Sunday, 31 December 2017

To William Beveridge’s five giant evils we must add a sixth – loneliness

an article by Rachel Reeves published in the New Statesman

Many of the ties that bound society together in the middle of the last century have fallen apart.

It is 75 years since William Beveridge set out his vision of a welfare state, in a report that profoundly changed the shape of Britain. He identified what he called the five “giant evils” – Want, Disease, Squalor, Ignorance and Idleness. I believe that if Beveridge were alive today he would add a sixth evil – Loneliness.

Today’s world is very different to the one Beveridge sought to improve. His giants have yet to be brought down. But many of the ties that bound society together in the middle of the last century have been so weakened that they barely function any longer. Trade unions, churches, the local pub, the workplace – these institutions are now marginal or they have changed out of recognition. We are living in a disconnected society.

When the culture and the communities that once connected us to one another disappear we can be left feeling abandoned and cut off from society.

The modern economy has generated great wealth, but it has been at the expense of our connection with others. Inequality divides us by wealth and status. Globalisation fragments our communities. Markets turn relationships into transactions. Technology replaces people with machines.

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Early exit or longer stay? The effect of precarious employment on planned age of retirement

an article by Ilias Livanos (European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training, Thessaloniki, Greece) and Imanol Nuñez (Universidad Publica de Navarra, Pamplona, Spain) published in Personnel Review Volume 46 Issue 8


The purpose of this paper is to investigate how precarious conditions at work affect older workers’ decision about their planned age of retirement.

Different theoretical approaches on the decision to retire are investigated in order to ascertain whether precarious employment extends, or not, one’s working life. A rich data set including over 250,000 old workers across EU-15 is built for the empirical investigation.

The results suggest that old workers involved in precarious employment are planning to retire later than those who are engaged with more stable and regular jobs. However, lack of training as well as poor health conditions at work are found to be associated with early retirement.

The analysis conceptually associates two key features of modern labour markets (precariousness and retirement) and empirically provides some evidence of the effect of poor employment conditions on the decision to retire.

Why do archive files on Britain’s colonial past keep going missing?

an article by Siobhan Fenton published in the Guardian

Around 1,000 files have disappeared while ‘on loan’ to the government. This sort of accident is happening too often for comfort

Members of the Devon Regiment help police search homes in Karoibangi during the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya.
Members of the Devon Regiment help police search homes in Karoibangi during the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya. Photograph: Popperfoto/Getty Images

The National Archives are home to more than 11m documents, many of them covering the most disturbing periods of Britain’s colonial past. The uncomfortable truths revealed in previously classified government files have proved invaluable to those seeking to understand this country’s history or to expose past injustices.

It is deeply concerning, therefore, to discover that about 1,000 files have gone missing after being removed by civil servants. Officially, the archives describe them as “misplaced while on loan to a government department”.

The files, each containing dozens of pages, cover subjects such as the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the British colonial administration in Palestine, tests on polio vaccines and territorial disputes between the UK and Argentina. It is unclear whether duplicates exist.

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It is definitely not just files about the UK’s colonial past that are missing but these are very concerning. History is written by the victors but we now have the means of telling the truth – as long as the files exist in the place they are supposed to be.

Tenants lose out after landlord pressure halves UK home insulation cap

an article by Adam Vaughan published in the Guardian

Plan to make landlords improve draughtiest homes and boost energy efficiency for hundreds of thousands of tenants lies in tatters, say critics

a man lays loft insulation
Landlords must raise their homes’ energy efficiency to at least Band E. Photograph: Alamy

Tenants face missing out on energy bill savings after the government caved in to landlords’ demands by lowering a cap on the costs they face to upgrade Britain’s draughtiest homes.

Landlords must improve the energy efficiency of F- and G-rated homes from next April under new regulations designed to protect vulnerable tenants and cut carbon emissions.

But on Tuesday the government said the costs of the upgrade would be capped at £2,500, half what officials had originally told buy-to-let landlords to expect. The total energy bill savings is put at £337m less as a result.

The government’s own assessment warned that the lower cap means only 139,200 households in England and Wales will benefit from better insulation by April 2020. That is 121,000 fewer than if the cap was at £5,000.

Campaigners and industry groups said the change left ministers’ ambitions of tackling fuel poverty in tatters.

“This could leave a gaping hole in the government’s plans to meet its own fuel poverty targets,” said Richard Twinn, policy adviser at the UK Green Building Council.

Continue reading and try to keep a hold on your temper whilst doing so. I found it hard.

Forgiveness: Letting Go of Negative Energy

a post by Suma Chand for the World of Psychology blog

Part One of a two-part series on Forgiveness.

Growing up, I recall being someone who forgave easily. I had never given any thought to forgiveness or what it meant, until I began to realize that being so forgiving was not working out too well for me. I had people taking me for granted, being disrespectful or taking advantage of me. I found myself getting frustrated, angry, upset and unhappy.

I realized that there was something wrong about being so forgiving. I changed tack and went into the mode of being more unforgiving. That seemed to work, in so much as I lost a number of troublesome people from my social network, bringing me some kind of a troubled peace. There were some situations in particular that made me unhappy and confused. I was not so sure about being unforgiving was the right way to go, yet forgiveness did not feel quite right either.

Continue reading

Part 2 is here

From ‘me towns’ to ‘we towns’: activist citizenship in UK town centres

an article by Julian Dobson (Sheffield Hallam University, UK) published in Citizenship Studies Volume 21 Issue 8 (2017)


Britain’s town centres have witnessed economic, social and physical upheaval over more than half a century, linked to sweeping changes in retailing and consumption. Yet they are also places where activists are seeking to fashion alternative futures and test social and economic models that challenge neoliberal norms.

Reflecting on recent developments in the UK, this paper explores the potential of citizen-led economic activism in British town and city centres.

Focusing on three case studies of urban activism, it contrasts policies and practices that frame the users of urban space as consumers with the marginal acts that seek to assert wider rights to the city.

The article shows how ideas of ‘resilience’ have become a stake of struggle in debates over the future of urban centres and urban citizenship, deployed both to defend neoliberal economic configurations and to signal radical transitions towards more participatory and economically autonomous forms of society.

Why Your Brain Hates Other People: And how to make it think differently

an article by Robert Sapolsky published in Nautilus [via 3 Quarks Daily]

As a kid, I saw the 1968 version of Planet of the Apes. As a future primatologist, I was mesmerized. Years later I discovered an anecdote about its filming: At lunchtime, the people playing chimps and those playing gorillas ate in separate groups.

It’s been said, “There are two kinds of people in the world: those who divide the world into two kinds of people and those who don’t.” In reality, there’s lots more of the former. And it can be vastly consequential when people are divided into Us and Them, ingroup and outgroup, “the people” (i.e. our kind) and the Others.

Humans universally make Us/Them dichotomies along lines of race, ethnicity, gender, language group, religion, age, socioeconomic status, and so on. And it’s not a pretty picture. We do so with remarkable speed and neurobiological efficiency; have complex taxonomies and classifications of ways in which we denigrate Thems; do so with a versatility that ranges from the minutest of microaggression to bloodbaths of savagery; and regularly decide what is inferior about Them based on pure emotion, followed by primitive rationalizations that we mistake for rationality. Pretty depressing.

But crucially, there is room for optimism. Much of that is grounded in something definedly human, which is that we all carry multiple Us/Them divisions in our heads. A Them in one case can be an Us in another, and it can only take an instant for that identity to flip. Thus, there is hope that, with science’s help, clannishness and xenophobia can lessen, perhaps even so much so that Hollywood-extra chimps and gorillas can break bread together.

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Saturday, 30 December 2017

5 Types of People Who Are Naturally Attracted to Each Other

via World of Psychology: a post by Christine Hammond for The Exhausted Woman blog

Every wonder what causes an immediate attraction the first time two people meet?

Sarah finally discovered that she kept dating the same type of abusive person over and over. Bill accidentally called his new girlfriend his mother in the middle of an argument. Steven who was shy his whole life married a flamboyant salesperson.

While there is no known origin of the saying, “Opposites attract,” the concept appears to be related to Coulomb’s Law of physics (1785). The electrical force between positive (+) and negative (-) is stronger the closer the two move towards each other. While this is true in nature, it can also be true in relationships.

But while opposites attract, so do dysfunctions. Some types of mental disorders naturally seem to be drawn towards others in a way that either compliments or repels the other. Another saying, “Birds of a feather flock together,” helps explain how some people are naturally drawn to their own dysfunction.

Yet another concept can be realized from British author and philosopher, James Allen (1909). “The soul attracts that which it secretly harbours, that which it loves, and also that which it fears.” So the very thing a person might fear the most, they might have the strongest attraction towards. This can be very dangerous for a person who has experienced severe trauma.

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Why Anger Isn't “Bad” and How I Learned to Hear Its Hidden Message

a post by Meredith Walters for the Tiny Buddha blog

“Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. But anger is like fire. It burns it all clean.” 
~Maya Angelou

I’ve always had a complex relationship with anger.

When I was young, I used to think I was somehow above anger. I would brag to people that I never got mad. Sure, I’d admit, I hated some people, but at least I wasn’t angry.

When I began therapy in my mid-twenties to deal with persistent depression and panic attacks, I started to see the feebleness of that particular story. I did get angry, it turned out, quite frequently, and I found that things went much better when I allowed myself to feel it.

I began to learn that my anger often contained useful information about me and what I wanted.

It alerted me to the fact that one of my boundaries had been crossed, or that there was something I wanted to speak up about. It let me know when I felt hurt. I saw how my closest relationships could allow for anger without falling apart, and I began to accept it as a normal part of the human condition, perhaps even a helpful one.

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Reality enchanted

via 3 Quarks Daily: Josh Raymond at the TLS

© Universal Images Group North America LLC/DeAgostini/Alamy

Psychedelic drugs have an appropriately colourful history. The word’s origin is Greek (“mind-manifesting”, literally) and it was coined by the psychiatrist Humphry Osmond in an exchange of letters with Aldous Huxley; LSD, the quintessential psychedelic, first came to Britain in 1952, in the luggage of a psychoanalyst called Ronnie Sandison. Sandison had met the drug’s discoverer, Albert Hoffman, on a visit to Switzerland, and Hoffman believed LSD to be miraculous – “You see the world as it really is”. Sandison administered it to thirty-six patients with “very difficult psychiatric problems … all in danger of becoming permanent mental invalids”. The Journal of Mental Science write up in 1954 claimed more than half recovered completely.

Humphry Osmond used it to treat alcoholism. By the late 1960s he and his colleagues had treated over 2,000 people, more than 40 per cent of whom did not drink again within a year. The randomized-controlled portions of this work were reviewed and found valid in 2012. LSD was also tested by the military at Porton Down, first as a “truth serum” for interrogations, for which it proved useless, and then as a mass battlefield incapacitant, where results were inconclusive. A thoroughly researched history of LSD in Britain can be found in Albion Dreaming (2012) by Andy Roberts.

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Sarcastic Sentiment Detection Based on Types of Sarcasm Occurring in Twitter Data

an article by Santosh Kumar Bharti, Ramkrushna Pradhan, Korra Sathya Babu and Sanjay Kumar Jena (National Institute of Technology Rourkela, India) published in International Journal on Semantic Web and Information Systems Volume 13 Issue 4 (2017)


In Natural Language Processing (NLP), sarcasm analysis in the text is considered as the most challenging task. It has been broadly researched in recent years.

The property of sarcasm that makes it harder to detect is the gap between the literal and its intended meaning. It is a particular kind of sentiment which is capable of flipping the entire sense of a text. Sarcasm is often expressed verbally through the use of high pitch with heavy tonal stress.

The other clues of sarcasm are the usage of various gestures such as gently sloping of eyes, hands movements, shaking heads, etc.

However, the appearances of these clues for sarcasm are absent in textual data which makes the detection of sarcasm dependent upon several other factors.

In this article, six algorithms were proposed to analyze the sarcasm in tweets of Twitter. These algorithms are based on the possible occurrences of sarcasm in tweets.

Finally, the experimental results of the proposed algorithms were compared with some of the existing state-of-the-art.

Changes to police powers relating to mental health and places of safety

a post by Amy Street for the UK Police Law Blog [via Inner Temple Library]

On 11 December 2017, significant amendments will come into force altering the power of the police to detain people who appear to be suffering from mental disorder. This blog post is intended to highlight the fact of the amendments, outline some key changes and point to sources of further information.

The relevant powers are currently contained in sections 135 and 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983 (“MHA”). Section 135 requires the grant of a warrant by a magistrate; s136 does not.

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You will, of course, need to be familiar with the MHA to follow all the changes. This blog is written for people who are “on the other side” as it were but it is useful for those of us who may be detained under the MHA to know what powers are held by whom.

What happened to the border? The role of mobile information technology devices on employees’ work-life balance

an article by Toyin Ajibade Adisa (Brunel University, London, UK), Gbolahan Gbadamosi (Bournemouth University, UK) and Ellis L.C. Osabutey (Middlesex University, London, UK) published in Personnel Review Volume 46 Issue 8 (2017)


Mobile information technology devices (MITDs) are of special interest for researchers who seek to understand the role of these devices on employees’ work-life balance (WLB). The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of MITDs on employees’ WLB.

This paper uses semi-structured interviews to investigate the role of MITDs on employees’ WLB.

The findings underscore the important role of MITDs in terms of the attainment of flexibility (how, where, and when work is done), which is significant for achieving WLB. However, the use of MITDs has blurred the division between work and non-work domains. This has inadvertently lengthened employees’ working hours, has affected their family relationships, and affected their general health and well-being. The evidence suggests that MITDs have the potential to improve WLB but could also lead to work-life conflict if not properly managed.

The study calls for a re-examination of WLB policies and practices, specifically border theory, in order to ensure that MITDs can enhance productivity without inadvertently resulting in poor WLB.

Customer aggression and organizational turnover among service employees: The moderating role of distributive justice and organizational pride

an article by Muhammad Kashif (GIFT University, Gujranwala, Pakistan), Anna Zarkada (Athens University of Economics and Business, Greece) and Ramayah Thurasamy (Universiti Sains Malaysia, Minden, Malaysia) published in Personnel Review Volume 46 Issue 8 (2017)


The episodes of customer rage with employees during service encounters are common and adversely affect the long-term commitment of employees with an organization. The service organizations, in an effort to control employee turnover, are striving hard but have failed. There are a wide variety of studies that address employee turnover but the research which encapsulates a combined effect of perceived justice and organizational pride to study exhaustion-turnover path are almost scant. The purpose of this paper is to explore the effects of customer aggression on the frontline food service managers’ emotional exhaustion and turnover intentions. The mitigating effects of perceived distributive justice and emotional organizational pride are also investigated.

Survey data were collected from 250 frontline employees of global fast food chain outlets located in the city of Lahore, Pakistan. The data were analyzed using structural equation modeling by AMOS.

The customer aggression is found to influence emotional exhaustion which in turn reduces job satisfaction and increases turnover intentions among frontline food service managers. The mitigating effects of distributive justice on the customer aggression to emotional exhaustion path and of emotional organizational pride on the job satisfaction to turnover intentions path are confirmed.

Practical implications
The results reveal importance of maintaining a supportive and justice-oriented organizational culture. Rewarding frontliners, celebrating the organizational successes that build pride, and acknowledging the emotional burden misbehaving customers place on employees are identified as shields to guard against employee dissatisfaction and turnover.

The turnover intentions resulting from the emotional exhaustion caused by customer aggression in the global fast food industry is studied for the first time. Furthermore, the inclusion of distributive justice and emotional organizational pride as cognitive and affective factors that reduce the effects of customer aggression on frontliners is unique to this study.

Friday, 29 December 2017

Slaves to a myth

an article by Brian Fanning published in Eurozine November 2017

The ‘Irish slaves meme’– assertions that Irish immigrants to the US were once slaves – has been mobilized by the alt-right to promote a white nationalist agenda based on claims of victimhood. Yet its popularity cannot simply be blamed on the online propaganda of white supremacist groups, argues Bryan Fanning.

The fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9th, 2014 led to the setting up of the “Black Lives Matter” movement in the United States. Part of the online backlash to this development was an assertion that millions of Irish had once been slaves, but that unlike black people they never complained about what had happened to their ancestors. As Fox News host Kimberley Guilfoyle put it in March 2016: “The Irish got over it. They don’t run around going ‘Irish Lives matter’.”

Such assertions were repeated hundreds of thousands of times and have appeared on millions of Facebook timelines. Assertions that large numbers of Irish migrants were once slaves came to be amplified in mainstream American and Irish media. What Liam Hogan has called the “Irish slaves meme” has been mobilised by the American alt-right, among others, to disavow legacies of racism and present-day racism while simultaneously promoting a white nationalist political agenda based on claims of white victimhood. Hogan has published several online articles aimed at understanding and debunking the “Irish slave” myth and has tirelessly challenged its reproduction in the mainstream media on both sides of the Atlantic. Such was his success that on March 16th, 2017 even the alt-right Breitbart news network published a fact-check article which unambiguously debunked the myth:
Reputable historians agree that the social media-driven reports deliberately conflate the extremely different contexts and conditions of African slavery and European indentured servitude. Analysts have noted that the reports gain particular traction among white supremacist sites and commentators seeking to downplay the evils of slavery.
Continue reading and discover how this all started, and maybe reach some conclusions about why. I am not at all sure that I have it sorted in my own mind!

Neurotheology: How Spirituality Shapes the Human Brain

a post by Viatcheslav Wlassoff for the World of Psychology blog

We are the only species on the planet known to practice religion. This behavior is universal: there is no nation on Earth that does not practice one or another form of spiritual belief.

The question is what makes our brain different so that we practice spirituality? Does religion serve any purpose in terms of benefiting our survival and progress? These questions are very philosophical. Many thinkers believe that religiosity is what distinguishes Homo sapiens from the rest of the animal kingdom, and brought our species to dominate this planet. On the other hand, a large numbers of thinkers believe that religion impedes progress and keeps our society in a barbaric state.

There is no doubt that religion played a very important role in early human history: providing the first explanations for the existence of the world around us. The need for such explanation highlights an important step in the development of the brain and cognitive processes.

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I would love to know whether by brain is significantly different in any way from the brain of my sister who became "ultra" religious quite early on in life, or what the brain of my elder daughter can tell us about her non-belief in as spiritual life and so on.

Political reservations for women increase the policy influence of low castes in India

a column by Guilhem Cassan and Lore Vandewalle for VOX: CEPR’s Policy Portal

Many policies are designed along a particular identity dimension, such as gender or ethnicity. However, such efforts overlook the fact that individuals are associated with several identity dimensions at a time. Using Indian data, this column demonstrates how the intersection of different identity dimensions may lead to unanticipated effects. It shows that political quotas for women in local elections change policies not only in favour of women, but also in favour of low castes.

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How 15-Minute Boredom Sessions Can Help You Manage Stress and Emotions

a post by Derek Beres for the Big Think blog

Article Image

If you want to know the state of a nation, we generally look no further than online. A proper portrait, that does not yield. Look, instead, at the line in front of you, waiting for a cappuccino or to pay for groceries. Look into the cars surrounding you at a red light. Look around anywhere in the public space, except at your phone. Then you’ll get a sense of where our heads are at.

Our heads are down, perpetually angled at the screen, whenever a moment of potential boredom arises. Waiting for a meal? Barista taking too long? Or even the proper amount of time – those 30 seconds are crushingly dull. Caffeine is a secondary stimulation, a little jolt to turn your attention so that it can immediately be pulled into the innumerable waves of inattention on Instagram.

Where did boredom go? What happens when we stop allowing ourselves the habit of staring into space, letting our minds wander? Instead of a deluge of constant information, can we, as Michael Harris writes in The End of Absence, “engineer scarcity in our communications, in our interactions, and in the things we consume?”

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How does social isolation in a context of dirty work increase emotional exhaustion and inhibit work engagement? A process model

an article by Alice Garcia (Université Toulouse III Paul Sabatier, Toulouse, France), Kathleen Bentein and Sylvie Guerrero (Université du Québec à Montréal (ESG-UQAM), Canada) and Olivier Herrbach (Université de Bordeaux, IAE Bordeaux, France) published in Personnel Review Volume 46 Issue 8 (2017)


The purpose of this paper is to investigate the consequences of experiencing social isolation in a context of dirty work. Relying on an integration of the job demands-resources model (Schaufeli and Bakker, 2004) with the social identity approach (Ashforth and Kreiner, 1999), the paper posits that perceived social isolation prevents the development of defense mechanisms that could counter the occupational stigma, and thus tends to increase perceptions of stigmatization, and to decrease perceptions of the prosocial impact of their work. Through these two perceptions, perceived social isolation indirectly affects emotional exhaustion and work engagement.

Research hypotheses are tested among a sample of 195 workers in the commercial cleaning industry who execute physically tainted tasks.

Results support the research model. Perceived prosocial impact mediates the negative relationship between perceived social isolation and work engagement, and perceived stigmatization mediates the positive relationship between perceived social isolation and emotional exhaustion.

Research limitations/implications
This research contributes to the dirty work literature by empirically examining one of its implicit assumptions, namely, that social isolation prevents the development of coping strategies. It also contributes to the literature on well-being and work engagement by demonstrating how they are affected by the social context of work.

The present paper is the first to study the specific challenges of social isolation in dirty work occupations and its consequences.

Why Scientists Agree That Dancing Is the Best Way to Get Fit and Live Longer

a post by Rosemary Bointon for the Tiny Buddha blog

“You only live once; but if you do it right, once is enough.” ~Mae West

The other day, I saw a bit of a clip from a video of the Stones’ last world tour. Mick Jagger was prancing round the stage like an eighteen year-old.

It was a bit depressing. Why can’t I do that still?

I used to be a demon dancer. Well, I thought I was at the time, like teenagers do.

I don’t feel like a demon dancer now. I really ought to get some more exercise.

Do you feel like that? That you ought to exercise, but you can’t really get up the steam to do it? That somehow, it’s all too much hassle, even though we all know how important it is?

Continue reading

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Mindfulness boosts student mental health during exams, study finds

an article by Sally Weale, Education correspondent published in the Guardian

Cambridge University research shows technique helps to build resilience among undergraduates even in periods of high stress

A meditation class taking instruction from the teacher
The study says mindfulness courses in universities could help prevent mental illness. Photograph: Dougal Waters/Getty Images

Mindfulness training helps build resilience in university students and improve their mental health, particularly during stressful summer exams, according to research from the University of Cambridge.

The study, which involved just over 600 Cambridge students, concluded that the introduction of eight-week mindfulness courses in UK universities could help prevent mental illness and boost students’ wellbeing at a time of growing concern about mental health in the higher education sector.

University mental health services have experienced a huge surge in demand, with the number of students accessing counselling rising by 50% between 2010 and 2015, exceeding growth in student numbers during the same period.

According to the study, published in the journal The Lancet Public Health, the prevalence of mental illness among first-year undergraduates is lower than among the general population, but it exceeds levels in the general population during the second year of university.

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Workplace authenticity as an attribute of employer attractiveness

an article by Germano Glufke Reis (Universidade Federal do Parana, Curitiba, Brazil), Beatriz Maria Braga (Fundacao Getulio Vargas Escola de Administracao de Empresas, Sao Paulo, Brazil) and Jordi Trullen (Ramon Llull University, Sant Cugat, Spain) published in Personnel Review Volume 46 Issue 8 (2017)


The purpose of this paper is to investigate the relevance of authenticity as a possible attribute of employer attractiveness. Additionally, the study compares authenticity to other factors of attractiveness, such as economic, development, social, interest and application values.

A survey was conducted with a total of 937 respondents. The questionnaire consisted of the employer attractiveness scale developed by Berthon, Ewing, and Hah (2005) and an adapted version of the authentic living scale (Wood et al., 2008).

The results show that workplace authenticity is equally valued as an attractiveness attribute as having opportunities for economic and personal development, and that it is significantly more highly valued than other attractiveness dimensions of the work environment, such as interest value, social value, and application value. The results also show that authenticity matters more as an attribute of attractiveness for top management, older professionals as well as women.

Practical implications
The findings suggest that firms become more competitive in attracting talent if their recruitment strategies place more emphasis on authenticity as a psychological benefit that can be obtained through working in the company. The use of social media (e.g. employee testimonials, chats, and blogs) can help to this end.

The subject of workplace authenticity has been receiving increasing attention in the academic literature, and the studies reveal the benefits that it may entail for both developing and retaining a more engaged and productive workforce. However, previous research has not considered how perceptions of workplace authenticity may also help organizations become more attractive in the eyes of potential job applicants.

Flexibility for who? Millennials and mental health in the modern workplace

a new paper from IPPR by Craig Thorley and Will Cook with grateful thanks to the South West Skills Newsletter (September 2017) for this item

60-second Summary

Younger workers face a future employment landscape that could damage their mental health and well-being unless we take action. As a result of the evolution
of the UK labour market over the past 25 years, today’s generation of younger
workers - millennials and centennials (those born during or after 1982) – risk
losing out on access to permanent, secure and fulfilling work. Compared to
previous generations, they are more likely to be in work characterised by
contractual flexibility (including part-time work, temporary work and self-employment). Relatedly, they are also more likely to be underemployed (and
so be working fewer hours than they would like) and/or overqualified (being a
graduate in a non-professional or managerial job).

For some young people in part-time or temporary work (particularly where this
involves being underemployed and/or overqualified), their experiences of work
may be putting their mental health and well-being at greater risk.

New analysis reveals younger workers in part-time and temporary work are more
likely to experience poorer mental health and well-being, while there is more of a mixed picture among those who are self-employed. Similarly, younger workers who are underemployed or overqualified also experience worse mental health. This is likely to be explained – in part, but not entirely – by part-time and temporary work being linked to low pay and insecurity.

Employers and government should work together to promote better quality jobs
that combine both flexibility and control for employees, enabling access to the
benefits of flexible working practices – such as flexitime and remote working –
without restricting autonomy and choice.

As well as helping to boost mental health and well-being, this will help to stem the flow of younger workers moving onto out-of-work sickness benefits, and improve productivity and the UK’s overall economic performance.


Trends in the ways young people work

Younger workers today are more likely to be in part-time work, temporary work or self-employment:
  • 26 per cent of younger workers in 2015/16 were in part-time work, compared to 24 per cent in 2004/05
  • 15 per cent of younger workers in 2015 were in temporary work, compared to 13 per cent in 2004
  • 9 per cent of younger workers in 2015/16 were self-employed, compared to 7 per cent in 2004/05.
Younger workers today are more likely to be in jobs for which they’re overqualified:
  • A younger worker in a non-professional or managerial job was twice as likely to be a graduate in 2014 compared to 2004 (20 per cent compared to 10 per cent).
Younger workers today are more likely to be underemployed:
  • In 2014, 19 per cent of younger workers were underemployed, more than double the rate among all other age groups. The proportion of workers aged 16-24 who were underemployed was 60 per cent higher in 2014 compared to 2002.
Trends in young people’s mental health

Young people today are increasingly likely to report experiencing mental
health problems:
  • 16 per cent of young people (aged 16-32) experienced mental health problems in 2014, up from 13 per cent in 2004. This could be explained, in part, by reduced stigma and associated increases in rates of disclosure.
Younger workers today are more likely to report poor mental health compared to
older workers:
  • Employees aged 18-29 are twice as likely as those aged 50-59 to describe their current mental health as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ (16 per cent compared to 8 per cent).
The majority of mental health problems experienced by employees are
  • Almost two thirds of employees (62 per cent) attribute symptoms of poor mental health to work, or say that work is a contributing factor.
Mental health and well-being among young people in different kinds of work

Younger workers in part-time jobs are more likely than those in full-time jobs to
experience poorer mental health and well-being:
  • They are 43% more likely to experience mental health problems (20 per cent compared to 14 per cent)
  • They are more likely to fall within the bottom 10 per cent of the English adult population according to mental well-being (12 per cent compared to 9 per cent)
  • They are 7 percentage points less likely to report being satisfied with their life, even when controlling for variables including household income and prior life satisfaction.
There is a mixed picture when comparing the mental health and well-being of
younger workers who are self-employed and those who are employees, reflecting the variety in types of self-employment:
  • Younger workers who are self-employed are marginally more likely to experience mental health problems compared to those who are employees (17 per cent compared to 16 per cent)
  • They are also half as likely to fall within the bottom 10 per cent of the English adult population according to mental well-being (5 per cent compared to 10 per cent).
Younger workers in temporary jobs are more likely than those in permanent jobs
to experience poorer mental health and well-being, particularly where they would prefer to be in permanent work:
  • those in temporary jobs are 29 per cent more likely to experience mental health problems, compared to those in permanent jobs (22 per cent compared to 17 per cent)
  • Those in temporary jobs and who would prefer to move into permanent work report lower levels of happiness and life satisfaction than those in temporary jobs who would not prefer to move into permanent work, even when controlling for variables including pay and gender.
Younger graduates who are in jobs for which they’re overqualified are more likely to experience poorer mental health and well-being, compared to graduates in professional/managerial jobs:
  • They are more likely to report being anxious or depressed (22 per cent compared to 16 per cent)
  • They are 14 percentage points less likely to report being satisfied with their life so far, even when controlling for variables including household income and prior life satisfaction.
Zero-hours contracts are causing poorer mental health among younger workers:
  • Those on zero-hours contracts are 13 percentage points more likely than those in other forms of work to experience mental health problems, even when controlling for variables including household income and mental health outcomes during adolescence.
Pay and insecurity

Job insecurity and low pay are associated with poorer mental health among
younger workers:
  • Younger workers who believe themselves to have more than a 50 per cent chance of losing their job are twice as likely to experience mental health problems compared to those with no chance of losing their job (24 per cent compared to 12 per cent)
  • The proportion of employees aged 21-25 who were in low-paid work increased by 82 per cent between 1990 and 2015
  • Young people in low-paid work are more likely to experience mental health problems compared to those in higher-paid work (21 per cent compared to 16 per cent).

  • Every company with over 50 employees should create a ‘workers’ forum’ in order to ensure that employees – including those on flexible contracts – have sufficient influence over their working lives.
  • Employers should take steps to promote positive mental health in the workplace and provide support for employees who experience problems, including:
    – awareness-raising and anti-stigma campaigns
    – training for line managers and other employees
    – monitoring rates of sickness absence.
  • Central and local government should work with employers to ensure younger workers do not become trapped in low-skilled, low-paid work, including through:
    – development of ‘progression agreements’ whereby public funding is provided in exchange for enhanced progression opportunities for employees
    – the introduction of a new Personal Training Credit to widen access to lifelong learning and give individuals more control over their future careers.
  • Government should establish a new national mission to boost job quality, and so report on job quality in addition to the employment rate. The promotion and protection of mental health and well-being should be a key component of measures of job quality.
  • Government should pilot an expanded Fit for Work service, providing full sickness support for smaller employers lacking their own occupational health and counselling provision.
Full report (PDF 64pp)

Feeling Anxious? People-Pleasing Could Be to Blame

a post by Ilene S. Cohen for the Tiny Buddha blog

“Living with anxiety is like being followed by a voice. It knows all your insecurities and uses them against you. It gets to the point when it’s the loudest voice in the room. The only one you can hear.” ~Unknown

White lights flutter before your eyes. Your chest tightens, as if under the weight of a hundred ten-pound bricks. You wonder if your next breath will be your last. Emotions rip through you: fear, glooming dread, hopelessness. Without warning or clear cause, these feelings consume you.

You start to wonder if you’re going crazy. It’s like you no longer have control over your own body, your own thoughts.

This is the experience of chronic anxiety. And if you’ve ever encountered it, you know that the presence of it – and the absence of answers or solutions – can make you feel like you’re losing it. It can make everything that was once enjoyable feel like a struggle.

I know this feeling all too well.

I used to suffer from periodic anxiety attacks in my early twenties. They left me perplexed and afraid. I felt like I was being possessed. I felt out of control and believed I was dying all the time, with no evidence of a real illness.

Continue reading

Struggling to express your feelings? Get an imaginary friend

an article by Philippa Perry for the Guardian

David Walliams, possibly with an imaginary friend or two.
David Walliams, possibly with an imaginary friend or two.
Photograph: Dan Wooller/REX/Shutterstock

Comedian and children’s author David Walliams recently said that the make-believe companions of his childhood were still with him. “They’re still my friends – they’re not imaginary, are they?”

Being a psychotherapist with no sense of humour, I am going to answer Walliams’s question seriously.

Humans are meaning-making creatures. One of the ways we do this is by projecting different parts of our personalities on to each other, on to animals and objects, and on to figments of our imagination. So yes, imaginary friends are imaginary, but also real, because they represent real parts of you. My late father could not bear to feel vulnerable, so when you asked him how he was, he always said “fine”. If you wanted to know how he really was, you asked him how the dog was. He would then tell you something like: “Oh, the dog’s depressed since I broke my hip.” The part of him he could not recognise in himself he projected on to the dog.

Children do not even need a thing like a dog to hold their feelings as they are less self-conscious about something having to appear real. For example, when my daughter was small, I collected her from nursery school one day and the teacher said she seemed out of sorts since her goldfish had died. I was puzzled, because our family had never had a goldfish. However, my beloved aunt had recently died and I was in mourning. I believe that my child could handle the death of a goldfish, but this massive, terrible thing of my bereavement needed to be reduced to the value of a goldfish for her to be able to conceive of it. She also had an invisible friend called Biddie, who was, apparently, a mouse who got up to all sorts of adventures and had plenty of feelings. I think Biddie was too precious to kill off when my aunt died, so she invented a much less cuddly creature, a goldfish, who was sacrificed to help her make sense of what was going on.

Our feelings are real, we know that because we feel them. If it helps us to make sense of them to put them on to characters, and give those creatures adventures, let’s not get too hung up about whether they are real or not.

Continue reading

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Are you the favorite child? The science of favoritism

a post by Alex Jensen, J. Jill Suitor and Megan Gilligan for the OUP (Oxford University Press) blog

Ben White. CC0 Public domain via stocksnap

We are frequently asked why we spend our professional careers studying favoritism, after all, parents don’t really have favorites. Or do they? A woman recently approached us after a lecture we gave and told us about caring for her aging mother. Her story captures the importance of this issue. She visited her mother daily in the final year of her mother’s life to feed, bathe, and care for her. She had always felt that her sister was the favorite child, and she hoped this experience would change her status as the disfavored daughter. The hope went unrealized. On the day her mother died, she pulled the caregiving daughter’s face close to her own and whispered in her ear, “You know, I never really did like you very much and I still don’t.” Even a decade after the mother’s death, the two sisters have a very tense relationship, and the disfavored daughter continues to feel distressed about the relationship she had with her mother.

Popular and academic interest in favoritism and disfavoritism is not new. In the early 20th century Alfred Adler, a prominent psychotherapist who was not his mother’s favorite child, and Sigmund Freud, another prominent psychotherapist, who was his mother’s favorite, wrote about how parents’ favoritism could damage children emotionally and socially. Pop-psychology focused on the birth order aspect of these, and many people eventually came to believe that first-borns tend to be leaders, middle-born siblings are forgotten, and last-borns tend to be spoiled and rebellious. Many who believe in “birth-order determinism” implicitly believe favoritism plays a role in shaping our personalities. The science suggests, however, that it is less about personality and more about emotions, relationships, and mental health, and that it matters for adults too.

Continue reading

I had never attributed my mental health issues to having a poor relationship with my mother whilst I saw my sister becoming ever closer to her. Having now read the articles which are linked to this item I can see that favouritism (or my perception of its existence) may have played a part. H.

The country of origin as a preparation stage: Towards a holistic approach to migrant exclusion

an article by Nikolaos Xypolytas (University of the Aegean, Mytilene, Greece) published in International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy Volume 37 Issue 13/14 (2017)


The purpose of this paper is to highlight the importance of the country of origin for understanding the process of migrant exclusion. Migrant exclusion is treated holistically and viewed as a long process of three distinct stages: preparation, allocation and habituation. The focus will be on the analysis of the first stage, which takes place in the country of origin, and its role for the development of the other two equally important stages.

The research is based on 45 life history interviews with migrant domestic workers from Ukraine, living and working in Greece.

The research suggests that there are three aspects of life and work in Ukraine that constitute the preparation of migrants for their social and occupational role in the host country and decisively contribute to their exclusion: low-status work in Ukraine, the undermining of familial ties and the need to repay the loans taken for the migration journey.

The paper wishes to contribute to the theoretical and empirical discussion on migrant exclusion and stresses the importance of looking at the country of origin as an analytical tool for a sociological analysis of migration.

How to Keep Going When Your Dream Seems Far Off

a post by Claire O'Connor for the Tiny Buddha blog

“Do what you have to do until you can do what you want to do.” ~Oprah Winfrey

I needed a bit of extra cash last month, so I took on a temporary events role working at a local design exhibition.

I’ve worked in events before, so I didn’t think much about it.

I just knew that I needed some money, I liked doing events, and a short contract had presented itself.

It seemed perfect!

So off I went to my first shift, feeling pretty good about myself and about life.

The first event was at a studio in a deserted industrial park. Even at 5:30pm, when it was still light, I felt uncomfortable walking the ten minutes from the bus stop.

When I got there, I quickly realized that the role wasn’t going to be as fun as I thought it would be: standing shivering outside in the cold, wearing an exhibition t-shirt, registering attendees, most of whom weren’t on the guest list but were expecting to be on the list.

So they got shirty.

And the line up grew longer.

So they got even more shirty.

Continue reading

A comprehensive concomitant analysis of service employees’ well-being and performance

an article by Fiona Edgar, Alan Geare and Jing A. Zhang, (University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand) published in Personnel Review Volume 46 Issue 8 (November 2017)


The connection between employees’ well-being and performance, although widely studied in organizational psychology, has received much less attention from HRM scholars. The purpose of this paper is to extend the literature by examining the impacts of the multidimensional structure of well-being consisting of psychological, social and health dimensions on employees’ task and contextual performance.

The authors collected data from 281 employees from the New Zealand service sector using a questionnaire survey. Factor analysis was used to determine items that form various facets of well-being and performance constructs. Hierarchical regression analyses were conducted to test the well-being – performance relationship.

The findings show that different facets of well-being differentially contribute to employees’ task and contextual performance. Specifically, the facets of happiness and trust were positively associated with both task and contextual performance, while the effects of life satisfaction and work life balance on task and contextual performance were insignificant. Moreover, work intensification was only associated with task performance, in contrast, job satisfaction and over commitment were only related to contextual performance.

Practical implications
The implications of these findings are two-fold. For researchers, a review and overhaul of the conceptualization and operationalization of well-being in HRM studies is long overdue. For managers, improvements to employees’ job performance and the organization’s health can result from simultaneously enhancing multiple dimensions of employees’ well-being.

This study provides new insights into the complex relationship between well-being and performance by incorporating a multidimensional and multifaceted perspective of well-being and highlighting the distinctive effects of various facets of well-being on different types of employees’ performance.

A.I. Will Serve Humans – But Only About 1% of Them

a post by Robby Berman for the Big Think blog

Article Image

It doesn’t have to be this way, but for now it is: AI’s primary purpose is to maximize profits. For all of the predictions of its benefits to society, right now, that’s just window-dressing – a pie-in-the-sky vision of a world we don’t actually inhabit. While some like Elon Musk issue dire warnings against finding ourselves beneath the silicon thumbs of robot overlords, the fact is we’re already under threat. As long as AI is dedicated to economic goals and not societal concerns, its tunnel vision is a problem. And as so often seems to be the case these days, the benefits will go to the already wealthy and powerful.

Right now, while artificial intelligence is focusing on profit-generation, natural intelligence has proven to be more than up to the task of manipulating it, as if sneaking up behind someone distracted by a shiny object.

We’re coming to understand just how adroitly AI can be played as we learn more and more about Russia’s manipulation of social media during the 2016 presidential election. Facebook’s much-lauded AI was working to “consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible,” as Facebook's first president Sean Parker recently put it to Mike Allen. After all, as we’ve often been told, “You’re not the customer – you’re the product” meant to draw advertisers to the platform.

Continue reading

Brexit, the four freedoms, and the indivisibility dogma

a column by Wilhelm Kohler and Gernot Müller for VOX: CEPR’s Policy Portal

The EU’s position in the Brexit negotiations is based on the premise that the four freedoms of the single market – goods, capital, services, and labour – are indivisible. This column argues that this indivisibility claim has no economic foundations, and that negotiating on this premise risks unnecessary harm. Reintroducing trade barriers will inflict damage on both sides of the Channel. The possibility that abandoning indivisibility may cause harm through cherry picking, or through potential further exits, doesn’t justify a hard Brexit scenario.

Continue reading

Glenn Close: ‘You lose power if you get angry’

From vengeful mistress to Agatha Christie matriarch: the actor talks about Harvey Weinstein, mental illness and growing up in a cult

by Lotte Jeffs for the Guardian

Glenn Close and I sit at the corner of a large boardroom table in an intimidatingly minimalist office on the 14th floor of a Los Angeles talent agency. It’s the kind of environment in which Patty Hewes, the ruthless lawyer Close played in Damages for five seasons, would feel at home and I’m almost waiting for her to stand up, slam both hands on the table and shout, “I’ll rip your face off” or any of the other terrifying put-downs that defined her double Emmy award-winning performance.

But Close is in high spirits and radiates such warmth I barely notice the chill from the tower block’s air-con. After we fiddle with the settings on our swivel chairs, which are so high they make anyone under six foot kick their legs like a child on a swing, the 70-year-old, six-time Oscar nominee and star of stage, television and film starts telling me about her dreams. “I have had a lot recently, full of this wonderful love for a younger man. The dreams just keep coming and I wake up thinking, that was wonderful! It wasn’t necessarily us doing the sexual act, just the feeling of love.”

Continue reading as you find out about the history of mental illness in her family. Another high-profile person opening up on the issue.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

What’s the Number One Coping Skill in Today’s World? Meeting Drama with Detachment

a post by Christiana Star for the World of Psychology blog

Detachment is not about being aloof or withdrawing from the world. We can be passionate, involved, enthusiastic, and engaged with life in all its forms.

Living in seclusion may help some people to go deep within but for others that sort of separation from the world is not desired or possible. The detachment contemplated in this article is an internal process to be undertaken while remaining immersed in life matters.

Attachment to certain outcomes, exaggerated reactions to events, skewed perspectives, and over-the-top emotions all create drama and turmoil. Especially in cases of over-care and over-identification where happiness and life’s meaning are based on success, achievements and possessions.

Compulsion, obsession, needing excessive validation, holding on too tightly, being shattered when expectations are disappointed or things don’t work out, create a great deal of chronic stress, fatigue, conflict and burnout. Anxieties of various kinds, worry about unfavorable outcomes, potential dangers, and change are also major contributors to physical and mental stress.

Continue reading

Are solar cities feasible? A review of current research

an article by John Byrne, Job Taminiau, Jeongseok Seo, Joohee Lee and Soojin Shin (Foundation for Renewable & Environment, New York, USA and University of Delaware, Newark, USA) published in International Journal of Urban Sciences Volume 21 Issue 3 (2017)


Urban ‘polycentric’ experimentation is enabling a new understanding of the sustainability potential of cities across the world. Coupled with the rising prominence of ‘grid parity’ conditions for solar energy, it is becoming clear that cities have abundant opportunities to reconfigure urban energy economies on platforms fuelled mainly and, in a few more years, entirely on energy conservation and renewable (especially solar) energy.

Early evidence of the practical application of ‘solar cities’ models suggests the financial feasibility of city-wide development of electricity infrastructures based on conservation and renewables.

The results of technical and economic potential investigations capture the promise of the model. But a question remains: how can we realize the investment needed to implement solar cities.

We examine three pathways:

  • ‘project-based solar development’;
  • ‘strategic solar development’; and
  • ‘infrastructure-scale solar city development’, 

focusing in each case on solar electricity development since much of the conservation potential in cities is capable of self-financing (Byrne, J., & Taminiau, J. (2016).

A review of sustainable energy utility and energy service utility concepts and applications: Realizing ecological and social sustainability with a community utility. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Energy and Environment, 5(2), 136–154. doi10.1002/wene.171).

After review of some of the advantages and disadvantages of each approach, we recommend infrastructure-scale development as the most promising means to attracting city-wide, cost-effective, sustainable energy investment.

Democracy by mistake

a column by Daniel Treisman for VOX: CEPR’s policy portal

Most research on the transition to democracy tries to explain why autocrats choose to democratise. Based on two centuries of data on democratisation, this column argues, however, that autocratic rulers overwhelmingly create democracies by mistake. Taking these mistakes into account during analysis may improve the predictive or explanatory power of existing models.

Continue reading but be warned. If you have any interest in politics then you will not only be reading this item through to the bottom but also picking up on on some of the linked references. A time waster but … H.

A focus on employers in the new careers strategy is welcome, but we can’t leave disadvantaged children behind

a post by Simone Vibert for the DEMOS blog

Yesterday [4 December 2017], the Government unveiled its long-awaited careers strategy, two years after it was first promised by the former Education Minister Sam Gyimah. Despite worries about lack of funding to implement the strategy, it has been broadly welcomed by the education sector, and for good reason: promising developments include the introduction of a careers leader in every school and college, trialling careers activities in primary schools, and supporting institutions to meet the Gatsby Benchmarks (a set of standards which define what good careers advice looks like).

The strategy also indicates a continued focus on engaging employers in careers education – a trend which began with the creation of the Careers and Enterprise Company (CEC) in 2014. Tasked with enhancing collaboration between educators and employers, the organisation is thought to have been backed by £70 million of Government funding. Much of this money has been spent on building a national network of Enterprise Coordinators and Advisers, which work with schools and colleges to create employer engagement plans, facilitating employers to run career talks, business challenges, and mock interview and CV workshops, along with arranging more traditional workplace visits and work experience outside of school. The strategy sets out a vision for young people to be offered at least seven encounters with employers from years seven to 13.

Continue reading and find out why yet another strategy is not necessarily a good idea.

Malware Methodologies and Its Future: A Survey

an article by Chandan Kumar Behera D. Lalitha Bhaskari (Andhra Univeristy, Visakhapatnam, India) published in International Journal of Information Security and Privacy Volume 11 Issue 4 (October-December 2017)


Malware means any unwanted software that performs harmful actions or executes some tasks unauthorized. This includes all harmful programs like virus, worms, Trojan, rootkits, Botnets etc.

The numbers of malwares rise exponentially with the increase of the use of digital media. With the enormous usage of internet world wide, the rate of cybercrimes has increased and giving life to many malwares in the cyber space.

New technologies and skills should be developed and formulated to fight against malwares with the goals of automatic identification of malwares as well as their families. A lot of research is going on to combat the malwares, but still in vain.

In order to design tools to fight against it, a systematic understanding is needed on its various types, behaviors along with different detection and analysis techniques. With all above, this paper summarizes a thorough information regarding malwares, their classification techniques, different obfuscation methods, packing and unpacking concepts along with particular tools.

The importance of social ties in mental health

an article by Laurie Hare Duke (Institute of Mental Health, University of Nottingham, UK) published in Mental Health and Social Inclusion Volume 21 Issue 5 (November 2017)


Loneliness is associated with a variety of physical and mental health problems as well as mortality. In the mental health context, loneliness is sometimes viewed as a symptom of mental disorder rather than a problem in its own right. The purpose of this paper is to assess the importance of addressing loneliness amongst mental health service users.

Narrative overview of current literature on loneliness and health outcomes.

Loneliness is highly prevalent amongst adults with a variety of different mental health diagnoses in the UK. Preliminary evidence suggests that loneliness is not a symptom of mental health conditions themselves, and thus is likely to be either a cause or a consequence of mental ill-health. Lacking good quality social relationships is a risk factor for a wide range of health problems. The evidence for interventions targeting loneliness in different populations is lacking. New interventions and further research to tackle loneliness amongst service users is warranted.

Loneliness has not historically been a key target for intervention within mental health services. This paper collates the evidence base to provide the foundation for a new wave of interventions to target the perceived social isolation of service users.

Sometimes People Don't Say Sorry – Why It Pays to Forgive Nonetheless

a post by Antasha Durbin for the Tiny Buddha blog

“Without forgiveness life is governed by an endless cycle of resentment and retaliation.” ~Roberto Assagioli

When I was a little girl, I used to wonder what my father was like. Was he a nice man? What did he look like? Did he think about me? Did he love me?

But, above all I wondered why he left.

I used to make up stories about him – one time I imagined him as a voyager traveling to foreign lands and picking up small gifts for me in every new place he visited. He met with the locals, and would learn new trades and languages. He’d tell them stories about how much he loved and missed me, and how he couldn’t wait to come home.

Another time he was a doctor stationed abroad helping to heal sick and impoverished children. He couldn’t come home because without him, those children would die, and when I was big enough, I’d travel to be with him.

I liked envisioning him as someone far away and out of reach, doing important work. In this way his absence made sense to me. But, the reality was not quite as heroic as I imagined it to be.

I first spoke to my father when I was a teenager and learned he was living in a different state and running his own business.

He’d remarried since my mother, and divorced, but had no more children. When I asked him why he left his answer was simple: “When your mom and I split up, I gave her a choice. Either she raise you without my help, or I raise you without her help. Emotionally. Financially. Everything. I needed a clean break.”

My heart dropped.

He wasn’t a doctor saving sick children.

He wasn’t a voyager exploring new lands and thinking of me.

Instead, he was just a man. A man who decided his divorce applied to both his wife and his daughter.

Continue reading

No matter what the issue is/was forgiveness is for you because living with anger and hate inside you does not hurt anyone but you.

Yes, I know it’s hard. I know it’s the opposite of what you want to do. It can be done.

Global Wealth Inequality Is Even Worse Than We Thought (Millennials Are the New Peasants)

a post by Robby Berman for the Big Think blog

Unless you’re one of a fortunate handful of people, it may surprise you to learn that the world’s economy has not only recovered from the global financial meltdown of 2008, but has grown 27% since then, to $280 trillion, according to a new report from Credit Suisse Research Institute. (All graphics in this article are by Credit Suisse, and all figures are presented as USD or percentages.)

So if so much of the world – and the U.S. in particular – is rolling in money, why doesn’t life feel any easier for most of us? After all, Credit Suisse says there are 8,740,000 million new millionaires since 2008, and the average wealth per person has hit a new mean of $56,540.

The trick is in that word “mean.” That average figure includes everyone, including the wealthiest people. And there’s the troubling disconnect. It’s a big one, and it’s gotten worse since 2008. Right now just 1% of the world’s population – the aforementioned rich – own just over half, 50.1%, of all of the world’s wealth. That’s up from 45.5% in 2001.

Continue reading and read the charts which are very clear. H.

Sunday, 24 December 2017

The State of the State 2017-18: Citizens, government and business

an article from Deloitte [via]

This year’s report finds the UK government amid the complex challenge of leaving the EU. Inevitably, this early phase of EU exit is taking place under intense media scrutiny and passionate political debate. But while EU exit issues may dominate headlines, the public services face more local challenges as they address rising demand, budget restraint and renewed levels of concern about social inequality.


The State of the State report provides a unique, independent analysis of the UK public sector. Produced in collaboration with think tank, Reform, the insight is informed by interviews with public sector leaders, citizen research, a business survey and analysis of government data.

This year’s report is constructed around three distinctive perspectives – the citizen lens, the public sector lens and the business lens – and we hope they provide a fresh look at The State of the State.

The state of the public finances

  • Deficit elimination goes on
    This year, the UK’s deficit is expected to come down to £58.3 billion.
  • The summit of the debt mountain
    Official forecasts suggest that government debt could peak in this financial year at £1.8 trillion representing 88 per cent of GDP.
  • The end of austerity?
    While public attitudes towards austerity have hardened, the UK’s deficit still stands at £58 billion and government debt has reached £1.8 trillion. The government remains committed to eliminating the deficit and paying down debt, and so a blend of continued austerity and tax adjustments may be required.

Continue reading

The role of workplace accommodations in the employment of people with disabilities

an article by Priyanka Anand (George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, USA) and Purvi Sevak (Mathematica Policy Research, Princeton, USA) published in IZA Journal of Labor Policy Volume 6 Article 12 (2017)


We explore the role of workplace accommodations in reducing employment barriers and improving the employment of people with disabilities. We do so using data from the 2015 Survey of Disability and Employment on people with disabilities who applied for vocational rehabilitation services in three states.

The results show that at least one third of nonworking people with disabilities reported employment barriers that could be addressed by workplace accommodations, such as lack of transportation and an inaccessible workplace. We also find that receiving certain types of workplace accommodations, such as help with transportation, flexible work schedules, or a personal care attendant, is positively correlated with being employed at the time of the survey.

Finally, people who are in poor health or have physical disabilities were more likely to perceive workplace inaccessibility as a barrier but less likely to have received accommodations in their current or most recent job. This suggests that people with these characteristics may be good candidates to target for greater access to workplace accommodations.

JEL Classification: I1, J2, J32

Full text (PDF 20pp)

Whilst I note that this article is based on data collected in the USA the conclusions will apply in most labour markets. H.

Cultivating Beginner's Mind: Adventure Lies Outside Your Comfort Zone

a post by Amaya Pryce for the Tiny Buddha blog

“The don’t-know mind… doesn’t fear, has no wish to control or foresee, steps off the cliff of the moment with absolute trust that the next step will land somewhere, and the next step somewhere else, and the feet will take us wherever we need to go.” ~Byron Katie

I am fifty-five years old. I’ve raised a family, been through two divorces, bought and sold four houses, and had a successful professional career. And right now I’m doing one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, which is learning to host in a busy restaurant.

My coworkers range from mid-twenties to early thirties. They are smart and hardworking. I feel like my brain is about to explode.

Why am I doing this? Well, money, for one thing. For better or worse, I can’t go back to my original profession after taking two decades off to be a mom. But another large motivator is that I want to do something totally new and out of my comfort zone, to experience what Buddhists call the “not-know mind” or beginner’s mind.

Continue reading and discover that it is possible to leave the comfort zone behind. At least for the author of this piece it is. I’m not nearly so sure about doing it myself. I may not be happy where I am but the environment in which I live is a known quantity. No nasty surprises.

Labour unions and solidarity in times of precarity

a post by Virginia Doellgast, Nathan Lillie and Valeria Pulignano for the OUP (Oxford University Press) blog

Rail trafffic train by geralt. Public domain via Pixabay.

Labour unions have traditionally been at the forefront of the struggle to improve job security, pay, and working conditions. The widely observed growth in precarious work in recent decades is a result of union weakness, as they are increasingly likely to lose these battles.

Many, including scholars in the influential dual labour market school of thought in Comparative Political Economy, have argued that unions often promote the job security of their ‘insider’ core members at the expense of more precarious ‘outsiders.’ It cannot be denied that unions sometimes accede to employer demands to shift jobs to non-standard, insecure contracts and deregulate labour markets, or neglect the interests of precarious workers.

However, these exclusive strategies are often developed under the frame of competitive collective bargaining and are rarely sustainable in the long term. Where core workers do not show solidarity with vulnerable workers, they often undermine their own bargaining power through allowing lower-cost competition to expand.

On the other hand, ensuring equal treatment for all workers, particularly those in unstable work, is essential to the long-term viability of the labour movement.

Continue reading

The New Science of Daydreaming

Daydreams seem like a waste of time, something to avoid. But they actually can lead to creative ideas.

an article by Michael Harris published in Discover [via 3 Quarks Daily]


I have tried, and failed, to find a point in this story where I can simply stop and say “Continue reading” and my ability to précis is almost nonexistent.

You really have to read about the doctor and then the study about being alone with your own mind. Fascinating stuff.

Find it here

Mainstreaming in response to superdiversity? The governance of migration-related diversity in France, the UK and the Netherlands

an article by Ilona van Breugel and Peter Scholten (Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands) published Policy & Politics Volume 45 Number 4 (October 2017)


This article examines mainstreaming as a governance strategy in immigrant integration governance. Diversity mainstreaming involves a whole society approach for raising awareness about migration-related diversity, mobilising a network of actors to embed diversity across policy areas.

Bringing together the literature on superdiversity, policy targeting and governance mainstreaming this article examines empirically whether, and if so, why, and how, mainstreaming is applied as a governance strategy in France, the Netherlands and the UK.

Based on a qualitative policy analysis covering the period 2000–14, we find mainstreaming 'incomplete' and driven by political and economic motives rather than considerations of superdiversity.

Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: The Road to Recovery

a post by Liz Lazzara for the World of Psychology blog

Persistent neglect in childhood can lead you to believe that you don’t deserve to be loved or cared for. This idea begins to define you: you are a person who ought to be treated badly.

When we think of people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a specific list comes to mind: soldiers returning from combat zones and police officers connected to terrible incidents in the line of duty; victims of sexual trauma and women who were beaten by their partners; the families who stood on the roofs of their houses in the aftermath of Katrina and those who managed to walk away from the horrific South Asian tsunami in 2004. We are right to think of these people and to recognize their experiences, but there are many others living with an equally damaging — yet much more invisible — condition: complex post-traumatic stress disorder or C-PTSD.

The psychological community credits Judith Herman as the originator of this diagnosis. She first described C-PTSD in her book 1992 book, Trauma and Recovery, complementing the diagnosis of PTSD that had been added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 12 years earlier, noting that trauma-related disorders weren’t only the result of one intense, acute crisis, but also through chronic, subtler experiences of pain.

Continue reading

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Top 10 books about mental hospitals

an article by AF Brady published in the Guardian

From the horrors of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest to hopeful stories of recovery, here are some of the best books about these much feared institutions

Terrifying ... Catherine Russell as Nurse Ratched in a theatrical adaptation of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
Terrifying ... Catherine Russell as Nurse Ratched in a theatrical adaptation of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Photograph: Jonathan Keenan

Both real and fictional psychiatric institutions are often described in books as places filled with fear, manipulation and danger. Authors frequently take creative liberties to up the intrigue, and frighten their readers with tales of abuse, hauntings and corruption. Although these themes may have been closer to reality in generations past, one hopes that as a society we are progressing toward better treatment and better facilities.

I have worked in many mental health and addiction treatment facilities in my career as a psychotherapist, and my experiences in these places helped inform my first novel, The Blind. Its protagonist, Dr Samantha James, works at Typhlos, a fictional psychiatric institution in Manhattan that is suffering from overcrowding and underfunding. Despite feeling caught up in red tape, Sam is an intrepid clinician, doing everything in her power to reach and help her patients – something that is, happily, also a common reality. Typhlos acts as the backdrop for her journey, teetering on the edge of mental illness, and her experience is mirrored in the chaos of the institution itself.

The following books are diverse representations of institutions (for both mental health and drug and alcohol treatment) as they once existed, and as they exist today, as well as the humanity and compassion that flourishes within the walls of these facilities.

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I am very grateful that my mental health issues have always been treated “in the community” although my 14 years of addiction to Valium might have been considerably less had clinicians known more about the problem and helped me reduce my intake safely. H.

Margaret Thatcher sold off public housing to create "the dignity of ownership" and today 40% of that housing is owned by gouging landlords

a post by Cory Doctorow for the Boing Boing blog

This is not intended to be a political post but a reality check on the provision of publicly-funded housing. H.

The theory behind Margaret Thatcher's sell-off of publicly funded council housing under the "right to buy" scheme was that poor people would buy their houses and then the structural factors keeping them poor would vanish in a puff of smoke, and the poor people would stop being poor (also, and as a completely unintentional side-effect, owning a home is correlated with voting for Tories and renting is correlated with voting Labour, but again, that was totally not what old Maggie was thinking, honestly).

The right-to-buy programme helped fuel the housing bubble in which quasi-state media like the BBC and Channel 4 ran dozens of hours of programming a week urging people to apply for credit, "do up" flats, and flip them to other people who'd applied for credit and wanted to "do up" the flat, because that couldn't possibly ever go wrong.

Today, 40% of that publicly built, publicly subsidised housing stock is in the hands of private landlords. Council housing schemes have been largely replaced by vouchers that poor people can use to pay their rents, and rents – uncontained by public subsidy – have soared, representing a wealth-transfer to landlord from both poor people and the taxpayers who fund the vouchers.

Landlords continue to snap up ex-council housing. Poverty in the UK is at levels unseen since the time of Dickens. Housing poverty is a major co-contributor to food poverty and other forms of dire privation. Moreover, the 40% figure is low, because many private landlords don't disclose that they're letting out their flats.

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Cost-Benefit Analysis of State-Owned Enterprises

a post by Taz Chaponda in the PFM (Public Financial Management) Blog from the IMF (International Monetary Fund)

The problems associated with state-owned enterprises (SOEs) are well known. They are very costly to run, few of them make profits, or if they do, they tend not to pay dividends on a consistent basis. This problem is more applicable to developing countries and emerging markets than to advanced economies. In the latter, deregulation has sharply reduced the number of SOEs and improved their performance. But in emerging markets, SOEs are still pervasive and their failure can result in huge economic and fiscal costs. Given these risks, why do governments continue to keep them?

To understand the ubiquitous nature of SOEs, it is necessary to go back in history to when governments set up dedicated entities to provide services that were viewed as having some “public good” characteristics, or where natural monopolies existed. It was argued, that certain essential services could not be left to the private sector as it would not supply these services reliably to everyone that needed access (think of public utilities). Another argument was to promote industrialization by investing in strategic sectors through SOEs. Economies in East Asia led the way in this respect.

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Share of national wealth held by America's 1% hits 50-year high

a post by Cory Doctorow for the Boing Boing blog

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The Simplest Way to Make More Time for What Matters

a post by Elena Sonnino for the Tiny Buddha blog

“We’ve all heard the saying, stop and smell the roses. But it would be far better to be the gardener who grows the roses and lives with them constantly.” ~Deepak Chopra

What would it take to befriend time? To see time as an ally, a friend even—an opportunity?

Most of us have a much different relationship with time. One that is based on scarcity. The chorus of “I don’t have enough time” reverberates through conversations, social media channels, and personal mutterings.

Redefining our relationship with time isn’t like flipping a light switch. But it is a bit like pumping gas in your car.

I am one of those people that forget to make time to stop at the gas station as the fuel gauge in my car starts to veer towards the red E. I’ve never run out of gas, but the fuel light comes on more than I’d like to admit.

Why exactly would I ignore this gauge? Because of time. I see that the meter traverses from ½ a tank to ¼ of a tank, and I find myself thinking, “I don’t have time to stop and get gas right now. I’ll stop tomorrow.”

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World getting better all the time

a post by Rob Beschizza for the Boing Boing blog

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I'd never heard these Beatles Christmas messages

a post by Jason Weisberger for the Boing Boing blog in February 2017

These holiday messages, from 1963 and 1964, courtesy of the Fab Four are just great!
Their voices always cheer me up.

I had never heard them, but driving the California coast this Christmas day and caught the tail end of one.