Meditation

There seems to be good evidence that regular sessions of mindful attention have a calming effect on the amygdala, the brain’s emotion processor, and reduce impulsive reactions to stressful or negative thoughts and experiences. Mindfulness, they say, can help mute our emotional response to physical pain, and lessen anxiety and mind-wandering (not the kind that …

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Light relief

An email to my son, USA to U.K.: On 31/03/2020 Robert Hanrott wrote: Will,  I am going to phone you tomorrow, Tuesday.  I am concerned about you all.  Dead ……………………………………………………………….. And a reply…….. Hi, Dad, We are all fine. Please do call. It’ll be nice to speak to you. One thing though. When you sign …

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Why are guns and ammo essential items?

Across America, people have been told to take refuge at home and to venture out only to get things they really need, like groceries, prescription drugs and petrol. But should weapons also be on that list? Gun rights advocates think they should. They’ve now achieved a federal shutdown-order exemption for gun shops( guns and ammo) …

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Auotopsy on the American Dream, part 2

Continued from yesterday: The core promise of the American dream has always been that you can do better than your parents. But we have to deal with the fact that our values have been hi-jacked. We decided that we needed more democracy in our politics. What better way to do that than to allow people to …

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An autopsy of the American dream, part 1

Over the past 50 years, lots of things have changed in the United States. Here are a few examples. 1) A child’s chance of earning more than his or her parents has plummeted from 90 to 50 percent. 2) Earnings by the top 1 percent of Americans nearly tripled, while middle-class wages have been basically …

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How Democracy Ends, Not With a Bang But With a Whimper

“In this fast-paced century, rife with technological innovation, we’ve grown accustomed to the impermanence of things. Whatever is here now will likely someday vanish, possibly sooner than we imagine. Movies and music that once played on our VCRs and stereos have given way to infinite choices in the cloud. Cash currency is fast becoming a …

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Racial replacement?

“The middle-aged man who shot dead nine people in two shisha bars in Germany last week appears to have been motivated by a hate-filled ideology. Tobias Rathjen subscribed to the idea of the “great replacement”, which argues that white Europeans are being “replaced” by an “invasion” of brown and black people.  At this point, the …

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Negotiating in bad faith? Who is?

The EU’s negotiating tactics are shockingly “dishonest”, said Daniel Hannan in The Sunday Telegraph, a very right-wing publication.  For three years, Brussels’ negotiators have refused to consider British proposals for a bespoke Brexit deal, on the grounds that that meant “cherry-picking”.  Michel Barnier has maintained that, if the UK didn’t want to keep free movement …

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The President’s teeth

Mount Vernon, Virginia “A souvenir model of George Washington’s dentures has been withdrawn from sale at his Mount Vernon estate because of evidence that the real version included teeth pulled from the mouths of his slaves. “According to popular myth, the false teeth worn by America’s founding father were made from wood. In fact, they …

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Modern genetics and how they don’t really mean much.

There is a new book called “How to argue with a racist”, by Adam Rutherford.  Writing  at a time when genetic services such as 23 and Me are being used by huge numbers of people, Rutherford points out that the last common ancestor of all people with long-standing European ancestries lived only 600 years ago. …

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The trouble with the nuclear family

( A bit long, but very important) In an essay for the Atlantic  – The Nuclear Family was a Mistake — New York Times columnist David Brooks argues that the family structure we’ve held up as the cultural ideal for the past half century has been a catastrophe for many.  By “nuclear family,” he means a …

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Nothing better to do?

British animal rights activists from Peta (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) have argued that the term “pet” is derogatory to animals, and should not be used. Instead, they suggest words like “companion”, which is less patronising. Referring to oneself as an owner of a pet “implies that the animals are a possession, like …

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Another day, another billionaire Twitter storm

Billionaire Lloyd Blankfein joked as he announced his 2018 retirement as Goldman Sachs CEO that he looked forward to “unrestrained tweeting” in the years ahead. But the Twitter life apparently bored the billionaire, and his twitter account went silent for three months — until last week when Senator Bernie Sanders won the New Hampshire primary. …

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Save us from priests like this!

A Catholic priest in Rhode Island has defended his decision to ban all lawmakers who voted in favor enshrining abortion protections under state law from receiving communion at his parish. Recently, Reverend Richard Bucci, a Catholic priest in Rhode Island,  declared that every legislator who voted last year to pass the bill codifying the U.S. …

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Decline in Croatia, boom in Spain

(A few statistics, I’m afraid…..) The prime minister of Croatia, Andrej Plenkovic – whose government has just assumed the rotating presidency of the EU – has warned that his country is suffering a “population loss equivalent to losing a small city every year”, and called for EU-wide strategies to tackle the “existential” threat in southern …

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The American preoccupation with bathrooms

“Why does America have “so many damn bathrooms”? It’s a question many foreign visitors ask themselves, and with good reason. Over the past half century, the number of bathrooms per person in the US has doubled, to a 1:1 ratio, and these rooms are continuing to multiply. They’re getting bigger, too: the typical size of …

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Complaining about service when things get really bad (2). See yesterday’s posting

Still no favorable resolution? Fortunately, there are third-party programs that can help. If you paid with a credit card, the federal Fair Credit Billing Act and the policies of credit card issuers help you withhold payment for goods and services you think  are defective or not delivered as promised. If you cannot resolve the matter with …

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Younger people today don’t have the IQ they used to have

Our IQ levels are gradually falling compared with previous generations, if IQ tests are an accurate gauge of intelligence. Scientists in Norway analysed scores achieved by 730,000 young men, born between 1962 and1991, who did IQ tests as part of their national service. They found that for many years the IQ levels of entrants rose by …

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