Later On

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Archive for November 15th, 2019

A small Norwegian city might hold the answer to beating the winter blues

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Seasonal Affective Disorder can be tough. Karl Leibowitz, a PhD candidate in psychology at Stanford University talks about one approach to avoiding it via a change in mindset. (Probably not coincidentally, Carol Dweck, a Stanford University professor in psychology, wrote a book about mindset and how a change in mindset can change one’s attitude and effectiveness.) Leibowitz writes in The Conversation:

Many dread the approaching winter – the darkness, frigid weather and lower energy levels that blow in along with cold fronts and snowstorms.

As headlines warn of “bomb cyclones” and cold snaps, most will begrudgingly grit out the winter months, grinding through dreary doldrums of January and February and counting down the days until spring. Some even succumb to seasonal affective disorder, a form of depression that tends to occur at higher rates in colder regions and is hypothesized to be related to the lack of daylight in those regions.

But what about people who live in the coldest parts of the world, where the winters are longest and the summers fleeting? Do they similarly dread the winter? Or could they offer clues about how to avoid the wintertime blues?

In August 2014 I moved to Tromsø, Norway, an island of 70,000 people located over 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Tromsø’s location is so extreme that they experience two months of “polar night” each year – when the sun does not rise above the horizon.

Yet despite the extreme winter conditions, studies have shown that residents of Tromsø do not experience as much seasonal depression and wintertime mental distress as you might expect.

To try to figure out why, I spent 10 months studying how people in Tromsø cope with – and even thrive during – the long, dark winters.

My research led me to a surprising conclusion: perhaps the psychological concept of mindset is the reason for their winter well-being.

After arriving in Tromsø, I was terrified at the thought of the impending winter. Months of friends and family telling me how they could “never move some place so cold and dark” because the winter makes them “so depressed” or “so tired” had me bracing for the worst-case scenario.

But it didn’t take long for me to realize that most residents of Tromsø weren’t viewing the upcoming winter with a sense of doom. In fact, to many locals, the original question I’d planned to ask – “Why aren’t people in Tromsø more depressed during the winter?” – didn’t make sense. Most people I spoke to in Tromsø were actually looking forward to the winter. They spoke enthusiastically about the ski season. They loved the opportunities for coziness provided by the winter months.

As I experienced firsthand Tromsø residents’ unique relationship to winter, a serendipitous conversation with Alia Crum, assistant professor of psychology at Stanford University, inspired me to consider mindset as a factor that might influence Tromsø residents’ sunny perspective of the sunless winter. Crum defines mindsets as the “lenses through which information is perceived, organized and interpreted.” Mindsets serve as an overarching framework for our everyday experiences – and they can profoundly influence how we react in a variety of situations.

Crum’s work has shown that mindsets significantly influence both our physical and mental health in areas as diverse as exercisestress and diet. For example, according to Crum’s research, individuals can hold the mindset that stress is either debilitating (bad for your health and performance) or enhancing (motivating and performance-boosting). The truth is that stress is both; it can cause athletes to crumble under pressure and lead CEOs to have heart attacks, but it can also sharpen focus and critical thinking, giving athletes, CEOs and the rest of us the attention and adrenaline to succeed in high-pressure situations. According to Crum’s work, instead of the mere presence of stress, it is our mindset about stress – whether or not we perceive it as a help or a hindrance – that contributes most to health, performance and psychological outcomes.

After speaking with Professor Crum, I began to wonder: could it be that residents of Tromsø possess a positive wintertime mindset, which allows them to not only persevere but also thrive during the polar night?

Along with my advisor at the University of Tromsø, Joar Vittersø, I developed a preliminary “Wintertime Mindset Scale” to measure how residents of Tromsø view the winter. The Wintertime Mindset Scale asked our survey participants to agree or disagree with items such as “There are many things to enjoy about the winter,” and “I find the winter months dark and depressing.”

The results of our study in Norway found that . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 November 2019 at 10:24 am

Marie Yovanovitch becomes a victim of Trump’s thuggishness again in real time

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Trump really must go. He is tearing down the US. In the Washington Post Jennifer Rubin notes testimony now underway in the House:

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) began the second day of impeachment hearings calmly and methodically reviewing the career of former ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, highlighting her anti-corruption credentials. Schiff explained that the question the hearing was intended to probe was why Rudolph W. Giuliani and President Trump ousted her, and the questioning was aimed at making clear that Yovanovitch posed an obstacle to the corrupt former Ukrainian prosecutor Yuri Lutsenko, Giuliani and Trump. Schiff explained that the power of the president is not unlimited and cannot be used for corrupt ends.

We were treated to an introductory rant from Ranking Member Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) even more bizarre than the one we heard on Wednesday, suggesting we will see an escalation each day in Republican crackpottery. For reasons that were entirely unclear, Nunes also chose to read the rough transcript of a perfunctory call in April between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Once again, Schiff swiftly shut down Republicans’ rerun of preliminary objections and interruptions, and in the process, made clear that despite their different styles, there is no difference in mind-set that animates a Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and a Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.). After their temper tantrums, Yovanovitch began her opening statement. She reviewed her family’s flight from European totalitarians, her own service — including in hardship positions — and the danger of infiltration of U.S. foreign policy by corrupt interests.

She continued, “Unfortunately … not all Ukrainians embraced our anti-corruption work. Thus, perhaps, it was not surprising, that when our anti-corruption efforts got in the way of a desire for profit or power, Ukrainians who preferred to play by the old, corrupt rules sought to remove me.” In powerful, well-moderated tones, she inquired, “How could our system fail like this? How is it that foreign corrupt interests could manipulate our government?” She explained, “Our leadership depends on the power of our example and the consistency of our purpose. Both have now been opened to question.”

She continued, “Our Ukraine policy has been thrown into disarray, and shady interests the world over have learned how little it takes to remove an American Ambassador who does not give them what they want.” She implicitly swiped at Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for not standing up for her and for allowing his department to be “hollowed out.” She concluded with an impassioned defense of Foreign Service officers, listing the names of officials slain in Libya. “We take our oath of office seriously, the same oath that each one of you take, ‘to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic’ and to ‘bear true faith and allegiance to the same,’” Yovanovitch said. “I count myself lucky to be a Foreign Service Officer, fortunate to serve with the best America has to offer, blessed to serve the American people for the last 33 years.” This was perhaps the most inspiring and effective testimony we have a heard, a virtual seminar in American values and statecraft.

Once more, we see that our career civil servants, some not born in this country, have a far better understanding of America’s role in the world, the principles of democratic governance and the importance of our anti-corruption efforts abroad.

She added some vivid detail to the story of how our foreign policy was hijacked by Trump’s web of corrupt cronies. We learned that her tenure was extended in March, only to find herself recalled in April, apparently at the behest of the Giuliani plotters. We also heard that she received the call to recall her while attending an event to celebrate the bravery of an anti-corruption activist who was murdered in an acid attack. She was worried not only about Ukraine policy but also about the impact on the State Department, Ukrainians and others around the world when an anti-corruption fighter is ousted by corrupt forces.

As she testified, Trump launched a tweet-by smear, inadvertently underscoring how morally vacuous and dismissive of reality he is: “Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad,” Trump wrote. “She started off in Somalia, how did that go? Then fast forward to Ukraine, where the new Ukrainian President spoke unfavorably about her in my second phone call with him.” Actually, Zelensky did not speak badly of her; Trump did. In real time, Trump displayed the grotesque behavior we have come to expect from him: the proclivity to attack American patriots, to throw his lot (and the lot of the American government) in with corrupt thugs and to support efforts that inevitably redound to the benefit of Russia.

Schiff asked Yovanovitch to respond to the attack. She responded that she and others who served had worked to make things better. Rather than reply emotionally and bitterly, she graciously praised her colleagues who have worked to further American interests. She called the tweet “intimidating.” Schiff replied, “We take witness intimidation very seriously.” It was a stunning rebuke to the Trump-Giuliani school of thuggish personal destruction.

Yovanovitch spoke with dignity but also with obvious emotion of her horror at reading the July 25 transcript in which Trump smeared and threatened her but praised the corrupt Lutsenko. “I didn’t know what to think but I was very concerned. It didn’t sound good. It sounded like a threat,” she said about Trump’s remark that “she’s going to go through some things.”

In his concluding questions, Democratic counsel Daniel Goldman read Yovanovitch a statement by Russian President Vladimir Putin directly and falsely accusing Ukraine of meddling in the 2016 election. She called this typical behavior for a former KGB officer to throw investigators “off the scent” and create an alternate narrative. And Trump swallowed it whole.

As other witnesses did, Yovanovitch confirmed that former vice president Joe Biden acted in keeping with U.S. policy and the policy of the West more generally to fight corruption. She reaffirmed that the intent to investigate Biden was not part of any official U.S. policy. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 November 2019 at 9:14 am

The Paleo diet and insulin levels

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Very interesting video:

Written by LeisureGuy

15 November 2019 at 8:55 am

New Evidence Shows That 2020 Census Citizenship Question Was a Sham All Along

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Kevin Drum writes at Mother Jones:

Do you remember Thomas Hofeller? He’s the Republican redistricting guru who authored a study in 2015 which showed that adding a citizenship question to the census would allow Republican legislatures to draw even more gerrymandered congressional maps than they already did.

Hofeller died last year, and Republicans have long insisted that his study had nothing to do with their effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. Just a few months ago the Department of Justice said yet again that Hofeller’s study “played no role in the department’s December 2017 request to reinstate a citizenship question to the 2020 decennial census.”

Ahem. About that:

Let’s break this down. The official story from the Trump administration has always been simple: DOJ needed the citizenship question to enforce the Voting Rights Act, and that’s that. Wilbur Ross, the Secretary of Commerce, asked them to please put their request in a memo, and John Gore, the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, got the assignment. Ross then complied with the DOJ request and added the citizenship question.

But now we have documentary evidence from a court deposition that Gore didn’t write the DOJ request at all—or at least not this part of it. Instead, the wording came from Mark Neuman, one of Ross’s advisors, who “incorporated verbatim the VRA enforcement rationale from a 2017 document Hofeller authored.” Neuman asked Hofeller to approve the wording, then sent it off to Gore, who cut-and-pasted it into the DOJ memo. In short:

  • Hofeller wanted the citizenship question added in order to improve Republican gerrymandering efforts.
  • This was no good for public consumption, so Hofeller also dreamed up a different rationale: that the question was necessary for VRA enforcement.
  • Mark Neuman at the Department of Commerce took Hofeller’s language and passed it along to John Gore at the Department of Justice.
  • Gore promptly added Hofeller’s wording to his memo.
  • The memo was sent to the Department of Commerce.
  • The Department of Commerce used the memo as evidence that it was DOJ that wanted the citizenship question from the start, when in fact it originally came from the Department of Commerce, which had copied it from a Hofeller study.

Rick Hasen reacts:

Or, as Chief Justice John Roberts said in more measured language when he ruled against Wilbur Ross, “Our review is deferential [to executive power], but we are ‘not required to exhibit a naivete from which ordinary citizens are free.’” That is, don’t peddle a story that we can only believe if we pretend to act like idiots.

The evidence now, however, suggests . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 November 2019 at 8:37 am

Summer Storm and the cool breeze following

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My Simpson Persian Jar 2 Super seems to have been overcome by a fit of shyness, though it was bold enough in loading up on Summer Storm and making quite a fine lather with the ineffable fragrance of petrichor. Three passes with the Baby Smooth produced the eponymous result, and the splash of Summer Storm aftershave had just enough menthol to provide a reminder of the cool breeze that accompanies such storms. Altogether a great way to begin a morning.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 November 2019 at 7:44 am

Posted in Shaving

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