It’s OK, Envy Your Neighbour

Despite what a really old book may imply, envy can be OK. In english the word envy seems to mean one thing but in other languages envy has multiple meanings and thus when thinking about envy we require more nuance. Sure enough, modern thinkers point out that we need to modify our conception of envy to fully articulate what the word means.

It turns out that some forms of envy can make us better people.

Richard Smith, a psychologist at the University of Kentucky who began studying envy in the nineteen-eighties, writes that the feeling typically arises from a combination of two factors. The first is relevance: an envied advantage must be meaningful to us personally. A ballerina’s beautiful dance is unlikely to cause envy in a lawyer, unless she once had professional dancing aspirations of her own. The second is similarity: an envied person must be comparable to us. Even though we’re both writers, I’m unlikely to envy Ernest Hemingway. Aristotle, in describing envy, quotes the saying “potter against potter.” When we admire someone, we do so from a distance. When we envy someone, we picture ourselves in their place. (Smith’s work, in turn, was inspired by a 1984 paper on “social-comparison jealousy,” by the psychologists Peter Salovey and Judith Rodin.)

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Other People’s Poop May Make You Happy

OK, that headline is bit out there but stay with me.

Poop transplants are proving super effective against a bunch of problems some people have with their bodies. Now there’s a field of research looking into why this works and how it can be used to impact our emotions.

Until then I’m going to stick to probiotics to encourage good bacteria growth in my internal ecosystem.

Aroniadis, like a number of researchers who study diseases of the gut, is now looking to a fresh idea that shows much promise—what she calls the ultimate probiotic: human feces.

Scientists are just starting to explore the mysteries of the trillions of microorganisms that inhabit our gut. Some diseases in which the gut’s “microbiome” may play a role are more obvious, like Crohn’s disease or irritable bowel syndrome. But this massive community inside our digestive tract is also thought to influence other more complicated metabolic conditions that are huge public health problems like obesity and diabetes, as well as seemingly unrelated diseases. For example, microbiome research is even a new frontier for understanding autism, as autistic kids have been shown to have abnormal or less diverse intestinal bacteria. There is a well-documented “gut-brain connection,” in the form of what’s called the enteric nervous system, which controls your digestive system but also is deeply linked with your brain—and thus your mood. Researchers are starting to show that this connection means that what’s happening in our guts may be affecting our behavior in ways we can barely even fathom.

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Watch Naomi Klein Talk About Capitalism

Irving K. Barber Learning Centre Lecture presented by the Vancouver Institute. Webcast sponsored by the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre. Naomi Klein is the author of the critically acclaimed #1 international bestsellers, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism and No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies which have each been translated into more than 30 languages. She is a contributing editor for Harper’s Magazine, a reporter for Rolling Stone, and a syndicated columnist for The Nation and The Guardian.

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Iceland Wants to Help Journalists Expose Real Threats

Iceland continues on it’s quest to be the ‘Switzerland of data‘ and is extending its program to do so for journalists. Part of the country’s plan to become a haven for people exposing the immoral and questionable behaviour of powerful people is already in action. Iceland is quickly achieving its goal of not only protecting data but also protecting people who analyze and process that data.

The motivation for Iceland to lead this charge comes out of a first-hand knowledge of how devastating a lack of transparency can be. Iceland’s financial crash of 2008 was catastrophic to the country, and few had answers until Wikileaks began publishing documents the local reporters were legally blocked from airing. The general public, justifiably feeling robbed, saw Wikileaks as the purveyor of important knowledge that they were being denied.

While there is much to do, IMMI has not been without successes. In 2013, IMMI helped pass the Information Act, which helped broaden the public’s access to information as well as source protection, thus nudging some of IMMI’s core goals forward. A few days after our meeting, IMMI joined with other organizations to repeal Iceland’s 75-year-old blasphemy law, making blasphemy no longer an illegal act in the country.

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Eating Less Meat is Getting More Popular

Having a vegetarian or vegan diet can be difficult for some people even though such a diet can make you happier than meat eaters. The message that eating less meat is being heard though – the benefits of a reduced meat diet are huge.

By eating less meat you can: save wildlife, save the environment, live longer, and even help save our forests.

To help people eat less meat (even though it’s already easy) there’s a new movement that people can identify with: reducetarian.

According to Mintel’s report, though, the rise of vacillating, part-time vegetarians who are actively trying to reduce their meat consumption is more significant than the growing number of categorical, self-identifying “vegetarians” or “vegans.” This has led to an evolution on the supermarket shelves—the number of food products carrying a “vegetarian” claim has apparently doubled to 12 percent, while one in eight meat buyers would now consider buying half meat and half vegetable protein across a week’s shopping. Even the less obviously meat-containing products like chocolate or sweets are playing to this growing market, with 11 percent now alleging to be animal-free.

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