sisyphus went for candy, eugene atget photos, schlafly’s malicious ignorance

To make one happy, make one busy

In Greek mythology, the gods punished Sisyphus by condemning him to roll a rock up a steep hill for eternity. But he was probably better off than if they’d condemned him to sit and stare into space until the end of time, conclude the authors of a new study on keeping busy. They found that people who have something to do, even something pointless, are happier than people who sit idly.

[  ]…For the study, volunteers completed a survey, then had to wait 15 minutes before the next survey would be ready. They could drop off the completed survey at a nearby location and wait out the remaining time or drop it off at a location farther away, where walking back and forth would keep them busy for the 15 minutes. Either way, they would receive a candy when they handed in their survey. Volunteers who chose to stay busy by going to the faraway location were found to be happier than those who chose to be idle.

Not everyone chose to go to the faraway location. If the candies offered at the two locations were the same, the subjects were more likely to choose to stay idle. But if the candies offered at the two locations were different, they were more likely to choose the far location—because they could make up a justification for the trip, Hsee and his colleagues say. The research is published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

That’s all it takes is some candy. Maybe the professor has discovered that humans make excellent lab rats. There are some variables he might consider in the future. How much activity – how tired – were the people who chose to stay and how much does weather effect decisions ( some of us are AC dependent). Since some people would choose to sit around if the rewards were the same that would seem to mean that people are also very reward oriented. Candy and resting for a while. The reseracher may see resting as being idle, but if you need a break you’re actually choosing to do nothing as part of your reward. Too bad he didn’t publish exactly what kind of candy he used. I wouldn’t move for a Snickers, but I’m there for a half pound bag of M&Ms.

porte de choisy zone des fortifications by eugene atget (1856-1927). Atget was a realist French photographer that specialized in documenting the street life and architecture of Paris. His intentions aside some critics have noted a dreamy quality. Even though as this photo demonstrates, his documentation of the everyday life of the city was so real the photos shocked, as though the viewer was actually seeing places and people they saw everyday. He lost some of the detail he would have captured had he used a more modern camera – which was an option at the time – but his old camera, long exposures and grouping gave the photos a special atmosphere, enveloped in a nostalgia that he felt for his subject. He felt that an age was passing – that the small shops and craftsmen would soon be replaced by big department stores and factory made goods.

cité valmy porte d’asnieres chiffonniers by eugene atget. Of Atget’s 1,500 negatives and 8,000 prints (bought by The Museum of Modern Art ,N.Y.) most are of building, streets and allies. This one has a ghost. Photographers do it now on purpose, but the camera Atget used was not very fast. If a subject moved, like the gentleman in the white hat, while the shutter was still open it would produce a ghostly image of where he was positioned before the shutter closed. Maybe she was camera shy, but there is also a woman, seemingly trying to stay out of the scene, to your right. Because of the lighting and low contrast she almost blends into the wall and pile of clothes to the back of her.

fille de la rue asselin by eugene atget. Besides being beautiful I wanted to include this photo because it is one of the few pure portraits Atget did. Atget was married to an actress named Valentine DeLafosse which lasted until she died about a year before he passed away.  An essay on Atget here, Eugène Atget by Greg Fallis and a video slide show – Masters of Photography – Eugéne Atget

Right-Wing Pundit Phyllis Schlafly Decries Government Assistance For ‘Unmarried Moms’ . Think progress sets Schlafly straight, but there is a fundamental problem here of how to see facts and correlations. In Schalfy’s world you have to ignore history completely. Unwed mothers are apparently a phenomenon which started about the time most Americans had a TV set or at least just after JFK was assassinated. Unwed motherhood wasn’t much of an issue in terms of  culture or politics until modern times – though there has always been a religious stigma in western culture – so much for that being a deterrent . In 16th century Europe children were another mouth to feed, but they were also a future contributor to a poor or merchant class family’s labor force. Many religions still encourage child bearing regardless of economic circumstances and discourages modern family planning. In a previous post on welfare I misidentified TANF – what most people still call welfare – as Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). AFDC was replaced by TANF. TANF is a tiny part of the federal budget and covers income assistance (including wage supplements for working poor families); child care; education and job training; transportation; aid to children at risk of abuse and neglect. To collect TANF there are federal work requirements. In addition there are state work requirements. Schlafly and her defenders should know, if they’re at all interested in an honest discussion of helping single mothers, that the income supplement is not for mom, or dad for that matter. The aid is for the children. We could cut the checks directly to the kids, but they have sticky little hands and they’d probably go out and blow it all on gummy bears. I’m not sure how the unwed low income mothers who are working thirty to forty hours a week are supposed to get the extra education or job training they need to move up the economic ladder so they no longer need assistance, but they need to do so within five years of receiving TANF for their children. Because that is the total allotted time anyone can collect income assistance from the feds for their children in a lifetime. What TANF provides is just enough to help provide basic food, shelter and utilities. Perhaps Schlafly sees people living the high life with no motivation to seek better for themselves. If so, fine, provide some data, some proof. Maybe because Schlafly is motivated or blinded by her agenda she cannot see the facts or chooses not to.

We all wish people in general made better choices. If they are friends or family we don’t want them to suffer or be hurt. Most of us hope the same for the masses in general. People that think like Schlafly, who is on wing-nut welfare – selling poorly written and researched books and charging speaking fees to preach to the already converted social-Darwinists – manage to get through life with one giant skip over a fact the rest of us are often too well aware. Despite our best plans and intentions,  despite buying into the nuclear family with children and white picket fence dreams, despite playing by the rules, things go wrong. Things which are outside our power and ability to control. None of these unwed mothers, single fathers, or the working class living from pay check to pay check gave Wall St permission to play with derivatives like drunken gamblers. The great unwashed did not charge two wars and tax cuts to the Chinese credit card. The children of these average citizens did not force banks to engage in predatory lending. Statistics show these people, who Cons like Schlafly have such contempt for, worked harder and more efficiently over the last thirty years and their rewards  far from equaled that of the people they made wealthy.

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