From the monthly archives:

August 2022

Sunday photoblogging: Laugharne

by Chris Bertram on August 7, 2022

The town where Dylan Thomas lived and is buried (and where he possibly imagined as the setting for Under Milk Wood).

Laugharne: rain approaching

The Upcoming Elections in Italy

by Miriam Ronzoni on August 4, 2022

Orbán: "Non mescoliamoci con altre razze". Così l'alleato di Salvini e Meloni evoca la Teoria della grande sostituzione - la Repubblica

DISCLAIMER: I am on holiday so will not be able to moderate comments assiduously. Apologies in advance for that.

On September 25th, Italians will vote at yet another snap election. This is the first ever Italian national election following a Summer electoral campaign – Italians are quite homogeneous and consistent in taking their holidays in August, a month over which politics usually retreats to the back stage. This Summer, instead, beach parties, open-air clubs and sagre (village fêtes, often taking place during the tourist season) will be the stage of campaigning and canvassing. [click to continue…]

Mental health and mental fitness

by John Q on August 2, 2022

Until now, I’ve always thought about mental health as the absence of mental illness, much as I have typically thought about the absence of physical illness. In both cases, health is the default state or unmarked category.

But as I have gone through the Covid pandemic, and become more pessimistic about the state of the world, I have reached the view that a better analogy is with physical fitness. That is, something that requires sustained effort to achieve and maintain, and is rarely fully achieved.

In particular while I have previously thought about depression as a mental illness, it’s difficult now to distinguish it from ordinary sadness. My congenital optimism now seems more like delusion. Maintaining mental balance is now hard work.

Not surprisingly, I’m not the first to come up with this idea. Searching for “mental fitness” produces lots of hits, mostly fairly recent. The majority are boosterish, introducing and promoting the idea, rather than acknowledging the difficulties associated with it. Nevertheless, I’m hoping to get some useful suggestions. I’d be interested in readers thoughts.

PS: illustrating one of the difficulties of maintaining physical fitness, I came off my bike the other day and broke my wrist. So I’m attempting to blog by dictation. It’s a challenging mental exercise

Paying lipservice, ticking boxes, and doing what it takes

by Ingrid Robeyns on August 1, 2022

Over the last years, I’ve observed in a number of cases of policy making something that looked like “paying lipservice”, but upon closer analysis turns out to be something else. In order to effectively understand, evaluate and criticise the actions of those responsible for policies and leadership actions, it might be helpful to make a distinction between three modes in which policy-makers and leaders in groups might operate: paying lipservice, ticking boxes, and doing what it takes.

The policies/leadership actions I will describe could be in an organisation, in a local or national government, or any other instance in which someone is engaged in making decisions that affect a group. It might even be something that we can observe in some smaller or less formalised groups in which some people have authority/leadership responsibilities, such as parents in families.

How do “paying lipservice”, “ticking boxes”, and “doing what it takes” differ, and why could distinguishing between them matter? [click to continue…]