I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (don’t you think they came up with the acronym before the name?). My symptoms peak in early February. This year they’ve been aggravated by the pandemic and political turmoil. I went to the University of Pennsylvania Authentic Happiness Questionnaire Center, took the well-being survey, and scored moderately depressed.
Not as bad as I expected, actually. My Retirement Elation Syndrome must still be providing some resistance.
Nonetheless, I’m trying to climb out of the ruts that trap me this time of year. One way is to search for good news about near-and-dear subjects. Because a joy shared is twice the joy, I’m presenting what I’ve found the last few days in hopes it brightens your day too. The list goes from what I consider least to most consequential, with links at each item’s start in case you want to read more.
Major League Baseball owners proposed a 154-game schedule this year. A normal schedule is 162 games per team. Confronted with coronavirus in 2020, the owners smeared themselves in bad publicity, flung palmloads of it at the players, and slashed the season to 60 games. This year’s proposal is problematic for many reasons, especially to traditionalists like me (fifty years on, I still consider the designated hitter an abomination), and the players have rejected it. But at least the owners are negotiating more sensibly. We’re going to see more baseball in 2021.
Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) has started a political action committee to support anti-Trump Republicans. I think the odds of conservatives reclaiming the party from authoritarians are poor, at least over the next few years. But Kinzinger, who voted to impeach Trump, is determined to win or go down fighting.
Neurologists are getting closer to diagnosing brain pathologies, including Alzheimer’s, years before noticeable symptoms arise — through a combination of artificial intelligence and writing samples. I’m ready whenever they are! (Perhaps my overuse of exclamation points means I’m already senile!)
There may be a solution to the polarizing tendencies of diversity training. Before I took UC Berkeley’s homegrown training, I worried it would lean too heavily on the authoritarian left’s group-identity framework. It’s a common anxiety, especially among white men, and it undercuts the training before it starts. (The sessions went just fine.) Now Chloé Valdary, a scholarly young entrepreneur from New Orleans, has developed a scalable approach that eschews racial essentialism in favor of human universality, incorporates wisdom from Plato to Martin Luther King, and acknowledges that love of other is unlikely without love of self. It sounds like a really viable model.
Biologists are closing in on the cause(s) of a thiamin (vitamin B1) shortage that threatens marine ecosystems, and in the process they’re attracting attention to the issue, which has to compete with climate change and other global risks for the scant notice society pays to its fouled nest. We can’t live without thiamin. In nature, it’s synthesized by bacteria and other organisms in the oceans and seas. For some reason, production has dropped, compromising health all the way up the food chain and now affecting wildlife on land. Local fixes are working, but a global fix would be better.
General Motors will cease manufacturing gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035. In 1953, Charles Wilson, head of GM, was nominated for Secretary of Defense by President Eisenhower. He testified at his confirmation hearing that “what’s good for General Motors is good for the country.” That assertion (the popular interpretation of which is taken somewhat out of context) may finally have real meaning — not just for the country, but the world.
It will be interesting to see how these stories unfold. And if they crash? At least the days are getting longer.