Colin Rule's blog

Friends and Health

From the NYT, via my friend Conor: "Last year, researchers studied 34 students at the University of Virginia, taking them to the base of a steep hill and fitting them with a weighted backpack. They were then asked to estimate the steepness of the hill. Some participants stood next to friends during the exercise, while others were alone.

The students who stood with friends gave lower estimates of the steepness of the hill. And the longer the friends had known each other, the less steep the hill appeared.

“People with stronger friendship networks feel like there is someone they can turn to,” said Karen A. Roberto, director of the center for gerontology at Virginia Tech. “Friendship is an undervalued resource. The consistent message of these studies is that friends make your life better.” {...} Read more about Friends and Health

The Chemistry of Love

Paulette Kouffman Sherman, via my friend Larry: "Some researchers found that whether you are attracted to or repulsed by a man’s body odor may depend upon your respective immune systems. In one study, women were asked to sniff t-shirts over several days to see which smells they liked. Women preferred the body odor of men who had major histocompatibility complex (MHC) gene variants that are mostly different from their own. Some scientists explain that this particular bias assures that children may inherit a more diverse MHC and immune system and that if mates’ MHC genes are too similar than kids may not be as healthy... Read more about The Chemistry of Love

Cracked Human Consciousness

I never thought I'd quote cracked.com on my blog, but Geoff Shakespeare did such a good job I couldn't resist (careful, I've cleaned it up a bit here, but the language on the actual article is fairly saucy):

"Albert Einstein said common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by the age of 18. It is also a result of some pervasive and extremely stupid logical fallacies that have become embedded in the human brain over generations, for one reason or another. These malfunctioning thoughts--several of which you've had already today--are a major cause of everything that's wrong with the world. Read more about Cracked Human Consciousness

Organizational Sociopaths

"Organisational sociopaths: rarely challenged, often promoted. Why?" by Richard J. Pech and Bret W. Slade

"Organisations sometimes select and promote the wrong individuals for managerial positions. These individuals may be incompetent, they may be manipulators and bullies. They are not the best people for the job and yet not only are they selected for positions of authority and responsibility, they are sometimes promoted repeatedly until their kind populate the highest levels of the organisational hierarchy. The purpose of this paper is to address this phenomenon by attempting to explain why it occurs and why organisational members tolerate such destructive practices. It concludes by proposing a cultural strategy to protect the organisation and its stakeholders from the ambitious machinations of the organisational sociopath. Read more about Organizational Sociopaths

Obama in Turkey

From President Obama's remarks to the Turkish Parliament yesterday: "I know there have been difficulties these last few years. I know that the trust that binds the United States and Turkey has been strained, and I know that strain is shared in many places where the Muslim faith is practiced. So let me say this as clearly as I can: The United States is not, and will never be, at war with Islam. (Applause.) In fact, our partnership with the Muslim world is critical not just in rolling back the violent ideologies that people of all faiths reject, but also to strengthen opportunity for all its people.

I also want to be clear that America's relationship with the Muslim community, the Muslim world, cannot, and will not, just be based upon opposition to terrorism. We seek broader engagement based on mutual interest and mutual respect. We will listen carefully, we will bridge misunderstandings, and we will seek common ground. We will be respectful, even when we do not agree. We will convey our deep appreciation for the Islamic faith, which has done so much over the centuries to shape the world -- including in my own country. The United States has been enriched by Muslim Americans. Many other Americans have Muslims in their families or have lived in a Muslim-majority country -- I know, because I am one of them. (Applause.) Read more about Obama in Turkey

Descendents of successful cooperators

David Brooks in today's NYT: "The question then becomes: What shapes moral emotions in the first place? The answer has long been evolution, but in recent years there’s an increasing appreciation that evolution isn’t just about competition. It’s also about cooperation within groups. Like bees, humans have long lived or died based on their ability to divide labor, help each other and stand together in the face of common threats. Many of our moral emotions and intuitions reflect that history. We don’t just care about our individual rights, or even the rights of other individuals. We also care about loyalty, respect, traditions, religions. We are all the descendents of successful cooperators. Read more about Descendents of successful cooperators

Rethinking the legal profession

Adam Cohen in the 4/1 NYT: "The economic downturn is hitting the legal world hard. American Lawyer is calling it “the fire this time” and warning that big firms may be hurtling toward “a paradigm-shifting, blood-in-the-suites” future. The Law Shucks blog has a “layoff tracker,” and it is grim reading. Top firms are rapidly thinning their ranks, and several — including Heller Ehrman, a venerable 500-plus-lawyer firm founded in 1890 — have closed.

The employment pains of the legal elite may not elicit a lot of sympathy in the broader context of the recession, but a lot of hard-working lawyers have been blindsided, including young associates who are suddenly finding themselves with six-figure student-loan debts and no source of income.

Leading firms have historically avoided mass layoffs, concerned that their reputations would take a hit. But some have been putting those inhibitions aside, perhaps calculating that the stigma of pushing out their colleagues has faded. Law firm managers and bar associations should be looking for more creative ways to deal with the hard times — like reducing pay for both partners and associates to save jobs, as a few firms have begun doing.

The silver lining, if there is one, is that the legal world may be inspired to draw blueprints for the 21st century. Read more about Rethinking the legal profession

Free video interviews on Mediate.com

Very cool -- just learned that Mediate.com, the the premiere dispute resolution information portal, has opened its archive of video interviews for April. They've got more than 100 with the biggest names in dispute resolution (ahem, yes, I'm on the list -- but I can't hold a candle to giants like Roger Fisher, Carrie Menkel-Meadow, Len Riskin, Frank Sander, etc.) holding forth on pretty much every topic imaginable. I highly recommend you check it out. Read more about Free video interviews on Mediate.com

Forcing our brains to evolve

Matt Harding, NPR's Weekend Edition today: "I believe globalization is forcing our brains to evolve.

I've had the privilege to see a lot more of the world than anyone my age could reasonably hope to. A few years ago, on a backpacking trip, I made a video of myself dancing terribly in exotic locations. I put it on my web site. Some friends started passing it around, and soon millions of people had watched it. I was offered sponsorship to continue my accidental vocation, and since then I've made two more videos that include 70 countries on all seven continents. A lot of people wanted to dance along with me, so I started inviting them to join in everywhere I went, from Toronto to Tokyo to Timbuktu.

Here's what I can report back: People want to feel connected to each other. They want to be heard and seen, and they're curious to hear and see others from places far away. I share that impulse. It's part of what drives me to travel. But it's constantly at odds with another impulse, which is to reduce and contain my exposure to a world that's way too big for me to comprehend. Read more about Forcing our brains to evolve

Conflict Resolution Governance

Daniel Schorr on NPR: "The president tends to seek conflict resolution rather than drama. He has been compared to Franklin D. Roosevelt, confronted with an economic crisis. But Roosevelt closed the banks to avoid a run on them. Obama, on the other hand, joined in on a rescue effort for the ailing financial institutions. FDR enlisted 8.5 million of the unemployed into a federal workforce. The incumbent sponsors a complicated stimulus, or recovery package, intended to work through the states and localities.

Faced with Democratic objections to elements in his 10-year budget, he invites suggestions for alternatives. And he doesn't appear to be perturbed when House Republican John Boehner calls his budget "the most irresponsible piece of legislation" he has seen.

There is a sense that Obama is employing his skills as a community organizer, bent on conflict resolution, seeking the common ground. Tuesday night he said, "When each of us looks beyond our own short-term interest to the wider set of obligations we have toward each other, that's when we succeed." Read more about Conflict Resolution Governance

Get Your Kirk On

Thomas Vinciguerra in the NYT: "So what, beyond pushing buttons, do these men — as all Kirk chair owners appear to be — do with the most conspicuous piece of furniture in the room?

Some watch TV in theirs, or simply loll, and some seem to find the chair an empowering place from which to deal with others. “When we have a little family powwow — I have four children — I sit in it to lay down the law,” said Mr. Boyd, the auto parts manager.

And most, of course, indulge their fantasies, imagining doing battle with Klingons and otherwise cruising the cosmos. “Sitting in it,” said Mr. Bradshaw, the graphic designer, “I find myself striking an action pose quite unconsciously.”

To his regret, he must strike those poses in his home office. “My wife is not big on it,” he said. “I’ve actually been threatened with divorce if it comes into the living room.” Read more about Get Your Kirk On

Never again

Mark Danner in the NY Review of Books: "We think time and elections will cleanse our fallen world but they will not. Since November, George W. Bush and his administration have seemed to be rushing away from us at accelerating speed, a dark comet hurtling toward the ends of the universe. The phrase "War on Terror"—the signal slogan of that administration, so cherished by the man who took pride in proclaiming that he was "a wartime president"—has acquired in its pronouncement a permanent pair of quotation marks, suggesting something questionable, something mildly embarrassing: something past. And yet the decisions that that president made, especially the monumental decisions taken after the attacks of September 11, 2001—decisions about rendition, surveillance, interrogation—lie strewn about us still, unclaimed and unburied, like corpses freshly dead..." Read more about Never again

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Colin Rule's blog