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Picking Sides: One reader wonders why people are so territorial

The End Of The Game Tiger Predator Big Cat Tiger

Dear C and Dr. B;

This summer I was a camp counselor. Despite the effort the camp made to create a culture of camaraderie among attendees, the counselors for older kids wouldn’t talk to or associate with the counselors for the younger kids. We were all assigned our groups randomly, and it was purely by chance that I ended up with one of the younger groups. But I’m being treated as lower ranking staff by the snobs who were randomly assigned older kids. 

I don’t get this at all! Why do they think they are better us? But everyone seems to just swallow this BS. My friend told me that she feels this way all the time – she is often the only Black person in an  otherwise white group and when this happens, the other people often wont talk to her. Why are people so messed up? It’s just plain mean. Is there anything I can do about it?  – Fed Up

Dr. B says: There a great number of studies on this phenomena, and they all point to this: Humans are territorial animals. One study randomly gave a large group of people either green or red shirts. That alone was enough to make the two groups not talk to each other and be mean to each other. Another study separated a group randomly into either jailor or prisoner roles. In this study, the meanness got to the point where they had to stop the study. 

What to do about it? First, you need to know, for yourself, that everything is arbitrary and random and not true at all – then treat both sides as if they are equal. You will probably be challenged by the “higher ranking“ group and they will be mean to you.  But if you don’t take it personally, and stick with it, over time, you will be accepted by both sides. 

How YOU decide to  accept a given reality affects and can change that reality. With humans, pretty much everything is, in truth, really arbitrary. 

C says: I’ve done my own study on this and it comes to different conclusion: the bigger the car, the smaller the penis. Let me rephrase that: the bigger the brag, the smaller the brain.

 Although I agree that it is a natural instinct for humans to be territorial, in this case, there’s a flaw in that reasoning – there is no territory here to defend. The councilors for the older kids don’t own the damn camp. They didn’t earn their positions due to skill and competency. They’ll be home again at the end of the summer and it is my guess that there’s no one back there who will put up with this crap. I don’t see them as territorial. I just see them as being a bunch of tools. 

Defending territory can be a noble thing; someone who is protecting their territory has a stake in that plot of land. They see it as their own because it is their home, not because some camp director assigned them to herd a bunch of other people’s kids around.

People who are genuinely sure of themselves don’t swagger around or blow their own horn constantly. They don’t have to. They have no need to convince anyone else of their worth or value. They HAVE worth and value. And they know it.

You are giving these douchebags more attention and weight than they deserve. Just ignore them if you don’t have any business with them, and treat them with polite indifference if you do. If they suddenly become super-friendly, don’t trust it. People who are basically insecure often try to set their “opponents” up to be mocked and made fun of, but they seldom flip because they’ve had a sudden epiphany and realize what assholes they’ve been.

Do your job, have fun, and don’t take this so seriously. It’s just a game. You don’t have to play. 

You can visit Dr. B’s blog at drbrilliantcliche.wordpress.com




Cultural Dinner 2021 Registration

The event is planned for September. Expect more details very soon. Sign up here to let us know you may be interested. This is a planned virtual meet & greet to prepare for upcoming Motif Spoken Word & Storytelling awards. Includes meal kits delivered to you and a Zoom conversation.




Tardy Slip!: School plans missed their deadline

While schools are reopening imminently, plans for addressing risks from COVID-19 that the RI Department of Education were supposed to be made public by August 27 are, as of the day after the deadline, often still unclear. Some districts have posted plans on their websites by the deadline but others have not.

The state’s return to school in 2021 is much like its weather: meticulous predictions, last-minute changes and many disappointments. With only a week or two before beginning the academic year, administrations find themselves having to react to changing conditions and regulations. For many students this will be their first time in the classroom in more than 18 months. For many parents and staff, there is still a lot to clarify in a short period of time. 

One decision for all districts is settled: Gov. Dan McKee backtracked on mask mandates for students: He initially declined to issue a statewide mandate while saying he expected local districts to comply with CDC guidance — which “recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status.” The practical effect was to leave local school committees and superintendents to negotiate policies separately on their own, navigating controversies between parents and unions, leading to widespread criticism. On August 19 the governor did a volte-face and issued Executive Order 21-87 requiring “universal indoor masking by all students (age 2 and older), staff, teachers, and visitors to K-12 schools” regardless of vaccination status.

Warwick schools on August 25 updated their department’s “health and safety” policy for staff to comply with the mask mandate as issued by the governor. It will require all staff and students to wear a face covering.

The Cranston School Department declined to speak about their COVID plans until after their plans were posted on their website and submitted to the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE), hoping to complete that by Monday, August 30.

RI colleges are also going through last minute updates and changes.  On the morning of  Monday, August 23, Gov. McKee told ABC newscaster T.J. Holmes that RI was the first state where all  institutions of higher education would start the fall semester with a requirement that students be fully vaccinated. “Fully vaccinated” is defined as having at least two weeks following the final dose of either a one-dose or two-dose vaccine.

But three days earlier, Rhode Island College (RIC) issued a notice delaying the start of their semester by a week to allow students more time to get vaccinated and rolling back their requirement that all students be fully vaccinated prior to attending classes, altering prior policy by allowing students who are only partially vaccinated to attend in-person classes if they provide a negative COVID test before each visit to the RIC campus. Students must have taken at least one vaccination shot prior to attending in-person classes.

Within hours of McKee’s statement to Holmes, CCRI’s Vice President Alix Ogden was telling the school’s students that CCRI also would no longer require them to be fully vaccinated at the semester’s start, delaying the 14-day after last dose “fully vaccinated” requirement for in-person students. Instead, students would be able to attend classes on campus by providing a negative COVID test taken within 72 hours. CCRI’s revised policy calls for all students to show proof of vaccination within 30 of their class start; students enrolling in the “late start” option would have until October 30 to prove vaccination and as late as November 15 before being considered fully vaccinated. CCRI stated that students who fail to provide proof of vaccination by the 30-day mark will be disenrolled.




Scavengers, the Lot of Ya’!

You think you know RI? Prove it. Maybe you’ll learn something along the way.

On the weekend of August 28, you and a team of up to 5 people can take part in a statewide scavenger hunt, complete with a custom map and an augmented reality app. As you comb the entire state for clues, you’ll end up in some of your favorite places or you might go to spots you’ve never been to before. Play for a few hours, or play for two days. The point is to explore the state in a way you’ve never done before. Prizes include RI Food Fights passes for a whole year and an exclusive WaterFire experience. Get hunting!

The RI Statewide Scavenger Hunt takes place August 28 and 29. For more information, follow @RISWSH.




Evictions may resume: Moratorium ended by US Supreme Court

In an unsigned “per curiam” opinion — supremecourt.gov/opinions/20pdf/21a23_ap6c.pdf — the US Supreme Court tonight ruled that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lacks legal authority for an extension of a nationwide eviction moratorium past July, immediately placing an estimated 3.5 million Americans at risk of homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic. Three justices, regarded as liberals, filed a signed dissent, unusual for a per curiam ruling.

Unless Congress acts to extend the moratorium by legislation, which is considered politically very unlikely, $47 billion already allocated to pay landlords for back rent may not be disbursed in time to save tenants from eviction.

See our earlier story, including information about how to apply for rent assistance in RI and MA: motifri.com/eviction-october.




Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine fully approved by US FDA: RI hopes will boost take-up rate

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today approved full licensure for the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine that was given Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) on December 11, 2020, for recipients age 16 and older. It will now be known under the trade name “Comirnaty” (pronounced koe-mir’-na-tee). The identical vaccine will continue to be available under EUA issued May 10, 2021, for recipients ages 12 to 15 and under subsequent EUA as a third dose for immuno-compromised recipients.

About 92 million people in the US have been administered the Pfizer vaccine under EUA. Full approval is expected to persuade some who have been hesitant to get an “experimental” vaccine. Full approval may also smooth legal obstacles to COVID-19 vaccine mandates by public and private employers and schools, where existing vaccines (such as for measles, mumps, and rubella) are already mandated.

In a statement, the FDA said approval was based upon clinical trial data from both before and after the EUA, including one for effectiveness with 40,000 participants and one for safety with 44,000 participants, in each case half receiving the vaccine and half receiving a placebo. The vaccine was found 91% effective in preventing sickness from COVID-19. About 12,000 vaccine recipients were monitored for adverse events for at least six months.

“The FDA’s approval of this vaccine is a milestone as we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. While this and other vaccines have met the FDA’s rigorous, scientific standards for emergency use authorization, as the first FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine, the public can be very confident that this vaccine meets the high standards for safety, effectiveness and manufacturing quality the FDA requires of an approved product,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D. “While millions of people have already safely received COVID-19 vaccines, we recognize that for some, the FDA approval of a vaccine may now instill additional confidence to get vaccinated. Today’s milestone puts us one step closer to altering the course of this pandemic in the U.S.”

“Our scientific and medical experts conducted an incredibly thorough and thoughtful evaluation of this vaccine. We evaluated scientific data and information included in hundreds of thousands of pages, conducted our own analyses of Comirnaty’s safety and effectiveness, and performed a detailed assessment of the manufacturing processes, including inspections of the manufacturing facilities,” said Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., director of FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. “We have not lost sight that the COVID-19 public health crisis continues in the U.S. and that the public is counting on safe and effective vaccines. The public and medical community can be confident that although we approved this vaccine expeditiously, it was fully in keeping with our existing high standards for vaccines in the U.S.”

In Rhode Island, free vaccination sites can be found on the state government web site vaccinateri.org for the general public, as well as more than 100 back-to-school clinics in communities listed at back2schoolri.com.

RI Gov. Dan McKee said in a statement, “To anyone who was on the fence, the science is crystal clear. These vaccines are safe, and they are very effective at keeping people healthy. It is time. It is time to protect yourself. It is time to protect your family. It is time to get vaccinated. We have vaccination opportunities available in communities across Rhode Island. If you have not gotten your shot, get vaccinated today.”

“The FDA did an extremely thorough review of this vaccine and reaffirmed that it absolutely was safe,” said RI Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, in a statement. “It is undeniable that the COVID-19 vaccines save lives. If you are eligible, get vaccinated today to protect you and your family. It’s easier than it has ever been before.”




TS Henri: RI spared worst effects as storm passes

As of 5pm EDT Sun, Aug 22, 2021 in RI: All watches and warnings have been discontinued.

TS Henri spared RI its worst effects: Rain has already ended over most of the state and winds should subside by 7pm. The storm is barely hanging onto tropical storm status with maximum sustained winds 40MPH, and likely will be downgraded to tropical depression later tonight.

The main effects in RI have been electrical outages.

Tropical Storm Henri: Probability of tropical storm force winds for five-day period beginning Sun, Aug 22, 2021, 2pm EDT.
Tropical Storm Henri: Probability “cone” of track of storm center for five-day period beginning Sun, Aug 22, 2021, 5pm EDT.

A second wave of rain is possible tomorrow 6pm to 11pm, but nowhere near tropical storm conditions.




Electrical Outages Main Henri Problem: RI gets more wind than rain as storm passes to west

Although it is too early to be sure, with most of RI on the eastern side of the path of TS Henri the main consequence of the storm is electrical outages. As of 1:47pm, National Grid was reporting 424 outages affecting 81,964 customers. Most of those affected are in southern RI, where the storm center was reported over Block Island at 11am EDT and, according to the National Hurricane Center, made landfall in the Westerly area at 12:15pm with maximum sustained winds of 60mph.

Because low pressure centers such as storms have counter-clockwise airflow (in the Northern Hemisphere), regions to the east of the track receive higher velocity wind with the forward motion of the storm added while regions to the west of the track receive higher rainfall.

National Grid electrical outage status
(Source: https://outagemap.ri.nationalgridus.com/ )

Terry Sobolewski, interim president of National Grid New England, said at the press conference with RI Gov. Daniel McKee at 10am today that he expected the storm and its recovery to be a “long duration” event. It is not safe to send out repair crews until wind and rain have died down, he explained, and then he expects it will take 12 to 24 hours to assess damage and determine where to deploy workers. At the prior press conference at 3:15pm yesterday he said that mutual assistance agreements had already been activated and, by that point, there were 230 line crews and more than 100 forestry crews with about 1,000 personnel already staging.

Speaking with McKee after his press conference yesterday, this Motif reporter asked him what priorities he raised with President Joe Biden earlier in the afternoon in a telephone conference call involving a number of governors of states expected to be affected by Henri. McKee pulled out his notes from the conversation and said that, in addition to asking for federal help through the National Guard and American Red Cross, prolonged electrical outages that lasted for days, as happened with Hurricane Sandy in 2012, could prove devastating to small businesses especially after the downturn caused by the pandemic. McKee said that Biden responded that he shared that concern and, in response to McKee’s request, would personally call the consortium responsible for arranging mutual aid in restoring electrical service and offer any federal government assistance they needed.

Damage so far from southern RI seems mostly downed trees in Narragansett and some flooding in Westerly, but RI Emergency Management Director Marc Pappas told Motif that there had been few reports of serious structural damage and RI had so far been fortunate to escape the worst water from rainfall and storm surge.

To the west of the storm track, Flash Flood Warnings have been posted for coastal Connecticut, and forecasts of as much as 6 to 10 inches of rainfall were possible in the Bridgeport-New Haven area. While wind can cause problems, especially with electrical outages, most injuries and deaths associated with tropical weather systems are from water.




TS Henri: Centered over Block Island, heading for mainland

IMPORTANT: This post is out of date and has been superseded; see motifri.com/wx-henri-2021-08-22-1700edt

UPDATE: As of 2pm EDT, Tropical Storm Warnings have been dropped for all of RI except Block Island, and maximum sustained winds have decreased to 50MPH as TS Henri loses strength over land.

As of 11am EDT Sun, Aug 22, 2021 in RI:
• A Storm Surge Warning and Tropical Storm Warning are in effect for eastern Kent, Newport, and Washington Counties including Block Island.
• A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Providence and western Kent Counties.

Tropical Storm Henri is centered over Block Island and is on a forecast track northwestward for a direct hit on the RI mainland, as of the guidance at 11am EDT, Sun, Aug 22, with the most likely path making landfall early afternoon in the area of Charlestown. Maximum sustained winds are 70MPH, just short of hurricane force: tropical storm force winds extend 125 miles from the center. Hurricane warnings have been lowered to tropical storm warnings in southern RI due to the slight weakening of the system.

NWS radar snapshot, composite reflectivity (CREF) from Boston (WSR-88D). TS Henri is centered over Block Island. The shaded region near New London, CT, is a Flash Flood Warning.

Rain has begun and will likely end by tonight 2am with peak sustained winds exceeding 20MPH until 8pm. The situation is favorable for the formation of tornadoes. A second period of rain is possible Mon 10am to Tue 2am, most likely 5pm to 10pm, but winds less than 15MPH.

Tropical Storm Henri: Probability of tropical storm force winds for five-day period beginning Sun, Aug 22, 2021, 8am EDT.

Although “probability cone” charts are liable to be misunderstood because they focus on the center of the storm and thereby ignore the field of wind that can extend across hundreds of miles on either side of that track, in this case the direct aim toward RI is striking and illustrative.

Tropical Storm Henri: Probability “cone” of track of storm center for five-day period beginning Sun, Aug 22, 2021, 11am EDT.

Most of RI except the extreme southwest remains in the “slight” 10% risk band for flash flooding due to excessive rainfall. RI is forecast to receive 2-4 inches of rain, considerably less than the 6-10 inches in central Long Island and 4-6 inches along the CT coast, but this soon could be revised upward. Storm surge of 3-5 feet is possible on the RI coast and within Narragansett Bay.

Tropical Storm Henri: Probability of excessive rainfall and flash flooding for three-day period beginning Sun, Aug 22, 2021, 8am EDT.
Tropical Storm Henri: Probability of total rainfall for three-day period beginning Sun, Aug 22, 2021, 2am EDT.

TS Henri is just short of hurricane strength with maximum sustained winds at 70MPH, but there is little difference in practical effect whether the storm is slightly above or below the arbitrary threshold of 74MPH that would classify it officially as a hurricane, and the potential for harm from heavy rain, high winds, and storm surge, as well as life-theatening surf and rip currents, should be taken seriously. All of southern New England can expect what amount to hurricane conditions, regardless of whether they meet the technical criteria.

All tropical weather systems should be regarded as volatile and unpredictable to some extent, so it is a mistake to focus on the exact forecast point of landfall as that may change significantly before it occurs. While this storm is extremely unlikely to “go out to sea” harmlessly, it would be no surprise to see the forecast track move back and forth closer to and farther away from RI, and it would be prudent to prepare for any possibility, charging cellular telephones and making sure flashlights and other equipment is powered and ready. Loss of electrical power mains for as long as several days should be part of planning.

[The RI Emergency Management Agency uses the CodeRED system to allow the public to sign up for direct community notifications: public.coderedweb.com/CNE/en-US/BF1E5F52D694 ]




H Henri: Most likely track still a direct hit on RI

IMPORTANT: This post is out of date and has been superseded; see motifri.com/wx-henri-2021-08-22-1100edt

As of 5am EDT Sun, Aug 22, 2021 in RI:
• A Storm Surge Warning and Hurricane Warning are in effect for Newport and Washington Counties including Block Island.
• A Storm Surge Warning and Tropical Storm Warning are in effect for eastern Kent County.
• A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Providence and western Kent Counties.

Hurricane Henri remains on a forecast track for a direct hit on RI, as of the guidance at 5am EDT, Sun, Aug 22, with the most likely path coming straight up Narragansett Bay, making landfall late morning or early afternoon as a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale. Maximum sustained winds are 75MPH: hurricane force winds extend 35 miles and tropical storm force winds 125 miles from the center.

Rain is likely to begin by Sun, Aug 22, 6am and end by Mon 2am with peak sustained winds exceeding 30MPH and gusts exceeding 50MPH from 4pm to 11pm. At Providence, sustained winds to 55MPH and gusts to 70MPH are possible. The situation is favorable for the formation of tornadoes. A second period of rain is possible Mon 10am to Tue 2am, but only about 30% likely and winds less than 15MPH.

NWS radar snapshot, composite reflectivity (CREF) from Boston (WSR-88D).

Because low pressure centers such as storms have counter-clockwise airflow (in the Northern Hemisphere), regions to the east of the track receive higher velocity wind with the forward motion of the storm added while regions to the west of the track receive higher rainfall.

Providence has 99% probability of experiencing tropical storm force winds (39MPH) and 10% probability of hurricane force winds (74MPH), capable of significant damage.

Tropical Storm Henri: Probability of tropical storm force winds for five-day period beginning Sun, Aug 22, 2021, 2am EDT.

Although “probability cone” charts are liable to be misunderstood because they focus on the center of the storm and thereby ignore the field of wind that can extend across hundreds of miles on either side of that track, in this case the direct aim toward RI is striking and illustrative.

Tropical Storm Henri: Probability “cone” of track of storm center for five-day period beginning Sun, Aug 22, 2021, 5am EDT.

Most of RI except the extreme southwest remains in the “slight” 10% risk band for flash flooding due to excessive rainfall. RI is forecast to receive 2-4 inches of rain, considerably less than the 6-10 inches in central Long Island and 4-6 inches along the CT coast, but this soon could be revised upward. Storm surge of 3-5 feet is possible on the RI coast and within Narragansett Bay.

Tropical Storm Henri: Probability of excessive rainfall and flash flooding for three-day period beginning Sun, Aug 22, 2021, 8am EDT.
Tropical Storm Henri: Probability of total rainfall for three-day period beginning Sun, Aug 22, 2021, 2am EDT.

H Henri remains at hurricane strength with maximum sustained winds at 75MPH, but there is little difference in practical effect whether the storm is slightly above or below the arbitrary threshold of 74MPH that would classify it officially as a hurricane, and the potential for harm from heavy rain, high winds, and storm surge, as well as life-theatening surf and rip currents, should be taken seriously. All of southern New England can expect what amount to hurricane conditions, regardless of whether they meet the technical criteria.

All tropical weather systems should be regarded as volatile and unpredictable to some extent, so it is a mistake to focus on the exact forecast point of landfall as that may change significantly before it occurs. While this storm is extremely unlikely to “go out to sea” harmlessly, it would be no surprise to see the forecast track move back and forth closer to and farther away from RI, and it would be prudent to prepare for any possibility, charging cellular telephones and making sure flashlights and other equipment is powered and ready. Loss of electrical power mains for as long as several days should be part of planning.

[The RI Emergency Management Agency uses the CodeRED system to allow the public to sign up for direct community notifications: public.coderedweb.com/CNE/en-US/BF1E5F52D694 ]