Friday, October 27, 2017

Ideas, Actions, and Inspiration for a Better Tomorrow - October 27 Edition

Inspiration, Women, NFL, Security

Read and Watch:

“Behind a nondescript doorway there was a meeting. Men from the FBI, local police and the sheriff's department were receiving a high-level security briefing about one of the biggest terrorist targets in the world. The recently appointed head of Homeland Security was there, surrounded by men in blue uniforms, brown fatigues and black suits, many sporting translucent cords curling around their ears.

At the head of the table sat a 49-year-old woman with shoulder length blonde hair barely touching her new black suit coat. She had purchased it a few weeks earlier when, for the first time in her adult life, she actually had to go out and buy "work clothes." She never spoke at that February meeting, just listened politely to the men around the table because she knew what they were going to say before they said it. More than 4,000 officers from 40 different law enforcement agencies were about to follow her lead, even though she had been on the job for only a few months. Even though she dropped out of high school when she became pregnant at age 14. Even though many said she destroyed her career when she filed a complaint to her police department, claiming sexual harassment on the job.

As chief of security for the NFL, Cathy Lanier has one of the most coveted jobs in law enforcement. Once a headstrong teenager who drove her mother crazy, she now commands respect and admiration from men not generally accustomed to seeing a woman in charge. Her path to the top has been unorthodox, as she keeps breaking society's norms to enforce its laws.

But Lanier will tell you she didn't have any choice. She needed to make a better life for her newborn child. For Cathy Lanier, it has always been about taking care of family.”

Gun Laws

“The relationship between state gun laws and the flow of firearms between states can be measured using data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which traces guns’ origins and where law enforcement recovers them. An analysis of data from 107 pairs of bordering states2 throughout the country shows a relationship between the strictness of a state’s gun laws relative to its neighbor and the number of firearms recovered3 from that neighbor.4

Jens Ludwig, a professor at the University of Chicago and director of the University of Chicago crime lab, notes that ATF data “that has been analyzed by academics across the country regularly shows that in cities that try to control gun violence by supplementing federal regulations with additional local gun laws, those laws are regularly undermined by crime guns coming in from other states.”

For instance, an NPR fact check of the White House talking point noted that Chicago is close to the borders of two states — Wisconsin and Indiana — that have weak gun laws. A 2014 report from the city of Chicago noted that 60 percent of guns used to commit crimes in Chicago from 2009 to 2013 originated outside of Illinois, and Indiana and Wisconsin were two of the biggest sources of recovered guns.5 And Illinois is not alone.”

Cancer, Appearance

“Look Good Feel Better is one of several nonprofit programs that taps into the power of tending to personal appearance to bolster the spirits of people with cancer. Currently in its 28th year, Look Good Feel Better is a collaborative effort among the Personal Care Products Council, the American Cancer Society and the Professional Beauty Association. Licensed beauty professionals, including hair stylists, makeup artists, aestheticians and nail technicians, volunteer their time to teach participants about skin and nail care, as well as how to use cosmetics, wigs, turbans and accessories.

“We recognize that living with cancer can be overwhelming,” says Louanne Roark, executive director of the Look Good Feel Better Foundation of the Personal Care Products Council. “Our goal is to help people with cancer feel more confident about putting themselves out there, whether they’re going to work, taking their kids to school, grocery shopping or just looking in a mirror at home.”

Leadership, Movements

No More White Saviors: Let People Lead Their Own Movements

“A new book by Jordan Flaherty, No More Heroes: Grassroots Challenges to the Savior Mentality, offers insight into how the practice of “saviorism” injures our movements and provides visions for an alternative and much-needed praxis.

You’re no doubt familiar with the White savior: a person of privilege picks a cause they know little to nothing about and insists on solutions that inevitably cause more harm than good. As Flaherty explains, the savior mentality cannot exist without turning people into objects who need rescuing.

“It is as old as conquest and as enduring as colonialism,” he writes. As an activist and a journalist, Flaherty has witnessed firsthand the harms of saviorism and neatly lays out countless examples of its failure—perhaps most poignantly when he writes about Brandon Darby. Flaherty cites numerous articles and other activists for his well-researched chapter about Darby, a man he’s known for several years.”


Education, Homework

“How can we fix homework?

Cory Bennett is doing his part to answer that question. Bennett, now an assistant professor of education of Idaho State, was, for many years, an eighth-grade math teacher in Hawaii. His school was unusually diverse, both ethnically and socioeconomically. Bennett's initial approach to homework was traditional—to teach math concepts in class and assign relevant homework to drill them in. Basically, a lot of rote work. Students weren't onboard. They rejected the homework; soon, most of the class was failing. Rather than blame the students, Bennett re-examined his approach and realized, as he told me, "I didn't know what they knew." Likewise, he had no idea what their lives were like outside of class.

So one day he quashed the planned homework assignment and asked his students to write a 100-word essay about what it was like to be their age. What Bennett received from his kids changed the way he taught. Having a "lens into their mind" helped explain why the traditional homework regime failed. The kids did not have a place to study at home; they had to care for siblings after school; they were overly preoccupied with being accepted among peers to focus on homework; they were dealing with parental problems at home. Normal stuff—but it all mattered. Together, these accounts, according to Bennett, not only explained the broken homework model, but "transformed my instructional practices."

By better understanding "the lives of my students," Bennett says he was able to appreciate how they needed to be empowered while at school. Everything they wrote about, all their insecurities and ambitions, spoke to a neglected desire for some level of autonomy over classroom learning. To pursue this goal Bennett did something simple but powerful: he let the students know he wanted them to succeed. Then he asked them to provide ideas about how to master the mathematical material in the confines of the classroom. Essentially, he said, "Here is what we have to learn; do you have ideas about how to do it?”

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Ideas, Actions, and Inspiration for a Better Tomorrow - October 26 Edition

American Soldiers, Military

“Our troops deserve to be thanked for their service. But the best method for honoring them might be the least practiced of all: learning what they actually do. This has the advantage of being something Americans can do today, before the next war starts, or before the inevitable announcement of troop casualties. American citizens have always had this choice — they can be passive recipients of White House and Pentagon messaging, or empowered citizens who are better informed about military policy and less susceptible to political manipulation.

To get started, here are 20 important aspects of U.S. military policy that anyone can explore further by clicking the embedded links. The amount and granularity of such information has decreased since 9/11 as each administration becomes less and less transparent. The reports and databases linked below do not necessarily include covert or clandestine missions, and some are undoubtedly incomplete even beyond such omissions.

But the U.S. armed forces are still relatively open to scrutiny compared to other great power militaries. That’s why honoring the troops by learning what they do costs nothing more than the price of a reliable internet connection — and why there’s no excuse not to set aside the necessary time.”

Family Leave, Work-Life Balance

IBM is Giving Its New Moms and Dads Even More Perks

IBM on Wednesday is increasing its existing parental leave and introducing a policy that reimburses employees for surrogacy expenses for the first time.

The paid maternity leave available to new birth mothers employed at the tech giant will increase from a maximum of 14 weeks to 20 weeks. Fathers, partners, and adoptive parents, meanwhile, will receive 12 paid weeks off—double the previous benefit of six.

The Armonk, N.Y.-based company is also offering employees a reimbursement of up to $20,000 for expenses related to adoption or surrogacy; it previously offered $5,000 for adoptions only. The new reimbursement will be available to employees even if their adoption or surrogacy efforts are unsuccessful, allowing workers to pursue parenthood “without devastating their bank accounts,” Barbara Brickmeier, IBM’s vice president of benefits, told Fortune.

She said the new benefits reflect the company’s realization that “no one size fits all.”

“We have a general approach of wanting to meet employees where they are,” she said. “People are forming families in various ways.” She pointed to the new surrogacy reimbursement in particular as benefiting both straight and same-sex parents. She said employees had asked for the perk.”

Puerto Rico, Recovery, Solar Energy

Tesla Turns Power Back On At Children's Hospital In Puerto Rico

“Tesla has used its solar panels and batteries to restore reliable electricity at San Juan's Hospital del Niño (Children's Hospital), in what company founder Elon Musk calls "the first of many solar+battery Tesla projects going live in Puerto Rico."

The project came about after Puerto Rico was hit by two devastating and powerful hurricanes in September, and Musk reached out about Tesla helping.

Musk's company announced its success in getting the hospital's power working again less than three weeks after Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello tweeted on Oct. 6, "Great initial conversation with @elonmusk tonight. Teams are now talking; exploring opportunities."

Tesla's image of the project's solar array, in a parking lot next to the hospital, has been liked more than 84,000 times since it was posted to Instagram Tuesday.”

Future of Work, Public Policy

“Manufacturing will fall. Retail will wobble. Automation will inch along but stay off the roads, for now. The rich will keep getting richer. And more and more of the country will be paid to take care of old people. That is the future of the labor market, according to the latest 10-year forecast from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

These 10-year-forecast reports—the products of two years’ work from about 25 economists at the BLS —document the government’s best assessment of the fastest and slowest growing jobs of the future. On the decline are automatable work, like typists, and occupations threatened by changing consumer behavior, like clothing store cashiers, as more people shop online.

The fastest-growing jobs through 2026 belong to what one might call the Three Cs: care, computers, and clean energy. No occupation is projected to add more workers than personal-care aides, who perform non-medical duties for older Americans, such as bathing and cooking. Along with home-health aides, these two occupations are projected to create 1.1 million new jobs in the next decade. Remarkably, that’s 10 percent of the total 11.5 million jobs that the BLS expects the economy to add. Clean-energy workers, like solar-panel installers and wind-turbine technicians, are the only occupations that are expected to double by 2026. Mathematicians and statisticians round out the top-10 list.

These projections aren't just a fun experiment for economic forecasters and journalists who need unfalsifiable predictions to write about. They can help college students pick their major—for example, the projected growth of statisticians augurs well for math—and shape debates about government spending.

At times, however, it seems like nobody at the highest level of government has any clue these reports exist. When President Donald Trump talks about the future of the economy, he often praises steel workers and manufacturers. But manufacturing is the only major industry projected to decline in the next decade, and steelworkers are projected to add just 9,000 jobs in the next 10 years. That is about the same as the projected increase in drama and music professors at private colleges, an occupation that no politician considers symbolic of the American idea (sad!).

Women, Leadership, Media

“The Women's Media Awards 2017 will be held on Thursday, October 26 in New York City.

Awards will be given to Hillary Rodham Clinton, Maria HinojosaAshley Judd, April RyanMaría Elena Salinas, and Gail Tiffordand also recognizing the film “Hidden Figures.” And we will be celebrating the landmark 80th birthday of our co-founder Jane Fonda.

Maya L. Harris, lawyer, MSNBC analyst, senior policy adviser to the 2016 Hillary Rodham Clinton presidential campaign, and former board co-chair of the Women’s Media Center, will host this event for the first time.”

“Clinton is an advocate, attorney, author, First Lady, U.S. Senator, U.S. Secretary of State, and Democratic presidential candidate who has devoted her life to working on behalf of women, children and families.

The Women’s Media Center is presenting its first—and only—WMC Wonder Woman Award to Clinton as she is a hero to millions in the United States and around the globe for her extraordinary accomplishments and public service. Like Wonder Woman, she seems to have superhuman strength, resilience, and courage. She also blazes new paths so that everyone has equal opportunity to pursue their dreams, and she has done much of it in the face of enemy fire.

“Hillary Clinton’s actions have inspired and protected women and men on every continent,” said Gloria Steinemco-founder of The Women’s Media Center. “She has battled negative forces and helped to maintain a fragile peace with her negotiating skill on behalf of this country and peace-seekers everywhere. She has handled all this with grace, grit, determination, integrity, humor and fortitude while remaining a steadfast feminist, advocate, activist, sister and tireless leader in the revolution. With this award, the Women’s Media Center declares Hillary Clinton our Wonder Woman.””

Congratulations to the winners!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Ideas, Actions, and Inspiration for a Better Tomorrow - October 25 Edition

Positive Habits, Personal Development

“I am a firm believer in the power of positive habits. It's so easy to point at the clouds and say, "This is where I want to be." Anyone can do that. The challenge is to get your hands dirty and do what you need to do each and every day in order to turn those dreams into a reality.

1. Keep your first promise of the day.

The first promise all of us make to ourselves every day is what time we're going to get up. And you know what? A large majority of us break that promise. The alarm goes off. You hit snooze. And without even meaning to, you've already started the day on the wrong foot. You made a promise the night before that you decided not to keep.

Get in the habit of practicing making a promise to yourself and keeping it. This is about more than just "waking up." This is about the habit.

2. Dress for success.

Look good, feel good. 

Part of your morning routine should involve embodying the energy you want to bring into the world. This has less to do with "looking professional" and more to do with getting yourself in a positive frame of mind. When you feel comfortable in your own shoes, you carry yourself with a different energy. It's the energy that matters.”

Click on the title of the article to read the other 8.

Foreign Policy, North Korea

“It is time for the U.S. government to admit that it has failed to prevent North Korea from acquiring nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles that can reach the United States. North Korea no longer poses a nonproliferation problem; it poses a nuclear deterrence problem. The gravest danger now is that North Korea, South Korea, and the United States will stumble into a catastrophic war that none of them wants.

The world has traveled down this perilous path before. In 1950, the Truman administration contemplated a preventive strike to keep the Soviet Union from acquiring nuclear weapons but decided that the resulting conflict would resemble World War II in scope and that containment and deterrence were better options. In the 1960s, the Kennedy administration feared that Chinese leader Mao Zedong was mentally unstable and proposed a joint strike against the nascent Chinese nuclear program to the Soviets. (Moscow rejected the idea.) Ultimately, the United States learned to live with a nuclear Russia and a nuclear China. It can now learn to live with a nuclear North Korea.

Doing so will not be risk free, however. Accidents, misperceptions, and volatile leaders could all too easily cause disaster. The Cold War offers important lessons in how to reduce these risks by practicing containment and deterrence wisely. But officials in the Pentagon and the White House face a new and unprecedented challenge: they must deter North Korean leader Kim Jong Un while also preventing U.S. President Donald Trump from bumbling into war. U.S. military leaders should make plain to their political superiors and the American public that any U.S. first strike on North Korea would result in a devastating loss of American and South Korean lives. And civilian leaders must convince Kim that the United States will not attempt to overthrow his regime unless he begins a war. If the U.S. civilian and military leaderships perform these tasks well, the same approach that prevented nuclear catastrophe during the Cold War can deter Pyongyang until the day that communist North Korea, like the Soviet Union before it, collapses under its own weight.”



“The New York City Board of Elections is admitting it broke state and federal law when it improperly removed voters from the rolls ahead of the presidential primary last spring, including more than 117,000 voters in Brooklyn.

That’s according to a draft consent decree announced Tuesday— nearly a year after the Board was sued in federal court for violating the National Voter Registration Act and state election law.
The Brooklyn voter purge was first reported by WNYC just days before last spring’s primary election.

As a part of the settlement, the Board agreed to a series of remedial measures that will be in place at least through the next presidential election, November 2020 — pending court approval.

The deal restores the rights of improperly purged voters and establishes a comprehensive plan to prevent illegal voter purges in future elections.”

Travel, Children

“Kids may say the darndest things, but they’re actually quite predictable.

According to a psychologist, most kids younger than 12 can only wait 49 minutes and 47 seconds before asking the dreaded four words: “Are we there yet?”

On long-haul flights, this means that parents are likely to experience hours of boredom with their children — unless they come prepared.”

Breast Cancer

“In the U.S., at least 250,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women this year, according to the American Cancer Society. So, when it comes to screening for that cancer, there are a number of options to consider.

Dr.Karthik Ghosh, director of the Mayo Clinic Breast Diagnostic Clinic Clinic Breast Diagnostic Clinic, says mammogram isstill the best test to screen the breast for women an average risk of breast
cancer."It has really been one of the long-standing tests, with a lot of research showing that there is a decrease in mortality."

Dr. Ghoshsays the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Preventive Services Task Force recommends that women 40 to 49 consider screening after discussion with their health care provider. For women 50 to 75, mammograms should be performed every other year. Dr. Ghosh adds there can be downsides to a mammogram, which include callbacks for further testing, false positives and the anxiety related to those events.”

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Ideas, Actions, and Inspiration for a Better Tomorrow - October 24 Edition

Travel, Friendship

"Halfway to the coast, Genny announced that she hadn’t brought a gun. I glanced at the glove compartment of the Toyota Corolla with a sting of surprise and relief. Her nephew had given her shooting lessons for her last birthday, when she’d turned 76, but apparently she’d decided not to take up the offer of a pistol for our road trip. “They say you shouldn’t have a gun if you have any doubt whether you would shoot it or not,” said Genny, turning her eyes from the road to look at me. “I don’t own a gun, but the one thing I do know is: I would shoot.”

We were only two hours into our trip, and I was already nervous about what else I might learn about Genny on our way. We had been pen pals since a chance meeting in North Carolina four years ago; she was an avid reader and a curious soul, and our shared love of books and meeting new people had kept us corresponding after I returned home to England. But Genny rarely talked about herself. The idea that she—at five feet tall with white hair and impeccable Southern manners—might be the Thelma to my Louise had never occurred to me.

Outside the passenger window, the yellow wash of South Carolina’s soy fields gave way to clouds of cotton, ready for harvest. I considered what I did know. Like me, Genny had lived alone in a city most of her life—Charlotte in her case, London in mine. Like me, she had never married. Our shared circumstances had forged a bond that made us feel, instinctively, that we would be good traveling companions. So I’d asked Genny if she’d take a trip with me, and we’d chosen the coast of South Carolina, a place she knew and loved."

Puerto Rico, Disaster Relief

"The five living former presidents put aside politics and appeared together for the first time since 2013 at a concert on Saturday to raise money for victims of devastating hurricanes in Texas, Florida, Louisiana, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Democrats Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter and Republicans George H.W. and George W. Bush gathered in College Station, Texas, home of Texas A&M University, to try to unite the country after the storms.

Texas A&M is home to the presidential library of the elder Bush. At 93, he has a form of Parkinson’s disease and appeared in a wheelchair at the event. His wife, Barbara, and George W. Bush’s wife, Laura, were in the audience.

Grammy award winner Lady Gaga made a surprise appearance at the concert that also featured country music band Alabama, Rock & Roll Hall of Famer ‘Soul Man’ Sam Moore, gospel legend Yolanda Adams and Texas musicians Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen.

The appeal backed by the ex-presidents has raised $31 million since it began on Sept. 7, said Jim McGrath, spokesman for George H.W. Bush."

New York City, Libraries, Children

"Library books are free, until they aren’t: Patrons who rack up $15 in late fees at the city’s public libraries are blocked from taking out more books until the fine is paid.

Among those with suspended privileges are 160,000 children, most of them from the city’s poorest neighborhoods, who cannot afford to pay.

“Learning is a right. Reading brings you to new worlds,” said Octavia Loving, a 17-year-old student at Special Music High School, as she stood amid the stacks at Countee Cullen Library in Harlem, one of the neighborhoods with the highest concentration of children with blocked cards, according to library officials. “They shouldn’t block us from reading because of money.”

On Thursday, the city’s three library systems — the New York Public Library, which serves Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island; the Queens Library; and the Brooklyn Public Library — will forgive all fines for children 17 and under and unblock their cards. The one-time amnesty is being underwritten by the JPB Foundation, a philanthropy that supports civic causes, which will make up $2.25 million of the shortfall in revenue from the forgiven fines."

Criminal Justice, Poverty, Bail

"In May 2016, Maranda Lynn O’Donnell, a waitress and mother of a 4-year-old girl in Harris County, Texas, was arrested for allegedly driving with a suspended license, a misdemeanor offense. She did not have $2,500 to bail herself out, so she was locked up in jail for two days, unable to go home to her daughter. The same day, Robert Ford was arrested for allegedly stealing cosmetics worth $100, also a misdemeanor. He too was sent to the Harris County jail, where he remained for five days, unable to shell out $5,000 for bail. The day after that, Loetha McGruder—who was pregnant with two children at home, including one with Down syndrome—was arrested and detained for falsely identifying herself to an officer. With bail set at $5,000, she remained in jail for four days.

All three of the defendants are plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit that aims to overhaul the bail system in Harris County, Texas, home of the nation’s third-biggest county jail system. The suit, filed in May 2016 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, calls bail setting in the state’s largest county a “wealth-based detention scheme” that punishes defendants accused of misdemeanors for being poor and encourages them to plead guilty to avoid jail time.

In April, Chief Judge Lee H. Rosenthal decided in their favor, writing that it was unconstitutional to jail people because they can’t afford bail. Rosenthal ruled that Harris County would have to ask defendants about their financial backgrounds and release them if they didn’t have enough money to pay their bonds. The county challenged the decision, and the case now sits with the 5thU.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, known as one of the most conservative courts in the country. In light of this setback, the plaintiffs and their lawyers have been searching for allies to support their case. They now have a powerful group on their side: religious leaders that say they have a duty to fight for the poor."

Aging, Adventure

"A Pennsylvania woman has celebrated her 94th birthday by going skydiving along with her granddaughter and great-granddaughter.

Williamsport resident Eila (AY’-lah) Campbell says she figured she might not “make it for another year” at her age, so she took the 10,000-foot (3,048-meter) plunge on Sunday at Hazleton Regional Airport."

Monday, October 23, 2017

Ideas, Actions, and Inspiration for a Better Tomorrow - October 23 Edition

Inspiration, Invention, Problem-Solving, Kids

“When the drinking water in Flint, Mich., became contaminated with lead, causing a major public health crisis, 11-year-old Gitanjali Rao took notice.

"I had been following the Flint, Michigan, issue for about two years," the seventh-grader told ABC News. "I was appalled by the number of people affected by lead contamination in water."

She saw her parents testing the water in their own home in Lone Tree, Colo., and was unimpressed by the options, which can be slow, unreliable or both.

"I went, 'Well, this is not a reliable process and I've got to do something to change this,' " Rao told Business Insider.

Rao tells ABC that while she was doing her weekly perusal of MIT's Materials Science and Engineering website to see "if there's anything's new," she read about new technologies that could detect hazardous substances and decided to see whether they could be adapted to test for lead.
She pressed local high schools and universities to give her lab time and then hunkered down in the "science room" — outfitted with a big white table — that she persuaded her engineer parents to create in their home.

And she set about devising a more efficient solution: a device that could identify lead compounds in water and was portable and relatively inexpensive.”

United States, Government, Political Polarization

Opinion: America needs big ideas to heal our divides. Here are three.

“Trust in one another and in key institutions — the media, government, and the courts — are at historic lows. Such trust is critical to a functioning democracy and healthy communities. The percentage of Americans who say others can be trusted fell from 46 percent in 1972 to just 31 percent in 2016, with 36 percent of whites and 17 percent of blacks expressing such trust. In turn, the number of hate groups has more than doubled since 1999. It is no surprise that communities are fraying in places like Charlottesville, Ferguson and Chicago. As America becomes more diverse, we need bridges across racial and socioeconomic lines to build inclusive communities with more opportunities for all.

Even though the latest neuroscience tells us we are social animals wired to cooperate, Americans are increasingly isolated. New findings from the University of Southern California show that only 28 percent of Americans say they belong to any group with leaders they consider accountable and inclusive. In turn, 35 million Americans live alone, up 114 percent since 1960.

Four large-scale, integrating civic institutions built up during the 1900s have shrunk significantly since the turn of the century: churches and other religious congregations; unions; metropolitan daily newspapers; and political parties for grassroots participation sustained beyond specific campaigns. We wonder what institutions, if any, are taking their place.

Americans are also less active in important ways that undergird a healthy democracy. Regular volunteering is down from about 30 percent of the population in the aftermath of 9/11 through 2005 to less than one-quarter of Americans in 2015, notwithstanding waves of natural disasters that typically inspire Americans to lend a hand. Voting is down in presidential elections and significantly so in midterm elections since the 1960s.

This gloomy picture is moderated by some hopeful trends.”

Fitness, Aging

'The RBG Workout': 84-Year-Old Justice Might Put You To Shame In The Gym

“In photos of the sitting Supreme Court, 84-year-old Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg looks tiny compared to her colleagues, but don't be fooled: She is "TAN," says her personal trainer, Bryant Johnson, and "by TAN I mean Tough. As. Nails."

Ginsburg's health has been a topic of discussion — and concern among Democrats — since President Trump was elected, but it's particularly buzzworthy right now because of a new book by Johnson that's officially out as of Tuesday: "The RBG Workout: How She Stays Strong...And You Can Too!" Also, because Axios reports that Trump expects to have the chance to replace her, commenting to an unnamed source, "What does she weigh? 60 pounds?"

Ginsburg may be more of a judicial heavy than a physical heavy, but once you see her workout, you'll bet on her over Trump in a push-up contest any day. She does multiple sets of full-on, military-style push-ups. She does one-legged squats. She recently started doing planks. She is, it seems, an iron octogenarian.”

Foreign Affairs

Saving “America First” what Responsible Nationalism Looks Like

“…fears that his embrace of “America first” will lead the United States to turn its back on the world have already proved groundless. Ordering punitive air strikes against a regime that murders its own citizens while posing no threat to the United States, as Trump did in Syria, is not isolationism. Nor is sending more U.S. troops to fight the campaign in Afghanistan, the very epitome of the endless wars that Trump once disparaged. And whatever one makes of Trump’s backing of the Sunnis in their regional struggle with the Shiites, his vow to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, his threats against North Korea, and his evolving views on trade and the viability of NATO, they do not suggest disengagement.

What they do suggest is something much worse: an ill-informed, impulsive, and capricious approach to foreign policy. In fact, if “policy” implies a predictable pattern of behavior, U.S. foreign policy ceased to exist when Trump took office. The United States now acts or refrains from action according to presidential whim. Trump’s critics have misread their man. Those who worry about the ghost of Charles Lindbergh, the aviator and America First backer, taking up residence in the Oval Office can rest easy. The real problem is that Trump is making his own decisions, and he thinks he has things under control.

Whatever the consequences of Trump’s own fumbling, that allure is likely to persist. So, too, will the opportunity awaiting any would-be political leader with the gumption to articulate a foreign policy that promises to achieve the aim of the original America First movement: to ensure the safety and well-being of the United States without engaging in needless wars. The challenge is to do what Trump himself is almost certainly incapable of doing, converting “America first” from a slogan burdened with an ugly history—including the taint of anti-Semitism—into a concrete program of enlightened action. To put it another way, the challenge is to save “America first” from Trump.

Reading, Cognitive Development

Why Reading Is the Most Intelligent Thing You Can Do

“We've all had it embedded within us since the day we were born: The only way to become smarter, no matter what you study or where you are, is to read. What few people tell us, however, is why reading plays such an integral role in developing our intelligence, problem-solving, and analytical skills, and our ability to understand others with alacrity.

Why, then, is this hobby--one that gets more and more difficult to maintain as we get older--so crucial to maintaining our brain function and improving our overall intelligence?

Well, for starters, children who are exposed to books from a young age are naturally forced to incorporate a larger working vocabulary in their everyday language. Being exposed to a wide range of words, especially in fundamentally developmental years, encourages children to learn new things in an eager manner--developing an inquisitiveness that ultimately shapes how people approach all kinds of learning later on in life.

In addition, reading boosts our ability to understand new concepts--such as when one encounters a scenario, setting, or people they haven't yet had exposure to--and our capacity to incorporate these new ideas in our existing everyday lives.

Stories have also been shown to aid greatly in determining our abilities to understand, deduce, and analyze a situation.”