Aside

The picture in Brazil and Mexico, the world’s two largest Catholic nations, tells a thousand words. According to Brazil’s 2010 census, 65 percent of the population is Catholic, down from over 90 percent in 1970. Similarly, between 2000 and 2010, the percentage of Mexicans that identify as Catholic dropped from 88 to less than 83 — the largest fall recorded to date. If these trends persist, by 2025 about 50 percent of all Latin Americans will be Catholic, down from approximately 70 percent today. Such a decline would offset any gains the church might make in its new continent of hope, Africa … [link]

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I blame Bollywood

In the recent debate over the new sexual assault law, some male members of the Parliament expressed utter incomprehension at terms such as "stalking" and "voyeurism."

"If a boy doesn’t follow a girl," one said, "how can romance happen?" [link]

There’s an app for that

“Before, you would call for the booty,” says the How to be a Player star, who now has two children with his wife of twelve years. “Now, people don’t even talk — they just text the booty.” His grin turns to a look of pained concern; his loud gold Def Jam blazer has been replaced by a steely gray safari shirt. “[P]eople don’t communicate as much as they used to.” [link]

Calgon, take me away!

In 2006, the accounting firm Ernst & Young did an internal study of its employees and found that for each additional 10 hours of vacation employees took, their year-end performance ratings from supervisors (on a scale of one to five) improved by 8 percent. Frequent vacationers were also significantly less likely to leave the firm. [cite]

In God We Trust

So the company tried an A/B split, and found that boxes emblazoned with ATHEIST tape were 10 times more likely to go missing in the USPS and took an average of three days longer than their generic equivalents. They’ve stopped using the ATHEIST packing tape. [link]

Details, including significance testing, available on the website of the Atheist shoe company

A few bad apples

We tracked every accused Los Angeles priest found in those files since 1932. According to our analysis, over that time, 63 percent of the parishes in Los Angeles have had at least one priest on staff who’d been accused of sexual abuse. We also found some parishes had many more, like St. Alphonsus, which had eight; and Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, which had seven. At least 15 other parishes have had five or six accused priests. And our analysis showed many abusive priests served in Latino communities.

That’s the pattern. That the poorer parishes, the Latino parishes, Latinos are much more reluctant to buck a priest. [link]

The best medicine

[The entire article is worth reading, I have assembled a few snippets in sequence but deleted a good deal of the context surrounding it which is important]

“I do not find rest at night,” he answers when I ask why he has come to the tent. His sleep, it turns out, is broken by nightmares that replay his ten months of torture in Syrian prisons. He raises his arms to demonstrate how he was strung up before being beaten; he nods towards his nipples and genitals to show where the electric current was attached.

If we can implement our program in Jordan, there will be weeks of teaching self-care skills in small-mind body groups …Right then, I only had a few moments, though.

“I want you to laugh like this,” I show him, laughing in explosive barks, my stomach muscles contracting. He looks at me as if I am mad. “I am a bit crazy,” I assure him, “but it’s an experiment. Will you try?”

“Nothing is funny to me anymore. How can I do this? And why?”

“Force it,” I say. “The torturers had you for ten months, and they still have you now, every night and during the day too. You have to see you can break the pattern.”

We begin together, bent at the waist, our contracting bellies forcing the laughter through our throats. “More,” I shout, “push it.”

“How do you feel Hamid?”

He said, “More relaxed, at this moment.” [link]

Solitary poor nasty brutish and short

Work in social genomics reveals that our personal histories of social connection or loneliness, for instance, alter how our genes are expressed within the cells of our immune system. When you share a smile or laugh with someone face to face, a discernible synchrony emerges between you, as your gestures and biochemistries, even your respective neural firings, come to mirror each other. It’s micro-moments like these, in which a wave of good feeling rolls through two brains and bodies at once, that build your capacity to empathize as well as to improve your health. If you don’t regularly exercise this capacity, it withers.

In short, the more attuned to others you become, the healthier you become, and vice versa. This mutual influence also explains how a lack of positive social contact diminishes people. Your heart’s capacity for friendship also obeys the biological law of “use it or lose it.” If you don’t regularly exercise your ability to connect face to face, you’ll eventually find yourself lacking some of the basic biological capacity to do so. [link]