Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for March 1st, 2011

Some things people do to gain a sense of control

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It’s important for psychological health that one has a sense of control. Psychologists often refer to the “locus of control,” and the Wikipedia article at the link begins:

Locus of control in social psychology refers to the extent to which individuals believe that they can control events that affect them. Understanding of the concept was developed by Julian B. Rotter in 1954, and has since become an important aspect of personality studies.

Individuals with a high internal locus of control believe that events result primarily from their own behavior and actions. Those with a low internal locus of control believe that powerful others, fate, or chance primarily determine events.

Those with a high internal locus of control have better control of their behavior, tend to exhibit more political behaviors, and are more likely to attempt to influence other people than those with a high external (or low internal respectively) locus of control. Those with a high internal locus of control are more likely to assume that their efforts will be successful. They are more active in seeking information and knowledge concerning their situation.

One’s “locus” (Latin for “place” or “location”) can either be internal (meaning the person believes that they control their life) or external (meaning they believe that their environment, some higher power, or other people control their decisions and their life). . .

More information at the link. Gaining a sense of control seems to be one of the issues in eating disorders, self-harm (e.g., cutting oneself), and other apparently drastic actions. But in a good sense, it also involves (for example) losing weight, getting organized, and other positive expressions.

The Simple Dollar has an interesting post (with interesting comments) on how some people use shopping (and buying things) as a way of getting a sense of control. The post begins:

This past week, I had a wonderful exchange with Maggie, an administrative assistant at a Fortune 500 company. In one email, Maggie said the following, which I found quite compelling.

The rest of my life feels completely out of control. My children are demanding, as are my bosses, and the demands change all the time. The kids are constantly making messes at home, undoing any house cleaning that I do. I seem to be learning a new software suite every month. I wake up some mornings feeling completely frazzled, while other mornings I feel completely wonderful.

One of the few times I feel genuinely in control of my immediate situation is when I’m shopping. I control what I buy, and when I leave that store, I feel that I’ve exerted control over that purchase. That sense of control feels very good. It feels like a bubble against the craziness of the rest of my life.

I think Maggie hit upon a very big element of why people today have a hard time getting a grasp on their spending and resent any suggestion of change in their spending habits. In the eyes of some, the ability to purchase is one of the last pieces of controllable freedom in their very chaotic life.

I can certainly see how my life was much like this for many years.

I would often feel very relaxed when I would go into a store or a coffee shop. In here, I was no longer responsible for children. I was no longer responsible for server uptime. I was no longer responsible for figuring out strange demands from clients.

A store became something of a place of solace. While I was in there, I would feel as though I was in control of what I did. I decided whether or not to make a purchase. I decided how long to stay. I decided whether or not to order another coffee or buy a second book. It was wholly my decision, which contrasted with most of the rest of my life where it felt as though the decision-making power was out of my hands.

Of course, such a perspective often developed a weird, negative relationship with . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 March 2011 at 5:18 pm

Posted in Daily life

Plutocracy Now: What Wisconsin Is Really About

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Kevin Drum has a good article about the issues fueling the Wisconsin fight:

In 2008, a Liberal Democrat was elected president. Landslide votes gave Democrats huge congressional majorities. Eight years of war and scandal and George W. Bush had stigmatized the Republican Party almost beyond redemption. A global financial crisis had discredited the disciples of free-market fundamentalism, and Americans were ready for serious change.

Or so it seemed. But two years later, Wall Street is back to earning record profits, and conservatives are triumphant. To understand why this happened, it’s not enough to examine polls and tea parties and the makeup of Barack Obama’s economic team. You have to understand how we fell so short, and what we rightfully should have expected from Obama’s election. And you have to understand two crucial things about American politics.

The first is this: Income inequality has grown dramatically since the mid-’70s—far more in the US than in most advanced countries—and the gap is only partly related to college grads outperforming high-school grads. Rather, the bulk of our growing inequality has been a product of skyrocketing incomes among the richest 1 percent and—even more dramatically—among the top 0.1 percent. It has, in other words, been CEOs and Wall Street traders at the very tippy-top who are hoovering up vast sums of money from everyone, even those who by ordinary standards are pretty well off.Second, American politicians don’t care much about voters with moderate incomes. Princeton political scientist Larry Bartels studied the voting behavior of US senators in the early ’90s and discovered that they respond far more to the desires of high-income groups than to anyone else. By itself, that’s not a surprise. He also found that Republicans don’t respond at all to the desires of voters with modest incomes. Maybe that’s not a surprise, either. But this should be: Bartels found that Democratic senators don’t respond to the desires of these voters, either. At all.

It doesn’t take a multivariate correlation to conclude that these two things are tightly related: If politicians care almost exclusively about the concerns of the rich, it makes sense that over the past decades they’ve enacted policies that have ended up benefiting the rich. And if you’re not rich yourself, this is a problem. First and foremost, it’s an economic problem because it’s siphoned vast sums of money from the pockets of most Americans into those of the ultrawealthy. At the same time, relentless concentration of wealth and power among the rich is deeply corrosive in a democracy, and this makes it a profoundly political problem as well. How did we get here?

Continue reading. Interesting graphs at the link.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 March 2011 at 5:09 pm

Posted in Business, Government

De-cluttering as a way of life

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I truly need to declutter and have done some recently—and planning to do more. I thought this article was interesting, though he clearly takes it way beyond what I would contemplate.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 March 2011 at 5:01 pm

Posted in Daily life

The problems with state pension funds

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Turns out it’s a totally recent problem with relatively easy solutions. Read Kevin Drum’s post.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 March 2011 at 4:56 pm

Posted in Business, Government

Slant Bars

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Above you see my two Slant Bar razors: the Hoffritz on the left, the Merkur on the right. So far as the actual shaving, I cannot tell any difference between them. But, as you see, there are small differences in design.

And today’s shave. I wanted to use a Slant Bar again today, and I did get a lovely shave. Then I tried applying the Meehan to my face, left wet after the final rinse that ends the shave. That helped, but still more sting than I get from other aftershaves. This one may end up being cologne only.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 March 2011 at 8:51 am

Posted in Shaving

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