Robert Levine in his study of time and geography found that in Western societies people walk more quickly. Time can also affect personality types. In an office there will always be someone who is running around trying to complete their tasks, while another person seems much relaxed. They will walk slower and they’re more mindful.
"People higher up the work ladder have more to do than those, let’s say, in the middle. But those that are on the top have more control over their time because they can tell others what to do."
So, you can immediately see how time affects your behaviour and your body language. If you’re feeling stressed - stress has a strong time component - you tend to be more fidgety. Whereas someone that is at rest and doesn’t feel stress will talk slower and make less movements with their arms and hands. This is something you immediately perceive and experience. If a person is stressed, their time is stressed. You immediately see it. Stress increases your arousal level because you feel that you have to fulfil these deadlines.
Those people that cope better with stress, it could be a sign that they’re higher up the social strata. There are empirical studies showing this. People higher up the work ladder have more to do than those, let’s say, in the middle. But those that are on the top have more control over their time because they can tell others what to do. But in the middle hierarchal level others tell you what to do.
Time constraints are imposed on you and you’re more at risk than when you’re on the top of the ladder and you impose it on others. If you look at top bankers they often seem very mindful, very quiet; they hold themselves well. People on the middle management level are much more fidgety, they talk quicker - they seem more hectic. This is a sign of hierarchy. If you’rein control of your time you can be more relaxed.
Another thing to take into consideration when discussing how time affects behaviour is the notion of Western societies glancing left when we remember things and to the right when we’re looking to the future. This is related to the X axis in mathematics when we plot graphs. Time moves to the right - it’s a cultural thing.
In metaphors of time we say that we’re looking ahead, or in front of us. We look to the future. And we look back when discussing thing like memory. So in terms of body language, in front is the future and behind us is the past and memory.
"Another thing to take into consideration when discussing how time affects behaviour is the notion of Western societies glancing left when we remember things and to the right when we’re looking to the future."
This is dominant in most languages but there are some special cases in which indigenous cultures - the indigenous Aymara people in South America for example - have it the other way around. And if you think about it, this makes sense. They say the past is in front of me - because you can see it. You know what you did last Christmas. But you don’t know what you will do next Christmas or next week.
So that’s an interesting switch, and it makes sense if you think about it. It also demonstrates that we place great emphasis on the future, and that’s ingrained in most cultures and societies. The idea that we’re always looking ahead. That’s the dominant perspective.
No. There’s a common belief, based on research by psychologists, that you learn best two to four hours after waking up. I don’t think that’s true, and it’s different for everyone anyway. For instance, when I was at school, and even now, studying in the evenings and late at night has worked better for me.
Even if there’s evidence that two to four hours after waking up is the best time to learn, that doesn’t mean it’s the only time you can learn, or that you can’t overcome it through effort, or by being passionate about education. Research from University Hospital Zurich says that sleeplessness damages the brain, while other researchers say we have to let teenagers sleep late. But they’re going to have to get used to getting up earlier at some point. Life’s like that.
"Children learn all over the world in different situations – including in war zones – at all different times of the day, but do really well."
There are too many people trying to find ways to address problems that aren’t really there – such as the ‘best time to study’. Most educators feel that young people have so many barriers to learning, whether it’s their home backgrounds or their psychological make-up. They’ll ask “why aren’t they doing better?”, as if young people aren’t up for learning. It’s a very negative viewpoint.
The idea that children have different learning styles or can only learn at certain times of the day is a sign that many people have given up on teaching. It’s also a way of blaming children for not learning as well as people think they should. Behind it is what I’ve called a ‘diminished concept of children and young people’ belief that they are unable to cope with education or life in general.
Children learn all over the world in different situations – including in war zones – at all different times of the day, but do really well – and that’s because they’re being taught by people who believe in them, and believe in education.
I don’t believe there’s an ideal time of day to learn, but I do have a tip about studying. A teacher in a school I visited once told me that children in her school couldn’t retain anything. I knew immediately what the problem was – it wasn’t the children; it was the teaching. I once worked with an American teaching scheme for children with learning difficulties which had built-in repetitions – up to 170 in all, but, for someone of average learning ability you needed 24 repetitions in order to learn and retain information. The more often you say things, and the more clearly you say them, the more people will learn, so repetition is really important. Teachers and parents should remember that when they say “how often have I told you?”. If it’s not between 24 and 170 times, then it’s not enough.
There are a lot of different kinds of psychedelic record. At least a thought experiment or historical gauge, I would differentiate between music that is explicitly psychedelic, involving actual ingestion by the musicians or overt expression of them, and music that is just psychedelia, more of a style or an approach, which I think manifests both as a certain kind of whimsy with an emphasis on wordplay, like Sgt. Pepper's or Smile, but also in a sense of free form open-endedness, either through improvisation or tape collage or other technique that somehow breaks out of the standard-time of pop.
"The first LP of the Grateful Dead's ‘Live/Dead’ surely acted as a star map for many more heads' spaces over the years, giving it an edge in the popular vote."
In that the musicians were tripping constantly while writing and recording the material, and the music is a pretty self-conscious and successful articulation of psychedelic thinking, I’d make the argument for the 13th Floor Elevators’‘Easter Everywhere’, very much the product of LSD philosopher Tommy Hall. But as an album, the first LP of the Grateful Dead's ‘Live/Dead’ surely acted as a star map for many more heads' spaces over the years, giving it an edge in the popular vote.
It's hard to be sure if the Dead were actually tripping that night. Some probably were, surely many in the crowd at the Fillmore West were, too. But the Dead's writing and approach to improvisation – and especially that suite of music – really came from a long term engagement with LSD. Both the lyrics and the modal improvisation in ‘Dark Star’ very consciously evoked the flow and feelings of a psychedelic trip, with really detailed interplay between Jerry Garcia and Phil Lesh, especially, becoming especially vivid with eyes closed. The lack of tangible structure in the jam was (and is) a perfect place to let the mind wander, and get some thinking done, whether on psychedelics or not.
Jesse Jarnow (@bourgwick) is the author of Heads: A Biography of Psychedelic America and Big Day Coming: Yo La Tengo and the Rise of Indie Rock . He maintains @HeadsNews and a regular Heads News email bulletin. Since 2008, he has hosted The Frow Show on WFMU, the long-running freeform New Jersey radio station. He lives in Brooklyn.
Only two Gospels actually have the Nativity story: Matthew and Luke. John starts right at the beginning of time – "In the beginning was the Word" – and in Mark, Jesus first appears as an adult, being baptized. Those early Christian writers all locate the start of Jesus’s life in different ways.
A Christian doesn’t have to be committed to a literal view of the birth narrative stories. The version that we have now at carol services and you see in schools is really a combination of the accounts in Matthew and Luke and various traditional elements. That’s how we came by the Nativity scene that we are all so familiar with.
"The version that we have now at carol services and you see in schools is really a combination of the accounts in Matthew and Luke and various traditional elements."
I think the Nativity is a literary attempt to depict the uniqueness of Jesus. The important thing is the fact that God comes down to Earth and embraces the human condition – and does it not with the rich and powerful but with ordinary, poor people. God is right with us, which is unique amongst religions. In most religions, God is distant from us.
Occasionally churchmen have expressed doubts whether the Nativity actually happened. In 1963 the Bishop of Woolwich, John Robinson, did so in a book called Honest to God, which generated a stir. Then in the 1980s, David Jenkins, who was the Bishop of Durham, said that he doubted the virgin birth had happened. It caused quite a media backlash –as it still would if a bishop said it today. I’m certainly not going to say it now!
There are obviously Christians in the popular devotion who take the Nativity story entirely literally. Matthew and Luke were certainly at pains to locate the story historically and place it right after the census. One reason that evangelical churches are doing so well at the moment is that they offer believers certainty – this is the truth, this is what happened, the virgin birth is a fact.
The Nativity can read like a fairy story because of some of the elements within it, such as the Three Wise Men bearing gifts. In actual fact, the New Testament just says there were wise men, bearing three gifts, which is less specific. And the gifts are symbolic – gold for a king, incense for a deity – and tell us in a coded way who the writer thinks Jesus is.
"The Nativity can read like a fairy story because of some of the elements within it, such as the Three Wise Men bearing gifts. In actual fact, the New Testament just says there were wise men, bearing three gifts, which is less specific."
That’s what the Nativity is – writers in the early Church trying to express who Jesus is, in a language that they could understand and their readers could understand. It says that Jesus was born, and that is the only narrative that counts.
At the end of the day, who is to say that the Nativity didn’t happen? Who is to say that Mary and Joseph weren’t travelling from Nazareth to Bethlehem because of the census? The Nativity is like a lot of legends – there is often a kernel of historical truth at the heart of them.
If I were preaching on Christmas Day, I would talk about the Nativity in terms of God’s gift of himself to us. I would also draw attention to the fact that a couple of days after Jesus was born he became a refugee. Mostly I would emphasise the point of the story: that the Nativity identifies Jesus as the Son of God, coming into the world as a human being. It is God amongst us– and if we want to find God in the world today, that is where we need to look.
Great Prime Ministers are winners. Attlee won Labour its first-ever majority with the landslide in 1945 and his government delivered an enormously transformative manifesto, practically in its entirety. The NHS, co-founding NATO, the end of empire, rebuilding the economy after the War, and the nationalisation of industry – these things were to shape Britain for decades ahead. The Attlee government set the framework of postwar politics.
Attlee practised a collective model of leadership that was extremely effective after the convulsions of the War and Churchill’s idiosyncratic and charismatic rule. In person he was not overbearing by any means but he was skilled at manufacturing and managing consensus, at keeping discord at bay in a Cabinet full of strong personalities like Ernest Bevin, Herbert Morrison, Aneurin Bevan, Stafford Cripps and so on. After the larger-than-life, autocratic Churchill, Attlee was a reassuring figure on the national scene – a kind of understanding, trustworthy and reassuring Captain Mainwaring, the sort of man you want around in a time of national difficulty.
Attlee’s opponents tended to underestimate him, often fatally so. The Tories attacked him mercilessly as a non-entity when he was in office. Churchill is reputed to have said that an empty taxi turned up and Mr Attlee got out. His own party firebrands often felt frustrated at his measured approach, feeling that he followed rather than led. And yet whenever the dust settled, somehow Attlee would still be standing and would be seen to have made the sensible decision.
When Attlee’s government was finally beaten in 1951 by Churchill, it was largely because Labour had run out of steam. The party was faced with the choice of further nationalisation or consolidation. There was a lot of infighting instead of new ideas, and the Conservatives finally got their act together. And it has to be said that one of Attlee’s weaknesses was that he was bad at timing general elections.
Calling elections in 1950 and then 1951 were both terrible moves. There had been a huge reorganisation of seats that favoured the Conservatives, plus Labour was campaigning in conditions of austerity – not unlike now. Because Attlee had rebuilt the economy with an emphasis on exports and industry rather than domestic living standards, Churchill was able to exploit the fact that Britain was still under rationing. Labour went out of power for 13 years.
Politicians’ reputations do change over the years and it’s fair to say that Attlee’s declined quite drastically afterwards. By the time of his death in 1967 he was written-off by some writers as a sort of second-rate mediocrity. By the 1970s some historians were actually rating Macmillan above Attlee.
But the more we look in depth at his record, the more it grows in stature. It was only in the 1980s, when Thatcher began to sweep away much that Attlee had stood for, that we started to see the first proper biographical and historically informed appreciations of what he achieved. Since then his reputation has only grown. Attlee has topped my poll of postwar Prime Ministers among politics academics for the third time running; there’s growing consensus around the argument that he was not merely a effective Prime Minister but a great one.
The story goes - and it’s important to state that this is just one hypothesis - that if you are good at learning new tasks, then as the brain degenerates, or if your brain degenerates from a disease such as Alzheimer’s or dementia, as the brain tissue functions less well you’re better at routing around that because you’ve been practising doing things in new ways before the deterioration set in.
So what the neuroprotective effect story says is that the progression of the dementia or the degeneration is not effected by you playing these games, but you can work around it better.
"We need to say that there’s no consensus at the moment among neuroscientists that that effect is there"
Now that’s one hypothesis and one story, and there are peer review papers that say that. It’s also fair to say that there are other papers that have failed to find that effect. So we need to say that there’s no consensus at the moment among neuroscientists that that effect is there. It’s a logically plausible story but the evidence isn’t clear.
What is clear is that keeping active and avoiding social isolation and stagnation is better for your health. There’s no doubt about that. If there is a link involving sudoko, what’s important to say is that you don’t keep doing the same thing for years and years and years.
If there is an effect it would seem to be related to taking on new mental challenges and becoming good at new tasks, rather than doing the same exercises again and again.