Pages

Monday, September 8, 2014

Potential Ebola Case in Miami Tests Negative for Disease

Potential Ebola Case in Miami Tests Negative for Disease


Potential Ebola Case in Miami Tests Negative for Disease

Posted: 08 Sep 2014 11:17 AM PDT

A patient being treated in a Miami-area hospital for possible Ebola has tested negative for the disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed in a press conference Monday that a low-risk patient was tested for possible Ebola by a Florida state laboratory response network, and the test came back negative. The CDC will also be testing the specimen for a second confirmation.

So far, the only patients with confirmed Ebola to be treated in the United States are three health care workers who were infected with the disease in West Africa and were evacuated back to the U.S. Currently, Dr. Richard A Sacra, a physician working with the aid group SIM USA, is being treated for Ebola in a hospital in Omaha, Nebraska. In August, Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol survived Ebola while being treated for their disease at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

The CDC says it will disclose further information after it tests the specimen of the Miami patient.

Is the Catholic Church ‘Evolving’ on Gay Marriage?

Posted: 08 Sep 2014 11:10 AM PDT

Last week New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan gave his okay to the St. Patrick Day Parade Committee’s decision to allow a gay group to march in the 2015 parade under their own banner. This was a remarkable shift from one of Dolan’s predecessors Cardinal John O’Connor who in 1993 declared that to allow a gay group to march in the parade would be a slander to the Apostle’s Creed.

This closes a remarkable summer in which a number of high-ranking Catholic prelates have signaled that Pope Francis’s more open posture on gay issues has permeated through the Catholic world. In May, a top-ranking Italian bishop said that the Church should be more open to arguments in support of same-sex marriage. And just a few weeks ago, one of Pope Francis’s closest friends Brazilian Cardinal Cláudio Hummes said in an interview that he “didn’t know” whether Jesus would oppose gay marriage.

All of this comes as the Catholic Church prepares for October’s Synod on the Family. This blockbuster event will bring bishops from around the world to Rome to discuss among other things, how the Church should change its pastoral practices towards those in same-sex relationships.

All this begs the question: is the Catholic Church “evolving” on gay marriage? Of course, it should be noted from the beginning that this possible evolution is unlikely to become a revolution. Don’t expect Pope Francis to come in support of gay marriage anytime soon. His “evolution” on this issue will not look like that of President Barack Obama.

But from the beginning of his pontificate, Francis has been known to be a pragmatist on LGBT issues. As the archbishop of Buenos Aires, he supported civil unions as an alternative to gay marriage during 2010 national debate on the issue. Francis brought this pragmatic streak to Rome after his election in March 2013. In July of last year, he famously said, “[i]f someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”

This was a remarkable shift from his predecessors. Since the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith made the raw declaration in 1975 that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered” the Vatican has made it abundantly clear where it stood on homosexuality and issues surrounding it, most notably same-sex marriage. In 1997, the American bishops grew concerned that the language from Rome had grown too cold and in response published the pastoral letter Always Our Children.

In it, they write: “God does not love someone any less simply because he or she is homosexual. God’s love is always and everywhere offered to those who are open to receiving it.” It says Church ministers must “welcome homosexual persons into the faith community, and seek out those on the margins. Avoid stereotyping and condemning. Strive first to listen.”

This newer paradigm seems to make to be shared by Pope Francis. Francis’s simple pastoral step isn’t breaking any new ground theologically nor is intending to change the Church’s political stances on gay marriage.

Francis’s message to the LGBT community has been simple, but has once again proclaimed the fundamental truths of the Christian faith: You children of God. The Lord loves you. Christ walks with you. The pope cherishes you, and the Church welcomes you.

But now that papal message must become the Church’s practice without exception and without delay. Francis’s words must become our lived reality: “Let the Church always be a place of mercy and hope, where everyone is welcomed, loved and forgiven.”

The October Synod is a great place for the bishops to consider this new mandate, but it must not end there. Every generation of Christians is called to rebuild and to recreate the faith of Jesus Christ in our own times. We might only be experiencing an evolution, but it must begin now. Like Mary Madgalene upon the news of that Jesus had risen from the dead, we must make haste to proclaim the good news that with God’s love in Jesus no one is excluded and no one is left behind.

Christopher Hale is a senior fellow at Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good.

How A Baby Changed William and Harry’s Royal Relationship

Posted: 08 Sep 2014 11:10 AM PDT

With the news that the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, is pregnant with a second “Royal Baby,” a new biography of Prince Harry sheds light on the evolution of his relationship with his older brother, Duke of Cambridge Prince William, since the birth of Prince George last July.

“‘It’s fantastic to have an addition to the family,'” Harry said about his nephew, royal family biographer Penny Junor writes in Prince Harry: Brother, Soldier, Son. “‘I only hope my brother knows how expensive my baby-sitting charges are.'”

And if Will’s change in behavior since George’s birth is any indication, the birth of his second child will likely mean Will and Harry will spend less time playing around with friends at clubs and more time playing with babies. Junor writes in Prince Harry:

“William’s focus has changed. He is no longer in the military, no longer up for partying till dawn, or tripping over guy-ropes in the early hours at Glastonbury. He is more interested in getting an unbroken night of sleep and listening to George’s growing vocabulary.”

The biography quotes “a friend” adding that Prince Harry “loves” having dinner with Will, Kate and George and says that’s basically what the brothers’ nights out are like now, even though Harry does not appear to show signs of settling down himself anytime soon.

“It would be a different night from the one they would have spent three or four years ago, which would have been, ‘Who can remain standing longest?’ … They are very, very close and Harry loves the whole domestic bit which his brother’s doing now…I think he sees what his brother’s getting out of it…”

The book will be released tomorrow, ahead of Prince Harry’s 30th birthday next week.

The Moral Arc of Pro Sports Bends Toward Profit

Posted: 08 Sep 2014 11:05 AM PDT

The Boston Red Sox didn’t integrate until 1959. Former NFL defensive end Leonard Little killed a woman while driving, with more than two times Missouri’s legal limit of alcohol in his blood. NHL winger Todd Bertuzzi broke three vertebrae in Steve Moore’s neck with an illegal hit from behind. Prized prizefighter Floyd Mayweather is a serial abuser of women. Donald Sterling, who had been fingered as a racist slumlord in a 2003 housing-discrimination lawsuit, owned the Los Angeles Clippers for more than 30 years.

And just look where we are now. Forbes says the Red Sox are the third most valuable team in baseball. Little earned more than $30 million in salary after the manslaughter, despite another DUI arrest. Bertuzzi drew more than $30 million after his misdeed, too. Mayweather has earned $72 million for his last two fights. And Sterling, after an audiotape surfaced containing his vulgar thoughts on black people, was forced to sell the Clippers, a perennial loser until only recently, for $2 billion, 160 times what he paid for the team. The moral arc of professional sports is long, but it bends toward profit.

The list goes on. Professional sports have long lagged behind the rest of society in recognizing opportunities for inclusion and reprimanding behavior worthy of scorn. And when the leagues finally do get around to punishment, the punishment is often cynically motivated or ethically untenable itself. Think, for instance, of Major League Baseball’s decision to pay off a drug dealer to tarnish superstar Alex Rodriguez.

It’s a little odd, then, that upon TMZ’s revelation of security-camera footage Monday morning showing Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocking out Janay Palmer, his then-fiancée (now-wife) in an elevator, most every pundit has resumed his or her criticism of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

In July, Goodell decided to suspend Rice two games in 2014 after surveillance video, published by TMZ in February, showed Rice dragging an unconscious Palmer from an elevator. (Whether the NFL saw the tape released Monday, which shows the left hook that knocked Palmer’s head to the elevator handrail, or only the tape released in February when deciding on its Rice suspension is another—murky—matter.) That brief suspension faced so much scorn that Goodell, a month later, announced a new policy promising an automatic six-game suspension for a first domestic-violence offense, and a permanent ban (albeit with the possibility of reinstatement) for a second one. Why announce a policy instead of simply issuing stricter suspensions in the future? You shift the narrative, change the optics, whatever it is the image consultants call it.

Goodell, with the help of those same image consultants and a pliant press, has indeed succeeded at fashioning himself into a man of great conviction, a leader for tough times, an arbiter and possessor of high moral authority. Little could be further from the truth: A man of high moral authority would not draw $44 million in salary as the CEO of a registered nonprofit that exists solely to promote bloodsport. Goodell is Don King with better hair. You’re better off taking communion from Jean-Claude Van Damme than looking to the NFL for moral guidance. For today’s NFL exists in a moral abyss, buying off its players’ bodies and brains, branded to high heaven by Bud Light and Bose.

Yet it’s this organization, and this man, we lean on to do something about the nationwide scourge of domestic violence? By extending one player’s suspension from competition? To put pressure on Goodell to act is to play right into his so-called iron fist.

Witness the good press the NBA and its new commissioner Adam Silver have received for Sterling’s banishment. It’s not hard to imagine that the Sterling success prompted the league to usher out Atlanta Hawks owner Bruce Levenson for much less odious behavior, which was essentially the profit-minded suggestion, in an internal email revealed Sunday, that many Southern whites don’t like black people. Yet it is hard to imagine that the commissioner’s office—which then included Silver as its COO and President of NBA Entertainment—produced no similar emails in 2005 when it decided to hire ex-Bush strategist Matthew Dowd to appeal to white America. Soon afterward, the league (with Silver now as its deputy commissioner) adopted dress codes on and off the court, banning jewelry and shooting sleeves and all manner of garb that might conjure a vision of Allen Iverson.

The NBA is winning praise (and facing no criticism) for fighting a tacit racism it funded and nurtured less than a decade ago. Writers are looking to an empty NFL suit to help solve a real crisis. This state of affairs illustrates an ugly tension in modern, decadent American culture: Professional sports are awfully poor vehicles for social change, but an awfully large number of smart people consider them the best ones we’ve got.

Iraqi Refugee: ISIS Wouldn’t Exist Under Saddam

Posted: 08 Sep 2014 11:03 AM PDT

When people ask me how I feel about the latest events in Iraq, I tell them I feel sad. All these people—both Americans and Iraqis—have died since 2003 for nothing. As the Islamic State insurgency unfolds, I’m mourning not just those who have died over the past decade, but for a country that I haven’t been able to recognize for a very long time.

I grew up in Baghdad in a middle-class family. My father served in the Iraqi Air Force and traveled often internationally; my mother was a math teacher; my siblings all attended college. I graduated from the most prestigious high school in Baghdad before getting my degree at pharmacy school.

I grew up reading Superman and Batman comics, playing with Legos, and swimming at the pools of the fancy clubs where my parents were members. I was 12 during the first Gulf War in 1990. And until then, my childhood was uneventful: I was a happy kid.

Until 1990, I never heard a mosque call for prayer. I almost never saw a woman covering her hair with a hijab. My mom wore make-up, skirts, blouses with shoulder pads, and Bermuda shorts.

Since moving to Los Angeles in 2009, I’ve realized that most Americans don’t understand that Iraq used to be a Westernized, secular country. From the 1930s to the 1980s, Iraq’s neighbors used to look to it as the example. The country had an excellent education system, great healthcare, and Iraq was rich—not the richest, but rich.

Of course, Iraq is not like this today.

After Iraq invaded Kuwait, 24 years ago last month, the United States destroyed most of Iraq’s infrastructure during the Persian Gulf War. Bridges were bombed, along with power stations, railroads, dams, and oil refineries.

I remember that we would turn on the faucet, and barely any water would come out. In order to take showers, we had to rely on water tanks on the roof, which supplied extra water to our home. The water would come out boiling hot because it had been sitting in the sun. We also had limited electricity—which remains a problem, even 20 years later. Sleeping was difficult. You would wake up, sweating, in the middle of the night.

In 1990, an embargo was imposed, which prohibited Iraq from exporting oil. Iraqis suddenly found themselves poor. People’s values changed after 1990, too. Robberies increased. If you parked your car by the street—even for just three minutes—you risked your hubcaps being stolen.

Neither of the United States wars changed life in Iraq the way the U.S. government had intended.

I think the United States wanted Iraqis to revolt against Saddam Hussein and depose him. That wasn’t going to happen.

The notion of democracy is foreign to the Arab world. Although the West saw the “Arab Spring” protests as movements for democracy, they were really uprisings against various dictators, which are not the same thing. What we know is that for countless generations, we’ve lived in a society of hierarchy. It’s not about individualism or personal freedoms. It’s about following your father, your family, and your tribe. There’s no culture of respecting different opinions.

So, when Iraqis were given their freedom, instead of turning to democracy, they, like many other in the region, turned to religion—and religious leaders for guidance, and political advice.

Shiites voted for Shiite candidates. Sunnis voted for Sunnis. The Shiites came to power because they were the majority.

What’s happening in Iraq today is merely a continuation of the failure of democracy. And a failure of the United States to understand the psyche of Iraqis.

The people who might have been able to change Iraq—the educated, the artists, the moderates—began leaving in 1990, mostly illegally, after the embargo was imposed and their comfortable lifestyles came to an end.

In 2003, Saddam Hussein fell and the floodgates opened up, with even more leaving the country for good at a time when they were most needed. Until that year, I was barred from traveling along with other pharmacists, doctors, and certain professionals.

I wanted to leave, but what would I do? Where would I go? Only a handful of countries even allowed travel on an Iraqi passport. My parents and siblings fled to Syria, and later to Jordan. I stayed in Baghdad.

With my friends and family gone, I felt very isolated and alone. It also became unsafe to move around—even to do simple things like go to a restaurant or to the market.

In 2009, I managed to come to the U.S. as a refugee, and I was happy to leave Iraq behind. But even though I’d given up on my country, I had hope that things would not get as bad as they have today. It is my worst nightmare that an extremist group like the Islamic State has support in Iraq and, though it pains me to say this, the aftermath of the U.S. invasions has brought us to this point.

I despised Saddam, but I don’t think an extremist group like the Islamic State would exist under his rule. Even if Saddam had gone crazy and killed a bunch of people, it wouldn’t be anywhere near the number of people who have died since he was overthrown. I see a civil war coming, and an Iraq divided into states.

So as I read the news on CNN Arabic and the BBC while pacing around the house, I feel as if I’m experiencing a death in the family. I’m going through the stages of grief—denial, anger, depression. Lately, I’ve even tried to avoid reading the news at all.

Sometimes, I watch old YouTube videos that show the way Iraq used to be. The Iraq I loved and was proud of—the country I lived in before 1990—doesn’t exist anymore. And I don’t see that changing in my lifetime.

Saif Al-Azzawi lives in Los Angeles. He wrote this for Zocalo Public Square.

Former French First Lady’s Tell-All Book Adds To Hollande’s Woes

Posted: 08 Sep 2014 10:51 AM PDT

Revenge is a dish best served cold, as the saying goes, meaning that it takes a cool, level head to deliver just the right sucker punch. That might be the most telling lesson from the scandal that has erupted this past week in France, over the former First Lady Valérie Trierweiler’s explosive tell-all book about her life with President François Hollande. “Thank You For This Moment” appeared in bookstores last Wednesday, with no forewarning to French officials, and its initial print-run of 200,000 sold out within days, inspiring countless front-page articles about the apparently callous behavior of a never-married president towards the women in his life. Yet there has been equally harsh criticism of Trierweiler, whose stinging words have sounded to many like petty whining, at least when compared with the severe economic crisis Hollande is struggling to fix.

To recap (if readers need reminding): Hollande’s domestic life imploded in spectacular fashion last January when the French gossip magazine Closer published photographs of him sneaking out of the sumptuous Napoleonic palace on his motorbike, to spend the night with his alleged lover, the French actress Julie Gayet. Three weeks later (hours after TIME interviewed Hollande inside the Elysée) Hollande declared his seven-year relationship with Trierweiler over, in a bland 18-word written statement. While the world lapped up the details, inside the palace, the couple spiraled into a private hell that threatened Trierweiler’s physical wellbeing, according to the former First Lady. Trierweiler, 49, describes the president frantically trying to prevent her from swallowing a fistful of sleeping pills the morning the news broke. “I swallow what I can. I want to sleep. I don’t want to live through the coming hours,” Trierweiler recounted to Paris Match magazine, where she has been a longtime staff writer; her book was splashed on the magazine’s cover last week. “I want to escape. I lose consciousness.” Trierweiler then spent a week in the hospital, with officials claiming at the time that she was suffering the effects of extreme stress.

Bad as that account is, other parts of Trierweiler’s book that take aim at Hollande’s battered political standing could be even more damaging for the French leader. Trierweiler casts herself as a working-class woman at sea within the cocooned political elite into which she was thrust—and with no empathy from Hollande. She claims the Socialist leader, who won power in 2012 by casting the then-President Nicolas Sarkozy as representing only the rich, was “bored to tears” when dining with her family in their low-income home, preferring, she says, to visit the Gayets’ grand chateau in southwestern France. “He campaigned as the enemy of the rich but the truth is that he despises the poor,” Trierweiler writes, saying that Hollande mocked the poor as “sans-dents” or toothless, referring to the cost of dental treatment.

The claims have put Hollande under withering scrutiny, even from reliably friendly sources. “Who are you François Hollande?” asked the weekend front page of the left-leaning Liberation newspaper, which supports the ruling Socialist Party. Inside, its editorial says that the president, most often vilified for being soft-edged and ineffectual, emerges in Trierweiler’s book as hard and cynical, adding, “The marshmallow president becomes the flint president.”

The new image will not likely help Hollande, who has overseen a worsening economy and rising unemployment. On Sunday the polling agency IFOP released a survey taken on Friday and Saturday (after Trierweiler’s book came out) showing that 65% of Socialist Party voters did not want Hollande to run for reelection in 2017. A separate poll on Friday by TNS-Sofres showed that Hollande’s popularity ratings had sunk to 13%, the lowest of any French president in about 70 years. And although only five percent of those IFOP surveyed named Hollande’s rocky private life as their top criticism of him, some believe Trierweiler’s revelations could well be a turn-off for many voters. “He looks like a man who really does not behave well at all,” says Colombe Pringle, a long-time observer of Elysée politics, and editorial consultant to the celebrity magazine Point de Vue. His bad behavior, she says, is “not only with his “toothless” remark but also in his daily life with women in general, and with her [Trierweiler] in particular.”

There is one woman to emerge stronger from this latest scandal: Marine Le Pen, who heads France’s far-right National Front party. This weekend’s IFOP poll showed that Le Pen would beat Hollande in a second-round presidential race, if the elections were held today—something that no far-right leader has come close to accomplishing in France. Delighted by the result, Le Pen told party members at a rally on Sunday that it “shows there is no longer a glass ceiling that would block our electoral victory.” Much could change between now and the next elections, which are two and a half years away, but for now, the upheaval in French politics appears a boost for Hollande’s foes.

In contrast to Le Pen’s buoyant speech, the woman at the heart of the roiling scandal—Trierweiler—quietly slipped out of France on Saturday, flying to Madagascar with a photographer on an unnamed assignment, according to the conservative Figaro newspaper. Politicians of all stripes have condemned Trierweiler for sullying the office of the president, by revealing prurient details best left unknown. “It is a disgrace for France,” Le Pen said of Trierweiler’s book. Even from over 5,000 miles away, Trierweiler might be wondering whether her tell-all book will backfire on her, leaving her as isolated as the two-timing president. “It will be very difficult for her to continue leading her life and being a journalist,” Pringle says. “I think she will pay a very high price.”

Discovery Channel Says No to Comcast Merger

Posted: 08 Sep 2014 10:41 AM PDT

After six months of simmering silence—punctuated by anonymous griping to regulators and reporters—big television content companies and programmers are beginning to speak out against Comcast’s $45.2 billion proposed merger with Time Warner Cable.

In a filing with the Federal Communications Commission last Thursday, Discovery Communications, which owns Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and TLC, wrote that the merger could create monopoly-like conditions in the TV space by giving the combined company unprecedented control over advertising, sports programming, broadband speeds, and what TV shows make it into American homes, at what price.

The merger, which would tie the biggest and second-biggest cable companies in the country, “could result in lower quality, less diverse programming, and fewer independent voices among programmers,” the statement said. Discovery is backed by Jon Malone, the billionaire former head of Liberty Media and Comcast CEO Brian Robert’s one-time mentor.

Silicon Valley tech firms, like Netflix, small regional cable companies, like RFD TV, and satellite TV distributors, like Dish, have already voiced their opposition to the merger, testifying before Congress on the subject since it was announced in February. But until last week, big TV content companies have remained silent on the issue.

While a Discovery Communications representative declined to explain the timing–why now?–industry analysts have suggested that a public statement from a behemoth like Discovery might prompt other large networks to pipe up in the last four to six months of the review. Opposition from large, influential companies, like Viacom, 21st Century Fox, Time Warner and Disney, could change the tenor at the FCC and the Justice Department, the two federal agencies that are in the process of reviewing the merger for anti-trust issues and consumer concerns. The agencies are widely expected to approve the deal as early as this winter.

The FCC has received roughly 75,000 complaints about the merger, mostly from the tech industry, consumer rights activists, and citizens concerned with dismal customer service experiences at both Comcast and Time Warner Cable.

One reason content producers and programmers have not said much thus far is likely because they rely heavily on payments from TV distributors—Comcast chief among them—for their bottom line. Last year, Comcast paid networks $9.1 billion in “retransmission fees,” a sum that makes up the majority of profits for even the nation’s largest programmers. Without those fees, many content producers’ business models would collapse, or they would be forced to join forces–Scripps and Discovery? Viacom and AMC?–to compete.

If the merger is approved, a new, even-larger Comcast will control 30% of the American TV market and dominate 19 out of 20 of the biggest cities in the country, giving it a much more powerful position at the negotiating table. Rivals fear that if Comcast chooses not to carry a network, or to relegate a channel to a cable tier that reaches fewer American homes, it could all but destroy a network’s ability to survive or receive adequate advertising.

Comcast, for its part, has said that its merger with Time Warner Cable would simply recalibrate what it describes as a grossly unequal balance of power in the TV marketplace. In April, Comcast’s man in Washington, David Cohen, said at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in April that programming costs have gone up 98% in the last decade because “programmers have more power at the negotiating table” than distributors.

The debate is underscored by concerns about Comcast’s overwhelming dominance in the high speed broadband space. At a time when more and more Americans are shifting from watching traditional cable to watching TV over the internet (Netflix, Roku, Apple TV!), they are becoming more dependent than ever before on the high speed broadband pipes that deliver the internet to their homes–and those pipes are largely owned by Comcast too.

If the merger is approved, Comcast could control up to 70% of American broadband internet connections fast enough to stream or record several high-definition TV shows at the same time, according to recent studies. (Comcast says that it will control only 30% of broadband connections, but its definition of “high speed broadband” includes DSL connections that are too slow to stream multiple HD videos.)

Comcast’s dominance in the TV distribution space could give it the power to demand that content producers and networks do not distribute their content online, either via an independent website or through an existing platform, like Netflix. Programmers and content producers will inevitably see their industry shaped inexorably by a Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger. Whether it’s in their interest to speak out now–or to hedge their bets, stay on the giants’ good side, and wait for the merger to be approved–remains to be seen.

6 Things the Happiest Families All Have in Common

Posted: 08 Sep 2014 10:37 AM PDT

Family life is hectic. Most of us play it by ear and hope it works out well.

Or maybe you haven’t started a family yet but when you do you want to do it right.

Aren’t there some legit answers out there about what creates the happiest families? Yes, there are.

To get the facts I called Bruce Feiler, author of the New York Times bestseller, The Secrets of Happy Families.

When writing his book, Bruce knew there were answers already out there — but not necessarily where we’d expect.

He found solutions to common family problems in business theory, Harvard negotiation techniques, and even by talking to Green Berets.

Below you’ll learn:

  1. The #1 predictor of your child’s emotional well-being.
  2. The #1 predictor of their academic achievement — and behavior problems.
  3. And the simple thing that steers kids away from drugs, toward better grades and even improves their self-esteem. And more.

Here’s what makes strong, happy families:

1) Create A Family Mission Statement

I asked Bruce what he would recommend if he could only give one piece of advice.

He said: “Set aside time to talk about what it means to be a part of your family.”

Ask: “What are your family values?” In business-speak: Develop a mission statement for your family.

Here’s Bruce:

Initiate a conversation about what it means to be a part of your family. Sit down with them and say “Okay, these are our ten central values.”

“This is the family we want to be. We want to be a family that doesn’t fight all the time.” or “We want to be a family that goes camping or sailing” or whatever it might be.

When my family did it, it was literally a transforming experience. We ended up printing it and it hangs now in our dining room.

Does “defining values” seem too big and intimidating? It’s really nothing more than setting goals.

Here’s Bruce:

Did we do every one of those things every day, every week, every month? No, that’s not that point. But the point is, when it goes wrong, you have that goal out there. “We want to be a family that has fun together. Have we made time to play recently? No, we don’t. So let’s make time to play. Let’s go bowling or hiking or roller skating.”

You have goals at work. You have personal goals. Why wouldn’t you have goals as a family?

(For more on the science of happy families, click here.)

So you and your family discussed your values and came up with a mission statement. What other thing did Bruce say was vital?

Like the mission statement, it’s another story. But it’s not about the future — it’s about the past.

2) Share Your Family History

Research shows whether a kid knows their family history was the number one predictor of a child’s emotional well-being.

Here’s Bruce:

…researchers at Emory did this study that showed that the kids who know more about their family history had a greater belief that they could control their world and a higher degree of self-confidence. It was the number one predictor of a child’s emotional well-being.

And research confirms that meaning in life is all about the stories we tell ourselves.

But here’s what’s really interesting: recounting your family history is not just telling kids, “Our family is awesome.”

Recounting the tough times, the challenges your family faced and overcame, is2 key.

Here’s Bruce:

Understanding that people have natural ups and downs allows kids to know that they too will have ups and downs. It gives them the confidence to believe that they can push through them. It gives them role models that show your family’s values in practice.

(For more on how to make your kids smarter, click here.)

Mission statements, family history… that’s a lot of talking. When is all this supposed to happen? Whenever you get around to it? No way.

3) Hold Weekly Family Meetings

You’re not mom or dad anymore — you’re now co-CEO’s. To find the way to keep a family improving Bruce turned to the world of business.

Your family needs a weekly board meeting with all the shareholders present. Sound cold and clinical? Wrong.1

Bruce’s wife says it’s one of the best things they’ve done to make their own family life happier.

It’s not complicated and it only takes 20 minutes, once a week.

Here’s Bruce:

We basically ask three questions. What worked well this week, what didn’t work well this week and what will we agree to work on in the week ahead?

And if the kids meet the goal, they get to help pick a reward. And if they don’t, they get to help pick a punishment. They don’t do it without us, but we all do it in consultation.

Bruce did a TED talk explaining in detail how techniques from the business world, like meetings, can improve our families

(For more on how to raise happy kids, click here.)

So your family has a mission, a shared history and you’re meeting regularly. This is great because everyone is talking, which is crucial.

But what inevitably comes with talking a lot? Arguing. It’s normal and natural and that’s okay.

But you have to have rules so it isn’t a path to hurt feelings and homicide investigations. What’s the proper way to argue?

4) How To Fight Right

Bruce wanted to find the best way to resolve disputes — so he didn’t turn to books about families, he turned to a pro.

Bill Ury is co-founder of the Project on Negotiation at Harvard Law School and co-author of the classic, Getting To Yes,

What can one of the best negotiators teach families about resolving those inevitable everyday squabbles of life?

Bruce outlines three key steps:

Number one, “Separate everybody.” In negotiation speak; this is “Go to the balcony.” Take a moment where you look back on the fight as if it were on a stage and you’re on the balcony and say “Okay, what’s really going on here?” This reduces emotions like anger.

Second, we ask our kids to come up with three alternatives. In negotiation speak; this is “Expand the pie before you divide the pie.”

Bruce admits this part can be tricky. But you need to make it clear nobody is leaving the table until there are three options.

The third stage is “Bring people back together.” In negotiation speak; this is “Build the golden bridge of the future.”

Have the kids pick one of the three that they like best. What’s key is that the children created the alternatives and agreed on the best solution.

As Bruce explains in his book, when kids get a say, it works out better for everyone. Don’t be a dictator unless you have to.

(To learn how how you can resolve conflict with lessons from FBI hostage negotiators, click here.)

So mission statements, family meetings and fighting right are great — but what keeps a family together day to day?

5) Have Family Dinner Together… Any Time Of The Day

Research shows having dinner as a family makes a huge difference in children’s lives.

As Bruce writes in his book, The Secrets of Happy Families:

A recent wave of research shows that children who eat dinner with their families are less likely to drink, smoke, do drugs, get pregnant, commit suicide, and develop eating disorders. Additional research found that children who enjoy family meals have larger vocabularies, better manners, healthier diets, and higher self-esteem. The most comprehensive survey done on this topic, a University of Michigan report that examined how American children spent their time between 1981 and 1997, discovered that the amount of time children spent eating meals at home was the single biggest predictor of better academic achievement and fewer behavioral problems. Mealtime was more influential than time spent in school, studying, attending religious services, or playing sports.

I know what many of you are thinking: Our schedules are crazy. It’s too hard to get everyone together. We can’t do it every night.

And that’s 100% okay. “Dinner” isn’t the important part. All that matters is that time together, whenever it is.

And it doesn’t even have to be that much time. How much real conversation happens at family dinner? 10 minutes.

As Bruce likes to say, the rest of the talking is “Take your elbows off the table” and “Please pass the ketchup.”

What’s the best way to make use of those 10 minutes? Here’s Bruce:

So number one, the first big thing to be aware of is that parents do two-thirds of the talking in that ten minutes. And that’s a problem.

So your first goal should be to flip that and let the kids do more of the talking. So that would be issue number one.

Number two, I would say a great thing to do in that ten minutes is to try to teach your kid a new word every day. There’s a tremendous amount of evidence out there that one of the biggest determinants of success in school has to do with the size of vocabulary.

(For more research-based parenting techniques, click here.)

Mission statements, family history, meetings, fighting right, dinners… That’s a lot to do. Heck, it’s a lot to just remember.

What’s Bruce’s recommendation to the family that’s already strapped for time? What overarching theme can we see in all of these tips?

6) Just Try

Ask anyone if they want to make their family happier and, of course, they’ll say yes.

Then ask how many hours they’ve actively invested in that goal over the past month. I’m guessing the reply is going to be “Ummmmm…”

Reading about improving your family is only the first step. But the second step isn’t all that much harder: Try.

Here’s Bruce:

We know if we want to improve in our career, we have to work at it. And yet, we don’t do that with our family life. We sort of say “It’s the end of the line, they’ll always be there. It’s always going to be stressful. I’ll just deal.” Well, no.

If we work with our families and take small steps to try and make them better, we actually can make our families happier. And in the process, we can make every member of our family happier. So what’s the secret to a happy family? Try.

And the research backs Bruce up.

Studies show improving any relationship is as easy as actively showing interest in the other person or sharing with them.

In fact, pretending time with your romantic partner is a first date makes it more enjoyable for you and for them. Why?

On first dates we make an effort. And that’s the secret here too: don’t just think about it, invest time and energy.

(For three of the most counterintuitive lessons on being a great parent, clickhere.)

So how do we tie all this together?

Sum Up

Here are Bruce’s 6 tips:

  1. Create A Family Mission Statement
  2. Share Your Family History
  3. Hold Weekly Family Meetings
  4. Fight Right
  5. Have Family Dinner Together… Any Time Of The Day
  6. Just Try2

Families come in all different shapes and sizes these days and the world moves a lot faster than it once did. But don’t fret.

Research shows that anyone can have a happy family.

Via 100 Simple Secrets of Happy Families:

Researchers have found that a loving family life can be created among any group of people. Long-term studies comparing adopted children to children raised by their biological parents find little difference in the children’s feelings on family life, and no difference in their ability to enjoy good relationships with peers.

– Neiheiser 2001

Share this post with your family. Start a conversation. Hold that first family meeting. And more than anything else: Try.

A PDF of my extended interview with Bruce will be in my next weekly email. In it he’ll explain:

  1. The magic phrase that parents can use to increase children’s self-esteem.
  2. The thing dads do that make kids smarter — which moms need to know.

To get the PDF join over 100,000 readers who receive my free weekly update. Sign up here.

Related posts:

How To Raise Happy Kids – 10 Steps Backed By Science

Good Parenting Skills: 7 Research-Backed Ways to Raise Kids Right

How To Have A Happy Family – 7 Tips Backed By Research

This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

Ohio State Marching Band Pays Tribute to The Simpsons and Game of Thrones

Posted: 08 Sep 2014 10:26 AM PDT

If you think walking and whistling is hard, wait until you see what the Ohio State University marching band can do.

During the half time show at OSU’s football game against Virginia Tech, the band played a montage of theme songs from classic television shows like MASH, The Munsters and Dragnet. Video from Lantern TV shows band members marching in a formation that showcases iconic images from television history, like a helicopter, the Munsters’ pet hand, Thing, and even the Batmobile from the ’60s television version of the Batman franchise.

To make the project more appealing to the audience at the game (and not just their parents), the band also included homages to The Office, Game of Thrones and The Simpsons, topped off with an impressive Bart Simpson skateboarding across the football field.

This isn’t the fist time the OSU band has entertained the crowd with an impressive tribute. Last year, they re-created some Disney classics on the field and their homage to Michael Jackson was quite memorable.

MORE: Little Kid Dancing at a Wedding Totally Steals the Spotlight From the Bride

MORE: The Simpsons Are Heading to China

This Is How Many Calories You’d Eat With Olive Garden’s Pasta Pass

Posted: 08 Sep 2014 10:21 AM PDT

It sounds like a good deal: for $100 you can eat all the pasta, salad and bread you want at Olive Garden for 49 straight days. But taking advantage of the offer has its downsides—perhaps up to 113,190 of them. That’s the number of calories you would likely consume if you were to have a standard dinner nightly at the restaurant for the 7-week period of the offer. That works out to eating about 2,100 calories for dinner alone. Americans’ average total daily caloric intake is between 1,800 for women and 2,600 for men, according to recent government data.

TIME’s estimate assumes you’re eating a fairly standard Olive Garden dinner: a chicken Caesar salad, one order of bread sticks, a spaghetti and sausage entree and a Coke to wash it all down. All of those items are included in the offer, and this estimate assumes you don’t continue to scarf down food after the first serving of each item (the offer is technically “all you can eat”).

“No matter how much we talk about epidemic obesity and diabetes, we have not yet caught up with the times,” says Dr. David Katz, director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center and editor of a journal on childhood obesity. “The last thing we need is more refined pasta at no extra charge. It seems like a great deal until the money you saved goes to the endocrinologist.”

Of course, there are less caloric dinner options at Olive Garden. For instance, you would consume 1,670 calories per meal if you subbed in seafood alfredo instead of the sausage pasta—and you could shave off even more if you skipped the Coke.

But, says Katz, that’s beside the point. “Everybody overeats at an all you can eat buffet. You’re missing out the bargain if you don’t eat all you can eat,” Katz says.

Recent research has suggested that the caloric content of many sit-down restaurant chains makes them just as unhealthy as their fast food counterparts. The average size of a meal at these restaurants, according to the study, is 1,400 calories.

0 comments:

Post a Comment