Success and Luck, Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy - The Book: UFF Commentary; Detailed Definitions; Book Review; Luck Humour and Quotes; Related Thematic Music; Don't Follow Your Passion; 24 Things That Are More Likely to Happen Than Winning the Lottery; Reverse Lottery; WARREN BUFFETT on Being at the Right Place Right Time and Luck With Wealth

Success and Luck, Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy - The Book: UFF Commentary; Detailed Definitions; Book Review; Luck Humour and Quotes; Related Thematic Music; Don't Follow Your Passion; 24 Things That Are More Likely to Happen Than Winning the Lottery;  Reverse Lottery; WARREN BUFFETT on Being at the Right Place Right Time and Luck With Wealth

UFF Commentary:

Is it fair to say that all people have potential from birth to develop, earn and deserve praise (merit)?


the quality of being particularly good or worthy, especially so as to deserve praise or reward.
"composers of outstanding merit"
synonyms: excellence · goodness · standard · quality · level · grade · high quality ·

deserve or be worthy of (something, especially reward, punishment, or attention).
"the results have been encouraging enough to merit further investigation"
synonyms: deserve · earn · be deserving of · warrant · rate · justify · be worthy of ·

"Merit" as a word search courtesy of BING. See the following post (Definitions) for more details on meritocracy.


And are we not all lucky to be alive, here and now, no-matter how precarious our current situation?



success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one's own actions.
"it was just luck that the first kick went in" ·
synonyms: good fortune · good luck · success · successfulness · prosperity ·

(luck into/onto)
chance to find or acquire.
"he lucked into a disc-jockey job"

"Luck" as a word search courtesy of BING. Once again: See the following post (Definitions) for more details on being lucky.


And what about success? How successful do we need to be to feel fulfilled?


Related Idiom and Slang:

1. Idiom: Nothing Succeeds Like Success
Courtesy of

Initial success provides the resources and fosters the circumstances for further success. After their surprise championship victory, the team was suddenly flooded with support from the state and went on to become a powerhouse in the region. Nothing succeeds like success, as they say.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

Prov. If you have succeeded in the past, you will continue to be successful in the future. After Alan's brilliant courtroom victory, everyone wanted to be his client. Nothing succeeds like success.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


And how much luck do we need or deserve? What kind of luck do we yearn for, as there are variations, such as -

2. Slang: Like (lucky as) a dog with two dicks
Courtesy of

Happy, as a dog would be if it found it had an extra penis.


If there is ever to be a healthy, vibrant, rich, earth-based Utopian future for humanity (warts and all), will it be based on meritocracy? And need all meritocracies necessarily be based on and/or evolve into elitist hierarchies? Or can there be a more egalitarian, humanistic, Utopian, merit-based solution to resolving current, ongoing social/political/economic inequalities? A meritocracy of and for one and all! That would call for equal rights and opportunities writ large in a society currently, seemingly hell-bent on winner-take-all selfish purposes.

And what part would luck play if a modern, functional version of Utopia is to exist beyond fiction and mythology?


Here's an observation/objective Robert Frank offers in the Preface of his book:

"The claims I'll defend in the pages ahead are ambitious - that successful people tend to understate luck's role in their success, making them reluctant to support the kinds of public investments without which everyone becomes less likely to succeed; and that a relatively simple, un-intrusive change in public policy could free up more than enough resources to redress this investment shortfall."
Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy, Robert H. Frank, Princeton University Press, 2016. Preface, Page xvi.

Put another way from another perspective:

Wouldn't it be nice if we could all get bailed out of trouble like those lucky bankers and derivatives junkies after the 2008 financial crash?

OK, so -

If we are to truly appreciate and objectify the full depth and meaning of the book "Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy", we need first start with detailed definitions and related history of the words "meritocracy" and "luck".


Detailed Definitions:

Meritocracy Defined
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Meritocracy (merit, from Latin mereō, and -cracy, from Ancient Greek κράτος kratos "strength, power") is a political philosophy which holds that certain things, such as economic goods or power, should be vested in individuals on the basis of talent, effort and achievement.[1] Advancement in such a system is based on performance, as measured through examination or demonstrated achievement. Although the concept of meritocracy has existed for centuries, the term itself was first created in 1958 by the sociologist Michael Young[2].

Early definitions[edit]

The "most common definition of meritocracy conceptualizes merit in terms of tested competency and ability, and most likely, as measured by IQ or standardized achievement tests."[3] In government and other administrative systems, "meritocracy" refers to a system under which advancement within the system turns on "merits", like intelligence, credentials, and education. These are often determined through evaluations or examinations.[2]

In a more general sense, meritocracy can refer to any form of evaluation based on achievement. Like "utilitarian" and "pragmatic", the word "meritocratic" has also developed a broader connotation, and is sometimes used to refer to any government run by "a ruling or influential class of educated or able people."[4]

This is in contrast to the original, condemnatory use of the term in 1958 by Michael Young in his work "The Rise of the Meritocracy", who was satirizing the ostensibly merit-based Tripartite System of education practiced in the United Kingdom at the time; he claimed that, in the Tripartite System, "merit is equated with intelligence-plus-effort, its possessors are identified at an early age and selected for appropriate intensive education, and there is an obsession with quantification, test-scoring, and qualifications."[5]

Meritocracy in its wider sense, may be any general act of judgment upon the basis of various demonstrated merits; such acts frequently are described in sociology and psychology. Supporters of meritocracy do not necessarily agree on the nature of "merit"; however, they do tend to agree that "merit" itself should be a primary consideration during evaluation. Thus, the merits may extend beyond intelligence and education to any mental or physical talent or to work ethic. As such meritocracy may be based on character or innate abilities. Meritocrats therefore reject evaluation on the basis of race, wealth, family circumstances, and similar criteria.

In rhetoric, the demonstration of one's merit regarding mastery of a particular subject is an essential task most directly related to the Aristotelian term Ethos. The equivalent Aristotelian conception of meritocracy is based upon aristocratic or oligarchical structures, rather than in the context of the modern state.[6][7]

More recent definitions[edit]

In the United States, the assassination of President James A. Garfield in 1881 prompted the replacement of the American Spoils System with a meritocracy. In 1883, The Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act was passed, stipulating government jobs should be awarded on the basis of merit through competitive exams, rather than ties to politicians or political affiliation.[8]

The most common form of meritocratic screening found today is the college degree. Higher education is an imperfect meritocratic screening system for various reasons, such as lack of uniform standards worldwide,[9][10] lack of scope (not all occupations and processes are included), and lack of access (some talented people never have an opportunity to participate because of the expense, most especially in developing countries).[11] Nonetheless, academic degrees serve some amount of meritocratic screening purpose in the absence of a more refined methodology. Education alone, however, does not constitute a complete system, as meritocracy must automatically confer power and authority, which a degree does not accomplish independently.


Although the concept has existed for centuries, the term "meritocracy" is relatively new. It was used pejoratively by British politician and sociologist Michael Young in his 1958 satirical essay[2][12][13][14][15] The Rise of the Meritocracy, which pictured the United Kingdom under the rule of a government favouring intelligence and aptitude (merit) above all else, being the combination of the root of Latin origin "merit" (from "mereō" meaning "earn") and the Ancient Greek suffix "-cracy" (meaning "power", "rule").[16] In this book the term had distinctly negative connotations as Young questioned both the legitimacy of the selection process used to become a member of this elite and the outcomes of being ruled by such a narrowly defined group. The essay, written in the first person by a fictional historical narrator in 2034, interweaves history from the politics of pre- and post-war Britain with those of fictional future events in the short (1960 onward) and long term (2020 onward).[17]

The essay was based upon the tendency of the then-current governments, in their striving toward intelligence, to ignore shortcomings and upon the failure of education systems to utilize correctly the gifted and talented members within their societies.[18]

Young's fictional narrator explains that, on the one hand, the greatest contributor to society is not the "stolid mass" or majority, but the "creative minority" or members of the "restless elite".[19] On the other hand, he claims that there are casualties of progress whose influence is underestimated and that, from such stolid adherence to natural science and intelligence, arises arrogance and complacency.[19] This problem is encapsulated in the phrase "Every selection of one is a rejection of many".[19]

It was also used by Hannah Arendt in her essay "Crisis in Education",[20] which was written in 1958 and refers to the use of meritocracy in the English educational system. She too uses the term pejoratively. It was not until 1972 that Daniel Bell used the term positively.[21]


Ancient times: China[edit]

According to scholarly consensus, the earliest example of an administrative meritocracy, based on civil service examinations, dates back to Ancient China.[22][23][24][25][a] The concept originates, at least by the sixth century BC, when it was advocated by the Chinese philosopher Confucius, who "invented the notion that those who govern should do so because of merit, not of inherited status. This sets in motion the creation of the imperial examinations and bureaucracies open only to those who passed tests."[26]

As the Qin and Han dynasties developed a meritocratic system in order to maintain power over a large, sprawling empire, it became necessary for the government to maintain a complex network of officials.[27] Prospective officials could come from a rural background and government positions were not restricted to the nobility. Rank was determined by merit, through the civil service examinations, and education became the key for social mobility.[27] After the fall of the Han Dynasty, the nine-rank system was established during the Three Kingdoms period.
According to the Princeton Encyclopedia on American History:[28]

One of the oldest examples of a merit-based civil service system existed in the imperial bureaucracy of China. Tracing back to 200 B.C., the Han Dynasty adopted Confucianism as the basis of its political philosophy and structure, which included the revolutionary idea of replacing nobility of blood with one of virtue and honesty, and thereby calling for administrative appointments to be based solely on merit. This system allowed anyone who passed an examination to become a government officer, a position that would bring wealth and honor to the whole family. In part due to Chinese influence, the first European civil service did not originate in Europe, but rather in India by the British-run East India Company... company managers hired and promoted employees based on competitive examinations in order to prevent corruption and favoritism.

Both Plato and Aristotle advocated meritocracy, Plato in his The Republic, arguing that the most wise should rule, and hence the rulers should be philosopher kings.[29]

17th century: spread to Europe[edit]

The concept of meritocracy spread from China to British India during the seventeenth century, and then into continental Europe and the United States.[28] With the translation of Confucian texts during the Enlightenment, the concept of a meritocracy reached intellectuals in the West, who saw it as an alternative to the traditional ancient regime of Europe.[30] Voltaire and François Quesnay wrote favourably of the idea, with Voltaire claiming that the Chinese had "perfected moral science" and Quesnay advocating an economic and political system modeled after that of the Chinese.[30]

The first European power to implement a successful meritocratic civil service was the British Empire, in their administration of India: "company managers hired and promoted employees based on competitive examinations in order to prevent corruption and favoritism."[28] British colonial administrators advocated the spread of the system to the rest of the commonwealth, the most "persistent" of which was Thomas Taylor Meadows, Britain's consul in Guangzhou, China. Meadows successfully argued in his Desultory Notes on the Government and People of China, published in 1847, that "the long duration of the Chinese empire is solely and altogether owing to the good government which consists in the advancement of men of talent and merit only," and that the British must reform their civil service by making the institution meritocratic.[31] This practice later was adopted in the late nineteenth century by the British mainland, inspired by "Chinese mandarin system."[32]

The British philosopher and polymath John Stuart Mill advocated meritocracy in his book, Considerations on Representative Government. His model was to give more votes to the more educated voter. His views are explained in Estlund (2003:57–58):

Mill's proposal of plural voting has two motives. One is to prevent one group or class of people from being able to control the political process even without having to give reasons in order to gain sufficient support. He calls this the problem of class legislation. Since the most numerous class is also at a lower level of education and social rank, this could be partly remedied by giving those at the higher ranks plural votes. A second, and equally prominent motive for plural voting is to avoid giving equal influence to each person without regard to their merit, intelligence, etc. He thinks that it is fundamentally important that political institutions embody, in their spirit, the recognition that some opinions are worth more than others. He does not say that this is a route to producing better political decisions, but it is hard to understand his argument, based on this second motive, in any other way.

So, if Aristotle is right that the deliberation is best if participants are numerous (and assuming for simplicity that the voters are the deliberators) then this is a reason for giving all or many citizens a vote, but this does not yet show that the wiser subset should not have, say, two or three; in that way something would be given both to the value of the diverse perspectives, and to the value of the greater wisdom of the few. This combination of the Platonic and Aristotelian points is part of what I think is so formidable about Mill's proposal of plural voting. It is also an advantage of his view that he proposes to privilege not the wise, but the educated. Even if we agreed that the wise should rule, there is a serious problem about how to identify them. This becomes especially important if a successful political justification must be generally acceptable to the ruled. In that case, privileging the wise would require not only their being so wise as to be better rulers, but also, and more demandingly, that their wisdom be something that can be agreed to by all reasonable citizens. I turn to this conception of justification below.

Mill's position has great plausibility: good education promotes the ability of citizens to rule more wisely. So, how can we deny that the educated subset would rule more wisely than others. But then why shouldn't they have more votes?

Estlund goes on to criticize Mill's education-based meritocracy on various grounds.

19th century[edit]

In the United States, the federal bureaucracy used the Spoils System from 1828 until the assassination of United States President James A. Garfield by a disappointed office seeker in 1881 proved its dangers. Two years later in 1883, the system of appointments to the United States Federal Bureaucracy was revamped by the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act, partially based on the British meritocratic civil service that had been established years earlier. The act stipulated that government jobs should be awarded on the basis of merit, through competitive exams, rather than ties to politicians or political affiliation. It also made it illegal to fire or demote government employees for political reasons.[8]

To enforce the merit system and the judicial system, the law also created the United States Civil Service Commission.[8] In the modern American meritocracy, the president may hand out only a certain number of jobs, which must be approved by the Senate.

Australia began establishing public universities in the 1850s with the goal of promoting meritocracy by providing advanced training and credentials. The educational system was set up to service urban males of middle-class background, but of diverse social and religious origins. It was increasingly extended to all graduates of the public school system, those of rural and regional background, and then to women and finally to ethnic minorities.[33] Both the middle classes and the working classes have promoted the ideal of meritocracy within a strong commitment to "mate-ship" and political equality.[34]

20th century to today[edit]

Singapore describes meritocracy as one of its official guiding principles for domestic public policy formulation, placing emphasis on academic credentials as objective measures of merit.[35]

There is criticism that, under this system, Singaporean society is being increasingly stratified and that an elite class is being created from a narrow segment of the population.[36] Singapore has a growing level of tutoring for children,[37] and top tutors are often paid better than school teachers.[37][38][39] Defendants[who?] recall the ancient Chinese proverb "Wealth does not pass three generations" (Chinese: 富不过三代), suggesting that the nepotism or cronyism of elitists eventually will be, and often are, replaced by those lower down the hierarchy.
Singaporean academics are continuously re-examining the application of meritocracy as an ideological tool and how it's stretched to encompass the ruling party's objectives. Professor Kenneth Paul Tan at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy asserts that "Meritocracy, in trying to 'isolate' merit by treating people with fundamentally unequal backgrounds as superficially the same, can be a practice that ignores and even conceals the real advantages and disadvantages that are unevenly distributed to different segments of an inherently unequal society, a practice that in fact perpetuates this fundamental inequality. In this way, those who are picked by meritocracy as having merit may already have enjoyed unfair advantages from the very beginning, ignored according to the principle of nondiscrimination."[40]

Meritocracy in the Singapore context relates to the application of pragmatism as an ideological device which combines strict adherence to market principles without any aversion to social engineering and little propensity for classical social welfarism,[41] is further illustrated by Kenneth Paul Tan in subsequent articles:

There is a strong ideological quality in Singapore's pragmatism, and a strongly pragmatic quality in ideological negotiations within the dynamics of hegemony. In this complex relationship, the combination of ideological and pragmatic maneuvering over the decades has resulted in the historical dominance of government by the PAP in partnership with global capital whose interests have been advanced without much reservation.[42]

Within the Ecuadorian Ministry of Labor, the Ecuadorian Meritocracy Institute[43] was created under the technical advice of the Singapore government.

Most contemporary political theorists, including John Rawls, reject the ideal of meritocracy.[44] However, in recent years, Thomas Mulligan has defended meritocracy.[45][46][47] He argues that a just society is one in which there is equal opportunity and people are judged on their merits.

Please refer to the Wikipedia site for more details on meritocracy including footnotes and references.


Luck Defined
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Luck is the experience of notably positive, negative, or improbable events. The naturalistic interpretation is that positive and negative events happen all the time in human lives, both due to random and non-random natural and artificial processes, and that even improbable events can happen by random chance. In this view, being "lucky" or "unlucky" is simply a descriptive label that points out an event's positivity, negativity, or improbability.

Supernatural interpretations of luck consider it to be an attribute of a person or object, or the result of a favorable or unfavorable view of a deity upon a person. These interpretations often prescribe how luckiness or unluckiness can be obtained, such as by carrying a lucky charm or making sacrifices or prayers to a deity. Saying someone is "born lucky" then might mean, depending on the interpretation, anything from that they have been born into a good family or circumstance, or that they habitually experience improbably positive events due to some inherent property or the lifelong favor of a god or goddess in a monotheistic or polytheistic religion.

Many superstitions are related to luck, though these are often specific to a given culture or set of related cultures, and sometimes contradictory. For example, lucky symbols include the number 7 in Christian-influenced cultures, but the number 8 in Chinese-influenced cultures. Unlucky symbols and events include entering and leaving a house by different doors in Greek culture, throwing rocks into the wind in Navajo culture, and ravens in Western culture. Some of these associations may derive from related facts or desires. For example, in Western culture opening an umbrella indoors might be considered unlucky partly because it could poke someone in the eye, whereas shaking hands with a chimney sweep might be considered lucky partly because it is a kind but unpleasant thing to do given the dirty nature of their work. In Chinese culture, the association of the number 4 as a homophone with the word for death may explain why it is considered unlucky. Extremely complicated and sometimes contradictory systems for prescribing auspicious and inauspicious times and arrangements of things have been devised, for example feng shui in Chinese culture and systems of astrology in various cultures around the world.

Many polytheistic religions have specific gods or goddesses that are associated with luck, including Fortuna and Felicitas in the Ancient Roman religion (the former related to the words "fortunate" and "unfortunate" in English), Dedun in Nubian religion, the Seven Lucky Gods in Japanese mythology, mythical American serviceman John Frum in Polynesian cargo cults, and the inauspicious Alakshmi in Hinduism.

Etymology and Definition[edit]

The English noun luck appears comparatively late, during the 1480s, as a loan from Low German, Dutch or Frisian luk, a short form of gelucke (Middle High German gelücke). Compare to old Slavic word lukyj (лукый) - appointed by destiny and old Russian luchaj (лучаи) - destiny, fortune. It likely entered English as a gambling term, and the context of gambling remains detectable in the word's connotations; luck is a way of understanding a personal chance event. Luck has three aspects:[1][2][3]

Luck is good or bad.[4]
Luck is the result of chance.[5]
Luck applies to a sentient being.

Before the adoption of luck at the end of the Middle Ages, Old English and Middle English expressed the notion of "good fortune" with the word speed (Middle English spede, Old English spēd); speed besides "good fortune" had the wider meaning of "prosperity, profit, abundance"; it is not associated with the notion of probability or chance but rather with that of fate or divine help; a bestower of success can also be called speed, as in "Christ be our speed" (William Robertson, Phraseologia generalis, 1693).

The notion of probability was expressed by the Latin loanword chance, adopted in Middle English from the late 13th century, literally describing an outcome as a "falling" (as it were of dice), via Old French cheance from Late Latin cadentia "falling". Fortuna, the Roman goddess of fate or luck, was popular an allegory in medieval times, and even though it was not strictly reconcilable with Christian theology, it became popular in learned circles of the High Middle Ages to portray her as a servant of God in distributing success or failure in a characteristically "fickle" or unpredictable way, thus introducing the notion of chance.

Please refer to the Wikipedia site for full details on luck, including Interpretations (i.e. as Lack of Control, as a Fallacy, as an Essence, as a Self-Fulfilling Prophesy); Social Aspects (i.e. Games, Lotteries, Numerology, Science); In Religion and Mythology, along with footnotes, bibliography and extensive references.


Book Review:

Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy, Robert H. Frank, Princeton University Press, 2016.

Here's the book review written by Dan McArthur. as published courtesy of LSE Review of Books

What role does luck play in economic success? In Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy, Robert H. Frank argues that the wealthy tend to underestimate the role that chance plays in acquiring status and money, and explores how this consequently discourages support of taxation. While this short read could draw upon other discussions of luck to bolster its key claims, this is a convincing and engagingly written work, writes Dan McArthur.

Consider the owner and founder of a successful business. Did they make it all on their own, through hard work, dedication and talent, or did luck play a role in their success? Hard work and talent might be needed to identify an untapped market or a revolutionary business model, but our businessperson still required luck of several kinds. They were lucky that another entrepreneur didn’t get there first, or that an established company was unable to muscle in on their business. However, they were also lucky to be born in an affluent society where they could be educated for free in publicly funded schools, and where governments have invested in the roads on which their products are transported and in a police force to prevent their wealth from being stolen.

In Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy, Robert H. Frank argues that wealthy people fail to appreciate the central role that luck plays in their success, and are thus unwilling to support taxation to fund public infrastructure that benefits everyone. Frank is an economist at Cornell University and a columnist for the New York Times, and is well known for popularising the idea of the ‘winner-take-all society’.

Success and Luck is written in a clear, engaging and personable style, not least because it is littered with anecdotes and stories illustrating the huge effects that tiny chance events can have. I found examples from Frank’s own life especially compelling. These include two near-death experiences – a heart attack and a windsurfing accident – as examples of how tiny contingencies can quite literally have life and death implications. The book also discusses more systematic evidence of the role of luck, such as the effects of the month in which someone happens to be born on their chances of becoming a CEO or a professional athlete. More generally (as Branko Milanovic argues), at least half of the variance of incomes across the world is explained by two factors: the mean income per capita and level of inequality in the country in which an individual happens to live. Being born in the right country has a huge impact on the success you can expect to have.

For Frank, luck is especially important to economic success in the era of ‘winner-take-all markets’. This term refers to a situation where transportation and communications technology increases the competitiveness of markets and, in doing so, allows the producers of the best products to capture the entire market. One of Frank’s examples is the way in which local accountancy firms have gradually been superseded by franchised services, and then by tax software. Where once the best accountant in a given town would have served only the richest customers in that particular town, now the producer of the best tax software can sell their product across the world.

In winner-take-all markets, there are more people competing to provide the best product, and the winner can take the entire prize themselves. Frank argues that under such circumstances, ability and effort are important, but so is luck. He uses mathematical simulations to show that, as contests get larger, luck becomes more important in determining the outcome, and the winner of the contest is less likely to be the most ‘skilful’ but rather the luckiest.

Drawing on behavioural economics and psychology, Frank discusses some of the cognitive biases that lead successful people to fail to appreciate the role of luck in their success. It seems to be harder to delay gratification and self-motivate if you believe that luck, rather than effort, plays an important role in your life. But overlooking the role of luck makes successful people more hostile to paying taxes. For Frank, in the US at least, this unwillingness to support higher taxes is seriously damaging physical and social infrastructure, including the roads, railways and public education on which the entire population depends. This under-investment in public goods is harmful even to the most successful members of a society, because they also benefit from public goods. The analogy he uses is that it is better to drive a $150,000 Porsche on well-maintained roads than a $333,000 Ferrari on a road full of potholes.

Frank’s solution to this chronic underinvestment depends on his view that consumption is shaped by frames of reference. What people consume is shaped by norms and expectations that depend on what those around them are consuming. In Frank’s view, consumption choices are socially shaped to the extent that if you taxed everyone more (above some minimum threshold), people’s happiness would not change much because they would maintain their relative position in the income hierarchy. He argues that his proposed solution to chronic under-investment – a progressive consumption tax – will not actually harm the rich very much, because the consumption of all of the rich is scaled down – the richest person can still afford the house with the best view, and the second richest person can afford the house with the second best view.

Success and Luck is a short book. There are some really interesting aspects of luck that Frank doesn’t discuss. For example, the philosophers Bernard Williams and Thomas Nagel have argued that the central role of luck in people’s lives can seriously challenge common-sense beliefs about morally holding people to account for their actions. Another issue worth exploring is the role of beliefs about luck in attitudes towards poverty: people are much more supportive of welfare payments aimed at people who are seen as being in poverty through no fault of their own.

One possible criticism of the book is that Frank assumes that people need to be talented and hard-working, as well as lucky, to be successful. This may understate the role that social background can play in getting access to prestigious jobs and opportunities – both the class-, race- and gender-based advantages of ‘looking the part’ [4] as well as inheritance and nepotism. However, if the job of this book is to convince our hypothetical entrepreneur to support higher taxes, then Frank has pitched his arguments pretty well.

Dan McArthur is a PhD student in the LSE Department of Sociology and the LSE International Inequalities Institute. His research investigates the relationship between economic inequality and the stigmatisation of people in poverty in public opinion. Dan holds an MSc in Sociology from LSE, and a BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from the University of Oxford. His broader academic interests include the study of social class, comparative political economy, the philosophy of social science and sociological debates about immigration and multiculturalism.

Note: Note: This review gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics.

Copyright 2013 LSE Review of Books


Luck Humour:

Well, do you feel lucky? Lucky enough to enjoy laughter?

Dirty Harry Do You ( I ) Feel Lucky Punk?

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Luck Quotes:

As Warren Buffet once said: "Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago."
Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy, Robert H. Frank, Princeton University Press, 2016. 1. Write What You Know, Page 12

The following quotes are courtesy of:

Luck is great, but most of life is hard work.
Iain Duncan Smith

Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

I believe that we all have a responsibility to give back. No one becomes successful without lots of hard work, support from others, and a little luck. Giving back creates a virtuous cycle that makes everyone more successful.
Ron Conway

The public health of five million children should not be left to luck or chance.
Jamie Oliver

I don't believe in luck. Not in golf, anyway. There are good bounces and bad bounces, sure, but the ball is round and so is the hole. If you find yourself in a position where you hope for luck to pull you through, you're in serious trouble.
Jack Nicklaus

Luck? I don't know anything about luck. I've never banked on it and I'm afraid of people who do. Luck to me is something else: Hard work - and realizing what is opportunity and what isn't.
Lucille Ball

There is no such thing in the world as luck. There never was a man who could go out in the morning and find a purse full of gold in the street to-day, and another to-morrow, and so on, day after day: He may do so once in his life; but so far as mere luck is concerned, he is as liable to lose it as to find it.
PT Barnum

Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity.
Lucius Annaeus Seneca

The way my luck is running, if I was a politician I would be honest.
Rodney Dangerfield

Good night, and good luck.
Edward R. Murrow


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Category: Music
License: Standard YouTube License

Steve Winwood - 01 While You See A Chance (Vinyl LP)

UFF Commentary: This is one of the best audio versions available although there are other listening/viewing options including live performances from the past.

Published on Nov 13, 2010

From the LP 'Arc Of A Diver'
1980 Island (Warner Bros.) Records Ltd.

Category: Education
License: Standard YouTube License

Birtles Shorrock,Goble formerly Little River Band (It's a Long Way There) From the Full Circle DVD

Published on Mar 11, 2011

Great Quality copy of Birtles, Shorrock, Goble from their Melbourne concert.

Category: Music
License: Standard YouTube License


Don't Follow Your Passion

UFF Commentary:

Follow your passion or get a day job.

What do you think?!

Here below are actual public commentaries followed by the video.


Published on Jun 6, 2016

Should you follow your passion, wherever it may take you? Should you do only what you love...or learn to love what you do? How can you identify which path to take? How about which paths to avoid? TV personality Mike Rowe, star of "Dirty Jobs" and "Somebody's Gotta Do It," shares the dirty truth in PragerU's 2016 commencement address.

Einstein worked "passionately" on his equations at night WHILE working as a Swiss patent clerk as his day job. AFTER I've diligently planted and tended the wheat fields, what's stopping me from capturing it in an impressionist painting with colors ala Paul Cezanne? Pouring a hard day's work with both feet on the ground, at night I can still look-up at all the brilliant stars shining in the night sky in awe and wonder at all that majesty, right?

I am someone with a lot of education and several degrees. I amazes me that people look down on tradesmen and craftsmen. Jobs we used to call "a good day's work". Trade schools and amazingly important for the future of our country and people, and those that work the 'dirty jobs' are the backbone.

Judicious Aim
I became a plumber because that was the only trade that was hiring in 2009. I had learned auto & diesel mechanic trades because they paid well throughout the 90's. I enlisted in the service because I knew auto mechanic jobs were dead end jobs. I knew this because I worked in shops with very experienced men who were in their 40's and 50's who had been turning wrenches since they were teens. They made around $45k a year despite owning tens of thousands of dollars worth in tools that were needed to perform their jobs. They all told me it was not a career that would open doors so I raised my hand and earned my EGA at Parris Island.

After my time in the Marines as an aircraft mechanic I returned to the truck and equipment industry for several years largely because the aviation industry was not hiring. When trucking and construction dried up in 2009 I learned plumbing because "plumbers needed" were the only adverts I saw. There was a demand that was not being filled. Several years after I made that jump into plumbing I am the foreman for a plumbing shop with 20 employees under me.

My advice is to never look the other way when opportunity is staring at you. Most people cringe when I tell of how my day working on sewage grinder pumps went, but i love the $69k i earn while doing very dirty jobs. I remember the first time I had to work in a sewage pit and I remember thinking that I needed to suck it up (not literally) because there was no other work out there. Looking back I am glad I always chose the opportunity path instead of my dream of being a LEO. I make a good living fixing things.

This is actually Jewish wisdom. Don't follow your passion but find passion in what you do. Serve others, don't serve yourself. That's why Jewish people have been very successful in finance and science. They did what society needs them to do, not what they wanted to do. Prager University has a lot of hidden Jewish themes if you know what to look for. It's not bad, though, because it's best to learn from the best people, Jews. Jews are hated only because they are more successful than most white people.

iim Shifty
You could die tomorrow... follow what YOU want, stop letting other people choose for you, and stop giving up on yourselves, there's people in EVERY field that was told they weren't good enough and continued to believe in themselves, Steve jobs, Isaiah Thomas 5'9" NBA STAR! (29pts a game) like are you kidding me, and a lot of you ppl just say o well I guess this guy on YouTube is right I'm not good enough to follow my passion... BELIEVE IN YOURSELF!!!!!!!!

Darmil P
This video should be re-titled 'Don't follow your passion if you suck at it.'

Category: Education
License: Standard YouTube License


UFF Commentary on The Lottery of Life:

Congrats! We're all winners of The Lottery of Life! That is, we survived gestation and birth (be we full term or premies), our upbringing (in a loving family hopefully), education (without losing our child-like sense of wonder for the world, again, hopefully), food (haven't been poisoned, at least not yet), traffic (look both ways before crossing the street and drive carefully, please), friendships (lucky in love is a lottery in itself), work (loving what you do for a living transcends the "W" word beyond four letter connotations)... Lucky indeed, at least so far... Whew.

And how many of us buy lottery tickets and dream about winning yet think nothing about jay walking or running a red light when pressed for time without giving a thought to the odds of becoming an accident victim?

What are the odds of winning big? And what are the odds of losing your precious life through carelessness or fate, accidental or otherwise? Do you know or even think about it?

Psychologically, survival personalities are geared to focus on positive expectations yet we may be surprised with the following statistics...


24 Things That Are More Likely to Happen Than Winning the Lottery

by Kalen Bruce | Jul 24, 2014
Courtesy of:

Do you play the lottery?

Everyone knows the odds of winning the lottery are unlikely, but exactly how unlikely?
First off, I am talking about the major lotteries here.
Namely, The Powerball and Mega Millions. Heard of them?
The odds are similar for winning both. Around 1 in 176,000,000.
Not too bad, right? Oh wait, yes it is.
In fact, here are a total of 24 things that are more likely to happen than winning the lottery…

Dying Isn’t That Likely

You have heard that you are more like to die on the way to buy your lottery ticket than you are to win the lottery, right? The odds of you dying in a car accident are 1 in 6,700, by the way.
Dying isn’t really that likely, especially in some of these weird ways, but it’s still more likely than winning the lottery.

Here are 11 other ways you are more likely to die than win the lottery:

Being killed by a vending machine. (1 in 112 million)
Being killed in a terrorist attack on an airline. (1 in 25 million)
Dying from a bee, hornet or wasp sting. (1 in 6.1 million)
Dying from being left-handed and using a right-handed product incorrectly. (1 in 4.4 million)
Dying in a plane crash. (1 in 1 million)
Being killed by flesh-eating bacteria. (1 in 1 million)
Getting Struck by Lightning. (1 in 1 million)
Drowning (1 in 2,000,000)
Drowning specifically in a bathtub. (1 in 840,000)
Dying in an on-the-job accident. (1 in 48,000)
Being murdered…just in general. (1 in 18,000)

It’s pretty unlikely that any of that will happen to you and it’s definitely more unlikely that you will win the lottery. It’s not all bad though. There are actually good things… or at least, neat things, that are more likely to happen:

Getting attacked by a shark. (1 in 11.5 million)
Visiting the ER for a pogo stick related injury. (1 in 115,300)

Oh wait! I said good things… here you go:

Having identical quadruplets. (1 in 15 million)
Becoming US president. (1 in 10 million)
Becoming a Movie Star. (1 in 1,505,000)
Becoming an astronaut. (1 in 12,100,000)
Becoming a pro athlete. (1 in 22,000)
Winning an Olympic gold medal. (1 in 662,000)
Winning an academy award. (1 in 11,500)
Finding out your child is a genius. (1 to 250)
Dating a millionaire. (1 to 215)
Getting a royal flush in a first hand of poker. (1 in 649,740)

So if you want a safer investment than the lottery, try Vegas. Or try to find one of those millionaires.

With all of these odds, it’s hard to believe that anything is less likely than winning the lottery, but you would be surprised…

There is a better chance that you will win the lottery, than there is that these things will happen:

Getting a perfect NCAA bracket (1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808)
Shuffling a deck of cards into perfect, sequential order (1 in 10^68)
Being hit by a meteor (1 in 182,138,880,000,000)

I guess those are 3 things that aren’t worth trying…especially getting hit by a meteor. Don’t try that at home, kids.

Well, if someone offers a billion dollars for guessing the NCAA bracket, it doesn’t hurt to try.
I don’t have an issue with buying a lottery ticket here and there for fun. If you play all the time, you may want to re-read this article, but this was really just for fun, because it’s my birthday and fun is just what happens on your birthday.

You Exist! What Are the odds?

It’s important to know that you are less likely to exist than you are to win the lottery.
So that means you have already beat the odds by being here at all.
Good job!

The odds of you existing are 1 in 10^2,685,000.

UFF NOTE: For the full break down on the above odds regarding your existence, starting with one egg meeting one sperm, which together made you, GOTO Kalen's article at


Maddock Douglas Reverse Lottery

Published on Mar 21, 2013

Category: Entertainment
License: Standard YouTube License

By embedding YouTube videos on our site, we are agreeing to YouTube API Terms of Service.
This agreement extends to all YouTube entries posted on this site.


WARREN BUFFETT on being at the right place right time and luck with wealth

UFF Commentary:

White rich American male speaks the truth about the lottery of life.

Published on Feb 7, 2010

Category: Education
License: Standard YouTube License


UFF Suggests:

This planet is, hopefully, our Utopia, full of potential for humanity. We can correct our ways, share and grow, flora and fauna included. It's never too late. Each and every individual can make a contribution to the future of our collective, Earthly well-being!

Discuss/debate the above statement with meritocracy and luck in mind.


DISCLAIMER: UFF does not own any of the above works, nor do we claim responsibility or ownership for any images or audio tracks shown in these and other videos UFF has posted. All rights go to their respective owners.


UFF Commentary Notes are the sole responsibility of the President of UFF.

See post of November 29, 2017 for full transparency details.


Sapiens, A Brief History Of Humankind: The Book; Related Quotes, Humour, Music and Then Some...

Sapiens, A Brief History Of Humankind: The Book; Related Quotes, Humour, Music and Then Some...

Sapiens, a Brief History of Humankind, is a treasure trove of insights on how the human condition has manifest over time and circumstance.

For those who seek cogent research and commentary on the impact of biology, environmental realities, evolving human cultures including social/political/economic considerations and more, this is a must read/study/discuss book.

Here are some details regarding the author:

Yuval Noah Harari
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Yuval Noah Harari (Hebrew: יובל נח הררי‎; born 24 February 1976) is an Israeli historian and a tenured professor in the Department of History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.[1] He is the author of the international bestsellers Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (2014) and Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow (2015). His writings examine concepts of free will, consciousness and definitions of intelligence.
Harari's early publications are concerned with what he describes as the "cognitive revolution" occurring roughly 50,000 years ago, when homo sapiens supplanted the rival Neanderthals, mastered cognitive linguistics, developed structured societies, and ascended as apex predators, aided by the agricultural revolution and more recently accelerated by scientific methodology and rationale which have allowed humans to approach near mastery over their environment.
His recent books are more cautionary, and work through the consequences of a futuristic biotechnological world where sentient biological organisms are surpassed by their own creations; he has said "Homo sapiens as we know them will disappear in a century or so".[2][3]

Homo sapiens interests

Harari is interested in how Homo sapiens reached their current condition, and in their future. His research focuses on macro-historical questions such as: What is the relation between history and biology? What is the essential difference between Homo sapiens and other animals? Is there justice in history? Does history have a direction? Did people become happier as history unfolded?
Harari regards dissatisfaction as the "deep root" of human reality, and as related to evolution.[20]
In a 2017 article Harari has argued that through continuing technological progress and advances in the field of artificial intelligence "by 2050 a new class of people might emerge – the useless class. People who are not just unemployed, but unemployable."[21] He put forward the case that dealing with this new social class economically, socially and politically will be a central challenge for humanity in the coming decades.[22]

Animal welfare

Harari has commented on the plight of animals, particularly domesticated animals since the agricultural revolution, and is a vegan.[5] In a 2015 Guardian article under the title "Industrial farming is one of the worst crimes in history" he called "[t]he fate of industrially farmed animals (...) one of the most pressing ethical questions of our time."[23]

See Wikipedia site for footnote details and further notes regarding his career, personal life, other writings...


Here below are excerpts from Sapiens the book intended to whet the appetite for further reading.

"Sapiens" Quotes:

All quotes courtesy of the book: "Sapiens, a Brief History of Humankind" by Yuval Noah Harari, copyright 2014

"About 13.5 billion years ago, matter, energy, time and space came into being in what is known as the Big Bang. The story of these fundamental features of our universe is called physics.
About 300,000 years after their appearance, matter and energy started to coalesce into complex structures, called atoms, which then combined into molecules. The story of atoms, molecules and their interactions is called chemistry.
About 3.8 billion years ago, on a planet called Earth, certain molecules combined to form particularly large and intricate structures called organisms. The history of organisms is called biology.
About 70,000 years ago, organisms belonging to the specie Homo Sapiens started to form even more elaborate structures called cultures. The subsequent development of these human cultures is called history.
Three important revolutions shaped the course of history: the Cognitive Revolution kick-started history about 70,000 years ago. The Agricultural Revolution sped it up about 12,000 years ago. The Scientific Revolution, which got under way only 500 years ago, may well end history and start something completely different. This book tells the story of how these three revolutions have effected humans and their fellow organisms."
From Part One, The Cognitive Revolution
1 An Animal of No Significance, page 4

"Here and there a Luddite hold out refuses to open an e-mail account, just as thousands of years ago some human bands refused to take up farming and so escaped the luxury trap. But the Agricultural Revolution did not need every band in a given region to join up. It only took one. Once one band settled down and started tilling, whether in the Middle East or Central America, agriculture was irresistible. Since farming created the conditions for swift demographic growth, farmers could usually overcome foragers by sheer weight of numbers. The foragers could either run away, abandoning their hunting grounds to field and pasture, or take up the ploughshare themselves. Either way, the old life was doomed."
From Part Two, The Agricultural Revolution
5 History's Biggest Fraud, page 88

"No matter what you call it - game theory, post modernism or memetics - the dynamics of history are not directed towards enhancing human well-being. There is no basis for thinking that the most successful cultures in history are necessarily the best ones for Homo Sapiens. Like evolution, history disregards the happiness of individual organisms. And individual humans, for their part, are usually far too ignorant and weak to influence the course of history to their own advantage."
From Part Three, The Unification of Humankind
13 The Secret of Success, page 243-4

"The only thing we can try to do is to influence the direction scientists are taking. Since we might soon be able to engineer our desires too, perhaps the real question facing us is not 'What do we want to become?', but 'What do we want to want?' Those who are not spooked by this question probably haven't given it enough thought."
From Part Four, The Scientific Revolution
20 The End of Homo Sapiens, page 414


Sapien Humour:

Human Zoo Prank

Just For Laughs Gags
Published on May 16, 2011

Evil little kid cages human beings, by tricking them into picking up his soccer ball. He puts them on display in a zoo as the Homo Sapiens Sapiens. Then some Asian tourists show up and take photos, not understanding that the people are actually trapped. Things get even weirder when vacationing gorillas show up to have a look at this wonderful human being exhibit in it's natural habitat.


Buff Dudes
Published on Dec 28, 2015

The Gym. Millions of homo sapiens frequent this urban wilderness. Today we will take a look into this strange place and show you the gym like you've never seen it before.

CAUTION: Below entry is red neck humour that some may find distasteful.

Archie Bunker's Take on Revenge, Vigilantes and Homo Sapiens

Published on Feb 27, 2014


Thematic Music:

Laurie Anderson - O Superman [Official Music Video]

Nonesuch Records
Published on May 20, 2016

Category: Music
License: Standard YouTube License

Rag'n'Bone Man - Human (Official Video)

Published on Jul 21, 2016

Category: Music
License: Standard YouTube License

Marc Bolan & T.Rex Perform 'Children Of The Revolution' From Born To Boogie

Published on Jun 1, 2016

In the Apple Studios section of the “Born To Boogie” film, Marc Bolan and T. Rex are joined by Ringo Starr on drums and Elton John on piano. Together they perform exclusive versions of the then-unreleased song “Children Of The Revolution”.

Born To Boogie is Available in multiple formats.

Category: Music
License: Standard YouTube License

Sade - Why can't we live Together ? - Montreux Jazz Festival ( 1984 )

Published on Mar 17, 2011

Category: Music
License: Standard YouTube License

Roberta Flack - First Time Ever I Saw Your Face 1972

Published on Jul 2, 2010

Category: Music
License: Standard YouTube License


As a reminder of our biological heritage, here's an animated depiction of the morphing image of the human face.

Human face evolution in the last 6 million years

News Satellite
Published on Oct 30, 2015

A depiction that human face has undergone significant evolution within the last 6 million years.

Category : News & Politics
License : Standard YouTube License
Created using : YouTube Video Editor


On Social Distancing:

Time jump to a not too distant future and consider the following -

A family of sentient biological organisms just moved in next door. Would you:

Put your house up for sale.
Meet and greet.
Invite them over for supper.
Let them stay overnight when their house is damaged by fire.
Let your children stay with them while you're on a weekend get away.
Be God parents to their next child.
Caution your daughter on dating their son.
Adopt one of their children when both parents are killed (or is it destroyed?) in a plane crash.

Discuss, all things considered, including whether sentient biological organisms would be harbingers of a Utopian or Dystopian epoch...


noun: harbinger; plural noun: harbingers
a person or thing that announces or signals the approach of another.
"witch hazels are the harbingers of spring"
herald, sign, indication, signal, portent, omen, augury, forewarning, presage; More
forerunner, precursor, messenger;
"I long to see the robins, crocuses, and other harbingers of spring"
a forerunner of something.
"these works were not yet opera, but they were the most important harbinger of opera"

noun: epoch; plural noun: epochs
a period of time in history or a person's life, typically one marked by notable events or particular characteristics.
"the Victorian epoch"
era, age, period, time, span, stage; eon
"England's Tudor epoch"
the beginning of a distinctive period in the history of someone or something.
"welfare reform was an epoch in the history of U.S. social policy"
era, age, period, time, span, stage; eon
"England's Tudor epoch"
a division of time that is a subdivision of a period and is itself subdivided into ages, corresponding to a series in chronostratigraphy.
"the Pliocene epoch"
era, age, period, time, span, stage; eon
"England's Tudor epoch"


NOTE: March 15 was a religious holiday during the Roman Empire, with the actual date based on the Gregorian calendar. Last year, 2017, this year and next, The Ides Of March falls on March 15.

History of The Ides of March

The Ides Of March refers to how the Romans kept track of the days in a month, which is quite different from how we do it. While we count the days sequentially from the first day all the way to the last day, the Romans used a different system. They counted backward from three fixed points of the month. For instance, the Nones usually fell on the 7th, the Ides on the 15th and the Kalends was the beginning of the month.

This day was also considered a day that was sacred to the deity Jupiter and the Romans would sacrifice a sheep to Jupiter. The Ides of March also marked the beginning of several religious festivals – most notably the festivals of Cybele and Attis. However, after Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC, this day would forever be remembered for that and not those religious holidays.

Want to know more? Visit the below site -


DISCLAIMER: UFF does not own any of the above works, nor do we claim responsibility or ownership for any images or audio tracks shown in these and other videos UFF has posted. All rights go to their respective owners.


UFF Commentary Notes are the sole responsibility of the President of UFF.

See post of November 29, 2017 for full transparency details.


New Year Special: The 8 Biggest Happiness Findings of 2017; Here's How 10 New Year's Eve Traditions Got Started; New Year Quotes, Humour, Music

New Year Special: The 8 Biggest Happiness Findings of 2017; Here's How 10 New Year's Eve Traditions Got Started; New Year Quotes, Humour, Music

Happy New Year!

Enjoy! Utopian health, happiness and well being to one and all!


The 8 Biggest Happiness Findings of 2017

By Rachael Rettner, Senior Writer | December 29, 2017 07:00am ET
Courtesy of:

Don't Worry, Be Happy

There's no single formula for happiness. But scientists continue to investigate aspects of our lives that may affect our well-being, including social media use, exercise and even our posture.

Here are eight interesting things we learned in 2017 about the factors that may influence happiness and lower your odds of stress and depression.

1. How Sharing Can Make Kids Happy

For young children, sharing can bring happiness, but only if they do it voluntarily, a study from China suggests.

The study looked at groups of 3- and 5-year-olds who were either pressured to share objects — in this case, stickers — or were given the opportunity to share voluntarily.

The researchers found, judging by facial expressions, that the kids were happier when they shared voluntarily, compared with when they kept the stickers for themselves. In contrast, the kids did not experience the same happiness boost when they were pressured to share.

The study suggested that children can experience a positive mood when they share voluntarily, which may lead to further sharing, the researchers said.

2. Meditation Could Lower The Body's Stress Signals

Practicing meditation could help your body handle stress better.

In one study, people with anxiety disorder who took a course in mindfulness meditation showed reduced levels of stress hormones and markers of inflammation during a stressful event, compared with how their bodies reacted before taking the meditation course. In contrast, participants who did not learn mindfulness meditation, but instead took a course in stress management, did not show similar reductions in the same measures during a stressful event.

Mindfulness meditation helps people learn to focus on the present moment, and accept difficult thoughts or feelings.

The study findings suggest that mindfulness meditation "may be a helpful strategy to decrease biological stress reactivity" in people with anxiety disorder, the researchers wrote in their study, which was published Jan. 24 in the journal Psychiatry Research.

3. Exercise May Boost Your Mood

Even a little exercise may help combat symptoms of depression..

The study analyzed information from nearly 34,000 Norwegian adults, who were asked about their level of exercise as well as their symptoms of depression, and were followed for 11 years.

The study found that people who said that they never exercised at all at the beginning of the study were 44 percent more likely to develop depression, compared with those who said they exercised 1 to 2 hours per week.

The researchers estimated that, if all participants had exercised for at least 1 hour a week, 12 percent of cases of depression could have been prevented.

The researchers conclude that modest changes in a population's level of exercise could have substantial mental health benefits.

The study was published Oct. 3 in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

4. Hawaii Is The Happiest State … Again

Could moving to Hawaii make you happier? Residents of the Aloha State certainly seem to know a thing or two about happiness — Hawaii frequently tops the list of happiest U.S. states in an annual poll.

Residents of Hawaii scored highest on Gallup-Healthways' annual survey of well-being in 2016, with a score of 65.2 out of 100. The results for the 2016 survey were released in February 2017. These results marked the sixth time that Hawaii has come out on top in the poll since Gallup-Healthways began conducting it in 2008.

The rankings are based on interviews with more than 177,000 U.S. adults in all 50 states. The researchers calculated a well-being score for each state, based on participants' answers to questions about different aspects of well-being, including their sense of purpose, social relationships, financial lives, community involvement and physical health.

5. Swipe Right? Tinder Could Hurt Self-esteem

Online dating apps aim to boost your love life, but the process may take a toll on your mental health, early research suggests.

In a recent study, researchers analyzed information from more than 800 college-age students who either used the online dating app Tinder.

The study found that Tinder users were more likely than nonusers to report negative feelings, such as feeling pressure to look a certain way, or experiencing negative moods.

Still, this doesn't mean you have to get off Tinder. To curb possible negative effects from online dating, the researchers recommend that people do not use Tinder as a means of self-validation — in other words, you shouldn't judge yourself by the number of matches you get. Users should also keep in mind that the photos they see of others are often selected to show a person at their very best, rather than in their day-to-day life.

The study was presented Aug. 3 at the American Psychological Association's annual meeting.

6. Tip For A Better Mood: Sit Up Straight

Simply sitting up straight may improve your mood, at least over the short term, a preliminary study from New Zealand suggests.

The study involved 61 people whose scores on a survey indicated that they had mild to moderate symptoms of depression. About half of the participants received instructions on how to adopt a good posture (sitting up straight), and the researchers also applied sports tape to the participants' backs in a manner that's been shown to improve posture. The other half of the participants were not given any instructions about posture, and had a few pieces of tape applied to their backs in a random manner.

The participants were then asked to fill out a survey about their mood. The results showed that people in the upright-posture group reported feeling more enthusiastic, more excited and stronger and less fatigued than the people in the regular-posture group.

Future work is needed to investigate the long-term effects of posture changes on mood, and whether adopting an upright posture could actually aid in treating depression, the researchers said.

The study was published in the March 2017 issue of the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry.

7. Sleep Troubles May Affect Depression Risk

Trouble sleeping is often thought of as a symptom of other mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety. But recent research suggests that lack of sleep itself may actually contribute to these mental health conditions. What's more, the findings suggest that improving sleep could aid in easing depression and anxiety.

The study involved more than 3,700 college students in the United Kingdom who had insomnia. Participants answered questions about their sleep and other mental health conditions at the beginning of the study and after a 10-week treatment for insomnia called cognitive behavioral therapy.

The study found that those who received the insomnia treatment had decreased levels of depression and anxiety, and improved psychological well-being, compared with those who didn't receive the treatment.

"For many people, insomnia can be part of the complex package of causes of mental health difficulties," the researchers said. The findings suggest that doctors who treat mental health conditions should give a higher priority to treating sleep difficulties than they currently do, the researchers said.

The study was published Sept. 6 in the journal The Lancet Psychiatry.

8. Too Much Facebook May Harm Mental Health

Many people jokingly lament that they spend "too much time on Facebook." But could overdoing it on the "likes" actually harm your mental and physical health?

A recent study suggests it might. The study, which analyzed Facebook data from more than 5,200 people, found that more activity on Facebook was linked with reduced well-being. For example, people who reported "liking" a lot of things on Facebook, or who updated their status more often, tended to report having worse mental health, than those who liked fewer things on Facebook or updated their status less often.

Although it's possible that people with worse mental health may seek solace in Facebook, the results held even after the researchers took into account people's reports of mental health at the beginning of the study, and their number of "real-world" friendships.

The findings suggest that, in some cases, Facebook use may be contributing to reduced well-being. Individual social media users might do well to curtail their use of social media and focus instead on real-world relationships," the researchers concluded.

Still, not all studies have found detriments to Facebook use, so some experts recommend that, until further research is conducted, people use social media sites in moderation.


Here's How 10 New Year's Eve Traditions Got Started

By Tia Ghose, Associate Editor | December 30, 2017 03:30am ET
Courtesy of and thanks again to:


Editor’s Note: This article was updated on Dec. 30, 2017
Whether you’re celebrating in New York City or Nashville, Tennessee, New Year’s Eve follows a pretty similar script: People dress up in their best duds, break out the bubbly and sing "Auld Lang Syne" at the stroke of midnight. If it’s a particularly rowdy party, some things may explode.

But how exactly did these traditions arise?

Many of these rituals have ancient roots and are similar around the world. It turns out that many are designed to ward off evil spirits as we enter the darkest time of the year, said Anthony Aveni, an astronomer and anthropologist at Colgate University in New York, and the author of "The Book of the Year: A Brief History of Our Seasonal Holidays," (Oxford University Press, 2004).

"This is a transitional period," Aveni told Live Science. "I’m looking at my window at all the snow. The worst of it is just beginning because it’s winter. The sun goes away, and when the sun goes away we have to get it back; we have all these rituals designed to get the sun back."

From popping open a bottle of champagne to watching the ball drop in Times Square, here are the roots of 10 New Year’s Eve traditions.

1. Smooch Your Sweetie

Puckering up at the stroke of midnight is a venerable tradition with ancient roots. Many cultures considered the transition from the warm to the cold seasons to be an intensely vulnerable time, when evil spirits could run amok, Aveni said.

Many of our traditions, including kissing, originally come from the English tradition of "saining," or offering blessing or protection, during the period of Yuletide, Aveni said. (Yuletide was originally a pre-Christian Germanic festival that eventually became synonymous with Christmastide in Europe.)

Kissing, in this context, was thought to bring good luck as people entered the vulnerable, transitional period of the new year, Aveni said.

"You want to be closest to those who support you," Aveni told Live Science.

2. Bubbly Luxury

Popping champagne corks at the stroke of midnight is a mainstay on New Year’s Eve, whether at swanky parties or home celebrations. In general, overindulgence and excess are hallmarks of New Year’s celebrations around the world, Aveni said.

But when exactly did the peach-colored, bubbly beverage become synonymous with New Year’s Eve?

Despite its French name, champagne’s signature fizz traces its origins back to England in the 1500s, according to "Wine Science: Principles and Applications" (Academic Press, 2008), Live Science previously reported. [Champagne Facts for the New Year (Infographic)]

At that point, people figured out how to create bubbly bottled drinks. In 1662, Christopher Merret reported to the Royal Society of London that adding sugar to bottled wine created a fizzy beverage, thanks to the yeast in the wine, which consumed the sugar to produce carbon dioxide. It took about a century to perfect the fermentation technique, however, according to Imbibe Magazine.

The use of champagne for celebrations has its roots in the Christian ritual of consuming wine during the Eucharist as the blood of Christ. In A.D. 496, a wine from the Champagne region of France was used in the baptism of the Frankish warrior Clovis, according to, a website run by the Champagne Committee of France. From then on, wines from the Champagne region were often used at such religious events as consecrations, and at coronations and soirees, according to the website.

"After the French Revolution, it became a part of the secular rituals that replaced formerly religious rituals," Kolleen Guy, associate professor of history at the University of Texas at San Antonio and author of "When Champagne Became French" (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), previously told Live Science. "You could 'christen a ship' without a priest, for example, by using the 'holy water' of champagne," Guy said.

By 1789, the French had taken the two elements — the bubbles and their prized Champagne-region wine — and put the two together for royal parties and celebrations. Champagne, however, didn’t become the ultimate New Year’s celebration beverage until producers of champagne tried to link the bubbly to festive occasions with family, and the rise of the middle class increased the purchasing power of ordinary people, according to Imbibe Magazine.

3. "Auld Lang Syne"

Another classic tradition is to sing "Auld Lang Syne," a Scottish poem that was recorded on paper officially in 1788 by the Scottish poet Robert Burns, according to The melody itself, however, is a much older folk song that was known in Scotland, and the Scottish Museum set Burns’ words to the tune when he sent it in, according to the English Folk Dance and Song Society.

"There is an old song and tune which has often thrilled through my soul," Burns said in reference to the popular melody in his 1788 letter, according to the Burns encyclopedia.

Burns admitted to drawing inspiration for "Auld Lang Syne" from an old man he heard singing the song, and other variants of the song had appeared earlier in the 1700s.

In English, the literal translation of Auld Lang Syne is "old long times," but it means something more along the lines of "once upon a time." With its touch of nostalgia, it soon became a mainstay at British and Scottish funerals, farewells and group celebrations. It didn’t make it across the pond as a New Year's tradition until 1929, however, when the Guy Lombardo orchestra played it at a hotel in New York, Live Science previously reported.

4. Dropping The Ball

At the stroke of midnight, revelers in Times Square will watch the giant ball drop in New York City. But where exactly did this tradition come from? In the old days, sailors used "time balls" to set their own timepieces while at sea. They would set these chronometers by using a spyglass to scan the harbor, looking for balls that were dropped into the water at certain times, reported. The first time ball, which was installed in Portsmouth, England, made its first drop in 1829, and by 1845, Washington, D.C., had one installed as well, according to

By 1904, a big ball was present when revelers began partying in Times Square. But the first version of the ball — a wooden and iron orb that was adorned with 100 25-watt lightbulbs — dropped in 1907, according to the Times Square Alliance. That year, The New York Times publisher Adolph Ochs was hoping to find a replacement for the fireworks that had been banned by the police. (Hot ashes from the fireworks fell into the streets after the fireworks were deployed the year prior, according to Ochs asked his chief electrician to conceive of an equally sparkly alternative — and the time ball was born.

Since the first ball drop, there have been seven balls, according to the Times Square Alliance. The current ball weighs 6 tons (5.4 metric tons), is 12 feet (3.65 meters) in diameter and gets its bling from 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles and 32,256 LED lights, according to the alliance.

Balls aren’t the only things that drop on New Year’s Eve. In Port Clinton, Ohio, residents watch a 600-lb. walleye fish replica fall, while Boise, Idaho, famous for its potatoes, drops a glowing "GlowTato," WNYC reported.

5. New Year's Resolution

Messing up and promising to do better next time may be a uniquely human instinct that has no season, but making New Year’s resolutions dates back at least to the time of the ancient Mesopotamians. In Ancient Babylonia, citizens made spoken resolutions in March, during their 12-day-long New Year Festival, called Akitu, Live Science previously reported. The resolutions were not undertaken for mere self-improvement: They required making an oath to the sitting (or new) king, and were considered essential to keep the kingdom in the gods’ favor.

The Romans also had a tradition of swearing an oath of loyalty to the emperor in March, when their New Year started. Although this Roman tradition didn’t directly translate to New Year’s resolutions, by the 1740s, the Methodist church had a practice of holding renewal services on Dec. 31. The services offer people a chance to look back at the year that passed and renew their commitment to God, Live Science reported.

In general, the act of making resolutions becomes the necessary, purifying ritual that follows the overindulgence of the new year, Aveni said. On Dec. 31, everybody is going to eat and drink to excess, "and then the next day you’ll wake up and hopefully you’ll have your resolutions to do the next year better."

6. Letting Sparks Fly

Do people ever need an excuse to make things go boom?

From China to Australia, people ring in the new year with noisemakers, sparklers and fireworks. But how did the tradition of ringing in the new year with a flash of light and a bang start?

It all comes back to the danger lurking in this transitional period, Aveni said.

In cultures around the world, people bang drums, light firecrackers and even beat the corners of their room to spook the spooky creatures lurking in the night.

"Anything to chase away the evil spirits," Aveni said.

Fireworks, for instance, were invented in the seventh century A.D. in China, and one of the express purposes of fireworks was to ward off evil spirits. From the beginning, the Chinese New Year was a reliable time to see the sparkling displays. Yet the tradition of setting off fireworks in the Western world seems to have evolved independently, Aveni said.

7. Superstitions Abound

New Year's traditions around the world often come with a heavy dose of superstition.
For instance, in Brazil some avoid eating chicken in the first few minutes of the new year.

Why? Because chickens scratch the Earth backwards, consuming poultry would mean going backwards in life, rather than forward, the Rio Times reported. To avoid that fate, people eat foods that move forward, such as fish and pork. Italians, meanwhile, are supposed to reserve some of their wine grapes from the harvest to consume on New Year's Eve, which will mean they'll be frugal and financially savvy, according to Italy Magazine.

But why is the New Year so steeped in superstitious rituals? It turns out that rituals act as a buffer against anxiety and uncertainty, and what could be more uncertain than the future year, with all the events yet to come? New Year's and other holiday rituals ease that anxiety by making the world seem more predictable, according to Dimitris Xygalatas, Assistant Professor in Anthropology at the University of Connecticut

8. Scary Start

While most New Year's traditions are cheerful affairs, others are downright frightening.

In the Japanese village of Oga, on New Year's Eve men dress in grass masks and embody the Namahage, demonic figures who go door to door searching for new members of the community. After screaming at the children and new family members to be obedient, and to study and work hard, the more established members defend the newcomers and youngsters to the demon, who leaves the house, according to the Namahage Museum.

Meanwhile in Peru, an Andean "fight club" on Christmas Day allows people to kick and punch each other to resolve differences, so they can start the New Year with a clean slate — and some black eyes, according to " A Christmas Cornucopia: The Hidden Stories Behind Our Yuletide Traditions," (Penguin, 2016).

9. Money, Money, Money

Whether it's eating pork or leftover grapes, or hopping on one foot — a huge number of New Year's traditions are all about the Benjamins — or Lira or Euros. Prosperity looms large in the roots of many New Year's traditions.

The Turks, for instance, wear red underwear, run the faucet and sprinkle salt on their doorsteps to ensure prosperity, according to the Daily Sabah, while the Swiss will drop rich dollops of whipped cream to the floor and leave them there to usher in riches, according to the Farmer's Almanac. Filipinos, meanwhile, will wear polka dots, because the rotund shape of the circles symbolizes prosperity.

People in the south, meanwhile, eat black eyed peas, collard greens and cornbread because they resemble coins, dollar bills and shiny gold, respectively.

10. Traditions Around The World

While there are some commonalities across the world, almost every culture has its unique take on the new year.

For instance, in Mexico, people may eat one grape for every chime of the church bells at midnight, Aveni said.

Aztecs used to burn all of their mats during the new year, as fire was considered cleansing. They would then take the clean, new fire to their homes to light their hearths, Aveni said.

The English have a tradition of leaving money out on their porch to be purified, taking the cleaned, new money into their house on the new year.

Meanwhile, in Scotland, the tradition of the "first footing" says that, for good luck, the first person to set foot in the house after the stroke of midnight should be a tall, dark male bearing a lump of coal, shortbread, salt, a black bun and a "wee dram" of whisky, according to the History and Heritage Accommodation Guide of the UK.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on Dec. 29, 2016 and was updated on Dec. 30, 2017 to include additional information on New Year's traditions in other countries.


New Year Quotes:
Read more at:

The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals.
Melody Beattie

Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're doing something.
Neil Gaiman

If you asked me for my New Year Resolution, it would be to find out who I am.
Cyril Cusack

Only dreams give birth to change.
Sarah Ban Breathnach

To have the kind of year you want to have, something has to happen that you can't explain why it happened. Something has to happen that you can't coach.
Bobby Bowden

Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Alfred Lord Tennyson


New Year Humour:

First two posts are OK for kids.

The rest are OK for adults who appreciate "J" "F" and "B" humour.

See NOTE and CAUTION entries here below before viewing last three posts.

Kid President AWESOME YEAR Challenge!

Published on Jan 3, 2013

Category: Entertainment
License: Standard YouTube License

10 New Year's Resolutions As Told by Cats So Funny

Guy Hughes
Published on Jan 2, 2014

Category: People & Blogs
License: Standard YouTube License


CAUTION/NOTE REMINDER: "J" "F" and "B" entries are adult oriented!


"J"ish New Year 5770 with Extreme Humor

CAUTION: "J" humour in use. Yes we mean the three letter "J" word!

Best of Arizona TV
Published on Oct 4, 2008

John McCain, Barack Obama, Sarah Palin, & Joe Biden wish each other a Happy "J"ish New Year.

A Nice Rap Song keepin it "Israel"

Category: Comedy
License: Standard YouTube License

CAUTION: "F" word in use!

Honest New Year's

Published on Dec 29, 2016

It's almost as if New Year's Eve consistently fails to live up to our collective expectations.

Category: Comedy
License: Standard YouTube License

My New Year’s Resolution is to Get My "D" Out of this Toaster (Hardly Working)

CAUTION: "D" word in use! Yes, the four letter "D" word! No, not door.

Published on Jan 1, 2015

This year, I'm FINALLY going to do it.

Category: Comedy
License: Standard YouTube License

Jingle "B"'S (Merry Christmas Happy New Year Message) VERY, VERY FUNNY!

CAUTION: "B"'s being played! Well, yes, it's bells, sort of...

Glenn Jackson
Published on Dec 14, 2014

A fun way to have your Jingle "B"'s rung!

Category: Film & Animation
License: Standard YouTube License


New Year Dance Music:

This is but one selection of many available. Enjoy and/or explore options!

New Year Mix 2018 / Best Trap / Bass / EDM Music Mashup & Remixes

Magic Music
Published on Dec 29, 2017

New Year Mix 2018 / Best Trap / Bass / EDM Music Mashup & Remixes

Category: Music
License: Standard YouTube License


So, what will UFF say and do about the four letter "C" word in 2018?

Stay tuned.

BTW: The 4 letter "C" word in question is CARE.


DISCLAIMER: UFF does not own any of the above works, nor do we claim responsibility or ownership for any images or audio tracks shown in these and other videos UFF has posted. All rights go to their respective owners.


UFF Commentary Notes are the sole responsibility of the President of UFF.

See post of November 29, 2017 for full transparency details.


Christmas Special: Includes Ten Christmas Customs with Pagan Roots; Christmas Quotes, Humour, and Musical Winterludes

Christmas Special: Includes Ten Christmas Customs with Pagan Roots; Christmas Quotes, Humour, and Musical Winterludes

Merry Christmas!

Before launching into more serious apects of this post, let's enjoy some holiday humour!

Christmas According to Kids - Southland Christian Church

Southland Christian Church
Published on Dec 24, 2015

What happens when you ask a bunch of kids to tell the story of Christmas? Enjoy this story of Bethle-ha-ha-ham and the magical star that appeared.

Category: People & Blogs
License: Standard YouTube License

A Kids View of the Christmas Story

Portland Christian Center
Published on Dec 16, 2009

The story of Christmas told by preschool & kindergarten students from Hilltop Preschool & Kindergarten.

Category: Entertainment
License: Standard YouTube License

Blue Christmas with Porky Pig

Published on Dec 23, 2011

Category: Nonprofits & Activism
License: Standard YouTube License

Thus ends safe humourous content for adults and the kids, however -

CAUTION: The adult humour section further down requires parental review and/or guidance before "children" of any age (yes, we're talking to your inner child as well) are allowed access. And for those adults who consider some elements of the humour section distasteful, can't say we didn't warn you!


Now for some serious contemplation.

Is Christmas a Utopian celebration?

The answer may depend on your viewpoint:

Do you think of Christmas as -

• Myth based nostalgia for the past while cash registers ring and good times roll, at least for awhile?
• Ongoing genuine effort to maintain traditional spiritual values?
• A combination of both?

Not the easiest question to answer considering the ongoing state of human affairs.

And if Christmas in NOT a Utopian celebration for most of us, is there the potential for Christmas and related pagan beliefs to facilitate a Utopian future?

Discuss before and/or after reading/viewing the below entries.


First, some interesting details on ten Christmas customs.

Ten Christmas Customs with Pagan Roots

Courtesy of and thanks to:

Content written by by Patti Wigington
Updated June 18, 2017 and other dates
See ThoughtCo. site for additional details and related pics

During the winter solstice season, we hear all kinds of cool stuff about candy canes, Santa Claus, reindeer and other traditions. But did you know that many Christmas customs can trace their roots back to Pagan origins? Here are ten little-known bits of trivia about the Yule season that you might be unaware of.

1. Christmas Caroling

The tradition of Christmas caroling actually began as the tradition of wassailing. In centuries past, wassailers went from door to door, singing and drinking to the health of their neighbors. The concept actually harkens back to pre-Christian fertility rites -- only in those ceremonies, villagers traveled through their fields and orchards in the middle of winter, singing and shouting to drive away any spirits that might inhibit the growth of future crops. Caroling wasn’t actually done in churches until St. Francis, around the 13th century, thought it might be a nice idea.

As part of this, they poured wine and cider on the ground to encourage fertility in the crops.

Eventually, this evolved into the idea of Christmas caroling, which became popular during the Victorian era, and is still seen today in many areas. If you think your family or friends might enjoy starting up a new, musical tradition, why not gather them together to go out a-wassailing for Yule? (MORE at ThoughtCo. site)

2. Kissing Under the Mistletoe

Mistletoe has been around for a long time, and has been considered a magical plant by everyone from the Druids to the Vikings. The ancient Romans honored the god Saturn, and to keep him happy, fertility rituals took place under the mistletoe. Today, we don't quite go that far under our mistletoe (at least not usually) but it could explain where the kissing tradition comes from. The Norse Eddas tell of warriors from opposing tribes meeting under mistletoe and laying down their arms, so it’s certainly considered a plant of peace and reconciliation. Also in Norse mythology, mistletoe is associated with Frigga, a goddess of love – who wouldn’t want to smooch under her watchful eye?

In 50 C.E., the Greek physician Dioscorides wrote his Materia Medica, establishing himself a place in medical history. As one of the ancient world's most knowledgeable herbalists, Dioscorides found that mistletoe helped cure his patients of external tumors. He wrote that it “has the power to disperse, soften, drawing and assisting tumors of the parotid gland and other lesions…” Some forty or so years later, Pliny the Elder wrote of the treatment of sores and epilepsy with mistletoe in his Natural History.

He also described its use in magic and ritual.

Pliny wrote that Druid elders performed rituals in which they harvested mistletoe -- a botanical parasite -- from oak trees with golden sickles. It was collected under a waxing moon phase, and then fed to animals to guarantee their fertility. As part of the rite, a pair of white bulls were sacrificed, and if prayers were answered, prosperity would be visited upon the villages.

No one loves a party like the ancient Romans, and their festival of Saturnalia is one of the most well-documented celebrations of the Winter Solstice. This week-long bacchanal included exchanging of gifts, lots of food and wine, dancing and music. Slaves got the week off work, courts were closed, and all kinds of debauchery took place. This festival honored Saturn, of course, and he was an agricultural god.

To keep him happy, fertility rituals took place under the mistletoe. Today, we don't quite go that far under our mistletoe (at least not usually) but it does explain where the kissing tradition comes from.

As the Roman Empire crumbled and Christianity spread, a rumor began in France that the cross upon which Jesus died was made of mistletoe wood.

As punishment for its involvement in the crucifixion, the plant was forbidden to grow out of the earth, and was demoted to being a botanical parasite. It now has to have a host plant, such as the oak or the ash, apparently more well-behaved and virtuous trees.

During medieval times mistletoe was again recognized for its medicinal properties, and appears in several folk remedies. To ward off demons, twigs of mistletoe could be hung in bundles over a door. In some countries, springs were placed in the stable to protect livestock safe from local witches. Mistletoe was also known to rural people as the best cure for barren women; in fact, mistletoe seems to have been a cure-all for any problems with conception, because early societies were baffled by its method of propagation. Interestingly, the Cherokee people used the North American strain of mistletoe as an abortaficient.

The plant we know today as mistletoe has no roots of its own. What it does have is tiny extensions called holdfasts, that grip onto the bark of the host plant. They also serve as a sort of umbilical cord, and suck the nutrients from the host. Because of its dependence on the host, mistletoe is only found on living trees.

Mistletoe plants can be either female or male; only the female has the beautiful but highly toxic berries. (MORE at ThoughtCo. site)

3. Gift-Delivering Mythical Beings

Sure, we’ve all heard of Santa Claus, who has his roots in the Dutch Sinterklaas mythology, with a few elements of Odin and Saint Nicholas thrown in for good measure. But how many people have heard of La Befana, the kindly Italian witch who drops off treats for well-behaved children? Or Frau Holle, who gives gifts to women at the time of the winter solstice?

Ho ho ho! Once the Yule season rolls around, you can't shake a sprig of mistletoe without seeing images of a chubby man in a red suit. Santa Claus is everywhere, and although he's traditionally associated with the Christmas holiday, his origins can be traced back to a blend of an early Christian bishop (and later saint) and a Norse diety. Let's take a look at where the jolly old guy came from.

Although Santa Claus is primarily based upon St. Nicholas, a 4th-century Christian bishop from Lycia (now in Turkey), the figure is also strongly influenced by early Norse religion.

Saint Nicholas was known for giving gifts to the poor. In one notable story, he met a pious but impoverished man who had three daughters. He presented them with dowries to save them from a life of prostitution. In most European countries, St. Nicholas is still portrayed as a bearded bishop, wearing clerical robes. He became a patron saint of many groups, particularly children, the poor, and prostitutes.

In the BBC Two feature film, "The Real Face of Santa," archaeologists used modern forensics and facial reconstruction techniques to get an idea of what St. Nicholas might have actually looked like. According to National Geographic, "The remains of the Greek bishop, who lived in the third and fourth centuries, are housed in Bari, Italy. When the crypt at the Basilica San Nicola was repaired in the 1950s, the saint's skull and bones were documented with x-ray photos and thousands of detailed measurements."

Among early Germanic tribes, one of the major deities was Odin, the ruler of Asgard. A number of similarities exist between some of Odin's escapades and those of the figure who would become Santa Claus. Odin was often depicted as leading a hunting party through the skies, during which he rode his eight-legged horse, Sleipnir.

In the 13th-century Poetic Edda, Sleipnir is described as being able to leap great distances, which some scholars have compared to the legends of Santa's reindeer. Odin was typically portrayed as an old man with a long, white beard — much like St. Nicholas himself.

During the winter, children placed their boots near the chimney, filling them with carrots or straw as a gift for Sleipnir. When Odin flew by, he rewarded the little ones by leaving gifts in their boots. In several Germanic countries, this practice survived despite the adoption of Christianity. As a result, the gift-giving became associated with St. Nicholas — only nowadays, we hang stockings rather than leaving boots by the chimney!

When Dutch settlers arrived in New Amsterdam, they brought with them their practice of leaving shoes out for St. Nicholas to fill with gifts. They also brought the name, which later morphed into Santa Claus.

The authors of the website for the St. Nicholas Center say, "In January 1809, Washington Irving joined the society and on St. Nicholas Day that same year, he published the satirical fiction, 'Knickerbocker's History of New York,' with numerous references to a jolly St.

Nicholas character. This was not the saintly bishop, rather an elfin Dutch burgher with a clay pipe. These delightful flights of imagination are the source of the New Amsterdam St. Nicholas legends: that the first Dutch emigrant ship had a figurehead of St. Nicholas; that St. Nicholas Day was observed in the colony; that the first church was dedicated to him; and that St. Nicholas comes down chimneys to bring gifts. Irving's work was regarded as the 'first notable work of imagination in the New World.'"

It was about 15 years later that the figure of Santa as we know it today was introduced. This came in the form of a narrative poem by a man named Clement C. Moore.

Moore's poem, originally titled "A Visit from St. Nicholas" is commonly known today as "​Twas the Night Before Christmas." Moore went as far as to elaborate on the names of Santa's reindeer, and provided a rather Americanized, secular description of the "jolly old elf."

According to, "Stores began to advertise Christmas shopping in 1820, and by the 1840s, newspapers were creating separate sections for holiday advertisements, which often featured images of the newly-popular Santa Claus. In 1841, thousands of children visited a Philadelphia shop to see a life-size Santa Claus model. It was only a matter of time before stores began to attract children, and their parents, with the lure of a peek at a “live” Santa Claus."

4. Deck Your Halls with Boughs of Green Things

The Romans loved a good party, and Saturnalia was no exception. This holiday, which fell on December 17, was a time to honor the god Saturn, and so homes and hearths were decorated with boughs of greenery – vines, ivy, and the like. The ancient Egyptians didn't have evergreen trees, but they had palms -- and the palm tree was the symbol of resurrection and rebirth. They often brought the fronds into their homes during the time of the winter solstice. This has evolved into the modern tradition of the holiday tree.

5. Hanging Ornaments

Here come those Romans again! At Saturnalia, celebrants often hung metal ornaments outside on trees. Typically, the ornaments represented a god -- either Saturn, or the family's patron deity. The laurel wreath was a popular decoration as well. Early Germanic tribes decorated trees with fruit and candles in honor of Odin for the solstice. You can make your own ornaments to bring the spirit of the season into your life. (MORE at ThoughtCo. site)

6. Fruitcake

The fruitcake has become the stuff of legend, because once a fruitcake is baked, it will seemingly outlive everyone who comes near it. Stories abound of fruitcakes from winters past, magically appearing in the pantry to surprise everyone during the holiday season. What’s interesting about the fruitcake is that it actually has its origins in ancient Egypt. There’s a tale in the culinary world that the Egyptians placed cakes made of fermented fruit and honey on the tombs of their deceased loved ones – and presumably these cakes would last as long as the pyramids themselves. In later centuries, Roman soldiers carried these cakes into battle, made with mashed pomegranates and barley. There are even records of soldiers on Crusades carrying honey-laden fruitcakes into the Holy Land with them.

7. Presents for Everyone!

Today, Christmas is a huge gift-giving bonanza for retailers far and wide. However, that’s a fairly new practice, developed within the last two to three hundred years. Most people who celebrate Christmas associate the practice of gift giving with the Biblical tale of the three wise men who gave gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the newborn baby Jesus. However, the tradition can also be traced back to other cultures – the Romans gave gifts between Saturnalia and the Kalends, and during the Middle Ages, French nuns gave gifts of food and clothing to the poor on St. Nicholas’ Eve. Interestingly, up until around the early 1800s, most people exchanged gifts on New Years’ Day – and it was typically just one present, rather than the massive collection of gifts that we’re inundated with each year in today’s society. (MORE at ThoughtCo. site)

8. The Resurrection Theme

Christianity hardly has a monopoly on the theme of resurrection, particularly around the winter holidays. Mithras was an early Roman god of the sun, who was born around the time of the winter solstice and then experienced a resurrection around the spring equinox. The Egyptians honored Horus, who has a similar story. While this doesn’t mean that the tale of Jesus and his rebirth was stolen from the cult of Mithras or Horus – and in fact, it’s definitely not, if you ask scholars - there are certainly some similarities in the stories, and perhaps some carryover from the earlier Pagan traditions.

Sound familiar?

The cult of Mithras was a mystery religion, like that of Cybele and many other Roman Pagan beliefs. Author Ceisiwr Serith describes the cult's temples, or Mithraea, as being relatively small, and typically hidden underground. He also points out that it was only open to men, and very secretive, so it's unlikely that it was truly a big rival to the incoming Christian belief system.

In one legend, Mithras, who was popular amongst members of the Roman military, was ordered by the Sun to sacrifice a white bull. He reluctantly obeyed, but at the moment when his knife entered the creature's body, a miracle took place. The bull turned into the moon, and Mithras' cloak became the night sky. Where the bull's blood fell flowers grew, and stalks of grain sprouted from its tail. Mithras himself ascended to the light, and spent the rest of eternity hanging out with the Sun.

British author and poet Rudyard Kipling, who was fascinated by Mithraism, wrote Song to Mithras, which concludes as follows:

Mithras, God of the Midnight, here where the great bull dies,
Look on thy children in darkness. Oh take our sacrifice!
Many roads thou hast fashioned--all of them lead to the Light:
Mithras, also a soldier, teach us to die aright!

Ceisiwr Serith has a great essay on his website about why Christianity isn't stolen from the cult of Mithras, and it's one well worth reading.

If you're interested in more about Mithras, check out his Mithraism Index.

9. Christmas Holly

For those who celebrate the spiritual aspects of Christmas, there is significant symbolism in the holly bush. For Christians, the red berries represent the blood of Jesus Christ as he died upon the cross, and the sharp-edged green leaves are associated with his crown of thorns. However, in pre-Christian Pagan cultures, the holly was associated with the god of winter – the Holly King, doing his annual battle with the Oak King. Holly was known as a wood that could drive off evil spirits as well, so it came in very handy during the darker half of the year, when most of the other trees were bare.

In many Celtic-based traditions of neopaganism, there is the enduring legend of the battle between the Oak King and the Holly King. These two mighty rulers fight for supremacy as the Wheel of the Year turns each season. At the Winter Solstice, or Yule, the Oak King conquers the Holly King, and then reigns until Midsummer, or Litha. Once the Summer Solstice arrives, the Holly King returns to do battle with the old king, and defeats him.

In the legends of some belief systems, the dates of these events are shifted; the battle takes place at the Equinoxes, so that the Oak King is at his strongest during Midsummer, or Litha, and the Holly King is dominant during Yule. From a folkloric and agricultural standpoint, this interpretation seems to make more sense.

In some Wiccan traditions, the Oak King and the Holly King are seen as dual aspects of the Horned God. Each of these twin aspects rules for half the year, battles for the favor of the Goddess, and then retires to nurse his wounds for the next six months, until it is time for him to reign once more.

Franco over at WitchVox says that the Oak and Holly Kings represent the light and the darkness throughout the year. At the winter solstice we mark "the rebirth of the Sun or the Oak King. On this day the light is reborn and we celebrate the renewal of the light of the year. Oops!

Are we not forgetting someone? Why do we deck the halls with boughs of Holly? This day is the Holly King’s day - the Dark Lord reigns. He is the god of transformation and one who brings us to birth new ways. Why do you think we make “New Year’s Resolutions”? We want to shed our old ways and give way to the new!"

Often, these two entities are portrayed in familiar ways - the Holly King frequently appears as a woodsy version of Santa Claus. He dresses in red, wears a sprig of holly in his tangled hair, and is sometimes depicted driving a team of eight stags. The Oak King is portrayed as a fertility god, and occasionally appears as the Green Man or other lord of the forest.

The symbolism of the holly and the ivy is something that has appeared for centuries; in particular, their roles as representations of opposite seasons has been recognized for a long time. In Green Groweth the Holly, King Henry VIII of England wrote:

Green groweth the holly, so doth the ivy.
Though winter blasts blow never so high, green groweth the holly.
As the holly groweth green and never changeth hue,
So I am, ever hath been, unto my lady true.
As the holly groweth green with ivy all alone
When flowers cannot be seen and greenwood leaves be gone

Of course, The Holly and the Ivy is one of the best known Christmas carols, which states, "The holly and the ivy, when they are both full grown, of all the trees that are in the wood, the holly bears the crown."

Both Robert Graves and Sir James George Frazer wrote about this battle.

Graves said in his work The White Goddess that the conflict between the Oak and Holly Kings echoes that of a number of other archetypical pairings. For instance, the fights between Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and between Lugh and Balor in Celtic legend, are similar in type, in which one figure must die for the other to triumph.

Frazer wrote, in The Golden Bough, of the killing of the King of the Wood, or the tree spirit. He says, "His life must therefore have been held very precious by his worshippers, and was probably hedged in by a system of elaborate precautions or taboos like those by which, in so many places, the life of the man-god has been guarded against the malignant influence of demons and sorcerers. But we have seen that the very value attached to the life of the man-god necessitates his violent death as the only means of preserving it from the inevitable decay of age.

The same reasoning would apply to the King of the Wood; he, too, had to be killed in order that the divine spirit, incarnate in him, might be transferred in its integrity to his successor. The rule that he held office till a stronger should slay him might be supposed to secure both the preservation of his divine life in full vigour and its transference to a suitable successor as soon as that vigour began to be impaired. For so long as he could maintain his position by the strong hand, it might be inferred that his natural force was not abated; whereas his defeat and death at the hands of another proved that his strength was beginning to fail and that it was time his divine life should be lodged in a less dilapidated tabernacle."

Ultimately, while these two beings do battle all year long, they are two essential parts of a whole. Despite being enemies, without one, the other would no longer exist.

10. The Yule Log

Nowadays, when we hear about the Yule log, most people think of a deliciously rich chocolate dessert. But the Yule log has its origins in the cold winters of Norway, on the night of the winter solstice, where it was common to hoist a giant log onto the hearth to celebrate the return of the sun each year. The Norsemen believed that the sun was a giant wheel of fire which rolled away from the earth, and then began rolling back again on the winter solstice.

As the Wheel of the Year turns once more, the days get shorter, the skies become gray, and it seems as though the sun is dying. In this time of darkness, we pause on the Solstice (usually around December 21st, although not always on the same date) and realize that something wonderful is happening.

On Yule, the sun stops its decline into the south. For a few days, it seems as though it’s rising in exactly the same place… and then something amazing and miraculous takes place. The light begins to return.

The sun begins its journey back to the north, and once again we are reminded that we have something worth celebrating. In families of all different spiritual paths, the return of the light is celebrated, with Menorahs, Kwanzaa candles, bonfires, and brightly lit Christmas trees. On Yule, many Pagan and Wiccan families celebrate the return of the sun by adding light into their homes. One very popular tradition – and one that children can do easily – is to make a Yule log for a family-sized celebration.

History and Symbolism

A holiday celebration that began in Norway, on the night of the winter solstice it was common to hoist a giant log onto the hearth to celebrate the return of the sun each year. The Norsemen believed that the sun was a giant wheel of fire which rolled away from the earth, and then began rolling back again on the winter solstice.

As Christianity spread through Europe, the tradition became part of Christmas Eve festivities. The father or master of the house would sprinkle the log with libations of mead, oil, or salt. Once the log was burned in the hearth, the ashes were scattered about the house to protect the family within from hostile spirits. (MORE at ThoughtCo. site)


Christmas Quotes:
Courtesy of:

Let's be naughty and save Santa the trip.
Gary Allan

Santa Claus has the right idea - visit people only once a year.
Victor Borge

Christmas is a tonic for our souls. It moves us to think of others rather than of ourselves. It directs our thoughts to giving.
B. C. Forbes

Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone.
Charles M. Schulz

Maybe Christmas, the Grinch thought, doesn't come from a store.
Dr. Seuss

Every gift which is given, even though it be small, is in reality great, if it is given with affection.

Expectancy is the atmosphere for miracles.
Edwin Louis Cole

What I don't like about office Christmas parties is looking for a job the next day.
Phyllis Diller

I stone got crazy when I saw somebody run down them strings with a bottleneck. My eyes lit up like a Christmas tree and I said that I had to learn.
Muddy Waters

Now, the essence, the very spirit of Christmas is that we first make believe a thing is so, and lo, it presently turns out to be so.
Stephen Leacock


Pagan and X Rated Christmas Humour (NOT For Kids):

And if you don't appreciate any of this humour then you probably wouldn't enjoy our version of Utopia, where the absolute truth, like it not not, prevails!

Adam Ruins Everything - The Drunken, Pagan History of Christmas

Published on Dec 23, 2016

OF COURSE the Puritans banned Christmas.

Adam Ruins Everything - The Drunken, Pagan History of Christmas

Category: Entertainment
License: Standard YouTube License

Driving With Liza Holiday Edition Plus Jingle Ballin' Preview!

Published on Dec 9, 2016

Thank you, lil ho ho hos!


Category: Comedy
License: Standard YouTube License

CAUTION: This SCTV entry is X rated so NOT for kids! Sexy Adults however, will enjoy, especially Dusty's version of "Twas The Night Before Christmas" at the end of her performance!

The Dusty Towne Sexy Holiday Special

Published on Jul 22, 2010

Dusty's first special, and first TV show. She gets things rolling with a song and a story. Marcie performs a suggestive dance. Dusty does her own special medley of Christmas hits (Ricky keeps jumping on the punch line). Dusty and Divine have quite a rapport. Divine's brought a Christmas tape: "Santa Bring My Baby Back to Me" on ice (complete with pink flamingoes). Dusty recites "The Night Before Christmas".

Dusty Towne - O'Hara; Marcie Odette - Martin; Divine - Candy; Juul Haalmeyer Dancers - Juul Haalmeyer, Bob Dolman, Doug Steckler, Mert Rich, Ivan Lynch, extras; Wally Hung Trio: Drums (Ricky) - Moranis; Wally Hung on Korg Organ - Paul Flaherty; Bass - Dick Blasucci; announcer - staff announcer

Category: Comedy
License: Standard YouTube License


Musical Winterludes:

The Blind Boys Of Alabama "Go Tell It On The Mountain"

Pannellctp Traditional Gospel Music
Published on Feb 5, 2011

The Blind Boys Of Alabama "Go Tell It On The Mountain"

Category: Music
License: Standard YouTube License
Music: "Go Tell It On the Mountain (Live in New York)" by The Blind Boys of Alabama (iTunes)

A Colbert Christmas - Please be patient (Feist)

Published on Jun 1, 2011

Please be Patient by Feist off the Stephen Colbert Christmas special.

Category: Music
License: Standard YouTube License
Music: "Please Be Patient" by Feist (Google Play • iTunes)

Elvis Presley, Martina McBride - Blue Christmas

Published on Oct 25, 2009

Category: Music
License: Standard YouTube License
Music: "Blue Christmas" by Elvis Presley, The Jordanaires (Google Play • iTunes)

The Byrds Turn! Turn! Turn! to Everything There is a Season folk rock band

Published on Jun 22, 2010

Category Music
License Standard YouTube License
Music "Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is A Season)" by The Byrds (Google Play • iTunes)


One final question: Who among us can deny the Spirit of the Season?

We at UFF suggest true Utopians embrace any and all mythologies that promote an ongoing, healthy, happy future for humanity and Mother Earth.



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The word amen (/ˌɑːˈmɛn/ or /ˌeɪˈmɛn/)[a] is a declaration of affirmation[1][2] found in the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. It is found in Jewish, Christian, and Muslim worship as a concluding word or response to prayers.[2] Common English translations of the word amen include "verily" and "truly". It can also be used colloquially to express strong agreement,[2] as in, for instance, amen to that.[3]


The usage of Amen, meaning "so be it", as found in the early scriptures of the Bible is said to be of Hebrew origin;[5] however, the basic triconsonantal root from which the word was derived is common to a number of languages, such as Aramaic, in the Semitic branch of the Afrasian languages. The word was imported into the Greek of the early Church from Judaism.[1][6] From Greek, amen entered the other Western languages. According to a standard dictionary etymology, amen passed from Greek into Late Latin, and thence into English.[7] Rabbinic scholars from medieval France believed the standard Hebrew word for faith emuna comes from the root amen. Although in English transliteration they look different, they are both from the root aleph-mem-nun. That is, the Hebrew word amen derives from the same ancient triliteral Hebrew root as does the verb ʾāmán.[8]

Grammarians frequently list ʾāmán under its three consonants (aleph-mem-nun), which are identical to those of ʾāmēn (note that the Hebrew letter א aleph represents a glottal stop sound, which functions as a consonant in the morphology of Hebrew).[7] This triliteral root means to be firm, confirmed, reliable, faithful, have faith, believe.

In Arabic, the word is derived from its triliteral common root word ʾĀmana (Arabic: آمن‎), which has the same meanings as the Hebrew root word.

Popular among some theosophists,[9] proponents of Afrocentric theories of history,[10] and adherents of esoteric Christianity[11][12] is the conjecture that amen is a derivative of the name of the Egyptian god Amun (which is sometimes also spelled Amen). Some adherents of Eastern religions believe that amen shares roots with the Hindu Sanskrit word, Aum.[13][14][15][16] Such external etymologies are not included in standard etymological reference works. The Hebrew word, as noted above, starts with aleph, while the Egyptian name begins with a yodh.[17]

The Armenian word ամեն (amen) means "every"; however it is also used in the same form at the conclusion of prayers, much as in English.[citation needed] In French, the Hebrew word amen is sometimes translated as Ainsi soit-il, which means "So be it."[citation needed]

See Wikipedia site for related footnotes and further details on the word AMEN.


DISCLAIMER: UFF does not own any of the above works, nor do we claim responsibility or ownership for any images or audio tracks shown in these and other videos UFF has posted. All rights go to their respective owners.


UFF Commentary notes are the sole responsibility of the President of UFF.

See post of November 29, 2017 for full transparency notes.


Citizen Science For One and All; Science Quotes and Humour; Musical Interludes; UFF Disclaimer & Transparency Notes

Citizen Science For One and All; Science Quotes and Humour; Musical Interludes; UFF Disclaimer & Transparency Notes

NOTE: Please see UFF DISCLAIMER and TRANSPARENCY notes at the bottom of this post after you have reviewed materials of interest.

UFF Commentary:

How many people have a background in the sciences yet are not employed in their area of interest and/or competence due to a lack of paid opportunity?

And how many would-be scientists are frustrated, in many cases wasting their best years due to being underemployed in, or worse still, completely out of their field of dreams?

Our current social/political/economic systems have room for only so many paid "professionals". The rest, though technically qualified or competent through self education, must accept the fact that their lottery ticket in life has not turned out to be the winning number they anticipated. And so it goes when living in a competitive environment.

Yet for those who retain a passion for life and the human predicament, options such as becoming a citizen scientist offer an opportunity to contribute to the ongoing accumulation of knowledge and discovery.

Some work from home selecting the best Hubble and other telescope images for NASA and global scientists. Others provide details on migratory bird sightings worldwide by specie. Still others help protect local flora and fauna from invasive plant life and rampant populations of animals such as rats and rabbits (New Zealand in the first case, Australia the latter for example). By doing so, citizen scientists contribute to the ongoing evolution of human endeavor in service to Mother Earth and self actualization.

By the way, rat and rabbit population control issues are being addressd in the interest of protecting and/or bringing back native flora and fauna. In both cases citizens make a contribution that money can't buy (as in there's never enough money to go around).

And on the wonky side, there's a video in the humour section here below that questions paying New Zealand university students with free beer for rat catching, yet the message is clear: From Mother Earth to The Cosmos, more and more citizens are offered the opportunity to make a contribution to the scientific community.

First, let's start with an overview, with Citizen Science defined by Wikipedia -


Citizen Science
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Citizen Science (CS; also known as crowd science, crowd-sourced science, civic science, volunteer monitoring or networked science) is scientific research conducted, in whole or in part, by amateur (or nonprofessional) scientists. Citizen science is sometimes described as "public participation in scientific research", participatory monitoring and participatory action research.


The term CS has multiple origins, as well as differing concepts. It was first defined independently in the mid-1990s by Rick Bonney in the United States and Alan Irwin in the United Kingdom. Alan Irwin, a British sociologist, defines CS as "developing concepts of scientific citizenship which foregrounds the necessity of opening up science and science policy processes to the public". Irwin sought to reclaim two dimensions of the relationship between citizens and science: 1) that science should be responsive to citizens' concerns and needs; and 2) that citizens themselves could produce reliable scientific knowledge. The American ornithologist Rick Bonney, unaware of Irwin's work, defined CS as projects in which nonscientists, such as amateur birdwatchers, voluntarily contributed scientific data. This describes a more limited role for citizens in scientific research than Irwin's conception of the term.

The terms citizen science and citizen scientists entered the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) in June 2014. "Citizen science" is defined as "scientific work undertaken by members of the general public, often in collaboration with or under the direction of professional scientists and scientific institutions". "Citizen scientist" is defined as: (a) "a scientist whose work is characterized by a sense of responsibility to serve the best interests of the wider community (now rare)"; or (b) "a member of the general public who engages in scientific work, often in collaboration with or under the direction of professional scientists and scientific institutions; an amateur scientist". The first use of the term "citizen scientist" can be found in the magazine New Scientist in an article about ufology from October 1979.

Muki Haklay cites, from a policy report for the Wilson Center entitled "Citizen Science and Policy: A European Perspective", an alternate first use of the term "citizen science" by R. Kerson in the magazine MIT Technology Review from January 1989. Quoting from the Wilson Center report: "The new form of engagement in science received the name 'citizen science'. The first recorded example of the use of the term is from 1989, describing how 225 volunteers across the US collected rain samples to assist the Audubon Society in an acid-rain awareness raising campaign. The volunteers collected samples, checked for acidity, and reported back to the organization. The information was then used to demonstrate the full extent of the phenomenon."

A "Green Paper on Citizen Science" was published in 2013 by the European Commission's Digital Science Unit and, which included a definition for CS, referring to "the general public engagement in scientific research activities when citizens actively contribute to science either with their intellectual effort or surrounding knowledge or with their tools and resources. Participants provide experimental data and facilities for researchers, raise new questions and co-create a new scientific culture. While adding value, volunteers acquire new learning and skills, and deeper understanding of the scientific work in an appealing way. As a result of this open, networked and trans-disciplinary scenario, science-society-policy interactions are improved, leading to a more democratic research, based on evidence-informed decision making."

Citizen science may be performed by individuals, teams, or networks of volunteers. Citizen scientists often partner with professional scientists to achieve common goals. Large volunteer networks often allow scientists to accomplish tasks that would be too expensive or time consuming to accomplish through other means.

Many citizen-science projects serve education and outreach goals. These projects may be designed for a formal classroom environment or an informal education environment such as museums.

Citizen science has evolved over the past four decades. Recent projects place more emphasis on scientifically sound practices and measurable goals for public education. Modern citizen science differs from its historical forms primarily in the access for, and subsequent scale of, public participation; technology is credited as one of the main drivers of the recent explosion of citizen science activity.

In March 2015, the Office of Science and Technology Policy published a factsheet entitled "Empowering Students and Others through Citizen Science and Crowdsourcing". It states: "Citizen science and crowdsourcing projects are powerful tools for providing students with skills needed to excel in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Volunteers in citizen science, for example, gain hands-on experience doing real science, and in many cases take that learning outside of the traditional classroom setting. As part of the 5th White House Science Fair, the Obama Administration and a broader community of companies, non-profits, and others are announcing new steps to increase the ability of more students and members of the public to participate in the scientific process through citizen science and crowdsourcing projects." Among the "New Steps Being Announced by the Administration" there is a section on the "Installation of a Rain Gauge in the White House Garden".

In May 2016, a new open-access journal was started by the Citizen Science Association along with Ubiquity Press called Citizen Science: Theory and Practice (CS:T&P). The editorial article "The Theory and Practice of Citizen Science: Launching a New Journal" states: "CS:T&P provides the space to enhance the quality and impact of citizen science efforts by deeply exploring the citizen science concept in all its forms and across disciplines. By examining, critiquing, and sharing findings across a variety of citizen science endeavors, we can dig into the underpinnings and assumptions of citizen science and critically analyze its practice and outcomes. Such explorations can examine methods, approaches, benefits, costs, impacts, and challenges of citizen science and will help us better understand the role that citizen science can play in environmental science, public health, physics, biochemistry, community development, social justice, democracy, and beyond." The first edition has 5 research articles, 2 essays and 1 case study.

See Wikipedia site for reference materials and further info...


Is there a budding, youthful scientist in your home or community? Whoever YOU are, please consider the following and recommend to others as need be.

SciStarter in the Classroom
Courtesy of:

Should any of the below projects be of interest, please visit the SciStarter site for direct links and access to additional resources.

One of the most important aspects of the SciStarter mission is to make it simple, accessible, and fun for people of all ages to jump in and get involved in real world science. A burgeoning initiative by SciStarter is to serve as a resource for learners and educators in both formal and informal learning environments.

We’ve been working to add lesson plan resources to featured projects. We're happy that our partnership with the National Science Teachers' Association (NSTA) allows us to connect projects to a robust community of educators. Starting with the September 2016 issue of NSTA’s Science Scope Journal, each Science Scope issue includes a SciStarter feature on Citizen Science in the Classroom. In addition, the NSTA Press publication, Citizen Science: 15 Lessons That Bring Biology to Life, grades 6-12 serves as a resource for educators interested in implementing citizen science in the classroom. The book presents citizen science lessons in the 5E instructional model format (Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate).

When we engage in hands-on, authentic real world science, we make observations, begin to formulate questions, experiment, and ultimately construct deeper understanding about the natural world. Sometimes, it opens our eyes to how little we actually know about the world. The merits of engaging in citizen science abound, benefiting both participants and researchers.

As an educator interested in integrating citizen science into your curriculum the SciStarter Project Finder is the perfect place to start - there are hundreds of projects suitable for students and many include teaching materials. Spend some time exploring projects with this tool and you’ll discover projects to integrate into your curriculum and implement in your classroom!

Elementary School

Lost Ladybug Project - Common Core & NextGen standards met

Help scientists find and photograph ladybugs so they can try to prevent more native species from becoming so rare.

Big Butterfly Count

Help scientists learn more about butterflies and the environment by submitting butterfly count from 15 minutes of observation. Counting butterflies for just fifteen minutes could help scientists better understand the environment. The Big Butterfly Count is a recently started national survey that hopes to engage citizen scientists by creating easy and engaging survey methods. This is an easy, fun, and meaningful way to engage in science. Print out an identification poster, get outside, and start counting!

Bumble Bee Tracker

Help track population changes of five bee species. Take and submit photos of bees near you. This project requires a camera, the ability to send an e-mail with a photo attachment and patience. A GPS unit (or equivalent) would also be helpful.

Dragonfly Migration

Help learn more about dragonfly migration in North America. Report movements of 5 main migratory species. Become part of an international network of citizen scientists and help monitor the spring and fall movements of the 5 main migratory species in North America, or report on these species throughout the year at a pond or wetland of your choice.

Spider Survey

Help scientists learn how urbanization affects spiders. Spot, record, and share sightings of spiders in Los Angeles. The project asks people to collect spiders in their homes and gardens, fill out a sample data sheet, and send or bring the spiders and forms to the National History Museum.

School of Ants

Help researchers learn about native and introduced species of ants by collecting samples and mailing them in! Teachers, students, parents, kids, junior-scientists, senior citizens and enthusiasts of all stripes are involved in collecting ants in schoolyards and backyards using a standardized protocol so that project coordinators can make detailed maps of the wildlife that lives just outside their doorsteps.

Middle School

CoCoRaHS - Common Core & NextGen standards met

Provide weather data to meteorologists! Measure rain, hail, and snow. Each time a rain, hail, or snow storm occurs, students can help take measurements of precipitation from around them and submit the data online. Reports of 'zero' precipitation are encouraged too!

Cell Slider

Accelerate cancer research to help find cures by classifying images of cancer cells. After a 10-minute tutorial, you can view images of cancer cells in an image carousel. Each image you will see is a tiny tumour sample from a huge dataset. Help scientists accelerate the analysis of this data by identifying the coloured sections of the image using our prompts, and bring forward the cures for cancers.

Encyclopedia of Life

The Encyclopedia of Life is an online, collaborative project where you can learn about any species on Earth, as well as contribute information and submit photos. This global initiative seeks to create an "infinitely expandable" resource for all of our planet’s 1.9 million known species. Use as a resource in the classroom or for homework assignments.

Project Budburst

Help scientists understand changing climates in your area. Make regular observations of your plants and submit data. Whether you have an afternoon, a few weeks, a season, or a whole year, you can make an important contribution to a better understanding of changing climates. Participating in Project BudBurst, a NEON citizen science program, is easy – everything needed to participate is on the web site. Choose a plant to monitor and share your observations with others online. Not sure where to start? Take a look at the Ten Most Wanted species.


Help scientists study long-term space travel by monitoring the growth of tomato seeds exposed to space conditions. Tomatosphere aims to inspire students by engaging them in real and meaningful science. Students are charged to monitor and record the germination rate for pre-treated tomato seeds in order to give researchers a better understanding of the long-term viability of growing tomatoes in space.

World Water Monitoring Day

Create world map of the health of water bodies. World Water Monitoring Day is an international program that encourages citizen volunteers to monitor their local water bodies. An easy-to-use test kit enables everyone from children to adults to sample local water bodies for basic water quality parameters: temperature, acidity (pH), clarity (turbidity), and dissolved oxygen.

High School

Project Noah - Common Core & NextGen standards met

Help scientists with ongoing research. Document nature with your mobile phone. Noah is a mobile phone app that students can use to document local wildlife and add their observations to a growing database for use by ongoing citizen-science projects.

Quake Catcher Network - Common Core & NextGen standards met

This project uses internet and sensors (subsidized or free for K-12 classrooms) to connect schools and other entities to an earthquake monitoring network. The idea of this project is to create earthquake and seismology awareness, as well as recording data though a “distributed computing network.” This means that your classroom’s computer will be linked to a network of other computers relaying information back to the central hub monitoring for earthquakes.

Be A Martian - Common Core & NextGen standards met

Help scientist improve maps of Mars and participate in other research tasks to help NASA manage the large amount of data from the Red Planet. Users create Martian profiles and become "citizens" of the planet. In the map room, citizens can then earn Martian credits by helping place satellite photos on Mars’s surface, counting craters, and even helping the rovers Spirit and Opportunity by tagging photos with descriptions.

Laughter Project

Help scientists understand how we perceive sounds. Listen to recordings of laughter. Decide if they're real or not. The results will help scientists from University College London to understand the way we perceive and react to different sounds. The experiment should take about 10 minutes.

Loss of the Night

Help scientists measure, understand effects of light pollution. Use a free app to identify as many visible stars as possible. The more stars you observe, and the more often you run the app, the more precise the data for your location will become. As the seasons change so do the stars in the sky, and since there aren't so many very bright stars it is extremely helpful if urban users do measurements in each season.

Old Weather

Help scientists create accurate climate models by transcribing 19th-century weather logs from U.S. ships. Could be used in conjuction with a history lesson! These transcriptions will contribute to climate model projections and will improve our knowledge of past environmental conditions. Historians will use your work to track past ship movements and tell the stories of the people on board.


Test your own number sense and assess humans' math knowledge. Panamath is a free-standing software that can be used to assess number sense - your intuitive recognition of numbers and their relationship. Use Panamath to test your own number sense, read more about the research being done or download the software and adapt it for your own research or educational purposes.



NanoDoc is an online game that allows bioengineers and the general public to design new nanoparticle strategies towards the treatment of cancer. You’ll learn about nanomedicine and explore how nanovehicles can cooperate with each other and their environment to kill tumors.


Understand how proteins can fold incorrectly to cause disease. Install software on your computer that will perform calculations while your computer is idle. Help Stanford University scientists studying Alzheimer's, Huntington's, Parkinson's, and many cancers by simply running a piece of software on your computer.

Games With Words

This project is a unique blend of linguistics and psychology.Help scientists train computers to understand language by playing a variety of games that ask you about the meaning of words. Rather than try to work out the definition of a word all at once, we have broken the problem into a series of separate tasks. Each task has a fanciful backstory, but at its heart, each task is asking about a specific component of meaning that scientists suspect makes up one of the building blocks of meaning. You can participate for as little as a few minutes or come back to the site over and over to help code the many thousands of words in English.

National Map Corps

The US Geological Survey (USGS) is recruiting volunteers to collect and update USGS geographic data. Similar to how other online crowdsourcing cartographic applications allow anyone to collect, edit, and use geographic data through an online map editor, the USGS has developed an online editor customized to our data needs that allows volunteers to contribute data to The National Map.

Radio JOVE

NASA's Radio JOVE project enables students and amateur scientists to observe natural radio emissions from Jupiter, the Sun, and our galaxy. Participants learn about radio astronomy first-hand by building their own radio telescope from an inexpensive kit and/or using remote radio telescopes through the Internet. They also collaborate with each other through interactions and sharing of data on the network.

Don’t see what you’re looking for?

Additional resources on the SciStarter website include:

Back to School Citizen Science Newsletters: 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010
Citizen Science in the Classroom Series
A guide to Finding the first citizen science project for your classroom
SciStarter GLOBE Learning Center

Additional Educator Links for Citizen Science Exploration:

Citizen Science Toolkit for Educators from the California Academy of Sciences
CitizenScience: 15 Lessons That Bring Biology to Life, grades 6-12 from NSTA
Cornell Lab of Ornithology BirdSleuth Citizen Science for Educators
Education Working Group, Citizen Science Association
GLOBE (Global Learning and Observation to Benefit the Environment)
Project Budburst Educator Resources
Students Discover and Your Wild Life
The Crowd & The Cloud a 4 part citizen science public television series coming in 2017
ZooTeach from the Zooniverse

If you have any questions or suggestions, e-mail SciStarter at


Here are more examples in video format...

The Awesome Power of Citizen Science

Published on Apr 20, 2016

You don't have to be a professional scientist to make a contribution to our collective knowledge. Today, we look at several projects that have benefitted from the power of citizen science!

Category: Education
License: Standard YouTube License

Tracking Backyard Birds

Published on Dec 8, 2011

The same technology used to locate lost pets is now being used to track common backyard birds. Scientists and students at the Cornell Lab have collected data on hundreds of thousands of feeder visits so far by Black-capped Chickadees and other birds. Tiny tags weighing less than one-tenth of a gram are attached to the birds' legs and are detected each time the birds visit specially-rigged feeders. Watch this in which David Bonter describes the radio frequency identification (RFID) technique and what we can learn by keeping track of who's coming to dinner.

Learn more about tracking feeder birds with RFID at
Learn more about project feeder watch at:

Category: Science & Technology
License: Standard YouTube License

Citizen Scientists Are Finding "Yellow Balls" in Space Images | Video

Published on Apr 8, 2015

More space news and info at: - amateur astronomers have been finding "yellow balls" in space that may hold important clues to the mysteries of star-birth.

Category: Science & Technology
License: Standard YouTube License

How To Discover a New Planet From Home - Truthloader Investigates

Published on Jan 11, 2013

A new website is helping researchers discover new planets, and potentially even a cure for cancer, using an army of 750,000 'citizen scientists'. Zooniverse allows people with no training or expertise to log on and help change the world.

Truthloader is a channel dedicated to citizen journalism. We find the best examples of crowd-sourced video and independent content, then use our expertise to add context and analysis. We respond to the stories you're interested in, so if you've got a story you'd love us to get to the bottom of, tweet us, Facebook us, or respond to our videos with a comment - and perhaps check out our reddit.

Category: News & Politics
License: Standard YouTube License

Water on Ganymede, and NASA Needs Your Help!

SciShow Space
Published on Mar 19, 2015

Which is a bigger deal to you? The discovery that there’s probably more water on Jupiter’s moon Ganymede than all the oceans on Earth? Or the fact that you can now help NASA find asteroids? Learn about both, then decide for yourself!

Asteroids to Watch Out For:
Space Mining:
The Solar Eclipse of 2015!:
An Impossible Black Hole, and Finally Meeting Ceres:


Category: Education
License: Standard YouTube License

Can Citizen Science Save Us? | Mary Ellen Hannibal | TEDxStanford

Published on May 12, 2017

After three world-class scientists broke down and wept as they told science writer Hannibal about the alarming findings of their research on extinction, she knew she had to do something. Now the citizen scientist and Stanford Media Scholar is showing us how each of us can contribute to saving endangered plants and animals, one iPhone app and observation at a time.

Mary Ellen Hannibal is a long-time journalist focused on natural history and literature. Her most recent book, Citizen Scientist: Searching for Heroes and Hope in an Age of Extinction, was named one of 2016’s best non-fiction books by the San Francisco Chronicle. She is a recipient of the National Association of Science Writer’s Science and Society Award, among other honors, and is currently a Stanford media fellow.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at

Category: Nonprofits & Activism
License: Standard YouTube License


Science Quotes:
Courtesy of:

Tell me and I forget
Teach me and I remember
Involve me and I learn.
Benjamin Franklin

The scientific spirit is of more value than its products.
Thomas Huxley

Science is Nature's interpreter.
James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Seven Seventy Seven Sensations, 1897

No one should approach the temple of science with the soul of a money changer.
Thomas Browne, attributed

Nature composes some of her loveliest poems for the microscope and the telescope.
Theodore Roszak, Where the Wasteland Ends, 1972

A fact is a simple statement that everyone believes. It is innocent, unless found guilty. A hypothesis is a novel suggestion that no one wants to believe. It is guilty, until found effective.
Edward Teller

Science does not know its debt to imagination.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Louise: "How did you get here?"
Johnny: "Well, basically, there was this little dot, right? And the dot went bang and the bang expanded. Energy formed into matter, matter cooled, matter lived, the amoeba to fish, to fish to fowl, to fowl to frog, to frog to mammal, the mammal to monkey, to monkey to man, amo amas amat, quid pro quo, memento mori, ad infinitum, sprinkle on a little bit of grated cheese and leave under the grill till Doomsday."
From the movie Naked, written by Mike Leigh

To know the history of science is to recognize the mortality of any claim to universal truth.
Evelyn Fox Keller, Reflections on Gender and Science, 1995

If we wish to make a new world we have the material ready. The first one, too, was made out of chaos.
Robert Quillen


Science Related Humour:

Let start with an example of Citizen Science with a questionable motivational component!

New Zealand Campaign Offers Students Free Beer for Dead Rats

Published on May 30, 2014
Category: Entertainment
License: Standard YouTube License

Health Science Is Bullsh*t

Published on Sep 9, 2017

Make up your mind, health nuts! Next, you'll say cigarettes are bad for me!

Category: Comedy
License: Standard YouTube License

Big Train - Scientists Humour

Published on Oct 5, 2008

Colleagues make a little joke on co-worker.

Category: Comedy
License: Standard YouTube License

Science Fiction Galore - Best Of Just For Laughs Gags

Just For Laughs Gags
Published on Nov 18, 2012

The truth is out there! These pranks are out of this world! All the sci-fi you can shake a stick at, and then some. Beam me up because these might just be the droids you're looking for!
This video will self-destruct in 10, 9, 8, 7, 6...

Category: Comedy
License: Standard YouTube License


The following two entries are courtesy of:

David Letterman's Top Ten Reasons Why Network News Producers Do Not Give Science More Air time:

Number Ten: They are unable to locate file footage of the Big Bang.
Number Nine: They think that high-temperature superconductors are too hot to handle.
Number Eight: El Niño is covered by the weather department.
Number Seven: They already did the O.J. DNA story.
Number Six: They are unable to find information about semiconductors in the music section of the library.
Number Five: They are afraid of reporting on dark matter because they think it is contagious.
Number Four: They are waiting for cold fusion.
Number Three: They think that the greatest scientific achievement is Tang.
Number Two: They wouldn't know the superconducting supercollider from a hole in the ground.
And the number one reason why network news producers do not give science more air time: Scientists are from Mars . . . Journalists from Venus.


Question: What is "IT"?

Astronomers do IT all night.
Chemists do IT by bonding.
Newton did IT with force.
Eighteenth century physicists did IT with rigid bodies.
Maxwell did IT with magnetism.
Volta did IT with a jolt.
Watt did IT with power.
Joule did IT with energy.
Ohm did IT with resistance.
Pascal did IT under pressure.
Hooke did IT using springs.
Coulomb got all charged up about IT.
Hertz did IT frequently.
Boltzmann did IT in heat.
Ampere let IT flow.
For Franklin, IT was an electrifying experience.
Edison claims to have invented IT.
When Richter did IT, the Earth shook.
For Darwin, IT was natural.
Freud did IT in his sleep.
Mendel studied the consequences of IT.
When Wegener did IT, continents moved.
Classical physicists do IT in perfectly uniform harmonic motion.
Heisenberg was never sure whether he even did IT.
Bohr did IT in an excited state.
Pauli did IT but excluded his friends.
Schrödinger did IT in waves.
Bose did IT with partners.
Einstein did IT on a curved surface.
Oort did IT in a cloud.
Hubble did IT in the dark.
Watson and Crick got all wound up about IT.
Cosmologists do IT in a big bang.
Theorists do IT on paper.
Wigner did IT in a group.
Richter and Ting did IT with charm.
Astrophysicists do IT with young starlets.
Planetary scientists do IT with Uranus.
Electron microscopists do IT 100,000 times.
Feynman did IT in fields.
Hawking wrote a brief history of IT.
And supersymmetric theorists do IT with sleptons.

Answer: IT = science, of course.


Musical Interludes:

The Grapes Of Wrath - I Am Here

Published on Oct 15, 2012

Category: Music
License: Standard YouTube License

Kellylee Evans - Hands Up (live sur Europe 1)

Published on Nov 5, 2015

Kellylee Evans était l'invitée de Nikos Alias dans Sortiez du Cadre à l'occasion de la sortie de son nouvel album Come on, le 13 novembre. Elle sera au Café de la Danse de Paris le 8 décembre.

Category: News & Politics
License: Standard YouTube License

No Matter What - Badfinger

Published on Dec 9, 2007

LIVE vocals over LP backing track.

Category: Music
License: Standard YouTube License

01 Julian Taylor Band - Just a Little Bit

From the album "Desert Star"

Copyright 2016, Aporia Records

Category: Music
License: Standard YouTube License

Sesame Street: Believe in Yourself Song (Michael Bublé & Elmo)

Sesame Street
Published on Dec 9, 2014

You can be what you want to be and do what you want to do if you would just listen to Michael Bublé and believe in yourself. Some folks try to tell you you're not strong enough or smart enough and there are things you shouldn't do, but those people are quite often wrong!

Category: Entertainment
License: Standard YouTube License

Van Morrison - Into The Mystic

Published on Jul 29, 2014

Category: Music
License: Standard YouTube License


DISCLAIMER: UFF does not own any of the above works, nor do we claim responsibility or ownership for any images or audio tracks shown in these and other videos UFF has posted. All rights go to their respective owners.


In the interest of separating myth from reality -

UFF Commentary notes are the sole responsibility of the President of UFF. Other board members are not and never have been consulted regarding creation of content or editing thereof. Further, the other two members of the board are not involved in administrative or financial issues/details. They are not active to any extent other than to serve as honorary members of the board so as to help fulfill the minimal HR requirements for setting up a non profit corporation (President/Secretary/Treasurer).

Any proceeds generated through book sales by contract go through the publisher and to date, no related funds have been received by UFF nor have they been requested. Should funds exist and/or be generated, it is the mandate of UFF and the intention of the President to donate such funds to a suitable non profit or charitable organization dedicated to environmental concerns. Such details will be determined and audited by third party involvement if and as required.

All Utopian Frontier book related expenses, including full publication costs and related promotional expenditures were financed through the personal savings of the President (no external financial input/donations of any sort).

UFF had a Community Plan Bank Account that was never utilized. That is, other than initial account set up funds as provided personally by the President, no further external funds were received nor were any funds paid out. Now and then, two cents were sporadically deposited so as to keep the account active. That account was closed in the Fall of this year (2017).

In summation, from it's inception, UFF has operated as a shell. Intentions were to become fully functional with an active Board of Directors but circumstances to date have made that option unlikely and the President has decided to devote time and efforts to other projects including community services such as voluntering.

The mythology of UFF, centered on the relationship between humankind and technology and positive applications thereof, lives on. Ongoing efforts will reflect that theme. Accordingly, the timing/release of future posts on this site will be sporadic and unpredictable.

Non monetary economics is a central, core theme of UFF mythology. As such, UFF encourages one and all to engage in community activities such as becoming a citizen scientist and/or engaging in volunteer endeavours of choice and passion.

Have faith in the future well being of humanity! Make your contribution individually and/or as a group and remember -

Always do your best!