How to hack your brain into making better decisions.
Bill Sullivan Ph.D.
Not again! You ate too much pie. You bought yet another pair of shoes that you don’t need. You were rude to someone. You partied too hard.
The list of regrets goes on. We can recognize our bad habits, but we have great difficulty breaking them.
There is one simple thing you can do—a new habit you can develop—that has the potential to dissolve all of your bad habits. To learn how it works requires a better understanding of how the brain drives behavior.
The how and why of habit formation
New research has revealed numerous hidden forces that affect our behavior in surprising ways. These forces include biological and environmental factors that comingle to steer our actions on a subconscious level. In other words, many of the things we do, including the habits we’ve formed, are not the result of careful contemplation and deliberation on our part.
That may sound unsettling, but understanding the mechanisms underlying our behavior exposes potential ways to hack the brain into making more intelligent decisions. Otherwise, we fool ourselves into thinking we’re at the wheel when we’re actually just a backseat driver.
Our brain is a remarkable feat of evolutionary engineering, but it is not without its problems. Our thinking organ is an energy hog, consuming up to 20% of the body’s daily caloric intake—even while you are asleep! In an effort to conserve energy, the brain relies on mental shortcuts that psychologists call heuristics. The brain works hard to identify patterns, then makes assumptions based on those patterns.
These assumptions can influence our behavior in ways that are below our conscious radar. Since the brain invests a great effort in developing these algorithms, it is reluctant to spend additional energy re-evaluating its assumptions. This is why people are often stubborn, sometimes doubling down on erroneous beliefs even when presented with compelling evidence to the contrary.
The brain uses the patterns it has learned to run on automatic pilot whenever possible. This conserves the body’s resources, but it can result in the recurrence of bad habits. We do things without thinking. We form beliefs without evaluating evidence. We become biased and construct stereotypes. Bad habits and irrational decisions can stem from these automated heuristic pathways in the brain.
Breaking bad habits
To break the cycle, we must constantly remind ourselves to get out of the backseat and sit behind the wheel. We are often the victims of a lazy brain that is relying too heavily on mental shortcuts. The trick is to be mindful of our behaviors, no matter how trivial they may seem. Ask yourself questions like: Why do I want that cookie? Why do I want to say such a cruel thing? I am yawning, so why am I staying up to watch another episode? Why am I looking at my phone instead of enjoying my meal?
The strategy may seem obvious, but being mindful of our present actions is not as easy as it sounds for two related reasons: our brain is overusing mental shortcuts and diverting the energy to worry about what has yet to happen.
For your daily routine, the brain is operating largely on heuristics. This frees energy to allow the brain to do its favorite thing: imagining future scenarios. Research has shown that the wandering mind is the default setting for the brain, which clearly has survival advantages. The downside of this preoccupation is that we’re not very good at living in the here and now. We’re not very good at quelling our never-ending desires. We’re not very good at recognizing and appreciating what we already have.
You can nurture a new habit to live in the moment. Scrutinize your actions to reveal the choice before you. Contemplate every fork in the road. Engage your logic circuits instead of letting the mind act purely on subconscious assumptions. Here is a helpful approach that leverages the brain’s desire for success: Frame the decision you need to make as a test. Will you pass it? Or will you fail?
The brain hates failure and produces emotions like guilt and shame to encourage you not to fail again. By the same token, the brain rewards accomplishment. If you can be mindful of the here and now—how your behavior is affecting your body or the welfare of someone else—you will harness the power to override bad habits committed by a brain on autopilot. Push yourself to expend the energy required to challenge your brain’s automated decisions. If you experience difficulty, learn to recognize the cues that trigger the bad habit and rearrange your routine to avoid them.
It is important to let your mind wander and contemplate the future, but do so at a designated time of rest—not when your attention is required in the here and now. Good luck on your next test!
Black men kill each other at alarming rates all across America every day. Nearly every city’s daily news casts reports, “Today in our city three (or thirty depending on the size of your city) men were shot and killed in three (or thirty) separate shootings. Police have no suspects in any of the cases.” And immediately and innately you know that the people killed were black and the killers were black. This has been going on for the last 30-40 years and no end is in sight. New Orleans has one of the highest murder rates nationally. Why do black men kill each other?
First Let’s Dispel a
First thing you have to know is that 99.999% of black men do
not commit murder ever in their lives.
That is a fact! This is not a
black man issue. There is nothing
genetically or intrinsically wrong with black men. But the fact remains that
daily hundreds of black men across this country are murdered everyday by
another black man. Why does this happen
with this subset?
Common factors to Black
men murdering other black men
The first thing about murder is that people usually kill
people who are similar to them in many ways, particularly race. White men normally murder other white men and
black men normally murder other black men.
In the black community, these killings are normally city events. Rarely do you hear of a drive by in the country. Most of these daily killings occur on the city streets. People kill others who they interact with.
Young men engage in risky and violent behavior. Most of the men dying on our streets are
between the ages of 17-35.
But these are often cited, unsurprising factors. More salient is what goes into the psyche of a guy who can look into the eyes of another man and pull the trigger at close range or jab a knife with the intent to murder another man? What are the other factors that contribute to becoming a murderer? Why do Black men kill each other
The guy who ain’t never scared and always looking to
escalate a situation. Down for whatever. Nothing to live for and anticipating the day
he will either kill or be killed. This
mindset is cultivated in a limited option, few chances, success deprived
life. This guy has had a number of
arguments and fist fights throughout his life.
He hates authority and frequently feels angry or resentful towards
people. He often seeks to overcome a
feeling of powerlessness. This guy is a
walking heap of rage. He is always nothing
but a gun and an argument away from murder.
The Disrespected Man
A man who feels like everybody but him gets respect.
Unemployed or stuck in a low wage hard work job
where his contributions are unrecognized
Lives with his mother and has little control over
his home environment
Has a child but no custody and a bad relationship
with his baby mama
Been profiled and harassed by the police
Observes community members driving nice cars
Rejected for better jobs
Feels unable to change his life status and is
insignificant in the world
Seeks to overcome feelings of impotence
For this guy, respect is everything and options to express
anger or refutation are often limited. He
often seeks to overcome a feeling of impotence. If another who seems unworthy
of disseminating criticism or scorn or generally crosses the line of imagined
respect, then a high level of response will be meted out.
Little life happiness
Thrill seeker often brags and talks about his toughness and ‘hood status.
Wants to make a real name for himself
Will recklessly escalate a situation or
When challenged by a non-believing skeptic, this man often
acts in unnecessarily violent ways in unnecessarily violent situations. Often seeks to overcome a feeling of powerlessness.
Too often black men suffer an inferiority
vilifies and criminalizes black men on a daily basis.
American culture is based upon the notion that
black people and specifically black men are less intelligent, completely
unpredictable, beast like, lazy etc., etc.
Black men internalize this notion and are
conditioned to see little value when they look in the mirror.
Beset by internal angst and torment.
Unresolved pain combined with poverty,
ignorance, oppression, violent police, violent neighborhoods, etc.
symptoms of an inferiority complex include a high sensitivity to criticism, perceiving
others as a threat, jealousy, a lack of dreams.
The daily feeling of isolation, powerlessness and impotence is like being a prisoner of war. One reason black men grab their genitals is to stress their vitality. Men who have been literally stripped of the ability to display their manhood – great jobs, big houses, educational attainment and all the other accoutrements of modern society- are literally killing to express their power in life. Twisted but true.
From Our Partners at Lightshade
We thought it was high time to address one of our favorite topics: sex while high.
Cannabis and sex go together like peanut butter and jelly and leather and lace.
It’s the perfect way to elevate your sensory experience and go deep with your partner—after all, the brain is the largest erotic organ of them all!
So we decided to gather the questions we’re frequently asked about cannabis and sex, like…how does smoking weed impact you sexually? And…does weed make sex better or worse?
By the end of this piece, you’ll be well-versed in the cannabis-sex connection and ready to get high on the power of love.
How does cannabis influence sexual pleasure?
Let’s start with the big question: is weed good for sex?
While the marijuana-sex connection has been buzzed about for years until recently, the link between THC and sex has been mostly personal. People love smoking weed and having sex, and it’s hard to argue with personal experience!
However, thanks to the increasing number of states legalizing cannabis, the connections between pot and sex are gaining scientific backing.
A study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine concluded that “Many participants…found that cannabis helped them relax, heightened their sensitivity to touch, and increased intensity of feelings, thus enhancing their sexual experience.” This study, and other scientific research, indicate that cannabis sex can indeed be more pleasurable for people of all genders.
But how does this connection work? What does weed do to you sexually? And why is having sex while high on weed so much dang fun? The answer may lie in your body’s endocannabinoid system.
What role do endocannabinoids play in sex?
It’s no secret that weed functions by interacting with your body’s endocannabinoid system, a network of receptors throughout the brain and body that helps you maintain regular operation and is involved in a variety of the essential functions of your central nervous system.
The research shows that endocannabinoids play an essential role in your body’s sexual responses, explaining marijuana’s effects on sex. So how does weed affect you sexually? By interacting with endocannabinoid receptors within the areas of your brain that control sexual function.
Using cannabis for sex helps stimulate those receptors within the brain like naturally produced endocannabinoids would.
THC sex can feel more powerful simply because the cannabinoids interact with the neurotransmitters and hormonal messaging systems linked to the body’s sexual response.
Does weed lower your sex drive?
While the research shows that the cannabis-sex connection is positive, there’s a persistent rumor that overindulging can cause you to be less interested in sex. So what’s the truth? Does weed make you less sexually active?
To answer the question “does weed lower sex drive?” we need to look at another study from the Journal of Sexual Medicine that looked at sexual frequency among people who consumed cannabis and those who abstained.
The study found that there was, in fact, a connection between marijuana and sex drive, but it was positive. People who self-reported as consuming cannabis actually had more sex.
Let’s take a closer look at why that might be by examining the various ways men and women respond to pot sexual experiences.
How does Cannabis affect women during sex?
Recent research has made the connection between marijuana and female sexuality clear. Yet another study in the JSM showed that women who used cannabis more frequently also reported lower rates of sexual dysfunction and higher rankings for arousal and orgasms.
While the “why” of this relationship isn’t yet clear, the researchers theorized that using cannabis could help women experience less anxiety during sex.
“It is possible that a reduction in anxiety associated with a sexual encounter could improve experiences and lead to improved satisfaction, orgasm, and desire.”
They also theorized that the increase in pleasure could be due to the endocannabinoid system kicking into high gear or reduced anxiety about time passing.
TLDR: does smoking affect women’s sex drive? If so, it’s for the better!
How does Cannabis affect men during sex?
We’ve got the ladies covered, but does weed affect male sex drive?
According to the sexual frequency study we cited earlier, yes, and for the better! Men who reported using cannabis regularly also said that they were having more sex than their non-weed-using counterparts in the study.
As with the ladies, this connection is probably due to various factors, including the good ol’ endocannabinoid system and a reduction in anxiety that makes men less likely to experience sexual dysfunction. One study found that men who consumed cannabis were less likely to have trouble maintaining an erection.
Cannabis also seems to make sex more enjoyable for men and their female counterparts. As one respondent to an informal Psychology Today survey said, “Marijuana engulfs me in sex foam. I’m just pure sex on that stuff. It’s great. I could never feel that way sober or drunk.”
What type of weed should you take before sex?
If you’re already a cannabis lover, the odds are that all this evidence has got you ready to text a “u up?” to that special someone. But before you do, let’s talk about how to select your weed for sex. What’s the best marijuana for sex? Are there particular strains that work best?
In terms of genre, finding the best pot for sex is usually a question of choosing your favorite edibles for sex. The connection between edibles and sex makes sense—there’s nothing more V-day appropriate than sharing something sweet with your sweety.
But what are the best edibles for sex? Our pick has got to be the classic cannabis-infused chocolate bar. Not only is it seasonally appropriate, but chocolate is also an aphrodisiac, taking the best weed for sex to the next level.
What are the best cannabis strains for sex?
We’ve got the delivery down, but what are the best strains for sex? Here are five of our favorite go tos when we’re getting romantic:
High in energy-boosting humulene, this classic hybrid is one of the best marijuana strains for sex when you’re looking to get creative between the sheets.
Should you use lube during sex on cannabis?
Like any other sexual encounter, sex after smoking pot is a matter of personal preference. Using or not using lube is up to you and your partner, and there’s no scientific evidence that cannabis will impact you or your partner’s ability to lubricate naturally. However, some people report cases of “cotton vagina,” so check in with your partner and make sure to have lube on hand just in case!
We’ll leave you with a final bonus tip.
If you’re a cannabis and lube enthusiast, you should probably know there’s weed-infused lube on the market. A very romantic gift for your stoned sweetie! But whatever cannabis product you choose to indulge in, we hope it’s a great.
‘The only constant is change’ is a statement that portrays how life and everything in it is subject to transformation. Learning how to adapt is key to your overall well-being.
Change is all around us. Some change is fixed, like the shift of one season to another, while other change is evolutionary and progressive, tossing new circumstances our way as time goes on.
It’s natural to dislike change — it often requires you to come out from a zone of comfort and security.
But adaptability, the process of reinventing your behaviors, thoughts, and emotions, can be a key protective feature in mental health.
Change is the only constant: Meaning
Ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus observed that the natural world was in a constant state of movement. People age, develop habits and move environments.
You can’t step into the same river twice — even rocks were subject to changes by the elements over time.
He called this universal law of change “Logos,” and tied it to three central beliefs known as his flux doctrine:
Everything undergoes constant change.
There’s unification of opposites (the opposite of something can only exist because of change in the original).
Everything exists and doesn’t exist at the same time (matter can change forms so that the object no longer exists, but the original substance does).
The irony in all of this, as his statement implies, is that the only thing that will never change is the presence of change itself.
How to embrace change and cultivate adaptability
You don’t have to love change to be able to embrace it, and small adjustments can make change less painful in the long term.
1. Finding your people
Kate Schroeder, a licensed professional counselor from St. Louis, Missouri, suggests finding and surrounding yourself with people who can support you through change.
“The number one way to improve adaptability is to find a supportive network that you can both learn from and lean on throughout your life and the transitions that are certain to unfold,” she says.
2. Becoming self-aware
Have you ever asked yourself why change feels uncomfortable? Getting in tune with why you may resist change can be helpful, says Dr. Jenn Hardy, a licensed psychologist from Maryville, Tennessee.
“When we recognize that it comes from our temperament or difficult experiences earlier in our life, then we can approach ourselves with more compassion.”
3. Acknowledging stress as a sign of change
Hardy adds that stress can make you feel as though change is impossible, but it’s often a sign it might be time.
“Maybe you don’t even need to talk to someone [about your stress],” Hardy says. “You may already know the parts of your life that are in need of an adjustment. Let this be your sign to start dealing with them.”
4. Writing out the positives
“Consider the ways that change may be beneficial for you or those around you,” advises Halle M. Thomas, a licensed marriage and family therapist associate from Portland, Oregon. “It can be helpful to actually write this out as a list so that you can see it on paper.”
Adaptability can be an important predictor of resilience in life.
2022 research shows that during the COVID-19 pandemic, some people were unable to adapt to lockdown. This was linked to higher levels of depression, anxiety, and insomnia.
Being unable to accept change can have serious implications for a person’s relationship to themselves and those around them, as well, Thomas says.
“For those who are unable to accept change, they can find themselves feeling stuck in their life or in their relationships,” Thomas says. “At its worst, this feeling of being stuck can increase anxiety, depression, and substance use.”
Adaptability is how you modify your feelings and behaviors in the face of uncertainty.
While it may not be comfortable to shift out of the known and into the unknown, change isn’t going away just because you’re resistant to it.
As Heraclitus once said, the only constant in life is change.
If you experience difficulty adapting to change, remember that you’re not alone. If you find change overwhelming, you may want to talk with a mental health professional.
by Hope Gillette
Norris Henderson and VOTE scored impressive campaign victories over the weekend. They were able to use their deep pockets and out message two opponents who enjoyed more endorsements and name recognition. If you questioned whether Henderson and VOTE would be strong players in the political landscape of this city, you might have some answers now. But also, their striking victories place more eyeballs on them. How these victories play out over time remains to be seen. But one thing is for sure. Norris Henderson knows how to win elections in this city.
A kingmaker is a person or group that has great influence on a political election, without themselves being a viable candidate. Kingmakers in local politics are the true power brokers. They work behind the scenes. Their ability to get people elected is powerful and impactful. Our laws, regulations and policies dictate our daily lives. Elected officials create these rules. And the kingmakers influence our elected officials more than any other one person or group.
District 93 -Dark Money Wins
Henderson and Vote invested huge sums of money behind two candidates. Alonzo Knox is now the elected representative of one of the most prestigious house seats in the city. Dutch Morial, Dorothy Mae Taylor and Royce Duplessis previously represented District 93. The district includes downtown New Orleans and historic neighborhoods like Treme. This campaign was fiercely fought. The personal attacks against Fox Richardson were so intense and effective that the candidate stopped debating. Usually candidates don’t cry uncle, but Richardson did. Though her past criminal involvement provided some celebrity, the political fallout was irreparable. She seemed unprepared for the constant barrage and aggressive style she faced. Also Knox was the beneficiary of a half million dark dollars and captured over 54% of the votes cast. Henderson now influences one of the state’s most prestigious district’s representative. The turnout was less than 10% in this race.
Criminal Court Race Dark Money Wins
In the biggest and most dramatic win, Henderson’s other candidate, Leon Roche stormed past Diedre Pierce Kelly to get in the runoff against Simone Levine. Kelly had more political endorsements than both of her opponents combined. And Kelly had money and an experienced team of political consultants leading her campaign. But she had a blemish from the past that Roche exploited masterfully. Additionally, Henderson’s candidate was more experienced, better qualified and had no flaws. When attacked, Ms. Kelly made a critical mistake. She attacked Henderson and not Mr. Roche, her opponent. Henderson’s disruptive distractions are transforming the political playing field before our very eyes. Roche and Simone Levine now square off in a runoff election. Again, the turnout was less than 10%.
But it is a bit early for the kingmaker’s coronation. For sure, Henderson is putting together a string of impressive victories. Sheriff Susan Hutson, Commissioner Davante Lewis, Alonzo Knox and Roche into the runoff are significant notches on his campaign victory belt. But these are all typical dark money smear campaigns. And campaign mastery is mainly about winning positive races against equally matched opponents. Still Henderson has only won one type of race. He has been able to throw lots of cash and negatively exploit the weaknesses of vulnerable local candidates. We have not seen the ability to elevate a candidate in an even field.
And another factor is growing. The microscope will now be squarely focused on him and his future candidates. While their attacks didn’t result in their election, Kelly and Richardson each delivered scathing and unfettered criticisms of Henderson and his organization. And will his funders continue to fund attacks on local progressive candidates? The runoff election between Roche and Levine will be a real opportunity for Henderson. Can he win a race without persona attacks? Levine does not have a criminal past or any other egregious mistake for Henderson to exploit. She is also the progressive Democrat that Henderson’s funders usually promote. The strategies and tactics of this race will unveil just how much Henderson has grown as a political strategist.
But as Henderson further sharpens his skills as a campaign donor, those defeated strategists are developing attack strategies of their own. Are we seeing the emergence of a dynamic power shift in local politics? Will Henderson have a ring to kiss for any potential candidate? Or will he simply be content to identify and pick off vulnerable opponents with his deep pockets? Money is the mother’s milk of political campaigns. But it is not a strategy. The advantage of huge sums notwithstanding, money is only a campaign tool. Winner candidates must create real policies and laws to improve our lives. Are we seeing a lust for power and influence or a real desire to make the world a better place?
The big picture is the outside money might make good people not run for office. This is a tragedy. We need smart, committed, industrious leaders making decisions about us. But highly financed negative campaigning can dramatically limit the pool of potential candidates. This could be a problem.
One thing is certain. His dark money wins are stacking up.
I’m so woke. I’m woker than woke. You wanna know what woke is? Gimme 10 seconds and a dollar. I’ll tell ya. Woke: a bunch of black people who wanna turn kids against white people. Crazy, right? I mean, I be goddamned if white people ain’t been the sliced bread of Homo Sapiens. But noooo, these woke people want a world where Raheem walks around thinking Josh is inherently racist or privileged. Nope. All we ever tried to do as a people is do what’s right and make the human race better.
Take Rosa Parks. We wanted to elevate Rosa. Make her a national example. But the woke wanted to keep her parked in some marginal civil rights movement. That ain’t Rosa. That ain’t her essence. Yeah, she was black. Ain’t no doubting that. But her struggle was bigger than that. Ain’t yo feet ever hurt. Mine has. And when they hurt, whatcha wanna do? Sit down, right? I know I do. Let somebody try to tell me different. And that’s what Rosa did. She sat down when other people tried to make her stand up. That’s the essence. That’s what kids of all races can relate to. The right for people to sit where they wanna sit. You know, freedom, America. Put in a textbook.
But nooooooo, the woke crowd pitched a fit. They’d rather use Rosa to divide us, talking bout colored sections, and segregation, and voting, and lunch counters, and fire hoses and other stuff that happened 6 generations ago. Division. I say let’s use history to bring us together not push us apart. See what I mean, woker than woke.
All these woke books, too. Just repugnant. Ban’em. The Bluest Eye. Literary achievement my ass. White people ain’t make her ugly. And all that rape and racism and blaming white people for their problems. Why? Because they wound up having to work for them? Nah. Our kids don’t need to read none of that.
A Message From The Anti-Woke
You know who had it right? Paul Murdaugh, son of that dude Alex who was just on trial for murder. Right before Paul slapped his girlfriend and crashed his boat, he told her, you know what the worst thing in the world is, your daddy not being able to provide for your family. Bootstraps, people. Pull’em up. That’s the kind of lessons we need in books.
But nooooo, they wanna introduce our kids to a Bluest Eye woke world where Cholly raped Pecola because of institutional racism. A world where Pecola dreamed of having blue eyes because white people made her feel that her black eyes weren’t good enough. As Radburn told Solomon in 12 Years a Slave right after they kidnapped him, rags and tatters, rags and tatters. The past that the woke crowd is holding onto ain’t nothing but rags and tatters. See what I mean, woker than woke.
God bless Gov. Ron DeSantis. He got the balls of a bull. I’m not gay, but if ever… Ain’t no woke in his state of Florida. That Stop WOKE Act — genius in all of its purity. Try to teach CRT in schools. Nope. Get that outta here, woke. Try to force some reparational, inherently racist,1619 version of an AP history course on our kids. Nope. Get that outta here, woke. Same to businesses that wanna hold woke training sessions for their employees. Nope, nope, and nope. DeSantis had it right. F the judge and his ruling that messed it all up. God damn Obama appointee.
A Message From The Anti-Woke
We gotta stop these woke people, people. I got all kinds of black friends. And my black friends got all kinds of white friends. Slavery was a whole Fred Fliinstone ago. The only history that matters is the one that teaches the true essence of our country — Rosa Parks fighting for the right of all people to have an equal seat, a civil war fought over all lives being equal under the Lord and law, George Washington the honest founding father man who did in fact chop down a cherry tree.
Let’s unite and uplift our kids by focusing on this country’s true essence. It’s happening. Stop WOKE Acts are popping up from state to state. People are starting to realize that this is what should be enforced in our schools, even if we gotta use big government to do it. Let’s get out there with’em. Let’s start a War on Woke.
A Message From The Anti-Woke
By David Soublet, Sr.
Let me begin by making this disclosure: I signed the petition. I thought registered voters in Orleans parish deserved the opportunity to vote on recalling New Orleans mayor LaToya Cantrell. I did so after a trusted friend outlined out a litany of blunders made by the mayor over several months. All of them in her second term after her well acknowledged successful management of the COVID 19 pandemic crisis. Several of those poor decisions are vague memories. But when freshly compiled, seemed to at least warrant a recall vote.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 30 states allow recall elections for local officials. One of the risks of recall efforts cited by the Council is what we saw. Recalls “can be abused by well-financed special interest groups and give them undue influence over the political process”. We saw evidence of that in the effort to recall Cantrell. According to reports, businessman Rick Farrell donated over $ 900,000. Recall organizers collected $1.2 million.
Teedy Keeps Her Crown
Farrell reportedly is tied to Donald Trump. Ironically Trump faced his own recall. However for US presidents the term is impeachment. And Trump was nearly tossed out of the presidency via impeachment. Farrel also adorned his St. Charles Avenue mansion with huge banners boldly encouraging people to “Sign Mayor Recall”. Supposedly he and Cantrell butted heads in a 2020 meeting. Farrell wanted to resolve the ever-growing homeless encampment problem in New Orleans. Reportedly he offered to make a large donation to alleviate the problem.
Alas, on March 21, the recall effort crashed and burned. Sandra Wilson, Orleans Parish Registrar of Voters only certified 27,000 signatures. This after a “deal” struck by the recall organizers and Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin reduced the required number to 45,000 valid signatures. Organizers say they collected and turned in over 100,000 signatures. They failed to mention that Walt Disney cartoon characters signed dozens of the petitions.
Rick Farrell’s blunder in funding this recall effort cost him close to a million dollars. But there are at least two other huge blunders that the mayor, on behalf of future mayors and the voting public, should see through in the legal system. Cantrell filed a lawsuit against Ardoin and recall organizers for making a deal that resulted in a much lower number of signatures required to force a recall election. Recall organizers’ rationale was the Orleans parish voter rolls contain dead people and former residents who no longer live in the parish. Civil District Judge Jennifer Medley approved the agreement. But she did not disclose the fact that she had herself signed the recall petition! So is this a good precedent for the city’s voting rolls?
Teedy Keeps Her Crown
It’s critical that when a mayor or other elected official faces a possible recall petition, established laws and procedures are followed regarding the collection of voter signatures, the metric that determines the number of signatures required, as well as the validation of those signatures. Many feel that the agreement struck between Ardoin and recall organizers, and endorsed by Medley, is arbitrary and perhaps illegal.
We’ve all heard the phrase “naturally New Orleans”. In a city with chronically low voter turnout for all types of elections, it should come as no surprise that the recall effort was a colossal failure. Meanwhile, Mr. Farrell, your financial assistance in resolving the homeless encampment issue is still sorely needed. But keep in mind, Teedy keeps her crown.
Good things are coming to the East, finally. The long vacant Six Flags site is officially set to become Bayou Phoenix. As planned, Bayou Phoenix is set to become an amusement park and transportation hub that should bring economic development to the East and city in general.
Think 504 recently sat down with Troy Henry, the man behind Bayou Phoenix, to see what people can expect now that the city has signed off on the deal.
So what’s next now that you finally got the go ahead for Bayou Phoenix?
The next thing is we have a public meeting on the 27th of March at Franklin Ave Baptist Church. You know, it’s a public meeting to get public input.
Wait, that’s in the East, right, not actually on Franklin?
Yeah that’s right. And it’s the first of 3 things we have to do to finalize the lease.
And that’s on behalf of the city?
Correct. Like I said, it’s the first of three things. One is to produce an economic impact analysis, which we’ve already done. We just haven’t presented it yet. The second is a master plan, which is done as well. And the third is to have a public meeting where we collect public input. That’s the purpose of the upcoming meeting.
After you fulfill the three requirements, how long do you think it will take to have Bayou Phoenix up and running?
Well, so our time frame is a 42 month schedule. We think we can have our development done in that time frame. And that’s, you know, from the day we sign the lease.
Hold up, 3 ½ years? You telling me I gotta wait 3 ½ years to tell my wife, hey let’s go to Bayou Phoenix and make out on the Ferris wheel?
(Laughs) Hey, brother, good things take time, you know, good things take time, you know what I mean. Some of it will be completed perhaps sooner. But we’re not making any promises at all on that piece.
I’m sure somebody has asked you this before, or maybe they haven’t, but what made you pick Phoenix as the name?
Well you know it was just one of my colleagues, from our partners, he thought that just the rising after all these years. He was thinking of something positive rising out of the bayou.
That’s fitting, considering the development in the East, and also how long it’s not only taken to get the deal done, but how long the site has sat vacant.
Yeah, it took a lot longer than we ever imagined, but no sense in looking back. We’re just —
Focusing on the positive —
Yeah, that’s right. But, you know, who knows if we’ll even keep that name. In fact, we’ll ask people if they think there’s a better name.
Really? So that’s something you’ll bring up at the meeting?
I think so. If there’s something somebody comes up with that’s better for it, you know, a perfect fit, then cool. We’re open to suggestions.
At the meeting will there be some type of visual presentation so people can get a feel for what’s coming?
Definitely. It’s going to be a highly visual presentation. You’ll visually be able to see the entire project, the renderings. At the meeting, I think the public will get a chance to see exactly what Bayou Phoenix is going to look like.
Oh alright, that sounds cool.
Yeah, I think it’s going to be pretty cool.
Did the city make any demands on y’all, as far as a minimum wage and things like that?
Yeah, we have a wage requirement and a non discrimination requirement, you know, those kinds of items.
Standard process I guess?
Yeah, nothing we felt that was difficult to deal with. And it was nothing we wouldn’t have done anyway. So agreeing to that wasn’t a big deal. For our people we view this as a career opportunity, not, you know, just some type of means to an end.
Well that sounds like just what the East and really the city overall needs. I’m sure you’re excited, and it sounds like this thing is really about to take off.
It is. And yeah, we’re excited. We’re looking forward to going full speed ahead and getting everything done. It’s going to be a great process.
It sounds like Mr. Henry and his partners have something really special planned for the East. With all that’s going on in the city, this is a story to feel good about. So, mark the date on your calendars. March 27th, next Monday. That’s the meeting where you the public can show up and give your input. Who knows, you may be the one to give the park its official name.
Three communication experts share the language swaps they recommend if you want to speak clearly and powerfully.
By Gwen Moran
Good leaders spend a fair amount of time refining their communication style. After all, good communication skills are not only among the most in-demand soft skills; they’re also essential for fostering strong relationships with team members, being a more effective negotiator, and being able to motivate people.
So, the words you use matter. And simple verbal habits or tics can actually get in the way of clear communication. But some of the things we say can improve how we are perceived as well. Saying “sorry” too much and for the wrong reasons might undermine how confident you appear. Shifting your response from “sorry for the delay” to “thanks for your patience” strikes a more positive tone, too.
Another example is the word “but,” which can seem like you’re negating the point of the person with whom you’re speaking. Instead, try substituting “and,” which invites further conversation.
What other communication swaps can you make to be a more powerful communicator? Here, three communication experts weigh in with their recommendations for language swaps. They may not work in every situation. But, when used appropriately, they can help shift your communication to be more powerful.
Here’s what I can do for you
“Rather than saying ‘I can’t’ or ‘I’m not able to,’ when you’re declining a request, focus on the positive,” says communication expert Renée Evenson, author of Powerful Phrases for Effective Customer Service. Instead try, “Here’s what I can do for you.” That way, you’ve set a boundary with your client or colleague about what you’re not able or willing to do, but you’ve also indicated that you’re willing to find a workable solution.
I’ll find out
When you don’t know something, it’s usually a good idea to say so instead of bluffing. However, if you’re in a leadership position or dealing with customers, the people asking are going to want more than that from you. Instead of just shrugging off the inquiry, say “I’ll find out for you,” Evenson suggests. “This gives [the person asking] an assurance that you care enough to go one step further to get the right answer,” she says.
Can you . . .
It’s not uncommon to preface a favor request with “I know how busy you are . . .” or “I hate to bother you . . .” But that immediately puts you at a disadvantage because you’ve assumed that you’re creating a burden. Instead, assume there is not a problem and drop this from your language, says communication expert Linda Larsen, author of True Power: Get It, Use It, Share It. Just ask for what you need and assume that the person will let you know if the request is too much and respectfully decline.
Let’s solve this
In a world filled with vague, wishy-washy words, “address” is one that public speaking coach Joel Schwartzberg would like to see dropped. “I see a lot of speakers say, we’re going to address this issue. What does that mean? That means they can write about it, talk about it, have dialogue, right? But that doesn’t specifically mean you’re going to solve that problem or take action,” says the author of Get to the Point: Sharpen Your Ideas and Make Your Words Matter. Instead of saying, “We’re going to address this situation . . . ” try words like solve, fight against, or reduce, which communicate action. Other swaps to consider that are more meaningful and decisive:
Instead of “allowed,” try enabled or authorized
Instead of “meeting” a goal or expectation, try accomplishing or exceeding
Instead of “reacting to” a situation, try responding or solving
I’m glad you like it
For some people, dismissing praise is a knee-jerk response. If they receive a compliment, they water it down by saying, “It was nothing . . .” or “It could be better . . .” Those responses not only make light of your work and ability, but they are dismissive of the person giving the compliment. Instead, thank the individual genuinely and add, “I’m glad you like it,” Larsen says.
I want to help
Telling someone to calm down is almost a guarantee that they will do anything but calm down. Larsen recommends validating the individual’s feelings and assuring them you understand. “I can see you are upset, and I want to help” is a better option.
I’m happy I was able to help
There’s nothing wrong with saying “you’re welcome” when someone thanks you. But saying something like “I’m happy I was able to help you” is more powerful because it leaves a positive impression with the individual that you went the extra mile to help, Evenson says.
While simple shifts in language won’t solve all communication issues, being more precise and action-oriented in your language can make a difference in clarity and how you’re perceived.
By Pat Bryant*
Six University of Florida students at two colleges have been arrested on multiple charges for protesting Florida’s draconian laws that are the tip of rising fascism in the United States . The arrests, in a few days of each other, were made first at University of South Florida at the university’s administration building where President Rhea Law’s office is located. Placards were carried and demands on flyers that called on Governor Ron DeSantis to stop his repressive regime news and encouragement he is spreading nationwide.
Police swopped in without warning grabbing students and making arrests caught on video. Asked about police violence, and arrests of students, Governor DeSantis’ press secretary has not responded. Students have since protested the arrests and demanded that Police Chief Chris Daniel be fired. Daniel is seen in the video pushing a female student in the back and twisting her arm.
DeSantis Fascists Policies and Florida Student Arrests
The arrests were happening as Governor DeSantis traveled across the nation claiming that people are freer in Florida than elsewhere in the United States. DeSantis rallies against “wokeness” or a worldview that racial and sexual disparaties are the result of racism, sexism and class exploitation. And DeSantis wants no program to correct longstanding inequities that result from slavery, racism and sexual discrimination.
On March 6 a few dozens students protested DeSantis’ attacks on affirmative action, black history, diversity programs and the lack of well-being of black students on the Tampa campus. They rallied outside the Marshall student Center, heard speeches, and marched to the Patel administration building. Inside the building police began grabbing students without notice as speakers spoke on demands.
Several videos of the arrest support the students version of being attacked by police.
DeSantis drew CNN headlines that day, not about crackdown on student rights to redress demands to the government protected by the First Amendment to the US Constitution, but CNN said of DeSantis “he is willing to go much further than any other Republican leader to turn his state into a conservative vision.”
That’s an opposite vision of the Tampa Bay Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). “We are focused on creating an environment where black students could succeed without worry of financial or lack of resources and feel safe”, one student wrote adding demands for increase in Black faculty, increase Black mental health counselors and demilitarize campus, more and greater scholarships for black students, and greater black high school recruitment.
DeSantis Fascists Policies and Florida Student Arrests
DeSantis about the same time issued an executive order 19-10 ending all diversity and inclusion programs at state universities and setting forth hiring, promotion, recruiting only on competitive basis.
Four days later two University of Florida at Gainesville students were arrested by campus police for leading a demonstration and charged with felonies. Bryan Taylor was arrested for aggravated assault on an officer and resisting an officer with violence. Ian Dinkla was charged with robbery by sudden sudden snatching and resisting with violence. The students and observers denied the violence claims.
The university followed up accusing students of violence against police saying “everyone regardless of their views—can exercise their First Amendment rights on this campus, and nobody has a right to violence” said a spokesman. He continued “violent behavior and resisting arrest are unacceptable” he said. The arrest came after a presentation by anti-abortion group “Created Equal” a traveling campus organizing tour. The group set up large signs of abortion fetuses. Police claims Dinkla took one of the signs they claim is worth $120. Felony response to a childish prank.
Protecting freedoms and right to protest is not what is happening in Florida. Since DeSantis’ election Florida has moved quickly toward totalitarianism – where one man has all power. DeSantis has made 140 executive orders like the one banning diversity 140. DeSantis’ executive orders are more than all other governors in other states combined. Florida is the tip of rising fascism in the United States.
DeSantis Fascists Policies and Florida Student Arrests
A solid Republican majority in the legislature is set to pass a law that makes abortion illegal after 6 weeks. Another would ban courses and curricula in Florida colleges. Courses included teach ethnic, women’s studies, gender studies or courses “based on unproven, theoretical or exploratory content”. And another would allow permitless carry of concealed firearms. Another would require bloggers to register with the state. The Florida legislature is poised to pass them all.
Two camps seem to be forming in Florida. One that holds state power, and another shocked and awed by DeSantis’ and Republican performances. The show will soon be brought everyplace in America.
A new Ipsos poll suggests that DeSantis rallying on “wokeness” may backfire. The poll suggests that 56 percent of Americans and 39 percent of Republicans agree of “wokeness” as positive.
*Pat Bryant is a journalist covering the South
NOLA politics disrupted!
New Orleans politics is being disrupted. You know what disruption is right? By definition, it is an interruption to the regular flow or sequence of something. Think Uber vs. cabs. In New Orleans political circles, political insiders are bristling at a sudden shift. New power brokers are taking space. They are getting candidates elected. They are running aggressive and new style campaigns. But most of all, they got money! In particular, the African American political class is up in arms. This is war. And it is happening right before our very eyes. Not exactly sure what I’m talking about. Don’t worry. After you read this, you’ll be able to get your popcorn and watch too. It’s juicy and thrilling.
The bad new dudes in town really aren’t new. They are just shifting into new territory. With lots of cash, brash ideas about change and a couple of big wins under their belts, these guys are emboldened. Just in this current cycle they are creating havoc. And this is a relatively minor political season. But they have stopped one candidate from even campaigning. And they are changing the polling in a judgeship that once seemed all but won.
NOLA Politics Disrupted
And the people behind all this turmoil are ex-cons. But gulp, they are actual murderers. You read that right. Norris Henderson and Bruce Reilly are the leaders of VOTE. They started and worked for years in New Orleans as advocates for formerly incarcerated men and women. And they also worked early on helping candidates for office who worked with them. They registered formerly incarcerated men and women to vote and encouraged them to vote for candidates whom they viewed as political allies. Politicians didn’t really take them seriously but occasionally supported their organization in hopes that they could deliver a few votes.
But the whole time, the strategic Henderson made better contacts and learned the ropes. He advocated for prisoners rights and railed constantly against former sheriff, Marlon Gusman. He became a Soros Justice Fellow. But his earliest attempts to elect judges failed miserably. He spent hundreds of thousands with a flip the bench group of candidates, but almost all lost by wide margins. But steadfast and well financed, Henderson pushed forward. And suddenly victory was his. His greatest triumph so far has been the ouster of Gusman. Henderson bankrolled current sheriff Susan Hutson’s campaign. Also, Henderson helped current Public Service Commissioner Davante Lewis get elected. Now Henderson and Reilly seem to see themselves as kingmakers.
In the District A Criminal Court Race, Diedre Pierce Kelly took the early lead over her two opponents – Simone Levine and Leon Roche. Besides my own endorsement, Ms. Kelly has the endorsement of nearly every elected official in town. Early polling showed her winning going away. But you have probably seen Leon Roche commercials on TV lately. You guessed it. Henderson formed a second VOTE nonprofit. Not only can his 501c4 endorse candidates, but it also transforms campaigns. Mr. Roche is a fine and upstanding young man. After all he graduated from the nationally acclaimed St. Augustine High School. But his candidacy catapulted from grassroots to serious contender status suddenly. And Simone Levine is likely to earn a runoff spot if Roche peels off enough votes from Kelly. The race is now a tossup. Disruption.
District 93 House Seat
The disruption is greatest in this race, however. This is one of the most historic and influential House seats in the city. (Will Sutton wrote a great piece about it.) Sibil “Fox” Richardson is in the runoff against Alonzo Knox. But in an unprecedented and befuddling move, Fox Rich suspended her campaign against Knox and fiercely attacked Henderson and Reilly. In a merciless article posted by Big Easy Magazine, Richardson says :
“VOTE is led by two convicted murderers- Bruce Reilly who beat and stabbed a famed college professor 24 times to his death and fled with his vehicle and credit card – And, Norris Henderson, who along with his brother gunned down a teenager riding her bike to school. I challenge each of them to look in the mirror and reflect on the severity of their crimes before misrepresenting my past in an effort to forward their own political agenda. If an uncheckered past is the litmus test for leadership, then surely these two men and their organization should be the least in authority to offer political recommendations.”
Fox Rich Candidate for House District 93
Additionally, Richardson says she will not participate in any more campaign debates. The voters must decide if this is the best thing to do this late in the campaign. More disruption.
NOLA Politics Disrupted
Politics is not for the faint at heart. Henderson and Reilly are playing hard ball. But the political establishment is on notice now. While Henderson and Reilly have money and a couple of big wins under their belts, the powers that be are coalescing. Uptown and downtown. East bank and Westbank. Black and white power brokers have not only taken notice but are now working together to beat back the VOTE political brokers. It’s easy when you can launch sneak attacks. Heretofore Henderson and Reilly have worked behind the scenes. But the curtain has been pulled back.
Still the verdict is not in yet on Henderson and Reilly. Once the spotlight is on them, several key factors become evident. Their big money donors are liberal. And after the donors realize their money is not buying ads to attack people like Jeff Landry or John Kennedy, but liberal qualified African American women the cash might stop. Every time Henderson misses his options become fewer. Will he be able to attract candidates to run for office? The problem for candidates like Knox and Roche and others in the future is voter sensitivity. Remember when Sherman Copelin was the favorite boogeyman in New Orleans politics? Cynthia Willard Lewis lost a closely contested race for city council at large when Jackie Clarkson accused her of being supported by Copelin. Say what you want about Sherman, but he ain’t got nothing on Henderson and Reilly. So far, Henderson and Reilly have been able to hide behind the scenes. But if they want to be true prime time political players, they are going to have to come out of the back rooms. What happens then?
When this short election cycle is over, the political establishment will put them on front street. Will future candidates be comfortable saying I’m proudly endorsed by VOTE?
Can a couple of ex-con murderers really become the new face of politics in New Orleans? Or even major players? They entered the fray quickly and fiercely. And they represent and lead a loyal block of formerly incarcerated people whom they help and guide. And they have the experience and money to continue to push candidates they like. Is this a sustainable movement? Or will Fox Rich’s stinging words resonate with the voters of New Orleans. Our first test will be the two races we examined. We will see on March 25th. Get your popcorn ready.
NOLA Politics Disrupted
Kissing and making up is closer than you think, even after the worst arguments.
By Mark Travers Ph.D.
How couples manage arguments can either strain or strengthen their relationship.
It’s crucial to take responsibility for one’s role in a conflict and listen carefully to the other person’s perspective.
Small gestures can make a big difference in reconnecting with a partner after a disagreement.
Disagreements and arguments, although uncomfortable, are a natural and even important part of any relationship. These are the rare times when you and your partner can openly voice conflicting ideas, speaking directly from the heart. Without such opportunities, relationship progress can be stunted. And a surface-level emotional bond can take the place of what could be a much deeper connection.
The strength of a relationship is measured less by the two partners’ ability to avoid arguments and more by how they emerge as a couple after a conflict. Think of it like a controlled fire—the short-term damage allows for a healthier long-term ecosystem.
Here are three things to do to reconnect and recover after an argument with your partner.
1. Have the reconciliation talk.
After the screaming, stonewalling, and/or criticizing subsides, take some time to process your experience with your partner to prevent yourself from fighting about the same thing in the future. You probably don’t want to do this right after the fight. Give it some time, perhaps a few hours or even a day or two, to let the nerves settle.
Make sure you take responsibility for your role in the argument. Focus on finding a compromise instead of a victory.
A study published in the Journal of Family Psychology found that couples that focused on actively repairing their relationship and gaining new perspectives had an easier time regaining their intimacy than couples who either avoided talking about the fight or simply let it go.
Here are a few steps you can follow to process the argument in a healthy way:
Listen to their story and how they felt about the situation. How do they feel about their response to the situation and your response to it?
Acknowledge your role in the conflict. How did you contribute to the creation and escalation of the conflict?
Plan for more effective ways to communicate with one another to avoid similar conflicts in the future.
Remember: Fighting about the same thing again and again is never a good sign. (In such cases, couples’ therapy may be warranted.) New arguments that bring fresh resolutions, however, can be healthy and constructive for the relationship.
2. Find comfort.
Arguments with your partner can leave you feeling distant or disturbed. To rekindle the affection, go back to the basics and revisit the foundation of your relationship. Embrace the things that you enjoy about your partner by expressing verbally and physically what attracts you to them.
It may surprise you how much of a difference a simple gesture like a hug, an expression of gratitude, or a request to spend time together can make. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships suggests, not surprisingly, that those partners who give and receive affectionate touch from each other on a regular basis are happier and report higher relationship satisfaction.
The idea is to bring back the familiarity of the intimate space that you shared with your partner, which was temporarily lost during the conflict. Your time together post-fight can feel even more special once both of you have repaired the crack in the relationship together.
3. Share laughter.
Spending quality time together trying out new activities, especially ones that invoke laughter, can deepen your bond. An article published in Current Directions in Psychological Science explains how sharing laughter is associated with feelings of safety and closeness in a relationship.
Laughing at the same thing reinforces the notion that you and your partner share a similar outlook on the world and, hence, adds depth to your experiences. Getting in touch with your inner child—painting, playing games, spending time at the arcade, etc.—can help you and your partner connect in a fun yet meaningful way.
Reminding yourself and your partner that you can still have fun together is reassuring and can help you put rough patches in perspective.