get richer. Federal, state, and local, that’s been our story for decades.

Each time a swing of the pendulum gives the Democrats the majority again, they dutifully step in and make an effort to use the resources of government for the common good. At which point the right-wingers begin the hand-wringing about excessive spending and the lurking menace of socialism.

The conservatives will never change, so screw ‘em and show some spine. Namely:

● Change the Senate rules to kill the filibuster so bills can be passed with 51 votes instead of 60.

● Institute an immediate wealth tax that will fund Medicare for All and assist the millions who desperately need financial help because of COVID-19. Taxing the rich will not harm a single rich person in any way whatsoever.

● Censure, fine, and end the committee assignments of the six GOP senators and 121 House Republicans who voted not to certify the presidential election results.

● Prosecute with gusto as many of the Capitol rioters as we can find.

Compassion, spine, accountability.

Read Full Post »

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »