Be More Successful: New Harvard Research Reveals A Fun Way To Do It: … a two-minute email praising or thanking one person that you know. We’ve done this at Facebook, at US Foods, we’ve done this at Microsoft. We had them write a two-minute email praising or thanking one person they know, and a different person each day for 21 days in a row. That’s it. What we find is this dramatically increases their social connection which is the greatest predictor of happiness we have in organizations. It also improves teamwork. We’ve measured the collective IQ of teams and the collective years of experience of teams but both of those metrics are trumped by social cohesion. …

16 Oct


We all want to be more successful.

But everything you read probably sounds like a lot of work. Isn’t there a scientifically proven method that’s a little more… fun? There is.

Shawn Achor is the bestselling author of The Happiness Advantage and for years at Harvard he studied exactly that: happiness.

He gave an extremely popular (and, in my opinion, the all-time funniest) TED talk.

And his ideas even attracted the attention of Oprah Winfrey, who filmed an interview with him.

What’s so special about Shawn’s work? His research shows that success doesn’t bring happiness — happiness brings success.

He did what a lot of researchers never do: instead of scrubbing the freak outliers from the data he aggressively studied them.

He wanted to know what people with happiness superpowers do that we don’t.

Here’s Shawn:

Instead of deleting those people that are weirdos in the data what we do is we intentionally study them. We try and find out why it is that while an entire sales force has low numbers, we’re finding three or four people whose sales are skyrocketing. Or we’re looking at a low socioeconomic school in Chicago, where the academic scores are below average, there are a couple students whose grades are skyrocketing. By studying those outliers, what we’re doing is we’re gleaning information not on how to move subpar performers up toward that average point, but how to move people from average to superior.

Shawn believes (and his research shows) that you can do things to be happier. And being happier will make you more successful.

I gave Shawn a call to find out what he’s learned. Want more joy and success in your life? Here’s what Shawn had to say.


1) Success Brings Happiness? No. Happiness Brings Success.

We all chase success hoping it will make us happy:

  1. I’ll be happy once I get that promotion.
  2. I’ll be happy once I get that raise.
  3. I’ll be happy once I lose 15 pounds.

But the research shows that isn’t true. You achieve a goal and you’re briefly happier… but then you’re looking toward the next big thing.

What Shawn’s research showed was when you flip the formula and focus on increasing happiness, you end up increasing success.

Here’s Shawn:

If we can get somebody to raise their levels of optimism or deepen their social connection or raise happiness, turns out every single business and educational outcome we know how to test for improves dramatically. You can increase your success rates for the rest of your life and your happiness levels will flatline, but if you raise your level of happiness and deepen optimism it turns out every single one of your success rates rises dramatically compared to what it would have been at negative, neutral, or stressed.

MET Life saw such great results among happy salespeople that they tried an experiment: they started hiring people based on optimism.

And that was even if those people performed poorly on the standard industry “aptitude test.” What was the result?

It turns out that the optimistic group outsold their more pessimistic counterparts by 19% in year one and 57% in year two.

How can this be? Shawn explained that intelligence and technical skills only predict 25% of success:

If we know the intelligence and technical skills of an employee, we can actually only predict about 25% of their job success. 75% of long term job success is predicted not by intelligence and technical skills, which is normally how we hire, educate and train, but it’s predicted by three other umbrella categories. It’s optimism (which is the belief that your behavior matters in the midst of challenge), your social connection (whether or not you have depth and breadth in your social relationships), and the way that you perceive stress.

And students who want success in their future should worry a little less about grades and more about optimism.

Shawn found that rolling a pair of dice was as predictive of your future income as your college GPA is. (And millionaires agree.)

(For more on how to be more optimistic, click here.)

So your attitude has a huge effect on how successful you are. What was the most powerful thing Shawn learned from looking at those happiness outliers?


2) See Problems As Challenges, Not Threats

Shawn did a study of bankers right after the huge banking crisis hit. Most of them were incredibly stressed. But a few were happy and resilient.

What did those guys have in common? They didn’t see problems as threats; they saw them as challenges to overcome.

Here’s Shawn:

What these positive outliers do is that when there are changes that occur in the economic landscape or the political landscape or at an educational institution, they see those changes not as threats, but as challenges.

So those people are just wired differently and our duty is to envy them, right? Nope. Shawn did an experiment that proved this attitude can be learned.

Just by showing the normal bankers a video explaining how to see stress as a challenge, he turned sad bankers into super-bankers.

Here’s Shawn:

And we watched those groups of people over the next three to six weeks, and what we found was if we could move people to view stress as enhancing, a challenge instead of as a threat, we saw a 23% drop in their stress-related symptoms. It produced a significant increase not only in levels of happiness, but a dramatic improvement in their levels of engagement at work as well.

(For more on what the happiest people do every day, click here.)

But what about when there’s just too much to do? Maybe there are more “challenges” than you can handle.

Should we just give up on any chance of work-life balance? Cancel those plans with friends and spend more hours at the office?

Once again the answer is the exact opposite.


3) Twice As Much Work Means You Need Friends Twice As Much

After doing his undergraduate work at Harvard, Shawn was a proctor there, helping freshman adapt to the often stressful, competitive environment.

Many students would respond to the workload by living in the library and eating meals in their bedrooms so they could keep studying.

Did those students perform better? No. Those were the ones who burned out; the ones who ended up wanting to transfer to another school.

Shawn would tell them what they had unknowingly done was cut themselves off from the greatest predictor of happiness.

Here’s Shawn:

The people who survive stress the best are the ones who actually increase their social investments in the middle of stress, which is the opposite of what most of us do.

Turns out that social connection is the greatest predictor of happiness we have when I run them in my studies. When we run social support metrics, they trump everything else we do, every time.

And what did we just learn about happiness? It predicts success. And it was no different here:

We found that social connection is extremely important for predicting academic achievement.

Want to resist stress, increase productivity and get a promotion? Then don’t just seek social support — provide it to others.

Confirming the research of top Wharton professor Adam Grant, people who provide social support get some of the greatest benefits.

Shawn saw this not only with his students at Harvard but he’s since advised over a third of the Fortune 100 companies — and it worked there too.

Here’s Shawn:

Work altruists were ten times more likely to be engaged than the bottom quartile of that list and the top quartile was significantly happier and 40% more likely to receive a promotion over the next 2-year period of time.

(For more on how work altruism can benefit you, click here.)

Some of you might be thinking, “Alright already, happiness makes you more successful. I get it. But how do I get happier?”

It’s simpler than you think.


4) Send A “Thank You” Email Every Morning

You might think happiness only comes from big wins or big achievements. You’re wrong. Research shows little things are more important.

So Shawn believes rather than focusing on big boosts like vacations, it’s smarter to build little, consistent habits akin to brushing your teeth.

What little habit gives a big happiness boost over time? Send a 2-minute “thank you” email or text as soon as you get into the office.

Here’s Shawn:

The simplest thing you can do is a two-minute email praising or thanking one person that you know. We’ve done this at Facebook, at US Foods, we’ve done this at Microsoft. We had them write a two-minute email praising or thanking one person they know, and a different person each day for 21 days in a row. That’s it. What we find is this dramatically increases their social connection which is the greatest predictor of happiness we have in organizations. It also improves teamwork. We’ve measured the collective IQ of teams and the collective years of experience of teams but both of those metrics are trumped by social cohesion.

What other little daily happiness habits does Shawn recommend?

  1. List the things you’re grateful for.
  2. Meditate.
  3. Exercise.

(For more on five emails that can improve your life, click here.)

Over 120,000 people receive my weekly email. And it’s sent from my real email address. People can reply. And they do.

What’s one of the most common things readers email me to say?

Eric, you suggest all these great things. I read them. I agree with them. But I don’t end up doing any of them. How can I follow through?

Shawn has a great answer for this too.


5) The 20-Second Rule

What stops you from making the changes you know you should? Shawn says it’s “activation energy.”

You know, like the activation energy it takes to initially get your butt off the couch and to the gym. The hard part is getting started.

If you reduce the amount of activation energy required, tough things become easy. So make new habits 20 seconds easier to start.

Shawn would sleep in his gym clothes and put his sneakers next to the bed and it made him much more likely to exercise when he woke up.

Here’s Shawn:

If you can make the positive habit three to 20 seconds easier to start, your likelihood of doing it rises dramatically. And you can do the same thing by flipping it for negative habits. Watching too much television? Merely take out the batteries of the remote control creating a 20 second delay and it dramatically decreases the amount of television people will watch.

(For more easy ways to build new habits, click here.)

So how do we pull all this together? And what was the most inspiring thing Shawn told me about happiness and success?


Sum Up

Here’s what we can all learn from Shawn:

  1. Success doesn’t bring happiness. Happiness brings success.
  2. See problems as challenges, not threats.
  3. More work means you need more social support. And giving support is better than receiving.
  4. Send a 2-minute “thank you” email every morning.
  5. Use the 20-second rule to build the habit.

Some people might think it’s too hard to get happier. Maybe they’ve suffered from depression.

Or they’ve seen the research that we have a “happiness set point”, and our genetics ultimately decide how happy we can be.

You know what the most inspiring thing Shawn told me was? The latest research shows good habits might trump genes.

Here’s Shawn:

When you look at outliers on the graph, you find people who actually break the tyranny of genes and environment by creating these conscious positive habits that actually cause them to interact with life in a more positive way with higher levels of success, lower levels of stress, and higher levels of resilience. They do it by changing their mindset and changing their habits, and by doing so they actually trump their genes.

Most people accept that they’re just born some way and that’s how they’re going to be the rest of their life, and whatever they were last year is what they’re going to be this year. I think positive psychology shows us that that doesn’t actually have to be the case.

Send a gratitude email right now. It only takes 2 minutes. And send another one tomorrow.

That habit will make you happier. And being happier will make you more successful and deepen your relationships.

Happiness. Success. Strong relationships. What else really matters?


New neuroscience reveals 4 rituals that will make you happy: … It’s not finding gratitude that matters most; it’s remembering to look in the first place. Remembering to be grateful is a form of emotional intelligence. One study found that it actually affected neuron density in both the ventromedial and lateral prefrontal cortex. …

16 Oct

You get all kinds of happiness advice on the internet from people who don’t know what they’re talking about. Don’t trust them.

Actually, don’t trust me either. Trust neuroscientists. They study that gray blob in your head all day and have learned a lot about what truly will make you happy.

UCLA neuroscience researcher Alex Korb has some insights that can create an upward spiral of happiness in your life. Here’s what you and I can learn from the people who really have answers:

1) The Most Important Question To Ask When You Feel Down

Sometimes it doesn’t feel like your brain wants you to be happy. You may feel guilty or shameful. Why?

Believe it or not, guilt and shame activate the brain’s reward center.

Via The Upward Spiral:

Despite their differences, pride, shame, and guilt all activate similar neural circuits, including the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, amygdala, insula, and the nucleus accumbens. Interestingly, pride is the most powerful of these emotions at triggering activity in these regions — except in the nucleus accumbens, where guilt and shame win out. This explains why it can be so appealing to heap guilt and shame on ourselves — they’re activating the brain’s reward center.

And you worry a lot too. Why? In the short term, worrying makes your brain feel a little better — at least you’re doing something about your problems.

Via The Upward Spiral:

In fact, worrying can help calm the limbic system by increasing activity in the medial prefrontal cortex and decreasing activity in the amygdala. That might seem counterintuitive, but it just goes to show that if you’re feeling anxiety, doing something about it — even worrying — is better than doing nothing.

But guilt, shame and worry are horrible long-term solutions. So what do neuroscientists say you should do? Ask yourself this question:

What am I grateful for?

Yeah, gratitude is awesome… but does it really affect your brain at the biological level? Yup.

You know what the antidepressant Wellbutrin does? Boosts the neurotransmitter dopamine. So does gratitude.

Via The Upward Spiral:

The benefits of gratitude start with the dopamine system, because feeling grateful activates the brain stem region that produces dopamine. Additionally, gratitude toward others increases activity in social dopamine circuits, which makes social interactions more enjoyable…

Know what Prozac does? Boosts the neurotransmitter serotonin. So does gratitude.

Via The Upward Spiral:

One powerful effect of gratitude is that it can boost serotonin. Trying to think of things you are grateful for forces you to focus on the positive aspects of your life. This simple act increases serotonin production in the anterior cingulate cortex.

I know, sometimes life lands a really mean punch in the gut and it feels like there’s nothing to be grateful for. Guess what?

Doesn’t matter. You don’t have to find anything. It’s the searching that counts.

Via The Upward Spiral:

It’s not finding gratitude that matters most; it’s remembering to look in the first place. Remembering to be grateful is a form of emotional intelligence. One study found that it actually affected neuron density in both the ventromedial and lateral prefrontal cortex. These density changes suggest that as emotional intelligence increases, the neurons in these areas become more efficient. With higher emotional intelligence, it simply takes less effort to be grateful.

And gratitude doesn’t just make your brain happy — it can also create a positive feedback loop in your relationships. So express that gratitude to the people you care about.

(For more on how gratitude can make you happier and more successful, click here.)

But what happens when bad feelings completely overtake you? When you’re really in the dumps and don’t even know how to deal with it? There’s an easy answer…

2) Label Negative Feelings

You feel awful. Okay, give that awfulness a name. Sad? Anxious? Angry?

Boom. It’s that simple. Sound stupid? Your noggin disagrees.

Via The Upward Spiral:

…in one fMRI study, appropriately titled “Putting Feelings into Words” participants viewed pictures of people with emotional facial expressions. Predictably, each participant’s amygdala activated to the emotions in the picture. But when they were asked to name the emotion, the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex activated and reduced the emotional amygdala reactivity. In other words, consciously recognizing the emotions reduced their impact.

Suppressing emotions doesn’t work and can backfire on you.

Via Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long:

Gross found that people who tried to suppress a negative emotional experience failed to do so. While they thought they looked fine outwardly, inwardly their limbic system was just as aroused as without suppression, and in some cases, even more aroused. Kevin Ochsner, at Columbia, repeated these findings using an fMRI. Trying not to feel something doesn’t work, and in some cases even backfires.

But labeling, on the other hand, makes a big difference.

Via Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long:

To reduce arousal, you need to use just a few words to describe an emotion, and ideally use symbolic language, which means using indirect metaphors, metrics, and simplifications of your experience. This requires you to activate your prefrontal cortex, which reduces the arousal in the limbic system. Here’s the bottom line: describe an emotion in just a word or two, and it helps reduce the emotion.

Ancient methods were way ahead of us on this one. Meditation has employed this for centuries. Labeling is a fundamental tool of mindfulness.

In fact, labeling affects the brain so powerfully it works with other people too. Labeling emotions is one of the primary tools used by FBI hostage negotiators.

(To learn more of the secrets of FBI hostage negotiators, click here.)

Okay, hopefully you’re not reading this and labeling your current emotional state as “Bored.” Maybe you’re not feeling awful but you probably have things going on in your life that are causing you some stress. Here’s a simple way to beat them…

3) Make That Decision

Ever make a decision and then your brain finally feels at rest? That’s no random occurrence.

Brain science shows that making decisions reduces worry and anxiety — as well as helping you solve problems.

Via The Upward Spiral:

Making decisions includes creating intentions and setting goals — all three are part of the same neural circuitry and engage the prefrontal cortex in a positive way, reducing worry and anxiety. Making decisions also helps overcome striatum activity, which usually pulls you toward negative impulses and routines. Finally, making decisions changes your perception of the world — finding solutions to your problems and calming the limbic system.

But deciding can be hard. I agree. So what kind of decisions should you make? Neuroscience has an answer…

Make a “good enough” decision. Don’t sweat making the absolute 100% best decision. We all know being a perfectionist can be stressful. And brain studies back this up.

Trying to be perfect overwhelms your brain with emotions and makes you feel out of control.

Via The Upward Spiral:

Trying for the best, instead of good enough, brings too much emotional ventromedial prefrontal activity into the decision-making process. In contrast, recognizing that good enough is good enough activates more dorsolateral prefrontal areas, which helps you feel more in control…

As Swarthmore professor Barry Schwartz said in my interview with him: “Good enough is almost always good enough.”

So when you make a decision, your brain feels you have control. And, as I’ve talked about before, a feeling of control reduces stress. But here’s what’s really fascinating: Deciding also boosts pleasure.

Via The Upward Spiral:

Actively choosing caused changes in attention circuits and in how the participants felt about the action, and it increased rewarding dopamine activity.

Want proof? No problem. Let’s talk about cocaine.

You give 2 rats injections of cocaine. Rat A had to pull a lever first. Rat B didn’t have to do anything. Any difference? Yup: rat A gets a bigger boost of dopamine.

Via The Upward Spiral:

So they both got the same injections of cocaine at the same time, but rat A had to actively press the lever, and rat B didn’t have to do anything. And you guessed it — rat A released more dopamine in its nucleus accumbens.

So what’s the lesson here? Next time you buy cocaine… whoops, wrong lesson. Point is, when you make a decision on a goal and then achieve it, you feel better than when good stuff just happens by chance.

And this answers the eternal mystery of why dragging your butt to the gym can be so hard.

If you go because you feel you have to or you should, well, it’s not really a voluntary decision. Your brain doesn’t get the pleasure boost. It just feels stress. And that’s no way to build a good exercise habit.

Via The Upward Spiral:

Interestingly, if they are forced to exercise, they don’t get the same benefits, because without choice, the exercise itself is a source of stress.

So make more decisions. Neuroscience researcher Alex Korb sums it up nicely:

We don’t just choose the things we like; we also like the things we choose.

(To learn what neuroscientists say is the best way to use caffeine, click here.)

Okay, you’re being grateful, labeling negative emotions and making more decisions. Great. But this is feeling kinda lonely for a happiness prescription. Let’s get some other people in here.

What’s something you can do with others that neuroscience says is a path to mucho happiness? And something that’s stupidly simple so you don’t get lazy and skip it? Brain docs have an answer for you…

4) Touch People

No, not indiscriminately; that can get you in a lot of trouble.

But we need to feel love and acceptance from others. When we don’t it’s painful. And I don’t mean “awkward” or “disappointing.” I mean actually painful.

Neuroscientists did a study where people played a ball-tossing video game. The other players tossed the ball to you and you tossed it back to them. Actually, there were no other players; that was all done by the computer program.

But the subjects were told the characters were controlled by real people. So what happened when the “other players” stopped playing nice and didn’t share the ball?

Subjects’ brains responded the same way as if they experienced physical pain. Rejection doesn’t just hurt like a broken heart; your brain feels it like a broken leg.

Via The Upward Spiral:

In fact, as demonstrated in an fMRI experiment, social exclusion activates the same circuitry as physical pain… at one point they stopped sharing, only throwing back and forth to each other, ignoring the participant. This small change was enough to elicit feelings of social exclusion, and it activated the anterior cingulate and insula, just like physical pain would.

Relationships are very important to your brain’s feeling of happiness. Want to take that to the next level? Touch people.

Via The Upward Spiral:

One of the primary ways to release oxytocin is through touching. Obviously, it’s not always appropriate to touch most people, but small touches like handshakes and pats on the back are usually okay. For people you’re close with, make more of an effort to touch more often.

Touching is incredibly powerful. We just don’t give it enough credit. It makes you more persuasive, increases team performance, improves your flirting… heck, it even boosts math skills.

Touching someone you love actually reduces pain. In fact, when studies were done on married couples, the stronger the marriage, the more powerful the effect.

Via The Upward Spiral:

In addition, holding hands with someone can help comfort you and your brain through painful situations. One fMRI study scanned married women as they were warned that they were about to get a small electric shock. While anticipating the painful shocks, the brain showed a predictable pattern of response in pain and worrying circuits, with activation in the insula, anterior cingulate, and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. During a separate scan, the women either held their husbands’ hands or the hand of the experimenter. When a subject held her husband’s hand, the threat of shock had a smaller effect. The brain showed reduced activation in both the anterior cingulate cortex and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex— that is, less activity in the pain and worrying circuits. In addition, the stronger the marriage, the lower the discomfort-related insula activity.

So hug someone today. And do not accept little, quick hugs. No, no, no. Tell them your neuroscientist recommended long hugs.

Via The Upward Spiral:

A hug, especially a long one, releases a neurotransmitter and hormone oxytocin, which reduces the reactivity of the amygdala.

Research shows getting five hugs a day for four weeks increases happiness big time.

Don’t have anyone to hug right now? No? (I’m sorry to hear that. I would give you a hug right now if I could.) But there’s an answer: neuroscience says you should go get a massage.

Via The Upward Spiral:

The results are fairly clear that massage boosts your serotonin by as much as 30 percent. Massage also decreases stress hormones and raises dopamine levels, which helps you create new good habits… Massage reduces pain because the oxytocin system activates painkilling endorphins. Massage also improves sleep and reduces fatigue by increasing serotonin and dopamine and decreasing the stress hormone cortisol.

So spend time with other people and give some hugs. Sorry, texting is not enough.

When you put people in a stressful situation and then let them visit loved ones or talk to them on the phone, they felt better. What about when they just texted? Their bodies responded the same as if they had no support at all.

Via The Upward Spiral:

…the text-message group had cortisol and oxytocin levels similar to the no-contact group.

Author’s note: I totally approve of texting if you make a hug appointment.

(To learn what neuroscience says is the best way to get smarter and happier, click here.)

Okay, I don’t want to strain your brain with too much info. Let’s round it up and learn the quickest and easiest way to start that upward spiral of neuroscience-inspired happiness…

Sum Up

Here’s what brain research says will make you happy:

  • Ask “What am I grateful for?” No answers? Doesn’t matter. Just searching helps.
  • Label those negative emotions. Give it a name and your brain isn’t so bothered by it.
  • Decide. Go for “good enough” instead of “best decision ever made on Earth.”
  • Hugs, hugs, hugs. Don’t text — touch.

So what’s the dead simple way to start that upward spiral of happiness?

Just send someone a thank you email. If you feel awkward about it, you can send them this post to tell them why.

This really can start an upward spiral of happiness in your life. UCLA neuroscience researcher Alex Korb explains:

Everything is interconnected. Gratitude improves sleep. Sleep reduces pain. Reduced pain improves your mood. Improved mood reduces anxiety, which improves focus and planning. Focus and planning help with decision making. Decision making further reduces anxiety and improves enjoyment. Enjoyment gives you more to be grateful for, which keeps that loop of the upward spiral going. Enjoyment also makes it more likely you’ll exercise and be social, which, in turn, will make you happier.

So thank you for reading this.

These are America’s happiest states | Ladders: Has one paid WalletHub for results and why?

16 Oct

Personal finance website WalletHub released 2017’s Happiest States in America today, finding that Minnesota is the “happiest” overall based on their metrics, but that when it comes to the state with the highest income growth, North Dakota is number one, among many other findings.

Here are some key takeaways from the survey.

These states are the key players overall

The researchers took a look at all 50 states in terms of three dimensions (“Work Environment,” “Emotional & Physical Well-Being,” and “Community & Environment”) and looked at the dimensions via 28 metrics.

Each state got a total score out of 100 (this number being the happiest), and then were ranked.

Minnesota was at the top of the heap at #1, (total score of 70.81), with Utah in second place (total score of 68.16), Hawaii in third place (total score 67.90), California in fourth (total score of 66.55), and Nebraska was in fifth (total score of 65.65).

Rounding out the bottom were Arkansas at #46 (total score of 37.33), Alabama at #47 (total score of 36.60), Louisiana at #48 (total score of 35.35), Oklahoma at #49 (total score of 34.97), and West Virginia at #50 (total score of 34.89).

Income growth by state

The research included findings on states with the most and least income growth.

The five with the highest amount were North Dakota at #1, South Dakota at #2, Wyoming at #3, Oklahoma at #4 and Alaska at #5.

The five with the lowest amount were California at #46, Georgia at #47, Florida at #48, Arizona at #49, and Nevada at #50.

Work hours by state

The study took a look at states with the most and fewest work hours.

Among states with the lowest amount were Utah at #1, Oregon at #2, Rhode Island at #3, Massachusetts at #4, and Michigan and Vermont tied at #5.

Among states with the highest amount of work hours were Louisiana at #46, Texas at #47, and North Dakota and Wyoming tied at #48 and Alaska at #50.

This is what it takes to be happy in work and life, experts say

The research also featured commentary from a group of experts on how various factors influence happiness.

Kimberly A. Daubman, Associate Professor of Psychology at Bucknell University, said that, “people who can find meaning in their work are happier. Finding flow is also key, which suggests that people should avoid multitasking and focus fully on the task at hand.”

Many of us know what it’s like to work somewhere that makes you say, “it’s just a job” because of a lack of passion for the position, so finding something that speaks to you — and being fully present when getting work done — could be keys to a healthier work life. (But if you must multitask, here’s how to do it right.)

Jennifer Zwagerman, Director of Career Development and Associate Director of the Agricultural Law Center at Drake University, commented on how to have a happy life. She said it comes down to “finding things that satisfy you, both personally and professionally, to provide some balance.”

“You won’t always be happy in both, you won’t always find balance in both, but if overall you can look at the big picture and realize that you do enjoy what you do professionally (most of the time), and that you have a life outside work that you enjoy, that’s a good step towards a happy life,” she said.

No matter what U.S. state you live in, you can take steps to make sure you’re getting the most out of your career and your life.

Math, Logic, and Lawyers – In the first Rodney King trial, the one whose verdict led to the riots, when the jury met to consider the case, they took a straw vote. They agreed that two of the officers on trial were indeed guilty of police brutality. But the judge had directed them to apply the following principle to their deliberation. They were to consider each of the sixty nine (?) blows, and then apply five tests to each. If a blow satisfied these five conditions, then the officer was guilty. If none of the blows satisfied the conditions, then he was innocent. Following this principle, the jury found the officers innocent on most of the charges. … suppose you had sixty nine numbers. Suppose the law is broken if the numbers add up to more than one. Apply the following method: `Consider each number. If it is less than one it did not break the law; if it is greater than one the law was broken. If none of the numbers broke the law, then the law was not broken’. It is obvious that this method will give incorrect results.

15 Oct

Math, Logic, and Lawyers

Daniel Henry Gottlieb — October 9, 1995

This is a response to William H. Simon’s article, “Merit and Affirmative Action” in the San Francisco Chronicle of June 16, 1995.

William H. Simon, a law professor at Stanford University, discerns a connection between Affirmative Action and other forms of selection imposed on job seekers or college applicants. He used his own case as an example of his idea.

The entrance exam for law schools replaced math problems with logic problems in 1970. He says “If the test had included the kind of math problems used in past years, I would have done poorly, but I’m fairly good at logic problems, and I got a good enough overall score to get into Harvard Law School”.

I am a Mathematics professor, and when I read those words I was perplexed, because I didn’t see how it was possible to be good at logic and yet poor at math at the same time. After some thought I may have found a solution to this puzzle. If I am right it may provide a good insight into the present problems of our legal system.

I think that the “logic problems” test the ability to recognize similarities and abstractions and principles, whereas the “math problems” test the ability to recognize the appropriate principle for the case at hand.

Consider the principle: `You can’t add apples to oranges’.

If you believe this only refers to fruit, then Harvard Law is not for you. The “logic problems” test the ability to relate the principle to the statement that you can’t add the elevation to the population, or Pesos to Dollars. The “math problems” test the ability to recognize that the principle applies if the problem were to find how many Pounds equals a Peso plus a Dollar, and does not apply if the problem were to add all the pieces of fruit on the table.

How does this play a role in our legal system? One legal principle which seems to be widely used is the following: In a sequence of actions the law is broken only if it is broken by at least one of those actions. The “logic problems” test whether you can understand this general principle and apply it to specific cases. The “math problems” test your ability to determine whether it is appropriate to apply this rule or not.

In the first Rodney King trial, the one whose verdict led to the riots, when the jury met to consider the case, they took a straw vote. They agreed that two of the officers on trial were indeed guilty of police brutality. But the judge had directed them to apply the following principle to their deliberation. They were to consider each of the sixty nine (?) blows, and then apply five tests to each. If a blow satisfied these five conditions, then the officer was guilty. If none of the blows satisfied the conditions, then he was innocent. Following this principle, the jury found the officers innocent on most of the charges.

If the judge had mathematical talent, he would have checked on where this principle leads to incorrect results. For example, suppose you had sixty nine numbers. Suppose the law is broken if the numbers add up to more than one. Apply the following method: `Consider each number. If it is less than one it did not break the law; if it is greater than one the law was broken. If none of the numbers broke the law, then the law was not broken’.

It is obvious that this method will give incorrect results.

This is a test of the principle in Arithmetic, not in the Law. So it is crystal clear that it is an inappropriate application of the principle since there are no gray areas in Arithmetic. But now that we know how the principle can be applied incorrectly, it is an easy matter to find an example in the Law: `Suppose Rodney King underwent Chinese Water Torture. You have to consider every drop and apply five tests to it…’.

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Return to Mathematics and the Law

Secretul Ascensiunii e să absorbi cât mai multă Lumină, deci Cunoaştere, care duce la Eliberarea din starea de carbon, ducând la Corpul de Diamant sau la Corpul de Cristal. – obţine invizibilitatea fizică la propriu!

15 Oct

Ascensiunea – explicatie ştiinţifica

Atat evanghelia lăsată de Iisus, cât şi textul Apocalipsei, scris de Ioan, sunt una şi aceeaşi Învăţătură Divină ce-l poate purta pe orice om către o treaptă superioară de evoluţie? Pildele şi parabolele folosite de Iisus sunt şi astăzi valabile, ca principii de evoluţie spirituală şi umană. Ce rol au totuşi aceste texte şi ce mister ascund ele?
Evanghelia, cât şi Apocalipsa conţin principiile esoterice care, dacă sunt respectate de om, îl duc spre transformarea sa într-o adevărată fiinţă de Lumină, aşa cum a demonstrat însuşi Iisus în acele vremuri. Adică strălucirea trupului poate ajunge la un asemenea nivel, încât pare că din tot corpul fizic iese Lumina. Cum ar fi posibil aşa ceva? Putem spune că procesul numit “Iluminare spirituală” este doar o etapă către Ascensiune. Însuşi termenul de Iluminare presupune o aducere în interiorul fiinţei proprii a Luminii, dar aici nu ne referim la lumina fizică propriu zis, căci e vorba de Lumina adusă de Cunoaştere. La noi în popor, la sate, încă se mai foloseşte expresia ”s-a făcut lumină în problema cutare…”, adică s-a ajuns să se cunoască atât cauzele, cât şi rezultatul problemei respective. Dar Iluminarea este numai o etapă, deoarece ea pregăteşte Desăvârşirea, aceasta fiind partea finală a Ascensiunii. Cum poate explica ştiinţa acest fenomen?

Magia Luminii – Optica
Cu toţii am învăţat la şcoală la fizică despre optică. Este un capitol aparte al fizicii care studiază interacţiunea dintre fotoni şi materia densă organizată în diferite forme. Ştiinţa Iniţiatică spune că se poate obţine invizibilitatea fizică la propriu, şi în acelaşi timp corpul fizic să rămână aşa cum este el, adică în forma pe care o are. Aici e misterul, căci deşi îşi păstrează forma, îşi schimbă densitatea. Astfel, trupul fizic al unui Maestru spiritual poate deveni invizibil pentru un om obişnuit. Aceasta este doar una dintre tehnicile folosite de către Maeştri călugări Shaolin, de exemplu. Dacă trupul are o formă, lumina se reflectă de el, şi atunci întrebarea e: cum poate să devină transparent faţă de interacţiunea cu lumina? Simplu. E vorba de a înţelege mai întâi nişte procese fizice. Dacă veţi lua un geam curat şi nou şi-l veţi introduce în apă, practic nu-l veţi mai vedea, deşi el îşi păstrează atât grosimea, cât şi forma. Veţi şti că este geam, şi că este acolo, doar pentru că mai înainte aţi cunoscut asta şi e adevărat. La fel se întâmplă şi cu corpul fizic. Ne ştim corpul că e adevărat, că există, respiră şi se hrăneşte. Dar cum să-l facem invizibil? Este evident că trupul uman e mai complex decât un geam, dar se supune aceloraşi legi ale opticii. O frecvenţă superioară de lumină va fi întotdeauna imperceptibilă ochiului uman. Deci ideea e să ne mărim frecvenţa de emisie de lumină a corpului fizic.

Omul este un Cristal
Aşa cum a descoperit ştiinţa modernă, celulele organismului uman emit o radiaţie fotonică destul de slabă. În altă ordine de idei asta demonstrează că omul a decăzut spiritual, câştigând în tehnologie. Ori dacă se aduce corpul sub ascultarea unei tehnici spirituale, de meditaţie (de exemplu), şi a unui mod de alimentaţie curat şi sănătos, atunci Sinele – care e Lumină Divină Inteligentă, va putea străbate mai mult şi mai intens prin structura corpului fizic. Astfel, radiaţia din celule va spori, pentru că se primeşte o cantitate mai mare de energie fotonică, şi astfel se declanşează Procesul Ascensiunii. Este necesar să fiţi atenţi la cuvintele şi gândurile voastre, la emoţiile şi sentimentele pe care le aveţi. Căci ele toate dacă sunt curate şi sănătoase, şi pozitive, aduc mai multă Lumină în corpul vostru. În acest fel carbonul care stă la baza ţesuturilor şi organelor va suferi o mutaţie, legăturile sale atomice schimbându-se treptat către modelul atomic al diamantului, care este forma superioară a carbonului. Aşa corpul va deveni din opac, cum e reflecţia carbonului, un organism ce absoarbe, dar şi reflectă lumina în acelaşi timp. Adică e ca şi când lumina ar trece printr-un cristal, printr-un geam. Căci secretul Ascensiunii e să absorbi cât mai multă Lumină, deci Cunoaştere, care duce la Eliberarea din starea de carbon, ducând la Corpul de Diamant sau la Corpul de Cristal. Aceasta este Ascensiunea ca proces de evoluţie spirituală. Ignoranţa înseamnă un corp obişnuit ce funcţionează pe modelul obişnuit al carbonului, în timp ce Ascensiunea şi Cunoaşterea se bazează pe forma superioară a carbonului – diamantul.

How Alan Greenspan Helped Wreck the Economy – “Greenspan’s ultimately naive and dangerous faith in competitive markets showed itself nowhere as damagingly as in the Fed’s failure to be vigilant about the CDOs. Not only did his interest rate increases fail to dampen the financing, but they encouraged Wall Street to take more risks and mortgage brokers to write more bad loans because their profit margins had narrowed. They made up in quantity what was lacking in quality.”: Have the criminals paid back?

14 Oct

The following is an excerpt from Age of Greed: The Triumph of Finance and the Decline of America, 1970 to the Present by Jeff Madrick.

After the attacks on the World Trade Center in September 2001, the Fed, already trying to restart the economy, cut rates faster, three reductions in a row of a half point each. By the end of 2001, the target federal funds rate, some 6.5 percent only two years earlier, was now only 1.75 percent. But the economy was not expanding at a healthy rate. And with the tax collections cut due to recession, on top of the loss of former capital gains collections, the federal budget fell into a $150 billion deficit. It was a stunning reversal, and expensive incursions into Iraq and Afghanistan were looming.

In 2002 and 2003, the economy was still not recovering adequately despite the extreme rate cuts the Greenspan Fed initiated. Now Greenspan thought deflation— an overall decline in prices— was a far greater worry than inflation, which could result in financial turmoil. Debtors don’t pay back their loans because dollars are more valuable— they can buy more. Creditors take large losses. Greenspan always believed he could recharge the economy by cutting rates sharply. The financial markets had come to depend on this ever since his rescue in 1987, and it became known as the “Greenspan put”—a floor Greenspan would always place under securities prices. But now the lower rates were not working. As economist Mark Zandi said, Greenspan realized the only way out was to push interest rates even lower to ignite a housing boom. Perhaps he believed he could this time pull the plug just short of its becoming a housing bubble. If housing was stimulated, higher house prices in turn would encourage consumers to spend— the “wealth” effect, as it was called. Greenspan cut the target federal funds rate to 1 percent and kept it there until mid- 2004, the lowest since the early 1950s.

The low rates between 2000 and 2004 were the lifeblood of the housing boom. Thousands of new mortgage brokers, and twenty or so giant ones, were vying with one another to sell mortgages to lower- income Americans, relying in particular on adjustable rate mortgages, or ARMs. Buyers paid low interest rates in the first two years of the mortgages after which rates rose, usually substantially. But with house prices rising relentlessly, the homeowner could refinance with another ARM, or pay down some of the mortgage and reduce the monthly payments. A rapidly growing number of these were subprime mortgages, sold to home buyers with poor credit. But middle-income Americans also often took ARMs, to buy homes once out of their reach. With rates so low and no federal oversight, mortgage lending practices, long suspect, became widely abusive. Even the FBI warned in 2004 of an “epidemic” of fraud in subprime mortgage writing, but it had devoted so many of its resources to antiterrorist activities, it had little left to pursue unscrupulous mortgage brokers.

Greenspan knew about these loans, and was warned by associates at the Federal Reserve that abuses were mounting. He had the authority to investigate but chose not to. In 2004, remarkably, Greenspan himself spoke favorably of the ARMs. “Many homeowners might have saved tens of thousands of dollars had they held adjustable-rate mortgages rather than fixed- rate mortgages.” As economist Zandi wrote, such a comment was essentially an endorsement of the practice.

At last, the economy started to grow strongly again, based on the housing boom, and Greenspan began to raise the federal funds rate in mid-2004, eventually by more than 4 percentage points. Inflation was increasing only moderately, but Greenspan’s other great concern, the federal deficit, now enlarged by war spending, was about to exceed $400 billion, some 4.5 percent of GDP.

The rising federal funds rate, which reached 5.25 percent by the end of 2006, did not dampen the flow of mortgages, since Wall Street was now the most important source of mortgage money, not the thrifts. Packaging mortgages into securities—securitization—had made such institutional investors as pension funds and insurance companies the major providers of funding for mortgages. Hundreds of billions of dollars of new money found its way to homeowners each year. When Greenspan raised rates, it did not staunch this flow because mortgage brokers, which now included giant mortgage specialists like Countrywide Financial, big commercial banks like JPMorgan and Citigroup, and the major Wall Street investment banks, like Lehman Brothers, pushed ever harder to sell the ARMs with the low initial rates or mortgages known as Alt-A that required no verification of income. They knew that Wall Street had an almost bottomless pit of demand for the new securitized debt from pension and investment managers as well as financial institutions around the world. Greenspan just could not get long-term interest rates to rise much.

Greenspan, based on his firm market principles, approved strongly of securitization and most derivative products as a way to spread risk— a view traditional market economists like Summers shared. But even when crisis struck in 2008, it was clear the Federal Reserve economists in Washington and New York did not understand how excessive and risky the borrowing now was. In particular, the relatively new collateralized debt obligations (CDOs), a way of packaging risky mortgages for investors willing to make only low- risk investments, was not understood or even investigated. Greenspan’s ultimately naive and dangerous faith in competitive markets showed itself nowhere as damagingly as in the Fed’s failure to be vigilant about the CDOs. Not only did his interest rate increases fail to dampen the financing, but they encouraged Wall Street to take more risks and mortgage brokers to write more bad loans because their profit margins had narrowed. They made up in quantity what was lacking in quality. The high dollar coupled with the trade deficit, which put even more dollars in foreign hands, which they in turn confidently invested in U.S. securities, provided ample funds. Between 2000 and 2005, according to Wellesley 246 age of greed economist Karl Case and Yale’s Robert Shiller, house prices rose faster than at any time in modern history, and the number of mortgages being written exploded.

But when Greenspan raised rates in 2004—on which adjustable rate mortgages were based— the clock began to tick. The rates on tens of billions of dollars of ARMs would be reset upward in 2006. That year, default rates on mortgages started to rise rapidly and home prices for the first time started to fall. In 2007, two hedge funds at Bear Stearns went broke and the worst credit crisis since the Great Depression got under way. In early 2008, Bear Stearns was saved from bankruptcy in a distress sale to JPMorgan Chase. In September, Lehman Brothers collapsed altogether and the Bush Treasury initiated a $700 billion bailout of commercial and investment banks. Many observers blamed Greenspan’s extreme monetary easing in the early 2000s for the debacle, making credit too cheap. But regulatory vigilance could have prevented the excesses. Greenspan would have none of it.

Greenspan retired at the end of 2006. In congressional hearings in 2008 before a House committee chaired by Henry Waxman, Greenspan testified that he “made a mistake in presuming that the self- interest of organizations, specifically banks and others, were [sic] such that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms.” He found, he went on, a “flaw in the model that I perceived is the critical functioning structure that defines how the world works … I was shocked because I’ve been going for forty years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well.” His admission was welcome but misleading. His model of economic behavior and government policy resulted in profound financial instability every few years and subpar economic performance for the nearly twenty years he was Fed chairman. The boom of the late 1990s, the one exceptional period, was highly dependent on spending encouraged by the stock market bubble and benefited from low inflation due to falling oil prices, a high dollar, and plunging computer prices. In the 2000s, he traded a boom in housing for the boom in high-technology stocks.

In his memoir, Greenspan wrote, “assisted by the wave of deregulation since the mid-1970s, today’s U.S. economy remains the most competitive in the world, and American culture still exhibits much of the risk taking and taste for adventure of the country’s earlier years.” Yet, in more regulated times, America exhibited the very same entrepreneurial behavior and risk taking that it did in Greenspan’s time, and perhaps more. In the 1950s, with the rise of Xerox, Kodak, IBM, Sears, Syntex, Merck, Johnson & Johnson, Hewlett-Packard, and others, innovation and regulation went hand in hand with financial stability, rising wages, and income equality. Had he achieved that record, he would have deserved the praise he had received.

The unleashing of unregulated self-interest since the 1980s, he believed, was a sufficient condition for prosperity.

Amazing Inventions You Won’t Believe Exist

13 Oct

Hourglass Traffic Lights

The design of the traffic light could soon change. Yanko Designs created a new design for traffic lights and it looks awesome.

The hourglass counts down the time left before the light changes. No more guessing how long that light’s going to be red.


Smart Contact Lenses For Diabetics

This invention could save a life of a diabetic.

With these lenses, they can detect glucose levels via tears. If the glucose levels are imbalanced, then the color of the lens will change to make the person aware.

It sure beats having to draw blood every day.


Reuseable Candles

Tired of buying candles that usually last a month? Luckily, this candle is for you.

Called The Rekindle, this invention collects the melting, dripping wax that otherwise might go to waste, and shapes it to form a new candle.

Pretty genius!


Umbrella Bag

Umbrella that doubles as a bag? Sounds like a woman’s dream.

Is this a fashion statement though?


Baby Bath Umbrella Hat

Want to protect your newborn from the chemicals of shampoos?

This cute blue bath baby umbrella hat is the prefect protection for your baby.



Water Sterilizer For Your Fresh Foods

The WOW Water Sterilizer uses electrolysis to eliminate harmful bacteria in everything from fruits, veggies, kitchen appliances, as well as baby bottles and chew toys – all without chemical detergents.



Laser Bike Lane

Like to ride your bike in the night?

This invention was designed for the safety-conscious.

Super-bright, longer-lasting LEDs lights provide a bike lane that will go some way to tackling two serious causes of cycling fatalities – being caught in the blind spot, or vehicles turning across an unseen cyclist.


Inflatable Backseat Mattress


Calling all road-trippers (or people who really love their car)! Now you never have to leave the comfort of your vehicle while on the road with this inflatable in-car airbed and pillows. Had a long day of driving and need a quick snooze? Now you’ve got a comfy place to sleep in your backseat! Own a convertible and you and your lady-friend want to go stargazing on a clear, cloudless summer night? Yep, this one’s for you! The possibilities are endless…as long as it involves your car.


Weight Watch Belt

Watching your weight?

This invention will keep track of your waist line.





How Lady Bird and Lyndon Baines Johnson came by their millions – The Johnsons earned thousands from their radio station but millions from their TV stations, writes former FCC official William B. Ray in his book, FCC: The Ups and Downs of Radio Regulation. The commission allocated one commercial station to Austin in the early 1950s, and the Johnsons were its sole applicant. “Filing a competing application would have been a waste of money,” Ray writes, because of the Johnsons’ political clout. “Whenever there was a business matter to be discussed between CBS and the LBJ stations, Johnson would summon the appropriate CBS personnel to the White House to discuss it,” he continues.

13 Oct

The Honest Graft of Lady Bird Johnson

How she and Lyndon came by their millions.

Lady Bird Johnson. Click image to expand.
Lady Bird Johnson greets the press

The perturbed spirit of Lady Bird Johnson will rest until somebody writes a more complete article about how she and her husband became millionaires. Of the top dailies, only the New York Times and the Washington Post obituaries slow to savor the political skulduggery she and her husband, Rep. Lyndon Baines Johnson, relied on to pour the foundation of her business empire. Some of the clips find her scheme to “beautify” America more interesting than her blatant exercise in political graft. (See the deficient obituaries in the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, and USA Today. See the relevant passages here.)

Robert A. Caro examines the roots of the Johnson broadcasting fortune in the second volume of his biography of LBJ, The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Means of Ascent. Although Lyndon Johnson always protested that Lady Bird bought the station on her own and that he applied no political pressure to help her, Caro easily proves him a liar.

In 1943, the year Lady Bird Johnson purchased KTBC, the Federal Communications Commission, which reviewed all broadcast-license transfers, was close to being abolished, Caro writes. Lyndon Johnson used his political influence in both Congress and the White House to prevent that from happening. The FCC was among the most politicized agencies in the government, Caro asserts, and it knew who its friends were.

Johnson socialized with FCC Commissioner Clifford Durr at the time, “sometimes at Durr’s home, sometimes at his own,” although Durr says Johnson never mentioned Lady Bird’s application for KTBC’s license. Lady Bird, however, directly approached Durr about the station, and Lyndon phoned James Barr of the FCC’s Standard Broadcast Division. “He wanted to get a radio station, and what I remember is, he wouldn’t take no for an answer,” Caro quotes Barr.

Legendary Democratic fixer Tommy “The Cork” Corcoran also helped with the KTBC application—”all up and down the line,” is how Corcoran put it. Asked in an interview whether Johnson’s status as a member of Congress helped his wife’s application, Corcoran said, “How do you think these things work? These guys [FCC staffers] have been around. You don’t have to spell things out for them.”

The Los Angeles Times and USA Today obituaries make it sound as if KTBC were a congenitally unprofitable station at the time of Lady Bird’s bid and give the impression that she was the lone suitor for the property. That was not the case, as Caro documents the identities of the other interested bidders.

Once Lady Bird completed her purchase of KTBC, the “five years of delays and red tape, or delays and unfavorable rules” from the FCC that had stymied the previous owners “vanished … and slowness was replaced by speed,” according to Caro. In short order she got permission to broadcast 24 hours a day (KTBC had been a sunrise-to-sunset station) and move it to 590 on the dial—”an uncluttered, end of the dial” where it could be heard in 38 surrounding Texas counties. It was no coincidence. Lyndon and Lady Bird recruited a new station manager, promising 10 percent of the profits, and Lyndon told him that the changes in the license restrictions that would make KTBC a moneymaker were “all set.” In 1945, the FCC OK’d KTBC’s request to quintuple its power, which cast its signal over 63 counties. 

When Lyndon visited William S. Paley, president of CBS radio, and asked if KTBC could become a CBS affiliate and carry its lucrative programming, he didn’t have to spell out why the request should be granted. The radio networks feared the regulators in Washington as well as the members of Congress who regulated the regulators. KNOW in Austin had been repeatedly denied the affiliation because a San Antonio “affiliate could be heard in Austin.” CBS Director of Research Frank Stanton approved Johnson’s request.

Johnson shook down powerful companies to advertise on the station. Local businesses that wanted Army camps to remain located in Austin knew one way to secure Lyndon’s help was to advertise on KTBC. Caro writes:

… Mrs. Johnson’s ability as a business woman was not the crucial factor in the acquisition of the station or, once it was acquired, in its early growth. … Lyndon Johnson had worked at politics for years to achieve power; now he was working at politics to make money.

Under Texas law, the station belonged solely to Lady Bird because she purchased it with her inheritance. But as her spouse, Lyndon owned half of all the profits. He was ultra-active in recruiting staff and running the operation, and by 1948, Caro writes, he was telling his friends that he was a millionaire.

The Johnsons earned thousands from their radio station but millions from their TV stations, writes former FCC official William B. Ray in his book, FCC: The Ups and Downs of Radio Regulation. The commission allocated one commercial station to Austin in the early 1950s, and the Johnsons were its sole applicant. “Filing a competing application would have been a waste of money,” Ray writes, because of the Johnsons’ political clout. “Whenever there was a business matter to be discussed between CBS and the LBJ stations, Johnson would summon the appropriate CBS personnel to the White House to discuss it,” he continues.

Was it graft? The crooks of Tammany Hall distinguished between honest graft—which they considered respectable—and dishonest graft. Honest grafters used political connections, such as tips as to where a new bridge was going to be built, to make surefire investments. Dishonest grafters stole directly from the treasury.

You can rest in peace now, Lady Bird. Your honest-grafting days are over.


The Johnsons’ hometown newspaper, the Austin American-Statesman, acquits itself on the subject of the family fortune in its Lady Bird obit.


PRISON INC. : THE SECRET INDUSTRY – Cheap Labor: The prison industry makes money by contracting prison labor to private companies ● This includes ○ Starbucks ○ Boeing ○ Victoria’s Secret ○ McDonald’s ○ Prisoners work in apparel, document conversion, call centers, printing and clean energy ● A single prisoner’s labor is worth between 93 cents and $4 a day: is between 93 cents and $4 a day what the private companies pay to the prison? How much do the prisoners get per day?

30 Sep


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There are 2.3 million people living behind bars in the United States
● The US prison system costs the federal government $55 billion every year


● Jails are locally-operated facilities that hold inmates for a short period of time
● Prisons are long-term facilities run by the state or federal government


Between 1990 and 2010, the number of privately operated prisons in the US increased 1600%
● Private prisons bring in roughly $3 billion in revenue every year
○ Over half of this comes from holding facilities for undocumented immigrants
■ Private prisons run over 50% of detainment facilities for immigrants


Two of the biggest private prison companies in the country, Corrections Corporation of America and The GEO Group, made $3.3 billion in annual revenue in 2012.
● These two companies make up 75% of the private prison industry
○ CCA operates 67 prisons in the US
○ GEO Group operates 95 prisons in the U.S. and abroad

Cheap Labor
The prison industry makes money by contracting prison labor to private companies
● This includes
○ Starbucks
○ Boeing
○ Victoria’s Secret
○ McDonald’s
○ Prisoners work in apparel, document conversion, call centers, printing and clean energy
● A single prisoner’s labor is worth between 93 cents and $4 a day

The Government Paycheck
● “Lockup Quotas”: Contracts guarantee that prison occupancy rates will stay at or above a specified level
● “Low-Crime Taxes”: If occupancy rates are not fulfilled, the government must pay for the empty beds
● In contracts with the government, some private prison companies demand minimum occupancy levels of more than 0%

Price Per Prisoner
Average annual cost for correction expenses per inmate

● The national average for correction expenses per inmate was $28,323/year in 2010
● Harvard’s full-time tuition cost per year is $40,016
● In 2012, New York City spent almost $168,000 per inmate in food, housing and security
○ of that comes from taxpayer money

Crime Does Pay. But for Whom?

SPYING GONE AWRY? Cuba mystery: … The plaque had a tiny “microphone” and antenna embedded, but no power source, making it hard to detect even when the room was swept for bugs. The Russians had developed something novel. They remotely beamed electromagnetic waves to activate the device, which then transmitted sound back via radio frequencies.

30 Sep


Cuba mystery: What theories US investigators are pursuing

WASHINGTON (AP) — There must be an answer.

Whatever is harming U.S. diplomats in Havana, it’s eluded the doctors, scientists and intelligence analysts scouring for answers. Investigators have chased many theories, including a sonic attack, electromagnetic weapon or flawed spying device.

Each explanation seems to fit parts of what’s happened, conflicting with others.

The United States doesn’t even know what to call it. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson used the phrase “health attacks.” The State Department prefers “incidents.”

Either way, suspicion has fallen on Cuba. But investigators also are examining whether a rogue faction of its security services, another country such as Russia, or some combination is to blame, more than a dozen U.S. officials familiar with the investigation told The Associated Press.

Those officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to publicly discuss the investigation. The AP also talked to scientists, physicians, acoustics and weapons experts, and others about the theories being pursued.

Perhaps the biggest mystery is why the symptoms, sounds and sensations vary so dramatically from person to person.

Of the 21 medically confirmed U.S. victims, some have permanent hearing loss or concussions, while others suffered nausea, headaches and ear-ringing. Some are struggling with concentration or common word recall, the AP has reported. Some felt vibrations or heard loud sounds mysteriously audible in only parts of rooms , and others heard nothing.

“These are very nonspecific symptoms. That’s why it’s difficult to tell what’s going on,” said Dr. H. Jeffrey Kim, a specialist on ear disorders at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital who isn’t involved with the investigation.

To solve the puzzle, investigators are sorting symptoms into categories, such as auditory and neurological, according to individuals briefed on the probe.

There can be a lag before victims discover or report symptoms, some of which are hard to diagnose. So investigators are charting the timeline of reported incidents to identify “clusters” to help solve the when, where and how of the Havana whodunit.

While Cuba has been surprisingly cooperative , even inviting the FBI to fly down to Havana, it’s not the same as an investigation with the U.S. government in full control.

“You’re on foreign soil,” said David Rubincam, a former FBI agent who served in Moscow. “The quality of the information and evidence you collect is limited to what the host government will allow you to see and hear and touch and do.”

Especially when you don’t even know what you’re looking for.



The first signs pointed to a sonic attack. But what kind?

Some victims heard things — signs that the sounds were in the audible spectrum. Loud noise can harm hearing, especially high-decibel sounds that can trigger ear-ringing tinnitus, ruptured ear drums, even permanent hearing loss.

But others heard nothing, and still became ill. So investigators considered inaudible sound: infrasound, too low for humans to hear, and ultrasound, too high.

Infrasound often is experienced as vibration, like standing near a subwoofer. Some victims reported feeling vibrations.

And it’s not impossible that infrasound could explain some of what diplomats thought they heard.

Though infrasound is usually inaudible, some people can detect it if the waves are powerful enough. For example, individuals living near infrasound-generating wind turbines have described pulsating hums that have left them dizzy, nauseous or with interrupted sleep. Such effects have prompted fierce scientific debate.

The balance problems reported in Havana? Possibly explained by infrasound, which may stimulate cells in the ear’s vestibular system that controls balance, scientists say.

But there’s little evidence infrasound can cause lasting damage once the sound stops.

And the pinpointed focus of the sound, reported by some? Infrasound waves travel everywhere, making them difficult to aim with precision.

“There’s no efficient way to focus infrasound to make it into a usable weapon,” said Mario Svirsky, an expert on ear disorders and neuroscience at New York University School of Medicine.

If not infrasound, maybe ultrasound?

At high-intensity, ultrasound can damage human tissue. That’s why doctors use it to destroy uterine fibroids and some tumors.

But ultrasound damage requires close contact between the device and the body. “You cannot sense ultrasound from long distances,” Svirsky said. No victim said they saw a weird contraption nearby.

None of these sound waves seems to explain the concussions. Usually, those follow a blow to the head or proximity to something like a bomb blast.

“I know of no acoustic effect or device that could produce traumatic brain injury or concussion-like symptoms,” said Juergen Altmann, an acoustic weapons expert and physicist at Germany’s Technische Universitaet Dortmund.



It may sound like Star Wars fantasy, but electromagnetic weapons have been around for years. They generally harm electronics, not humans.

The electromagnetic spectrum includes waves like the ones used by your cellphone, microwave and light bulbs.

And they can be easily pinpointed. Think lasers. Such waves can also travel through walls, so an electromagnetic attack could be plausibly concealed from afar.

There’s precedent. For more than a decade ending in the 1970s, the former Soviet Union bombarded the U.S. Embassy in Moscow with microwaves. The exact purpose was never clear.

What about the sounds people heard?

Microwave pulses — short, intense blasts — can cause people to “hear” clicking sounds. According to a two-decade-old U.S. Air Force patent, the American military has researched whether those blasts could be manipulated to “beam” voices or other sounds to someone’s head.

But when electromagnetic waves cause physical damage, it usually results from body tissue being heated. The diplomats in Cuba haven’t been reporting burning sensations.



The stress and anxiety about the disturbing incidents could be complicating the situation. Diplomats may be taking a closer look at mild symptoms they’d otherwise ignored.

After all, once symptoms emerged, the U.S. Embassy encouraged employees to report anything suspicious. Many of these symptoms can be caused by a lot of different things.

At least one other country, France, tested embassy staffers after an employee reported symptoms. The French then ruled out sonic-induced damage, the AP reported .


Not knowing what’s causing the crisis in Cuba has made it harder to find the culprit. If there is one at all.



It was only natural that American suspicion started with Cuba.

The attacks happened on Cuban soil. The two countries routinely harassed each other’s diplomats over a half-century of enmity. Despite eased tensions over the past couple of years, distrust lingers.

Diplomats reported incidents in their homes and in hotels. Cuban authorities would know who is staying in each.

But what’s the motive?

When symptoms emerged last November, Cuba was working feverishly with the U.S. to make progress on everything from internet access to immigration rules before President Barack Obama’s term ended. Officials still don’t understand why Havana would at the same time perpetrate attacks that could destroy its new relationship with Washington entirely.

Cuban President Raul Castro’s reaction deepened investigators’ skepticism, according to officials briefed on a rare, face-to-face discussion he had on the matter with America’s top envoy in Havana.

Predictably, Castro denied responsibility. But U.S. officials were surprised that Castro seemed genuinely rattled, and that Cuba offered to let the FBI come investigate.

Then, Canadians got ill. Why them?

The warm, long-standing ties between Cuba and Canada made it seem even less logical that Castro’s government was the culprit.



If not Castro, could elements of Cuba’s vast intelligence apparatus be to blame? Investigators haven’t ruled out that possibility, several U.S. officials said.

It’s no secret that some within Cuba’s government are uneasy about Raul Castro’s opening with Washington.

“It’s entirely possible that hard-line elements acted,” said Michael Parmly, who headed the U.S. mission in Havana until 2008.

But mounting unauthorized attacks, tantamount to aggression against a foreign power, would be a risky act of defiance in a country noted for its strong central control.

Cuba’s surveillance of U.S. diplomats in Havana is intense. The government tracks U.S. diplomats’ movements and conversations.

So at a minimum, if Americans were being attacked, it’s difficult to imagine Cuba’s spies being left in the dark.



Who else would dare?

U.S. investigators have focused on a small group of usual suspects: Russia, Iran, North Korea, China, Venezuela.

Russia, in particular, has harassed American diplomats aggressively in recent years.

Moscow even has a plausible motive: driving a wedge between the communist island and “the West” — nations such as the United States and Canada. Russia also has advanced, hard-to-detect weaponry that much of the world lacks and might not even know about.

None of the officials interviewed for this story pointed to any evidence, however, linking Russia to the illnesses. The same goes for the other countries.



Maybe no one tried to hurt the Americans at all.

Several U.S. officials have emphasized the possibility the culprit merely surveilled the U.S. diplomats using some new, untested technology that caused unintended harm.

You might think eavesdropping devices simply receive signals. But the world of espionage is full of strange tales.

During the Cold War, the U.S. Embassy in Moscow discovered Russia listening to conversations through a wooden plaque that the American ambassador received as a gift. The plaque had a tiny “microphone” and antenna embedded, but no power source, making it hard to detect even when the room was swept for bugs.

The Russians had developed something novel. They remotely beamed electromagnetic waves to activate the device, which then transmitted sound back via radio frequencies.

Yet if the Cubans or anyone else were equally as innovative, it’s unclear why the incidents would have continued once the United States and Canada complained.


Associated Press writers Michael Weissenstein in Havana, Ben Fox in Miami, and Matthew Lee, Bradley Klapper and Sadie Gurman in Washington contributed.

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