Psychologically, Republicans and Democrats are different

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Original article by Emily Laber-Warren, “Calling a Truce in the Political Wars”. Featured in Scientific American Mind, Sept. 2012.

Psychologically, Republicans and Democrats are different. This isn’t just my opinion, but there are actual studies that show how liberals and conservatives are different in their personalities and even their unconscious reactions to the world around them.

Conservatives are self-disciplined while Liberals are novelty-seeking

In a 2008 study, examining the contents of 76 college students’ bedrooms, it was revealed that conservatives possessed more cleaning and organizational items such as ironing boards and calendars, confirming that they are orderly and self-disciplined. Liberals owned more books and travel-related memorabilia, which conforms with previous research suggesting that they are open and novelty-seeking.

Liberals are reluctant to harm a living thing, yet are willing to disrespect authority

In a 2009 study, 8,000 people with a series of hypothetical actions. Among them: kick a dog in the head; discard a box of ballots to help your candidate win; publicly bet against a favorite sports team; and receive a blood transfusion from a child molester. Participants had to say whether they would do these deeds for money and, if so, for how much – $10? $1,000? $100,000? More?

Liberals were reluctant to harm a living thing or act unfairly, even for $1 million, but they were willing to betray group loyalty and disrespect authority. Conservatives said they were less willing to compromise on any of the moral categories.

Conservatives are more attuned to assessing potential threats

In a 2009 study, when viewing a collage of photographs, conservatives’ eyes unconsciously lingered 15 percent longer on repellent images, such as car wrecks – suggesting that conservatives are more attuned than liberals to assessing potential threats.

Well this is all very interesting, but is there a point?

According to psychologist Jonathan Haidt, liberals and conservatives are equally grounded in ethics. Liberals should acknowledge that the Right’s emphasis on laws, institutions, customs and religion is valuable. Conservatives recognize that democracy is a huge achievement and that maintaining the social order requires imposing constraints on people.

Liberal values, on the other hand, also serve important roles: ensuring that the rights of weaker members of society are respected; limiting the harmful effects, such as pollution, that corporations sometimes pass on to others; and fostering innovation by supporting diverse ideas and ways of life.

Congress is in a perpetual stalemate because of the parties’ inability to find middle ground on practically anything.

Although conservatives and liberals are fundamentally different, hints are emerging about how to help them coexist. Even if their views clash, they are equally grounded in ethics. Haidt is not out to change people’s deepest moral beliefs. Yet he thinks that if people could see that those they disagree with are not immoral but simply emphasizing different moral principles, some of the antagonism would subside. To learn more, check out Haidt’s The Righteous Mind – Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religions.


List of Shared Goods and Services Companies

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The companies below have changed the way we think about work and consumption. By maximizing our resources, the stuff we own, the skills and free time we possess, allows us to tap into the potential all around us. Every purchase becomes a potential investment, every idle hour a potential paycheck. And for us consumers, these services offer either low prices or a level of convenience beyond what a more traditional business can offer.

Transportation and Housing

Airbnb allows people to rent out their homes or rooms. The service has booked more than 5 million overnight stays in its four years of existence. Personally, I am a fan and have enjoyed using the service. Read about my experience here.

Getaround allows you to rent out your car.

Zipcar is like a car rental service, but instead of having to go to the car rental place, stand in line, and pay in 24 hour increments, with Zipcar you can rent by the hour, pick up a car nearby, and access the car with a Zipcar membership card that is sent to you. I found the service convenient when I lived in New York.

Spinlisterallows you to find the best bikes to rent online, whether from individuals or existing bike rental shops.

Ayoopa – is the online rental marketplace for your travel checklist.  Have unused backpacks, luggage, camping gear…list it and make money.  Travelling and don’t want the hassle of storage or expensive travel gear, just rent it locally.

Uber – A service that lets anyone summon an executive car via their smartphone. Cashless transactions (customers’ credit cards are charged, tips and all, behind the scenes) allows passengers to feel like their personal chauffeur has been idling around the corner.

Sidecar connects you with other drivers in your community. All you have to do is enter your pick up and drop off location and then wait for the driver to pick you up. The best part – there is no charge!

See a list of Shared Goods and Services Companies Here

ParkingPanda allows you to find parking and rent out your parking space.

Fun2Rent is a unique service that connects owners of recreation and powersports with those looking to rent. Our team provides a secure and insured platform which enables owners to safely rent out on their idle toys to qualified and insured renters. We are the first and largest peer-to-peer rental site for boats, jet skis, ATV’s, snowmobiles, motorcycles, and trailers.

Clothes & Accessories

RenttheRunway is like Netflix, but with fantastic dresses and accessories.

BagBorroworSteal allows you to rent designer handbags by the week, month, or season.

ThredUp is an online children’s consignment made fast, easy, and affordable.


Ebay let’s people sell unneeded stuff from their garages.

ToolSpinner is an online rental marketplace connecting tool renters and tool owners.


Rover is a convenient, more humane, less expensive alternative to traditional dog boarding.

Professional Services

TaskRabbit an eBay for real world labor. Get just about anything done by safe, reliable, people.

Exec allows you to get local help to help run errands for you, do virtual tasks, pick up and ship packages, etc.

Cherry is the carwash that comes to you. Park anywhere, check in online, and we’ll wash your car right where you left it.


StudentBookTrades  allows you to trade, Buy, and Sell College Books in 3 Easy Steps!

Creative Projects

Kickstarter Kickstarter aims to let creative people of all kinds — journalists, artists, musicians, game developers, entrepreneurs, bloggers — raise money for their projects by connecting directly with fans, who receive exclusive access and rewards in exchange for their patronage. More than just a fundraising app, Kickstarter’s a publishing platform where project creators can communicate with the people that are supporting them.

Movie about Houston from 1982 – 2012

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I went to Discovery Green Friday evening to check out Stephen Klineberg’s documentary – Interesting Times. I’d say there were approximately 200-300 people on the lawn enjoying the nice weather along with some live music and entertainment. After getting bitten 3 times by mosquitos, I was about to call it a night and leave, but finally they showed the movie.

Interesting Times takes a look at Houston’s economic and demographic development for the past 30 years.  For the past thirty years, Rice University Professor Stephen Klineberg has been surveying a random sample of people living in Harris County and asking identical questions:

  • How do you see the world?
  • What is happening in your life?
  • What is your job outlook?

For me this movie was an eye opener. Did you know that:

  • 75% of all those younger than the age of 30 are not Anglos
  • the future of Houston’s prosperity may depend on nano-technology
  • there is a plan to plant 1,000,000 trees in the city

It is a great short movie and special thanks to Klineberg for putting the results of his study on film. If you’d like to see the film, e-mail or fill out a request form on the institute’s Web site at

18 Kids who made a disabled Boy a Hero for a day

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It has been a while since I read this story, but this past weekend I was with my nephew and we were watching some kids play baseball and I thought of it. Just to give you some background, the story comes from the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, New York, and is about a disabled boy. Here it goes..

In Brooklyn, New York, Chush is a school that caters to learning disabled
children. Some children remain in Chush for their entire school career,
while others can be mainstreamed into conventional schools. At a Chush
fundraising dinner, the father of a Chush child delivered a speech that
would never be forgotten by all who attended.

After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he cried out, “Where is
the perfection in my son Shaya? Everything God does is done with perfection.

But my child cannot understand things as other children do. My child
cannot remember facts and figures as other children do. Where is God’s
The audience was shocked by the question, pained by the father’s anguish and

stilled by the piercing query. “I believe,” the father answered, “that when
God brings a child like this into the world, the perfection that he seeks is

in the way people react to this child.”

He then told the following story about his son Shaya:  One afternoon Shaya
and his father walked past a park where some boys Shaya knew were playing
baseball. Shaya asked, “Do you think they will let me play?” Shay’s father
knew that his son was not at all athletic and that most boys would not want
him on their team. But Shaya’s father understood that if his son was chosen
to play it would give him a comfortable sense of belonging.

Shaya’s father approached one of the boys in the field and asked if Shaya
could play. The boy looked around for guidance from his teammates. Getting
none, he took matters into his own hands and said “We are losing by six runs

and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and
we’ll try to put him up to bat in the ninth inning.”

Shaya’s father was ecstatic as Shaya smiled broadly. Shaya was told to put
on a glove and go out to play short center field. In the bottom of the
eighth inning, Shaya’s team scored a few runs but was still behind by three.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shaya’s team scored again and now with
two outs and the bases loaded with the potential winning run on base, Shaya
was scheduled to be up.  Would the team actually let Shaya bat at this
juncture and give away theirchance to win the game? Suprisingly, Shaya was
given the bat.

Everyone knew that it was all but impossible because Shaya didn’t even know
how to hold the bat properly, let alone hit with it. However as Shaya
stepped up to the plate, the pitcher moved a few steps to lob the ball in
softly so Shaya should at least be able to make contact. The first pitch
came in and Shaya swung clumsily and missed. One of Shaya’s teammates came
up to Shaya and together the held the bat and faced the pitcher waiting for
the next pitch.

The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly toward
Shaya. As the pitch came in, Shaya and his teammate swung at the bat and
together they hit a slow ground ball to the pitcher. The pitcher picked up
the soft grounder and could easily have thrown the ball to the first
baseman. Shaya would have been out and that would have ended the game.
Instead, the pitcher took the ball and threw it on a high arc to right
field, far beyond reach of the first baseman.

Everyone started yelling, “Shaya, run to first. Run to first.” Never in his
life had Shaya run to first. He scampered down the baseline wide-eyed and
startled. By the time he reached first base, the right fielder had the ball.

He could have thrown the ball to the second baseman who would tag out
Shaya, who was still running. But the right fielder understood what the
pitcher’s intentions were, so he threw the ball high and far over the third
baseman’s head. Everyone yelled, “Run to second, run to second.”

Shaya ran towardssecond base as the runners ahead of him deliriously circled

the bases towards home. As Shaya reached second base the opposing short stop

ran to him, turned him in the direction of third base and shouted, “Run to
third.” As Shaya rounded third, the boys from both teams ran behind him
screaming, “Shaya run home.”

Shaya ran home, stepped on home plate and all 18 boys lifted him on their
shoulders and made him the hero, as he had just hit a “grand slam” and won
the game for his team.

That day,” said the father softly with tears now rolling down his
face,”those 18 boys reached their level of God’s perfection.”


Feeding and Dining with the Homeless

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Have you ever seen a group of homeless gathering to hear Mass? Well they do and the group of people from Ecclesia Church have an outreach program called ‘Simple Feast’. The idea is to not only feed those in society that are often cast aside, but to also share a meal with them.

In the words of Jacky Bui, “The man on the street is not just a addict or a lazy man who won’t work, but a husband and father who has been given up on or a man who made a mistake and, though no longer in prison, finds himself still in one. There is a blending of those serving and those being served; circles of folks sitting on the grass talking and playing with pets; kids throwing a football around with grown men; and volleyball games that reveal the competitive nature of men regardless of financial status. “Us” and “them” have become sisters and brothers. This is a simple feast.”

If you’d like to see and experience this celebration for yourself, Simple Feast would love for you to join them for a Sunday (or two). Just contact Jacky Bui at jaxbui (at) gmail (dot) com.

Free Burial Service for Homeless Veterans

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The team at Dignity Memorial has put together a great program for homeless Veterans. They have put together a Burial Program that provides dignified burial services for eligible homeless and indigent veterans to ensure they receive the honors in death that their service in life merited.

The program is currently available in 35 cities across the country. Since inception in 2000, the Dignity Memorial Homeless Veterans Burial Program has provided burial services for more than 1,000 homeless veterans. Homeless and indigent veterans who have no family to claim them are identified and provided with a proper military burial. Dignity Memorial providers supply preparation of the body, transportation, clothing, casket and coordination of the funeral service. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides eligible veterans with the opening and closing of the gravesite, a grave liner, a headstone or marker, a graveside ceremony and burial in a National Cemetery.

This is a wonderful initiative and I am honored just to feature it on To learn more, please visit

How about Business Recycling in Houston?

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How about business recycling?

Reading the recycling article in last Sunday’s paper had me wondering why the city concentrates on getting residents to recycle when there would be much more impact if restaurants and other Houston businesses were required to recycle.

Every day I see the upscale restaurants in my area (Kirby and West Alabama) toss enormous quantities of glass bottles, cardboard boxes and plastic containers. It makes me wonder why I faithfully recycle each week the glass, paper, cans and plastic produced by my 2-person household, a pittance compared to the mountains of waste packaging that businesses throw away daily. – SHARI STACK, native Houstonian

Great letter from native Houstonian Shari. Here are four tips to getting a successful office recycling program underway (via

1. Know your trash. Yes, it might be dirty work, but it’s worth figuring out what types of things your business tosses out – whether it’s white paper, plastic bottles or bags or paint cans. You can then better determine what part of your trash is eligible for recycling. Some items may even be required to be recycled under your state’s laws.

2. Contact your local recycler. Review your curbside recycler’s rules and the items and materials it accepts – assuming you have curbside recycling at your business. Many recyclers now pick up a wider range of plastics, cloth and linens and small appliances. Get a full list of accepted items and keep it handy.  (Some city recycling programs are even starting to pick up business’s food scraps for composting.) Also keep in mind that some curbside collection programs don’t automatically stop at businesses – so it’s worth contacting them to find out whether they will.

3. Consider alternatives. Even if there’s no curbside collection for, say, old batteries and light bulbs, that doesn’t mean they aren’t recyclable. Check out to find drop-off recycling centers in your area and get lists of accepted items. (Some charge fees.) Several major retailers including Whole Foods, Home Depot, and Best Buy will recycle the types of products they sell – everything from plastic food containers to CFL light bulbs to old computers.

4. Make it easy. How easy you make recycling in your office will affect whether employees pitch in. Consider putting paper recycling bins under every employee’s desk and near areas with lots of paper waste, such as by copy machines and printers. Put plastic bottle collections in the break room.  Clearly mark the bins so employees know exactly what should be put in them. Another possible motivation trick: Put trash cans farther out of reach.

Well there you go. Several ways to recycle trash at your business, improve your community, and reduce waste. Thanks for the tips Kelly Spors!