(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘Holidays

“Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain”*…

You may not have heard of Robin Dunbar. But you will, perhaps, know of his work. Dunbar, now emeritus professor of evolutionary psychology at Oxford University, is the man who first suggested that there may be a cognitive limit to the number of people with whom you can comfortably maintain stable social relationships – or, as Stephen Fry put it on the TV show QI, the number of people “you would not hesitate to go and sit with if you happened to see them at 3am in the departure lounge at Hong Kong airport”. Human beings, Dunbar found when he conducted his research in the 1990s, typically have 150 friends in general (people who know us on sight, and with whom we have a history), of whom just five can usually be described as intimate.

In his new book, Dunbar revisits and unpicks this number, by which he stands; and he brings together several decades of other research in the area of friendship, some of it his own, some that of anthropologists, geneticists and neuroscientists with whom he has worked. It can’t be definitive: the possibilities in this field are surely limitless. But for the reader, it sometimes feels like it is. Why do most women have a best friend? Why do many men struggle to share confidences? Why is it so painful when we fall out with our friends? Above all, what effect do friends (or a lack of them) have on our mental and physical health? Think of any question you might have and you’ll find some kind of an answer to it here. What you may feel in your gut, it will back with science. Its central message, however, may be summed up in a sentence. In essence, the number and quality of our friendships may have a bigger influence on our happiness, health and mortality risk than anything else in life save for giving up smoking.

Dunbar could not have known that his book would be published in a time of such loneliness, and some readers may find what he has to say, in this context, reassuring…

Dunbar’s Number, a (confirmatory) reconsideration of the value– and limitations– of friendship: “How important are your pals?

* Muhammad Ali

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As we contemplate companionship, we might humbly note that today is Everything You Think Is Wrong Day, a celebration fo imperfection created to remind one that one is not always right.

source

“Once, during Prohibition, I was forced to live for days on nothing but food and water”*…

 

prohibtion

 

Americans tend to have a pretty jaundiced view of Prohibition…

… driven by extremists, the country was pushed into an extreme experiment — to ban the sale, production, and transportation of alcohol in the US in 1919 through a constitutional amendment, the 18th. The policy was a political failure, leading to its repeal in 1933 through the 21st Amendment.

There’s also a widespread belief that Prohibition failed at even reducing drinking and led to an increase in violence as criminal groups took advantage of a large black market for booze.

“‘Everyone knows’ that Prohibition failed because Americans did not stop drinking,” historian Jack Blocker wrote in the American Journal of Public Health. He summarized what’s now the conventional wisdom: “Liquor’s illegal status furnished the soil in which organized crime flourished.”

But there’s a lot wrong with these present-day assumptions about Prohibition.

People like [Carry] Nation, as extreme as they were, were driven by real problems caused by excessive drinking, including alcohol-induced domestic violence and crime as well as liver cirrhosis and other health issues. This was perceived as a widespread problem, at least in popular media: George Cruikshank’s 1847 series of drawings, The Bottle, portrayed a father spending all his family’s money drinking and, eventually, killing his wife by attacking her with a bottle. And as historian David Courtwright documented in The Age of Addiction, per capita alcohol consumption increased by nearly a third from 1900 to 1913, largely due to advancements in brewing that helped make beer much cheaper.

Contrary to the conventional wisdom, the evidence also suggests Prohibition really did reduce drinking. Despite all the other problems associated with Prohibition, newer research even indicates banning the sale of alcohol may not have, on balance, led to an increase in violence and crime.

It’s time to reconsider whether America’s “noble experiment” was really such a failure after all…

America’s anti-alcohol experiment cut down on drinking and drinking-related deaths– and it may have reduced crime and violence overall.  Vox takes a sober look at the an episode in American history clouded in received ideas that may not be altogether accurate, making the case that: “Prohibition worked better than you think.”

* W.C. Fields

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As we muse on moderation, we might recall that it was on this date in 1894 (after 30 states had already enshrined the occasion) that Labor Day became a federal holiday in the United States.

labor day

The country’s first Labor Day parade in New York City on Sept. 5, 1882. This sketch appeared in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper.

source (and source of more on the history of Labor Day)

 

Written by (Roughly) Daily

June 28, 2019 at 1:01 am

“What wine goes with Cap’n Crunch?”*…

 

More (and information on how to enroll) at “Why Italy is mulling wine classes for schoolchildren.”

* George Carlin

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As we sip, swirl, and spit, we might contemplate unorthodox pairings as we note that today is “National Eat What You Want Day.”

 source

 

Written by (Roughly) Daily

May 11, 2016 at 1:01 am

“I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food”*…

 

 click here for interactive version

Daily diets very considerably around the world; so, then, do their caloric contents.  This interactive graphic from National Geographic breaks it down in a way that makes comparison– country to country, and any country to the world as a whole– easy and clear.

It’s fascinating to observe that the average for the world has risen nearly 30% in the last 50 years, to a level that’s roughly commensurate with the recommended calorie intake for an adult man; as users will see, averages for the U.S. and other developed countries are well above that…  Expert opinion on the rise in obesity in the U.S. (and many other nations) is conflicted; still, it’s interesting to note the correlation.

* W.C. Fields

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As we pass on the side of bacon, we might pause to note that, while there’s no clarity as to its origin, there’s wide agreement that today is National Bagel and Lox Day, a celebration of the quintessential Jewish-American “sandwich” once found only in New York delis, but now universally popular.  Bagels originated in Poland in the early 17th century. Jewish families often ate bagels on Saturday evenings at the conclusion of the Sabbath, perhaps because the they could be baked very quickly. Lox is an entirely American invention. It became a popular sandwich filling in the mid 1800s when the transcontinental railroad began shipping barrels of brined salmon to the East Coast.

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Surely coincidentally, today is also National Toothache Day.  Some believe the celebration can be traced to the founding of the Hersey Corporation on February 9, 1894.  But others (including your correspondent) reckon that it is related to St. Apollonia, the Patroness of Toothaches, whose feast day is today.

 source

 

Written by (Roughly) Daily

February 9, 2015 at 7:29 am

“I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts”*…

 

 click here for zoomable version

This crew list for the whaler Acushnet, filed with the collector of customs in New Bedford, Massachusetts, in December 1840, incudes the name and physical description of the 21-year-old Herman Melville. The list marks the beginning of the epic trip that was to provide the author with material he used to write his maritime novels Typee (1846); Omoo (1847); Mardi (1849); Redburn (1849); White-Jacket (1850); and Moby-Dick (1851).

Although he had signed up with the Acushnet’s captain Valentine Pease for a journey of four years, Melville deserted on the Marquesas Islands (now French Polynesia) 18 months into the voyage. Eleven of 26 of the Acushnet‘s crew and officers were to do the same before the trip was over. Desertions like these were not uncommon in the 18th- and 19th-century maritime world. Historian Marcus Rediker writes that desertion was one way for sailors, whose labor was often coerced or abused, to protest poor conditions on ship: extreme punishments, poor rations, voyages that were extended involuntarily.

Before he returned to Massachusetts, Melville was to live with the indigenous Taipi people; ship aboard an Australian whaler (the Lucy-Ann) where tough conditions also prevailed; be jailed for mutiny; sign onto another whaler (the Charles & Henry); spend some time in Hawaii; and return to the mainland via a stint as an enlisted seaman on the USS United States.“

Besides providing content for his future writing,” Carl E. Rollyson, Lisa Olson Paddock, and April Gentry write, “Melville’s Pacific travels also shaped the intellectual and philosophical perspectives that would mark his later work.” His complicated relationship with discipline and hierarchy, his sensitivity to the trials of the working man, and the cosmopolitan perspective that led Melville to make Queequeg one of the most sympathetic and interesting characters in Moby-Dick were all gained on this voyage.

* Herman Melville

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As we go down to the sea in ships, we might note that this is Chaos Never Dies Day– a day of recognition of the turmoil that surrounds us.  Chaos Never Dies Day is an annual occasion to admit that the perfect, quiet moment for which so many of us strive doesn’t – and likely never will – exist… and to celebrate unruly reality.

 source

 

Written by (Roughly) Daily

November 9, 2014 at 1:01 am

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