Friday, April 30, 2021

Responsibilities of management

   Modern managers often utter clichés about wanting employees to “think outside the box,” take risks, and be creative. And while I’m sure companies do appreciate break-through innovative ideas that increase profits, productivity, or quality, the fact is that most organizations are inhospitable to those who challenge old ways of doing things, even practices that are inefficient, useless, or counterproductive.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Getting out of jury duty

  Last week, I dyed my hair orange - not red, not the subtle hue of a delicate tiger lily bloom, but bright, shiny traffic cone orange. This is actually not an unusual occurrence. I've dyed my hair various less-than-conservative shades on the color wheel, and invariably I have received contrasting responses that have ranged from "Hey, cool!" to genuine concern from those who believe that I am yet another victim of the devil's crack rock.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

The intimidating power of integrity

  A teacher once wrote me to, telling me that a parent with a great deal of clout at her school asked her to change attendance records to make her child’s record look better. The teacher said she thought long and hard about the request but eventually refused, knowing it would make the parent angry.

  I commended her moral courage. I wish it didn’t take courage to do the right thing, especially in such a clear case as this. But in the real world, people with power often retaliate when they don’t get what they want. This can make our lives difficult.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Interview with an angry drag queen

  Author’s note: Perhaps I’ve become rusty in the realm of interviewing subjects, but this was just plain traumatic all around. Nonetheless, here’s my interview with the upstart drag queen (female impersonator) Miss Fallopiana Fontaine Fabrege.

JP: So how are you doing, Miss Fabrege?

  FF: I’m good… all good. Thank you very much.

JP: I’m great… um, thanks for asking….

  FF: Well, now to be truthful, I do have a little gas. (Fontaine then lifted her leg like a gymnast far past her prime and attempting to contort her ample frame, giggled like a drunk frat boy and smiled. It kind of sounded like a beaver stuck in a mousetrap… and it did not sound pleased to be there.)

Monday, April 26, 2021

Are you examining your life?

  Today, Socrates is thought of as one of the world’s great philosophers, but to the leaders of Greece, he was annoying and dangerous.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Steve Flowers - Inside the Statehouse: Reapportionment and gerrymandering

  Hopefully you participated in the census last year. It is vitally important for each state that every person is counted.

  One of the first premises set out by our nation’s founding fathers is that there be a census taken every 10 years. The reason for the United States census is to determine how many seats each state is appropriated in the U.S. House of Representatives. It is based on the democratic principle of one man, one vote. Each state shall be equally represented based on the number of people they have within their state borders.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

A concept from physics called negentropy could help your life run smoother

  Life is full of small decisions: Should I pick up that sock on the floor? Should I do the dishes before bed? What about fixing the leaky faucet in the bathroom?

  Leaving a sock on the ground is a manifestation of a concept from physics you may have heard of: entropy. Entropy is a measure of how much energy is lost in a system. If a system loses too much energy, it will disintegrate into chaos. It takes only a little bit of energy to pick up one sock. But if you don’t take care of your yard, let pipes stay clogged, and never fix electrical problems, it all adds up to a chaotic home that would take a lot of energy to fix. And that chaos will leach away your time and ability to accomplish other things.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Christian nationalism is a barrier to mass vaccination against COVID-19

  While the majority of Americans either intend to get the COVID-19 vaccine or have already received their shots, getting white evangelicals to vaccination sites may prove more of a challenge – especially those who identify as Christian nationalists.

  A Pew Research Center survey conducted in February found white evangelicals to be the religious group least likely to say they’d be vaccinated against the coronavirus. Nearly half (45%) said they would not get the COVID-19 shot compared with 30% of the general population.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Sports remain hostile territory for LGBTQ Americans

  For all of the gains LGBTQ people have made over the past few decades, sports remain a highly visible reminder that homophobia and transphobia persist.

  In recent years, more professional athletes, from U.S. women’s soccer team player Tierna Davidson to Olympic gymnast Danell Leyva, have come out of the closet. However, locker rooms remain less inclusive of LGBTQ people than places like schools or workplaces. And though many sports teams and figures have publicly campaigned against homophobia and transphobia, half of LGBTQ respondents in our recent study said that they’d experienced discrimination, insults, bullying, or abuse while playing, watching, or talking about sports.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

CBD, marijuana and hemp: What is the difference among these cannabis products, and which are legal?

  New York recently became the 15th U.S. state to legalize cannabis for recreational use.

  While 67% of U.S. adults support marijuana legalization, public knowledge about cannabis is low. A third of Americans think hemp and marijuana are the same thing, according to the National Institutes of Health, and many people still search Google to find out whether cannabidiol – a cannabis derivative known as CBD – will get them high, as marijuana does.

  Hemp, marijuana, and CBD are all related, but they differ in significant ways. Here’s what you need to know about their legality, effects, and potential health benefits.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Montgomery-made documentary "Remembering Anarcha" set for May 4 release

  On April 5, Terrible Masters Films announced that Gravitas Ventures - a Red Arrow Studios company - had acquired the North American rights to the locally-filmed documentary, "Remembering Anarcha". The film, directed by Josh Carples of Montgomery, Ala., explores the controversial history of Dr. James Marion Sims and the enslaved African women who were the involuntary subjects of his gynecological experiments.

  "Remembering Anarcha" will be released on multiple video-on-demand outlets on May 4. For iTunes users, the film can be pre-ordered here. It will also be released on DVD and Blu-ray.

Unwanted weight gain or weight loss during the pandemic? Blame your stress hormones

  If you have experienced unwanted weight gain or weight loss during the pandemic, you are not alone. According to a poll by the American Psychological Association, 61% of U.S. adults reported undesired weight change since the pandemic began.

  The results, released in March 2021, showed that during the pandemic, 42% of respondents gained unwanted weight – 29 pounds on average – and nearly 10% of those people gained more than 50 pounds. On the flip side, nearly 18% of Americans said they experienced unwanted weight loss – on average, a loss of 26 pounds.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - Wallace: Political genius and legislative master

  As the Alabama Regular Legislative Session evolves, I recall years past when George Wallace was governor. Wallace was definitely a political genius and a master of the legislative process. You might say that he was so successful because he had a lot of experience with being governor and dealing with the legislature. That is true, but it went deeper than that. He worked at it.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

US museums hold the remains of thousands of Black people

  Among the human remains in Harvard University’s museum collections are those of 15 people who were probably enslaved African American people. Earlier this year, the school announced a new committee that will conduct a comprehensive survey of Harvard’s collections, develop new policies, and propose ways to memorialize and repatriate the remains.

  “We must begin to confront the reality of a past in which academic curiosity and opportunity overwhelmed humanity,” wrote Harvard President Lawrence S. Bacow.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Investing in clean electricity to build back better

  Now that Congress has enacted immediate COVID-19 relief, it is time to lay the foundation for a sustained economic recovery through major federal investments in clean energy jobs, environmental justice, and a stable climate. No sector is better positioned for swift decarbonization than the power sector. The right package of tax incentives will drive a rapid transformation, putting the United States immediately onto the path toward carbon-free electricity.

Friday, April 16, 2021

3 ways employers could help fight vaccine skepticism

  Ending the pandemic depends on achieving herd immunity, estimated at 70% or even 80% to 90% of a population. With some 30% of Americans telling pollsters they have no interest in getting vaccinated, that’s cutting it a bit close. The numbers are even worse in many other countries.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

No, you are not addicted to your digital device, but you may have a habit you want to break

  Imagine that you’re a typical middle school student having dinner with your family. Your mother takes your smartphone away and puts it in a lock-box that won’t open for an hour.

  Would you: (a) go ahead and eat dinner with your family? (b) try to pry open the box? or (c) smash the box with a heavy tool when your family is sufficiently distracted?

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

The pandemic recession has pushed a further 9.8 million Americans into food insecurity

  The COVID-19 pandemic has imposed hardship on millions of vulnerable Americans through unemployment and reduced work hours. And this has increased food insecurity across the nation.

  There is no official figure yet for how many more families are struggling to provide regular meals around the table – the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s next annual report on food insecurity, defined as a lack of access to sufficient food due to limited financial resources, won’t be out until the fall.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

After prolonged period of press-bashing, a more constructive form of media criticism is now flourishing

  Over the past several years, and maybe even longer, it seems as if every day brings a new round of attacks on the American press.

  Some of these attacks come under the guise of criticism: accusations of being “fake news”; arguments that journalists are biased. But some more seriously threaten journalists themselves. Just recently, Fox News host Tucker Carlson unleashed what was described as a “calculated and cruel” verbal assault against New York Times reporter Taylor Lorenz repeatedly on his show. Some rallies for Donald Trump even saw attendees displaying threats of lynching reporters on a T-shirt.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - 2022 big election year as Alabama chooses Shelby’s successor

  I previously alerted you to the fact that next year will be a banner year in Alabama politics. The governor, lieutenant governor, and all other statewide constitutional offices are up for election. All 140 members of the Alabama Legislature are up for election and will be running under new lines. Our entire congressional delegation is up for reelection, and they, too, will be running under new lines drawn by the legislature. All 67 sheriffs in the state are also on the ballot.

  This slate in and of itself would make this a marquee year. However, what will render this upcoming 2022 election year momentous is that we will have a very important U.S. Senate seat to fill. Richard Shelby will retire after 36 years in the United States Senate. It will be impossible to replace Senator Shelby. The amount of federal dollars he has secured for the Heart of Dixie is incomprehensible and irreplaceable. He will be remembered as the greatest senator in Alabama history.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

What the American Rescue Plan says about President Biden’s health care priorities – and what they mean for you

  As millions of Americans receive COVID-19 vaccines, the Affordable Care Act just got a booster shot of its own.

  After 11 years of existential threat and months after an argument before the Supreme Court, the ACA has been strengthened under President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, the US$1.9 trillion economic relief package. This means greater access to health insurance at lower costs for millions of Americans.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

How to improve public health, the environment and racial equity all at once: Upgrade low-income housing

  During a presidential election debate on Oct. 22, 2020, former President Donald Trump railed against Democratic proposals to retrofit homes. “They want to take buildings down because they want to make bigger windows into smaller windows,” he said. “As far as they’re concerned, if you had no window, it would be a lovely thing.”

  What a difference five months makes. While replacing your big windows with small ones is not on the Biden-Harris administration’s agenda, increasing home energy efficiency is. Addressing these and other housing issues is critical for three of the new administration’s immediate priorities: ending the COVID-19 pandemic, addressing climate change, and tackling racial and economic inequality.

Friday, April 9, 2021

When can kids get the COVID-19 vaccine? A pediatrician answers 5 questions parents are asking

  A big question among parents and teachers right now is whether their kids will be vaccinated against COVID-19 in time for the fall school semester. Some have wondered whether the vaccine is even necessary for children. Dr. James Wood, a pediatrician and assistant professor of pediatric infectious diseases, explains what doctors know today about the risk children face of getting and spreading the coronavirus and when vaccines might be available.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Why remembering matters for healing

  Today marks Holocaust Remembrance Day. Each year, communities and schools plan various events such as reading the names of Holocaust victims and survivors, forums of Holocaust survivor speakers, or panel discussions with historians. These events run through an entire week of remembrance.

  Such formal days of remembrance are important. As a sociologist who studies grief and justice, I have seen how these events and permanent memorials can be both healing and inspirational. I will share four reasons why remembrance activities are important.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

How effective is the first shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine?

  As the COVID-19 vaccines reach more people across the country, some people have asked: Could we delay the second dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to allow more people to be vaccinated more quickly? And, how safe am I after my first dose?

  As an immunologist, I hear this question frequently. The answer is that a single dose is very effective – but I would add that you should still get both doses. The issue is important, however, not only for your personal health but also for the country’s health as leaders figure out how to ensure there’s enough vaccine for everyone who wants one.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Chivalry is not about opening doors, but protecting society’s most vulnerable from attack

  Modern society is in dispute over the value of chivalry. Chivalry originally referred to the medieval knight’s code of honor but today references a range of – usually male – behaviors, from courtesy to overprotectiveness. Some see it as the mindset of elite warriors, glorifying violence and demeaning women. Others see it as necessary and desirable to protect groups under attack.

Monday, April 5, 2021

Living with a disability is expensive – even with government assistance

  Edward Mitchell is 34 years old and lives in Jackson, Tennessee with a spinal cord injury caused by a hit-and-run accident that happened when he was 17. He has plenty of expenses that all Americans have, like groceries and utilities. But to maintain his independence, he also has to pay for home modifications to accommodate his wheelchair, personal nursing care, dictation tools to help him write, and adjustments to his car so he can drive himself to work.

  He is just one of the 20 million working-age adults living with disabilities in the U.S. for whom it takes more money to make ends meet because of the additional expenses they face every day.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Why Easter is called Easter, and other little-known facts about the holiday

  Today Christians are celebrating Easter, the day on which the resurrection of Jesus is said to have taken place. The date of celebration changes from year to year.

  The reason for this variation is that Easter always falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - 2022 will be a big year for Alabama politics

  All signs point to a Titanic political year in 2022. In fact, as I look back over the last six decades of my observations of Alabama politics, next year may be the most momentous.

Friday, April 2, 2021

7 ways to avoid becoming a misinformation superspreader

  The problem of misinformation isn’t going away. Internet platforms like Facebook and Twitter have taken some steps to curb its spread and say they are working on doing more. But no method yet introduced has been completely successful at removing all misleading content from social media. The best defense, then, is self-defense.

  Misleading or outright false information – broadly called “misinformation” – can come from websites pretending to be news outlets, political propaganda, or “pseudo-profound” reports that seem meaningful but are not. Disinformation is a type of misinformation that is deliberately generated to maliciously mislead people. Disinformation is intentionally shared, knowing it is false, but misinformation can be shared by people who don’t know it’s not true, especially because people often share links online without thinking.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

The history of April Fools' Day

  In certain countries, the April Fools' jokes must be made before noon on April 1, otherwise, it is the prankster who becomes the April Fool.


  The origin of the customs of the day is shrouded in mystery. Some believe it is likely to be a relic of festivities held to mark the vernal equinox. These celebrations of the first days of spring began on the 25th of March and ended on the 2nd of April. Certainly there is some evidence to suggest that April 1st was observed as a general festival in pagan Britain.