The sex origins of the popular barre workout

13 days ago

( CNN) Here’s what I remember about my first barre class: The workout was so grueling it constructed my muscles twitch as I lay on my back, rhythmically thrusting my pelvis to a sensual cover of Rihanna’s “Umbrella.” Beyond the thrusting itself, I was struck by the express of the spandex-clad females beside me, who seemed entirely unamused by the synchronized schwing we performed. All around me, everyone was taking their air-humping very, very seriously.

Barre, a fitness phenomenon based on stretchings and strength-training exercises performed at a ballet barre, has exploded in recent years. The workout is as challenging as it is effective at sculpting women’s bodies — its fanatics are known for being physical overachievers who are already fit but however driven to chisel themselves to perfection.

It’s the “pretty girl” workout, a friend recently told me, with nearly every woman in class contained within Lululemon , no sweatpants in sight. But the moves of the workout itself belie this prim ethos. From the pelvic “tucking, ” in which you roll your groin forward, to the seated ab work, where you sit with legs spread and bent, to the “knee dancing, ” which is what it sounds like, the class can feel like an hour-long rehearsal for sex.

‘Avatar therapy’ aims to help those who hear voices

15 days ago

( CNN) The voices in Keris Myrick’s head are “in the kitchen, ” she says.

She’s not referring to where food is cooked. The word “kitchen, ” she said, is how many black women describe the nape of the neck “where our hair is curly and wavy; some people might use the term ‘kinky.'”

“The hair might appear very pretty on top, but underneath, it could be a frizzy mess — and that’s where the voices reside, ” she said. “They’re not up front bothering me or taking my attention away. They simply hang out in that frizzy place.”

Which countries have the worst drinking cultures?

1 month, 16 days ago

From savouring flavors in France to binge drinking in Australia readers talk about the alcohol culture where they live

How much alcohol is safe to drink? It is a question scientists have been trying to get to the bottom of for centuries, and now a survey exploring drinking advice around the world has found that the answer varies significantly depending on where you live.

In the US, for example, three or four drinkings a day( 42 g for women and 56 g for men) is thought to be safe, but in Sweden that is well over the amount health authorities recommend: 10 g for women and 20 g for men. Whats more, a standard drink in Iceland and the UK is 8g of alcohol, compared to 20 g in Austria.

Government standard drink definition in grams with readers quotes about the countrys drinking culture
Government standard drink definition in grams

Can these fluctuations be attributed to the fact that each place has its unique drinking culture? We asked readers to summarise their countrys stance towards alcohol and the unscientific, we should stress outcomes seem to suggest we might all be tip-off the scale when it is necessary to consuming a safe amount.

South Africa

It is differed, but most people drink socially , not generally to excess, but responsible drinking( not drinking and driving for example) is rare. We should have tighter drinking and driving statutes. Dickon, 40

Spain

In the Spanish equivalent of a greasy spoon, workers stop for brunch with a beer followed by a big brandy then get into their autoes and go back to work. Its the drink-driving that I dont like. Anonymous, 45

Australia

Binge drinking is glorified in Australia, and the focus is not on drinking in moderation or for enjoyment. We should be encouraging alcohol-free days. I am likely not a true representative of the Australian drinking population as I am a very light drinker I drink maybe once a month. Anonymous, 44

New Zealand

There is a big binge-drinking culture among the youth in the country and a huge part of the health budget and policing budget is spent on dealing with drink-driving, collision and emergency services, and other long-term harmful effects of alcohol. We have a robust liquor industry that lobbies the government ferociously to prevent regulation of alcohol marketings. Advertising here has been grudgingly curtailed. Anonymous, 50

Japan

People often go to Izakayas[ Japanese-style pub] after work on Fridays or special occasions with their colleagues. However, alcohol is nearly always drunk here alongside snacks or food, entailing very few people get incredibly drunk. There are some cases of people with alcohol-related problems in this country, but people dont drink alcohol in order to get drunk, but rather to relax.

A
A bar in Tokyo. Photo: Graeme Robertson for the Guardian

Japans alcohol safety guidelines seem approximately around the same as my home country[ the UK ]. However, you need to be 20 years old to buy alcohol in Japan, although unless you seem underage they wont ask you for ID, especially if you seem non-Japanese. Anonymous, 23

Belgium

Beer sold in every frituur[ chip store ], open bottles of wine to help yourself to in supermarkets but drunkenness is socially unacceptable. The guidelines seem fair enough, especially having at least two non-drinking days a week. Elspeth Morlin, 46

France

In France people drink extensively and steadily, but in small divisions. Even though I have find a couple of people drunk, I have never seen any aggressivenes. At a dinner party you are able to ordinarily have an apritif, three glasses of various types of wines and a digestif but all in small quantities. There will also be water on the table. The guidelines in France are sensible, although here there is a tradition of ignoring regulations and laws anyway. The French drink to savour the flavors and to enhance their food. Peter, 62

Italy

In Italy, consuming alcohol revolves around food. So you are either drinking to accompany your snack( wine will always be on the table at an Italian meal ), or you are please give free snacks to soak up your drink when at a bar. So the idea is that you order a drinking at a standardised cost and you are given crisp or other bite-sized food. Or you can help yourself from a generous buffet.

The whole point of aperitivo is that you have it before dinner and drinking on an empty belly generally leads to unpleasant situations( especially as typical aperitivo beverages are of the likes of the murderer negroni ). Hence the free food. This has led to the creation of a sub-culture: the one of apericena[ a hybrid of aperitivo and cena: dinner ]. So people, instead of going for a drinking and then on to dinner, go to the bar with the best buffet, order a drink( commonly 8-10) and then simply reached the buffet and stuff their faces, scoring a very cheap dinner. Benedetta, 31

Philippines

Once a bottle is opened it must be finished; its never shut while still full. I guess 14 g a day for women seems reasonable, but 28 g a day for a human seems a little high. However, I have never seen these guidelines published or “was talkin about a” anywhere in this country. Richard Hartland, 39

UK

In the UK the notion of enjoying yourself in the evening without alcohol is so unusual it can lead to you being called a freak( or at least miserable and antisocial) whereas drinking yourself insensible is not just acceptable, it is admired. Unfortunately( and I am a drinker) all advice dedicated seems to be decided upon somewhat arbitrarily and although most doctors agree alcohol is bad for you, restriction seem to be plucked out of the air with no real evidential statistics.

While most would agree that binge drinking in the UK is deplorable and turns our towns and cities into ugly and threatening places at night, I find the nanny country reaction of teaches us that any amount of drinking can give us cancer or liver failure somewhat unhelpful. In Europe people seem to drink as part of a food experience and it is an accompaniment , not an end in itself. We have much to learn but our history suggests an entrenched route of relating to alcohol. Fergus, 68

US

We would have a lot less underage drinking problems if we lowered the drinking age to 18. Young adults are getting targeted at parties and social events at universities where police know there will be alcohol and the people who are there and under 21 get underage drinking charges( and people over 21 get charged with the supply of alcohol to minor ). I am not even a huge drinker, just seems absurd that freshman and sophomores have to be sneaky about it, which leads to more issues. There is also a binge-drinking culture generally in the US Karina, 23

Read more: www.theguardian.com

How To Celebrate The Best Proportions Of The Holidays All Year Long

2 months ago

After weeks of preparation, menu planning, decorating and addressing greet cards, just like that another holiday season has passed us by.

Although the tree decorations may not be packed away, and the leftover food may not have disappeared quite yet, it’s still possible to feel a little bit of yearning for the vacation happiness you simply experienced. It’s no wonder we’re sad to see the season go: Surveys show that holidays full of family boost emotional wellness.

The good news is it’s possible to construct that exuberance and pleasure “youre feeling” during the season last throughout the year. Below, find six ways to construct your holiday buzz carry into next year and beyond .

Be festive .

When was the last time you celebrated something, just because? Or had a festive gathering outside of the span of the season? Adopting a more festive posture, and ritualizing more events than simply the main holidays on the calendar, can actually help you cultivate more joy all year.

Celebrating good times and fun occasions can create a deeper sense of social connection and helps to build closer relationships. By being festive beyond the vacation season, you also open yourself up for more opportunities to log some time with your friends, which has been proven to help beat nervousnes. Celebrating the little things — no matter if it’s an accolade at work or simply because you’re happy it’s Friday night — is also associated with overall gladness. So next time this is necessary a little pick me up, schedule a little festival( the ugly Christmas sweater is optional ).

Send greeting cards and thank you notes .

Another way to carry the vacation spirit through the rest of the year is to express thanks to and keep in touch with loved ones more often than your once-a-year Christmas card. It’s no secret that gratitude is at its peak during the holidays, but practising it all year — even in small forms — can have a significant impact on your on your emotional and physical wellness. Writing down what — and more specifically, who — you’re thankful for can assist you focus on the present and cultivate gratitude for all the good in your life, according to gratitude researcher Robert Emmons. The result? An increased number of feelings of happiness and contentment.

In his volume 365 Thank Yous , writer John Kralik details how the simple act of writing one thank you note can have a positive impact on your psyche. After struggling with a series of challenges, Kralik attained it his mission to take the time to write a thank you note at the least once a day to person — and the findings are life changing.

Writing a thank you note or a message merely to check in doesn’t have to follow training materials gift. Just letting person know you care will also affect your happiness levels — but according to Kralik, make sure you say it in print. “Things we write in cyberspace are so easily deleted and forgotten … buried by the next 30 e-mails we receive, ” Kralik told NPR in 2010. “In this day and age, a handwritten note is something that people actually feel is special.”

Spread a little generosity.

Part of the joy that fills the season includes devoting gifts to loved ones — but that thoughtfulness and generosity doesn’t have to come to an end once that last gift has been unwrapped.

Adopting a giving mentality all year round can build the jolliness of the season thrive — along with your happiness levels. According to a study published in the International Journal of Happiness and Development, extending any bit of kindness or generosity to others can increase social connection and feelings of positivity for the donor.

The study examined how social devoting affected emotional wellness, concluding that giving to worthy causes through friends and family attained participants feel the happiest. “Our findings suggest that putting the social in pro-social[ spending] is one way to transform good deeds into good feelings, ” the researchers wrote in the report.

Spend time with loved ones .

Surrounding ourselves with those who build us the happiest doesn’t have to be a once-a-year treat. In fact, spending time with people rather than your vacation gifts can have a positive impact on our emotional well-being. According to a study conducted by the University of Missouri, happiness levels were greater when family events were more prominent during the season. Connection with friends and family also has a major reduction on stress, resulting in more pleasant, helpful and sociable attitudes.

Instead of the empty promise to get together as you head to your autoes after the Christmas party, try making a regular date and sticking to it. A busy social calendar, along with some quality time with those who lift you up, can help transcend the holiday happiness into the springtime, summer and beyond.

Let yourself indulge a little .

Admit it: You wholly feed that second piece of tart even though you were already full — and even more so, at the time, you didn’t regret it. It turns out your desire to pander isn’t wrong; in fact, allowing yourself a little leniency more often was in fact be good for you in the long run.

Research has shown that those who didn’t deprive themselves when it came to cravings managed to stay on track with dieting a lot better than the individuals who limited themselves wholly — and that vacation buffet is no exception. In other words,( mindfully) adopt that “cheating” attitude and grab a cookie at the next book club or treat yourself to that bowl of ice cream — a little indulgence is going to help you more than hurt you, and will help your jolly spirit live their lives beyond the end of December.

Take time off .

Perhaps one of the most thrilling parts of the holidays is the mental infringe and day away from our work responsibilities — and rightfully so. A 2010 study published in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life found that the anticipation of planning and taking a vacation resulted in higher overall happiness levels — not a bad thing to have on your side when you’re navigating your way through a hectic day at the office.

And that’s not the only benefit of a little vacation. Study have shown that taking a vacation can help stave off a heart attack, alleviate stress and help you be a healthier employee. So instead of just using the time allotted to you at the end of the year, take a little more time off for yourself during the other 11 months — you’ll be much jollier for it.

A previous version of such articles appeared in December 2013.

Read more: www.huffingtonpost.com

The 100 best nonfiction volumes: No 41- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie( 1936)

2 months, 21 days ago

The original self-help manual on American life with its influence stretching from the Great Depression to Donald Trump has a lot to answer for

The selling of the American self, and its dream of a better future, began with the Declaration of Independence and founding father Benjamin Franklin, who once observed that God helps them that help themselves. Selling and salesmanship pervade American life and literature: Sister Carrie ( Theodore Dreiser ), Babbitt ( Sinclair Lewis ), The Iceman Cometh ( Eugene ONeill ), Death of a Salesman ( Arthur Miller ), and Glengarry Glen Ross ( David Mamet ).

Exactly 80 years after How to Win Friends first appeared, it comes as no surprise to find a distorted, and sickeningly corrupted, version of Dale Carnegies homespun and inspirational self-help manual prosper in the presidential campaign of Donald Trump, bestselling author of The Art of the Deal . Trump, indeed, continues actively to extol a later Carnegie fan( Norman Vincent Peale, writer of The Power of Positive Thinking ) for his contribution to the American way of life. Whatever the outcome of Tuesday 8 November, theres no doubt that the ecstatic selling of American greatness will remain part of “the member states national” psychodrama for years to come.

Trumps diehard supporters are an apt reminder that, for many Americans, the pursuit of happiness is unsatisfying, success painfully elusive, and failing shameful and/ or infuriate. The hunger for a better future remains a constant feature of the American sociopolitical scenery. In the depths of the Great Depression, it was this desperate need that Carnegie addressed in How to Win Friends and Influence People . Carnegies message was to inspire go-getting Americans to look on the bright side, and sell themselves better. By the time of Carnegies demise in 1955, more than 5m transcripts had been sold, the book had been translated into more than 30 speeches, and its title had passed into the language. Today, my paperback reprint from Vermilion( an imprint of Random House UK) boasts over 16 m transcripts sold. As Jay Parini, a devout student of Carnegies work, has noted: between 1989, when Soviet communism failed and 1997, How to Win Friends went through no fewer than 68 editions in a Russian translation. Notions of success usually make for a bestseller.

Carnegie himself, born in 1888, the same year as TS Eliot, represented the American idea of self- or re-invention. He grew up the son of a failed Missouri farmer named Carnagey. Ambitious young Dale changed the spelling of his name more closely to associate himself with the great steel baron, Andrew Carnegie, a late 19 th-century household name, and embarked on a career as a salesman while also attempting to make a future in the theatre as an actor, auditioning successfully for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Theatre life was hard. It was at this stage, he wrote, that the dreams I had nourished back in my college days turned into nightmares.

But he didnt give up, and it was from this cavity of despair and letdown that he conceived the idea of devoting courses in public speaking. Paraphrasing RW Emerson, a deeply influential American we shall meet later, he would say, Do the thing that you fear to do, and the death of fear is absolutely certain. By 1916, he was in a position to rent Carnegie Hall and lecture to full houses about his self-help techniques. His first book, Public Speaking: A Practical Course for Business Men , are still in 1926, and led inexorably through his growing stateswide audience to How to Win Friends .

The key to this new iteration of his optimistic message was its 12 principles( which ranged from No 1, The only route to get the best of an debate is to avoid it, to No 12, Throw down a challenge, via No 6, Let the other person do a great deal of the talking ). Each principle was deftly illustrated by Carnegies well-chosen examples of influential and successful Americans in action.

Carnegie left nothing to opportunity. To persuade his readers of his wisdom, he went to the top of American society in the 1930 s. I personally interviewed ratings of successful people, he writes, some of them world- famous inventors like Marconi and Edison; political leaders like Franklin D Roosevelt movie stars like Clark Gable and Mary Pickford and tried to discover the techniques they used in human relations. He ensure himself as an enabler, quoting Herbert Spencer: The great objective of education is not knowledge but action. This, he declared, was an action book.

As Donald Trump knows only too well, to hook the uncommitted, any good salesmans pitch must subtly invite the buyer to risk leaving his or her convenience zone, and take a chance. Carnegie was not afraid to connect his message to new ideas. Early on in his pitch for a mass audience, Carnegie mixed a simple American credo with revolutionary European suppose. He writes: Sigmund Freud said that everything you and I do springs from two motives: the sex exhort and the desire to be great.

Carnegie also traded in folksy wisdom, in the manner of his idol, Abraham Lincoln. His first chapter, If You Want to Gather Honey, Dont Kick Over the Beehive, fosters a positive, warm and optimistic posture in dealings with others. He argues against assaulting or criticising people. That they are able to merely induce them aggressive towards you. After that, successive chapters enter into negotiations with: how to get people to act as you want them to; how to build people like you; how to convince people of your arguments; and finally, how to be a Leader( Constructing People Glad to Do What You Want ). All this was packaged into Carnegies systematic technique, an important key to his popular success.

The measure of Carnegies extraordinary achievement can be seen in his many imitators. The most immediate was Norman Vincent Peale whose keynote sentence could have been written by Carnegie: If you feel that you are defeated and have lost confidence in your ability to win, sit down, take a piece of paper and make a list , not of the factors that are against you, but of those that are for you.

Unlike Carnegie, Peale was that now familiar American figure: a charismatic evangelist trading in a petroleum, faith-based optimism. The officiating priest at the Marble Collegiate Church in Manhattan for more than half a century, Peale first began to promote positive thinking on the radio with a programme entitled The Art of Living . The latest edition of The Power of Positive Thinking proclaims: This Book Could Change Your Life, and specifically offers to enable everyone to enjoy confidence, success and exhilaration. Here, in about 300 pages, is a succinct expres of the American Dream in its purest form. From the outset, like Carnegie, Peale identifies squarely with the Common Man. His book, he proclaims, was written for the plain people of this world, of whom certainly I am one. With a sly allusion to Abraham Lincolns origins a straight lift from Carnegie he then makes a classic assertion of white American solidarity: I was born and reared in humble midwestern situations in a dedicated Christian home. The everyday people of this land are my own kind whom I know and love and believe in with great faith. Then follows Peales kicker: When any one of them lets God have charge of his life the power and glory are amazingly demonstrated.

What Peale offered was not merely spiritual counselling( over the years, plenty of other evangelists had already done that ), but a system of simple procedures that would generate untold peace of mind, improved health and a never-ceasing flow of energy. Extolling the common sense of his system, he goes on:[ This volume] induces no pretence to literary excellence , nor does it seek to demonstrate any unusual scholarship on my part. This is simply a practical, direct-action, personal improvement manual.

After Peale, the other American titles that owe a huge indebtednes to Carnegie include: The One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson( 1982 ); The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R Covey( 1989 ); and Become a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day by Joel Osteen( 2007 ). From these popular bestsellers, bought by people who likely possess almost no other books, it is only a short step to Trumps Make America Great Again.

Dale Carnegie has something to answer for.

A signature sentence

Charles Schwabs personality, his charm, his ability to stimulate people like him, were almost wholly responsible for his extraordinary success; and one of the most delightful factors in his personality was his captivating smile.

Three to compare

Norman Vincent Peale: The Power of Positive Thinking ( 1952)
Donald Trump: The Art of the Deal ( 1987)
Malcolm Gladwell: Blink: The Power of Believing Without Thinking ( 2005)

How to Win Friends and Influence People is published by Vermilion ( 8.99 ). Click here to buy it for 7.37

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Scottish food standards agency criticised over E coli poisoning suit

2 months, 22 days ago

FSS told newspaper it had no direct proof connecting outbreak that killed three-year-old girl with artisan cheese-maker

Scotlands food criteria bureau has come under attack after it confirmed it had no samples or test evidence connecting a cheese-maker with a food poisoning outbreak that killed a three-year-old girl.

Prof Sir Hugh Pennington, a world authority on the glitch blamed for the outbreak, E coli O157, said the information issued by Food Standards Scotland( FSS) on its investigation had been a mess, and had failed to answer basis the issue of the case.

The whole thing is a mess in terms of the public datum coming out said Pennington, emeritus prof for bacteriology at the University of Aberdeen and a former adviser to the UK Food Standards Agency. From my point of view, I just dont understand whats going on.

He said he was puzzled by the agencys delay in releasing its report in the outbreak, which objective several weeks ago. The sooner we find all the data which has been collated which allows the FSS to point the finger, the better it will be for everybody, he added.

The agency issued an alert in July after it connected an E coli outbreak that had affected 20 people with two batches of Dunsyre Blue, one of the best known brands from South Lanarkshire-based Errington Cheese, which has pioneered the use of unpasteurised milk.

The firm receded the cheeses from sale in July, but the frighten intensified last week after the FSS revealed that a three-year-old girl in Dunbartonshire had died and 11 people were hospitalised after contracting the E coli O157 bug. Prosecutors at the Crown Office are analyzing a file on the case.

Errington Cheese insisted its repeated testing had seen no traces of E coli in any of the cheeses involved, but the FSS said last week that two batches of Dunsyre cheese were implicated based on epidemiological evidence.

Two days later, the company said that withdrawing the cheeses from sale was in the best interests of consumers to protect them from potential risks to public health.

However, the agency told the Sunday Herald at the weekend it had no direct proof the cheeses it had named and had banned from sale were to blame. Tests carried out to date from samples taken by South Lanarkshire council as part of this investigation have not seen the same stres connected with the outbreak, it said.

It is understood the FSS did not test any samples of the cheese eaten, had no swabs from any restaurant or home or supplier, and was relying instead on a questionnaire of those affected by the outbreak. The FSS would not comment on those elements of its investigation.

The agency said on Saturday its testing of Erringtons cheese led to a positive finding of E coli O157 on a different product, the firms Lanark White brand; although it had not yet is proved that that cheese had the shiga toxin that stimulates the bug so dangerous.

The company withdrew its Lanark White from marketing, too, on the agencys instructions but again tried to defend its food hygiene and production standards. In a statement on its website, Errington Cheese said its advisers were unhappy about the testing used by the FSS: those batches of Lanark White had been on sale for three weeks with no reports of ill-health.

The company said in August there had been no E coli detected at all at its mill or in its cheeses since 21 March, either by its own laboratory, the local council or by its clients.

Its six samples of the Dunsyre Blue that was targeted by the FSS had all been clear. From the limited information given to it by the FSS, all the cases occurred in the first two weeks of July, even though the cheese had been on sale for up to nine weeks.

The FSS said on Monday: Public health is and is still being FSSs priority and specific actions will continue to be determined by what is necessary to protect public health and the interests of consumers. As there is an ongoing food safety investigation, we will publish more information when this is necessary to protect public health and provide information to consumers.

Pennington said it was often difficult to immediately connects a suspect batch of cheese to a poisoning outbreak because an E coli bug may merely affect part of each block, and consumers may have eaten the only evidence available.

In some instances, people could pick up the bug from an infected knife without feeing the cheese involved. However, without very detailed analysis, such as DNA testing, of each bug identified in every patient to prove a direct connection, there could more than one source of the outbreak.

Pennington has not been contacted by the Errington family in this case but gave expert evidence in the companys defence in 1994 when it was unsuccessfully prosecuted after traces of listeria were found it its Lanark Blue cheese. He said in this case the Erringtons had a right to see the FSSs report as soon as is practicable, so it could understand why its brands had been identified as the source of this outbreak.

But he said the FSS attitude in this case underlined long-standing hostility in Scotlands public health and food safety sectors towards cheese make use of unpasteurised milk, including the Errington brands. English regulators were more relaxed about unpasteurised milk; Scottish agencies became far more hardline after two major salmonella outbreaks in the 1970 s caused a number of fatalities.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

What Trump’s executive order on climate change means for the world

2 months, 25 days ago

( CNN) Less than a week after the failed attempt to repeal Obamacare, US President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order that could spell the end of Obama-era environmental policy.

What impacts will it have?

According to Mark Lynas, a British author, journalist and environmental activist who focuses on climate change, the order “is intended to make coal competitive again in the US economy, by refossilizing the US power sector and demonstrably increasing carbon emissions.”

Obama’s Energy Secretary on Trump’s climate plans

Menstrual pads could be getting a long overdue make-over

3 months, 2 days ago

Fibers on the upper left are those of commercial menstrual pads, while the much thinner ones on the upper right are highly absorbent nanofibers created as part of a new survey in India .

A scientist has developed a menstrual pad that could be the beginning of a whole new world for women in India, and perhaps everywhere.

The new pad material, attained employing nanotechnology, claims to be more absorptive and cheaper to build. But perhaps most notably, it’s free of toxic chemicals that can cause the deadly condition known as Toxic Shock Syndrome( TSS ). That’s according to the findings of a study published in the September issue of Applied Materials Today .

SEE ALSO : Fu Yuanhui just made an important statement about women’s bodies

The new pad could be a game-changer everywhere, but it was developed specifically for the rural women of India. Simply 7 percentage use sanitary pads and the vast majority 89 percent utilize cloth, according to data from the international charity WaterAid.

Indian researcher Chandra Shekhar Sharma is looking to change this reality with the new pad. He and other researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology in Hyderabad created the new material use nanofibers, hoping to make a cheaper and safer material.

These fibers which are much thinner and developed through a process called electrospinning give the new pad a higher level of absorbency, such studies reports.

A process of electrospinning is used to develop nanofibers that construct pads more absorbent and safer than many others on the market.

Image: Applied materials today

The study compared these fibers to those in various commercial pads, and could see they were significantly thinner.

With higher absorbency, the pad can be rid of SAPs, or superabsorbent polymers, and other absorbency-offering chemicals that research has linked to TSS. The FDA says that products are regulated enough now to keep these chemicals out, but toxic shock disorder still happens in the U.S . due to tampon or pad use while such regulations don’t exist in some other parts of the world.

One of the best known recent cases of the disease is that of L.A. model Lauren Wasser, who reportedly contracted the illness four years ago after employing a tampon and lost her leg as a result.

“Forget about discussing it in public, even girls do not discuss it at home totheirclose family members.”

Meanwhile, in India, pads of any kind are not very available and some females use materials like wool and ash, WaterAid data shows. In some rural areas, cultural practises like the banishing of women and girls to huts during menstruation can make the very natural experience a very stigmatized one. But even more urban Indian consider the monthly experience as a social and cultural taboo.

“In Indian society, it is considered asunhygienicand women are ritually unpure in this period, ” Sharma wrote in an email to Mashable . “They are not allowed in kitchen and[ are] various kinds of isolated. Even in so-called modern families, women do not enter into temple during menstruation cycle even now.These days are treated as an embarrassment.”

He said almost two thirds of Indian women are in rural areas where pads are not really utilized. And it’s hard to even talk about. “Forget about discussing it in public, even girls do not discuss it at home totheirclose family members, ” he wrote.

Last year, a campaign called #HappyToBleed brought Indian females together in calling out discrimination against menstruation and its disapproval by some religious beliefs.

The tide could be changing, and Sharma hopes the development of a new pad, without chemicals, could be a refreshing and even life-changing invention in India. With a safer make-up in general, it could also help women beyond the Asian nation. He said the stigmatization of menstruation is not confined to India.

“There is no major breakthrough in this product since its inception, ” Sharma said. “The first[ reason ]… may be as it is still a subject of social taboo in general that deters even a researcher to think about it.”

Read more:

Why did you become a mother? The answer could help you be a better one

3 months, 8 days ago

( CNN) Have you ever asked yourself why you wanted( or want) to have children?

Those who wrestled with the decision or struggled to conceive small children are more likely “ve thought about it” a good deal. And some have always known the answer, perhaps since they were kids themselves.

But for many parents and would-be mothers, the issues to may seem odd or elementary — which induces it a great question to tackle.

Re-create my own childhood exhilarations Grow and share familial love Make myself a better person Start my “families ” after being on my own for a long time Add to a greater sense of life’s purpose Fit in and gratify society’s expectations Because kids are fun to hang out with and talk to Help stimulate the world a better place Be a better mother than I had A spiritual call to action Repay what I owe my mothers Give in to a biological advise Cultivate a strong relationship with my children so they remain a part of my life after they move out

Is the world truly better than ever?

3 months, 18 days ago

The long read: The headlines have never been worse. But an increasingly influential group of thinkers insists that humankind has never had it so good and merely our pessimism is holding us back

By the end of last year, anyone who had been paying even passing attention to the news headlines was highly likely to conclude that everything was terrible, and that the only attitude that attained sense was one of profound cynicism tempered, perhaps, by cynical humor, on the principle that if the world is going to hell in a handbasket, one may as well try to enjoy the ride. Naturally, Brexit and the election of Donald Trump loomed largest for many. But you didnt need to be a remainer or a critic of Trumps to feel depressed by the carnage in Syria; by the deaths of thousands of migrants in the Mediterranean; by North Korean missile exams, the spread of the zika virus, or terror attacks in Nice, Belgium, Florida, Pakistan and elsewhere nor by the spectre of catastrophic climate change, lurking behind everything else.( And all thats before even considering the string of deaths of beloved celebrities that seemed like a calculated attempt, on 2016 s part, to rub salt in the wound: in the space of a few months, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, Prince, Muhammad Ali, Carrie Fisher and George Michael, to name only a handful, were all gone .) And few of the headlines so far in 2017 Grenfell tower, the Manchester and London attacks, Brexit chaos, and 24/7 Trump provide any reason to take a sunnier view.

Yet one group of increasingly prominent commentators has seemed uniquely immune to the gloomines. In December, in an article headlined Never be borne in mind that we live in the best of days, the Times columnist Philip Collins an end-of-year summary of reasons to be cheerful: during 2016, he noted, the proportion of the worlds population living in extreme poverty had fallen below 10% for the first time; global carbon emissions from fossil fuel had failed to rise for the third year running; the death penalty had been ruled illegal in more than half of all countries and giant pandas had been removed from the endangered species list.

In the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof proclaimed that by many measures, 2016 was the best year in the history of humanity, with falling global inequality, child mortality roughly half what it had been as recently as 1990, and 300,000 more people gaining access to electricity each day. Throughout 2016 and into 2017, alongside Collins at the Times, the author and former Northern Rock chairperson Matt Ridley the title of whose book The Rational Optimist constructs his inclinations plain kept up his weekly output of ebullient columns celebrating the promise of artificial intelligence, free trade and fracking. By the time the professional contrarian Brendan ONeill delivered his own version of the debate, in the Spectator( Nothing better sums up the aloofness of the chattering class than their blathering about 2016 being the worst year ever) the standpoint was becoming sufficiently well-entrenched that ONeill seemed in danger of forfeiting his contrarianism.

The loose but growing collection of pundits, academics and thinktank operatives who endorse this obstinately cheerful, handbasket-free account of our situation have occasionally been labelled the New Optimists, a name are aiming to elicited the rebellious scepticism of the New Atheists led by Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and Sam Harris. And from their perspective, our persisting mood of despair is irrational, and frankly a bit self-indulgent. They argue that it says more about us than it does about how things genuinely are exemplifying a certain tendency toward collective self-flagellation, and an unwillingness to believe in the power of human ingenuity. And “that its better” explained as the result of various psychological biases that served special purposes on the prehistoric savannah but now, in a media-saturated era, constantly mislead us.

Once upon a period, it was of great survival value to be worried about everything that could go wrong, says Johan Norberg, a Swedish historian and self-declared New Optimist whose volume Progress: Ten Reasons to Appear Forward to the Future was published just before Trump won the presidency last year. This is what attains bad news especially compelling: in our evolutionary past, it was a very good thing that your attention could be easily confiscated by negative info, since it are most likely indicate an imminent danger to your own survival.( The cave-dweller who always assumed there was a lion behind the next stone would usually be wrong but hed be much more likely to survive and reproduce than one who always presumed the opposite .) But that was all before newspapers, television and the internet: in these hyper-connected times, our addiction to bad news just leads us to vacuum up depressing or enraging stories from across the globe, whether they threaten us or not, and therefore to conclude that things are much worse than they are.

Really good news, on the other hand, can be a lot harder to place partly because it tends to occur gradually. Max Roser, an Oxford economist who spreads the New Optimist gospel via his Twitter feed, pointed out recently that a newspaper could legitimately have operated the headline NUMBER OF PEOPLE IN EXTREME POVERTY FELL BY 137,000 SINCE YESTERDAY every day for the last 25 years. But none would have done so, because predictable daily events, by definition, arent newsworthy. And youll rarely watch a headline about a bad event that failed to occur. But surely any judicious assessment of our situation ought to take into account all the wars, pandemics and natural disasters that might hypothetically have happened but didnt?

I used to be a pessimist myself, says Norberg, an urbane 43 -year-old raised in Stockholm who is now a fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington DC. I used to long for the good old days. But then I started reading history, and asking myself, well, where would I have been in those good old days, in my ancestors northern Sweden? I probably wouldnt have been anywhere. Life expectancy was too short. They mixed tree bark in the bread, to make it last longer!

In his volume, Norberg canters through 10 of the most important point basic indicators of human flourishing food, sanitation, life expectancy, poverty, violence, the state of the environment, literacy, freedom, equality and the conditions of childhood. And he takes special pleasure in squelching the fantasies of anyone inclined to wish they had been born a couple of centuries back: it wasnt so long ago, he find, that puppies gnawed at the abandoned corpses of beset victims in the street of European cities. As lately as 1882, only 2% of homes in New York had running water; in 1900, worldwide life expectancy was a paltry 31, thanks both to early adult death and rampant child mortality. Today, by contrast, its 71 and those extra decades involve much less agony, too. If it takes you 20 minutes to read this chapter, Norberg writes at one point, in his own fluctuation on the New Optimists favourite refrain, almost another 2,000 people will have risen out of[ extreme] poverty currently defined as living on less than $1.90 per day.

These onslaughts of upbeat statistics seem intended to have the effect of demolishing the usual intractable political disagreements about the state of the planet. The New Optimists invite us to forget our partisan biases and tribal allegiances; to dispense with our cherished theories about what is wrong with the world and what should be done about it, and breathe, instead, the refreshing air of objective fact. The data doesnt lie. Just look at the numbers!

But numbers, it turns out, can be as political as anything else.


The New Optimists are surely right on the nostalgia front: nobody in their right mind should wish to have lived in a previous century. In a 2015 survey for YouGov, 65% of British people( and 81% of the French) said they supposed the world was getting worse but judged according to numerous sensible metrics, theyre simply incorrect. People are indeed rising out of extreme poverty at an extraordinary rate; child mortality really has plummeted; standards of literacy, sanitation and life expectancy have never been higher. The median European or American enjoys luxuries medieval potentates literally couldnt have imagined. The essential finding of Steven Pinkers 2011 volume The Better Angels of Our Nature, a key reference text for the New Optimists, seems also to have been largely accepted: that we are living in historys most peaceful era, with violence of all kinds from deaths in war to schoolyard bullying in steep decline.

But the New Optimists arent primarily interested in persuading us that human life involves a lot less suffering than it did a few hundred years ago.( Even if youre a card-carrying pessimist, “youre supposed to” didnt require convincing of that fact .) Nestled inside that essentially indisputable assert, there are several more controversial implications. For instance: that since things have so clearly been improving, we have good reason to assume they will continue to improve. And farther though this is a claim merely sometimes made explicit in the work of the New Optimists that whatever weve been doing these past decades, its clearly run, and so the political and economic arrangements that have brought us here are the ones we ought to stick with. Optimism, after all, means more than merely expressed his belief that things arent even worse as you imagined: it entails having justified confidence that they will be getting even better soon. Rational optimism holds that the world will pull out of the current crisis, Ridley wrote after the financial crisis of 2007 -8, because of the route that marketplaces in goods, services and notions allow human being to exchange and specialise honestly for the betterment of all I am a rational optimist: rational, because I have arrived at optimism not through temperament or instinct, but by looking at the evidence.

Illustration
Illustration by Pete Gamlen

If all this were really true, it would suggest that an overwhelming proportion of the energy we dedicate to debating the country of humanity all the political outrage, the warns of imminent calamity, the exasperated op-ed column, all our anxiety and remorse about the suffering afflicting people all over the world is wasted. Or, worse, it might be counterproductive, insofar as a belief that the situation is irredeemably nasty seems like a bad route to motivate people to induce things better, and thus in danger of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Here are the facts, wrote the American economist Julian Simon, whose vocal opposition to the gloomy predictions of environmentalists and population experts in the 1970 s and 1980 s set the stage for todays New Optimists. On average, people throughout the world have been living longer and feeing better than ever before. Fewer people succumb of famine nowadays than in earlier centuries every single measure of material and environmental welfare in the United States has improved rather than deteriorated. This is also true of the world taken as a whole. All the long-run trends phase in exactly the opposite direction from the projections of the doomsayers.

Those are the facts. So why arent we all New Optimists now?


Optimists have been telling doom-mongersto cheer up since at least 1710, when the philosopher Gottfried Leibniz concluded that ours is necessary the best of all possible worlds, on the grounds that God, being perfect and merciful, would barely have created one of the more mediocre ones instead. But the most recent outbreak of positivity is a possibility best understood as a reaction to the cynicism triggered by the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001. For one thing, those attacks were a textbook example of the various kinds of high-visibility bad news that activates our cognitive biases, persuading us that the world is becoming lethally dangerous when actually it isnt: in reality, a slightly higher number of Americans were killed while riding motorcycles in 2001 than died in the World Trade Center and on the hijacked planes.

But the New Optimism is also a rejoinder to the various kinds of introspection that gained pace in the west after 9/11, and subsequently the Iraq war the help feeling that, whether or not the new global insecurity was all our defect, it certainly demanded self-criticism and reflection, rather than simply a more strident assertion of the merits of our worldview.( The whole world hates us, and we deserve it, is how the French philosopher Pascal Bruckner derisively characterises this attitude .) On the contrary, the optimists insist, the data demonstrates that the global dominance of western power and notions over the last two centuries has watched a transformative improvement in almost everyones quality of life. Matt Ridley likes to quote a predecessor of the contemporary optimists, the Whig historian Thomas Babington Macaulay: On what principle is it that, when we see nothing but improvement behind us, we are to expect nothing but deterioration before us?

The despondent self-criticism that frustrates the New Optimists is fuelled in part at least the way they see it by a kind of optical illusion in the way we think about progress. As Steven Pinker observes, whenever youre busy judging governments or economic systems for falling short of standards of decency, its all too easy to lose sight of how those standards themselves have altered over time. We are scandalised by reports of prisoners being tortured by the CIA but only thanks to the historically recent emergence of a general consensus that torture is beyond the pale.( In medieval England, it was a comparatively unremarkable feature of the criminal justice system .) We can be appalled by the deaths of migrants in the Mediterranean merely because we start from the position that unknown strangers from distant lands are worthy of moral consideration a notion that would probably have hit most of us as absurd had we been born in 1700. Yet the most powerful this kind of consensus grows, the more unconscionable each violation of it will seem. And so, ironically enough, the outrage you feel when you read the headlines is actually evidence that this is a magnificent time to be alive.( A recent addition to the New Optimist bookshelf, The Moral Arc by Michael Shermer, bind this argument immediately to the optimists faith in science: it is scientific progress, he argues, that is destined to induce us ever more ethical .)

The nagging suspicion that this argument is somehow based on a sleight of hand it would seem to permit any outrage to be reinterpreted as evidence of our betterment may lead you to another objection: even if its true that all efforts really is so much better than ever, why assume things will continue to improve? Improvements in sanitation and life expectancy cant avoid rising sea levels destroying your country. And its dangerous, more generally, to predict future outcomes by past performance: position things on a sufficiently long timescale, and it becomes impossible to tell whether the progress the New Optimists celebrate proved to be history steady upward trajectory, or just a blip.

Almost every advance Norberg champs in his book Progress, for example, took place in the last 200 years a fact that the optimists take as evidence of the unstoppable potency of modern civilisation, but which might just as easily be taken as evidence of how rare such periods of progress are. Humans have been around for 200,000 years; extrapolating from a 200 -year stretch seems unwise. We risk inducing the mistake of the 19 th-century British historian Henry Buckle, who confidently declared, in his volume History of Civilization in England, that war would soon be a thing of the past. That this barbarous pursuit is, in the progress of society, steadily declining, must be evident, even to the most hasty reader of European history, he wrote. It was 1857; Buckle seemed confident that the recently concluded Crimean war would be one of the last.

But the real concern here is not that the steady advance of the last two centuries will gradually swing into reverse, plunging us back to the conditions of the past; its that the world we have created the very engine of all that progress is so complex, volatile and unpredictable that tragedy might befall us at any moment. Steven Pinker may be absolutely correct that fewer and fewer people are resorting to violence to settle their disagreements, but( as he would confess) it merely takes a single angry narcissist in possession of the nuclear codes to spark a global catastrophe. Digital technology has unquestionably helped fuel a worldwide surge in economic growth, but if cyberterrorists use it to bring down countries around the world fiscal infrastructure next month, that growth might instead swiftly become moot.

The point is that if anything does go severely wrong in our societies, its really hard to see where it stops, says David Runciman, prof of politics at Cambridge University, who takes a less sanguine view of the future, and who has debated New Optimists such as Ridley and Norberg. The thought that, say, the next financial crisis, in a world as interconnected and algorithmically driven as our world, could simply spiral out of control that is not an irrational believe. Which stimulates it quite hard to be blithely optimistic. When you live in a world where everything has appeared to be getting better, yet it could all breakdown tomorrow, its perfectly rational to be freaked out.

Runciman raises a related and equally troubling thought about modern politics, in his book The Confidence Trap. Democracy seems to be doing well: the New Optimists note that there are now about 120 democracies among the worlds 193 countries, up from just 40 in 1972. But what if its the very strength of republic and our complacency about its capacity to withstand almost anything that augurs its eventual breakdown? Could it be that our real problem is not an excess of despair, as the New Optimists maintain, but a dangerous degree of overconfidence?

According to this argument, the ones who voted for Trump and Brexit didnt genuinely do so because they had concluded their system was broken, and needed to be replaced. On the contrary: they voted as they did precisely because they had grown too confident that the essential security provided by government would always be there for them, whatever incendiary selection they made at the ballot-box. People voted for Trump because they didnt believe him, Runciman has written. They wanted Trump to shake up a system that they also expected to shield them from the recklessness of a human like Trump. The problem with this pattern delivering electoral shocks because youre confident the system can withstand them is that theres no reason to assume it can continue indefinitely: at some phase, the damage may not be repairable. The New Optimists describe a world in which human agency doesnt appears to matter, because there are these evolved forces-out that are moving us in the right direction, Runciman says. But human bureau does still matter human beings still have the capacity to mess it all up. And it may be that our capacity to mess it up is growing.

The optimists arent unaware of such risks but it is a dependable feature of the optimistic mindset that one can usually find an upbeat interpretation of the same seemingly scary facts. Youre asking, Am I the man who falls out of a skyscraper, and as he passes the second storey, says, So far, so good? Matt Ridley says. And the answer is, well, actually, in the past, people have foreseen tragedy only around the corner and been wrong about it so often that this a relevant fact to take into account. History does seem to bear Ridley out. Then again, of course it does: if a civilisation-ending catastrophe had in fact occurred, you presumably wouldnt be reading this now. People who predict imminent tragedies are usually wrong. On the other hand, they need only be right once.


If there is a single momentthat signalled the birth of the New Optimism, it was fittingly, somehow a TED talk, delivered in 2006 by the Swedish statistician and self-styled edutainer Hans Rosling, who died earlier this year. Entitled The best stats youve ever seen, Roslings talk summarised the results of an ingenious survey he had conducted among Swedish university students. Presenting them with pairs of countries Russia and Malaysia, Turkey and Sri Lanka, and so on he asked them to guess which scored better on various measures of health, such as child mortality rates. The students reliably got it incorrect, basing their answers on the assumption that countries closer to their own, both geographically and ethnically, must be better off.

But in fact Rosling had picked the pairs to demonstrate a phase: Russia had twice Malaysias child mortality, and Turkey twice that of Sri Lanka. Part of the defeatist mindset of the modern west, the way Rosling find it, was the deeply ingrained assumption that we are living through times that are as good as theyre ever going to be and that the future “weve been” bequeathing, to future generations and especially to the world beyond Europe and north America, can only has become a disheartening one. Rosling enjoyed observing that if you had run this experiment on chimps by labelling a banana with the name of each country and inviting them to pick one, they would have performed better than the students, since they would be right half the time, thanks to opportunity. Well-educated European humans, by contrast, get things far wronger than opportunity. We are not merely ignorant of the facts; we are actively convinced of depressing facts that arent true.

Its exhilarating to watch The best stats youve ever seen today partly because of Roslings nerdy, high-energy stage performance, but also because it seems to shine the bracing light of objective fact on questions usually mired in angry partisanship. Far more than when he delivered the talk, we live now in the Age of the Take, in which a seemingly infinite supplying of blog posts, opinion columns, books and Tv talking heads compete to tell us how to feel about the news. Most of this opinionising focuses less on stacking up hard facts in favour of an debate than it does on proclaiming what posture you ought to adopt: the typical take invites you to conclude, say, that Donald Trump is a fascist, or that he isnt, or that BBC presenters are overpaid, or that your yoga practice is an instance of cultural appropriation.( This shouldnt really come as a surprise: the internet economy is fuelled by attention, and its far easier to confiscate people attention with emotionally charged debate than mere datum plus you dont have to pay for the expensive reporting required to ferret out the facts .) The New Optimists promise something different: a route to feel about the state of the world based on the way it really is.

Illustration
Illustration by Pete Gamlen

But after steeping yourself in their work, you begin to wonder if all their upbeat factoids genuinely do speak for themselves. For a start, why expressed the view that the correct comparison to be making is the one between the world as it was, say, 200 years ago, and the world as it is today? You might argue that comparing the current with the past is stacking the deck. Of course things are better than the latter are. But theyre surely nowhere near as good as they ought to be. To pick some obvious instances, humanity indisputably has the capacity to remove extreme poverty, aim famines, or radically reduce human damage to the climate. But weve done none of these, and the fact that things arent as terrible as they were in 1800 is arguably beside the point.

Ironically, given their reliance on cognitive biases to explain our predilection for negativity, the New Optimists may be in the grip of one themselves: the anchoring bias, which describes our tendency to rely too heavily on certain pieces of information when attaining decisions. If you start from the fact that plague victims once languished in the street of European cities, its natural to conclude that life these days is wonderful. But if you start from the position that we could have eliminated famines, or reversed global warming, the fact that such problems persist may provoke a different kind of judgment.

The argument that we should be feeling happier than “weve been” because life on countries around the world as a whole is getting better, on average, also misunderstands a fundamental truth about how happiness works: our judgments of the world result from constructing specific comparings that feel relevant to us , not on adopting what David Runciman refers to as the position from outer space. If people in your small American town are far less economically secure than they were in living memory, or if youre a young British person facing the prospect that you might never own a home, its not particularly consoling to be told that more and more Chinese people are entering the middle classes. At volume readings in the US midwest, Ridley recollects, audience members often questioned his optimism on the grounds that their own lives didnt seem to be on an upward trajectory. Theyd say, You keep saying the worlds getting better, but it doesnt feel like that round here. And I would say, Yes, but this isnt the whole world! Are you not even a little bit cheered by the fact that really poor Africans are get a bit least poor? There is a sense in which this is a fair point. But theres another sense in which its a completely irrelevant one.

At its heart, the New Optimism is an ideological argument: broadly speaking, its proponents are advocates for the power of free markets, and they aim their sunny picture of humanitys recent past and imminent future to vindicate their politics. This is a perfectly legitimate political argument to attain but its still a political argument , not a straightforward, neutral reliance on objective facts. The assert that we are living in a golden age, and that our dominant mood of despair is unwarranted, is not an antidote to the Age of the Take, but a Take like any other and it induces just as much sense to adopt the opposite opinion. What I detest, Runciman says, is this assumption that if you push back against their argument, what youre saying is that all these things are not worth valuing For people to feel deeply uneasy about the world we inhabit now, despite all these indicators pointing up, seems to me reasonable, given the relative instability of the evidence of this progress, and the[ unpredictability] that overhangs it. Everything really is pretty fragile.


Johan Norberg, who launched his book Progress two months before the US presidential election, watched the results come in on a foggy morning in Stockholm, at a party organised by the American embassy. As Trumps victory became a certainty, the atmosphere turned from one of growling alarm to frightened skepticism. We were all Swedes in the media, politics, business and so on I think it would have been hard to find a single person there who had hoped for a Trump win so pretty soon the mood was going downhill dramatically, Norberg recollected. And whats more, they didnt have any alcohol, which didnt assist, because everyone was saying: We require something strong here! But they had it more put up like a breakfast thing. He smiled. I think Americans dont actually understand Swedes.

The populist surges of the last two years in the US and Britain powering the rise of Trump, the Brexit vote, and the unpredicted levels of support for Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn pose a complicated problem for the New Optimists. On the one hand, its easy enough to characterise such anger directed toward political establishments as a mistake, based on a failure to perceive how well things are going; or as a legitimate reaction to real, but localised and temporary bumps in the road, which neednt constitute any larger argument for despair. On the other hand, it is a curious view of the world that sees such political waves exclusively as responses, mistaken or otherwise, to the real situation. They are part of that real situation. Even if you think that Trump advocates, say, were wholly in error to perceive their situation negatively, the perception itself was real enough and they genuinely did elect Trump, with all his potential for destabilisation.( The New Optimists, says David Runciman, think of politics as nothing more than an annoyance, because in their view the things that drive progress are not political. But the things that drive failing are political .) There is a point at which it stops being so relevant whether widespread pessimism and anxiety can be justified or not, and becomes more relevant simply that it is widespread.

Norberg is no Trump supporter, and the outcome of the elections might have seemed like a setback to an writer promoting a book painting humanitys immediate future as wholly rosy. In it, he does warn that progress isnt inevitable: There is a real risk of a nativist backlash, he writes. When we dont consider the progress we have attained, we begin to search for scapegoats for the problems that remain. But it is in the nature of the New Optimism that negative developments can be alchemised into reasons to be cheerful, and by the time we talked, Norberg had an upbeat spin on the election, too.

I think it might be that in a couple of years day, well think it was a great thing that Trump won, he says. Because if hed lost, and Hillary had won, shed have been the most hated president of modern times, and then Trump and Bannon would have employed that to build an alt-right media empire, create an avalanche of hatred, and then there might have been a more disciplined nominee the next time round a real fascist, rather than person impersonating Trump may prove to have been the incompetent, self-absorbed person who ruins the populist brand in the United States. This sort of counterfactual debate suffers from not being falsifiable, and in any case, its a long way from a position of straightforward positivity about the direction in which the world is moving. But perhaps it is the one genuinely indisputable truth on which the New Optimists and the more pessimistically minded can agree: that whatever happens, things could always, in principle, have been worse.

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