Later On

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

Archive for March 16th, 2021

Why is Amazon so terrified of workers forming a union?

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Here’s my take on it: my article in Medium’s “Age of Awareness.”

Written by Leisureguy

16 March 2021 at 9:03 pm

Corruption in the judiciary

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Heather Cox Richardson writes:

Today, I’m watching some stories that have immediate significance, but also indicate larger trends.

First, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) has asked the Justice Department, now overseen by Attorney General Merrick Garland, to look into the unusual circumstances through which Brett Kavanaugh’s large debts disappeared before his nomination to the Supreme Court. While this question is important to understanding Kavanaugh’s position on our Supreme Court, it is more than that: it is part of a larger investigation into the role of big money in our justice system.

Last May, Whitehouse, along with Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), released a report titled “Captured Courts: The GOP’s Big Money Assault On The Constitution, Our Independent Judiciary, And The Rule of Law.” It outlined how the “Conservative Legal Movement has rewritten federal law to favor the rich and powerful,” how the Federalist Society and special-interest money control our courts, and how the system benefits the big-money donors behind the Republicans.

On March 10, Whitehouse began hearings to investigate the role of big money in Supreme Court nominations and decisions. Aside from Chief Justice John Roberts, every Supreme Court justice named by a Republican president has ties to the Federalist Society, a group that advocates an originalist interpretation of the Constitution, which prohibits the use of the courts to regulate business or to defend civil rights.

So while it is the Kavanaugh story that is getting media attention, the longer story is about whether our courts have been bought.

Another story on my list is that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell today warned Democrats in the Senate not to get rid of the filibuster to pass voting rights legislation. “Nobody serving in this chamber can even begin, can even begin, to imagine what a completely scorched-earth Senate would look like,” he said. But, in fact, they can, because it was McConnell himself who got rid of the filibuster to hammer through Trump’s Supreme Court nominees, and who pushed through Trump’s 2017 tax cuts, which benefited only the very wealthy, by using a technique that avoided the filibuster.

McConnell warned that, without the filibuster, he would defund Planned Parenthood, pass anti-abortion legislation, and create national concealed-carry gun laws. But all of these measures are quite unpopular in the nation, so it’s not clear that these are threats the Democrats want to avoid. It’s entirely possible that permitting the Republicans to push through those measures would hurt the Republicans, rather than the Democrats.

Democrats are talking about reforming the filibuster because they are keen on passing H.R. 1, the voting rights act that would defang the voter suppression measures Republicans are pushing in 43 states. If those measures become law, it will be hard for the Democrats ever again to win control of the government, no matter how popular they are. H.R. 1 will level the democratic playing field, so both parties compete fairly. But fair elections will disadvantage Republicans, who have come to rely on voter suppression to win.

Hence McConnell’s threats.

For his part—in a third story I’m watching– Biden is reaching out to Republicans with an infrastructure package. Republicans were caught wrongfooted when they all voted against the enormously popular American Rescue Plan, and he is offering them an infrastructure bill at the same time Democrats have gotten rid of a ban on so-called “earmarks,” local spending funded in a federal package. Earmarks tend to increase bipartisanship by enabling lawmakers to go home to their constituents with something tangible in hand in exchange for their vote on a bill. Infrastructure spending is popular among voters in both parties, so this approach might break the united front of Republican lawmakers to oppose all Democratic policies.

Finally, I am fascinated by the Democratic-led, bipartisan move among congressional leaders to repeal the . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

16 March 2021 at 8:59 pm

The importance of Biden’s Dept of the Interior appointment

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Heather Cox Richardson writes:

Tonight, the Senate confirmed the appointment of Representative Deb Haaland (D-NM) as Secretary of the Interior Department. An impressive woman in her own right, Haaland embodies the determination of the new administration to use the government for the good of all Americans, rather than for special interests. This makes her a threat to business-as-usual on issues of both race and the economy. Her confirmation vote was 50-41; only four Republicans voted in favor of her appointment.

Haaland is the first Indigenous cabinet secretary in our history, heading the department that, in the nineteenth century, abandoned Indigenous peoples for political leverage. She is a member of the Laguna Pueblo Nation, whose people have lived in the land that is now New Mexico for 35 generations. The daughter of two military veterans, Haaland is a single mother who earned a law degree with a young child in tow. She was a tribal leader focused on environmentally responsible economic development for the Lagunas before she became a Democratic leader.

Haaland brings to the position her opposition to further explorations for oil and gas on public lands, as well as an opposition to fracking, the process of extracting natural gas through fracturing rock with hydraulic pressure. Republicans have called her “radical” and say her opposition to the expansion of fossil fuels disqualifies her from overseeing an agency that, as Washington Post columnist Darryl Fears puts it, “traditionally promoted those values.”

Congress established the Department of the Interior in 1849 to pull together federal offices that dealt with matters significant to the domestic policy of the United States and were, at the time, scattered in a number of different departments. Among other things, the Interior Department took control of Indian affairs and public lands.

Reformers hoped that moving Indian Affairs from the War Department to the Interior Department, where civilians rather than army officers would control Indigenous relations, would lead to fewer wars. Instead, the move swept Indigenous people into a political system over which they had no control.

As settlers pushed into Indigenous territory, the government took control of the land through treaties that promised the tribes food, clothing, shelter, education, health care, and usually the tools and seeds to become farmers. As well, tribal members usually received a yearly payment of cash. These distributions of goods and money were not payment for the land. They replaced the livelihood the tribes lost when they gave up their lands.

Either willingly or by force, tribes moved onto reservations, large tracts overseen by an agent who, once Indian Affairs was in the Department of the Interior, was a political appointee chosen by the U.S. senators of the state in which the reservation was located. While some of the agents actually tried to do their job, most were put into office to advance the interests of the political party in power. So, they took the money Congress appropriated for the tribe they oversaw, then gave the contracts for the beef, flour, clothing, blankets, and so on, to cronies, who would fulfill the contracts with moldy food and rags, if they bothered to fulfill them at all. The agents would pocket the rest of the money, using it to help keep their political party in power and themselves in office.

When tribal leaders complained, lawmakers pointed out—usually quite correctly—that they had appropriated the money required under the treaties. But the system had essentially become a slush fund, and the tribes had no recourse against the corrupt agents except, when they were starving, to go to war. Then the agents called in the troops. Democrat Grover Cleveland tried to clean up the system in 1885-1889, but as soon as Republican Benjamin Harrison took the White House back, he jump-started the old system again.

The corruption was so bad by then that military leaders tried to take the management of Indian Affairs away from the Interior Department, furious that politicians caused trouble with the tribes and then soldiers and unoffending Indians died. It looked briefly as if they might win until the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890 ended any illusions that military management would be a better deal for Native Americans than political management.

By the twentieth century, much of the Interior Department’s work turned to managing mineral and grazing rights, not only on Indigenous land, but also on land owned by the federal government. Until 1920, federal law permitted companies to claim the minerals under land they staked out. The discovery of oil in the West sparked a rush, though, and in 1909, the director of the U.S. Geological Survey warned Secretary of the Interior Richard Ballinger that prospectors were taking up all the land. Ballinger in turn warned President William Howard Taft, who used an executive order to protect more than 3 million acres of public lands in California and Wyoming, reserving the oil under them for use by the U.S. Navy.

In 1920, Congress passed . . .

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Written by Leisureguy

16 March 2021 at 8:52 pm

‘It’s Not Fair to Get Fired for Going to the Bathroom’ – An Amazon worker in Alabama on the fight for a union.

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Darryl Richards, an Amazon warehouse employee in Bessemer AL talked to Sarah Porter of New York:

Every shift, Darryl Richardson clocks in to the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, at 7:15 in the morning. He walks up four flights of stairs, and waits. Soon a robot arrives with a pod, which holds inside it the parts of someone’s Amazon order. Richardson picks out the items, places them in a tote, hits a button, and starts the process all over again. He does this for 10 to 11 hours a day, except for two breaks lasting 30 minutes each. 

The work is grueling, and last year, Richardson decided to do something about it. He contacted the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union to ask about the process of unionizing his Bessemer facility. Now he and his co-workers have entered the final days of voting on whether to unionize, an outcome Amazon has vigorously fought to avoid. If the company loses, other warehouses could unionize quickly behind Bessemer: In the weeks since RWDSU went public with its organizing drive, over 1,000 Amazon workers in other cities have inquired about a union.

Though Amazon pays its warehouse associates $15 an hour and offers some limited benefits, Richardson describes dehumanizing conditions inside his warehouse. Workers still aren’t paid enough for their physically demanding labor, he said, and Amazon is so greedy for their time that they can barely go to the bathroom or get a drink of water. Amazon needs a union, he told Intelligencer, and they need one right now. 

I’m a picker. And you got employees called stowing. Stowing is putting into a pod the items that you ordered, and I’m the one who takes them out.  I wait till the robot come around. A monitor lets me know, when the robot come around, what I pull from in that pod. I pull the item from the pod,  I put it in a tote.

From 11 to 10 hours a day, only two breaks, it’s very stressful. It’s very tiring. Oh, you be sore. Your wrists be sore. Your legs be sore. You be cramping up. It’s devastating and it’s really rough. There really ain’t no way to stay comfortable because you’ve got to move when the robots move. Every minute that you don’t pick, you get “time off task” [also known as TOT]. If you leave your space and go to the bathroom, your time is getting docked. If you get up to two hours of TOT, that leads to termination. It really is not fair for employees to get fired for going to the bathroom. Sometimes the water in the bathrooms isn’t working on the floor, and you have to go down another flight of stairs to go to the bathroom.

I organized because of the TOT policy, employees being fired for not being six feet apart, promotions, pay raises. Oh, you are definitely not getting paid for what you do out there. Only two 30-minute breaks within 11 to 10 hours. It’s not right. It’s just an indication that you need to do some changes. I never worked for a company that would dock you for going to the bathroom. Who would do that? They change the schedule while you sleep. . ..

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

16 March 2021 at 3:50 pm

Lost in Thought: The psychological risks of meditation (up to and including psychosis)

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David Kortava writes in Harper’s Magazine:

On a cloudless afternoon in March 2017, Megan Vogt drove her truck toward a Delaware town between the coastal plain and the foothills of the Appalachians. She was on her way to a silent retreat at Dhamma Pubbananda, a meditation center specializing in a practice called vipassana, which its website describes as a “universal remedy for universal ills” that provides “total liberation from all defilements, all impurities, all suffering.” Those who attend Dhamma Pubbananda’s retreats pledge to observe strict rules (no reading, no dancing, no praying) and to stay for the whole ten days, as it is “both disadvantageous and inadvisable to leave . . . upon finding the discipline too difficult.” Megan knew that she’d have to forfeit her cell phone and observe a mandatory “noble silence,” so she called her mother one last time. “I love you, I love you, I love you,” she said. “I’ll talk to you in ten days.”

On the first day of the retreat, Megan, a cheerful twenty-five-year-old with blue eyes and shoulder-length hair dyed a cardinal red, woke at four o’clock in the morning to the chiming of a bell. For a cumulative ten hours and forty-five minutes, she sat cross-legged on a rug, her spine erect, and tried to focus on her breath. During breaks, she walked among the beech trees and orange lilies on the center’s thirteen acres. That evening, everyone gathered in the meditation hall and an instructor inserted a videotape into an old VCR. On the screen was an elderly man with soft, hooded eyes, sitting cross-legged on the floor. Satya Narayan Goenka, a Burmese businessman turned guru, had taken up meditation in the Fifties, hoping to alleviate his chronic migraines, and was so happy with the results that he went on to establish a global network of more than one hundred vipassana centers. Goenka died in 2013, but students on his retreats still receive much of their instruction from grainy recordings of the master himself.

“The first day is over,” Goenka said. “You have nine more left to work.” His voice was gravelly, his demeanor almost soporific. “To get the best result of your stay here, you have to work very hard,” he said. “Diligently, ardently, patiently, but persistently, continuously.” He spoke of the difficulties students would encounter in the coming days. “The body starts revolting. ‘I don’t like it.’ The mind starts revolting. ‘I don’t like it.’ So you feel very uncomfortable.” He called the untrained mind “a bundle of knots, Gordian knots”—an engine of tension and agitation. “Everyone will realize how insane one is.” He looked into the camera with an air of sympathy. “This technique will help you,” he said. “You must go to the source of your misery.”

At the time, Megan’s life was in flux—she had just gone through a breakup and decided to move to Utah, where she planned to work on an organic farm. Ten days of meditation sounded restorative, a way of turning the page to a new chapter. She found the early days of the retreat physically challenging in the ordinary sense: she had aching knees, a sore lower back, hunger pangs. But it was nothing she wasn’t used to from her time as an AmeriCorps volunteer, maintaining hiking trails out West, or the months she’d spent camping in national parks.

On the morning of the seventh day, Megan went outside to meditate alone under a tree. She had by now logged more than sixty hours of meditation. She wasn’t sure how long she sat there. “Time had slowed down,” she later wrote. The ferns and grasses were vibrating; they were made of vibrations, just as she was. Megan felt an exquisite serenity unlike any she had ever known. Tears came to her eyes. “I was so happy. I finally knew my place in the world. I was a child of the earth and I needed to share my joy.”

But hours later, Megan’s bliss dissipated. She became tired, then drained. She lay down on her bed and could not marshal the energy to get back up. The next meditation session was starting. She felt heavy, responsible for everything that was wrong in the world. Maybe I’m holy, she thought. Maybe I was put here to heal everyone. She forced herself upright and set her feet down on the floor.

Walking into the meditation hall, Megan looked at the rows of silent meditators, their eyes closed or staring vacantly at the wall. A surge of “immense fear” coursed through her body and she found herself panicking, unable to move. “I just zoned out into space,” she wrote later. “I can’t remember where I am. Who I am. What I’m doing here.” Then a torrent of dark thoughts came rushing in: Is it the end of the world? Am I dying? Why can’t I function or move? I can hear the Buddha now. He is telling me to meditate. I can’t, I’m so confused. Is this a test? Am I supposed to yell out “I accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior?” What am I supposed to do? I am so confused.

Meditation, which began as a practice among Buddhist renunciants living in monasteries, hermitages, and caves in the fifth century bc, is now a part of mainstream American culture. Countless books, magazine articles, YouTube videos, apps, and corporate wellness programs celebrate its benefits to our cognitive, emotional, and physical well-being. The market for meditation products and services in the United States is valued at $1.2 billion. In 2017, by one conservative estimate, some 15 percent of American adults engaged in “mental exercise to reach a heightened level of spiritual awareness or mindfulness.” Arianna Huffington captured the pop-psych view of meditation and mindfulness in an interview during the promotional tour for Thrive, her 2014 self-help book: “The list of all the conditions that these practices impact for the better—depression, anxiety, heart disease, memory, aging, creativity—sounds like a label on snake oil from the nineteenth century,” she said. “Except this cure-all is real, and there are no toxic side effects.”

Unfortunately, Huffington was wrong. Although there is data supporting the positive effects of meditation, the scientific literature is murkier than some champions of the practice would like to believe, and the possibility of negative outcomes cannot be so easily dismissed. As early as 1976, Arnold Lazarus, one of the forefathers of cognitive behavioral therapy, raised concerns about transcendental meditation, the mantra-based practice then in vogue. “When used indiscriminately,” he warned, “the procedure can precipitate serious psychiatric problems such as depression, agitation, and even schizophrenic decompensation.” Lazarus had by then treated a number of “agitated, restive” patients whose symptoms seemed to worsen after meditating. He came to believe that the practice, while beneficial for many, was likely harmful to some.

One case study, from 2007, documented a twenty-four-year-old male patient who had . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

Written by Leisureguy

16 March 2021 at 1:31 pm

Father of a transgender daughter testifies to Missouri lawmakers

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Written by Leisureguy

16 March 2021 at 12:41 pm

Removed from command: A two-star general’s mental health disaster and fight to recover — A good discussion of bipolar disorder from a man who’s been there

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Gregg Martin and Philip Martin write in Task & Purpose:

t was mid-July 2014. I was 58 years old and after more than three decades in the Army, I was a two-star general and President of the National Defense University, the nation’s highest military educational institution, located in Washington, D.C. NDU fell under the supervision of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the country’s top-ranking military officer. And the Chairman had just ordered me to report to his office at the Pentagon the next day. 

Something was up. Until very recently, my job performance had been rated as exemplary, and I had received extremely positive feedback. Had the Chairman approved my request for a three-year extension at the university? Did he want to reinforce what a great job I was doing and give me guidance for my upcoming third year at the helm? Was he unhappy with me and about to terminate my presidency? Or, was it something else? I would soon find out.

The Chairman was a brilliant, inspirational, and friendly man. He had been a fabulous boss, as well as a colleague, mentor and friend for nearly 20 years. When I walked into his office, I noticed his lawyer was in the room, which was not a good sign. I saluted the Chairman and he walked over and gave me a hug.

“Gregg, I love you like a brother,” he said. “But your time at NDU is done. You have until 1700 today to submit your letter of resignation to me or I will fire you. Is that clear?” Had I been in a normal state of mind, with a healthy brain, I probably would have been stunned, upset, or disappointed. But I was in a state of acute mania, and I had none of those feelings or reactions. I was already anticipating my next grandiose mission from God.

“A lot of people think you have serious mental health problems. I’m ordering you to get a command-directed psychiatric health exam at Walter Reed. You need to go this week.”

Indeed, my behavior had become erratic and disruptive to the mission. I had lost the confidence of much of the staff and faculty of National Defense University. I resigned that afternoon. My 35-year career would end sooner than I had anticipated.

To be clear, I was not wronged. The Chairman made the absolute right decision. He was taking good care of my own health and welfare, as well as his university’s welfare and mission success. Had I been in his shoes, I would have made the exact same decision. NDU benefited greatly under the leadership of the ambassador who took my place as interim president. I do not dispute any decision, medical or administrative. Furthermore, I am not a medical doctor and I believe that the clinicians at Walter Reed are true professionals who did their best. 

But consider this: One week before I was asked to resign, two medical doctors — my general practitioner and a psychiatrist — had evaluated me and given me a clean bill of health. 

“It is my professional opinion that [Major General] Martin is physically and mentally fit for duty,” wrote one. 

The psychiatrist wrote: “I do not find evidence of psychiatric illness. Specifically, he does not have depression, mania or psychosis…he is psychiatrically fit for duty.”

The reason I say this is not to criticize, but to emphasize how devilishly difficult it is even for medical professionals to recognize and correctly diagnose bipolar disorder, even when it is in an acute state.

That day in the Chairman’s office, it had never crossed my own mind that I was mentally ill. I felt terrific and was full of energy, drive, enthusiasm and ideas. There was important work to be done. In fact, the week after I had resigned, I was given yet another unremarkable medical examination: “fit for duty.”

Yet the truth is that for more than a decade, I had unknowingly served as a senior leader in the U.S. military with undiagnosed bipolar disorder. According to medical authorities, my bipolar disorder was “triggered” in 2003 when I was serving as a colonel and brigade commander during the U.S. invasion of Iraq. It grew worse for nearly a decade, and between 2012 and the summer of 2014 my mania became “acute.” At last, in late 2014, four months after my resignation from NDU, I spiraled, then crashed, into hopeless, terrifying depression and psychosis. From late 2014 through 2016, I was in a battle for my life.

Had there been warning signs and indications? How did I myself miss them? How did my family, friends and colleagues miss them? How did the institution I worked for so long miss them? If there were warnings, what were they? 

Bipolar disorder in a nutshell: What exactly is it?

Formerly known as manic depression, bipolar disorder is a general term that, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), comprises a cluster of related disorders that are characterized by distinctive and extreme shifts or cycles, in mood. These moods oscillate between varying degrees of two poles: mania and depression, or “highs” and “lows.” 

Manic states are typically marked by elevated, expansive or irritable moods and increased energy; feeling overly happy and optimistic; being highly talkative but with pressured speech; having an inflated self-esteem or feeling grandiose or religious, as if on a mission directly from God. There’s often little need for sleep, since it’s common to feel rested after three hours, but the mind is always racing with ideas and distracted, which can lead the afflicted to take part in high risk, dangerous, or potentially painful activities, such as drug and alcohol abuse, high risk sex, affairs, and extravagant spending sprees. 

Mania is much more than feeling up, happy or energetic. It can be life-threatening and highly destructive, with some manic symptoms being severe enough to cause marked social or occupational impairment or require hospitalization to prevent harm to self or others. And it is driven in large part by  . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

Written by Leisureguy

16 March 2021 at 12:23 pm

Tips from neuroscience to keep you focused on hard tasks

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David Badre writes in Nature:

Some of scientists’ most rewarding moments come when we confront a hard problem or a difficult task. Solving a major methodological hurdle, designing an elegant experiment, making sense of a puzzling result, working on a new model or writing a paper or grant proposal are the intellectual challenges that make a career in science so exciting. But doing hard tasks is, in fact, hard. It can frustrate and weigh on us, and cause anxiety and stress. We can struggle to maintain focus on our hard tasks, including the ones we enjoy and eagerly wish to complete. We often postpone work on hard tasks, such as beginning to write a paper or do complex data analysis, in favour of quick wins from easier tasks, like fine-tuning a figure, organizing our calendars or making a dent in our e-mail correspondence.

In late 2020, I published a book, On Task, about the neuroscience of cognitive control: the mental function that allows us to connect our goals and plans with our actions. It is concerned with precisely this problem of how we get things done. It is ironic, therefore, that writing a book about how our brains do tasks was itself a difficult task to do. I enjoyed writing the book, and valued the goal. But there were moments when it was really difficult to find the words to convey a complex idea. And working on the book was never the most immediately urgent task in my day-to-day work, so it was challenging to carve out the time for the writing and thought it required.

You might not be writing a book, but everyone experiences the struggles of difficult tasks. They have been made all the worse with lockdowns, home-schooling and other lifestyle changes due to the pandemic. Everyone experiences bouts of procrastination or work-avoidance, and the guilt that comes with them. There is no avoiding these experiences entirely, but there are some strategies that can help us stay focused.

Make space

To solve hard problems, the brain needs ready access to the information, plans, procedures and knowledge it will be using. Cognitive scientists refer to this collective task knowledge as a task set. However, the task set is not always immediately available: we can’t hold it all active in our limited mental workspace, or ‘working memory’, all the time.

For example, when writing a scientific paper, we must bring to mind lots of information related to the background, logic, design and results of a study. If we have just been at a meeting on a different topic, and then sit down to write the paper, the necessary information might not be in the forefront of our minds. It must be mentally retrieved and organized in our working memory before we can start writing.

In practice, returning to a hard task in this way comes with a ‘restart’ cost: we must spend time and mental effort getting back into our task set, rather than making progress. For this reason, it is important to create time and space for hard tasks.

• Set aside large blocks of time. It is all too easy for working scientists to fill our days with meetings and other small tasks that leave only small gaps for the serious work. Long gaps are needed not only because of the intense thought and work required by hard tasks, but also because we need some time to re-establish our task set. Switching frequently between tasks makes producing quality work harder.

• Be consistent. We should try to reserve a consistent time and place for our hard work and be protective of it. Ideally, we should find this time and place every day. Even if we don’t make progress one day, that time should be spent on our hard task rather than other tasks, even if it’s just reviewing our work. Consistency can aid memory: memory retrieval is context dependent, in that it helps to have the same sights and sounds available when we learn something as when we will try to remember it. Thus, working on a task in the same context repeatedly might aid retrieval and help us to re-establish our task set when we restart.

Minimize distraction and never multitask

When we do two or more tasks at once, either at the same time or switching between them, our performance efficiency and quality will suffer. This happens partly because the tasks use shared cognitive resources, such as working memory. As a result, they will compete for that shared resource and interfere with one another. When doing a hard task, it is important to minimize this interference from multi-tasking.

• Remove cues to other tasks. It helps to put away e-mail and social media and their associated cues. Phone notifications or a badge that tells us how many unread messages we have are distractions that pull us to other tasks. These result in multitasking costs, whether we do the other tasks or not. Even cues that we simply associate with other tasks, such as seeing our phones on the table, can distract us. As much as possible, we should keep our space and time for hard work clear of other distracting tasks.

• Beware the allure of easy tasks. When we decide to perform a task, our brains do a cost–benefit analysis on the fly, weighing the value of the outcome against the projected mental investment required to be successful. As a result, we often avoid hard tasks in favour of smaller, easier tasks, particularly if we aren’t making immediate progress. That will affect our motivation. Sending some e-mails or doing administrative work or straightening up the desk might all be worthwhile tasks and feel productive, but they prevent us doing the task we need to do, while adding multitasking costs.

Engage in good problem-solving habits

To find a solution to a hard problem or perform a hard task, we must structure the problem or task in a way that will allow us to succeed.

For example, . . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

Written by Leisureguy

16 March 2021 at 12:13 pm

Rooney Finest and Summer Storm with the wonderful Baby Smooth

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I’m using my Rooney Finest — and paying close attention to it — this morning as a consequence of a reader remark, who urged me to use it (not specifically the Rooney, but any high-priced brush) more frequently. I probably won’t do that, but I thought I’d give it a try and line up some of my more costly brushes for the next few days, and then cap it off with a very inexpensive brush for possible contrast (though I doubt that there will be any significant difference in performance).

This Rooney Style 2 has a knot of the size I like — 22mm — and also has a fairly long loft. The “Finest” part of the equation denotes fine bristles of excellent resilience, and that, along with the loft, means the brush becomes enormous (relatively speaking) when engorged with lather, while still being fairly firm on the face. The Fine Classic, a 22mm synthetic with a similar loft, is much softer on the — almost cloud-like — because its synthetic bristles lack the resilience of the Rooney’s knot. I like both brushes, and they both perform quite well, but the feel on the face of the two brushes differs noticeably.

Though the lathered knot is large, the resilence provides good control, and I fully enjoyed lathering over stubble prepped with Grooming Dept pre-shave. Chiseled Face’s Summer Storm has a very nice fragrance, though I’m rushing the season — it won’t even be Spring until this weekend. Still, I view it as a harbinger of things to come in the near future (though we don’t have the kinds of summer storms one encounters on the Great Plains).

RazoRock’s Baby Smooth is a superior razor, and three passes produced perfection. A splash of Summer Storm aftershave (which brings a distinct chill from the menthol content, which seemed not inappropriate given the theme) finished the job.

Day after tomorrow I call for my appointment for the Covid-19 vaccine. It will be nice when we can safely resume activities like restaurant dining indoors.

Written by Leisureguy

16 March 2021 at 9:55 am

Posted in Shaving

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