According to TWN [The Weather Network, also referred to as Trono Weather Network by friends in the west], the temperature will immediately rise by two degrees tomorrow night at midnight here in London, ON:
The forecast high for tomorrow is 4C, and the forecast low for Wednesday is 6C. These numbers imply a sudden two-degree increase in temperature during the hour at midnight Tuesday. I suppose that's possible, but I wonder whether their weather models may need to be adjusted to allow for consistency and trends.
About a decade or so ago, I learned about gratitude. I had felt gratitude often in my life, but I had never felt almost bathed in it.
I think the transition came as I began to reflect on all the wonderful things that I had experienced in my life and as I began to stop dwelling on the things that had upset me.
Arthur Brooks has written about gratitude in a recent piece in the NYTimes (ht King): Choose to be Grateful. It Will Make You Happier.
For many people, gratitude is difficult, because life is difficult. Even beyond deprivation and depression, there are many ordinary circumstances in which gratitude doesn’t come easily. This point will elicit a knowing, mirthless chuckle from readers whose Thanksgiving dinners are usually ruined by a drunk uncle who always needs to share his political views. Thanks for nothing. ....If grinning for an uncomfortably long time like a scary lunatic isn’t your cup of tea, try expressing gratitude instead. According to research published in the journal Cerebral Cortex, gratitude stimulates the hypothalamus (a key part of the brain that regulates stress) and the ventral tegmental area (part of our “reward circuitry” that produces the sensation of pleasure).
It’s science, but also common sense: Choosing to focus on good things makes you feel better than focusing on bad things.....
There are concrete strategies that each of us can adopt.
First, start with “interior gratitude,” the practice of giving thanks privately. Having a job that involves giving frequent speeches — not always to friendly audiences — I have tried to adopt the mantra in my own work of being grateful to the people who come to see me.
Next, move to “exterior gratitude,” which focuses on public expression. The psychologist Martin Seligman, father of the field known as “positive psychology,” gives some practical suggestions on how to do this. In his best seller “Authentic Happiness,” he recommends that readers systematically express gratitude in letters to loved ones and colleagues. A disciplined way to put this into practice is to make it as routine as morning coffee. Write two short emails each morning to friends, family or colleagues, thanking them for what they do.
Finally, be grateful for useless things. It is relatively easy to be thankful for the most important and obvious parts of life — a happy marriage, healthy kids or living in America. But truly happy people find ways to give thanks for the little, insignificant trifles. Ponder the impractical joy in Gerard Manley Hopkins’s poem “Pied Beauty”...
I expect two other things may have helped me.
We had a lovely snowfall last night. The trees were beautiful, and I knew what I had to do
Snow Stomp Art
The inner artist in me awoke at the crack of dawn and dragged me out of bed to do this work, which I call "The House of the Rising Sun".
Thanks to Ms Eclectic for taking those photos of the work in progress.
Here's the final product:
Previous examples of my snow stomp art:
From Bjorn Lomborg:
The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris later this month is being billed as an opportunity to save the planet. It is no such thing. As I show in a new peer-reviewed paper, even if successful, the agreement reached in Paris would cut temperatures in 2100 by just 0.05° Celsius. The rise in sea level would be reduced by only 1.3 centimeters.
This may seem surprising: we constantly hear how every country has made important commitments to reduce CO2 emissions – the so-called “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions,” or INDCs. According to the UN’s climate chief, Christiana Figueres, “the INDCs have the capability of limiting the forecast temperature rise to around 2.7ºC by 2100, by no means enough but a lot lower than the estimated four, five, or more degrees of warming projected by many prior.” http://ow.ly/UNyZj
A facebook friend (Jeff C) has pointed out that there are many criticisms of Lomborg's position. See, for example, this site. I'll add that some appear to be valid, some don't.
So close and yet so far. They were very close so many times in the past, including 2008.
The first few paragraphs of the linked article are somewhat misleading, but here is the substance, transcribed from a video and cited in the article:
And of course there is that sticky little matter of agreeing that Israel has a right to exist.
As my Facebook friends know, last night I received a bill from our cellular phone service provider (Rogers) for over $11,000. No foolin'.
I called Rogers right away, and after having been put on hold for 20 minutes, reached a service representative who looked into the bill. He assured me that Rogers had flagged all the calls we hadn't made, and would remove those charges from my bill. I still need to be in touch with the Rogers fraud department to completely clear up the matter. I'm not concerned about the bill, but I do resent the time it takes to straighten this out.
It turns out that all the calls (over 300 of them!) were made over a ten-hour stretch from one specific number in Tampa Florida. And they were all made to Guinea-Bissau (a place I confess I had never heard of until now).
After looking over the bill, I see numerous lengthy calls (10-20 minutes or so) made simultaneously or overlapping each other. Quite clearly the same number and account was being used by several callers at the same time.
My presumption is that some phishing organization is involved (quite possibly the alleged Microsoft Service callers who tell me my Mac has been infected by a Windows-based virus). It seems plausible to me they used this account for ten hours to make these calls via Guinea-Bissau, where there is undoubtedly a relay station to send those calls somewhere else.
I am intrigued by how the operation works, what it is after, and how they managed to make so many simultaneous or overlapping calls from our two numbers.
Here is a screenshot of 6 of the calls made from my phone. Six calls made in under two minutes, each lasting between 13 and 21 minutes. Other calls on the bill were generally in the same time range, but some were shorter and some were longer.
Update: I just received email confirming that we will not be charged for all these calls from Tampa to Guinea-Bissau.
I just read a very lengthy and very informative interview with Israeli historian/journalist, Benny Morris. He has spent decades delving into original sources to collect information, and he pulls no punches.
Here are some excerpts, but read the whole thing!
Rex Murphy is merciless in his criticism of university administrators' wimpiness:
The most recent reports say there is a crisis in child services in the United States. The cost of daycare spaces has reached absolutely astronomic levels. Placement at the University of Missouri, for example, easily breaks the $40,000 threshold. And if your toddler is lucky enough to squeeze into Yale, which has some of the most craven caregivers, the most swaddled cocoons and safe spaces on the continent, it will set you back a minimum $60,000. But hey, if you want the very best day care for the intellectually infantile at any of the top Institutes of Higher Whining, that’s why God gave you noses — so you could pay through them.
Parents are rightly grieved. “The fees are unbelievable,” said one parent. “And then there’s the cost of bubble wrap, organically-sourced pacifiers, printing out the tidal surge of trigger-warnings, the personal grievance manual (Why I’m Angry and Acting Out, Today) and the escalating costs of updating the daily identity politics kit. And of course the helicopter rides to check on little Brent or Stephanie, they really hit the home budget.”
It’s sad, but the Higher Whining and Advanced Fatuousness of American campus life takes a lot of mommy and daddy’s moola.
There's more in a similar vein at the link. Enjoy!
Addendum: Apparently George Will agrees.
If there is a bubble in the Chinese economy, some recent defaults on corporate debt there will be worrying. From the Business Insider,
For the past few years, China's companies, banks, and local governments have been loading up on debt.
Loans to companies and households stood at a record 207% of gross domestic product at the end of June, up from 125% in 2008, data compiled by Bloomberg shows.
If that doesn't worry you, consider that Greek debt is "only" 185% of GDP. ("Normal" debt for a country is somewhere around 100% of GDP.)
Corporate debt in China has grown faster than in any other top-15 economy.
Here's the chart:
Addendum: I had meant to add this when I posted this clip. I wonder to what extent there is a serious moral hazard problem in Chinese corporate finance: people lend to the corporations expecting the gubmnt to bail out the firms.
Addendum #2: see this about China's big PC maker.
Central planners do not typically promote health and welfare. Rather, they tend to promote their own careers and their own bureaucracies at the expense of their citizens subjects. The failures of central planning in the soviet era and during Mao in China stand as classic examples. Modern-day examples would include Venezuela, of course.
Another modern-day example comes from post-Mao China, where pollution gets worse each year and is definitely life-threatening.
Gubmnts do not necessarily do a very good job of dealing with what economists call "negative externalities".
A swathe of China was blanketed with acrid smog Monday after levels of dangerous particulates reached around 50 times World Health Organization maximums, in what environmental campaigners said were the highest figures ever recorded in the country.
Pictures showed smog so thick that buildings in Changchun, the capital of Jilin province in the northeast, were rendered invisible.
One image showed a restaurant's neon sign seemingly floating in mid-air above traffic, proclaiming in yellow: “Eastern Dumpling King”.
Levels of PM2.5, the tiny airborne particles considered most harmful to health, reached 860 micrograms per cubic metre in the city of around eight million.
The World Health Organization’s recommended maximum is a 24-hour average of 25 micrograms.
Getting the flu shot every year reduces the marginal or incremental effectiveness of getting one this year.
Probablistically getting the vaccine still reduces the likelihood of contracting the flu; it just isn't as effective as it would be if you hadn't had it for several years prior to getting it. See this. [via Jack]
Dr. Edward Belongia is among the scientists who have seen the picture coming into focus. He and some colleagues at Wisconsin’s Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation reported recently that children who had been vaccinated annually over a number of years were more likely to contract the flu than kids who were only vaccinated in the season in which they were studied.
The article goes on to emphasize that getting the shot is still effective (versus not getting it), but just not as effective.
From this morning's Daily Alert:
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America on Tuesday:
- "No matter what disagreements there are between Israel and the United States, Israel has no better friend than America and America has no better friend than Israel."
- "I had a very good meeting with President Obama at the White House, and I deeply appreciate his commitment to bolster Israel's security at the time when the Middle East is becoming more dangerous than ever."
- "Despite our disagreement over the nuclear deal with Iran, I believe that America and Israel can and should work together now to ensure Iran complies with the deal, to curb Iran's regional aggression and to fight Iranian terrorism around the world."
- "The reason that we don't have peace yet with the Palestinians is not because of the settlements or a territorial dispute [over] the territories that were won in our defensive war of 1967. Israelis and Palestinians had a conflict for half a century - almost 50 years - before Israel captured any of those territories or built even a single one of those settlements."
- "And afterwards, we left part of that territory - Gaza. Left it to the very last centimeter or inch. Stripped out the settlements, went to the '67 boundaries, uprooted all the people who were there, disinterred people from their graves. What did we get? Peace? We got rockets."
- "The truth is that the reason that there isn't peace between Israelis and Palestinians is the persistent Palestinian refusal to recognize the Jewish state in any boundary."
- "I remain committed to a vision of two states for two peoples where a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the Jewish state, and Israel will continue to work for peace in the hope that what is not achievable today might be achievable tomorrow."
A repost of something I wrote over 8 years ago:
Yesterday, the community band of which I am a member, played at a decoration ceremony for veterans at a local cemetery. During the ceremony, someone read the well-known poem, In Flanders Fields, by Dr. John McCrae, who was a Lt. Col. in the Canadian Army.
I've heard the poem many times, but this time, for some reason, the last stanza really hit home:
The health-care biz is definitely competitive.... for political favours. JR, my favourite drug dealer, sent me this chart from the WSJ recently:
The article was trying to make a point about all the lobbying being done about higher education, but the whopping number that stands out is that there were 3885 lobbyists in the health biz.
And when you realize that firms tend not to spend money unless they expect payoffs, imagine the payoffs they must be expecting from lobbying!
Bryan Caplan rightly takes Canada to task here.
The health exclusion clearly isn't about contagion; it's about socialized medicine. Canadians don't want to pay for foreigners' health care. Why not admit the sick, subject to the proviso that their health care is their own problem? Unthinkable! By the twisted logic of the welfare state, Canadians have to pay for the health care ofanyone within their borders. Thanks to these odd qualms, foreigners endure sickness and poverty at home instead of sickness and prosperity in Canada. And who knows, maybe a First World job would let foreigners pay for the health care they or their loved ones need, allowing them to enjoy health and prosperity without burdening Canadian taxpayers?
Canadians are hardly alone, so why single them out? Because their blatant exclusion of sick foreigners directly contradicts their stellar international reputation for compassion and common sense. As usual, the welfare state isn't about helping the poor and desperate. It's about helping relatively poor and desperate members of your tribe while keeping absolutely poor and desperate human beings comfortably out of sight. Sick.
But follow the link and read some of the comments there --- some nice additions, both supporting and qualifying Caplan's condemnation.
In commenting about other people's comments [see this, via Jack] about the economic and social disaster being perpetrated upon the people of Venezuela by the socialist gubmnt, JB [my favourite drug dealer] wrote:
"What kind of government does it take to bring a country with the largest oil reserves in the world to the brink of bankruptcy?"Unfortunately, the answer is, "The usual kind."
from Popular Science:
#8, if true, would please many. Please let it be correct.
In 1907, famed psychologist William James claimed, “We are making use of only a small part of our possible mental and physical resources.” A journalist later misquoted him as saying the average person develops only 10 percent of his mental capacity. Scans, however, show that we use every part of our brain, though not all regions are active at once. (Sorry, Morgan.) That’s why damage to any area of the brain—such as the aftermath of a stroke—usually results in mental and behavioral effects.
The state of Georgia began distributing classical-music CDs to the families of newborns in 1998. Each CD included a message from the governor: “I hope both you and your baby enjoy it—and that your little one will get off to a smart start.” While the sentiment is appealing, the so-called Mozart Effect is dubious. The idea sprang from a 1993 study at the University of California at Irvine, which showed that 36 college students performed better on an IQ test after listening to Mozart than after relaxation exercises or silence. No one has been able to replicate those results. In fact, a 1999 Harvard University review of 16 similar studies concluded the Mozart Effect isn’t real.
Adult rats, rabbits, and even birds can grow new neurons, but for 130 years, scientists failed to identify new brain-cell growth in adult humans. That all changed in 1998, when a Swedish team showed that new brain cells form in the hippocampus, a structure involved in storing memories. Then, in 2014, a team at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden measured traces of carbon-14 in DNA as a way to date the age of cells, and confirmed that the striatum, a region involved in motor control and cognition, also produces new neurons throughout life. While our brains aren’t exactly an orgy of wildly replicating cells, they do constantly regenerate.
There are small anatomical differences between male and female brains, this much is certain. The hippocampus, involved in memory, is usually larger in women, while theamygdala, involved in emotion, is larger in men. (The opposite of what you’d expect from this myth.) But evidence suggests gender disparities are due to cultural expectations, not biology. For example, in 1999, social psychologists at the University of Waterloo in Ontario gave women and men a difficult math test. Women—even those with strong math backgrounds—scored lower than men, unless told the test had revealed no gender differences in the past. Then the women performed equally well as the men.
In the movies, comas look harmless: A well-groomed patient lays in bed for a few months and wakes fully articulate, seemingly unscathed by his or her ordeal. In real life, those emerging from comas often suffer disabilities and need rehabilitation. Brain scans point to why. Scientists at the French National Center for Scientific Research, in 2012, found that high-traffic brain regions—normally bright hubs of activity, even during sleep—are eerily dark in coma patients (while other areas inexplicably light up). Most comas also don’t last more than two to four weeks. So don’t believe everything (or anything) you see on Grey’s Anatomy.
If you’ve ever despaired at the Sunday crossword, here’s good news: Neuroscientists have found that doing crossword puzzles makes you very good at—drumroll, please—doing crossword puzzles. A 2011 study, led by researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, found that solving crossword puzzles initially delayed the onset of memory decline in individuals between the ages of 75 and 85, but sped the decline (for reasons unknown) once a person showed signs of dementia. Today, most neuroscientists agree there is no harm in the activity. But don’t expect it to make you any better at finding your keys come Monday morning.
Ever asserted that you need lessons delivered visually or verbally? We hate to break it to you, but there’s just no support for that. In 2006, psychologists at the University of California at Santa Barbara found that students didn’t perform any better on a test when given instructions in their preferred style. And a 2009 review paper found no studies upholding the claim—popular among both educators and students—that teaching and learning styles should match. That said, there are broad principles under which everyone seems to learn better, such as through repetition, testing, and by spacing out learning sessions.
That woozy feeling you get after three or four glasses of wine isn’t from brain cells expiring. When scientists at the Bartholin Institute in Denmark compared the brains of deceased alcoholics and nonalcoholics, they found the total number of neurons to be the same. Alcohol, like other substances, can kill brain cells at high doses (especially the sensitive brain cells of developing fetuses), but moderate alcohol use does not. It does interfere with how neurons communicate, affecting one’s ability to perform tasks like walking, speaking, and making decisions. But you already knew that.
Extrasensory perception (ESP), the so-called sixth sense, can be traced back to an experiment in the 1930s. Joseph Banks Rhine, a botanist at Duke University, claimed that individuals who were shown the blank face of a card could correctly guess a shape printed on the back (supposedly by reading the mind of the person administering the test). Although no other type of test has produced evidence for ESP, the myth lives on—thanks in part to the CIA, which employed psychic spies during the Cold War. The spymasters shut down their psychic network in 1995, when they finally concluded ESP isn’t a weapon—or even a thing.
In the 1960s, Roger Sperry, a neuropsychologist at the California Institute of Technology, cut fibers connecting the brain’s two hemispheres in a handful of epilepsy patients to reduce or eliminate their seizures. He then ran an experiment, flashing images—of letters, lights, and other stimuli—into either the left or right eye of the patients. Sperry found that the brain’s left hemisphere better processed verbal information and the right hemisphere, visual and spatial. Over decades, those findings became misinterpreted as dominance, particularly in self-help books. There is no evidence to support personality types based on dominant hemispheres, but there’s plenty of evidence to refute it: In 2012, for example, psychologists at the University of British Columbia found that creative thinking activates a widespread neural network without favoring either side of the brain.
From Foreign Affairs,
Woman accused of adultery stoned to death by Taliban
On Wednesday, an Afghan official confirmed the Oct. 24 murder of a 22-year-old Afghan woman accused of adultery (Post, Guardian). The woman, identified only as Rokhshana, was forced to stand in a deep hole in the ground while being stoned in Ghor province, according to governor spokesman Abdul Hai Khateby. The stoning occurred after the Taliban’s local tribal council found her guilty of having pre-marital sex with her fiancé, and the fiancé was lashed (Aljazeera). A video of the stoning appeared online late on Monday and has been widely discussed on social media in Afghanistan.