Later On

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

Archive for January 22nd, 2017

Shaping one’s worldview through Google is not a good idea: e.g., Dylann Roof

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Thanks to JvR for pointing this out:

Written by LeisureGuy

22 January 2017 at 9:11 pm

Posted in Education, Technology

Our fearful, Milquetoast media: Media Should Report That President Trump Is Violating The Constitution — And It’s An Impeachable Offense

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Timothy Johnson writes at Media Matters:

According to experts, President Donald Trump’s continued ownership interest in the Trump Organization means that he is in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, which prohibits the president from personally benefiting from actions taken by foreign governments and their agents. Will media hold Trump accountable for this impeachable offense or will they normalize his flagrant violation of the supreme law of the land?

The U.S. Constitution’s Emoluments Clause Prohibits The President From Financially Benefiting From Actions Taken By Foreign Governments

U.S. Constitution Prohibits The President From Accepting Emoluments From Foreign States Without The Consent Of Congress. The U.S. Constitution’s Article I, Section 9 contains a broad provision to prevent foreign governments from corrupting U.S. government by giving benefits to federal officeholders:

No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state. [U.S. Constitution via Cornell University Law School Legal Information Institute, accessed 1/19/17]

Merriam Webster Definition Of Emolument: “The Returns Arising From Office Or Employment Usually In The Form Of Compensation Or Perquisites.” [Merriam Webster, accessed 1/19/17]

Legal Ethics Experts: “The Best Reading Of The Clause Covers Even Ordinary, Fair Market Value Transactions That Result In Any Economic Profit Or Benefit To The Federal Officeholder.” The clause does not just cover “sweetheart deal[s]” because “emoluments are properly defined as including ‘profit’ from any employment, as well as ‘salary,” meaning “it is clear that even remuneration fairly earned in commerce can qualify,” according to an analysis published by the Brookings Institute. It was authored by legal ethics experts Norman Eisen, a former Obama administration ethics attorney and current chair of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington; Richard Painter, a former Bush administration ethics attorney and current vice chair of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington; and Laurence Tribe, a leading expert on constitutional law and professor at Harvard University Law School. [Brookings Institute, 12/16/16]

Violating The Emoluments Clause Is An Impeachable Offense. During the 1788 Virginia Ratifying Convention, Virginia Gov. Edmund Jennings Randolph, who later served as the United States’ first attorney general, said of a president who violates the clause, “If discovered he may be impeached”: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 January 2017 at 6:44 pm

Stoicism Reveals 4 Rituals That Will Make You Happy

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All skills are learned through practice, and life skills are no different. The idea that you are practicing makes it easier for you to forgive your failures, provided that you continue to practice in order to eliminate the fault(s) that led to the failure.

From bakadesuyo.com:

Alright, you’ve probably read a zillion articles about happiness online and you’re not a zillion times happier. What gives?

Reading ain’t the same as doing. You wouldn’t expect to read some martial arts books and then go kick ass like Bruce Lee, would you? All behavior, all changes, must be trained.

The ancient Stoics knew this. They didn’t write stuff just to be read. They created rituals — exercises — to be performed to train your mind to respond properly to life so you could live it well.

From The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living:

That’s why the philosophers warn us not to be satisfied with mere learning, but to add practice and then training. For as time passes we forget what we learned and end up doing the opposite, and hold opinions the opposite of what we should. — Epictetus, Discourses, 2.9.13-14

And what’s fascinating is that modern scientific research agrees with a surprising amount of what these guys were talking about 2000 years ago.

Okay, kiddo, time to rummage through the Stoic toolbox and dig out some simple rituals you can use to be much happier.

So let’s say life decides to suplex you and you’re feeling 32 flavors of bad. What’s the first thing in the Stoic bag of philosophical tricks to improve how you feel — and help you make better choices in the future?

Ask, “What Would I Recommend If This Happened To Someone Else?”

Traffic is terrible. Your friend is driving. He leans on the horn, punches the steering wheel, and shouts at the other drivers. You’re like, “Jeez, calm down. Why you getting so worked up? Chill.”

The next day traffic is terrible but you’re driving… So, of course, you lean on the horn, punch the steering wheel, and shout at the other drivers.

See the problem here, Sherlock? We all do it. But there’s a lesson to be learned that the Stoics knew a few millennia ago…

When something bad happens, ask yourself, “What would I recommend if this happened to someone else?” And then do that. You’ll probably be more rational. And it’s harder to ignore the advice — because it’s your own.

From A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy:

In his Handbook, Epictetus advocates this sort of “projective visualization.” Suppose, he says, that our servant breaks a cup. We are likely to get angry and have our tranquility disrupted by the incident. One way to avert this anger is to think about how we would feel if the incident had happened to someone else instead. If we were at someone’s house and his servant broke a cup, we would be unlikely to get angry; indeed, we might try to calm our host by saying “It’s just a cup; these things happen.” Engaging in projective visualization, Epictetus believes, will make us appreciate the relative insignificance of the bad things that happen to us and will therefore prevent them from disrupting our tranquility.

Slick advice. Does it work? When I spoke with Duke professor Dan Ariely, author of the bestseller Predictably Irrational, he said pretty much the same thing. He called it “taking the outside perspective.” Here’s Dan:

If I had to give advice across many aspects of life, I would ask people to take what’s called “the outside perspective.” And the outside perspective is easily thought about: “What would you do if you made the recommendation for another person?” And I find that often when we’re recommending something to another person, we don’t think about our current state and we don’t think about our current emotions. We actually think a bit more distant from the decision and often make the better decision because of that.

The Golden Rule says “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” In honor of the Stoics, I’m going to suggest that when something gets you worked up you should follow “The Toga Rule” and “Do unto yourself what you would recommend to others.”

(To learn the 6 rituals that ancient wisdom says will make your life awesome, click here.)

Alright, you’re following “The Toga Rule” when life goes sideways. But some reactions are hard to squelch. You have bad habits. We all do. So what do the Stoics have on their Batman utility belt to deal with bad habits?

Turns out they were way ahead of their time on this one…

Use The “Discipline Of Assent”
There’s usually a moment — however brief — when . . .

Continue reading.

In the Guide, I touch on the first idea:

In any situation or circumstance, most people already know what actions they should undertake or what decisions they should make. (This becomes evident when people say that they don’t know what to do in a situation, but when asked what a counselor, therapist, coach, teacher, or minister (or rabbi or priest or imam) would advise, they usually find it easy to state the advice they would get.) Starting each day with a ritual of personal grooming adds just enough push so that you will do some actions or make some decisions that you already know you should do or make, and those steps are enough to start the cycle of positive feedback, which can grow quickly (cf. regenerative feedback).

This process works because the force driving it is (1) unobtrusive (that is, it comes from doing a routine and necessary task, not something out of you ordinary routine, which would require some deliberate commitment) and (2) enjoyable (in attracting flies, honey works better than vinegar: people learn faster from seeking pleasure than from avoiding pain) and (3) (quite important) daily: the push may be small, but it’s steady and on-going, and once the effects start to become evident, the process picks up speed because of its self-reinforcing (regenerative) nature.

It’s also worth noting that . . .

Written by LeisureGuy

22 January 2017 at 5:52 pm

Posted in Daily life

Speaking of marches making a statement: SOCIETY & CULTURE 20 Million Muslims March Against ISIS and The Mainstream Media Completely Ignore It

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Is it a statement if the media ignore it? Matt Agorist of WalkingTimesMedia.com reports:

In one of the largest organized marches in the history of the world, tens of millions of Shia Muslims made an incredibly heartening statement, by risking their lives to travel through war-stricken areas to openly defy ISIS. This massive event that would have undoubtedly helped to ease tensions in the West was almost entirely ignored by corporate media.

Women, men, elderly, and children made their way to the city of Karbala on Sunday and Monday last week for the holy day of Arbaeen. Arbaeen is the event which marks the end of the 40-day mourning period following Ashura, the religious ritual that commemorates the death of the Prophet Mohammad’s grandson Imam Hussein in 680 AD.

As the Independent reports, massive crowds paid homage to the shrines of Imam Hussein and his half-brother Abbas in Karbala, where they were killed in a revolt against the Umayyad ruler Yazeed in the 7th century AD when they refused to pledge allegiance to Yazeed’s Umayyad caliphate.

Registering only as a blip on the Independent, this most amazing feat was conducted in spite of ISIS, as well as the sacred annual pilgrimage.

As the UK paper notes, the march comes as nearly 80 people, many of them pilgrims returning from commemorating Arbaeen in Karbala, were killed in the latest Isis attack in the area.

Isis has declared Shia Muslims apostates and targeted them in its bloody campaign to establish a hardline caliphate across Iraq and Syria, according to the Independent. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 January 2017 at 5:32 pm

Posted in Religion

The 10 circles of McMansion Hell

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An architect takes a look at the degrees of McMansion Hell. Interesting reading, profusely illustrated. No floor plans.

I found this via a story in the Washington Post by Amanda Kolson Hurley.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 January 2017 at 5:14 pm

Posted in Daily life

Sean Spicer’s initial statement (full of lies) set a low anchor point so we will be pleased if we just get fewer lies

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From an interesting tweet: by Anna Rascouët-Paz, who writes, “Re Spicer’s lies, this is from someone who worked in a past administration. Important read.”

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Written by LeisureGuy

22 January 2017 at 4:36 pm

With executive order, Trump tosses a ‘bomb’ into fragile health insurance markets

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We shouldn’t be at all surprised at the “bull in a china shop” approach Trump is using, Indeed, Rex Tillerson, Trump’s nominee as Secretary of State, indicated in his hearing that he would not hesitate to go to war with China. A measured and thoughtful approach doesn’t cut it in a reality show, which requires constant excitement.

Juliet Eilperin and Sean Sullivan report in the Washington Post:

President Trump’s executive order instructing federal agencies to grant relief to constituencies affected by the Affordable Care Act has begun to reverberate throughout the nation’s health-care system, injecting further uncertainty into an already unsettled insurance landscape.

The political signal of the order, which Trump signed just hours after being sworn into office, was clear: Even before the Republican-led Congress acts to repeal the 2010 law, the new administration will move swiftly to unwind as many elements as it can on its own — elements that have changed how 20 million Americans get health coverage and what benefits insurers must offer some of their customers.

But the practical implications of Trump’s action on Friday are harder to decipher. Its language instructs all federal agencies to “waive, defer, grant ­exemptions from or delay” any part of the law that imposes a financial or regulatory burden on those affected by it. That would cover consumers, doctors, hospitals and other providers, as well as insurers and drug companies.

The prospect of what could flow from pulling back or eliminating administrative rules — including no longer enforcing the individual mandate, which requires Americans to get coverage or pay an annual penalty, and ending health plans’ “essential benefits” — could affect how many people sign up on the Affordable Care Act marketplaces before open enrollment ends Jan. 31 for 2017 coverage, as well as how many companies decide to participate next year.

Robert Laszewski, president of the consulting firm Health Policy and Strategy Associates, called the executive order a “bomb” lobbed into the law’s “already shaky” insurance market. Given the time it will take Republicans to fashion a replacement, he expects that federal and state insurance exchanges will continue to operate at least through 2018.

“Instead of sending a signal that there’s going to be an orderly transition, they’ve sent a signal that it’s going to be a disorderly transition,” said Laszewski, a longtime critic of the law, which is also known as Obamacare. “How does the Trump administration think this is not going to make the situation worse?” [They probably know it will make things worse: Trump like chaos because he can then say that “only he can save us.” That’s why he paints a picture of a grim and dystopian U.S. (“American carnage”). He thinks that the worse things seem, the more the public will turn to him as their savior. So it’s in his interest to make things bad, so he can be the hero to save us. I’ve in fact worked with people who thrive on a crisis—they work hard, they save the day, they are rewarded—who begin unconsciously to create crises because they have become addicted to the accolades. They find the reward of the accolades more than repays the (often substantial) effort to solve the crisis (of their own making). Plus there’s the reality-show imperative: never be boring—a crisis is exciting. – LG]

Teresa Miller, Pennsylvania’s insurance commissioner, said Saturday that several insurers on her state’s exchange “seriously considered leaving the market last year” and that Trump’s action could propel them to indeed abandon it in 2018. In fact, she added, some have raised the possibility of withdrawing from the ACA’s exchanges during 2017, which would mean consumers could keep their plans but no longer receive federal subsidies to help them afford the coverage.

“That would create a nightmare scenario,” Miller said.

As of this year, nearly a third of all counties nationwide have just one insurer in the federal marketplace, and almost two-thirds have two or fewer insurers.

The White House did not return requests for comment over the weekend. . .

Continue reading. There’s a lot more. Trump may have wrecked healthcare. Just two days in, and he’s wrecking things.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 January 2017 at 4:09 pm

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