Later On

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

Los Angeles Shaving Soap Company’s Vanilla/Eucalyptus/Mint: Wonderful

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I love LASSC’s VEM shaving soap for a summer shave (though it’s pretty good in the winter, too). While it is not quite yet summer — that’ll be Monday — I rushed the season a bit to enjoy the soap today. My Game Changers are excellent razors, and this one, the .84-P, left my face exceptionally smooth. Esbjerg’s aftershave gel I first tried when a free sample arrived in an order and it turned out to be very good — an excellent aftershave IMO.

Written by Leisureguy

19 June 2021 at 9:55 am

Posted in Shaving

“This Time-Management Trick Changed My Whole Relationship With Time”

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Dean Kissick published this article in the NY Times a year ago, but I just came across it. It has an interesting idea that is worth a try:

A couple of years ago I was told a rumor about a notable artist who would break up everything she did, from making films in the day to running her studio in the afternoon to reading books in the evening, into intervals of 25 minutes, with five-minute breaks in between — 25 minutes on, five minutes off, over and over again. That’s how I first heard of the Pomodoro technique. Invented by Francesco Cirillo, a student at Rome’s Luiss Business School in the late 1980s, it’s a time-management method that takes its name from the tomato-shaped kitchen timer he used to regulate its core process, breaking the day into brief intervals. Before long I was trying it for myself, and now I start my first pomodoro as soon as my coffee’s ready in the morning.

Daily schedules, and our shared perception of time, grew hazier and more malleable during the spring lockdown, something that has persisted into our timid reopening. Hours, days and weeks merged into an ambient, dreamlike fugue. My bowl of cereal with milk slid from 2 to 3 to 4 in the afternoon. I’m writing this at 11:03 p.m. on a Thursday while drinking what I consider my afternoon coffee. There are four minutes and 13 seconds left of my pomodoro.

A pomodoro, once started, must not be interrupted, otherwise it has to be abandoned. But in this stringency, there is relief: You are not allowed to extend a pomodoro, either. After a set of four 25-minute intervals are completed, you’re supposed to take a longer break of 15 to 30 minutes before continuing. Those are the basic rules of Pomodoro technique. It tells us when to start, and also when to stop; and now, more than ever, we have to be told when to stop.

An unquestioned assumption in our culture holds that the more hours spent on work — whether a passion project or office drudgery — the better we’ll perform and the more successful and happier we’ll be. What if none of that’s true? What if it’s better to spend less time on things?

We waste hours keeping on going when our concentration’s long gone, caught in drowsy, drawn-out moments staring glumly at a screen, and not only when we’re supposed to be doing our jobs. Leisure time has also taken on a timeless, hypnotic quality lately. Everything our culture produces feels at once never-ending and meaningless — or perhaps meaningless because it’s never-ending. Movies explode into cinematic universes; series are designed to be binge-watched; every video, song or podcast tips over and auto-plays another; social media scrolls toward infinity and the news never stops broadcasting. An everlasting present expands around us in all directions, and it’s easy to get lost in there — all the more reason to set some boundaries.

Now that my breaks are short and fleeting, I think more carefully about what I’d like to do with them, and I’ve found it’s quite different from the unimaginative temptations I would otherwise default to (flopping on the sofa, scrolling on my phone, becoming annoyed). Instead I’ll make a sandwich, do a quick French lesson, reply to a few texts, have a shower, go to the laundromat; and such humdrum activities, now that they’re restricted, have become sources of great pleasure.

During lockdown, we were encouraged not to feel pressured into being productive. My alternative approach was to descend into a pomodoro-fueled delirium of work, creativity, household chores, tasks I’ve been avoiding for years, self-betterment and random undertakings from morning to night. I’ve found that tackling a range of tasks in short bursts keeps things interesting and provides a more rounded life. Variety is the sugar that helps the medicine go down; not the mirage of variety conjured by infinite scrolling content, by nearly a hundred different flavors of Oreos, but the genuine variety of pursuing different sorts of interests every day.

Last summer I took  . . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

He concludes:

. . .The Pomodoro technique showed me how much of my experience of reality is tied up with my subjective perception of it. And it’s not an exaggeration to say that, by changing my relationship with and appreciation of time, the technique has brought me to some profound existential questions about whether I’m wasting my life — my fragile, fleeting life — on activities I neither care about nor enjoy. It has forced me to think about what I’d most like to be doing every day instead. It has made me see time afresh — as something we really don’t have enough of, as something precious precisely because it’s ephemeral.

Written by Leisureguy

18 June 2021 at 5:06 pm

Democracy Is Surprisingly Easy to Undermine

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I wonder whether effective teaching of critical thinking skills, beginning in the earliest grades (see the CoRT program for an example) would help by making people less easily swayed by spurious arguments.

Anne Applebaum writes in the Atlantic:

Here’s a quiz: Which world leader made the following statements?

We are witnessing the greatest election fraud in the history of the country, in my opinion in the history of any democracy.”

This may be the most important speech I’ve ever made. I want to provide an update on our ongoing efforts to expose … tremendous voter fraud and irregularities.”

“The election will be flipped, dear friends.”

If you guessed Donald Trump, you are only one-third right. The first statement was made by Benjamin Netanyahu, the former Israeli prime minister, soon after his opponents formed a parliamentary coalition to oust him. He has since grudgingly made way for a new prime minister, Naftali Bennett, but he hasn’t conceded that his loss was fair. The third statement came from Keiko Fujimori, a daughter of Alberto Fujimori, Peru’s former autocratic leader. She also just lost an election, but has not yet recognized the result. But yes, Trump did make the second statement. It comes from a speech he delivered on December 2, in which he detailed “tremendous voter fraud and irregularities” at great length. Although Trump stepped down, he has also yet to admit that he lost.

And he never will. Neither Netanyahu nor Fujimori is likely to concede either, and no wonder: In all three cases, the personal stakes are high. Trump is threatened by multiple lawsuits and potential business failure. Netanyahu has already been indicted for corruption and fraud. Fujimori previously spent a year in jail while awaiting trial for allegedly collecting illegal campaign contributions, and she could conceivably be sent back.

The political stakes are high too, because—at least to hear them talk—all of these leaders claim to believe that, in addition to what they might personally suffer, their nation will pay a huge price for their loss as well. Netanyahu, who had to be ushered to his seat on the opposition benches after losing the vote, calls the new government a “dangerous coalition of fraud and surrender,” and has vowed to “overthrow it very quickly.” Fujimori has described her leftist opponent’s victory as a mortal threat to Peru and a guarantee that the country will follow Venezuela into repression and poverty. Trump, of course, has never acknowledged that there is such a thing as legitimate opposition to himself at all. Even before the election took place, he made clear that unless he won, he would not recognize the result.

The consequences for democracy—democracy around the world, not just in America, Israel, or Peru—are higher still. Elections have been stolen before. Dictators have falsified results before. But losing candidates in established democracies do not normally seek to turn their supporters against the voting system itself, to discredit elections, to undermine the very idea of competitive politics. No modern U.S. president has done so. No postwar European democratic leader has tried it either. And there is a reason: At its core, Trump’s “Stop the Steal” campaign presents an existential challenge not to his opponents, but to democracy itself. If, by definition, your opponent’s victory can be obtained only through fraud, then how can any election be legitimate? If, by definition, your opponent’s victory represents the death of the nation, then why should any election be allowed to take place, ever? A few days ago, I asked Larry Diamond, a scholar of democracy at Stanford, if he could think of a precedent for Trump’s fraudulent, virulent, ongoing campaign against the November election result, and he could not. “I know of no instance of an advanced industrial democracy coming anywhere near this close to abandoning fundamental standards of electoral democracy,” he told me.

Maybe we should be surprised that it hasn’t happened more often. Democracy has alway been corruptible. Aristotle dismissed democracy because it was so likely to slide into tyranny; the Founding Fathers stuffed the Constitution with checks and balances for exactly that reason. Benjamin Franklin, when once asked what America would be, “a republic or a monarchy,” responded: “A republic, if you can keep it.” More recent politicians, including some rather surprising ones, have understood the fragility of democracy too. Richard Nixon, when advisers suggested that he contest the results of the incredibly tight 1960 presidential election, refused: “Our country can’t afford the agony of a constitutional crisis—and I damn well will not be a party to creating one just to become president or anything else.”

Democracy can’t function without a certain level of civic virtue, a modicum of consensus; at the very least, everybody has to agree to play by the rules. When that doesn’t happen, contested elections, violence, even civil war can result. For many decades now, Americans, like Israelis and many Europeans, have been spared those plagues. Unlike Franklin and Nixon, too many of us now take our system for granted. Few of us are mentally prepared for the highest offices of state to be occupied by people who do not play by the rules, are not suffused with civic virtue, and do not mind damaging the delicate democratic consensus if that’s what it takes to win.

For Americans, Israelis, and many others, the primary danger of “Stop the Steal” tactics lies precisely in their novelty: If you haven’t seen or experienced this kind of assault on the fundamental basis of democracy—if you’ve never encountered a politician who is actively seeking to undermine your trust in the electoral system, your belief that votes are counted correctly, your faith that your nation can survive a victory by the other side—then you might not recognize the hazard. The majority of Republican voters appear not to. Other than Representative Liz Cheney, Representative Adam Kinzinger, and a handful of other officials, even elected Republicans seem not to understand exactly how corrosive this form of politics might eventually become.

The secondary danger of these tactics is  . . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

Written by Leisureguy

18 June 2021 at 2:53 pm

The decay of American democracy is real

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From a column by Fareed Zakahria in the Washington Post:

“America is back,” Joe Biden kept repeating on his first trip abroad as president. It’s a fair description of what he accomplished — a restoration of the United States’ role as the country that can set the global agenda, encourage cooperation and deter malign behavior. So, American diplomacy is back — but is America? That’s a more complicated question.

The United States’ influence has always been built on a combination of power and purpose. Biden went into this trip with two significant achievements under his belt. First, he ramped up vaccinations so far and so fast that the United States is the first major country to enter a post-pandemic world. Second, he passed a massive relief bill that will ensure that the U.S. economy has a roaring recovery.

But prosperity alone is not enough to lead. President Donald Trump presided over a booming economy before the pandemic, yet polls showed that most leading nations neither respected him nor the United States under his leadership. . .

The Biden team has led by focusing on the big issues on which U.S. allies agree: strengthening ties among free countries, combating climate change, deterring Russian aggression in various forms, stepping up to the challenge from China. It was a far cry from the behavior of Trump, who reveled in denigrating NATO and its members.

The meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin was not a “superpower summit,” as some in the media described it. Russia is not a superpower. Its economy doesn’t even crack the top 10 and is in decline on many key measures. But the country, spanning 11 time zones, has one of the world’s largest arsenals of nuclear weapons, a robust military and a United Nations veto. Under Putin, it has been eager to play the role of spoiler on the international stage — annexing territory in Europe for the first time since 1945, engaging in cyberattacks on a massive scale, and pursuing and assassinating dissidents even if they live abroad.

Biden handled the meeting with his Russian counterpart with professionalism and skill, prompting Putin to call Biden “a very experienced” statesman and “a balanced, professional man” (in contrast to his recent comments about Trump being a “colorful individual” who made “impulse-based” decisions). Despite Trump’s fawning behavior toward Putin, Putin might recognize that it is better to have a calm and rational U.S. president than a mercurial and unpredictable showman. For its part, Washington’s goal toward Russia should not be ceaseless hostility but rather some kind of stable relationship in which problems can be discussed, negotiated and managed.

The biggest news out of the Biden-Putin meeting involves cyberspace. The problem of cyberattacks, cybercrime and ransomware has grown exponentially. And yet governments have appeared either unable or unwilling to do much about it. When North Korea launched a devastating cyberattack on Sony Pictures in 2014 to punish it for a movie satirizing Kim Jong Un, destroying 70 percent of the company’s computers, the U.S. government did little in response.

Biden has moved policy in this realm significantly forward, for the first time signaling that the United States would be willing to use its considerable cyber capacities to retaliate against a Russian attack.

 . . . In one fundamental way, things look worse now than in prior periods of crisis. After Watergate, many were surprised that the world looked up to the United States for facing and fixing its democratic failures. It was a sign of the country’s capacity to course-correct. But imagine if after that scandal, the Republican Party, instead of condemning Nixon, had embraced him slavishly, insisted that he did absolutely nothing wrong, settled into denial and obstructionism and proposed new laws to endorse Nixon’s most egregious conduct? Imagine if the only people purged by the party had been those who criticized Nixon?

The decay of American democracy is real. . .

Continue reading.

And see the next post.

Written by Leisureguy

18 June 2021 at 2:43 pm

Fleeing Venezuela

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Governments can go very bad, which is why the effort by Donald Trump to overthrow the election, an effort in which he has been aided and supported by many Republicans, is so worrisome. This article in Persuasion by Carlos Hernández shows the impact on an individual. The article begins:

It is easy to talk about the stakes in the fight between democracy and autocracy in abstract terms. Around the world, there is now a contest between freedom and tyranny, between the rule of law and the arbitrary exercise of naked power. But when dictators destroy democracy, this has a real and direct impact on millions of people. This harrowing account of fleeing Nicolás Maduro’s brutal regime, by the brave Carlos Hernández, gives a vivid description of what that impact looks like in Venezuela. We are proud to publish it. – Yascha


.
By Carlos Hernández

If I turn my head, I can see a thick cloud of dust trailing the motorbike. We’re far off-road, riding fast along on a wildcat dirt track through the bone-dry shrublands that make up the northern end of Venezuela’s 2,000-kilometer (1,300-mile) border with Colombia. The Caribbean Sea isn’t far, but you can’t see it from here. I’m hanging onto the little grill behind me for dear life as my “driver” pushes the bike hard toward the border.

I have a small bottle of hand sanitizer in my pocket. Nothing else. No money, no passport, no cellphone, no debit cards, no food, no water. Home—the once-industrial city of Puerto Ordaz, in Venezuela’s southeast—is some 1,300 kilometers behind me. My destination is about 950 kilometers ahead: Medellín, in the middle of Colombia. The sun is blazing overhead. I’m thirsty, hungry, and I’ve barely slept for two nights. I’m completely alone and utterly defenseless.

This part of the border is controlled by Colombia’s ELN guerrillas. They’re technically Marxist, but they seem to spend more time smuggling cocaine and fuel than overthrowing the bourgeoisie. The Venezuelan government calls itself Marxist, too, but also seems to spend more time dreaming up ways to make a buck than on anything like a revolution. They’re made for each other.

I know it’s not a safe route. But it’s safer than the alternative: the hardtop road, which is controlled by Venezuela’s viciously predatory military.

The bike comes up to a tiny adobe hut in the middle of the scrubland and we stop. Two little kids, both rake-thin, have laid a fallen tree trunk across the only passable bit of dirt track. It’s a “tollbooth,” and the umpteenth shakedown on my trip. With their short black hair and round faces, you can see that they’re Wayuus, the indigenous group that’s been living in these parts since before there was any such thing as a Colombia or a Venezuela, much less a border between them. The kids are barefoot. One wears black shorts, the other green ones.

The sun has sucked every last bit of moisture from the ground. It’s unbearably hot. The double face mask and my acute dehydration make even brief stops excruciating. The kids seem unfazed.

They say something to the bike driver in Wayuu, a language I don’t understand. He hands them a few Colombian peso coins. One kid lets out a small “hehe” as he looks at the coins, while the other goes running to drag the tree trunk away to open up the dirt track for us.

When I set off from Puerto Ordaz, two days earlier, I was prepared. I had my old national ID card (expired, but new ones take years to get issued), my Venezuelan passport, three different types of currency totaling almost $200, debit cards, face masks, hand gel, and food and water for the trip. By Venezuelan migrant standards, I was royalty.

Bit by bit, all but the COVID-related supplies got stolen.

I knew this could happen. I assumed it would. But I couldn’t stay in Puerto Ordaz. In 2014, after oil prices peaked, my country’s economy started shrinking, and it hasn’t really stopped. The basics of modern urban life have collapsed there, one after the other. There are power or data blackouts constantly, often multiple times a day, making my online freelancing gigs almost impossible to keep. Even when the internet works, it’s excruciatingly slow. There’s no public transport, sometimes there’s no cooking gas, and even the most basic of foods, like bananas, keep getting more and more expensive.

Water problems came close to driving me over the edge. The taps usually run dry, and the water that does come through the pipes is so dirty you can’t possibly drink it. So every other day, my morning routine there included heading out to buy bottles of drinking water to carry home. Sometimes there’s no water in the city at all, and all I can do is wait, thirsty, sweaty, in a house that smells like the toilet we can’t flush.

Probably what did it for me, though, was . . .

Continue reading. There’s MUCH more. And see the next post.

Written by Leisureguy

18 June 2021 at 2:19 pm

Facial Recognition Failures Are Locking People Out of Unemployment Systems

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Todd Feathers writes in Vice:

People around the country are furious after being denied their unemployment benefits due to apparent problems with facial recognition technology that claims to prevent fraud.

Unemployment recipients have been complaining for months about the identity verification service ID.me, which uses a combination of biometric information and official documents to confirm that applicants are who they claim to be. The complaints reached another crescendo this week after Axios published a “deep dive” article about the threat of unemployment fraud based on statistics provided to the outlet by ID.me.

Some unemployment applicants have said that ID.me’s facial recognition models fail to properly identify them (generally speaking, facial recognition technology is notoriously less accurate for women and people of color). And after their applications were put on hold because their identity couldn’t be verified, many should-be beneficiaries have had to wait days or weeks to reach an ID.me “trusted referee” who could confirm what the technology couldn’t.

On Twitter, there are dozens of complaints about ID.me per day, and local news articles all over the country have detailed the problem over the course of months. In California, 1.4 million unemployment beneficiary accounts were abruptly suspended on New Year’s Eve and the beneficiaries were required to re-verify their identity using ID.me, a process which many found difficult and resulted in them waiting for weeks to reactivate their accounts while they struggled to make ends meet.

In Colorado, benefit recipients who had no problem establishing their identity before ID.me took over were suddenly rejected and went months without receiving the payments they were eligible for.

The story is similar in FloridaNorth CarolinaPennsylvaniaArizona, and many other states.

ID.me CEO Blake Hall told Motherboard that the company’s facial recognition technology does one-to-one matching—comparing one face against a picture of that same face (from a driver’s license, say)—whereas other applications of facial recognition attempt to find a match for a face in a large dataset of faces, known as one-to-many matching.

“The algorithms used for Face Match operate ~99.9% efficacy,” Hall wrote in an email to Motherboard. “There is in fact no relationship between skin tone and Face Match failure on a 1:1 basis” according to a regression analysis the company performed.

That doesn’t mesh with the experiences being shared on Twitter by people like Tim Weaver, a gig economy worker in Las Vegas who was suddenly cut off from his unemployment benefits in late March after ID.me failed to identify him.

Weaver told Motherboard that when he attempted to pass ID.me’s facial recognition test he held a phone in front of him in the instructed position but “it rejected it, didn’t give us a reason, just rejected it. It rejected it three times, and then it locked me out of the system.”

Weaver said he attempted to contact the company’s customer support through its chat feature, which claims to provide assistance 24-hours a day, seven days a week. He tried numerous times at all hours of the day. He tried contacting the state of Nevada for help, but the employees there directed him back to ID.me.

This went on for several weeks, Weaver said, until he tweeted a scathing criticism of the company, which then reached out and—after several more frustrating days—verified Weaver’s identity.

Weaver went for three weeks without receiving his benefit. “I couldn’t pay bills,” he said. “Luckily I had enough food saved up so I didn’t have to worry about that. It’s just ridiculous.”

In his statement to Motherboard, Hall said that facial recognition failures are not a problem with the technology but with  . . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

This is bad, and the company is taking no responsibility. Welcome to dystopia.

Written by Leisureguy

18 June 2021 at 1:13 pm

U.S. workers are among the most stressed in the world, new Gallup report finds

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The finding is not all that surprising, given (a) the adversarial relationship most companies have with their employees and (b) the finance sector’s encouragement of that aversarial relaationship — for example, Wall Street constantly pressures Costco to cut employee wages.

Jennifer Liu writes in CNBC MakeIt:

U.S. workers are some of the most stressed employees in the world, according to Gallup’s latest State of the Global Workplace report, which captures how people are feeling about work and life in the past year.

U.S. and Canadian workers, whose survey data are combined in Gallup’s research, ranked highest for daily stress levels of all groups surveyed. Some 57% of U.S. and Canadian workers reported feeling stress on a daily basis, up by eight percentage points from the year prior and compared with 43% of people who feel that way globally, according to Gallup’s 2021 report.

This spike isn’t surprising to Jim Harter, Gallup’s chief workplace scientist, who tells CNBC Make It that rates of daily stress, worry, sadness and anger have been trending upward for American workers since 2009. Concerns over the virus, sickness, financial insecurity and racial trauma all contributed to added stress during the pandemic.

But stress spikes were especially acute for women in the last year: 62% of working women in the U.S. and Canada reported daily feelings of stress compared with 52% of men, showing the lasting impact of gendered expectations for caregiving in the household, ongoing child-care challenges and women’s overrepresentation in low-wage service jobs most disrupted by the pandemic. By contrast, the daily stress levels for women in Western Europe went down in the last year, which researchers attribute to social safety nets for parents and workers to prevent unemployment.

And while employee engagement dipped in the rest of the world, it rose to 34% in the U.S. The correlation of higher engagement but also higher stress can result in burnout and mental health challenges and indicates “the intersection of work and life needs some work,” Harter says.

Young people expect their workplace to improve their overall well-being

These sentiments come at a time when younger generations expect their workplaces to provide more value than just a paycheck, Harter says, drawing on previous Gallup research. And in turn, he says organizations have a responsibility to help improve employee well-being if they want to support a resilient workforce; improve learning and performance; and attract top talent.

He points to five elements workplaces can focus on to improve employee engagement and help individuals thrive: career well-being, social well-being, financial well-being, physical well-being and community.

Stress in any one of these areas, such as financial stress due to inequitable pay, or community stress due to an unsafe work environment, can negatively impact a worker’s mental health.

Leaders can do an audit, like through surveys and focus groups, to see if any of their company policies, structures, communications or programs negatively impact their employees’ overall well-being. And when leaders introduce new programs or benefits, Harter says, leaders should connect the value of them to “those five elements, so people understand why you’re providing various benefits, and why you’re trying to provide an overall culture of thriving.”

Who plays the biggest role in employee well-being

It’s crucial CEOs communicate this priority from the top, Harter says, but managers play the biggest role in actually helping improve worker well-being throughout all levels of an organization.

“The most important thing employers can do is to . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

18 June 2021 at 12:07 pm

Influence: A Go-inspired game

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You can play against an AI (or watch it play itself) or play against another player. Simple rules:

Players take turns to select and color a tile. At the end of a turn, each tile will influence its neighbors by imparting some of its color.

If a tile gains enough color to pass the threshold, it can no longer be selected and will have a dark border. Conversely, a tile can lose its dark border and become selectable if it loses enough color.

The game ends when all tiles pass the color threshold. The player with the most colored tiles wins!

AI

Change the difficulty or color of the AI player in the settings menu. To play against a friend, simply disable the AI for both colors.

Give it a go.

Written by Leisureguy

18 June 2021 at 11:54 am

Posted in Games

Catholic bishops back creation of document that some hope will limit Biden’s participation in Communion

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I don’t recall Catholic bishops being so vigorously active and outraged when the issue was merely priests (and bishops) raping children. Apparently, they view pedophilia more kindly than allowing non-Catholic women to make their own medical decisions. (It is obvious to most, I would think, that President Biden has never had an abortion nor does he want to require women to have abortions. His position is only that a woman should decide for herself, in consultation with her doctor, whether to have an abortion or not. Catholic bishops do not condone non-Catholic women having a free choice in the matter. The bishops believe that they themselves are uniquely qualified to decide (not on moral grounds — the bishops’ defense of pedophiles within the church showed that they do not tread on such grounds — but on the grounds of having power: might makes right is the principle at hand).

In fairness, the bishops also strongly oppose protecting LGBTQ people.

This earlier post is highly relevant.

Michelle Boorstein reports in the Washington Post:

Catholic bishops Friday voted to create guidelines on the meaning of communion, a move that could be an early step towards limiting the serving of the eucharist to President Biden and other politicians who support abortion rights.

The vote came after a 3 ½ hour emotional discussion Thursday at the annual spring meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Multiple bishops clashed over how, or if, they should single out the church’s teaching on abortion.

The vote on whether to create a draft document about the meaning of the Eucharist, the bread-and-wine rite at the heart of Communion, needed a simple majority. The measure passed 168-55 with 6 abstentions.

The presidency of the country’s second Catholic president is revealing deep divisions among U.S. bishops, and one after another appeared Thursday at their annual meeting to say their fraternity is now at a crossroads .

Embedded in the organization’s agenda this week were explosive, profound differences about theology, pastoring, human nature and a political backdrop that set off a rare public show of division among the bishops . One bishop said the men were meeting at a time of “historic opportunity.” Another said he could not recall a moment like this in 30 years. Yet another said the bishops’ discussion was the most robust discussion in a decade.

Each side said the other was jeopardizing the church’s reputation. Normally, the men meet for three days each June in a huge Baltimore ballroom, but this year (like last year) they were spread across the country, addressing one another virtually.

“Our credibility is on the line. … The eyes of the whole country are on us. If we don’t act courageously, clearly and convincingly on this core Catholic value, how can we expect to be taken seriously on another matter?” asked San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone. He was among the members who urged the creation of the document, an idea that grew from Biden’s election in November and concern about the image of him receiving Communion at Mass each week.

But San Diego Archbishop Robert McElroy said the threat was the vote — which would link a politician, their policy position and the Eucharist, considered the heart of Catholic worship.

“The Eucharist itself will be a tool in vicious partisan turmoil. It will be impossible to prevent its weaponization, even if everyone wants to do so,” he said. “Once we legitimize public-policy-based exclusion … we’ll invite all political animosity into the heart of the Eucharistic celebration.”

A document that so elevates the sinfulness of an abortion policy — not a personal viewpoint, as Biden says he personally accepts the church’s teaching on the topic — McElroy argued, would fatally undermine the bishops’ ability to speak on other things, “including the condemnation of poverty, racism and environmental destruction.”

The bishops spoke emotionally about their desire to be unified, and how much they all treasure the Eucharist, which Catholicism teaches brings God to worshipers who have prepared by examining their sins, confessing periodically and fasting. Yet their appearances raised starkly different perspectives. Does a good Catholic priest focus on sin and repentance or first inclusion? Elevate abortion above everything else or not? Is it a priest’s job to assess policy solutions to a sin or stick to teaching theology?

The bishops have talked for several years about reviving interest in the sacrament of the Eucharist. But when Biden was elected last fall, the USCCB created a working group to deal with what its president, Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez, said was the “problem” of Biden and his policies on abortion and LGBTQ protections. That working group recommended that the conference produce a document on “Eucharistic consistency.” Some bishops immediately expressed concerns about the aims of such a group; others celebrated it.

Biden, while he attends Mass weekly, has not spoken much since taking office about his faith and how it impacts his policy views, including on abortion. The White House . . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

Someone should explain to the Catholic bishops that the US is a secular nation, not a theocracy, and while religions — many religions, including some inconsistent with the Catholic faith — are protected, they do not rule, and is not a good idea for one religion to impose its rules on those who do not follow that religion.

Written by Leisureguy

18 June 2021 at 10:37 am

Disparate responses from disparate experience

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There’s an old saw that goes, “If you can keep your head when everyone around you is losing his, then you probably don’t understand the situation.” For example:

In the previous post (on my morning shave) I gave a  low-voltage example of this sort of error, which was my dismissing the practice of “blooming” the shaving soap because, when I tried it, it did nothing — blooming the soap or not made no difference. But I was limited by my experience (shaving with soft water) and did not understand what those who had to use hard water experienced.

That dissonance in that case is relatively mild, but in other situations a lack of insight due to (a) lack of experience and (b) not truly listening, can be devastating. The NY Times recently had a book review by Janice Nimura that discusses a disgraceful history of one long-running example of this type of error. She writes:

UNWELL WOMEN
Misdiagnosis and Myth in a Man-Made World
By Elinor Cleghorn

In order to recognize illness, you have to know what health looks like — what’s normal, and what’s not. Until recently, medical research generally calibrated “normal” on a trim white male. Such a patient, arriving in an emergency room clutching his chest as they do in the movies — and in the textbooks — would be immediately evaluated for a heart attack. But heart disease in women, inconveniently, doesn’t always come with chest pain. A woman reporting dizziness, nausea and heart-pounding breathlessness in that same E.R. might be sent home with instructions to relax, her distress dismissed as emotional rather than cardiac.

Heart disease has clear markers and proven diagnostic tools. When a woman’s symptoms are less legible or quantifiable — fatigue, vertigo, chronic pain — the tendency to be dismissive grows. In “Unwell Women,” the British scholar Elinor Cleghorn makes the insidious impact of gender bias on women’s health starkly and appallingly explicit: “Medicine has insisted on pathologizing ‘femaleness,’ and by extension womanhood.”

Cleghorn, framing her argument in terms of Western medicine, starts with Hippocrates, the Greek physician of antiquity who refocused medical science on the imbalances of the body rather than the will of the gods. Hippocrates understood that women’s bodies were different from those of men, but in his view, and for millenniums to come, those differences could be reduced to a single organ: the uterus. A woman’s purpose was to procreate; if she wasn’t well, it was probably her womb that was to blame. One Roman writer described the uterus as “an animal within an animal,” with its own appetites and the capacity to wander through the body in search of satisfaction. Most female afflictions could be reduced to “hysteria,” from the Greek word for womb. “The theory that out-of-work wombs made women mad and sad was as old as medicine itself,” Cleghorn notes. The standard cure was marriage and motherhood. As Hippocratic medicine was refracted through the lens of Christianity, the female anatomy was additionally burdened with the weight of original sin.

Moving steadily through the centuries, Cleghorn lays out the vicious circles of women’s health. Taught that their anatomy was a source of shame, women remained in ignorance of their own bodies, unable to identify or articulate their symptoms and therefore powerless to contradict a male medical establishment that wasn’t listening anyway. Menstruation and menopause were — and often still are — understood as illness rather than aspects of health; a woman’s constitution, thus compromised, could hardly sustain the effort required for scholarship or professional life. A woman with the means and the talents to contemplate such ambitions soon bumped up against the rigid shell of the domestic sphere. Her frustration and despair could cause physical symptoms, which her doctor would then chalk up to her unnatural aspirations. Conversely, a perfectly healthy woman who agitated for radical change — a suffragist, say — was clearly suffering from “hysteric morbidity.”

Though hormones eventually replaced wandering wombs as central to understanding women’s health, “old ideas about women’s bodies being naturally defective and deficient still pulsed through endocrinological theories,” Cleghorn writes. The marketing for early forms of hormone replacement therapy to relieve the discomforts of menopause was often directed at men. One horrifying magazine ad showed a radiant older woman laughing alongside male companions, with the tagline “Help Keep Her This Way.” Was hormone replacement therapy a way of liberating women from their reproductive biology, or keeping them cheerful for their husbands? And, as questions grew about estrogen and cancer, at what cost?

The intersection of class and race complicates things further. As early as 1847, the Scottish physician James Young Simpson argued in favor of anesthesia during labor and delivery, contradicting the age-old belief that the pain of birth was part of God’s judgment. (To this day, women who opt for an epidural instead of “natural childbirth” can feel a nagging sense of failure.) But even liberal-minded men like Simpson believed that what he called the “civilized female” needed his revolutionary innovation more than her less privileged sisters. Black women were thought to be less sensitive to pain and working-class women were considered hardier in general; certainly no one worried about whether these women could work while menstruating.

Each scientific advance came with its own shadow. Margaret Sanger may have  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

18 June 2021 at 9:34 am

Love Bombs and a note on blooming

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This morning I went for a CK-6 soap, Love Bombs, apparently a one-off and at any rate no longer available. I like the fragrance:

Dark Chocolate, Rose, Rosewood, Bergamot, Tea, Orange, Lemon, Black Pepper, Ginger, Palo Santo, Vetiver, Cedar, Tobacco, and Rose Absolute.

Mr Pomp, the name of the brush with the striped polo handle, easily aroused the lather — in part because the water here is extremely soft.

Some men make it a practice to put a little water on a puck of shaving soap and leave it there (while they shower, for example) to “bloom” the soap to make it easier to load the brush. I have tried this myself and could never detect any benefit at all: unbloomed soap loaded as readily for me as bloomed soap. So I dismissed the practice, which I now see as an error caused by the limitations of my own experience — for by chance I have always shaved with soft water. When I lived in a hard-water area, I had a water softener, and when I resumed wet-shaving I lived in a soft-water area. I have always had soft water when I loaded the brush, and thus I had no experience with the challenge of loading the brush when the water is hard. It seems likely to me that the practice of blooming soap does offer a benefit when your tap water is hard. Try it and see whether it makes a difference for you. In the meantime, again living in a soft-water area, I will skip that step.

Well-prepped (Grooming Dept Moisturizing Pre-Shave) and well-lathered, I set to work with my RazoRock Old Type, a wonderful razor that is extremely comfortable while also being highly efficient. Three passes left my face totally smooth and ready for a good splash of Love Bomb.

Written by Leisureguy

18 June 2021 at 9:13 am

Posted in Shaving

The point of “Black Lives Matter”

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17 June 2021 at 8:38 pm

Artistic Swimming Olympic Games Qualification Tournament 2021 — US team

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17 June 2021 at 6:45 pm

Posted in Daily life, Video

Small tempeh-chili delight

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What was left after the first bowl was taken: enough for a second bowl.

I wanted to make just a small batch of tempeh chili, but I didn’t realize how tasty it would be. Once I had the first bowl, I had to have the rest, and anything this good deserves a post.

A 5-ounce block of tempeh

I wanted to make chili because this batch of tempeh is so good. Partly that’s because of the ingredients (black beans and black rice) and partly, I think, because I let it go for four days — plus, of course, all the things I learned and made (many previous batches and two tempeh incubators). It seems just right for chili because a) ingredients and b) nice chewy texture and good stick-togetherness. (The square grid of dots you’ll see if you enlarge the photo at the right are the result of the perforations in the Ziploc fresh-produce bag I used.)

I used my little 8″ nonstick skillet (not cast iron, since I would be simmering tomatoes). It has a lid, which I used for the simmering part.

Recall that my recipes are descriptions of what I did, not what you necessarily should do. You know your tastes.

Small tempeh-chili delight

Put into the skillet:

• 1.5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (and make sure it’s true EVOO)
• 1 1/2 bunches scallions, chopped (including leaves, of course)
• 4 dried chipotles, cut into pieces with kitchen shears
• pinch of salt

I chose scallions over red onions because I wanted the leaves in there — the leaves are why scallions are more nutritious than storage onions. You could use half a small can of chipotles en adobo in place of dried chipotles; dried chipotles is what I happened to have. In either case, in adobo or dried, cut them up with scissors.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until the scallions have wilted and are starting to turn transparent. I did this at 2 or 3 on the induction burner. Add:

• 7 cloves garlic, chopped small and allowed to rest
• 1/4 cup cooked kamut
• 4-5 oz tempeh, diced to bite size — I halved the 5-oz slab shown above to make two thin slabs and diced those

After that cooks for a couple of minutes, add:

• 10-12 mini-San-Marzano tomatoes or about 16-18 cherry tomatoes, sliced thinly
• about 1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
• about 1 teaspoon ground ancho chile or smoked paprika (or chimayo chile powder)
• about 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• about 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

After the tomatoes were cooked enough to start breaking up, I added:

• 1 can Ro•Tel Original
• about 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses (must be blackstrap molasses)
• 1 teaspoon instant coffee (Folger’s, as it happens)
• 1 small square baking chocolate [I actually forgot this, but it should be there]
• about 1 tablespoon tomato paste if you have a tube of it (not worth opening a can)
• dash of liquid smoke (optional, but I like it)

Cover at simmer at 200ºF for 15-20 minutes. I serve a bowl topped with:

• 1 teaspoon Bragg’s nutritional yeast

Man, it’s good! The tempeh really is chewy, like pork. I assume its the mycelium that provides that.

Update: The next batch I made, following the same general recipe as above, was even better, in part because I cut the tempeh into larger pieces. I used chimayo chile powder this time.

 

Written by Leisureguy

17 June 2021 at 6:16 pm

Climate Change Batters the West Before Summer Even Begins

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And still there are people who deny that it’s happening and fight against efforts to combat it.  Brad Plumer, Jack Healy, Winston Choi-Schagrin, and Henry Fountain report in the NY Times:

A heat dome is baking Arizona and Nevada, where temperatures have soared past 115 degrees this week and doctors are warning that people can get third-degree burns from the sizzling asphalt.

At Lake Mead, which supplies water for 25 million people in three southwestern states and Mexico, water levels have plunged to their lowest point since the reservoir was filled in the 1930s. In California, farmers are abandoning their thirstiest crops to save others, and communities are debating whether to ration tap water.

In Texas, electricity grids are under strain as residents crank their air-conditioners, with utilities begging customers to turn off appliances to help avert blackouts. In Arizona, Montana and Utah, wildfires are blazing.

And it’s not even summer yet.

“We’re still a long way out from the peak of the wildfire season and the peak of the dry season,” said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles. “Things are likely to get worse before they get better.”

Global warming, driven by the burning of fossil fuels, has been heating up and drying out the American West for years. Now the region is broiling under a combination of a drought that is the worst in two decades and a record-breaking heat wave.

“The Southwest is getting hammered by climate change harder than almost any other part of the country, apart from perhaps coastal cities,” said Jonathan Overpeck, a climate scientist at the University of Michigan. “And as bad as it might seem today, this is about as good as it’s going to get if we don’t get global warming under control.”

With temperatures expected to keep rising as nations struggle to rein in their planet-warming emissions, the Western United States will need to take difficult and costly measures to adapt. That includes redesigning cities to endure punishing heat, conserving water, and engineering grids that don’t fail during extreme weather.

This month has offered glimpses of whether states and cities are up to that task and has shown they still have far to go.

From Montana to Southern California, much of the West is suffering from unusually high temperatures. Some 50 million Americans face heat-related warnings. Records have been tied or broken in places like Palm SpringsSalt Lake City and Billings, Montana.

As 115-degree temperatures cooked Phoenix’s Roosevelt Row Arts District on Tuesday, Timothy Medina, 58, was perched on a black metal platform 12 feet above the sidewalk, finishing the blue lettering of a sign for a coffee shop. “It’s brutal — that heat against the wall,” he said. “Let me take a quick swig of water.”

Construction workers, landscapers and outdoor painters like Mr. Medina have few options but to bear the heat. He wore jeans to avoid burning his skin, along with a long sleeve fluorescent yellow shirt and a $2 woven hat. But soon the heat was winning.

“I start feeling out of breath, fatigued,” he said.

Extreme heat is the clearest signal of global warming, and the most deadly. Last year heat killed at least 323 people in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, a record by far. . .

Continue reading. There is a lot more, and many photographs.

And from here on, it’s going to get worse. What we’re seeing now is mild compared to what’s coming. But inaction seems attractive to most. An article by Catherine Garcia in Yahoo News, “NASA: Earth is trapping ‘unprecedented’ amount of heat, warming ‘faster than expected’,” spells it out. From the article:

Since 2005, the amount of heat trapped by the Earth has roughly doubled, according to a new study by NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration researchers.

This is contributing to warming oceans, air, and land, the scientists write in the study, published this week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. “The magnitude of the increase is unprecedented,” NASA scientist and lead author of the study Norman Loeb told The Washington Post. “The Earth is warming faster than expected.”

Using satellite data, the researchers measured the planet’s energy imbalance, which is the difference between how much energy the planet absorbs from the sun and how much is radiated back into space. If there is a positive imbalance, the Earth is absorbing more heat than it is losing; in 2005, there was a positive imbalance of about half a watt per square meter of energy from the sun, and in 2019, the positive imbalance was one watt per square meter, the Post reports.

“It is a massive amount of energy,” NOAA oceanographer Gregory Johnson, a co-author of the study, told the Post, adding that this energy increase is equivalent to everyone on Earth using 20 electric tea kettles at the same time. The team needs to . . .

Written by Leisureguy

17 June 2021 at 5:19 pm

Cool time-lapse video of a picturesque Austrian village

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Written by Leisureguy

17 June 2021 at 4:24 pm

Posted in Daily life, Video

Florida Pol Threatens to Put ‘Hit Squad’ on Rival Congressional Candidate

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Guess that politician’s political party. (One guess only, please.)

Benjamin Hart reports in New York:

An obscure Florida Republican congressional candidate was heard on a recording claiming that he could send a “hit squad” after a leading GOP candidate in the race.

Politico reports that William Braddock, a 37-year-old lawyer, made the comments about Anna Paulina Luna, who is running for a vacant seat in Florida’s 13th District. Braddock was speaking with Erin Olszewski, a conservative activist who was so alarmed by the conversation that she turned it over to the police.

“I really don’t want to have to end anybody’s life for the good of the people of the United States of America,” Braddock said, according to Politico.
“That will break my heart. But if it needs to be done, it needs to be done. Luna is a f—ing speed bump in the road. She’s a dead squirrel you run over every day when you leave the neighborhood.”

Later, Braddock said that to make sure Luna didn’t win the race, he would “call up my Russian and Ukrainian hit squad, and within 24 hours, they’re sending me pictures of her disappearing,” adding that he wasn’t joking.

Asked by Politico whether it was him on the recording, Braddock dissembled, and claimed the tape may have been altered.

On Wednesday, the Tampa Bay Times reported that Luna had obtained a stalking injunction against Braddock, who she claims is working with two other political adversaries to kill her. One of them, Amanda Makki, ran against Luna in a primary for the same congressional seat last year.

“I received information yesterday (at midnight) regarding a plan (with a timeline) to murder me made by William Braddock in an effort to prevent me from winning the election for FL-13,” she wrote.

Luna claimed that . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

17 June 2021 at 4:05 pm

Phone Network Encryption Was Deliberately Weakened

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Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai writes in Vice:

A weakness in the algorithm used to encrypt cellphone data in the 1990s and 2000s allowed hackers to spy on some internet traffic, according to a new research paper.

The paper has sent shockwaves through the encryption community because of what it implies: The researchers believe that the mathematical probability of the weakness being introduced on accident is extremely low. Thus, they speculate that a weakness was intentionally put into the algorithm. After the paper was published, the group that designed the algorithm confirmed this was the case.

Researchers from several universities in Europe found that the encryption algorithm GEA-1, which was used in cellphones when the industry adopted GPRS standards in 2G networks, was intentionally designed to include a weakness that at least one cryptography expert sees as a backdoor. The researchers said they obtained two encryption algorithms, GEA-1 and GEA-2, which are proprietary and thus not public, “from a source.” They then analyzed them and realized they were vulnerable to attacks that allowed for decryption of all traffic.

When trying to reverse-engineer the algorithm, the researchers wrote that (to simplify), they tried to design a similar encryption algorithm using a random number generator often used in cryptography and never came close to creating an encryption scheme as weak as the one actually used: “In a million tries we never even got close to such a weak instance,” they wrote. “This implies that the weakness in GEA-1 is unlikely to occur by chance, indicating that the security level of 40 bits is due to export regulations.”

Researchers dubbed the attack “divide-and-conquer,” and said it was “rather straightforward.” In short, the attack allows someone who can intercept cellphone data traffic to recover the key used to encrypt the data and then decrypt all traffic. The weakness in GEA-1, the oldest algorithm developed in 1998, is that it provides only 40-bit security. That’s what allows an attacker to get the key and decrypt all traffic, according to the researchers.

A spokesperson for the organization that designed the GEA-1 algorithm, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), admitted that the algorithm contained a weakness, but said it was introduced because the export regulations at the time did not allow for stronger encryption.

“We followed regulations: we followed export control regulations that limited the strength of GEA-1,” a spokesperson for ETSI told Motherboard in an email. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

17 June 2021 at 3:36 pm

Edward de Bono has passed away

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Edward de Bono looms large in my legend. He is among the authors in my list of books I find myself repeatedly recommending. The specific book I mention is Po: Beyond Yes and No, but he wrote many books, and I read a substantial number of them and did my best to apply what I learned from them.

He also established a foundation, CoRT (Cognitive Research Trust), which publishes an excellent set of materials to teach critical thinking skills to young children, a program that I wish would be universally adopted. (I doubt it will be. Children who learn critical thinking skills will start using their skills, to the dismay of parents who do not welcome questioning, thought, or dialogue.)

Stuart Jeffries writes de Bono’s obituary in the Guardian:

The thinker and writer Edward de Bono, who has died aged 88, once suggested that the Arab-Israeli conflict might be solved with Marmite. During a 1999 lecture to Foreign Office officials, the originator of the term lateral thinking argued that the yeast extract, though proverbially socially divisive, could do what politicians and diplomats had failed for years to achieve. The problem, as he saw it, was that people in the Middle East eat unleavened bread and so lack zinc, which makes them irritable and belligerent. Feeding them Marmite, therefore, would help create peace.

Through his 60-plus books, including The Mechanism of Mind (1969), Six Thinking Hats (1985), How to Have A Beautiful Mind (2004) and Think! Before It’s Too Late (2009) [I’ve added links to inexpensive secondhand copies of the books. – LG], as well as seminars, training courses and a BBC television series, De Bono sought to free us from the tyranny of logic through creative thinking. “What happened was, 2,400 years ago, the Greek Gang of Three, by whom I mean Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates, started to think based on analysis, judgment, and knowledge,” he said. “At the same time, church people, who ran the schools and universities, wanted logic to prove the heretics wrong. As a result, design and perceptual thinking was never developed.”

De Bono’s revolution began in 1967 with his book The Use of Lateral Thinking. Imagine, he said, that a money lender claims a merchant’s daughter in lieu of her father’s debt. The merchant and daughter concoct a compromise. The money lender will put a black stone in one bag and in the other, a white. If the daughter chooses the black stone, she will be doomed to marry the money lender and the debt cancelled; if the white she will stay with her father and the debt be cancelled. But as the trio stand on a pebble-strewn path, she notices the money lender putting a black stone in each bag. What should she do to avoid a nightmarish fate?

This is where lateral thinking – ie, employing unorthodox means to solve a problem – comes in. De Bono suggested the daughter should pick either bag, but fumble and drop her stone on to the path. “Since the remaining pebble is of course black, it must be assumed she picked the white pebble, since the money lender dare not admit his dishonesty.”

What De Bono called vertical thinking, typified by logic, would be useless in reaching this elegant solution. It is lateral thinking that creates new ideas – Einstein and Darwin, according to De Bono, were lateral thinkers. “Studies have shown that 90% of error in thinking is due to error in perception. If you can change your perception, you can change your emotion [a point stressed by Stephen Covey in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People — see this brief outline. – LG] and this can lead to new ideas. Logic will never change emotion or perception.”

De Bono believed humour was one of the most significant characteristics of the human mind, precisely for its basis in shifting perceptions. “Let me tell you a joke,” he said. “An old man dies and goes to hell. When he gets there, he sees his friend, a 90-year-old man, with a beautiful woman sitting on his knee. He says to his friend, ‘This can’t be hell, you’re not being punished, you’re having fun!’, to which his friend replies, ‘This is punishment – for her!’”

His most trenchant thinking concerned children’s education. “Schools waste two-thirds of the talent in society. The universities sterilise the rest,” he said. The Maltese thinker was particularly scathing of Britain, where, he claimed, rigid thinking and an obsession with testing led to many children leaving school “believing they are stupid. They are not stupid at all, many are good thinkers who have never had the chance to show it. But that lack of confidence will pervade the rest of their lives.”

Rather than teaching children to absorb information and repeat it, he argued, schools should equip them to think creatively. He once did a study in which he asked children to design a sleep machine, an elephant-weighing machine, a system for constructing a house and a system for building a rocket. His 1972 book Children Solve Problems described the results.

In Six Thinking Hats, De Bono suggested that business meetings might be more efficient if attendees wore imaginary colour-coded hats. The black hat signified negative or realistic thoughts; white, information; red, emotion; blue, management; green, creativity; and yellow, optimism. Everyone in the meeting would figuratively place a coloured hat on their heads. This way, he claimed, “ego would be taken out of the situation”.

The method found its devotees. Motorola, IBM, and Boeing reported cutting meeting times by half by applying it. De Bono reported that one of his clients, Ron Barbaro of Prudential Insurance, said that after suggesting an idea that executives might counter was too risky, “he would say: ‘Yes, that’s fine black hat thinking. Now let’s try the yellow hat.’”

De Bono was convinced about its importance. “The Six Thinking Hats method may well be the most important change in human thinking for the past 2,300 years,” he wrote in the preface to the book.

Certainly, he was rarely burdened with humility, informing the world that his childhood nickname was “Genius”. By contrast, he did not suffer detractors gladly. Years after a stinking review of Six Thinking Hats appeared in the Independent, written by Adam Mars-Jones, De Bono told the Guardian: “That book, we know, has saved $40m dollars and tens of thousands of man-hours. Now, some silly little idiot, trying to be clever, compared to the actual results, that just makes him look like a fool.”

Mars-Jones retorted that when his review appeared, De Bono “wrote to the editor [saying] … that he was entitled to compensation for the loss of earnings which my comments had inflicted on his lecture tours (which he assessed at £200,000). He seemed less taken with my proposal that he pay a dividend to every journalist who, by taking him seriously, had inflated his earning power.”

Born in Saint Julian’s Bay, Malta, Edward was the son of Joseph de Bono, a physician, and Josephine (nee O’Byrne), an Irish journalist. He went to St Edward’s college in Malta and jumped classes twice. “I was always three or four years younger than anyone else in my class.”

He qualified as a doctor at the Royal University of Malta before going to Christ Church, Oxford, as a Rhodes scholar to study for a master’s in psychology and physiology (1957), and a DPhil in medicine (1961). There, he represented the university in both polo and rowing, and set two canoeing records, one for paddling 112 miles from Oxford to London nonstop.

Following graduation he worked at Oxford as a . . .

Continue reading. An amazing manwith many good ideas.

Written by Leisureguy

17 June 2021 at 3:26 pm

To ban teaching about systemic racism is a perfect example of systemic racism

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I am indebted to The Eldest for pointing out the nice recursion of the title. Someone then commented about a video of a teacher who totally understands teenagers:

Teacher: I’m not allowed to teach you about critical race theory.

Class: What’s that?

Teacher: I’m not allowed to tell you.

Class: What?? Not fair! (Then they all looked it up in Wikipedia.)

Chris Argyris in his (excellent) books on management theory and what distinguishes a learning organization from one that resists learning. One difference, of course, is success vs. failure over the long term, but also organizations that resist learning typically have double-layer taboos on some topics within the organization: not only can you not talk about X, you also cannot talk about not talking about X. It will be interesting to see whether the Right is so far gone they will prohibit teachers from explaining why they cannot teach critical race theory. (My guess is that the Right is indeed so far gone — and even farther.)

Written by Leisureguy

17 June 2021 at 2:25 pm

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