Stuff YOU Should Know

Posted by on Jul 10, 2019 in Stuff You Should Know

Can Smiling Make You Happier?

Have you ever heard the phrase, “fake it until you feel it”? Have you ever been having a bad day, and someone tells you to smile because it will make you feel better? Turns out, science supports this theory–but only sort of. For the past century, scientists have tried to determine if smiling can actually make you feel happier (and similarly, if scowling or frowning can have a negative effect on your mood). And the results of these studies have been mixed. Recent research has found that if a group of about 100 people is told to smile, only 7 of them will experience a mood boost as a result, while the vast majority of participants will remain unaffected.

But what if the opposite is true for you, and being told to smile when you’re in a bad mood just makes you feel worse? You’re not alone. Another smile study, which also came out this year, revealed that people who work in jobs where they are forced to smile all day for customers are in a bad mood by the end of the work day. (How to tell if a smile is fake? It generally only affects the mouth, while real smiles also cause the eyes to crinkle.)

How can both results be true simultaneously? Because emotions are complicated, and so are smiles. There are many different kinds of smiles: for example, think about how you smile when you’re around your friends, compared to a polite smile you might give to a teacher or boss. In the meantime, rather than faking a smile if you’re having a bad day, it’s probably best to try to boost your mood in a more genuine way by spending time with friends, practicing a hobby, exercising, meditating, or going outside.

What Do You Think? What are some of the things you do to improve your mood when you’re feeling low: Do you bake cookies? Walk the dog? Text a friend? Come up with a short list of activities that tend to make you feel better.

Iran Steps Up Nuclear Program

In recent months, you’ve seen several stories here about the worsening relationship between the United States and Iran To review: Under the Obama administration, the US. joined with Iran and several other nations to form JCPOA, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. This deal agreed to relax economic sanctions against Iran as long as Iran dialed back its nuclear program. But once Trump was elected, he pulled the United States out of JCPOA and began again to impose harsh sanctions against Iran–first against their oil and banking industries, and then more recently against the country’s metal industries. This summer, tensions have only worsened as Iran first was accused of attacking two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, then of shooting down a U.S. surveillance drone in June.

Related Links: Click below to review some previous btw and Election Central posts about Iran.

  1. Iran Shoots Down U.S. Drone; btw, June 26, 2019
  2. Oil Tankers Attacked in Persian Gulf, btw, June 17, 2019
  3. New Tensions in the Middle East, Election Central, May 14, 2019

Throughout this whole process, Iran has been threatening to step up its nuclear program beyond what’s allowed under the JCPOA. And on July 1, Iran did exactly that. The country now has more than 300 kilograms of low-enriched uranium (the JCPOA caps the amount at 300 kgs). Spokespersons for Iran say that because the U.S. pulled out of the deal and didn’t deliver the economic benefits it promised, Iran doesn’t have to comply with the rules of the agreement either.

So how nervous should we be about all of this? It’s far too early to panic. On its own, low-enriched uranium can’t do much except produce electricity. But if Iran continues to produce more, and to keep enriching it further, it could potentially be used in a nuclear weapon. According to the JCPOA, Iran isn’t allowed to enrich uranium beyond a low-grade level of 3.67 percent. But it’s possible that if they broke one part of the agreement, they will be willing to break another.

What Do You Think? Imagine that you are one of Trump’s foreign policy advisers. What would you tell the president to do in order to de-escalate the growing–and potentially threatening–tensions with Iran?

Mexico Pummeled by Hailstorm

When you think of Mexico in the summertime, you likely think of tropical temperatures and lots of sunshine. But last week, residents of Guadalajara, Mexico, experienced the opposite extreme weather: ice. On the last day of June, residents were warned that strong rain was headed their way. But instead, a freak hailstorm hit the city, leaving parts of it buried in up to six feet of ice. The storm damaged more than 450 homes, and sent ten people to the hospital with symptoms of hypothermia (though ultimately no one was hurt by the hail). Trees were broken, and buried streets were impassable. And all of this happened in a city where the average temperature for the past month has been over 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Once all of the ice started to thaw, the situation became even more dangerous, as melting snow and ice turned the streets into rivers and swept away cars and trucks. There is some concern that the melt could lead to flooding in localized areas.

So what caused this crazy phenomenon? Enrique Alfaro, the governor of Jalisco, immediately tweeted that the freak storm was an example of the effects of climate change. While it’s hard to know exactly what’s to blame for this specific storm, it’s true that a warming planet increases the conditions that cause extreme weather. Warmer atmospheres also hold more water, which is finally dropped to earth in the form of more rain – or in this case, hail.

Dig Deeper Using Internet resources to help you answer, what causes a hailstorm? In your opinion, was climate change to blame for the Guadalajara storm? Explain.

Trump’s Border Wall Stalls . . . Again

It’s the latest development in the seemingly never-ending battle over Trump’s border wall. Up until recently, the Trump administration planned to take $2.5 billion in Department of Defense money (meant for military spending), and use it to help fund the wall along the southern border of the United States. Construction was set to begin as early as this week. But now, a federal judge in California has blocked the plan.

According to U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam, the administration is not allowed to use military funds this way. Judge Gilliam wrote that it wasn’t appropriate for the president to try to go around Congress to get the funding he wanted for his project. Only Congress has the final say over federal spending, and Congress denied the president the funds for the wall. In fact, remember the month-long partial government shutdown that happened last winter–the longest one in history? That came about because Congress refused to approve the more than $4 billion that Trump wanted to build the wall. Trump responded by trying to go around Congress: he declared a national emergency on the southern border, and also took money away from other places–in this case, from the Department of Defense. But according to this ruling, it’s illegal for the president to move federal money around for his own projects without Congressional approval, which he clearly doesn’t have.

So what’s next? Trump has already announced that the federal government will appeal the case, which could appear before the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals as early as this week.

Dig Deeper What part of the Constitution assigns the “power of the purse,” or control over federal spending, to Congress instead of to the president?