divendres, 30 de novembre de 2018

Limiting Your Child’s Fire Time: A Guide for Concerned Paleolithic Parents by Rachel Kein


Daily Shouts

Limiting Your Child’s Fire Time: A Guide for Concerned Paleolithic Parents

By Rachel Klein February 7, 2018


According to the most recent cave drawings, children nowadays are using fire more than ever before. And it’s no wonder: fire has many wonderful applications, such as cooking meat, warming the home, and warding off wild animals in the night. We adult Homo erectus, with our enlarged brains and experience of pre-fire days, can moderate our use, but our children—some of whom never lived during a time when you couldn’t simply strike two rocks together for an hour over a pile of dried grass to eventually produce a spark that, with gentle coaxing, might grow into a roaring flame—can have difficulty self-monitoring their interactions with fire.
Gentle coaxing: Kind persuasion

You don’t want to be the bad guy, but you also want to make sure that your child engages in other activities, like mammoth hunting and the gathering of rocks and bones with which to make tools. So, how do you set appropriate boundaries for your child on fire usage without jeopardizing the family unit so crucial to the survival of the species? Here are some tips:
Jeopardize: To put in danger History and Etymology for jeopardy: Middle English jeopardie, from Anglo-French juparti, jeuparti alternative, literally, divided game

Establish clear but firm limits: Fire is nice, but there’s a time and a place for it. So institute specific fire-watching times, and stick to them. After dinner, when the fire is lit, anyway, is one good option, as well as early in the morning, when a fire is just the thing to warm a chilly cave. Those living in glacial areas may have a harder time curtailing the use of fire, but just remind your children that when you were their age several layers of animal pelts were enough to keep you perfectly warm. Remember, you’re the patriarch (or matriarch, depending on your community’s customs surrounding familial power structures), and you make the rules!
Lit: Lit is a past tense and past participle of light
Chilly: Something that is chilly is unpleasantly cold
Curtailing: Restricting

Have a designated “fire room” in your dwelling: Those with smaller caves or huts might find this suggestion difficult, but even establishing a “fire corner” can help to create separate “fire” and “non-fire” spaces in your living area. In the non-fire spaces, encourage traditional activities, such as conversation (as much as your current vocabulary will allow), arrowhead-shaving, or stick-drawing in mud or soft stones. Reminding your children of the pleasures provided by these traditional activities can help reduce the seductive lure of the fire’s dancing flame.
Dwelling: Home. A dwelling or a dwelling place is a place where someone lives.
Arrowhead: An arrowhead is the sharp, pointed part of an arrow
Stick: A stick is a thin branch which has fallen off a tree.

Watch for changes and communicate concerns: For many children, fire is a harmless, pleasant addition to their lives. But for some it can become an all-consuming passion. If your child seems to be growing unhealthily attached to the fire, don’t wait to talk to him about it. A few common fire-obsessed behaviors to look out for include:
Harmless: Inoffensive, innocuous

• Distraction: ignoring people when they are in the same room as fire
• Preoccupation: talking or thinking about fire, even when there is no fire present
• Deception: going off to secretly find/make fires; lying about fire usage when confronted
• Anthropomorphization: talking to/interacting with the fire as if it were a sentient being, which the elders we consulted say is highly unlikely, though they have yet to entirely rule out the presence of powerful magical beings within the inferno.

Commit to non-fire family time: This last tip is the most important, because, if all you’re doing is restricting your child’s behavior and environment, he’s bound to resent you. So introduce non-fire activities that the whole family can enjoy together, and commit to them on a regular basis. These activities will depend on your region and climate, of course, but hunting and/or gathering is always a great way to be active and insure your family’s survival. If your tribe has already discovered music, carve a bone flute and work on a family song. Believe in a god (or gods)? Carve some rudimentary icons in his/her/their image. There’s no end to the fun you can have when you put your significantly-larger-than-a-chimpanzee’s mind to it!
Commit to: If you commit money or resources to something, you decide to use them for a particular purpose.
Bound: If you say that something is bound to happen, you mean that you are sure it will happen, because it is a natural consequence of something that is already known or exists.
Basis: If something is done on a particular basis, it is done according to that method, system, or principle.

In the end, just remember that fire, like most innovations, is both a blessing and a curse. Sure, it’s made our lives easier, our survival likelier, and will probably lead to the greatest evolutionary paradigm shift in human history. But it’s also dangerous, destructive, and, yes, possibly infested with demonic forces that wish us ill. As with everything in life, balance is key. If you can imagine what it was like a few thousand years ago, when the first humans started walking upright, and how much grief they probably got from their parents, you’ll have some empathy for your children’s unique place in the evolutionary narrative. At the same time, don’t forget that you’re the boss, and that, until they mate and produce viable offspring, what you say goes. And, of course, it goes without saying that, in the (again, very unlikely) event that fire is both sentient and vengeful, we humbly beg its forgiveness for our insolence and pray to be spared our fleeting and insignificant lives.
Curse: If you say that there is a curse on someone, you mean that there seems to be a supernatural power causing unpleasant things to happen to them.
Humbly: Modestly
Be spared: Not damaged
Fleet: transient, constantly changing

dijous, 29 de novembre de 2018

dimecres, 28 de novembre de 2018

Why do we have chins?



Chines are a bit useless so why do we have them?

There are plenty of theories to explain why we have chins, but none of them stands up to scrutiny. Will we ever solve the mystery?

By Melissa Hogenboom
4 February 2016

Chins: we all have them, sitting a bit uselessly at the bottom of our faces. Some people have strong chins, others are said to have weaker chins. But if you were pushed to explain what chins are actually for, would you have a good answer? Nobody seems to use their chin for anything useful.

It becomes even stranger when you consider that among the all primates – including our extinct relatives – only we have chins. Nobody seems to know why – although over the last century several theories as to its purpose have been offered.

A review of all the previous literature now seeks to put some of these assertions straight. "They [chins] are really strange, and that kind of drew my attention," says James Pampush of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, who has been studying our humble chin for several years. "Nobody had put forward a good idea about why humans would be the only animals with chins," so he set out to to untangle the enduring puzzle of the human chin in a recent review.
Humble: Modest
Untangle: Solve

We all have a pretty good idea what a chin is, but it’s useful to define it nonetheless. Put simply, our chin is the protrusion of the bone that appears below the front wall of the human mandible (lower jaw). No other animals have chins – chimpanzee and ape jaws slant inwards for instance. Even our closest extinct relatives such as Neanderthals did not have them.
Slant: Inclined
Inwards: Inside

In fact, one of the ways that scientists differentiate between an anatomically modern human and a Neanderthal skull is by looking to see if it has a chin. "That is what makes the appearance of chins in anatomically modern humans so interesting. It implies that there was some sort of behavioural or dietary shift between Neanderthals and anatomically modern humans that caused the chin to form," says Zaneta Thayer of the University of Colorado, Denver, another researcher who has studied the human chin.

Although nobody can quite agree why the chin exists, there are three prominent theories that have been around for decades.

To start with it has long been proposed that our chin may help us chew food. The theory goes that we need the extra bone to deal with the stresses involved with chewing. However, this idea falls flat when you compare us to other great apes with similar-shaped jaws.
Falls flat: If an event or attempt falls flat or falls flat on its face, it is unsuccessful.



When we chew, our jaw gets pulled apart a bit like a wishbone and the further apart our jaws are the weaker the bones are. If we were to protect ourselves from the stresses of chewing we would need more bone on the inner wall of the jaw near the tongue, not beneath our jaw.

Wishbone: The V-shaped bone above the breastbone in most birds consisting of the fused clavicles; furcula. It appears too in dinosaurs and it’s a proof of the connection between birds and dinosaurs. The custom of two persons pulling on the bone with the one receiving the larger part making a wish developed in the early 17th century. At that time, the name of the bone was a merrythought. The name wishbone in reference to this custom is recorded from 1860


That's exactly what you see in chimpanzees and macaques. They have extra bone on the tongue-ward side of their lower jaw, called a "simian shelf", which we do not have. The added bone that forms our chin is not very useful for additional chewing strength.
Another point Pampush is keen to make is that we don't have a very tough time chewing in the first place.  Much of the food we eat is soft, especially cooked food. "That's why the chin is not an adaptation for chewing,” he says.
Is keen to make: Wants to remark
Tough [ tʌf ]: Hard, rough

Flora Groening at the University of Aberdeen in the UK, agrees. Five years ago she used a computer model to look at the mechanical load on the mouth with and without a chin. "There wasn’t clear evidence to support the claim that the human chin is a result of a mechanical adaptation," she says.

Others have argued that our chin helps us to speak, that our tongue needs reinforcements from extra bone below our jaw. We are the primates with the most extensive speech repertoire after all.

The issue here is that we don't need much force to speak, so it’s not at all obvious why we would need extra bone to help with the process. And if we did need any extra bone, just like for chewing it would be far more useful to add it to the inside of our jaw, closer to our tongue, rather than tagging it onto the bottom of our jaw.
Tag: In this case, add, put on.

The third idea is that the chin doesn't have an immediate function, but that it has been chosen by sexual selection. It is our equivalent of large-flanged orangutan faces or a male elk's large antlers. These are traits that have both been selected for when the opposite sex is considering a mate. This ensures they live on in future generations even if they have no direct benefit or use.
Elk: An elk is a type of large deer
Antler: A male deer's antlers are the branched horns on its head

Again there is a problem here, Pampush says. In all other mammals only one sex will have a sexually selected trait. Chins on the other hand are found on men and women. "If it’s an adaptation for sexual selection then we are the only mammal that has the same in both sexes," he says.

The three hypotheses mentioned all therefore fall flat, says Pampush. In fact, he argues that nobody can know why we truly have a chin at all. "Anyone who tells you that they know [why] is lying." Many of the ideas proposed so far have not stood up to scrutiny, he says, while others are untestable.

Unfortunately, then, we are no closer to explaining why we have a chin. But if we look at it another way it might become more apparent how it came to sit on our faces so prominently, despite having no functional use.

It could simply be what's called a "non-adaptive trait" that arises as a by-product of something else. This is an idea that was suggested in 1979 by the biologists Stephen J. Gould and Richard Lewontin. The chin, they said, is a "spandrel". This is the name given to an architectural feature below some church domes that is often so ornate it looks as if it was the starting point for the building’s design. In reality, spandrels only exist because they help support the dome above them. In other words, spandrels – both biological and architectural – are a by-product of a change happening elsewhere.

Our faces getting smaller may be what caused this particular spandrel to show, according to Nathan Holton of the University of Iowa. He says the chin may simply be a by-product of the reduction of the human skull. Our mandibles, for instance, are less robust than those of our extinct hominin relatives. As our ancestors developed and used fire to cook their food, they no longer needed such strong jaws to chew. This means the overall strength of the jaw in turn became reduced.

Other features changed too. We lack a prominent brow bridge and we have a hollow point below our cheek bones (technically called the "canine fossa"). These have also been linked to our smaller faces, Holton says. "The presence of a chin is probably part of this trend as well. In this sense, understanding why we have chins is really about explaining why human faces became smaller."
Brow ridge: The brow ridge, or supraorbital ridge known as superciliary arch in medicine, refers to a bony ridge located above the eye sockets of all primates. Brow bridge???
Hollow: Deep

Groening also favours this idea, and says that the appearance of a chin could have helped to maintain some of the strength our lower jaws once had. "Neanderthals and Homo erectus had such robust mandibles, they didn’t need an extra thickening of the bone in the chin region, they already had strong jaws and robust bone," she says. Modern humans in contrast have very graceful bones. "A chin might help to provide a bit of extra resistance to maintain a certain mechanical strength, but doesn’t really increase the [overall] strength."

On the other hand, a spandrel could also have been caused by a random event or accident, rather than as a by-product of useful adaptations elsewhere in our faces.

"I am doubtful that it's an adaptation," says Pampush, but the problem is that for now nobody can prove it is an accident either. "We don’t have the tools to do so right now."

So if none of the proposed theories fit the bill, and we cannot prove the spandrel hypothesis, you might wonder why Pampush has spent so long researching the human chin.

It makes more sense when you consider that, although chins are pretty weird, studying them helps pinpoint the evolutionary processes that make us who we are today. It also exposes that evolution works in many ways.
Pinpoint: Identify

Perhaps surprisingly, it's also rare to find a trait that is uniquely human. Many traits that humans have, other animals do too. The chin on the other hand, literally sticks out, and looking at how it did so may help us understand another step in the process that led to us.
Stick out: If you stick out part of your body, you extend it away from your body. If something sticks out, it is very noticeable because it is unusual.

dimarts, 27 de novembre de 2018

JIKO BUKKEN

WHAT IS A ‘JIKO BUKKEN’ PROPERTY?
A “jiko bukken” is a property where the former occupant died of unnatural causes, such as suicide, murder, fire or neglect. They can be rented or purchased at very low prices, provided you are okay with the ‘history’ of the home or apartment. There are a growing number of individuals and companies that specialize in purchasing these properties at huge discounts, and either renting them out of re-selling in the future. In the case of a house, the house may be demolished and the land re-sold.

THE LAW REGARDING THE RENTAL OR SALE OF A “JIKO BUKKEN”
Under the Real Estate Transaction Law, the real estate license-holder has a legal obligation to inform the tenant or buyer of any known unnatural deaths that occurred in the property. The details of the accident must also be explained in the “Important Details and Particulars” document that is signed at the time of contract.

For properties for sale, although the law is not specific about time lines, it is generally assumed that the agent will inform the buyer if the death occurred within the past 10 years. To be on the safe side, some agents will inform buyers regardless of how many years have passed.

For properties for rent, the real estate agent is obligated to inform the very next tenant who moves into the property after the incident, but there is no obligation to inform any future tenants. Some less-than-ideal real estate agencies may rent the apartment to one of their staff for a short period before re-listing the apartment at the full market price.

For a death by natural causes (with the exception of the body not being discovered for a long period of time), in some cases this may not be considered a psychological defect to the property and may not be disclosed.

If the incident occurred in a different apartment within the same building, there is no obligation to inform the tenant or buyer. However, if the death did not occur within an apartment but was caused by someone jumping from a high floor, agents tend to inform all new occupants in order to avoid any troubles from arising.

WHAT IF THIS INFORMATION IS NOT DISCLOSED TO THE TENANT OR BUYER?
If the seller/landlord or real estate agent intentionally omits this information from the rental or purchase contract, the contract may be nullified (there have been court cases where the contract has been voided). In almost all cases where the agent has been taken to court because of concealing the history of the property, the court has ruled against the real estate agent.

The risk of being caught is high, and legitimate real estate license holders follow the law very seriously so the chance of being tricked into renting or buying a ‘jiko bukken’ should be very low if you go through a proper real estate agent. (...)

http://japanpropertycentral.com/real-estate-faq/what-is-a-jiko-bukken-property/

dilluns, 26 de novembre de 2018

Would you rather be a zombie or a vampire? by Martin Belam


Would you rather be a zombie or a vampire? An answer to Oxford Uni's hardest question
A good-enough response could help get you through the All Souls College entrance exam – so, here’s a primer on the undead


Martin Belam
Mon 8 Oct 2018 13.50 BST

With news that the entrance exam at All Souls College, Oxford, asks prospective Fellows to write an essay on whether they would prefer to be a zombie or a vampire, we look at the pros and cons of their lifestyles.
All Souls College: it’s one of the Oxford’s colleges. Some of their members were Raymond Carr, Lawrence of Arabia, Isaiah Berlin,…

Vampires
For
Have you ever seen a bad-looking vampire? It’s not clear whether only stylish people get turned into vampires or whether being a vampire gives you style, but there’s no getting away from the fact that vampires look cool.

And vampire life looks like an erotic riot – all that mysterious swooping around at night and the frequent nibbling of tender necks. Plus, being a vampire also comes equipped with a range of useful special powers: who wouldn’t want to be able to transform into a bat, or hypnotise passers-by into becoming your minions and doing your bidding?
Swoop: When a bird or aeroplane swoops, it suddenly moves downwards through the air in a smooth curving movement.
Nibbling: Biting, eating
Do sb’s bid: If you say that someone does another person's bidding, you disapprove of the fact that they do exactly what the other person asks them to do, even when they do not want to.

Against
Being immortal sounds fun, until you realise it means watching everyone you love grow old and die in front of your eyes. Unless, of course, you vampirise them so they can spend eternity with you, which puts a lot of pressure on your relationship choices.

And as the author Susan Ertz put it: “Millions long for immortality who do not know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.” Filling those Sunday afternoons is a lot harder when there are severe restrictions on where you can go – no sunlight, no walking into places uninvited, and you can’t just crash out round a friends’ haunted castle unless you’ve brought your spare coffin with you.

You will also need to spend multiple lifetimes avoiding garlic and being careful around sharp wooden objects – although, to be fair, most humans would struggle with having a stake plunged into the heart.

Zombies
For
While being a vampire can be a lonely business, the general rule of thumb with zombies is that you go around in a marauding mob, which suggests it’s a much more sociable choice, suitable for extroverts and those less inclined towards brooding introspection. It’s also a great time to be a zombie if you have an interest in acting, since, at the moment, both Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead are providing plenty of opportunities to be an extra. Plus, the zombie diet of choice – brains – is totally delicious, and has the health benefit of being full of DHA, which is an important omega-3 fatty acid.

Against
While hanging out in a big crowd might suit the more sociably minded, there’s very little in the way of scintillating conversation. Most zombie communication is done with low moans, or by muttering: “Brains! Brains!” with your arms outstretched.
Scintillating: Bright

And, in contrast to vampires, and despite the best efforts of Halloween costume designers, it is very hard to pull off a sexy zombie look. Not only is being the living dead a skincare-regime nightmare, you also have to deal with your body parts dropping off left, right and centre. The constant smell of rotting flesh is also usually considered a turn-off.

Verdict: Vampires for life

diumenge, 25 de novembre de 2018

Admit it, older people – you are addicted to your phones, too


Admit it, older people – you are addicted to your phones, too
Sophia Ankel

Over-reliance on mobiles isn’t just the scourge of the young, and it has a damaging effect on families
Sat 21 Jul 2018 11.00 BST
Reliance: Dependence
Scourge: Menace

My mother likes to sit with her legs crossed on the sofa, glasses balanced on her nose, while she scrolls through her iPhone. I don’t know whether she is commenting on a friend’s family photo album, crushing candy or liking a meme with the caption: “Tonight’s forecast: 99% chance of wine”, but I do know that this is not the first time I catch her like this. My father opts for the “I’ll be with you shortly” line, which he delivers with a very serious look on his face as he aggressively taps away on his phone. I have learned by now that this is my cue to leave him alone for the next 10 minutes. As much as they don’t like admitting it, both of my parents are just as addicted to their phones as I am.

Growing up, we are constantly reminded that young people are the demographic most affected by technology. We are the “antisocial social club”, those who prefer to text our friends in the same room rather than having to make eye-contact with them. We are the “digital natives”, ruining the English language because we favour using heart-eye emojis to tell someone we fancy them, instead of spelling it out. We are “generation mute”, unable to bear phone calls because apparently the awkwardness of calling someone up is just too real. And even though I can recognise myself in some of the never-ending studies that reveal to us the extent of our social media addiction, warning us that we are slowly turning into tech-zombies, we should at least consider that it’s not only us young’uns any more.
Bear : If you can't bear someone or something, you dislike them very much.
Awkwardness: An awkward situation is embarrassing and difficult to deal with.
Young’uns: Young ones. Plural of young one.

There’s the rise of the Instagram mums, who like to post an abundance of cute baby pictures, showcasing their seemingly (and oddly) put-together lifestyles and sharing their many #momfeelings along the way. Or the surge of over-55-year-olds who are beginning to occupy and curate Facebook. They are the so-called “Facebook mum generation”, a growing group of parents that like to overshare and, in the process, are slowly pushing out young people who can’t bear to see another one of mum’s embarrassing gin-and-tonic-on-a-holiday selfies. While many millennials are slowly leaving Facebook because our timeline seems to only clog up with fake news, dog videos and repetitive memes these days, our parents might see the platform as a way of keeping up with the social lives of their old schoolmates or, paradoxically, in my mother’s case, “to see what my children are up to since phone calls have been running a bit dry”. They’re a little late to the party, but are still arriving in their droves, with Facebook expecting its largest growth of new members joining the platform in the UK to be among the over-55s users this year (a predicted 500,000, in fact).
Showcase: A showcase is a glass container with valuable objects inside it, for example at an exhibition or in a museum.
Surge: A surge is a sudden large increase in something that has previously been steady, or has only increased or developed slowly.
Curate: To be in charge of organizing, arranging, and presenting a festival or other event
Clog up: When something clogs up a place, or when it clogs up, it becomes blocked so that little or nothing can pass through.
Droves: (often plural) A moving crowd of people

And while all of this might be fine, and even a little humorous, new research suggests that parents’ technology addiction is negatively affecting their children’s behaviour. According to the study, 40% of mothers and 32% of fathers have admitted to having some sort of phone addiction. This has led to a significant fall in verbal interactions within families and even a decline in mothers encouraging their children. “Technoference” is the term used here to describe the increasing trend that sees people switching their attention away from those around them to check their phones instead – one that seems to be infiltrating far beyond friendship circles and now also into family life. And by family life, I mean not only young teens and children who are glued to their phones or tablets, but also their parents, who are now joining in on the antisocial fun. What are the consequences if we don’t deal with this? And why don’t we recognise it in the first place, when all the signs are there?

There is no denying that I get annoyed when I receive the “I’ll be with you shortly line from a parent, when all I want to do is ask one question. But, at the same time, leaving the room to wait until my father is finished with his “serious business” (ie Farmville), has now become the norm. Whether you want to escape your pestering children for a bit, or want to stay up late flicking through Twitter, know that wanting to do all of this is normal. We – your children – know how addictive it can be and how difficult it is to switch off. But before calling us out and telling us to “put our phones away at the table” or even worse, pulling up statistics of how damaging social media can be for us, maybe lead by example and consider how much time you spend on the phone as well as how this is impacting your children and your relationship with them. Maybe in this way we can work on our addiction together.
I'll be with you shortly line: I imagine it’s in a short time…
Pestering: If you say that someone is pestering you, you mean that they keep asking you to do something, or keep talking to you, and you find this annoying.
Flicking: If you flick through a book or magazine, you turn its pages quickly, for example to get a general idea of its contents or to look for a particular item. If you flick through television channels, you continually change channels very quickly, for example using a remote control.

Sophia Ankel is a master’s student in journalism at Goldsmiths College, University of London

dissabte, 24 de novembre de 2018

Raise or Rise with Emma (www.engvid.com)

Difference between raise (transitive) and rise (intransitive)

TRANSITIVE
Raise    Raised     Raised
rz     reɪzd      reɪzd

I raise my hand
My boss raised my salary
I've raised my kids well

INTRANSITIVE
Rise  Rose     Risen
rz  rz     rɪzən

The sun rises
I've just risen from my chair
The bread rose in the oven

Exercises
My grandfather raised me (OD)
You must rise (intransitive)
The sun rises (intransitive)
Raise your hand (OD)
Heat rises (intransitive)
I will raise my cup to you (OD)


Learn English with Emma [engVid]
Published on 6 Jul 2012
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0ATxjJBAdE
http://www.engvid.com

divendres, 23 de novembre de 2018

Wanted: an Erich Fromm party by Neil Clark


Wanted: an Erich Fromm party

The social philosopher and psychoanalyst was one of the 20th century's most prescient - yet sadly neglected - thinkers.


Neil Clark

Tue 20 Feb 2007 12.17 GMT

"A healthy economy is only possible at the expense of unhealthy human beings".

I wonder what the social philosopher and psychoanalyst Dr Erich Fromm, the man who wrote those words over 30 years ago, would make of Britain today.

Over the past decade we have witnessed an unprecedented period of uninterrupted economic growth. Yet our collective mental health has declined sharply. More than two million Britons are on antidepressants, a million on Class A drugs. Binge drinking, and what Fromm called "acts of destruction" - violence, self-abuse and vandalism - have reached record levels. The Samaritans report that five million people are "extremely stressed". Oliver James' new book, Affluenza, and last week's Unicef report, which listed Britain's children as the unhappiest in Europe, are powerful indictments of the society we have become.
Class A drugs: The Misuse of Drugs Act sets out three separate categories, Class A, Class B, and Class C. Class A drugs represent those deemed most dangerous, and so carry the harshest punishments.
Binge drinking: Binge drinking is the consumption of large amounts of alcohol within a short period of time.
Indictment: If you say that one thing is an indictment of another thing, you mean that it shows how bad the other thing is.

For solutions to our predicament, don't look to neo-liberal politicians such as Ed Vaizey, and other members of the political parties bankrolled by big business. And don't look either to short-term fixes like the cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) advocated by Richard Layard.

Instead, turn to the work of Erich Fromm, one of the 20th century's most prescient - yet sadly neglected - thinkers.

In The Sane Society (1955), Fromm argued that a society, in which "consumption has become the de facto goal", was itself sick. He advanced his theory of social character: that "every society produces the character it needs". Early Calvinistic capitalism produced the "hoarding character", who hoards both possessions and feelings: the classic Victorian man of property.
Hoard: If you hoard things such as food or money, you save or store them, often in secret, because they are valuable or important to you.

Post-war capitalism, Fromm argued, produced another, equally neurotic type: "the marketing character", who "adapts to the market economy by becoming detached from authentic emotions, truth and conviction". For the marketing character "everything is transformed into a commodity, not only things, but the person himself, his physical energy, his skills, his knowledge, his opinions, his feelings, even his smiles". (For a perfect example of a "marketing character", just think of the current inhabitant of No 10 Downing Street). [Tony Blair In office 2 May 1997 – 27 June 2007]

Modern global capitalism requires marketing characters in abundance and makes sure it gets them. Meanwhile, Fromm's ideal character type, the mature "productive character", the person without a mask, who loves and creates, and for whom being is more important than having, is discouraged.

Fromm was also deeply concerned with the way that love, "the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence" was undermined by an economic system which rewards greed and selfishness.
Greed: Greed is the desire to have more of something, such as food or money, than is necessary or fair.
Selfishness: If you say that someone is selfish, you mean that he or she cares only about himself or herself, and not about other people.

In The Art of Loving (1956), Fromm identified five types of love, all of which were endangered. Brotherly love, the most important, "the one which underlies all others", was undermined by the reduction of human beings to commodities. Motherly love was threatened by narcissism and possessiveness. Self-love, without which we cannot love others, was destroyed by selfishness. The love of God was regressing "to an idolatric concept of God". Finally, erotic love was debased by its separation from brotherly love and the absence of tenderness.

In the turbo-capitalist Britain of 2007, the war against love which Erich Fromm warned of, has gone into overdrive. Glossy magazines encourage anti-love sexual permissiveness and the cultivation of selfish and materialistic lifestyles. Multimillion dollar industries promoting the cult of narcissism have grown up, in which reality television is the latest and crudest manifestation. We are encouraged to view all human contacts as expendable, to be "traded-in" whenever we can get a better deal. Hire and fire rules not just in the business world, but in our personal lives too. And we wonder why we are so unhappy.
Warn: Notify, tell, remind, inform
Into overdrive: Into a state of intense activity
Glossy magazines: Glossy magazines, leaflets, books, and photographs are produced on expensive, shiny paper.

Erich Fromm shows us how we can fight back. The good doctor didn't just diagnose the disease, he put forward the remedies. There could be no improvement in our collective health unless society changed from the "having" to the "being" mode of existence.

The brainwashing methods used in modern advertising, described by Fromm as the "poison of mass suggestion" must be prohibited. The gap between rich and poor must be closed. A new, participatory form of democracy, "in which the well-being of the community becomes each citizen's private concern", must be introduced. There should be maximum decentralisation throughout industry and politics. And most importantly of all, ''the right of stockholders and management of big enterprises to determine their production solely on the basis of profit and expansion" must be drastically curbed. Fromm was unequivocal: the needs of people must come before the needs of capital.

The measures that Fromm put forward will no doubt be dismissed by some as unworkable or too left-wing, (as indeed similar, sensible measures put forward by Oliver James have been). And as Fromm himself, warned big business would use all its "tremendous power" to fight such changes. But if we are serious about constructing a society in which solidarity and brotherly love come to the fore, nothing less than a complete overhaul of our economic system will do.

A healthy economy or healthy human beings? I vote for the latter. How about you?