It’s Stupid That My Actor Dad Is The One Who Has To Teach Us Not To Be Dumb — Medium

My father, actor Richard Dreyfuss, is taking heat for attending a Ted Cruz rally. I shouldn’t have to write this, but he…

Source: It’s Stupid That My Actor Dad Is The One Who Has To Teach Us Not To Be Dumb — Medium

A psychologist’s advice to voters on narcissism

Trying to pick the best candidate in an election. This Psychology Today article explains how to approach voting so that you steer the election, rather than being manipulated by narcissists. It explains how the average citizen, through what they praise or reject, can influence the political course of the country. Here’s an example of what you’ll find in the article:

Politicians are groomed by us—by our applause, by our polls, by our votes. Whatever you seem to love or hate, they’ll embrace or reject. So be careful what you applaud or attack. It matters what they—and all the little future leaders watching them—think you want in a leader.

Do you give money to strangers, or would you take it?

An entertainer decided to find out what would happen if he posed as someone begging but tried to give money TO people instead of asking them for money. Here’s the video that has already gathered millions of views and tens of thousands of comments.

Comments question whether putting people in a situation where they suspect something is wrong shows their true character, and reactions to how the last encounter was handled are mixed.

Regardless, the video does raise some questions about the culture of giving and the culture of expectation. Would you accept money from a stranger in a situation like this? Why or why not? Do you give money to strangers? Why or why not?

The practice of giving to people who ask for it on the street has prompted a lot of discussion. Some say that the financial support allows them to continue in an unhealthy lifestyle. Others say that giving is beneficial to both the giver and the receiver. Some people have rules about how and when they give. Others are more spontaneous, giving when they feel moved.

Here are some links to read more on the matter:

This piece in the Atlantic explains concerns about giving cash directly:

This writer explains why he gives:

This blogger believes that your responsibility for what happens when you give money doesn’t end when it leaves your possession:

Christianity Today tackled the issue from a Christian perspective:

This site suggests ways to help people who are homeless:

A Biblical perspective: Should Christians refuse to bake cakes for gay weddings?

A blogger has used an argument based on the Bible to assert that Christians who refuse to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple are not following the religion’s principles.

Public debate is raging about the role of the government in commerce and religious beliefs, with laws or proposed laws in Indiana and Arkansas in particular drawing attention because some say they cross the line to legalize discrimination by allowing people to refuse service to certain segments of society who are conducting themselves in a lawful manner.  An example taken from a court case is that a business that self-identified as Christian refused to sell a wedding cake to a same-gender couple. Same-gender marriage is legal in Indiana.

Some claim that people should have the right to refuse service to anyone they want, while others claim that laws should enforce the basic concept of equality and commerce rights should require that goods or services offered to the public in general should be available to everyone without regard to differences in belief. A main argument for Indiana’s now-modified law was that it infringes on religious freedoms guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

In a twist on the discussion, one person who attended seminary, served as a minister and lived in an intentional Christian community (seeking to live according to the faith on a daily basis) has used reasoning based on the Bible to assert that Christians who oppose same-gender marriage should not only not refuse to bake a wedding cake (and one would assume to provide other services) but should bake TWO wedding cakes. Here’s a quote from the blog:

Jesus said, not only should you follow the law of the land — the law which in America for the most part prohibits discrimination against people because of their sexual orientation — not only should you do the minimum you have to do, you should go the extra mile. (Yes, that’s where that expression comes from!) Do *twice* what the law requires.

Head over to the blog to check out the full piece.

Comet landings, shirts, and human potential

Less than a week ago, the European Space Agency marked a moment with the potential to change the course of humanity. After a decade of travel, the Philae probe detached from the Rosetta orbiter and made the first soft landing on a comet in human history. It was a triumph of human planning, coordination, and scientific achievement. Meanwhile back on earth, key ESA scientist Matt Taylor briefed the global media on the achievement while wearing a shirt depicting scantily clad, sexualized women. The shirt raised an uproar, dubbed #shirtgate and #shirtstorm, and an apology.

See the CNN coverage of the controversy and the apology:

In addition to remarks that the shirt is generally unprofessional for an interview situation, objections related specifically to concerns about women’s lack of participation in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Concerns included that the shirt represents a sexist attitude that objectifies women and focuses on their looks. Find out more from American Association of University Women research and programs.

Those objections prompted a backlash, including the claim that those who spoke out against the shirt don’t care about the accomplishment of landing on a comet, as if it is not possible to both celebrate an achievement and criticize an action related to that achievement at the same time.

Some said that women claim they want to wear whatever they like but don’t like it when a man wears whatever he likes, not recognizing the difference between women claiming the right to display their own bodies and a man claiming the right to display their bodies. They seemed to not understand that the argument isn’t that the human form isn’t beautiful or that nonconformity is bad — some of the greatest achievements come from thinking outside of the norms — but that the problem was a matter of context.

Outcry over the outcry provided plenty of illustration as to why the shirt was upsetting.

Those commenting claimed that women who let some shirt deter them from science are wimps, as if the atmosphere if sexism is in total this one-time occurrence rather than the shirt selection reflecting an overall view of how women are to be viewed by society, for their looks instead of — or at least in addition to — their accomplishments.

Some called those who who objected “feminist bullies” and criticizing Matt Taylor for apologizing. After all, how dare he discover that his action caused an undesired reaction and express regret over that? Instead of seeing the situation as offering the potential for insight, the mind-in-a-rut crowd viewed objections as bullying. Some resorted to bullying of their own, such as a YouTube viewer of the original interview:

Oh no no no, doesn’t matter that he did more in a single days work than any feminist has done in over 30 years, it’s instantly discredited because you know.  He’s wearing a shirt.  And it’s not that women aren’t welcome in science, it’s that as soon as you say “four more years of incredibly difficult college courses you can’t sleep through” the girls turn for the door to get their AA or masters in communications.

Or another response:

The sadest thing here is that he actually apologised for wearing that shirt! Thats not they way we should ALL be fighting this crazy feminazism! He should show his middle finger to every single braindead hateful btich out there! The only real difference betwen average feminazi and Hitler was the power he had. If any single average retarded feminazi would gain the same amount of power Hitler did, millions of innocent people would die. That is why this so called ‘3rd wave’ feminism should be banned by law.

If a woman were criticized for what she wore, some reasoned, then there would be a huge outcry. Except that how women scientists look IS a factor, as this article illustrates, noting that female scientists are far more likely to have their appearance described in profiles.

Consider some of the comments on YouTube in response to this BCC news report showing the excitement of Professor Monica Grady, who has been with the lander project from its early days.

Comments (as of this posting, as some have been taken down previously and some of these could be candidates for removal) include:

Haha it’s almost as If her emotional wailing is more important to this reporter, (and the BBC for that matter) than the actual f@#king Philae landing.


nice knockers!!!! and she has brains too……………approved!!!! i take her!


Look at those tits bounce! Damn!


wow shes unhealthy


No meals were skipped in the making of this video.

She was joyful at the success, as surely Matt Taylor was, and who is defending her?

Female scientists have spoken out to defend their industries and the shirt choice as well as to criticize it, as this article notes. It is undeniable that SOME people found the shirt inappropriate, and appropriate behavior is not a majority-rules conclusion.

The mean and contemptuous reactions to an article of clothing on both sides show that individuals have a long way to go in how they treat each other, including whether it’s appropriate to tell someone to die (or get laid) for voicing an opinion. If people are unable to listen to each other respectfully, then a million comet landings won’t fix humanity’s problems.

One of oft-repeated criticism of the outcry is that it “ruined” what should have been the best day of Matt Taylor’s life, that he and others will never be able to look back on it with pride and happiness. That does not need to be the case. It might seem unbelievable at this moment, but the excitement surrounding the landing and the way he personally handles the situation has the potential to become the catalyst for expanded minds and richer futures, sort of penicillin for the STEM soul. Perspective has the power to turn what seem like unfortunate twists into triumphs.

Matt Taylor’s apology seemed heartfelt, indicating he had heard the concerns, recognized how his actions related to them, intended no malice, and was genuinely sorry about what happened. It is an apology worthy of acceptance, and those who hope to make progress toward a better atmosphere should consider acknowledging it. The idea that someone can make a mistake and not learn from it, that a person’s actions have no potential for redemption or forgiveness, benefits no one.

Matt Taylor the husband and father showed thoughtfulness in wearing a shirt was made by a friend. She obviously thought enough of him to make and give it to him, even if neither of them predicted how others would react. He might wonder about the network surrounding him and why apparently no one predicted the response and warned him. Are they not offended because the shirt is unoffending or because they’ve become insulated to the attitude it represents? He can look around at the balance of men and women working alongside him and ask if something more could be done to encourage people to appreciate the accomplishments of women, regardless of their appearance.

Yes, he metaphorically landed and bounced. That doesn’t mean that the process is over. Just as he was positioned to help direct the first-ever landing on a comet, he may well be positioned to steer the STEM world toward a new era of inclusiveness.

Somewhere right now, a brilliant girl is reaching the age where enthusiasm for science and math give way to the pressures of appearance and wanting to not seem too smart, so the boys won’t dislike her and pick on her. In a decade, she could be preparing for a career that could lead to as-yet unimagined discoveries. Should the benefit of humanity depend on whether she has enough personal strength and direct support to overcome social pressure?

Somewhere right now, a brilliant boy is taking the turn from being grossed out by girls to dreaming about making one part of his life. In a decade, he could be appreciating potential companions for what they offer as a whole, from their hearts to their minds, or thinking of them as objects to ogle or acquire – never really knowing the full bounty of a partnership because his attitudes and actions drive away real connections. Should his happiness depend on whether he has the personal insight and direct support to overcome living as a stereotype?

Doesn’t humanity, as a whole, deserve the sort of society that does its best to help individuals succeed without being hampered by unnecessary cruelty?

Just as Matt Taylor has the power to fight the stereotype of a stodgy, stiff, uncool scientist, so too can he claim the power of changing the image of a sexist male scientist. Others can also claim that power, from the online gamer to the science instructor to the white lab coat-wearing technician to the code jockey, who has the choice of making a comment or action degrading to women or finding some other way to laugh and enjoy life.

Philae rides a comet through space, the world spins on, and the actions of the present will determine the science of humanity a decade from now, a generation from now, and long after the lander is no more. Sometimes a comet landing and a shirt can provide the course correction for an eternal trajectory. It all depends on how the scientists analyze the data.

Score well in the most important subjects

Fall brings the start of a new school year for many, and along with it comes the opportunity for valuable learning that will linger long after that math quiz or history paper has gone to the recycling bin. Teachers are charged with bringing certain knowledge to students, but some of the most important subjects in the school experience will also be taught by parents, peers, and others they encounter.

Grades, homework, and report cards have a place in the learning process at many schools. However, in striving to earn a good grade, students can focus on the immediate goal and miss out on the more important concepts delivered with the lessons or in the process of learning. They’re trying to absorb information, do the right thing, win the praise, pass the test, so that they can move on to the next subject and begin the treadmill all over ahead. Some will focus on their studies, others on socializing. Both activities are important, for those growing up are practicing skills that they will use later in life.

That’s the point.

Children may be too young to know, or they may need to be reminded, that the purpose of school isn’t just to finish this paper or earn a certain grade-point average. They’re also supposed to be learning information that translates to the real world, from checkbook balancing to the history of the U.S. Constitution and why they should vote. They’re experiencing the insight offered by a story while they’re writing a book report. They’re learning how to deal with boredom and over-stimulation and time management. Students who understand that can come away with a richer experience.

Students are learning how to handle challenges, in general, in the specifics of a term paper or confusing concept. They’re learning how to handle success and disappointment, how to manage conflict, how to practice social skills. They’re working on their reactions to when someone else makes a mistake or succeeds.

It is up to those who do understand that school is both a now experience and contraction of a foundation, including parents and school volunteers, to help teachers nurture the best outcome for students. Offer connections between their lesson and daily life, either theirs or yours. Listen to how they feel about their experiences or let them talk out a problem until they discover a solution. Model ways to handle emotions. If you, as an adult, can’t figure out how to communicate these things, then perhaps it is a good idea to take yourself back to school (through classes, books, support groups, online learning) to learn the most important subjects: fitting knowledge into a life context, using good social and emotional management skills, and making learning a lifelong pleasure. Both you and the child will benefit.

Be aware of shopping-habit marketing

Companies are studying your shopping practices to figure out ways to market their products to you on an individual basis. Can your awareness of your own habits manipulate them to get better deals?

An article in the New York Times describes how retailer Target studied buying habits to predict what you might purchase and use that information to lure you into buying other products from them. Some people don’t like the idea of being studied and marketed to, but that doesn’t change the fact that it happens on a daily basis, from the cookies planted on your computer to track the sites you visit to the list of items associated with your credit or loyalty reward card.

You can try to avoid the tracking by regularly clearing the cache and cookies from your computer, avoiding the use of rewards cards, and paying only with cash. You can also be aware of the practice and know that your buying habits could trigger coupon incentives that you can later use and knowing that the company is seeking to maximize its profits by engaging in a practice that benefits it.

Ponderables: If companies can gather information that people are knowingly providing and use that to market to that individual, is that harmful or helpful? Is such data collection too invasive? Should be people be allowed to access their own personal files of data? What are the long-term implications for the marketplace in terms companies that can afford this type of marketing strategy, and choose to use it, compared to companies that choose not to use it or ones that are so small that they cannot afford it?