Weekly Meanderings, 26 August 2017

Weekly Meanderings, 26 August 2017 August 26, 2017

MVI_4117_Moment cropI’m with you Joshua Becker:

A few years ago, I began to intentionally wear the same outfit every day—a dark grey T-shirt and khaki pants. At first, I tried it just as a one week experiment. I wanted to see what people would say and how I’d reflect on this experience.

Every day, I wondered when people would finally say it: “Enough Joshua! Why are you wearing that again?” And if they didn’t mention anything, were they secretly thinking it?

Even though I was voluntarily wearing the same clothes, I felt pressure to change them. Most of us are trained to look for a new outfit every morning—I was no exception.

Societal norms and habits are potent influencers of our purchases, and they weighed heavily on me. Clothing brands actively produce seasonal and “sub-collections” to constantly “refresh” stores. Enter one of these stores today, and you might not recognize it next week. You could build a wardrobe and have it turnover every month, season, and year.

Because of our conditioning, I imagined everyone looking at my recycled outfit and judging me for it.

However, one week into my experiment, nobody mentioned anything.

And in that silence, I was liberated.

In reality, most people were too caught up with their own demands to recognize this repetition—a perfect example of what social psychologists call the “spotlight effect.”

These societal norms could be broken, and I could be freed of these assumed expectations.

Whether you’re thinking about minimizing your wardrobe, adopting a life uniform, or simply wanting to consume less, here are five reasons why you should try this one-week experiment:

The Bee takes on skinny jeans, or is it skinny jeans takes on The Bee?

SEATTLE, WA—After being seen on 43-year-old Preaching Pastor Scot Martin’s legs during his City Church sermon on Sunday, a pair of RUDE Blue Livier Wash Vintage Super Skinny Jeans issued a heartfelt apology to the church community, sources confirmed Monday.

“I am so embarrassed,” the statement read in part. “There is no excuse for me to be spotted on any man of this age—especially a pastor. This was a serious lapse in judgment. I have no idea why Scot thought this would work out.” [HT: :mic]

Very sad to see this, by Valerie Volcovici:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will no longer sponsor an awards program honoring voluntary corporate actions to combat global warming, it announced on Friday, the agency’s latest move to undo Obama-era climate change programs.

Since 2012, the EPA has been the lead sponsor of the Climate Leadership Awards program and conference, which recognizes companies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions in their internal operations and supply chains.

In an email sent on Friday, the EPA announced it will no longer be involved in the awards or the conference.

Under Administrator Scott Pruitt, who has repeatedly expressed doubts about climate change, the EPA has moved to undo dozens of Obama-era climate regulations in what it says is an effort to ease the regulatory burden on energy and agriculture companies.

In the Trump administration’s budget proposal for 2018, the EPA was the target of the largest cut – 31 percent – a figure that Republican and Democratic lawmakers opposed.

Dining in Detroit:

It’s Thursday morning in the dead of summer, and Steven and I just returned from dropping our daughter, Celia, at the airport for her first solo trip out of town. While she skyrockets toward Charleston, we’re here, licking our metaphorical wounds (and chops!) at that hot & happening diner, Parks and Rec. This (downtown? Midtown? call it Stadiumtown) eatery is two years old now, and located in the omnipresent, 19th-century castle known as the Grand Army of the Republic—a building erected for Civil War veterans that went on to house Detroit’s Parks and Recreation Department in the early 1940s.

Skipping ahead to 1982, when Motown was in the throes of its protracted collapse and maintenance on the GAR became unmanageable, Mayor Coleman Young ordered it boarded up—and so it languished for three decades in what was, by then, an emptied-out neighborhood.

Was anything happening around here during those years? I ask Steven, who visits Motown’s numerous communities more often than I do. He thinks a moment, as we scrounge for change at the gleaming-new parking meter alongside the GAR. Not really, he finally says. The area was pretty much homeless guys, prairie grass, and crumbling buildings far as the eye could see.

Not like now. Because three local businessmen renovated the GAR to its faux-medieval glory, complete with crenellated turrets soaring mightily toward heaven. Within its no-longer-crumbling walls, you’ll find not one, but two restaurants (Parks and Rec, and its older by a year sister, Republic Tavern), which, like certain portions of Detroit, appear to be thriving. In fact, this once-ghost town of a district is jumping with new residents, with two stadiums and another well on its way, and with theaters, clubs, construction everywhere you look. With more restaurants that are hungry to give P and R and Republic a run for their money.

Speaking of money, when we’ve got a little to spare, our family likes to check out Detroit’s recently opened cafés and bistros and brasseries. We can’t visit them all, of course, but to our delight, every place we’ve tried has been pretty good. More often, they’re marvelous.

Michael Tanenbaum:

The School District of Philadelphia announced Thursday that it has revised its Student Code of Conduct to eliminate suspensions for kindergarten students who behave out of line.

“We remain focused on academic achievement, children reading on grade level, and college and career readiness. The early years are most important and we need students in school,” Superintendent William R. Hite said in a statement. “Studies show that more kindergarten suspensions lead to less opportunity for children to stay on grade level with their peers.”

As part of the shift in disciplinary strategy, the district will work proactively to develop new interventions that will help teachers manage conflict and recognize trauma. This will include resolution and de-escalation training for educators of the city’s youngest learners.

Brain trickery:

If you enjoy expensive wines, keep the findings of new brain research in mind: Your pleasure may have more to do with the price of the vino than its quality.

“The reward and motivation system is activated more significantly with higher prices, and apparently increases the taste experience in this way,” said researcher Bernd Weber, acting director of the University of Bonn’s Center for Economics and Neuroscience in Germany.

He and his team had 30 study participants — average age 30 — sample wine while lying down in an MRI scanner. Their brain reactions were monitored as they sipped wine they were told was either expensive, moderately priced or inexpensive. The wines were actually identical.

Previous research has shown that people’s higher expectations about high-priced food affect how the brain processes taste.

“However, it has so far been unclear how the price information ultimately causes more expensive wine to also be perceived as having a better taste in the brain,” Weber said in a university news release.

For this study, the participants were given an average- to good-quality red wine with a retail bottle price of about $14. But they were told it cost either $3.50, $7 or $21.

The study participants reported that the “higher-priced” wine tasted better than an apparently cheaper one.

Ultimately, said researcher and post-doctoral fellow Liane Schmidt, “the reward and motivation system plays a trick on us.”

This is known as the “marketing placebo effect,” explained the researchers, referring to health benefits people often feel when they’re given a “placebo,” or dummy, medication.

The measurements of brain activity in the MRI scanner confirmed this effect.

[SMcK: I wonder if someone were saying “two buck chuck” would it lead to the “yuck factor”?]

The Bee on a pastor taking out a second loan:

NORTH BRUNSWICK, NJ—After reading glowing reviews about Logos 7 Bible Software and deciding he needed to get it in order to fully immerse himself in God’s word, Pastor Richard Fields of First Baptist Church took out a second loan on his modest home to foot the bill, sources reported Friday.

“When I saw that there was a Collector’s Edition, I knew I had to have it,” Fields told reporters after the deal was done. “But at ten grand—hoo boy—I don’t have that kind of cash laying around. Tapping into my home equity was really the only way I could swing it.”

“But this software has—listen to this—‘A carefully curated theological library containing 4,822 resources,’” he read directly from the Logos website on his phone’s browser. “Seriously—are you kidding me? This thing will probably brew my coffee and cook my breakfast while I’m busy doing morning devotionals.”

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