Take a Big Fat Break this Mardi Gras Because Carnival Means “So long” to Meat

– Meatless Monday campaign offers delicious recipes for the lean days ahead-

Mardi Gras, also called Carnival, celebrates the last day of indulgence before the start of the Lenten season. During Lent, millions of households will cut back on meat and other rich foods. Meatless Monday offers recipes with photos to help observers through the “lean” weeks of Lent and beyond. With the simplicity of Meatless Monday, reducing meat in our diets is easier than you think and the health benefits can be huge.

Newswise — For centuries, Mardi Gras – or Fat Tuesday, also called Carnival – has celebrated the last day of indulgence before the start of the Lenten season. During Lent, millions of households will cut back on meat and other rich foods during this period of purification. The word Carnival itself stems from the Latin carne vale, or “farewell to flesh.”

Today, there are more reasons than ever to take the occasional break from meat. Reducing the amount of meat in our diets can benefit our personal health, the environment and even our wallets. Meatless Monday, a public health initiative produced in association with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for a Livable Future, advises foregoing meat just one day a week as one way to reap these benefits. “It’s easier than you think and the payoff can be huge,” says Robert Lawrence, MD, director of the Center for a Livable Future. “Eating less meat not only helps lower cholesterol and decrease cancer risks; it reduces your carbon footprint and helps conserve water. Plus, plant-based meals cost less, an added bonus during these economically tough times.”

Many Americans are heeding the call for a healthier diet. The U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that we will be eating about 12% less meat in 2012 than we did five years ago.

The simplicity of Meatless Monday has turned the initiative into a global movement. The campaign is now flourishing in 22 countries and counts among its followers such celebrities as film director James Cameron; co-host of ABC’s The Chew, chef Mario Batali; hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons; and former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney.

A poll conducted by FGI Research for The Monday Campaigns found that more than 50% of Americans were aware of the Meatless Monday movement, with 27% of those aware actively participating.

Meatless Monday offers hundreds of recipes in its online database to help observers through the “lean” weeks of Lent and beyond, including Smothered Mushrooms (http://www.meatlessmonday.com/smothered-mushrooms) and Spicy Rice with Kale (http://www.meatlessmonday.com/spicy-rice-with-kale).

Released: 1/25/2012          Source: The Monday Campaigns

Related Link:

http://www.newswise.com/articles/take-a-big-fat-break-this-mardi-gras-because-carnival-means-so-long-to-meat

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People Lie More When Texting

Wichita State University professor David Xu said people are less likely to lie via video chat than when in person.

Newswise — Sending a text message leads people to lie more often than in other forms of communication, according to new research by David Xu, assistant professor in the W. Frank Barton School of Business at Wichita State University.

Xu is lead author of the paper, which compares the level of deceit people will use in a variety of media, from text messages to face-to-face interactions.

The study will appear in the March edition of the Journal of Business Ethics. The other co-authors are professor Karl Aquino and associate professor Ronald Cenfetelli with the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia.

How the study worked

The study involved 170 students from the Sauder School performing mock stock transactions in one of four ways: face-to-face, or by video, audio or text chatting.

Researchers promised cash awards of up to $50 to increase participants’ involvement in the role play. “Brokers” were promised increased cash rewards for more stock sales, while “buyers” were told their cash reward would depend on the yet-to-be-determined value of the stock.

The brokers were given inside knowledge that the stock was rigged to lose half of its value. Buyers were only informed of this fact after the mock sales transaction and were asked to report whether the brokers had employed deceit to sell their stock.

The authors then analyzed which forms of communication led to more deception. They found that buyers who received information via text messages were 95 percent more likely to report deception than if they had interacted via video, 31 percent more likely to report deception when compared to face-to-face, and 18 percent more likely if the interaction was via audio chat.

The fact that people were less likely to lie via video than in person was surprising, Xu said, but makes sense given the so-called “spotlight” effect, where a person feels they’re being watched more closely on video than face-to-face.

Xu said this kind of research has implications for consumers to avoid problems such as online fraud, and for businesses looking to promote trust and build a good image, Xu said.

Released: 1/25/2012

Source: Wichita State University

Related Link:

http://www.newswise.com/articles/people-lie-more-when-texting

Cohabitating Valentines Are Happier Than Wedded Couples

Newswise — ITHACA, N.Y. — When it comes to the well-being of married versus cohabitating Valentines, wedded couples experience few advantages in psychological well-being and social ties, according to a new study at Cornell University.

The study, “Reexamining the Case for Marriage: Union Formation and Changes in Well-being,” is being published in the February issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family(available online: http://bit.ly/xL4t9U).

“We found that differences between marriage and cohabitation tend to be small and dissipate after a honeymoon period. Also while married couples experienced health gains – likely linked to the formal benefits of marriage such as shared health care plans – cohabiting couples experienced greater gains in happiness and self-esteem. For some, cohabitation may come with fewer unwanted obligations than marriage and allow for more flexibility, autonomy and personal growth,” said Kelly Musick, associate professor of policy analysis and management at Cornell’s College of Human Ecology, who co-authored the study with sociologist Larry Bumpass of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“Marriage has long been an important social institution, but in recent decades western societies have experienced increases in cohabitation, before or instead of marriage, and increases in children born outside of marriage,” said Musick. “These changes have blurred the boundaries of marriage, leading to questions about what difference marriage makes in comparison to alternatives.”

Previous research has sought to prove a link between marriage and well-being, but many studies compared marriage to being single, or compared marriages and cohabitations at a single point in time.

This study compares marriage to cohabitation while using a fixed-effects approach that focuses on what changes occur when single men and women move into marriage or cohabitation and the extent to which any effects of marriage and cohabitation persist over time.

The researchers used a sample from the National Survey of Families and Households of 2,737 single men and women, 896 of whom married or moved in with a partner over the course of six years. The study focused on key areas of well-being, considering questions on happiness, levels of depression, health and social ties.

“Compared to most industrial countries, America continues to value marriage above other family forms,” concluded Musick. “However our research shows that marriage is by no means unique in promoting well-being and that other forms of romantic relationships can provide many of the same benefits.”

The study was funded in part by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences.

Released: 1/24/2012

Source:  Cornell University

Related Link:

http://newswise.com/articles/cohabitating-valentines-are-happier-than-wedded-couples-finds-study

The Protect IP/SOPA Bill Threatens the Entire Internet, Video Explains the Flaws in This Hurried Legislation

Tell Congress not to censor the internet NOW! – fightforthefuture.org/pipa

Source: fightforthefuture.org

We May Be Less Happy, but Our English Language Isn’t

Newswise — “If it bleeds, it leads,” goes the cynical saying with television and newspaper editors. In other words, most news is bad news and the worst news gets the big story on the front page.

So one might expect the New York Times to contain, on average, more negative and unhappy types of words — like “war,” ” funeral,” “cancer,” “murder” — than positive, happy ones — like “love,” “peace” and “hero.”

Or take Twitter. A popular image of what people tweet about may contain a lot of complaints about bad days, worse coffee, busted relationships and lousy sitcoms. Again, it might be reasonable to guess that a giant bag containing all the words from the world’s tweets — on average — would be more negative and unhappy than positive and happy.

But new research shows just the opposite.

“English, it turns out, is strongly biased toward being positive,” said Peter Dodds, an applied mathematician at the University of Vermont.

The UVM team’s study “Positivity of the English Language,” is presented in the Jan. 11 issue of the journal PLoS ONE.

This new study complements another study the same Vermont scientists presented in the Dec. 7 issue of PLoS ONE, “Temporal Patterns of Happiness and Information in a Global Social Network.”

That work attracted wide media attention showing that average global happiness, based on Twitter data, has been dropping for the past two years.

Combined, the two studies show that short-term average happiness has dropped — against the backdrop of the long-term fundamental positivity of the English language.

In the new study, Dodds and his colleagues gathered billions of words from four sources: twenty years of the New York Times, the Google Books Project (with millions of titles going back to 1520), Twitter and a half-century of music lyrics.

“The big surprise is that in each of these four sources it’s the same,” says Dodds. “We looked at the top 5,000 words in each, in terms of frequency, and in all of those words you see a preponderance of happier words.”

Or, as they write in their study, “a positivity bias is universal,” both for very common words and less common ones and across sources as diverse as tweets, lyrics and British literature.

Why is this? “It’s not to say that everything is fine and happy,” Dodds says. “It’s just that language is social.”

In contrast to traditional economic theory, which suggests people are inherently and rationally selfish, a wave of new social science and neuroscience data shows something quite different: that we are a pro-social storytelling species. As language emerged and evolved over the last million years, positive words, it seems, have been more widely and deeply engrained into our communications than negative ones.

“If you want to remain in a social contract with other people, you can’t be a…,” well, Dodds here used a word that is rather too negative to be fit to print — which makes the point.

This new work adds depth to the Twitter study that the Vermont scientists published in December that attracted attention from NPR, Time magazine and other media outlets.

“After that mild downer story, we can say, ‘But wait — there’s still happiness in the bank,” Dodds notes. “On average, there’s always a net happiness to language.”

Both studies drew on a service from Amazon called Mechanical Turk. On this website, the UVM researchers paid a group of volunteers to rate, from one to nine, their sense of the “happiness” — the emotional temperature — of the 10,222 most common words gathered from the four sources. Averaging their scores, the volunteers rated, for example, “laughter” at 8.50, “food” 7.44, “truck” 5.48, “greed” 3.06 and “terrorist” 1.30.

The Vermont team — including Dodds, Isabel Kloumann, Chris Danforth, Kameron Harris, and Catherine Bliss — then took these scores and applied them to the huge pools of words they collected. Unlike some other studies — with smaller samples or that elicited strong emotional words from volunteers — the new UVM study, based solely on frequency of use, found that “positive words strongly outnumber negative words overall.”

This seems to lend support to the so-called Pollyanna Principle, put forth in 1969, that argues for a universal human tendency to use positive words more often, easily and in more ways than negative words.

Of course, most people would rank some words, like “the,” with the same score: a neutral 5. Other words, like “pregnancy,” have a wide spread, with some people ranking it high and others low. At the top of this list of words that elicited strongly divergent feelings: “profanities, alcohol and tobacco, religion, both capitalism and socialism, sex, marriage, fast foods, climate, and cultural phenomena such as the Beatles, the iPhone, and zombies,” the researchers write.

“A lot of these words — the neutral words or ones that have big standard deviations — get washed out when we use them as a measure,” Dodds notes. Instead, the trends he and his team have observed are driven by the bulk of English words tending to be happy.

If we think of words as atoms and sentences as molecules that combine to form a whole text, “we’re looking at atoms,” says Dodds. “A lot of news is bad,” he says, and short-term happiness may rise and and fall like the cycles of the economy, “but the atoms of the story — of language — are, overall, on the positive side.”

Released: 1/12/2012

Source: University of Vermont

Related Link:

http://www.newswise.com/articles/we-may-be-less-happy-but-our-language-isn-t

Some Like it Hot: Popular Yoga Style Cranks up the Heat

What You Need to Know to Prevent Injuries

Photo Credit, Hospital for Special Surgery. People practicing hot yoga should take certain precautions, said certified yoga instructor Diana Zotos of Hospital for Special Surgery.

Newswise — Yoga is one of the hottest fitness trends and a style known as “hot yoga” is gaining in popularity.

Hot yoga refers to yoga practiced in a heated environment, with the room temperature generally reaching 90 to 105 degrees. The theory behind it is that hot yoga helps the body to sweat out toxins while allowing the practitioner to safely achieve deeper poses. Bikram is a common form of hot yoga.

Almost 16 million Americans practice some form of yoga, according to a 2008 study in the Yoga Journal.

While the practice can offer health benefits and a sense of well-being, people practicing hot yoga, especially beginners, should take certain precautions, according to Diana Zotos, a certified yoga instructor and physical therapist in the Rehabilitation Department at Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan.

“Yoga of any type is physically challenging, and the heated environment of hot yoga makes the practice especially demanding,” Zotos says. “The heat makes people feel as if they can stretch deeper into poses and can give them a false sense of flexibility. This can lead to muscle strains or damage to the joint, including ligaments and cartilage.”

Zotos says people over 40 who have never done Bikram yoga may be at greater risk of injury, and she recommends they familiarize themselves with it prior to trying a class. “There are many books and videos that describe this style and can demonstrate the poses and techniques,” she says. “Since classes are constructed of the same 26 poses, people can become familiar with them beforehand.”

Beginners should keep in mind that poses will require a certain level of leg, core and upper body strength, as well as balance, according to Zotos. People should also have a tolerance for stretching and moderate flexibility in their legs and spine.

“The heat factor also puts more strain on the heart and challenges endurance. That being said, people should be of good cardiovascular health; have healthy hip, knee, spine and shoulder joints; shouldn’t have balance or neurological issues; and should have a general tolerance for excessive heat,” she advises.

Zotos has these additional tips:

• Be well-prepared. Bring a mat and towel, and
wear shorts and a tank top. If possible, bring a buddy. It can be more fun and less intimidating if you take your first class with a friend.
• Make sure you drink plenty of fluids well before class (but not coffee or soda). Don’t eat anything too heavy (more than 200 calories) two to three hours prior to class.
• Make sure the studio and teachers have a good reputation. Ask about their experience and credentials. The teacher should be certified in Bikram or another form of yoga.
• Try to arrive early. This way you can introduce yourself and speak with the instructor, pick a good spot in the studio to set up your mat and get comfortable with your surroundings and the heat.
• Start slowly and learn the basics. Never push yourself to the point of pain while stretching or assuming a position.
• Listen to your body. Stop at the first sign of discomfort. If you are extremely fatigued, take a break. Do not try yoga poses beyond your experience or comfort level.
• Don’t get discouraged if you can’t reach a pose. It’s not a competition.
• Ask questions if you’re not sure how to perform a pose.
• If you get dizzy, lightheaded, overheated or experience chest pain, STOP immediately. Seek medical assistance if necessary.

Anyone who questions whether hot yoga is safe for them should consult their physician, Zotos says. “If you have sensitivity to heat, if you’ve ever had heat stroke or tend to get fatigued, dizzy or dehydrated quickly, you should ask your doctor before starting hot yoga. Anyone with osteoarthritis, any rheumatologic arthritis, pain in muscles or a joint, or any kind of previous injury should check with their doctor.”

Zotos says it’s especially important that anyone who has hypertension, low blood pressure or heart disease check with their cardiologist before trying hot yoga.

For more tips concerning other forms of exercise and wellness advice, visit www.hss.edu/wellness.

Released: 1/16/2012

Source: Hospital for Special Surgery

Related Link:

http://newswise.com/articles/some-like-it-hot-popular-yoga-style-cranks-up-the-heat

Workplace News….Employee Recognition Important during Holidays (And the Rest of the Year)

Newswise — Whether it’s a festive holiday party, an end-of-the-year bonus or a thoughtful gift, many employees can expect something from their employers during this holiday season.

Although giving gifts and parties can certainly be appreciated by employees, do they offer employers any long-term benefits?

It seems many organizations think they do.

A recent CareerBuilder survey of more than 4,000 workers and more than 2,600 employers shows organizations are more likely to provide holiday parties and perks this year. According to the survey, 40 percent of employers plan to give their employees holiday bonuses, up from 33 percent in 2010. Fifty-eight percent of employers are planning a holiday party for their employees, up from 52 percent, and 30 percent of employers plan to give holiday gifts to employees, up from 29 percent.

Research on employee recognition demonstrates that sincere, credible recognition is appreciated by employees and can enhance their motivation and performance, said Tom Becker, chair and professor in the Department of Business Administration at the University of Delaware.

“This is likely to be true whether the recognition is provided during the holidays or at other times,” Becker said.

Providing parties, bonuses and other forms of acknowledgement, including gifts, for employees’ work has symbolic value beyond the objective value that may be attached. “They send a message that the employment relationship is more than simply a transactional one. That message is especially important to convey if employees have endured a year of no raises, extra workloads, threats of layoff or many of the other conditions common in workplaces right now,” said Kimberly Merriman, an assistant professor of management and organization at Pennsylvania State University.

The key to gift giving and other forms of recognition around the holidays is being sincere, explained Robert Eisenberger, a professor in the psychology department at the University of Houston. He studies perceived organizational support—what makes employees feel supported and cared about—and has recently published a book titled “Perceived Organizational Support: Fostering Enthusiastic and Productive Employees.”

“What’s important is the genuineness of what you do,” he explained. “If the employer just goes through the motions of giving a gift that doesn’t really indicate they value employees, then it doesn’t count for much. What, really is important is a genuine indication of valuation and caring.”
What type of a gift or recognition will seem genuine to employees?

“One is the amount of time you are willing to spend on indicating you care about employees. For example, taking employees or subordinates out for a meal shows you really care about them, because it’s easy to give them a few dollars, but taking the time to treat employees to a meal involves effort and planning,” Eisenberger said,
It’s important to know employees’ needs and values, said Becker. “That’s a key principle of management. This allows managers and others to select a form of recognition or reward that employees will welcome. For some it might be money and for others a simple and sincere verbal acknowledgement of a job well done.”

Becker said non-monetary recognition can be just as effective as a bonus. “Forms of recognition besides money include written or verbal praise; symbolic rewards, such as plaques and certificates; small, meaningful gifts; or anything else that employees perceive as sincere recognition of their contributions and accomplishments,” he explained.

It’s important to be consistent, according to Merriman. If gift giving is eliminated after years of doing it without a credible explanation, employees are likely to be upset. “The motivational effects may be most obvious in the absence rather than presence of such recognition, since employees anticipate receiving something,” she explained. “For instance, one organization I know of experienced employee backlash when it stopped giving out holiday turkeys. The company wisely reinstated the tradition the following year.”

In order to manage employee entitlement perceptions, like the turkey example, organizations should separate financial rewards from the tradition of holiday recognition and instead provide a form of recognition that can be maintained each year, Merriman added.

“The trick is finding something that can be maintained—even in lean years—but still has value to employees. Here are two creative things a company might consider: providing free on-site car washes to employees for the day or providing free on-site gift wrapping. Of course, most employees would most value some extra paid time off during the holiday season if possible!”

Although general recognition such as parties and gifts can be expected to improve morale and help employees feel support from their organization, most of the benefits come in the form of positive assessment and appreciation, said Robert T. Brill, an associate professor psychology at Moravian College.

Because this show of holiday recognition is general and not tied to any one employee’s work, employers should not expect it to impact employees’ work habits, Brill said.
“It will go a long way toward morale and the worker’s sense of commitment and gratitude to the employer, but changing performance usually will require a more ongoing, systematic approach to performance feedback and management. A one-time reward for basically being a part of the organization does a great deal for attitude and emotional connection, but little for long-term performance change.”

Although many organizations may not have time for it during the hectic holidays, Brill said individual recognition—such as performance bonuses instead of blanket holiday bonuses—by employers would be most effective at improving motivation.

Eisenberger stressed that it is important for employees to feel supported all year, not just around the holidays.
“If people aren’t supported and card about the rest of the year and then a show of that is made just around holiday time, it isn’t taken very seriously,” he explained. “If you just do it on one occasion during the year, it’s not going to have much effect. It needs to be part of a pattern of indicating that employees are valued and cared about. It’s just like with relatives, you can’t be nice to relatives on the holiday and not be nice to them the rest of the year.”

Released: 12/12/2011

Source: The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP)

Related Link:

http://www.newswise.com/articles/employee-recognition-important-during-holidays-and-the-rest-of-the-year

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