Monday, February 28, 2022

How to succeed by failing forward

  The best way to teach our children to succeed is to teach them to fail.

  After all, if getting everything you want on the first try is success and everything else is failure, we all fail much more often than we succeed.

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Joe Cain returned Mardi Gras to Mobile

  Though Mardi Gras had been celebrated for nearly a century and a half in both New Orleans, Louisiana and Mobile, Alabama, as with many things, the Civil War had nearly ended this celebration permanently. Though no one ever gets to know what might have been, one thing is certain, Mardi Gras was no longer being celebrated once the long and gruesome war had come to end.

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Taxpayers should expect serious delays from the IRS this year – a tax scholar offers tips but says only Congress can fix the underlying problem

  No one likes tax season. It’s complicated, it’s stressful, and it’s getting worse.

  Last year was already the “most challenging year taxpayers and tax professionals have ever experienced,” according to the Taxpayer Advocate Service, an independent part of the Internal Revenue Service. According to the agency’s annual report, taxpayers had trouble reaching the IRS, tax returns took months to process, almost a quarter of refunds didn’t go out until 2022, and collection notices were sent out even after the tax owed was paid.

Friday, February 25, 2022

What’s insider trading and why it’s a big problem

  There’s a growing bipartisan push to prohibit members of Congress from buying or selling stocks. The shift follows news reports that several senators sold stocks shortly after receiving coronavirus briefings in early 2020 and that at least 57 lawmakers have failed to disclose financial transactions since 2012 as required by law.

  Congress passed that law – the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act, also known as the STOCK Act – in 2012 to fight insider trading among lawmakers with increased transparency. But a chorus of legislators and governance watchdogs argue that it didn’t go far enough and isn’t working.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Calling the coronavirus the ‘Chinese virus’ matters – research connects the label with racist bias

  No one wants their geographic region to be associated with a deadly disease. Unfortunately, this has happened in the past with diseases such as “German measles,” “Spanish flu,” and “Asiatic cholera.”

  It happens today, too, even though the World Health Organization advises against naming pathogens for places to “minimize unnecessary negative effects on nations, economies and people.” By Feb. 11, 2020, the WHO had announced that the official name for the novel coronavirus just starting its spread around the world would be severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 – or SARS-CoV-2. The illness it caused would be called COVID-19, short for Coronavirus Disease of 2019.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Canadian trucker protests show how the loudest voices in the room distort democracy

  After Canadian truckers upset with vaccination mandates made their way to Ottawa, they parked their vehicles near Parliament and started making noise – lots of it – blasting their air horns day and night, disturbing the repose of citizens at home, work and in school.

  The local reaction was swift. Hundreds of noise complaints prompted Ottawan police to issue tickets and declare a state of emergency.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Old statues of Confederate generals are slowly disappearing – will monuments honoring people of color replace them?

  With most of the legal challenges resolved after the violent Unite the Right rally, and the statue of Robert E. Lee removed from its lofty pedestal in downtown Charlottesville, Virginia, local lawmakers in December 2021 voted to do the unimaginable – donate the statue to the local Jefferson School African American Heritage Center.

  In turn, the nonprofit cultural group quickly announced its plan to melt down the bronze statue and use it as raw material for a new public artwork. What the group plans to build is still an open question, but it clearly will not be another statue honoring the Lost Cause of the Confederacy, the idea that slavery was a benevolent institution and the Confederate cause was just.

Monday, February 21, 2022

We expect more of adults

  Although 11-year-old Mark wasn’t much of an athlete, his dad urged him to play youth baseball. Mark liked to play, but he was hurt by the remarks of teammates and spectators whenever he struck out or dropped a ball. Just before the fourth game of the season, Mark told his dad he didn’t want to go. “I’m no good,” he said, “and everyone knows it.”

Sunday, February 20, 2022

The official enemies racket

  An essential element in any national-security state is the need to keep the citizenry afraid. If people aren’t afraid, they won’t be so eager and willing to continue flooding large amounts of taxpayer largess into the coffers of the national-security establishment. Therefore, central to any national-security state is the need for official enemies, rivals, and opponents.

Saturday, February 19, 2022

The Jan. 6 Capitol attacks offer a reminder – distrust in government has long been part of Republicans’ playbook

  The Republican National Committee has legitimized the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol attacks. The RNC declared on Feb. 4, 2022 that the insurrection and preceding events were “legitimate political discourse” — an assertion that Sen. Mitch McConnell soon after countered, saying that it was a “violent insurrection.”

  The Justice Department is investigating former President Donald Trump’s involvement on Jan. 6, when several thousand rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol. The attacks resulted in the deaths of at least seven people and the injury of 150 police officers.

Friday, February 18, 2022

Whether up in smoke or down the toilet, missing presidential records are a serious concern

  We may never get to the bottom of whether Donald Trump flushed documents down a White House toilet. “Fake story,” says the former president. “100% accurate,” retorts a reporter.

  But even without having to unclog plumbing in search of missing papers, national archivists have their work cut out trying to plug potential gaps in the historical record of the 45th president.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

No-knock warrants, a relic of the ‘war on drugs,’ face renewed criticism after Minneapolis death

  Protests in Minneapolis over the death of a 22-year-old man during a police raid have reignited debate over the role of so-called “no-knock warrants.”

  Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey imposed a moratorium on the practice, in which police obtain permission to enter a premises unannounced, and often accompanied by heavily armed SWAT teams.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

How raising interest rates curbs inflation – and what could possibly go wrong

  After about three decades of relatively low inflation, consumer prices are skyrocketing again.

  The price of gasoline, for example, was up 40% in January 2022 from a year earlier, while used cars and trucks jumped 41%, according to data released on Feb. 10, 2022. Other categories experiencing high inflation include hotels, eggs, and fats and oils, up 24%, 13%, and 11%, respectively. On average, prices climbed about 7.5%, the fastest pace of inflation since 1982.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Curing "victimitis"

Watch your thoughts; they lead to attitudes.

Watch your attitudes; they lead to words.

Watch your words; they lead to actions.

Watch your actions; they lead to habits.

Watch your habits; they form your character.

Watch your character; it determines your destiny.

Monday, February 14, 2022

Drunk and bitter on Valentine's Day

  I'm not opposed to love. In fact, I love love, especially the sex part. It's not even that I hate Valentine's Day. But like every event in our society that contains even the slightest hint of sappy sentimentality, it has been done to death. (Can you say, "Titanic?")

  For example, as if it weren't enough that some person or persons came up with the concept of setting aside an entire day dedicated solely to the celebration of lust and adoration, this same person (or persons) decided that this day needed a symbol. It was decided that the best symbol would be a bastardization of that big, red, thumping blood-pumper in the middle of the human chest. Of course, since the natural appearance of this vital organ doesn't exactly evoke feelings of lust (unless you're into such kinky stuff as barfing on your partner), it had to be "prettied up" by taking out the lumps and slapping on some ribbons and bows.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

5 strategies employers can use to address workplace mental health issues

  COVID-19 has inflicted a serious mental health toll on many U.S. workers.

  Like other Americans, workers have lost loved ones, connections to friends and family, and the comforts of their daily social rhythms. The pandemic has also imposed a unique set of stresses on workers, including the risks of losing their job, rapid adjustments to working from home, and additional workloads. And workers on the front line must face an increased risk of infection and increasingly aggressive customer interactions.

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Why immigration relief matters

  Immigration relief is long overdue for the 10.4 million undocumented immigrants living and working across the United States. Over the past two years, undocumented immigrants have worked through a deadly pandemic to sustain the industries and services that the country relies on. They have risked their safety and the stability of their families as they faced substantial barriers to accessing health care and relief programs as front-line workers. It is therefore critical that the Biden administration and Congress work to create a pathway to citizenship and protections for these and other undocumented immigrants as they work to aid the country’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Friday, February 11, 2022

The self-portrait called character

  While I was on a radio call-in show talking about cheating, a listener I’ll call Stan mocked my concern. He cheated to get into college, he said. He cheated in college to get a job. And now he occasionally cheats on his job to get ahead. In fact, he concluded, cheating is such an important life skill that parents ought to teach their kids how to cheat.

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Not everyone is male or female – the growing controversy over sex designation

  Check out your birth certificate and surely you’ll see a designation for sex. When you were born, a doctor or clinician assigned you the “male” or “female” label based on a look at your genitalia. In the U.S., this has been standard practice for more than a century.

  But sex designation is not as simple as a glance and then a check of one box or another. Instead, the overwhelming evidence shows that sex is not binary. To put it another way, the terms “male” and “female” don’t fully capture the complex biological, anatomical, and chromosomal variations that occur in the human body.

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Good ethics make better relationships

  While I believe that good things tend to happen to people who consistently choose the high road, the correlation between ethics and success is a loose one at best. Thus, it’s pretty hard to sincerely promote ethics by appeals to self-interest.

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Why are people calling Bitcoin a religion?

  Read enough about Bitcoin, and you’ll inevitably come across people who refer to the cryptocurrency as a religion.

  Bloomberg’s Lorcan Roche Kelly called Bitcoin “the first true religion of the 21st century.” Bitcoin promoter Hass McCook has taken to calling himself “The Friar” and wrote a series of Medium pieces comparing Bitcoin to a religion. There is a Church of Bitcoin, founded in 2017, that explicitly calls legendary Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto its “prophet.”

Monday, February 7, 2022

The dangers of absolutism

  The world of ethics spreads from the borders of the absolutists, who think every moral question has a clear and single answer, to the coast of the relativists, who believe ethics is a matter of personal opinion or regional custom.

  In distinguishing right from wrong, absolutists don’t see much of a difference between mathematical calculation and moral reasoning. They’re extraordinarily confident about their ethical judgments, which can range from uncompromising commitment to truth, responsibility, and authority of law to ideas about religious beliefs, abortion, premarital sex, protecting whales, and even body piercing and breastfeeding. Although absolutism is often associated with conservatism, radical liberals can be just as rigid.

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Bad managers, burnout and health fears: Why record numbers of hospitality workers are quitting the industry for good

  About 3.5 million people have at least temporarily left the U.S. workforce since March 2020. Over one-third of them – 1.2 million – are in the leisure and hospitality industry.

  This has created huge problems for restaurants, hotels, and other leisure and hospitality businesses that have struggled to find workers for record numbers of job openings in 2021.

Saturday, February 5, 2022

What your checkbook and calendar say about your values

  If I wanted to check your credit worthiness, I’d look at your balance sheet – what you have and what you owe – and I’d want to know about your history of paying your debts. If I wanted to know your values, I’d look at your calendar and checkbook.

Friday, February 4, 2022

There is much more to mindfulness than the popular media hype

  Mindfulness is seemingly everywhere these days. A Google search I conducted in January 2022 for the term “mindfulness” resulted in almost 3 billion hits. The practice is now routinely offered in workplaces, schools, psychologists’ offices, and hospitals all across the country.

  Most of the public enthusiasm for mindfulness stems from the reputation it has for reducing stress. But scholars and researchers who work on mindfulness, and the Buddhist tradition itself, paint a more complex picture than does the popular media.

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Pope Benedict faulted over sex abuse claims: New report is just one chapter in his – and Catholic Church’s – fraught record

  An in-depth report released last week alleges that former Pope Benedict XVI allowed four abusive priests in Munich to remain in ministry. The pope, then known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, led the German archdiocese from 1977 to 1982.

  The 1,900-page audit was commissioned by the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising but conducted by independent investigators. It covers the period from 1945 to 2019 and lists 235 alleged clergy who were perpetrators of sexual abuse and at least 497 minors who were victims.

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

The moderate, pragmatic legacy of Stephen Breyer

  Stephen Breyer will leave a legacy that reflects the Supreme Court he joined nearly three decades ago – less fractious and less partisan than the bench he is reportedly set to leave at the end of the current term.

  When Breyer was nominated by Democratic President Bill Clinton in 1994, he was not a controversial choice. He was confirmed by an 87-9 vote in the Senate, garnering the support of 79% of Republicans.

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

‘Teaching has always been hard, but it’s never been like this’ – elementary school teachers talk about managing their classrooms during a pandemic

  As the omicron wave spikes across the United States, K-12 education is one of many systems buckling under the weight of expanding needs. Recent headlines highlight staff and busing shortages, parental anxieties about both in-person and distance schooling, and disputes between unions and districts. Yet teachers’ experiences in their classrooms can be overlooked in these conversations.