Saturday, April 30, 2022

Why gardening is good for your mind as well as your body

  More than half the planet’s population now live in cities, with limited access to the natural world. For Europe and Latin America, the figure is more than 70%. Yet contact with nature has numerous benefits for both our physical and mental health.

  Gardening is an opportunity for everyone to experience this kind of regular contact with nature, even if they live in built-up areas. For those without a garden of their own, allotments, or community gardens are a highly valuable resource. Demand for allotments is increasing and in some locations, waiting times have reached as much as 40 years.

Friday, April 29, 2022

Righteousness is revealed in conduct, not rhetoric

  It's hard to look at the world and some of the people who seem to get ahead without occasionally asking ourselves why we should be ethical. However normal it is to think like this, the question should be off limits for people who profess strong religious beliefs. After all, what religion does not mandate morality?

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Wearing shoes in the house is just plain gross. The verdict from scientists who study indoor contaminants

  You probably clean your shoes if you step in something muddy or disgusting (please pick up after your dog!). But when you get home, do you always de-shoe at the door?

  Plenty of Australians don’t. For many, what you drag in on the bottom of your shoes is the last thing on the mind as one gets home.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

The essence of sportsmanship

  In the 1964 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria, six-time medalist Eugenio Monti from Italy was favored to win the gold medal in the bobsledding pair event. After his team’s last run, it looked like they were going to make it.

  The British team, led by Tony Nash Jr., still had a chance, but before their final run, Nash discovered a critical axle bolt had broken on their sled. They were done.

Monday, April 25, 2022

How much are you willing to pay for money?

  Disdain for money is a common theme among moralists and philosophers. But money’s not the problem. It’s what people do to get it and what they do with it when they get it.

  In "Fiddler on the Roof," a poor man sings of his daydreams of the wonderful life he’d have if he were a rich man. And surely it would be better. As someone once said, “I’ve been poor and I’ve been rich. Rich is better.”

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Black Lives Matter protests are shaping how people understand racial inequality

  Considered to be the largest social justice movement since the civil rights era of the 1960s, Black Lives Matter is more than the scores of street protests organized by the social justice group that attracted hundreds of thousands of demonstrators across the world.

  From its early days in 2014 after Officer Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown, Jr. to the protests following the murder of George Floyd in 2020, Black Lives Matter has opened the door for social change by expanding the way we think about the complicated issues that involve race.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

The parable of Brother Leo

  An old legend tells of a monastery in France well-known throughout Europe because of the extraordinary leadership of a man known only as Brother Leo. Several monks began a pilgrimage to visit Brother Leo to learn from him. Almost immediately the monks began to bicker over who should do various chores.

Friday, April 22, 2022

‘Every day feels unsettled’ – educators decry staffing shortage

  The COVID-19 pandemic, with its multiple waves of remote, hybrid, and in-person education, increased students’ needs for support, revealed political minefields in teaching, and heightened labor tensions for educators. And in the 2021-2022 school year, staffing shortages have made all of that worse, as our work details.

  Our long-term research with hundreds of teachers and school administrators reveals that persistent staffing shortages are leading professionals to feel burned out and to worry about students missing learning opportunities.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - Who is Mike Durant?

  Many of you have asked the question, “Have you ever seen anyone simply run a media-only campaign and avoid campaigning like Mike Durant has done in this year’s U.S. Senate campaign?”  Surprisingly my answer for many of you is, “Yes, I have.”

  Ironically, the man that Richard Shelby beat for this U.S. Senate seat 36 years ago, Jeremiah Denton, was almost a carbon copy of Mike Durant. Denton was a POW/national war hero of the Vietnam era.

  Like Durant, Denton had very distant ties to and knowledge of Alabama. They were both national war/POW celebrities who wanted to be a United States Senator from whichever state was convenient.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Psychological tips aren’t enough – policies need to address structural inequities so everyone can flourish

  “Languishing” is the in-vogue term for today’s widely shared sense of pandemic malaise. According to some psychologists, you can stop languishing with simple steps: Savor the small stuff. Do five good deeds. Find activities that let you “flow.” Change how you think and what you do, and today’s languishing can become tomorrow’s flourishing.

  But in an unjust world burdened by concurrent threats – war, a pandemic, the slow burn of climate change – does this argument ring true? Can simple activities like these really help us – all of us – flourish?

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

The forgotten story of Black soldiers and the Red Ball Express during World War II

  Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower had a problem. In June 1944, Allied forces had landed on Normandy Beach in France and were moving east toward Nazi Germany at a clip of sometimes 75 miles (121 kilometers) per day.

  With most of the French rail system in ruins, the Allies had to find a way to transport supplies to the advancing soldiers.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Your digital footprints are more than a privacy risk – they could help hackers infiltrate computer networks

  When you use the internet, you leave behind a trail of data, a set of digital footprints. These include your social media activities, web browsing behavior, health information, travel patterns, location maps, information about your mobile device use, photos, audio, and video. This data is collected, collated, stored, and analyzed by various organizations, from the big social media companies to app makers to data brokers. As you might imagine, your digital footprints put your privacy at risk, but they also affect cybersecurity.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

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

  The date of Easter, when the resurrection of Jesus is said to have taken place, 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 16, 2022

Lying is like drunk driving

  Sometimes lying makes our lives easier. If you want the day off, just call in sick. If your boss asks if you’ve finished a report, say you left it at home. And if an irate customer calls, just make up a good cover story. Technically these are lies, but since no one’s hurt, what’s the big deal?

Friday, April 15, 2022

How Gen Z activists are living and protecting the First Amendment

  Zanagee Artis says he got into climate activism too late in life. The senior at Brown University co-founded Zero Hour, a youth-led climate movement, in 2017 when he was 17.

  Teigan Blaine, a high school junior in Minnesota, started organizing in eighth grade and is now part of MN Teen Activists, which unites young voices to speak up about injustice.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

The 1 in 10 U.S. doctors with reservations about vaccines could be undermining the fight against COVID-19

  American attitudes toward scientific expertise have become increasingly contentious in recent years. But many people across the political spectrum still place high levels of trust in their personal physicians. Correspondingly, both popular media and public health officials have encouraged physicians to serve as strong advocates for COVID-19 vaccination.

  At the same time, however, there have been several cases of doctors expressing skepticism about vaccines in the media. Though the American Medical Association found that 96% of physicians reported being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in June 2021, some high-profile physicians have spread misinformation about vaccine safety. Some patients have also reported that their personal physicians discouraged them from getting vaccinated on both medical and non-medical grounds.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Paid family leave makes people happier, global data shows

  The U.S. remains the only advanced economy without federal paid leave despite overwhelming support for this benefit.

  Employers are free to provide this benefit at their own expense. But only 1 in 4 U.S. workers, including federal employees, can take paid time off to care for a newborn or a newly adopted or fostered child. That’s problematic for many reasons, including the abundant evidence that paid leave boosts healthy childhood development and economic security.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

How QR codes work and what makes them dangerous – a computer scientist explains

  Among the many changes brought about by the pandemic is the widespread use of QR codes, graphical representations of digital data that can be printed and later scanned by a smartphone or other device.

  QR codes have a wide range of uses that help people avoid contact with objects and close interactions with other people, including for sharing restaurant menus, email list sign-ups, car and home sales information, and checking in and out of medical and professional appointments.

Monday, April 11, 2022

What countries have nuclear weapons, and where are they?

  The Russian invasion of Ukraine has raised fears among the public about the use of nuclear weapons in Europe or against the United States. This level of concern has not been seen since the end of the Cold War.

  NATO countries have been taken aback by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s implied threats to use nuclear weapons against “whoever interferes with us” in Ukraine, and his placement of additional nuclear officers on shifts under a “special regime of combat duty.”

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Accountability in the workplace

  Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time consulting with large companies concerned with strengthening their ethical culture.

  Although I’m sure the leaders I work with care about ethics and virtue for their own sake, I know the driving force to seek outside assistance is self-interest. The risk of reputation-damaging and resource-draining charges resulting from improper conduct is so high that it’s a matter of prudence and responsible stewardship to stress ethical values and moral principles.

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - Fob James and the 1978 governor's race

  The crowded field for governor striving to oust incumbent Kay Ivey includes Tim James. He has run before. In fact, this is his third try for the brass ring. His last race was in 2010 when he barely missed the runoff by a few votes. He was edged out by Robert Bentley, who went on to win. 

  Tim James’ primary calling card has always been that he is the son of former Governor Fob James. The elder James was an ultra-successful businessman, who was first elected governor in 1978 as a Democrat and then elected to a second term as governor as a Republican in 1994. 

Friday, April 8, 2022

Supreme Justice: Ketanji Brown Jackson confirmation is historic

  The historic confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as the 116th Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court is an essential step toward a more inclusive America that reflects the strength of our diverse nation and recognizes the unique and often overlooked role African-American women have played in building and shaping this country.

  Justice Jackson is the first Black woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court in its 233-year history and will be the sixth woman out of the 116 justices to serve on the high court. Justice Jackson’s elevation to our nation’s highest court is a cause for celebration and an encouraging signal to future generations that aspire to the highest offices in our nation.

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Biden bets a million barrels a day will drive down soaring gas prices – what you need to know about the Strategic Petroleum Reserve

  The Biden administration on March 31, 2022, said it plans to release an unprecedented 180 million barrels of oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve to combat the recent spike in gas and diesel prices. About a million barrels of oil will be released every day for up to six months.

  If all the oil is released, it would represent almost one-third of the current volume of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. It follows a release of 30 million barrels in early March, a large withdrawal until the latest one.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Smart devices spy on you – 2 computer scientists explain how the Internet of Things can violate your privacy

  Have you ever felt a creeping sensation that someone’s watching you? Then you turn around and you don’t see anything out of the ordinary. Depending on where you were, though, you might not have been completely imagining it. There are billions of things sensing you every day. They are everywhere, hidden in plain sight – inside your TV, fridge, car, and office. These things know more about you than you might imagine, and many of them communicate that information over the internet.

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Behind the crypto hype is an ideology of social change

  Ads for blockchain, NFTs, and cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin seem to be everywhere. Crypto technologies are being promoted as a replacement for banks; a new way to buy art; the next big investment opportunity, and an essential part of the metaverse.

  To many, these technologies are confusing or risky. But enthusiasts ardently promote them.

Monday, April 4, 2022

What the new science of authenticity says about discovering your true self

  After following a white rabbit down a hole in the ground and changing sizes several times, Alice finds herself wondering “Who in the world am I?”

  This scene from Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” might resonate with you.

  In a world that is constantly changing, it may be challenging to find your authentic self.

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Soaring crude prices make the cost of pretty much everything else go up too because we almost literally eat oil

  The price of oil has been spiking in recent weeks in response to concerns that the war in Ukraine will significantly reduce supply. But what happens in oil markets never stays in oil markets.

  The price of U.S. crude oil jumped to a 13-year high of US$130 on March 6, 2022. It has come down but has been trading above $110 since March 17. That’s over 60% higher than it was in mid-December before fears of a Russian invasion began to mount.

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Using all your strength

  A young boy was walking with his father along a country road. When they came across a very large tree branch the boy asked, “Do you think I could move that branch?”

  His father answered, “If you use all your strength, I’m sure you can.”

  So the boy tried mightily to lift, pull, and push the branch, but he couldn’t move it. Discouraged he said, “Dad, you were wrong. I can’t do it.”

Friday, April 1, 2022

Local governments are attractive targets for hackers and are ill-prepared

  President Joe Biden on March 21, 2022, warned that Russian cyberattacks on U.S. targets are likely, though the government has not identified a specific threat. Biden urged the private sector: “Harden your cyber defenses immediately.”

  It is a costly fact of modern life that organizations from pipelines and shipping companies to hospitals and any number of private companies are vulnerable to cyberattacks, and the threat of cyberattacks from Russia and other nations makes a bad situation worse. Individuals, too, are at risk from the current threat.