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How to start a repair café

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Monday, 17 June 2013 18:04

Photo credit: lusi http://www.rgbstock.com

If you’ve ever found yourself on the phone with a customer service representative telling you it would cost more to fix your electric tea kettle than to just buy a new one, you are well acquainted with the concept of “ planned obsolescence“. The good news is that people across the world are getting wise to the intentional design flaws hoisted upon us by clever manufacturers eager to sell more products, and are coming up with new and creative ways to salvage perfectly usable things.

 

Bee Death - Simple Prevention Efforts You can Do

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Thursday, 13 June 2013 15:02

Photo credit: krayker http://www.rgbstock.com

Are you fond of using honey bee products? Or, maybe you don’t even know your cosmetics contain beeswax. A lot of products are associated with honey bees. From candles to antiseptic solutions to food, there are a handful of items available that come from this insect. Can you imagine losing these products? What would you do if you lost them? Look for alternatives? Honey bee products are a lot less harmful in comparison to alternative highly processed items. In fact, some people use bee products such as honey for their skin, face and hair - because it is so natural. Colony collapse disorder (CCD) is badly affecting the bee and many of “the bee family”. A great number of bees die due to the disorder.

 

 

 

Be a Daydream Believer: No really, science said so.

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Monday, 05 November 2012 14:35

photo credit: qcpages.qc.cuny.edu

 

Who remembers the Dreamstone? Few do I'm sure, but here is the first episode. 

 

Besides my inability to remain employed probably being started by a mixture between my malleable child brain and Rufus' endearing behaviour (if any psychologists ask, this is what I am blaming it on anyway), there is something which needs commenting on.  He is a daydreamer, and, classically daydreamers lack focus, can't seem to keep to a simple task, and let's face it can come across sub-par in the brains category.  So far as being a well-functioning member of a community, you can forget it.


Looking out the window in school, doodling idly or being roused from your brain by a sudden question you weren't listening to may be familiar scenarios for many of us.  In fact, who at some point hasn't just stared, closed their eyes and rested, or plain spaced out while someone waffles on about the virtues and opportunities inherent in wearing a stupid hat and serving coffee?


So if everyone does it, does this mean…does this mean that it may be natural.  If it's natural, could this not mean that, perhaps, our brain is trying to get on with what it feels is important without being forced to learn Geometry. Never…what could be more important to the brain than learning how to figure out the imaginary third angle of a hypothetical triangle?

Well, unless you are an architect, or trying to figure out the circumference of the earth in ancient Greece, the answer is...daydreaming.

Studies have been conducted and their findings published in he July issue of Perspectives on Psychological Science.  They strongly suggest that the brain during rest, as in when the brain is not actively focused on something, is largely correlated with socio-emotional functioning, things such as self-awareness and moral judgement, and in learning and memory. Immordino-Yang, one of the principle researchers says "…inward focus impacts the way we build memories, make meaning and transfer that learning into new contexts."

For a long time the 'executive network' of the brain, the regions of the brain (largely the frontal lobes) which are concerned with complex problem solving, were thought to be dormant when one wasn't actively problem solving.  However, a 2009 University of British Columbia study concluded that this 'executive network' was actually stimulated when the brain was wandering.

A great study conducted by Benjamin Baird and Jonathan Schooler at the University of California at Santa Barbara exhibits this perfectly.

The participants were given a task to make as many interesting uses of everyday objects in two minutes as possible.  The 'unusual use' task. They were then given a 12 minute break and in that time were directed to either rest in a quiet room, perform a difficult short-term memory task, or doing something so boring that it would make the persons mind wander. The control condition was all participants given no break at all.

They found that with all new objects there was little improvement, however if the same objects were used after the break, the group who had been daydreaming overall found 41% more uses for the objects than each of the other groups.

Essentially, when we enter that little world we call our own, it is a process by which we are connecting different concepts and attributing just why the concepts are important by putting them in hypothetical scenarios of ourselves in the future.  Further studies reported on Nature Reviews Neurology by Cognitive Neuroscientist Dr Muireann Irish have concluded on just this. That the areas of the brain which are involved in daydreaming are a network which takes information about the past and makes projections of the future.  Of ourselves in relation to others, who we were, and who we want to be.  

So daydreaming helps us build concepts of ourselves, social encounters, desires, morals and goals, to create a greater understanding of the world at large and our place in it.  The more active information is acquired, the more it can be incorporated into this network, and the more we consolidate a sense of self, understand ourselves as active agents in the world and how our actions affect others, ourself and our immediate environments.

Research conducted by Immordino-Yang also indicates that children that are given the time and skills necessary for reflection are on average more motivated, less anxious, perform better on tests, and plan more effectively for the future.

All things which point to the fact, that sitting back, closing your eyes and letting your mind wander, is as important as actively engaging on things.  It is certainly better than spending hours worrying about blogs, facebook, chatting online, or watching Deal or no Deal (It is as interesting as watching paint dry, but watching paint dry is now proven to be better for you).  Not that in some way they can't be beneficial, but instead potenitally draw us away from much needed reflection.

It is a genuine concern amongst this small community of researchers that the constant bombardment of things begging for your mind to actively engage in, whether it is social networking or even school itself, is hindering our abilities to regulate our emotions and our potential to construct effective goal oriented behaviours and social skills.  

So, rufus and every other space cadet out there, you're right to amble the myriad corners of your own mind. However, that isn't to say that you should spend most your time there as none of it has value unless you also have the time and skills to make ideas happen.

Still, don't forget to occasionally sit back, relax and let your brain do the work.

SOURCE: Huzzah! Magazine
This article was originally written by Patrick Sharkey and published by
Huzzah! Magazine; Positive and interesting current events, well-thought out opinion and promoting local art scenes.

This story has been published under a Creative Commons license. You are free to re-publish this article provided the original authors and publishers are attributed correctly. The article may not be used for any commercial gains. To view the full legal license, click the banner below.



Read more articles with reference to Wisdom/Education, Human Behaviour and Wisdom/Education. Extend your knowledge by visiting the Ideas Globe, or view our Hot Topics to find more key articles to discuss. We welcome all of your thoughts, Actions, Projects and Proposals!science, technology and the developing world.


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Friendliness is Literally Food for Thought

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Wednesday, 31 October 2012 13:46

Who doesn't like a friendly person? Despite phrases such as 'nice guys finish last' is it not still nice to be nice? Do we not see that even some of the most successful people seem like nice people.  We are not speaking of people pawing at people in adulation for the symmetry of their shoelaces, or weeping at RSPCA adverts, but an all round friendly, honest and understanding person is always good to be around.  Compassion and empathy are key to this kind of personality.  So it is compassion which we will focus on.  Two examples from contemporary studies which show the benefits compassionate thought for ourselves, and how watching the moral deeds of others will inspire us to do similar.

First, we turn to seeing how compassion and the art of putting yourselves in the shoes of another, has wider mental health benefits than making it less likely that you'll be a lonely (insert your choice of inappropriate 4 letter word here).

At the University of Michigan, Doctor Oscar  Ybarra and colleagues wanted to see if there was  a change in our ‘executive function’  after socialising. Executive function is the ability of our brain, specifically the frontal lobes, to create working memory, goal-oriented behaviour and block out internal and external distractions.  Each of these things are what we use for a wide array of cognitive problem-solving tasks from differential calculus, to over-analysing texts from the opposite sex, to making an awesome sandwich.

What Ybarra has found is that socialising and conversing with someone, under the instruction ‘get to know them in 10 minutes’, has a marked effect our ability to solve a range of puzzling tasks.

They found that by putting oneself in someone elses shoes, there was marked improvement in the tasks.  Which makes sense as you would be trying to figure out the most complex puzzle yet known.  Another human being.  A puzzle so complex that even though we are unravelling the mysteries of the universe, we still struggle to explain why one person prefers sex with inanimate objects while another person enjoys crab fishing over cryptozoology.  So your brain is stimulating the circuits necessary to solve this problem of understanding an absolute stranger, priming those circuits for use during a subsequent puzzle.

However, interestingly, if there was a competitive edge, without trying to take on anothers perspective then there was little to no improvement.

Ybarra:

“We believe that performance boosts come about because some social interactions induce people to try to read others’ minds and take their perspectives on things,”


“And we also find that when we structure even competitive interactions to have an element of taking the other person’s perspective, or trying to put yourself in the other person’s shoes, there is a boost in executive functioning as a result.”

This makes alot of sense on base neurological strucutre. If the frontal lobes control our executive function, there is a reason that the regions concerned with social emotions are located on it’s perifory. The TPJ (temporal-parietal junction) is  implicated in compassion, the oribtal and pre-frontal cortices are to do with the inhibition of inappropriate behaviour (Look up the story of Finneas Gauge, as the most famous of a myriad of examples) and the processing of emotions such as shame, pride, contempt, and other social emotions.

So, Just as the fingers are mapped close to each other, which is close to the arm, which is close the torso, or that faces are mapped out in one region, it shows how evolution itself has essentially said to us. "People are very important, logic one of your greatest faculties. I'll put htem close together, that'll help." It is because messages a communicated quicker and more accurately when the signals have to travel fewer neurons.  When you consider that neurons can have up to 10,000 independent connections it's one of the marvels of nature than anything gets where it's supposed to be going.

Another great study comes from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, and looks at the idea called 'moral elevation'.  That uplifting feeling we get when we see someone act in kindness.

The experiment showed that people, after reading of, or watching, a compassionate scenario were more inclined to give money away to someone else than those who were simply just asked.  They were more inclined to give altruistically, having been inspired. 

It's something we have all seen, and most probably felt, unless you are a sociopath, or a dick. A brief story from my own recent experieince sums this up nicely. An old man in my work-place of Costa today was struggling to walk. He was having an attack of diabetic weakness/virtigo/general old age and the three of us working there rushed to his aid.  We got him sat down, brought him juice and water and offered him food.  Within moments another woman offered him her last shortbread, and another women approached me with the words "Is he going to be ok, is there anything you think we can do?" Three people making a compassionate fuss over a regular spilled out and inspired people, from the nicer side of their nature, hop on the good samaritan band wagon and help in whatever small ways they could. I'm sure we have been in situations where we feel the same and have seen the same fundamental passing of good will from person to person.

 

SOURCE: Huzzah! Magazine
This article was originally written by Patrick Sharkey and published by
Huzzah! Magazine; Positive and interesting current events, well-thought out opinion and promoting local art scenes.

This story has been published under a Creative Commons license. You are free to re-publish this article provided the original authors and publishers are attributed correctly. The article may not be used for any commercial gains. To view the full legal license, click the banner below.



Read more articles with reference to Wisdom/Education, Human Behaviour and Wisdom/Education. Extend your knowledge by visiting the Ideas Globe, or view our Hot Topics to find more key articles to discuss. We welcome all of your thoughts, Actions, Projects and Proposals!science, technology and the developing world.


Not a Planetary Citizen yet? Join us and
Sign up to Our Future Planet today!

 



 

We can improve climate information for Africa

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Wednesday, 08 August 2012 16:08

A collaborative project in Ethiopia that has created climate data and tools can be applied in much of Africa, says climate scientist
Tufa Dinku.




Photo credit: OxfamInternational. CC Finder.