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Celerity's Journal
Celerity's Journal
July 1, 2023

Why some people are at higher risk of 'stress contagion'

Our stress levels don’t rise and fall in isolation. Grasping the social side of stress could help us manage it better


Can you recall a time when your workplace was especially busy, and no one seemed to have a chance to take a breather? Even if you were managing your own duties well, you might have found it challenging to remain calm in the face of the stress or anxiety penetrating the workplace. Simply watching people around you complaining or panicking can trigger tense feelings. As social animals, we inherently tend to relate to other people’s experiences, ‘catch’ their emotions, and adopt their ways of appraising events as they unfold.

Stress has traditionally been regarded by psychologists as something that emerges from someone’s personal, psychological response to situations in which the demands – eg, uncertainty, unpredictability, time pressure, conflicts, performance expectations – are high, while resources for coping with these demands are low. Yet, this individual-level perspective on stress has been complemented in recent decades by evidence that interpersonal processes play a critical role as well.

For example, Mina Westman and Arnold B Bakker published a series of studies examining the so-called ‘crossover’ of psychological strain in relationships and small groups. They found that in married couples, a spouse who is under a lot of pressure and experiences stress at work may bring such feelings back home, leading to an increase in the stress experienced by the other partner. Bakker and colleagues also observed that the burnout levels of colleagues within a work team often converge or co-evolve over time. Emily Butler developed a ‘temporal interpersonal emotion systems’ (TIES) framework to explain how various elements of negative emotions, such as distress experience, expression and autonomic physiology, are transmitted between people.

Building upon these developments, my colleagues and I suggest that stress can be better understood when viewed as a dynamic, network phenomenon – something that develops and propagates in a social environment. In a stressful situation, other people’s responses can provide potentially useful information about what’s happening. They help you interpret and clarify the demands of the situation and the available resources for dealing with them. Others’ responses also provide a reference point that allows you to determine the socially appropriate way of responding to the situation. You are likely to constantly pick up on cues from those around you and assess changing social norms as you chat and share perspectives, leading to an updated view of your situation and, in turn, a heightened or lowered stress response. As a result, your stress level is likely to become increasingly similar to that of your social contacts.


July 1, 2023

Is American Decline Inevitable?

audio at the link


Shadi Hamid, Samuel Kimbriel, and Christine Emba head to Aspen to record a live episode of the show. The crowd gets involved.

The broad topic of the conversation was decline. We don’t always know how to express it, but many of us feel it: There’s something wrong with America today. The mood is tense. More Americans say they won’t have children because of climate change and other future catastrophes. But are things really as bad as they seem? Is decline something we need to accept—or is there a case for a new optimism?

You won’t want to miss this one.

Required Reading:

Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets, by Svetlana Alexievich

Rethinking Sex: A Provocation, by Christine Emba

Friendship as Sacred Knowing: Overcoming Isolation, by Samuel Kimbriel

“Five Ancient Secrets to Modern Happiness”, lecture by Tamar Gendler

June 30, 2023

Twitter has started blocking unregistered users

If you want to browse tweets, user profiles, and comment threads on the web, then you need to be signed in to a Twitter account.


If you currently try to access Twitter without logging in to your user account, you’ll be unable to see any of the content that was previously available to the wider public. Instead, you’ll meet a Twitter window that asks you to either sign in to the platform or create a new account, effectively blocking you from viewing tweets and user profiles or browsing through threads unless you’re a registered Twitter user.

Twitter didn’t immediately make a public announcement, making it unclear if this was an intentional update or another technical mishap. Later on Friday, however, Twitter owner Elon Musk tweeted, claiming in a reply that the change is a “Temporary emergency measure,” blaming “data pillaging” for degrading the service for all users.





In a reply to Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney complaining about how pay and account walls break the internet, Musk claimed, “Several hundred organizations (maybe more) were scraping Twitter data extremely aggressively, to the point where it was affecting the real user experience” without providing any more specifics.

We have seen some Twitter problems become more common recently, like broken previews in other apps like Discord, Slack, and iMessage, and Mashable recently reported that even people who pay the steep new rate for API access say they’ve seen unannounced changes, bugs, and no customer support. From the outside, we don’t know if that’s because of the scrapers Musk notes or his own attempts to cut costs that included layoffs within the teams that help keep Twitter’s servers running and reportedly leaving a Google Cloud bill unpaid for months before recently resuming payments, according to Bloomberg. Prior to this change, Twitter allowed people limited access to the platform without an account — you could view public tweets and user profiles, for example, but couldn’t like or leave comments.


June 29, 2023

Biden on Nicole Wallace: He doesn't believe in SCOTUS expansion, says it would be too political

I have to admit, I am extremely disappointed to hear him so clearly renounce that option.

June 29, 2023

France will deploy 40,000 officers to quell violence that erupted after police fatally shot a teen


NANTERRE, France (AP) — France’s government vowed to restore order Thursday after two nights of urban violence triggered by the deadly police shooting of a 17-year-old, announcing it would deploy tens of thousands more officers and crack down on neighborhoods where buildings and vehicles were torched.

Ministers fanned out to areas scarred by the sudden flare-up of rioting, appealing for calm but also warning that the violence that injured scores of police and damaged nearly 100 public buildings wouldn’t be allowed to continue. After a morning crisis meeting, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said policing will be more than quadrupled — from 9,000 officers to 40,000. In the Paris region alone, the number of officers deployed will more than double to 5,000.

“The professionals of disorder must go home,” Darmanin said. While there’s no need yet to declare a state of emergency — a measure taken to quell weeks of rioting in 2005 — he added: “The state’s response will be extremely firm.” The police officer who fired the fatal shot in the Paris suburb of Nanterre will be investigated for voluntary homicide after an initial investigation led local prosecutor Pascal Prache to conclude that “the conditions for the legal use of the weapon were not met.”

The killing of the teen, identified only by his first name, Nahel, came during a traffic stop Tuesday. The incident captured on video shocked the country and stirred up long-simmering tensions between police and young people in housing projects and other disadvantaged neighborhoods.


June 29, 2023

MELBOURNE: Sagas of the Icelanders


Delve into themes of love, honour, exile and magic with writer and scholar Kári Gíslason, actor Eloïse Mignon, and musicians Erkki Veltheim and Aviva Endean.

The Icelandic sagas date back a thousand years: vivid stories that are redolent of ancient pagan tales yet also strangely modern. Told in spare, swift and poetic prose, the sagas capture a society in negotiation with itself, filled with strong-minded characters who had fled kingly Europe for a new society on the fringes of habitable land. What can we learn from their deep-thinking storytelling today?

Kári Gíslason


Eloïse Mignon


Erkki Veltheim


Aviva Endean


June 29, 2023

Untangling entanglement: Explaining the quantum world in four easy steps

Why does the quantum world behave in that strange, spooky way? Here’s our simple, four-step explanation (no magic needed)


Almost a century ago, physics produced a problem child, astonishingly successful yet profoundly puzzling. Now, just in time for its 100th birthday, we think we’ve found a simple diagnosis of its central eccentricity. This weird wunderkind was ‘quantum mechanics’ (QM), a new theory of how matter and light behave at the submicroscopic level. Through the 1920s, QM’s components were assembled by physicists such as Werner Heisenberg and Erwin Schrödinger. Alongside Albert Einstein’s relativity theory, it became one of the two great pillars of modern physics.

The pioneers of QM realised that the new world they had discovered was very strange indeed, compared with the classical (pre-quantum) physics they had all learned at school. These days, this strangeness is familiar to physicists, and increasingly useful for technologies such as quantum computing. The strangeness has a name – it’s called entanglement – but it is still poorly understood. Why does the quantum world behave this strange way? We think we’ve solved a central piece of this puzzle.

Entanglement was first clearly described, and named, in 1935, by the Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger. He pointed out that, after two quantum particles interacted, they could no longer be considered independent of each other, as classical physics would have allowed. As the contemporary US physicist Leonard Susskind puts it in the preface to Quantum Mechanics: The Theoretical Minimum (2014), ‘one can know everything about a system and nothing about its individual parts.’

Here’s a simple analogy. If we want to give a complete description of the present state of a two-handed poker game, for example, we just give a description of the two five-card hands. What could be more obvious? But in QM, for some reason, the obvious thing doesn’t work. Schrödinger said that, in general, the quantum description of the two particles is ‘entangled’, and the name stuck. As he puts it: ‘When two separated bodies that each are maximally known come to interact, and then separate again, then such an entanglement of knowledge often happens.’

June 29, 2023

Biden Can Cancel Student Debt Even If Supreme Court Blocks Order, Advocates Say



Advocates of student debt relief want President Joe Biden to use a 1965 law to cancel student debt if the Supreme Court overturns his loan forgiveness program. Biden’s current plan — to forgive as much as $20,000 in federal loans for certain borrowers making less than $125,000 per year, $250,000 for households — is based on his authority in the 2003 Heroes Act. A Supreme Court ruling invalidating the loan forgiveness program looks likely as the court issues some its most momentous decisions this week.

Astra Taylor, a co-founder of the Debt Collective — a 50,000-member group — points to provisions in the Higher Education Act from almost six decades ago that Biden could use instead to forgive student debt. But this alternative strategy advocates are coalescing around would be time-consuming and could easily delay any relief until after the 2024 election, Jed Shugerman, a law professor at Fordham University, said. The Higher Education Act requires a lengthy rule-making process that could take about a year and then after that litigation by opponents would likely drag things out longer, he said.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which claims 1 million members, has a mobilization campaign ready to bombard the White House with emails and phone calls urging Biden pursue an alternative path if the court overturns his student loan forgiveness program. The NAACP and allied groups have made preparations for a rally within two hours of a negative decision. “It’s up to President Biden to live up to the promises he made to America, particularly to Black Americans,” said Wisdom Cole, director of the NAACP’s youth and college division. “Failure isn’t an option.”

The political stakes are high. The loan relief plan was one of the president’s signature initiatives and disproportionately benefits younger adults and minorities, both crucial Democratic constituencies that can be difficult to turn out for elections. Overall 53% of American adults support Biden’s loan relief plan, according a February Economist/YouGov poll. But an overwhelming 67% of 18- to 29-year-olds back it, and an even larger 72% of African Americans of all ages do. Black borrowers are much more likely to carry higher balances on their student loan debt than other demographic groups. Almost 6 out of 10 Black borrowers have at least $25,000 in student loan debt, according to the Federal Reserve.

June 29, 2023

Restaurant Review: Superiority Burger Has the Courage of Its Quirks

Brooks Headley could have cloned his wildly popular vegetarian spot. Instead, its new space doubles down on idiosyncrasy.



The new Superiority Burger on Avenue A is about 10 times larger than the original, a 240-square-foot below-grade box on East Ninth Street that was outgrown “on the first day,” according to Brooks Headley, the chef and an owner. The second location finally has room for tables, chairs and other stuff like that. It has space, too, for things that you will not find in any other all-vegetarian and frequently vegan burger restaurant, things that seem to be there only because Mr. Headley and his co-conspirators asked a lot of questions that started, “Wouldn’t it be cool … ”

Like: Wouldn’t it be cool if we hung a small marquee over the sidewalk, like a small club, but instead of announcing a Bambi Kino reunion the sign would advertise our rhubarb pandowdy? Wouldn’t it be cool if we made a bar-snack mix that everybody would want, and sold it for a quarter — an actual quarter — out of a turn-the-crank vending machine, like Chiclets or kibble at a petting zoo?

Wouldn’t it be cool if the paper place mats had ads for businesses that sound like they belong on Main Street in a one-stoplight hamlet in the Adirondacks but are actually operating today in the East Village (a sewing-machine repair shop, a rubber-stamp supplier, a 138-year-old drugstore and more)? And yes, it is kind of cool, all of it, especially when you consider other directions Superiority Burger could have taken. Given its runaway popularity, I’m sure people advised Mr. Headley to make it the Shake Shack of vegetarianism. Instead of moving it into bigger quarters, he could have leased many more tiny spaces to sell fast-casual veggie burgers, tofu sloppy Joes, burnt-broccoli salads, the city’s greatest gelato, and other items that I eagerly inhaled before writing my two-star review of the original, in 2015. It would have been the obvious thing to do.

Most obviously, there is stuffed cabbage, once available at a dozen Ukrainian and Polish kitchens in the East Village, though it was rarely filled with such a savory blend of mushrooms and sticky rice, or covered with a tomato-ginger gravy darkened with fresh blackberries. Are the vinegared beets with fresh dill, fried hard-pretzel shards and dense schmears of jalapeño cream cheese a sideways glance at borscht?


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Gender: Female
Hometown: London
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Current location: Stockholm, Sweden
Member since: Sun Jul 1, 2018, 07:25 PM
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