Later On

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

Archive for December 24th, 2022

Encounters with birds linked to improved mental wellbeing for up to approximately 8 hours

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Eric Dolan reports in PsyPost:

Encountering birds in everyday life is associated with better mental wellbeing, according to new research published in Scientific Reports. The study found that people were more likely to feel confident, relaxed, happy, connected to other people, and energetic and less likely to feel anxious, stressed, down, lonely, and tired in the presence of birdlife.

“Our motivation behind the research stems from our interest in exploring both protective and adverse environmental factors which could impact mental health. I am hoping that our exploration of some of these factors could be used to influence the future planning and design of healthier cities,” said lead author Ryan Hammoud (@ryanhammoud), a PhD candidate and research assistant at King’s College London.

The study, which took place between April 2018 and October 2021, used the smartphone application Urban Mind to collect people’s real-time reports. The application scheduled 3 ecological momentary assessments per day for 14 days. During these assessments, the participants reported whether they could see or hear birds, whether they could see trees/plants, whether they could see or hear water, and how they were currently feeling.

The researchers recruited a sample of 1,292 participants, who completed 26,856 assessments in total. Participants were recruited from around the world, with the majority being based in the United Kingdom, the European Union and United States of America.

Hammoud and his colleagues found that participants’ mental wellbeing tended to be  . . .

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Written by Leisureguy

24 December 2022 at 10:08 pm

The Skill Involved in Zelensky’s Congressional Address

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At left, a wartime leader appealing to a joint meeting of Congress for further American support, on the day after Christmas in 1941. At right, another wartime leader making a similar appeal, four days before Christmas in 2022. The two images convey some striking differences between the eras. The speeches themselves had striking similarities. (Getty Images.)

James Fallows, one-time speechwriter for President Jimmy Carter, has knowledge and experience regarding political speeches, and his article on Zelensky’s address to Congress is very much worth reading. It begins:

This post starts with some major “staging” choices Volodymyr Zelensky made for his address to Congress this week, including that he would deliver it in English and while dressed in his familiar wartime wear. Then we’ll move to some significant line-by-line aspects of the text itself.

In both parts I’ll be saying that the speech was carefully thought out as a piece of writing, and powerfully presented as a moment in living history. Zelensky could hardly have done more, or done anything more effective, to get his country’s message across.

We often hear about presentations that work on different levels, as appeals to both head and heart. “Tear down this wall,” at the Berlin Wall. “Ask not what your country can do for you,” in bitter January cold from the inaugural stand at the Capitol. “I have a dream,” in August heat from the Lincoln Memorial.

We have no idea of Ukraine’s fate a year or a decade from now, nor of Volodymyr Zelensky’s ultimate place in history. But I think this week’s speech will stand as another important example of combining moment, message, and messenger to remarkable effect.

The set-up.

Zelensky’s speech came 10 months after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine. It came 81 years after Winston Churchill stood in the same place at the Capitol, with the same Constitutional officers (vice president and speaker of the House) seated behind him, to a similar joint meeting of the Senate and House. There he made a similar appeal for assistance, to a United States that, just after Pearl Harbor, had finally entered the war against Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.1 The photos of the two presentations, above, suggest how much is traditional and constant in American procedures, and how much has changed.

Zelensky’s speech was also part of series he has made to international audiences since the invasion began. The previous ones had all been virtual, over tele-links from Kyiv and elsewhere in Ukraine, because of Zelensky’s wartime role. In each of them he has argued that Ukraine was the frontline in the battle between dictatorship and democracy, between rule-by-force and rule-of-law.

The official English versions of these speeches, which have all been delivered in Ukrainian, have been notable for their careful craftsmanship. Zelensky and his team knew what allusions to make, what chords to strike, what historical and cultural parallels to draw, when speaking to each of his audiences. I wrote about two of these virtual addresses—to the U.K. Parliament on March 8, and to the U.S. Congress on March 16—soon after they occurred.2

The plain text of this latest speech showed the same deftness and unusual care. Zelensky has someone who is good, and is good in English, working with him. The early speeches had the breathtaking drama of being delivered from cities under attack, much as with Zelensky’s original, history-changing “We are here” short video. This week’s presentation had different drama because of two additional risks he took. Those were: . . .

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Written by Leisureguy

24 December 2022 at 9:29 pm

Best cuisines in the world

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Interesting article — for example, the US is above France.

Written by Leisureguy

24 December 2022 at 5:11 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food

What the fediverse (does/n’t) solve

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Cory Doctorow writes on Medium:

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Written by Leisureguy

24 December 2022 at 4:29 pm

Leviathan awakens

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Shaving set up with brush having white handle and red base, with cream colored bristles tipped with grey. Next is a tub of soap with a round dark-blue label with white letters and a white ouroboros circling around the text, with "Leviathan" in large letters. A brown bottle whose label is the same blue with "Leviathan" again in all caps and underneath that "Leather/Coffee/Sandalwood." In front is a Gillette twist-to-open razor from the 1940s in gold.

Barrister & Mann’s Leviathan has a wonderful fragrance — leather, coffee, and sandalwood, as stated on the label — and it makes a thick and generous lather quite easily, this morning with my Fine Classic shaving brush.

The Gillette 1940s Aristocrat is itself a classic, and this morning it provided a very fine shave indeed. A splash of Leviathan aftershave, and Christmas Eve is upon us.

The tea this morning is (appropriately) Storm Watcher, though it’s a quiet storm of cold rain, well above freezing (44ºF), falling on the snow. Storm Watcher “contains Yunnan and Ceylon for a brisk, satisfying mug. Slightly smoky with toasted malty notes.”

Written by Leisureguy

24 December 2022 at 11:26 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

Cheetahs on the Edge—Director’s Cut

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Written by Leisureguy

24 December 2022 at 10:19 am

Posted in Daily life, Video

An interesting thread of different experiences, LastPass v. 1Password

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Written by Leisureguy

24 December 2022 at 4:33 am

Avoid Getting Sick at All Cost

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Jessica Wildfire, “slinger of hard truths,” writes in OK Doomer:

Here’s the deal:

China has run out of Ibuprofin, one of the most common and widely available pain relievers on the market. The media is telling its citizens, “Everyone is responsible for their own health.” Stores are rationing medicine. People are spending hours in line for it outside drug manufacturing plants.

In Britain, a “mysterious” virus is spreading through the population right after the end of the World Cup, where millions of soccer fans shared germs next to a camel show. Scientists warned that tourists would be attending both events, and that countries should be following precautions in order to prevent MERS from hitching a ride and recombing with SARS-CoV-2.

Nobody listened.

The British media describes the mystery virus as “worse than Covid,” with the same symptoms but more severe. Tests for flu and Covid are coming back negative. Nobody knows what they have. Some of these patients have been sick for weeks, and they’re not getting better. It’s not fearmongering to say this looks an awful lot like MERS, and we should be assuming the worst.

In order to quell panic, the media has decided to call it a lurgy, slang for a bad cold. They’ll probably get away with that for a while. Right now, the largest labor strikes in recent history are happening across the country. They include nurses and paramedics, mail carriers, railroad workers, and airport staff. If a deadly new virus were spreading, it’s hard to imagine anyone would know. According to a story in NPR, “You’ve literally got nurses visiting food banks.” Sorry, but healthcare workers on food aid aren’t going to be all that vigilant about new diseases.

The country has become a failed state.

Nobody wants to admit it.

Things are hardly better in the U.S. Over here, major pharmacies from Walgreens to CVS are rationing children’s cold medicine. At least a third of our nurses have quit or retired early. Right now 17,000 nurses in New York state alone are authorized and preparing to strike early next year.

Several states are experiencing dire shortages of antibiotics. Parents are visiting up to 18 pharmacies to fulfill prescriptions. Since China manufactures a large portion of the world’s medicine, it’s going to get worse.

As in Britain, children have now started dying from strep infections, in the exact same states where the shortages are worst.

Nobody’s doing anything.

Like China, the U.S. has effectively told everyone they’re responsible for their own health. According to Bloomberg, Congress has planned no funding for Covid next year. They’re even planning to allow states to begin kicking Americans off Medicaid. Millions will lose health coverage, at a time when they need it more than ever. In fact, 80 million low-income Americans face termination.

This is the state of things.

In Britain, you can wait up to 10 hours for an ambulance now. There are reports of people waiting 20 hours. Now that ambulance workers have gone on strike, the wait times are poised to get even longer. You might wonder how the government is responding. Rather than engage in open discussion about healthcare workers relying on foodbanks, the director of NHS has told everyone, “don’t get so drunk that you end up with an unnecessary emergency room visit.”

In the U.S., the CDC has been agonizingly slow to alert everyone to these threats. They say they’re “investigating,” and the media is quick to tell everyone it’s rare for children to get severely ill. They’re still downplaying, even as major newspapers finally begin to admit that Covid has trashed our immune systems, and more deaths are virtually guaranteed. Our children are in grave danger, and the public has responded with apathy. In some cities, people have returned to masking. Many haven’t, because they’re not informed.

I think we get it.

Our governments have made it clear how they plan to respond to every crisis from now on. Here’s the plan:

  1. Ignore.
  2. Downplay.
  3. Deflect.

Many of us have wondered if we’re on our own. Well, our leaders couldn’t be sending us a clearer message. They aren’t coming to save us.

Instead, they’re going to fund wars.

This is what social collapse looks like. It doesn’t happen with a bang, but a series of whimpers. Not everyone’s going to feel it. The rich will continue to have access to healthcare. The rest of us won’t.

What’s my point? It’s not to scare anyone.

It’s to . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

24 December 2022 at 4:15 am

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