Saturday, January 21, 2017
Temperate language has traditionally been considered a social virtue, but new research suggests that people who refrain from swearing are often the most devious and dishonest.
Those fond of effing and blinding, by contrast, are likely to be the most honest in any given group, according to academics at the University of Cambridge.
The study describes how 276 participants were asked to list their favourite swear words in order to gauge how fond they were of turning the air blue.
They were then given a survey asking them to agree or disagree with statements such as “I never lie” and “all my habits are good” to assess their propensity for dishonesty.
The researchers found that the most honest in the group were also the biggest swearers.
“At least people who swear are telling you what they really think”
Dr David Stillwell, one of the study's authors, said the correlation may stem from the constraints imposed by social convention.
“If you’re trying to follow the social norms rather than saying what you think, you are saying what people want to hear,” he said.
“In that respect you are not being very honest.
“We did not look at extreme dishonesty such as fraud, so from that experiment it’s an open question as to whether there would be a link.”
However, he said the findings corroborate research in the US which links states with a high level of swearing to low levels of honesty-related crime.
States such as New Jersey, where a lot of people use bad language, were found to rank highly on the State Integrity Index, whereas Utah and other places where bad language is a relative rarity saw higher levels of fraud or similar offences.
People who regularly posted short, simple messages on Facebook were found to be the least likely to swear, but also more dishonest
“At least people who swear are telling you what they really think,” said Dr Stillwell.
“Although if people said what they think all the time, would that really be a good thing?”
The researchers also examined the Facebook postings of 75,000 people, where a similar correlation was observed.
People who regularly posted short, simple messages were the least likely to swear.
Dr Sillwell said simple statements are already known to be associated with dishonesty, because liars find it hard to make up complicated sentences.
However, more nuanced language, evidenced by words such as “but” and “however”, as well as use of pronouns which associate the speaker with his or her statement, are commonly agreed to indicate honesty.
In the Facebook analysis, people who spoke in this style were also more likely to swear.
The study was published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.
Sitting for more than 10 hours a day means you are biologically eight years older, a study found.
Those who sat for extended periods and got little exercise had cells that were biologically older than the cells of people who moved around.
Researchers from the University of California at San Diego studied almost 1,500 women ages 64 to 95.
They found those who remained seated for more than 10 hours and completed less than 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day were most affected.
These women had shorter telomeres — tiny protective caps found on the ends of DNA strands that act like the plastic tips of shoelaces.
Telomeres guard against deterioration and progressively shorten and fray with age. Shortened telomeres are associated with cardiovascular disease, diabetes and major cancers.
Significantly, the shortening process can be accelerated by lifestyle factors such as obesity and smoking.
Study leader Dr. Aladdin Shadyab said people who spend long hours sitting at desks or in chairs at home could mitigate some of the damage by exercising.
He said, “Our study found cells age faster with a sedentary lifestyle.”
“Chronological age doesn’t always match biological age.”
“We found that women who sat longer did not have shorter telomere length if they exercised for at least 30 minutes a day.”
“Discussions about the benefits of exercise should start when we are young, and physical activity should continue to be part of our daily lives as we get older, even at 80 years old.”
National United Kingdom guidelines suggest adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise each week.
Health chiefs suggest this can be achieved by doing 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five days a week.
They also advise: “All adults should minimize the amount of time spent being sedentary (sitting) for extended periods.”
Shadyab said his research team is the first to objectively measure how the combination of sedentary time and exercise can impact the aging of telomeres.
The participants completed questionnaires and wore an accelerometer on their right hip for seven consecutive days during waking and sleeping hours to track their movements.
The findings were published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
Future studies will examine how exercise relates to telomere length in younger people and men.
Previous studies have suggested men who adopt a sedentary lifestyle may be less at risk of disease than women.
He was the IRA commander who took arms against the British only to shake the hands of Queen Elizabeth as a political leader in Northern Ireland.
A former butcher from the Bogside in Derry, a man of action during the street fighting of the 1970s, he ended up toasting the Queen at Windsor Castle after a long career of peace-making.
The decision by Martin McGuinness to bow out of frontline politics in the North was not surprising but is a seismic event.
His journey from the streets of the Bogside to the office of Deputy First Minister in Stormont, the traditional home of Ulster Unionism, was by any standard, remarkable, as described by former President Mary McAleese last night.
Describing his departure from the political arena as “desperately sad”, Ms McAleese said McGuinness’ retirement represented a huge loss to politics in the North.
In 1972, the thought of the British monarch greeting the man who helped lead the Provisionals in a bloody campaign against British rule in Northern Ireland would have been unbelievable.
He turned to republicanism after witnessing the 1960s government repression of the nationalist community and its failure to prevent the escalating violence that destroyed the civil rights movement.
When the Provisional IRA began to emerge (albeit in small numbers) in key nationalist areas in 1969 and 1970, McGuinness joined and rose through its newly formed ranks.
In 1971, he became the 21-year-old commander of “Free Derry” and appeared at a Provisional IRA press conference where the new leadership offered to talk peace.
The Saville Inquiry into Bloody Sunday said he “probably” carried a sub-machine gun during the massacre of 14 unarmed civil rights protesters by soldiers in Derry.
Martin McGuinness in the 1980s — he was in contact with British intelligence indirectly during the hunger strikes in the early 1980s
Unlike others, McGuinness never denied his past. He admitted to being second-in-command of the IRA that day.
In 1973 he was convicted by the Republic of Ireland’s Special Criminal Court after being arrested near a car containing explosives and ammunition.
At his 1973 conviction, McGuinness said: “We have fought against the killing of our people. I am a member of Óglaigh na hÉireann (IRA) and very, very proud of it.”
After his release, and another conviction in the Republic for IRA membership, he became increasingly prominent in Sinn Fein, eventually becoming its best known face after Gerry Adams.
He was in contact with British intelligence indirectly during the hunger strikes in the early 1980s, and again in the early 1990s.
He became MP for Mid Ulster in 1997 but in line with Sinn Fein’s abstentionist policy from Westminster, he took his expenses but not the seat.
McGuinness was Sinn Fein’s chief negotiator of the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement which ended violence, secured IRA arms decommissioning in 2005 and shared government with former enemies in Belfast as deputy first minister.
Following election to the new Northern Ireland Assembly, Sinn Fein nominated McGuinness to become education minister. That sparked fury from some unionists, though Mr McGuinness insisted he would govern for all children.
Against the odds, McGuinness and the great enemy of republicanism Ian Paisley forged a decent working relationship and a warm bond developed between the two men.
They were dubbed “the Chuckle Brothers” but it is said the two never shook hands.
In December 2007, while visiting US president George W Bush at the White House with Paisley, McGuinness said: “Up until the 26th of March this year, Ian Paisley and I never had a conversation about anything — not even about the weather — and now we have worked very closely together over the last seven months and there’s been no angry words between us “This shows we are set for a new course.”
Martin McGuinness enjoying an ice cream alongside Sinn Féin leader and Gerry Adams.
The Good Friday Agreement proved difficult to implement and was followed by the St Andrew’s Agreement in 2006.
Sinn Fein ambitions such as a bill of rights for Northern Ireland and an Irish language act are still unfulfilled.
After Paisley’s retirement, McGuinness endured a much tougher time with subsequent DUP leaders, Peter Robinson and more recently Arlene Foster at the top of the power-sharing executive in Stormont.
He unsuccessfully ran to be Irish President in 2011, but it was his attack on fellow candidate Sean Gallagher in a key television debate which saw the latter’s campaign capitulate and Michael D Higgins elected.
His IRA past dogged him throughout the campaign with then minister Phil Hogan asking the question: “Do we really want a terrorist in the Áras?”
Now in 2017, McGuinness has had his political journey ended by serious illness.
This became evident to most only 10 days ago when he resigned his position as deputy first minister over the Renewable Housing Incentive scandal.
The frail figure and weak voice that came out of our television screens shocked many who saw McGuinness, the icon, so familiar to so many for so long, diminished so dramatically.
Under the power-sharing arrangements, he took the first minister with him, ending a decade of testy coalition government with the DUP and forcing an election.
But his refusal at that stage to clarify his own intentions led many to conclude his time was coming to an end.
He confirmed those suspicions last night.
Martin McGuinness sharing a joke with former enemy Ian Paisely, with whom he worked closedly for years
“Last year, Gerry Adams and I confirmed that we had a plan in place for transition to a new leadership. For my part, it was my intention to step aside in May this year which would have marked 10 years since I entered government with Ian Paisley as joint leader of the northern Executive.
"Unfortunately, my health and the current crisis have overtaken this time-frame and I am stepping down from my role to make way for a new leader of Sinn Féin in the North,” he said.
He said his “obvious health issues” have forced him to be open and honest with his friends and colleagues in Sinn Féin, with the electorate of Foyle.
“Unfortunately, I am not physically able to continue in my current role and have therefore decided to make way for a new leader. This election is the right time for me to move aside so I will not seek re-election to the Assembly,” he said.
So as he exits stage left, McGuinness’ legacy will loom large over not just republicanism but Northern Ireland politics in general.
His rejection of the bomb in favour of the ballot was truly significant and his ability to work with bitter enemies like Paisley and Robinson illustrates the extent of his abilities.
Martin McGuinnessdoing what would have once been unthinkable, shaking hands with Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II.
He retires without his dream of a united Ireland being fulfilled during his tenure and strong doubts remain among some republicans about what they have gained through entering Stormont.
But his contribution to peace on this island will be long remembered.
Thursday, January 19, 2017
These changes in brain connectivity may be responsible for a patient’s long-term recovery from mental illness.
If you can change the way you think, you can change your brain.
That’s the conclusion of a new study, which finds that challenging unhealthy thought patterns with the help of a therapist can lead to measurable changes in brain activity.
In the study, psychologists at King’s College London show that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy strengthens certain healthy brain connections in patients with psychosis. This heightened connectivity was associated with long-term reductions in psychotic symptoms and recovery eight years later, according to the findings, which were published online on Tuesday in the Journal: Translational Psychiatry.
“Over six months of therapy, we found that connections between certain key brain regions became stronger,” Dr. Liam Mason, a clinical psychologist at King’s College and the study’s lead author, told The Huffington Post in an email. “What we are really excited about here is that these stronger connections lead to long-term improvements in people’s symptoms and overall recovery across the eight years that we followed them up.”
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT is a psychotherapy technique that was developed in the ‘70s and is commonly practiced today. CBT targets depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses by helping patients to identify dysfunctional thought patterns and beliefs, and ultimately to replace them with healthy ones.
In the case of schizophrenia and psychosis, CBT can help patients reframe their thinking around unusual perceptions or paranoid thoughts ― for instance, the belief that others are out to get them.
“CBT helps people learn new ways of thinking about and responding to their difficulties,” Mason said. “What we think makes it effective is that people can take the tools they have learned and practiced in therapy, and then continue to use them long after the therapy has ended.”
Rewriting Beliefs, Rewiring The Brain
In rewriting their deeply-ingrained thought patterns, it seems that patients also quite literally rewire their brains.
In a previous study, Mason and his team showed in a previous study that psychosis patients who received CBT had stronger connections between brain regions involved in accurate processing of social threats. The new findings reveal that these changes are enduring, and they may be critical to long-term recovery.
In the original study, patients with psychosis underwent brain imaging both before and after three months of CBT. The patients’ brains were scanned while they looked at images of faces expressing different emotions. After undergoing CBT, the patients showed marked increases in brain activity. Specifically, the brain scans showed heightened connections between the amygdala, the brain region involved in fear and threat processing, and the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for reasoning and thinking rationally ― suggesting that the patients had an improved ability to accurately perceive social threats.
“We think that this change may be important in allowing people to consciously re-think immediate emotional reactions,” Mason said.
For their new research, Mason and his colleagues followed 15 of the original study participants, tracking their health over the course of eight years using medical records. At the end of the eight years, the participants also answered questions about their overall recovery and well-being.
The researchers found that heightened connectivity between the amygdala and prefrontal cortex was associated with long-term recovery from psychosis. The exciting finding marks the first time scientists have been able to demonstrate that brain changes resulting from psychotherapy may be responsible for long-term recovery from mental illness.
Overcoming Psychiatry’s “Brain Bias”
There’s a good chance that similar brain changes also occur in CBT patients being treated for anxiety and depression, Mason said.
“There is research showing that some of the same connections may also be strengthened by CBT for anxiety disorders,” he explained.
The findings challenge the “brain bias” in psychiatry, an institutional focus on physical brain differences over psychological factors in mental illness. Thanks to this common bias, many psychiatrists are prone to recommending medication to their clients rather than psychological treatments such as CBT.
“Psychological therapy can lead to changes in the mechanics of the brain,” Mason said. “This is especially important for conditions like psychosis which have traditionally been viewed as ‘brain diseases’ that require medication or even surgery.”
“This research challenges the notion that the existence of physical brain differences in mental health disorders somehow makes psychological factors or treatments less important,” Mason added in a statement.
There is a prison called Mounjoy where inmates have no bars on their windows, have keys to their own rooms and can lock themselves in when they like. Breakfast is served in the morning and education classes start at 9am. There are classes offering the skills for fabrics, woodwork, computers and various other trades. Aside from good standard breakfast fare, there is a varied menu for dinner. On Sunday there are specials like roast chicken and vegetables, with a dessert of fruit and ice cream. After evening tea, there is access to a library, a recreation hall, table tennis and a gym. Bedtime rolls around at 9. 30pm. You can also write as many letters as you like and phone your solicitor as much as you want. Two visits a week are allowed and one personal phone call. There is also a counsellor at hand should you find the system too demanding. There is no common violence against residents by staff. To reside in Mounty prison, you must have committed at least one crime, be an adult and your religion does not matter.
One resident who had resided in this facility had already beaten an 81-year-old pensioner to death for the princely sum of €45 back in the year 2000. It seems the facilities may not have been up to his standard either for he decided to escape and did.
There was another prison in Galway called St. Josephs Industrial and Reformatory Institution where inmates had bars on their windows, and were warehoused in dormitories on lockdown every night by 9pm. Porridge was served every morning, and ‘special education’ started at 9am which was little or no education at all. There was no woodwork or other classes only religious ones; there was no library or gym. Sunday was as special as Monday and what barely edible food you could not hold down was fed to the obese pigs grunting expectantly nearby. If found to be wanting in your behaviour, you could be locked in a cell for twenty four hours on water and gruel and beaten (you were going to get beaten one way or the other anyway). You could write letters but these were opened by the wardens dressed up as Christian Brothers, whether they were going out or coming in. There were no phone calls allowed, visits from family were rare and at the discretion of the head warden; common violence was used against the residents by the wardens only and was seen as ordinary. To reside there, you must have been a child not less than 6 years old and not older than sixteen years old, have committed no crime and must be a Catholic only. All of these terms and conditions came from just their and the Government's official rule book.
Mountjoy Prison in Dublin is still open for business today and for the foreseeable future, where St Josephs Industrial Industrial for children, where I resided for ten years, is not, and consigned mercifully to the past. The last one of its kind closed in 1997.
Wednesday, January 18, 2017
"Now, let us look at these fellows. Here were eleven coloured men, penned up in the house. Put yourselves in their place. Make yourselves coloured for a little while. It won’t hurt, you can wash it off later. They can’t, but you can; just make yourself black men for a little while; long enough, gentlemen, to judge them, and before any of you would want to be judged, you would want your juror to put himself in your place. That is all I ask in this case, gentlemen. They were black, and they knew the history of the black.
Our friend makes fun of Dr. Sweet and Henry Sweet talking these things all over in the short space of two months. Well, gentlemen, let me tell you something, that isn’t evidence. This is just theory. This is just theory, and nothing else. I should imagine that the only thing that two or three coloured people talk of when they get together is race. I imagine that they can’t rub colour off their face or rub it out of their minds. I imagine that is it with them always. I imagine that the stories of lynching’s, the stories of murders, the stories of oppression is a topic of constant conversation. I imagine that everything that appears in the newspapers on this subject is carried from one to another until every man knows what others know, upon the topic which is the most important of all to their lives.
What do you think about it? Suppose you were black. Do you think you would forget it even in your dreams? Or would you have black dreams? Suppose you had to watch every point of contact with your neighbour and remember your colour, and you knew your children were growing up under this handicap. Do you suppose you would think of anything else?
Well, gentlemen, I imagine that a coloured man would think of that before he would think of where he could get bootleg whiskey, even. Do you suppose this boy coming in here didn’t know all about the conditions, and did not learn all about them? Did he not know about Detroit? Do you suppose he hadn’t read the story of his race? He is intelligent. He goes to school. He would have been a graduate now, except for this long hesitation, when he is waiting to see whether he goes back to college or goes to jail. Do you suppose that black students and teachers are discussing it?
***Extract from Clarence Darrow's closing defence speech in the Henry Sweet trial, who was defending a man charged with the murder of another when a mob had surrounded his house. Henry Sweet was an African American and the year was 1926
“Whoever can conquer the street will one day conquer the state, for every form of power politics and any dictatorship-run state has its roots in the street.”
Joseph Goebbels: (29 October 1897 – 1 May 1945)Head of enlightenment and Propaganda for the Nazi Government
“Faith moves mountains, but only knowledge moves them to the right place”
“The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly - it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over again”
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”
“Man is an animal. Here a beast of prey, there a house pet, but always an animal.”
“It would not be impossible to prove with sufficient repetition and a psychological understanding of the people concerned that a square is in fact a circle. They are mere words, and words can be molded until they clothe ideas and disguise.
“Success is the important thing. Propaganda is not a matter for average minds, but rather a matter for practitioners. It is not supposed to be lovely or theoretically correct. I do not care if I give wonderful, aesthetically elegant speeches, or speak so that women can cry. The point of a political speech is to persuade of what we think is right. I speak differently in the provinces than I do in Berlin, and when I speak in Bayreuth, I say different things than I do in Pharos Hall. That is a matter of practice to deceive not of theory. We do not want to be a movement of straw brains, but rather a movement that can conquer the broad masses. Propaganda should be popular and not intellectually pleasing. It is not the task of propaganda to discover intellectual truths.”
Poor Dublin children scavenging through rubble after the bombing.
Over a century has passed since Ireland’s monumental 1916 Easter Uprising took place on the streets of Dublin, and yet, the city still bears many of the scars as a result of the fighting between the Irish and British.
Expertise from author and Irish military historian Paul O’Brien, and Dr Joanna Brück, a reader in archeaology at University of Bristol and former senior lecturer at UCD’s School of Archaeology, shows the physical scars left by the 1916 Rising in Dublin - the hub of the rebellion.
The uprising began on Easter Monday, April 24, 1916. It was on that day that seven Irishmen proclaimed the establishment of the Irish Republic, with themselves as its government, and attempted to break away from British rule.
Involved were the Irish Volunteers, led by Pádraig Pearse, the much smaller Irish Citizen Army, led by James Connolly, and members of Cumann na mBan.
The Irish force numbered around 1,600 people and occupied buildings around Dublin’s city center, buildings that still hold the physical proof of the fighting that is over a century passed.
The week-long uprising cost about 1,500 lives - mostly civilian - and left another 2,000 people wounded. It also left its mark upon many spots around Dublin which are still palpable today.
Scenes from the Easter Rising.
Mount Street bridge and Northumberland Road
O’Brien says that, “One of the biggest battles of the rising happened on that road.
“25 Northumberland Road was occupied by Lt Michael Malone of the Irish Volunteers. The schoolhouse was occupied by another group of volunteers as well.”
The old schoolhouse is still standing today, but has since been converted into The Schoolhouse hotel and restaurant.
The battle there occurred when members of the British 59th North Midlands Division ran into 17 volunteers who were positioned on that street. 214 British soldiers met their deaths.
“They had them in cross fire – the British didn’t know what direction they were coming from or what position the Irish had,” explained O’Brien. “That battlefield is still there bar one building that was burnt down and is now an office block.”
St. James Hospital
While most of the hospital in Dublin 8 today is new, the area around it was the site of “fierce battles,” according to O’Brien.
“It was known as the South Dublin Union. It was a workhouse for the impoverished people. A man called Eamonn Ceannt was one of the Irish Volunteers and occupied the workhouse.
“The battlefield and the majority of the buildings are still there within the modern complex. You can see the nurse’s home; the convent is still there,” said O’Brien.
The Four Courts Area
“A lot of it was damaged or destroyed in the civil war – in relation to 1916, many battles took place in streets and alleyways behind the Four Courts,” said O’Brien. The area now is mostly new and rebuilt.
“Urban combat was very new to the British Army, and they had to adapt very quickly to what was happening in Dublin,” said O’Brien.
"One of the biggest battles in the area happened at North King St, and involved the Irish Volunteers and the British South Staffordshire regiment. The army suffered heavy casualties at that spot."
While many of the houses there were knocked down, some originals still remain. The Irish Volunteers occupied a public house at the junction of North King St called Reilly’s which is still standing, but under a different name. Similarly, the Capuchin hall, where Comdt Edward Daly set up his headquarters, is also standing.
Also near the Four Courts was a medical mission, where a group of British lancers took shelter after being intercepted making their way up the quays. This building still stands today, but “The whole front of that building is peppered with bullet holes.”
The Four Courts Building on the River Liffey in Dublin as it stands now.
St. Stephen’s Green
Now, a bustling hub for Dublin City, St. Stephen’s Green was used to dig trenches during 1916.
“The rebels dug trenches, probably at the four entranceways and other places – the written sources aren’t very specific about where they were.” Dr. Brück added that with it being a Victorian park, the Irish Citizens Army takeover of the area was quite symbolic.
“The rebels took St Stephen’s Green over on Easter Monday,” said Dr Brück. “There has been debate over whether it was a strategically good location to take over or not. Some would say it was stupid to take over Stephen’s Green as it was looked over by different buildings and they didn’t have enough men to take control of buildings overlooking the green. Others would say there is a water source so that was good.”
"The rebels were led by Michael Mallin and Countess Markievicz - there is a limestone bust of Markievicz in the park today. There, they dug trenches and put barricades up around entrances and smaller entrances in the park, and also commandeered passing vehicles to help them in their task," said Dr Brück.
O’Brien added that “one photograph taken of the trenches for a newspaper at the time showed them facing straight down Dawson St.”
Today, you can see pock-marks and bullet holes on the Fusilier’s arch at the entrance to St Stephen’s Green.
Still a popular spot in Dublin today, The Shelbourne Hotel became a takeover spot for British forces beginning on Easter Monday in 1916. At first light, they began shooting at the rebels from the windows of the hotel.
The soldiers barricaded downstairs in the Shelbourne, and some guests were wounded by fire from the rebels in the park. The guests were moved to the rear of the building to avoid more injury.
While the inside has since been refurbished, the outside of The Shelbourne remains the same as it was back then
Royal College of Surgeons
“The buildings they took over were very symbolic,” said Dr Brück, "with this spot being no exception. Irish rebels retreated to here and remained there until they surrendered on the Sunday. The masonry outside the college today still bears the pockmarks of bullets exchanged between the Irish and British."
Members of the Irish Republican Army during the 1916 Easter Rising.
GPO (General Post Office)
This landmark on O’Connell Street, then called Sackville Street, served as headquarters for the Irish Volunteers during the Uprising. Though it was burned down during the week of rebellion, its remaining facade bears the scars of bullet holes still visible today.
GPO during the Easter Rising.
Kerry O’ Shea