Chas' Compilation

A compilation of information and links regarding assorted subjects: politics, religion, science, computers, health, movies, music... essentially whatever I'm reading about, working on or experiencing in life.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Russia Gate: no "golden ticket" for clueless Democrat Leaders?

I think even most Democrats see it for what it is, even if their party leadership is clueless. A case in point:

Russia-gate Flops as Democrats’ Golden Ticket
The national Democratic Party and many liberals have bet heavily on the Russia-gate investigation as a way to oust President Trump from office and to catapult Democrats to victories this year and in 2018, but the gamble appears not to be paying off.

[...]

Indeed, the Democrats may be digging a deeper hole for themselves in terms of reaching out to white working-class voters who abandoned the party in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin to put Trump over the top in the Electoral College even though Clinton’s landslide win in California gave her almost three million more votes nationwide.

Clinton’s popular-vote plurality and the #Resistance, which manifested itself in massive protests against Trump’s presidency, gave hope to the Democrats that they didn’t need to undertake a serious self-examination into why the party is in decline across the nation’s heartland. Instead, they decided to stoke the hysteria over alleged Russian “meddling” in the election as the short-cut to bring down Trump and his populist movement.

A Party of Snobs?

From conversations that I’ve had with some Trump voters in recent weeks, I was struck by how they viewed the Democratic Party as snobbish, elitist and looking down its nose at “average Americans.” And in conversations with some Clinton voters, I found confirmation for that view in the open disdain that the Clinton backers expressed toward the stupidity of anyone who voted for Trump. In other words, the Trump voters were not wrong to feel “dissed.”

It seems the Republicans – and Trump in particular – have done a better job in presenting themselves to these Middle Americans as respecting their opinions and representing their fears, even though the policies being pushed by Trump and the GOP still favor the rich and will do little good – and significant harm – to the middle and working classes.
This article, I could argue with that last comment or any number of assumptions and assertions that the author makes throughout. But I'm not going to bother. Because far more interesting to me, is the arguments he makes about how the Dems are out of touch and really screwing things up. Read on:

By contrast, many of Hillary Clinton’s domestic proposals might well have benefited average Americans but she alienated many of them by telling a group of her supporters that half of Trump’s backers belonged in a “basket of deplorables.” Although she later reduced the percentage, she had committed a cardinal political sin: she had put the liberal disdain for millions of Americans into words – and easily remembered words at that.

By insisting that Hillary Clinton be the Democratic nominee – after leftist populist Bernie Sanders was pushed aside – the party also ignored the fact that many Americans, including many Democrats, viewed Clinton as the perfectly imperfect candidate for an anti-Establishment year with many Americans still fuming over the Wall Street bailouts and amid the growing sense that the system was rigged for the well-connected and against the average guy or gal.

In the face of those sentiments, the Democrats nominated a candidate who personified how a relatively small number of lucky Americans can play the system and make tons of money while the masses have seen their dreams crushed and their bank accounts drained. And Clinton apparently still hasn’t learned that lesson.

Citing Women’s Rights

Last month, when asked why she accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars for speaking to Goldman Sachs, Clinton rationalized her greed as a women’s rights issue, saying: “you know, men got paid for the speeches they made. I got paid for the speeches I made.”

Her excuse captured much of what has gone wrong with the Democratic Party as it moved from its working-class roots and New Deal traditions to becoming a party that places “identity politics” ahead of a duty to fight for the common men and women of America.

Demonstrating her political cluelessness, Clinton used the serious issue of women not getting fair treatment in the workplace to justify taking her turn at the Wall Street money trough, gobbling up in one half-hour speech what it would take many American families a decade to earn.

While it’s a bit unfair to personalize the Democratic Party’s problems, Hillary and Bill Clinton have come to represent how the party is viewed by many Americans. Instead of the FDR Democrats, we have the Davos Democrats, the Wall Street Democrats, the Hollywood Democrats, the Silicon Valley Democrats, and now increasingly the Military-Industrial Complex Democrats.

To many Americans struggling to make ends meet, the national Democrats seem committed to the interests of the worldwide elites: global trade, financialization of the economy, robotization of the workplace, and endless war against endless enemies.

Now, the national Democrats are clambering onto the bandwagon for a costly and dangerous New Cold War with nuclear-armed Russia. Indeed, it is hard to distinguish their foreign policy from that of neoconservatives, although these Democrats view themselves as liberal interventionists citing humanitarian impulses to justify the endless slaughter.

Earlier this year, a Washington Post/ABC News poll found only 28 percent of Americans saying that the Democrats were “in touch with the concerns of most people” – an astounding result given the Democrats’ long tradition as the party of the American working class and the party’s post-Vietnam War reputation as favoring butter over guns.

Yet rather than rethink the recent policies, the Democrats prefer to fantasize about impeaching President Trump and continuing a blame-game about who – other than Hillary Clinton, her campaign and the Democratic National Committee – is responsible for Trump’s election. Of course, it’s the Russians, Russians, Russians! [...]
He's nailed it! Read the whole thing for even more about the deep roots of the problem, and the serious errors the Democrat Party are continuing to make.
     

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Monday, July 03, 2017

What do you drink with your boss?


Having drinks with the boss is not a situation I've often found myself in, especially since I've been self employed. But here is some interesting advice for that scenario, which could also apply to drinking with a client or someone you want to leave with a good impression:

7 Drink Orders Guaranteed to Impress Your Boss
It’s a cardinal rule of corporate life: if the boss asks you for a drink, you say yes. Period. We don’t care if you’re a teetotaler or it’s your 20th wedding anniversary—you’re accepting that invitation. Over a few rounds of cocktails you’ll learn more about the company than you ever will in a boardroom setting, and you’ll put yourself in his or her good graces for the foreseeable future. Blow off the boss? Don’t be surprised if he or she returns the favor one day.

But there are rules for boozing with your corporate leader. No whiskeys neat, and no martinis. And definitely no cruiseliner daiquiris that will (rightfully) make you look like a less-than-serious man. Instead, select drinks that are manly and respectable, but won’t floor you in the process. If you’re not sure what those are, don’t worry. With the help of some top mixologists, we’ve compiled them all right here. And for more great drink recs, try one of these amazing spring cocktails. [...]
I was a bit surprised that the Martini was on the forbidden list. Isn't that a popular one for businessmen? I think the point is not to come across as a lush or a boozer, and the martini might be a bit strong? But they recommend the Manhattan cocktail, and that can be very potent.

This advice also seems to be for men. And perhaps a bit old fashioned. But perhaps that's the best way to behave when drinking with the boss? ;-)

Read the whole thing for the list of drinks, pics, and embedded links.

   

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Monday, June 26, 2017

What do American Presidents drink?



Here's the favorite drink of every US president
[...] No one knows more about political drinking than author Mark Will-Weber, whose book "Mint Juleps with Teddy Roosevelt: The Complete History of Presidential Drinking" explores the stories behind each president's favorite alcoholic beverage.

"Presidents drink for the same reasons we all drink," Will-Weber recently told Business Insider. "Sometimes because it's part of the job, sometimes it's because they're lonely or depressed — there's a whole gamut of reasons of why people drink."

For Will-Weber, knowing what the former presidents like to drink brings a "human side" to those who we "normally hold on a pedestal."

Ahead, take a look at the president's favorite alcoholic beverages, rounded up from Will-Weber's book and The New York Post. [...]

It looks like the best presidents at least drank some. Read the whole thing, for embedded links and more.

Here is another list, with historical tidbits and some cocktail recipes:

A complete list of every president’s favorite drink
   

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Monday, May 15, 2017

How realistic is the Alien Language Hacking in the movie "Arrival"?



Ask a Linguist. That is what this article does:

How Realistic Is the Way Amy Adams’ Character Hacks the Alien Language In Arrival? We Asked a Linguist.
Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival makes being a linguist look pretty cool—its hero Louise (Amy Adams) gets up close and personal with extraterrestrials and manages to save the entire world with her translation skills (and lives in a chic, glass-walled modernist palace all by herself). But how realistic were her methods? We talked to Betty Birner, a professor of linguistics and cognitive science at Northern Illinois University, to find out what she thinks of the movie’s use of language, its linguist heroine, and how we might someday learn to communicate with aliens in real life.

What was it like to watch Arrival as an actual linguist?

I loved the movie. It was a ton of fun to see a movie that’s basically all about the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. On the other hand, they took the hypothesis way beyond anything that is plausible.

In the movie they kind of gloss over the hypothesis, explaining it as the idea that the language you speak can affect the way you think. Is that accurate?

There are two ways of thinking about the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, and scholars have argued over which of these two Sapir and/or Whorf actually intended. The weaker version is linguistic relativity, which is the notion that there’s a correlation between language and worldview. “Different language communities experience reality differently.”

The stronger view is called linguistic determinism, and that’s the view that language actually determines the way you see reality, the way you perceive it. That’s a much stronger claim. At one point in the movie, the character Ian [Jeremy Renner] says, “The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis says that if you immerse yourself in another language, you can rewire your brain.” And that made me laugh out loud, because Whorf never said anything about rewiring your brain. But since this wasn’t the linguist speaking, it’s fine that another character is misunderstanding the Sapir-Whorf.

But the movie accepts that as true! By learning the aliens’ language, Louise completely alters her brain.

Oh yeah, the movie is clearly on board with linguistic determinism, which is funny because most linguists these days would not accept that.

So in real life, learning another language can’t suddenly alter how you perceive time?

No linguist would ever buy into the notion that the minute you understand something about this second language, get sort of a lightbulb going off, and you say, “Oh my gosh, I completely see how the speakers of Swahili view plant life now.” It’s just silly and its false. It makes for a rollicking good story, but I would never want somebody to come away from a movie like this with the notion that that’s actually a power that language can bestow.

Is there anything to the idea at all?

There have been studies about speakers of languages that have classifier markers—suffixes, for example, that go on to every noun to indicate what class they’re in. Some languages mark round things differently than they mark long things, soft things differently than rigid things. If you ask speakers of such a language to sort a big heap of stuff into piles, they will tend to sort them based on what classifier they take.

Whorf argued that because the Hopi [the Native American group he was studying] have verbs for certain concepts that English speakers use nouns for, such as, thunder, lightning, storm, noise, that the speakers view those things as events in a way that we don’t. We view lightning, thunder, and storms as things. He argued that we objectify time, that because we talk about hours and minutes and days as things that you can count or save or spend.

It was funny in this movie to see this notion of the cyclicity of time. That’s really central in Whorf’s writings, that English speakers have a linear view of time, and it’s made up in individually packaged objects, days, hours, and minutes that march along from past to future, while the Hopi have a more cyclical notion that days aren’t separate things but that “day” is something that comes and goes.

So tomorrow isn’t another day. Tomorrow is day returning. You see that concept coming from Whorf into this movie was actually kind of fun. I thought, well they got that right! They took it in a really weird direction, but ...

Someone did their homework.

Exactly. [...]
If you like linguistics, read the whole thing. I found it very interesting, the Linguist professor says mostly positive things about the movie, and discusses how there are some parallels with earth based languages (written languages that don't phonetically represent spoken language) and other linguistic concepts. Lots of interesting observations and food for thought.

Also see: The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis
   

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

My "new" iPhone 5s

Yes, it's an old model. I got a refurbished one from Tracfone for $129.00. I've never had an iPhone before, I do like it, it seems well designed, easy to use with lots of little convenient features. Here is a Youtube video that explains how to use a lot of the basic features:



My sister has one, and she got one for my Dad. I wanted to be able to use FaceTime with them, so I got one too. It may be an older model, but the iOS is version 10.XX, it's up to date, and all things considered, it's both impressive and affordable.

     

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Monday, April 17, 2017

How our sleep patterns change throughout our lives, and how to cope with the changes

And don't I know it. This article explains a lot:

Sleep Patterns Make Steep Changes During Your Life
[...] MIDLIFE SLEEP CRISIS

A lot of accomplished people claim not to need a lot of sleep. Household arts maven Martha Stewart purports to get only four hours a night. So does Tonight Show host Jay Leno. Napoleon, Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Salvador Dali and Leonard da Vinci didn’t get much shut-eye either. So television journalist Pamela Wallin, who also averages only four hours a night, is in august company. “I’ve been an insomniac for as long as I can remember,” says Wallin, a Saskatchewan native who lives in Toronto. “I’ve tried herbal remedies and chamomile tea. I avoid prescription drugs because I can’t afford to lose my sharpness the next day.” Ultimately, Wallin regards her chronic insomnia as something she just has to live with. “If I needed more sleep,” she reasons, “I probably wouldn’t have gotten done what I have done in my life.”

Sixty-two per cent of Americans experience a sleep problem a few nights a week, according to a National Sleep Foundation study released last month. Two-thirds say sleepiness interferes with their concentration. “We should really get nine or 10 hours of sleep,” says psychologist Coren. “But we’re only getting seven. Sleep is not something we value.” Family stresses, the frenetic pace of life and poor bedtime habits all contribute to an epidemic of sleeplessness. Among modern complications: the wired world. “I know people who have a fax machine at the foot of their bed with a little bleeper so they can get up in the middle of the night to read their faxes,” says Coren. “The pressure to lead a 24-hour life is getting worse.”

At least many poor sleepers know they need help. About 2,000 people a year use the sleep clinic at UBC run by psychiatrist Jon Fleming. Thirty-five per cent of them complain of insomnia, a disorder that often runs in families. Others attend the clinic because of sleep apnea (troubled breathing) and narcolepsy (an overwhelming desire to sleep), among other sleep disorders. “The causes of insomnia are legion,” says Fleming. “It can be caused by psychiatric conditions or drug and alcohol abuse. But the leading cause is stress.” When Vancouver children’s bookstore owner Phyllis Simon can’t sleep, she gets out of bed for a while and writes a list of all the things she has to do. “I try to transfer my anxieties to the list. Then I’ll make myself a cup of warm milk.”

But waking up in the middle of the night and then going back to sleep – – as Simon sometimes does — can be harder on cognition than not sleeping at all, says University of Montreal psychiatrist Roger Godbout. “Your performance the next day will be worse than if you stay up all night,” he explains. While insomnia may lead to fuzzy thinking, those who short-circuit sleep by working long hours could also be compromising their physical health. Research at the University of Chicago shows adults who get fewer than seven hours of sleep are more prone to diabetes, high blood pressure and endocrine dysfunction.

Women also report more sleep problems than men — a consequence, often, of their biology. Just before menstruation, says Toronto Western Hospital sleep researcher Helen Driver, “there is a withdrawal of hormones that triggers poor sleep.” Entering menopause doesn’t make it better. Thirty-six per cent of menopausal women polled by the National Sleep Foundation said hot flashes interfered with their night’s rest. Sleep investigators are becoming more aware of the effects of the female hormones, estrogen and progesterone, says Driver. “Progesterone,” she says, “interacts with a receptor in the brain that seems to have sleep-inducing qualities.” [...]
I used the "Midlife Stage" as an excerpt for this blogpost, because that is about where I am at now. But the entire article starts with infancy, childhood, teen years, all the way through to old age. Something for everyone! Read the whole thing, for embedded links and advice for improving your sleep, whatever stage you may be in.
     

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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Successful people don’t operate alone

America's Insensitive Children?
Perhaps unlike their U.S. peers, kids in Denmark—where happiness levels are the highest on Earth—are taught in school to care for one another from a young age.
Contrary to popular belief, most people do care about the welfare of others.

From an evolutionary standpoint, empathy is a valuable impulse that helps humans survive in groups. In American schools, this impulse has been lying dormant from a lack of focus. But in Denmark, a nation that has consistently been voted the happiest place in the world since Richard Nixon was president, children are taught about empathy from a young age both inside and outside of school.

[...]

Another, less obvious example of empathy training in Danish schools is in how they subtly and gradually mix children of different strengths and weaknesses together. Students who are stronger academically are taught alongside those who are less strong; shier kids with more gregarious ones; and so on. The goal is for the students to see that everyone has positive qualities and to support each other in their efforts reach the next level. The math whiz may be terrible at soccer, and vice versa. This system fosters collaboration, teamwork, and respect.

Studies show that this system of interactive teaching involves a steep learning curve. Students who teach others work harder to understand the material, recall it more precisely, and use it more effectively. But they also have to try to understand the perspective of other students so they can help them where they are having trouble. The ability to explain complicated subject matter to another student is not an easy task, but it is an invaluable life skill. Research demonstrates that this type of collaboration and empathy also delivers a deep level of satisfaction and happiness to kids; interestingly, people’s brains actually register more satisfaction from cooperating than from winning alone.

Perhaps, then, it is no surprise that empathy is one of the single most important factors in fostering successful leaders, entrepreneurs, managers, and businesses. It reduces bullying, increases one’s capacity to forgive, and greatly improves relationships and social connectedness. Empathy enhances the quality of meaningful relationships, which research suggests is one of the most important factors in a person’s sense of well being. Research also suggests that empathetic teenagers tend to be more successful because they are more purpose-driven than their more narcissistic counterparts. And if you think about it, it all makes sense. Successful people don’t operate alone; every human needs the support of others to achieve positive results in his or her life. [...]
When I was younger I might have dismissed this as new age twaddle. But I'm older now, and I've learned to appreciate that people are, to varying degrees, interdependent on one another. No one lives in a vacuum, and certainly "successful" people have good relationships with other people.

Empathy does matter. I think we are sometimes resistant to it because our empathy can be manipulated for political or commercial purposes. But regardless of attempts to misuse it, it still has a place in human society. There is a lot of alienation in American culture. You have to wonder, if children were taught to recognize and understand empathy and human emotions, their own and others, at an early age, if there would be less school shootings and bullying?

As a landlord, I've also seen a lot of people, many young people, who seem to have no control over their emotions, and they often end up being evicted, because they lack self control and seem not to understand basic human interactions. They seen not to understand their own emotions, and unable to empathize with other peoples emotions. In frustration, they become angry and lash out, which only makes their problems worse. It does not bode well for our culture or our country.

I'm amazed at how many young people I see, who have everything going for them, who have much more help and resources available to them than I did at their age, repeatedly fail and sabotage themselves. They are angry all the time, and seem to lack basic social skills to succeed in life. Even if one does not agree with everything in this article, I would still say there is definitely room for improvement in this area.
     

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