Friday, November 27, 2015

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

“Choose to Be Grateful. It Will Make You Happier.” [Arthur C. Brooks, NY Times] Excerpt:
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....
    ...Evidence suggests that we can actively choose to practice gratitude — and that doing so raises our happiness.
    This is not just self-improvement hokum. For example, researchers in one 2003 study randomly assigned one group of study participants to keep a short weekly list of the things they were grateful for, while other groups listed hassles or neutral events. Ten weeks later, the first group enjoyed significantly greater life satisfaction than the others. Other studies have shown the same pattern and lead to the same conclusion. If you want a truly happy holiday, choose to keep the “thanks” in Thanksgiving, whether you feel like it or not.
    How does all this work? One explanation is that acting happy, regardless of feelings, coaxes one’s brain into processing positive emotions. In one famous 1993 experiment, researchers asked human subjects to smile forcibly for 20 seconds while tensing facial muscles, notably the muscles around the eyes called the orbicularis oculi (which create “crow’s feet”). They found that this action stimulated brain activity associated with positive emotions.
    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. As my teenage kids would say, “Thank you, Captain Obvious.” In the slightly more elegant language of the Stoic philosopher Epictetus, “He is a man of sense who does not grieve for what he has not, but rejoices in what he has.” [read more]
What science-shaking announcement was made 100 years ago [the day before yester]day? “A Century Ago, Einstein’s Theory of Relativity Changed Everything” [Dennis Overbye, NY Times] Excerpt:
By the fall of 1915, Albert Einstein was a bit grumpy....
    He was living alone. A friend, Janos Plesch, once said, “He sleeps until he is awakened; he stays awake until he is told to go to bed; he will go hungry until he is given something to eat; and then he eats until he is stopped.”
    Worse, he had discovered a fatal flaw in his new theory of gravity, propounded with great fanfare only a couple of years before....
    So Einstein went back to the blackboard. And on Nov. 25, 1915, he set down the equation that rules the universe. As compact and mysterious as a Viking rune, it describes space-time as a kind of sagging mattress where matter and energy, like a heavy sleeper, distort the geometry of the cosmos to produce the effect we call gravity, obliging light beams as well as marbles and falling apples to follow curved paths through space.
    This is the general theory of relativity. It’s a standard trope in science writing to say that some theory or experiment transformed our understanding of space and time. General relativity really did. [read more]
Ospreys [and other wildlife] are threatened by toxic substances that pollute waters and accumulate in fish they feed on – including chemicals in flame retardants, cleaning products, and plastics....
    ...the devastating pollutants just keep coming. As soon as one harmful chemical is phased out new ones enter the food chain.
    The constant addition of untested chemicals into the environment is endangering wildlife—often in ways that take years to discover.
    Right now we have a chance to reform the main law that regulates toxic chemicals, so that it is strong enough to protect vulnerable birds, fish, frogs and mammals from an onslaught of toxic pollution....
    We’ve been battling tooth and nail to make toxic chemical reform in Congress meaningful.
    Now, the Senate’s bipartisan toxic chemical reform bill, called “The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act,” fixes the biggest problems with our current law.
    This bill would make sure the safety of chemicals is evaluated using sound science, rather than based on cost. It would prioritize testing the most dangerous chemicals first. And, this bill would help prevent new chemicals from entering the marketplace if they are thought to be unsafe.
    Urge your U.S. senators to support meaningful toxic chemical reform to prevent dangerous chemicals from harming ospreys and at-risk wildlife across the nation.

Have you heard this exceptional voice and lyrical talent, Adele, a young women from England?
    The staid Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung just had an article trashing her new album, “Hello,” as “Tupperware for popular music.” But the author also pointed to her fine early albums “19” and “25.”
    All the songs in “19” are on YouTube. They’re super. Powerful voice and wonderful, surprising rhythms, with the lyrics that can be read at the bottom of each song.

Finally, after surgery that required that I use a catheter for several days, the catheter has been removed. I cannot describe the level of pain involved with that. This pain was something else. So glad it’s over!
    I enjoy a personal and close relationship with our pastor. He and I had a text to and fro yesterday that went like this:
    Pastor: Are you free of your pee bag strapped to your leg yet?
    Me: Yes! Now I’m wearing Depends diapers. It’s amazing how much they hold! I could even sit through one of your sermons without changing to a new one!
    Pastor: I am so glad they make panties with that much capacity!
    Me: Now I know why all the old codgers in your congregation sit there looking satisfied with smiles on their faces. They are peeing themselves.
    Pastor: Ha! Too much information.

I read the medication’s insert, and I saw nothing about dizziness. All the side effects seem to center around the abdomen. Other than the one warning of possible Teletubby. (Sorry, I didn’t mean “Teletubby,” but my AutoCorrector didn’t want to write the word the means cessation of life; it kept substituting things like “Teletubby,” “formality,” “normality.”)

Chand Baori stepwell in India

Just wanted to clear up the situation in Syria ...
    President Assad (who is bad) is a nasty guy who got so nasty his people rebelled and the Rebels (who are good) started winning.
    But then some of the rebels turned a bit nasty and are now called Islamic State (who are definitely bad) and some continued to support democracy (who are still good).
    So the Americans (who are good) started bombing Islamic State (who are bad) and giving arms to the Syrian Rebels (who are good) so they could fight Assad (who is still bad) which was good.
    By the way, there is a breakaway state in the north run by the Kurds who want to fight IS (which is a good thing) but the Turkish authorities think they are bad, so we have to say they are bad whilst secretly thinking they’re good and giving them guns to fight IS (which is good) but that is another matter.
    Getting back to Syria. President Putin (bad, as he invaded Crimea and the Ukraine and killed lots of folks including that nice Russian man in London with polonium) has decided to back Assad (who is still bad) by attacking IS (who are also bad) which is sort of a good thing?
    But Putin (still bad) thinks the Syrian Rebels (who are good) are also bad, and so he bombs them too, much to the annoyance of the Americans (who are good) who are busy backing and arming the rebels (who are also good).
    Now Iran (who used to be bad, but now they have agreed not to build any nuclear weapons and bomb Israel are now good) are going to provide ground troops to support Assad (still bad) as are the Russians (bad) who now have ground troops and aircraft in Syria.
    So, a Coalition of Assad (still bad) Putin (extra bad) and the Iranians (good, but in a bad sort of way) are going to attack IS (who are bad) which is a good thing, but also the Syrian Rebels (who are good) which is bad....

Question: What is the truest definition of globalization?
    Answer: Princess Diana’s death.
    Question: How come?
    Answer: An English princess with an Egyptian boyfriend crashes in a French tunnel, riding in a German car with a Dutch engine, driven by a Belgian who was drunk on Scottish whisky, followed closely by Italian paparazzi on Japanese motorcycles, treated by an American doctor using Brazilian medicines.
    This is sent to you by a Canadian using American Bill Gates’s technology, and you’re likely reading this on a computer that uses Taiwanese chips and a Korean monitor assembled by Bangladeshi workers in a Singapore plant, transported by Indian truck drivers, hijacked by Indonesians, unloaded by Sicilian longshoremen, and trucked to you by someone who immigrated to the US.
    That, my friend, is globalization!

Only in Australia:

I am a medical student currently doing a rotation in toxicology at the poison control centre in Brisbane. Today, this woman called in very upset because she caught her little daughter eating ants. I quickly reassured her that the ants are not harmful and there would be no need to bring her daughter into the hospital. She calmed down and, at the end of the conversation, happened to mention that she had given her daughter some ant poison to eat in order to kill the ants. I told her that she better bring her daughter into the emergency room right away.

Qantas Airlines – Repair Division. Remember, it takes a college degree to fly a plane but only a high school diploma to fix one.
    Here are some more actual maintenance complaints submitted by Qantas pilots (marked with a P) and the solutions recorded by maintenance engineers (marked with an S):

P: Autopilot in altitude-hold mode produces a 200 feet per minute descent.
S: Cannot reproduce problem on ground.

P: Evidence of leak on right main landing gear.
S: Evidence removed.

P: DME volume unbelievably loud.
S: DME volume set to more believable level.

P: Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick.
S: That’s what friction locks are for.

P: IFF inoperative in OFF mode.
S: IFF always inoperative in OFF mode.
Limerick of the week:
    Line 3 sea
Copyright © 2015 by Morris Dean

1 comment:

  1. Ever grateful: centennial of General Relativity, toxic chemical reform, Adele "19," it Depends, quirk of AutoCorrector, tedious stepwell, Syria cleared up, globalization explained, only in Australia, anteater, Qantas Repair Division, bummer....