In a fast-moving, ever-shifting world, news is continuously breaking. The Great Courses is here to help you understand the full story behind the soundbites. Here are a handful of stories for the week of February 25, 2019, and their accompanying lectures on The Great Courses Plus.
Cohen Testifies to Congress Regarding Trump
On his final day of testimony on Capitol Hill, Michael Cohen described his work and insights as Trump’s personal lawyer and “fixer.” Highlights from his testimony included: Trump knew about the plans to publish hacked emails; Trump paid off an adult-film actress; and there possibly is a current—and non-public—investigation into unspecified criminal allegations. Presidential dishonesty and cover-ups can undermine our belief in the fairness of our system of government and our faith in its legitimacy, but they are not new phenomenon. Examine the history of presidents lying under oath, obstructing justice, and grand jury subpoenas.
Two People Arrested after Fight over Buffet Crab Legs
An all-you-can-eat buffet led to a fight—allegedly over crab legs at a restaurant in Huntsville, AL. After a delayed delivery of fresh crab legs, an altercation broke out about who was next in line, involving patrons who were apparently using tongs to fight each other. Due to our cultural tendencies in the United States, we have a predisposition in our society to either suppress anger or to express it thoughtlessly—but consider a third option we could pursue: disarming anger with mindfulness.
Major League Baseball May Test Robotic Umpires
It’s been reported that Major League Baseball will install Trackman radar devices at every Atlantic League stadium to help regulate the “strike zone”—a rule that is generally inconsistent and subjective to the umpire in each game. Explore how robots are designed for performing specific tasks and examine other areas in which robots are being brought in to regulate—and replace—human jobs.
Record-Breaking Preemie Goes Home Healthy
In a medical miracle, a tiny baby who stopped growing in the womb and who was born at 24 weeks of gestation weighing under 10 ounces—roughly the same weight as an onion—was cleared to go home healthy. Visit a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) that provides specialized care to sick newborns and learn how pediatricians take care of premature infants.
Trump’s North Korean Denuclearization Talks Collapse
Trump’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, held in Vietnam, ended abruptly due to Jong-un’s frustration with American sanctions not being lifted. The summit ended without the leaders arriving at any agreement regarding nuclear disarmament or how to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Cross-cultural negotiations can be rife with misunderstood signals and missed opportunities. Probe three major problems that often arise in cross-cultural bargaining and explore how to understand and overcome them.
Study Says That Listening to Music “Significantly Impairs” Creativity
The popular view that music enhances creativity has been challenged by psychologists from the University of Central Lancashire in the UK, University of Gävle in Sweden, and Lancaster University in the UK. The researchers have demonstrated that listening to music while performing tasks at home or at work has the opposite effect, concluding that “Music, regardless of the presence of semantic content (no lyrics, familiar lyrics, or unfamiliar lyrics), consistently disrupts creative performance in insight problem-solving.” Look at how sound, light, and time of day affect your creative thought process.
What an Insect Can Teach Us about Adapting to Stress
Studying how grasshoppers react and adapt to stressful situations can provide a view that may inspire a new way of looking at ourselves. This story is being used as an eye-opening analogy, demonstrating that under pressure, a lot of us get rigid about our sense of self. But psychologists say, it’s healthier to be flexible, and adapt to your circumstances, much like the grasshoppers do. Changing your perception of stressful situations isn’t easy. Learn the nuances of cognitive restructuring.
Fast Food Has Gotten Less Healthy in the Last 30 Years
Researchers studied the offerings of popular fast-food chains across a three-decade span: in 1986, 1991, and 2016. They determined that despite new, healthier options, such as salads, overall, the calories, portion sizes, and sodium content for the majority of fast-food items have worsened. According to the World Health Organization, most of the world’s population now lives in countries where obesity kills more people than malnutrition. See what effects the massive consumption of sugar and other unhealthy habits have on our lifespan.
Martha Stewart to Partner with Marijuana Grower
In a move that may seem off-brand, Martha Stewart has partnered with one of the globe’s largest marijuana producers, Canopy Growth, to develop hemp-derived CBD products. But what defines a brand and are there rules you should follow when building your brand? Dig into creating a brand that connects you with consumers and what to do if you want to change your approach.
Vandals Steal Head of 800-Year-Old Mummy in Ireland
The head of an 800-year-old mummy nicknamed, “The Crusader,” was stolen from a historic church in Dublin. Some of the mummified remains of prominent families in St. Michan’s Church date back to 1600 A.D. Get to know the people of Prehistoric Ireland and see how the origin myth of the Irish people has changed over time.