Sunday, October 20, 2019

Former ANFA boss Ganesh Thapa writes autobiography

Kathmandu, October 20

Former president of All Nepal Football Association, Ganesh Thapa has written an autobiography that will hit the stands in February 2020.

Thapa was relieved of his role as ANFA president after being accused of corruption. His auto-biography comes five years after the FIFA imposed 10-year ban on him.

According to publishers Book-Hill publication, Thapa’s book called Ganesh Thapa.

“The book will have everything about me. From my time as a player to my time as the president of ANFA and corruption allegations against me,” he said during an announcement event.

Through his book, Thapa has asked ANFA and National Sports Council not to take his body to their offices after his death. He said that he was very hurt by the manner at which NSC and ANFA treated him.

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Appointment of new speaker won’t happen anytime soon: NCP Chief Whip

Dev Gurung speaks in Parliament.

Kathmandu, October 20

Chief Whip of Nepal Communist Party Dev Gurung has said that the appointment of a new speaker isn’t going to happen any time soon.

Gurung said that now isn’t the correct time to talk about the issue and said that it will be addressed in the future as a case related to the appointment of speaker remains sub-judice.

The post of speaker has been vacant after then-speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara resigned from his position after he was accused of sexual misconduct by a parliament secretariat staffer.

Gurung said that the decision to appoint a new speaker will only be made after the SC gives its verdict on the case which, was filed after the merger between the then UML and Maoist centre parties. Following the merger, the speaker (who was from the Maoist Centre) and his deputy (who was from UML) both represented the same party (NCP).

Speaking at a programme in Kathmandu on Sunday, Gurung said that if a new speaker was to be appointed, the current deputy-speaker could also have to resign. After both posts are vacant, they only could the parties discuss to appoint the speaker and the deputy-speaker, says Gurung.

“The constitution says that the speaker and the deputy speaker should be from two different parties. In this case, an appointment can happen only if both the posts are empty,” said Gurung.

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China to provide equipment worth Rs 2.4 billion to Nepali Army

Kathmandu, October 20

China has pledged equipment support worth 150 million Yuan (approx. Rs 2.4 billion) to the Nepali Army.

An agreement to this effect was signed by Defence Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Ishwar Pokharel and Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe on Sunday. Minister Pokharel is currently in China.

Chinese President Xi Jinping during his two-day state visit to Nepal had pledged to give Nepal military support.

As per his pledge, the agreement was signed between the defence ministers of the two countries. The agreement states that China will give Nepal military equipment which will help Nepal in humanitarian and disaster management.

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Rautahat explosion case: NC Alam to remain in custody for five more days

Rauthat, October 20

District Court Rautahat has given police permission to keep lawmaker Mohammad Aftab Alam, who has been accused of killing 23 people injured in the 2008 Rautahat blast, in custody for five more days.

This comes after the Alam spent seven days in police custody for investigation following a court order.

Alam was arrested in connection with his involvement in a bomb blast in Rautahat district in April 2008. The ex-minister has been accused of burning 23 of his cadres, including 21 Indian nationals, alive in a brick kiln in Rautahat. The cadres were reportedly making a bomb following Alam’s order and were injured when the bomb accidentally went off. Seven persons were killed in the blast.

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UNFPA Executive Director arrives in Nepal

Kathmandu, October 20

Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, Natalia Kanem, has arrived in Nepal on her first official visit in a bid to intensify the implementation of population and development promises made by UNFPA. This is her first visit to Nepal since her appointment two years ago.

During her two-day stay in Nepal, Kanem will monitor the significant achievements by Nepal in relation to the Cairo vision and the commitment of the government to its full implementation by 2030; and to invite the government at the highest level to participate in the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25, which will be held on 12-14 November, as a champion of reproductive rights.

“Nepal has made such momentous strides under the ICPD Programme of Action in the 25 years,” noted Kanem, “but now is the time to urgently address the unfinished business. The Rights to Safe Motherhood and Reproductive Act introduced last year is a remarkable piece of legislation that is forward-looking and will certainly help accelerate efforts to achieve the goals agreed to in Cairo, goals which will be reaffirmed and recommitted to in Nairobi next month as well”.

While in Nepal, the UNFPA delegation will be meeting with senior government officials, development partners, CSOs and other key stakeholders as well as UNFPA staff.

“As we gear up for Nairobi, we’re gratified that Nepal and all our member states have recognised that without achieving ICPD we simply won’t achieve the SDGs that underpin the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda,” said Kanem. “We thank Nepal for its valuable partnership and support in working with us towards our transformative results: Zero maternal deaths, zero unmet need for family planning and zero gender-based violence and other harmful practices such as child marriage. This is critical in fulfilling the vision of ICPD and the SDGs – that of leaving no one behind.”

Kanem is accompanied by UNFPA Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, Bjorn Andersson, and UNFPA Chief of Staff, Pio Smith, according to the UNFPA.


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Transport ministry asks Sajha Yatayat to halt electric bus procurement process

New Sajha buses

Kathmandu, October 20

The transport ministry has ordered Sajha Yatayat, which was preparing to procure 300 electric buses to ply in Kathmandu and outside the capital, to halt the procurement process.

The surprise decision was conveyed to Sajha Yatayat, a co-operative with government investment, without furnishing the reasons behind it.  The directive from the Ministry of Transport and Physical Infrastructure has left Sajha officials puzzled.

The directive comes a year after the government decided to procure 300 electric buses and provided money to Sajha to do so by July 2019. But as the tender process was about the begin, the government backtracked on its decision to provide the money to Sajha.

“No one questioned us when we procured buses with the help of Kathmandu Metropolitan City. We make sure that the whole process is transparent. I don’t know why the government/ministry has problems,” said a Sajha official.

The government in August last year gave Sajha Yatayat Rs 3 billion to purchase electric buses. Similarly, Province 3 set aside Rs 300 million and Kathmandu Metropolitan City, Lalitpur Metropolitan City and Sajha Yatayat set aside nearly Rs 250 million for the electric buses.

After the funds were collected, a team from the ministry and Sajha Yatayat visited India to observe the Chinese electric buses plying Indian roads. After the team returned, Sajha decided to start the procurement process.

Sajha Yatayat then proposed that 50 buses be bought under the G2G model. The government, however, was not happy with the proposal. The government didn’t want to opt for the G2G model. Sajha Yatayat, on the other hand, says that it proposed such a model as it felt the buses would arrive faster if the governments were involved. The government, however, declined Sajha Yatayat’s proposal.

“If we went through all the processes, it would take a long time before the buses arrived. Minister Mahaset during a press conference had said that the buses would arrive by October. For that to happen, we had to go with the G2G model,” adds another official working at Sajha.

However, an official working at the Transport Ministry told Onlinekhabar that they have asked Sajha to halt the procurement as they received complaints from bus companies that Sajha was going to buy low-end buses at a higher price.

With the government’s orders, questions are arising regarding the Rs 3 billion given to Sajha by the government. High ranking officials at Sajha say that the money given to Sajha by the government is the government’s share in the company. They add that if the government plans to withdraw the money, it will have to go through a formal procedure.

“We prepared the specification based on suggestions from government engineers. We don’t think we are in the wrong where. The decision to halt the procedure has left us in shock,” adds the high ranking official at Sajha.

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Saturday, October 19, 2019

Need to speed up preparations for Visit Nepal Year 2020: Vaidya

Kathmandu, October 20

Coordinator of Visit Nepal Year 2020 Suraj Vaidya has said that it was necessary to speed things up if the Tourism Year was to be successful. Speaking at a programme at Nepal Tourism Board, Vaidya said that if stakeholders and the government didn’t up the speed, the campaign wouldn’t be a success.

“There is a lot of things we have to do to make sure that tourism year is successful. But we have very little time to do so. 2019 is almost over and if we don’t start to speed things up, we will not be ready for the tourism year,” he added.

Addressing the newly appointed NRNA board, Vaidya said that the role of NRNA was equally important to ensure that VNY 2020 was a success. An MOU was also signed between the NRNA and Visit Nepal 2020 Secretariat. The MOU includes the promise of one NRN sending one tourist to Nepal and the promotion of VNY 2020 in all NRNA countries.

The government has planned to bring over 2 million tourists next year.

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Police to seek permission to keep Mahara in custody

Kathmandu, October 20

Officials investigating the attempt to rape charge against former Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara say they will seek permission from Kathmandu District Court to remand former speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara in custody for a few more days as they need more time on the case.

Police on October 15 had asked for three more days to keep Mahara in custody, but it has not been able to carry out the investigation as both the police and the court have failed to record Mahara’s statement.

Police officials plan to take Mahra, who is currently in hospital, to Kathmandu District Court on Sunday to seek permission to keep him in custody for a few more days, informed SSP Uttam Raj Subedi.

They say that Mahara has been avoiding answering questions citing health issues. Police officials say that they will try to record his statement once the court gives them permission to keep him in custody for three more days.

Mahara was arrested in his residence on October 6 after an official complaint was filed by a parliament secretariat staffer who has accused Mahara of sexual misconduct.

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PM Oli to leave for Azerbaijan on Thursday

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli waves as he comes back home on Monday, August 12, 2019.

Kathmandu, October 20

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli leaves for Azerbaijan on Thursday to attend the 18th Summit of Non-Aligned Movement being held in Baku on October 25 and 26.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated on Sunday that PM Oli will lead a Nepali delegation to the summit and will be accompanied by his wife Radhika Shakya. The Nepali delegation includes Minister for Foreign Affairs Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, Chief Adviser to the Prime Minister Bishnu Rimal, Foreign Affairs Adviser to the Prime Minister Rajan Bhattarai, Foreign Secretary Shanker Das Bairagi and senior officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Oli will address the general debate of the summit on October 26 under the theme is “Upholding the Bandung Principles to ensure concerted and adequate response to the challenges of the contemporary world”.

The foreign ministry in its statement said that Oli will also hold bilateral meetings with the Heads of Delegation of different countries on the sidelines of the summit.

Nepal is a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement and has been actively participating in all NAM Summits since its inception. The principles of non-alignment constitute one of the basic tenets of Nepal’s foreign policy.

The Prime Minister will return on October 27.

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At India’s Assam Zoo, decades of experience lead to rhino-breeding success

>>Assam State Zoo in northeastern India has been breeding greater one-horned rhinos in captivity since the 1960s.

>>However, until 2011 the country lacked a formal, nationally coordinated program dedicated to maintaining a viable captive population of the species, which is considered by the IUCN to be vulnerable to extinction due to poaching.

>>India launched an official captive-breeding initiative in 2011. One calf has already been born at the Assam Zoo as part of the program, and another is on the way. An additional six have been born in the Patna Zoo in India’s Bihar state.

GUWAHATI, India — One August afternoon in 1991, rangers at India’s Kaziranga National Park rescued a startled rhino calf. The young female, believed to be just a few months old, had just survived a tiger attack and was separated from her mother in the melee.

It was a tough start in life for the little calf, named Baghekhaiti by her rescuers, the local Assamese for “eaten or bitten by a tiger.” But she survived her injuries, and would go on to give birth to the first greater one-horned rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis) calf born in the Indian state of Assam as part of an ambitious captive-breeding programme launched by India’s Central Zoo Authority (CZA) in 2011.

“Baghekhaiti, whose right leg still bears the scar of that tiger attack, was brought to the Assam State Zoo on 10 August, 1991,” says Govinda Sharma, a keeper at the Guwahati-based zoo and botanical garden, who has been looking after the rhino since 1993. “Now she’s around 28. Since her arrival at the zoo she’s delivered two calves … So, she’s very special.”

According to the CZA, the program’s objective is to build a stock of healthy captive rhinos to serve as insurance for the future, should the species face extinction in the wild again.  Two zoos have been designated as part of the program: the Assam State Zoo, and Bihar state’s Patna Zoo, where six calves have been born since 2011.

The greater one-horned rhino has made a spectacular comeback once before, thanks to global conservation efforts in Kaziranga and in Nepal’s Chitwan National Park, which together harbor about 85 percent of the species’ global population of around 3,500 individuals. But the IUCN still considers the species vulnerable, primarily due to the constant threat of poaching — a threat that underscores the importance of maintaining a genetically viable captive population.

Wild-born greater one-horned rhino Baghekhaiti and her zoo-born calf Sanatan inside an enclosure at the Assam State Zoo. Image by Sumit Das.

A long history of breeding rhinos

Assam state, where Kaziranga National Park is located, is home to some 2,500 greater one-horned rhinos, and the state zoo has held rhinos since its establishment in 1957.

The first successful birth of a greater one-horned rhinoceros in an Indian zoo dates back to April 7, 1960, when Geeta, a female from Kaziranga taken into captivity earlier that year, gave birth to Mohan Jr. The second zoo-born calf was delivered in 1963.

But these rhinos were born from mothers already impregnated in the wild.

The first real breakthrough came in July 1963, when a female calf was born as a result of mating between two wild-caught rhinos at the zoo premises. (This was just six years after Switzerland’s Basel Zoo recorded the first ever birth of a captive-bred greater one-horned rhino in a modern zoo.)

Female greater one-horned rhino Pori can be seen mating with Nagshankar, a wild-born male brought to the zoo after he strayed out of Kaziranga National Park. Image by Benil Bori/Assam State Zoo.

Between 1957 and the launch of the captive birth initiative in 2011, India’s National Studbook of One Horned Rhinoceros records 13 births (including two stillbirths) at Assam State Zoo. While some of these animals still live at the zoo, others have been transferred to zoos around the world. And one female, born in 1978 and known as Geeta or Laxmi, made history in 1987 by becoming Assam’s first zoo-born rhino to give birth.

In 1979, the Assam State Zoo sent two rhinos, known as Kancha and Kanchi, to the Patna Zoo, the first rhinos to be hosted at that facility. The Patna Zoo, in turn, marked its first captive birth in 1988, with a calf born to Kanchi and a wild-caught male named Raju.

Despite this track record, India, the primary home range of the greater one-horned rhinoceros, lacked concerted efforts to develop a sustainable captive-breeding program for the species. That changed in December 2011, when the CZA announced the launch of a captive-breeding program for 73 species, the rhino among them. The CZA named Assam State Zoo to lead the rhino breeding program, with Patna Zoo as a coordinating party.

Two rhinos at the Assam State Zoo, which has successfully bred the animals since the 1960s. Image by Manon Verchot/Mongabay.

A national, coordinated captive-breeding program

While Assam State Zoo has managed to breed rhinos in captivity since the 1960s, India’s existing ex-situ breeding efforts and facilities were deemed insufficient to maintain a viable pool of captive rhinos, triggering the formal launch of the special captive-breeding program, according to Bibhab Talukdar, an Assam-based Asian rhino expert.

With the onset of the program, the captive-breeding efforts have become much more streamlined, says Tejas Mariswamy, the director of Assam State Zoo. “We now have off-display enclosures to keep the rhinos free of stress from the contact with visitors, and more staffs attending to them. The record keeping and maintenance have improved. We are better equipped now,” he says.

There are eight rhinos under this program at the zoo. Of these, two females and one male are at prime reproductive age, while the rest are still juveniles being kept for future use in the program.

Gaonburha, a three-and-a-half-year old male rhino, rescued in Kaziranga National Park is kept for future use in the CZA-supported greater one horned rhino captive breeding program in Assam State Zoo. Image by Sumit Das.

A success and a setback

The CZA initiative bore fruit within two years of its launch, rapid progress for a species whose pregnancies last about a year and a half. On May 11, 2013, a female calf named Dolly was born at the Patna Zoo. Then, on Sept. 1, 2013, Baghekhaiti gave birth to a male calf named Sanatan in Assam. The calf was Baghekhaiti’s second offspring, and like its older sibling it was fathered by a male named Bishnu, the first zoo-born male rhino to produce offspring in a zoo in India.

“Baghekhaiti appeared to be restless since morning on that day,” Sharma recalls of the day Baghekhaiti gave birth to Sanatan. “She didn’t eat the stack of hay and grass I’d given to her that she usually loves to munch on. We knew the day was coming, but didn’t expect that it would be that very day. In the evening at 6:43 she gave birth to a male calf … It was an overwhelming moment for us.”

“The birth of Sanatan effectively kicked off the captive breeding program,” Chandan Bora, then the divisional forest officer at Assam State Zoo, tells Mongabay. “That we were able to breed the first calf within less than two years of the launch of the programme was really inspiring.”

Sanatan is now 6 years old and thriving.

Sanatan, a male born in 2013, is the first calf born at the Assam State Zoo as part of the CZA program. Image by Sumit Das.

The zoo is now expecting the birth of it’s second calf under the program — and a first grandchild for Baghekhaiti. Her first calf, Pori, who was born in 2002, was observed last year mating with a wild-born male. “Now she is pregnant and expected to deliver in May next year,” Mariswamy says of Pori.

Patna, meanwhile, has seen the delivery of six calves: three in 2013 (including one that died shortly before turning two), one in 2015 and two in 2017.

In early 2018, however, the captive breeding program suffered a setback when a female calf at the Assam State Zoo sustained injuries from a male that later led to her death. Shanti, a rather small one-and-half-year-old female, shared an enclosure with two other rhinos: another young female named Bagori, and Gaonburha, a 2-year-old male. All of them were brought to the zoo in September 2017 from the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC), based outside Kaziranga National Park.

“On 12 January, 2018, Gaonburha forcibly tried to mount Shanti and in the process injured her backbone and she got several bruises. We saw her grovelling in pain. She was treated with pain-killers and other drugs. Unfortunately she did not recover,” says zoo director Mariswamy, adding that Gaonburha and Bagori were separated immediately after the incident.

While local media reported the incident to be the result of a mating attempt, Arindam Kishore Pachoni, a veterinarian at the zoo, insists that it was an act of non-breeding playful behavior and not a mating attempt. “Mating of rhinos is often a violent and raucous affair. Male rhinos do behave violently with females during mating in the wild. But this wasn’t a case of mating aggression,” he says.

He adds that they’ve been far more careful about putting rhinos together after this incident.

Pori, a rhino born in the zoo in 2002, is now pregnant and expected to deliver in May 2020. Image by Sumit Das.

The infant mortality puzzle

Global efforts at ex-situ breeding of the greater one-horned rhinoceros have also faced another problem: infant mortality.

Despite being shielded from dangers like floods or the tiger attack suffered by Baghekhaiti, captive-born one-horned rhinos have a considerably higher infant mortality rate than their kin in the wild, research shows. While a study reported an infant mortality rate of 11.1 percent for the wild rhino population in Chitwan, Nepal, the infant mortality rate in the captive one-horned rhino population has been recorded to be a steep 20 percent. Two of the 14 calves born at the Assam zoo were stillborn, a mortality rate of around 14 percent.

In a paper published in the Canadian Journal of Zoology, conservation biologists Samuel Zschokke and Bruno Baur offer three possible explanations. First, they say the infant mortality rate in the wild could be underestimated; second, the zoo environment is stressful for both laboring mothers and newborn calves; third, the wild population in Chitwan National Park is likely genetically distinct from the captive rhinos in zoos across the world, most of which are descended from the Kaziranga population.

Intriguingly, Zschokke and Baur found that the infant mortality rate was lower in inbred Indian rhino calves than in non-inbred ones. They observed that inbreeding depression, which has been observed to increase juvenile mortality rates in several other captive mammal populations, does not seem to be a particular concern for greater one-horned rhinos.

Zschokke and Baur also observed that inbreeding in Indian rhinoceros doesn’t appear to influence either gestation period or birth mass, suggesting that “inbreeding avoidance in Indian rhinoceros may not be as important as it is in other species.”

A keeper observes a rhino at the Assam State Zoo. Keepers at the zoo say they do not undergo formalized training, but benefit from decades of personal and institutional experience with the animals. Image by Manon Verchot/Mongabay.

‘Knowing your animals is the key to success’

The core strength of the rhino captive-breeding program at Assam State Zoo, according to Mariswamy, is the strong bond that the keepers share with the rhinos. This, he says, evolves from “deep knowledge derived from keen and consistent observation of the animals as well as long-term association with them.”

The three keepers currently looking after the rhinos at the captive-breeding centre — Govinda Sharma, Anandi Rabha and Umesh Rajbongshi — each have more than two decades of experience in caring for the animals.

“I’ve been looking after rhinos since 1993. Building on my daily lived experience with them for so long, I know how they behave just the way I know how my pet does. I give them care accordingly, drawing on my practical knowledge,” Sharma says.

Mariswamy says while the zoo doesn’t have a formalized training program for its rhino keepers, the institution benefits from its experience of hosting rhinos for more than half a century. “What helps us is the intergenerational knowledge transfer about animal husbandry. The new keepers learn the tricks of the trade working with the seasoned hands. That’s how the knowledge is passed on. Moreover, our vets and biologists regularly update the keepers on the recent scientific knowledge about the animals.”

Though researchers at zoos elsewhere in the world have been experimenting with assisted reproductive technology (ART) in rhino breeding, Assam State Zoo hasn’t yet considered it and instead prefers natural breeding.

“In natural breeding the first critical step is choosing a correct pair,” says senior zoo veterinarian Bijoy Gogoi. “While carrying out the pairings we assess the mating suitability of the animals that takes into consideration various factors such as genetic diversity and kinship difference between the animals to be paired so that inbreeding could be avoided.

“So knowing your animals is, to a large extent, the key to success,” he adds.

“This is why we focus on developing a strong bond between the keepers and the rhinos,” Mariswamy says. “Isn’t it the best possible way to learn about the animals?”

Sumit Das contributed additional reporting to this story.

This article was first posted on mongabay. Read the original article.

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Morning Starter: Sunday, October 20, 2019

Good morning!

Here’s a quick summary of important, ignored and interesting reports from the weekend to kick-start your day:


File: Krishna Bahadur Mahara

Mahara taken to CCU, statement still not recorded

Outgoing Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara, currently under police custody, has been shifted to the Coronary Care Unit (CCU) at Norvic Hospital on Friday. Mahara was shifted to CCU following a sudden rise in his blood pressure, according to doctors attending to Mahara .

Mahara has been facing charges over sexual misconduct. Roshani Shahi, a female employee at Parliament Secretariat, had filed an attempt to rape case against Mahara. However, his statement hasn’t be recorded at the court due to his medical condition.

NC not against law, says Deuba

Nepali Congress (NC) President Sher Bahadur Deuba has clarified that his party was not against legal action on guilty and was for rule of law. Issuing a statement on Saturday, Deuba said he was not against the rule of law and added that NC would support the police in the investigation of suspended lawmaker Mohammad Aftab Alam. On Friday, Deuba was criticised for saying that the government arrested its suspended lawmaker Alam over a political prejudice.

PM Oli spends entire day at Grande Hospital

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli visited Grande International Hospital for health check-up on Saturday. According to sources, Prime Minister underwent various tests and returned back to his residence.

“He had visited the hospital for a follow-up. The reports are yet to come,” said the PM personal doctor Diba Singh Shah.

Earlier, the PM was admitted to Singapore-based National University Hospital twice in August. PM Oli had undergone plasmapheresis after his creatinine level rose.


Four more Biplav cadres arrested

District Police Office, Parbat, has arrested four cadres of the Netra Bikram Chand on Saturday. Police arrested Janga Bahadur Bhandari, Milan Rai, Kaji Gurung, and Mahendra Bhandari. All four had been previously arrested and released on a bail of Rs 5000 upon orders from the district court. However, they were arrested again after failing to post the bail amount.

Province 3 government to invest in Hetauda-Kathmandu tunnel

Province 3 government has that it will invest in the construction of the Hetauda-Kathmandu tunnel. The contract was previously given to a private company, however, the provincial government has said that it will construct the tunnel itself. The Ministry of Physical Infrastructures and Development has said it was going to announce a tender within three months. It is estimated that the projects will complete in three years at the cost of around Rs 12 billion.

The technical preparation on the modality of the tunnel construction has been over. The Bhimphedi to Sisneri tunnel will be 3.5km long.


File: Sher Dhan Rai

SC’s verdict doesn’t affect Province 1: CM Rai

Province 1 Chief Minister Sherdhan Rai said the Supreme Court’s decision to revoke the salaries granted to local representatives didn’t apply to his province. Speaking at a programme held in Dhankuta, he said that they had formulated their provincial laws by duly studying the constitution and proposed facilities rather than salaries for their local representatives. He said that the Supreme Court’s order to revoke salary provision for local representatives didn’t apply to Province 1. The chief minister clarified that the province had formulated all of its laws by following the spirit of the constitution and so they weren’t at odds with the constitution.

Myanmar gifts 30 Buddha idols

Sitagu International Buddhist Academy (SIBA) in Yangon handed Nepal 30 metal idols of the Buddha. SIBA founder Sitagu Sayadaw presented the Buddha idols in different postures to Nepal through President Bidya Devi Bhandari who is presently on the five-day state visit to Myanmar and her delegation which includes Minister for Foreign Affairs Pradeep Kumar Gyawali and Lumbini Development Trust treasurer Suresh Shakya as well.

Chinese actress named tourism goodwill ambassador

Chinese actress Xu Qing has been made the tourism goodwill ambassador for Visit Nepal Year (VNY) 2020 campaign. At a special function in Kathmandu on Saturday, the Chinese actress was made the goodwill ambassador by Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Yogesh Bhattarai.

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[Survey] 56% of Americans Are Overly Optimistic About Their Insurance Coverage

When it comes to auto insurance coverage, American drivers are feeling optimistic. We used Google Surveys to question more than 2,000 drivers across the nation about their confidence in accident coverage and satisfaction with policy prices. 

Key survey takeaways 

  • 56% of drivers believe that their insurance will provide full coverage in an at-fault accident 
  • More female drivers (54%) believe their insurance will provide full coverage in an at-fault accident than male drivers (46%)
  • 50% of drivers believe that their insurance premiums are fairly priced
  • More female drivers (55%) believe their insurance premiums are fairly priced than male drivers (45%)
  • 50% of drivers support laws requiring liability insurance

Drivers overly optimistic about accident coverage

If a driver gets into an accident that is their fault, the majority believe that their auto insurance provides full coverage for any damages that occur. 

Over half of drivers (56%) believe that if they are in a car accident that is their fault, their auto insurance will provide full coverage. 

Of course the amount of coverage depends on your policy, but if you do not carry adequate auto insurance for the level of damages incurred in the accident, experts agree you could be personally liable for the costs. 

Gender gap in auto insurance optimism 

Of those drivers, women are more optimistic than their male counterparts about how much coverage their auto insurance provides in accidents that they cause. 54% of female drivers believe that their auto insurance will provide full coverage, compared to 46% of male drivers with the same belief. 

Optimism increases with age

For drivers surveyed, older drivers are more likely to believe that they will have full coverage in an at-fault accident, compared to younger drivers. 

70% of Americans ages 55-64 think their auto insurance will provide full coverage if they are at fault in an accident, compared to only 45% of Americans ages 18-34. 

Full coverage largely depends on the type of auto insurance policy you select. If you only have minimum liability car insurance, you will only have coverage up to a certain point. To ensure full coverage, it’s best to select an auto insurance policy that goes well beyond the minimum requirements. 

Drivers believe auto insurance premiums are fair

When it comes to the cost of auto insurance, most drivers feel that their auto insurance premiums are equitable.

In fact, 50% of respondents characterized their premiums as fairly priced, compared to 31% of drivers who feel that their premiums are too expensive. 

Female drivers more likely to believe auto insurance is fairly priced

55% of female drivers believe their insurance premiums are fairly priced, compared to 45% of male drivers with the same belief. 

This may be because female drivers are less risky drivers than their male equivalents. In 2017, 73% more male drivers died from speeding-related motor vehicle fatalities than female drivers. The same data also indicates that many more men than women die each year in motor vehicle crashes. Male drivers typically drive more than female drivers and also engage in more risky driving practices, such as not using safety belts, driving while impaired by alcohol and speeding. 

Older drivers more likely to feel insurance prices are fair

Survey results indicate that older drivers are more likely to feel their auto insurance is fairly priced when compared to younger drivers.

56% of drivers ages 55-65+ believe their auto insurance policy price is fair. On the other hand, only 44% of drivers ages 18-34 share the same belief. 

Drivers are spending more on car insurance

According to the most recent data on auto insurance, the nationwide average for auto insurance spending rose 17% from 2007 to 2016.

The positive disposition drivers have towards insurance premiums and auto insurance legislation could impact this willingness to purchase insurance that goes beyond the minimum requirements. 

In 2017, 1% of people with liability insurance had a bodily liability claim, while 4% of those with liability insurance had a property damage liability claim, according to the Insurance Information Institute

With such a low frequency of claims, this could indicate that people are willing to pay more for insurance even if the number of their claims is not increasing. 

Who actually pays in a car crash

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 7% of all car crash costs are paid from public revenues. Federal revenues account for 6% of total crash costs, while state and local municipalities cover just around 3% of the costs involved.

Private insurances pay just about 54% of all motor vehicle crash costs. Individual crash victims pay around 23% of all costs, while third parties (like uninvolved motorists delayed in traffic, charities and health care providers) pay around 16% of total costs. 

Those not directly involved in crashes pay for nearly three-quarters of total crash costs, mainly through insurance premiums, taxes, and travel delay.

While private insurance does provide coverage for accidents you may be involved in, relying on this coverage exclusively may not be enough. 

States with the highest minimum insurance requirements 

It’s a good thing that most drivers support laws requiring liability insurance because most states across the nation mandate some variation of basic coverage. 

The following states represent those with the highest minimum insurance requirements: 

  1. Maine
  2. Maryland
  3. Minnesota
  4. New York
  5. North Carolina 
  6. Texas

In Maine, the minimum auto insurance coverage required for drivers is: 

  • $50,000 bodily injury per person per accident
  • $100,000 bodily injury for all persons per accident
  • $25,000 property damage liability per accident 

For Maryland drivers, the minimum auto insurance requirements for drivers are:

  • $30,000 bodily injury per person per accident
  • $60,000 bodily injury for all persons per accident 
  • $15,000 property damage liability per accident 
  • $30,000 bodily injury per person per accident for uninsured motorists 
  • $60,000 bodily injury for all persons per accident for uninsured motorists 

In Minnesota, the minimum auto insurance coverage required for drivers is:

  • $30,000 bodily injury per person per accident
  • $60,000 bodily injury for all persons per accident
  • $10,000 property damage liability per accident 
  • $25,000 bodily injury per person per accident for uninsured/underinsured motorists
  • $50,000 bodily injury for all persons per accident for uninsured/underinsured motorists 
  • $40,000 personal injury protection 

For New York drivers, the minimum auto insurance requirements are: 

  • $25,000 bodily injury per person per accident
  • $50,000 bodily injury for all persons per accident
  • $10,000 property damage liability per accident 
  • $50,000 liability for death per person
  • $100,000 liability for death per accident
  • $50,000 personal injury protection 
  • $25,000 bodily injury per person per accident for uninsured motorists
  • $50,000 bodily injury for all persons per accident for uninsured motorists  

In North Carolina, the minimum auto insurance coverage required for drivers is:

  • $30,000 bodily injury per person per accident
  • $60,000 bodily injury for all persons per accident
  • $25,000 property damage liability per accident 
  • $30,000 bodily injury per person per accident for uninsured motorists
  • $60,000 bodily injury for all persons per accident for uninsured motorists 
  • $25,000 property damage liability per accident for uninsured motorists 

For drivers in Texas, the minimum auto insurance minimum auto insurance requirements are: 

  • $30,000 bodily injury per person per accident
  • $60,000 bodily injury for all persons per accident
  • $25,000 property damage liability per accident 

Each of the states above set high limits of car insurance coverage in the event of an accident. For example, if you are involved in an accident that results in bodily injury to yourself in the state of Texas, your coverage will provide you with up to $30,000 per accident.

Regions with the most confidence in coverage

The Simple Dollar’s survey also revealed that American’s in the South and Midwest are more likely to believe their insurance will cover them if they are at fault in an accident. The Northeast region, on the other hand, has the most pessimism about insurance coverage in the U.S.

Average price for minimum coverage is lower in high requirement states

For the states with the highest minimum auto insurance requirements, the average policy prices for minimum coverage are: 

  • Maine: $359
  • Maryland: $710
  • Minnesota: $579
  • New York: $812
  • North Carolina: $347
  • Texas: $465

The nationwide average cost for minimum coverage policies is $937. With most of the states listed above (outside of New York and Minnesota) well below the nationwide average.  

Location is critical when it comes to policy rates. Rates differ from state to state because insurance is regulated at the state level. 

These states may have lower average costs for minimum coverage policies because they have more extensive mandatory protection. But, it should be noted that there are other factors at play when it comes to determining auto insurance rates by state. Conditions like property crime rates, weather, and even wildlife may also impact average rates. 

States with the lowest minimum insurance requirements 

New Hampshire stands out as the only state where car insurance is not mandatory. In fact, there are no minimum car insurance requirements in New Hampshire

But, even without minimum requirements, state law requires drivers to pay for any bodily injury or property damage that results from drivers operating vehicles that they own. 

Florida also ranks as one of the states with the lowest minimum insurance requirements. The minimum auto insurance coverage required for Florida drivers is: 

  • $10,000 personal injury protection 
  • $10,000 property damage liability per accident 

In 2017, the average auto liability claim for property damage was $3,638, while the average auto liability claim for bodily injury was $15,270. Comparing these averages to Florida’s minimum liability requirements, we can see that the cost of these claims on average is well outside what’s covered with minimum liability. Florida drivers may find that purchasing additional insurance, outside of the minimum requirements, is the safest bet for insuring themselves on the road. 

Outside of New Hampshire and Florida, Arizona makes the list with its unique insurance requirements. Arizona requires all drivers to show financial responsibility for damages that could arise in an accident. 

This financial responsibility can be either proof of liability insurance or certificate of deposit of $40,000 assigned to the Office of the Arizona State Treasurer. 

For a lot of drivers, it’s simply much easier to acquire liability insurance in place of a certificate of deposit. If a driver does purchase insurance (instead of a certificate of deposit), the minimum auto insurance requirements are: 

  • $15,000 bodily injury per person per accident 
  • $30,000 bodily injury for all persons per accident 
  • $10,000 property damage liability per accident

Average policy prices for minimum coverage higher in low requirement states

For the states with the lowest minimum auto insurance requirements, the average policy prices for minimum coverage are:

  • Michigan: $2,012
  • Florida: $884

When comparing these policy prices to the national average, $937, we see that these rates are significantly above average. These states may have higher policy costs because they do not have as extensive mandatory coverage requirements. 

Most expensive states for auto insurance also have high average insurance expenditures

Looking at the most recent data on car insurance rates by state, we see that the national average for car insurance is around $1,457. 

In terms of the states that top the charts in terms of car insurance costs, it is reported that the top five most expensive car states for car insurance are: 

  • Michigan: $2,611 average cost
  • Louisiana: $2,298 average cost 
  • Florida: $2,219 average cost 
  • Washington D.C.: $1,876 average cost 

When compared to the national average for car insurance, data indicates that: 

  • Michigan is 79% above the national average
  • Louisiana is 58% above the national average
  • Florida is 52% above the national average
  • Washington D.C. is 29% above the national average 

These states also have some of the highest average expenditures for auto insurance when compared to other states. The average expenditures for auto insurance were:

  • Michigan: $1,270.70 average spending
  • Louisiana: $1,302.11 average spending
  • Florida: $1,259.55 average spending
  • Washington D.C.: $1,246.80 average spending 

This indicates that states where it is more expensive to purchase insurance also experience higher auto insurance spending on average. 

When setting insurance policy rates, insurers review a number of factors to set their premiums. Factors like population density, the number of uninsured drivers, and weather are just a few of the things that go into determining the rates of auto insurance from state to state. 

Due to the specific conditions in each state, drivers may elect to spend more on auto insurance to make sure they are protected wherever they drive. 

Least expensive states for auto insurance also have low average insurance expenditures

Data indicates that states where most drivers are insured and reside in more rural areas had the least expensive auto insurance rates and spend less on average when it comes to auto insurance. 

For example, it is reported that the top 5 least expensive states for car insurance are:

  • Maine: $845 average cost 
  • Wisconsin: $951 average cost 
  • Idaho: $1,040 average cost 
  • Iowa: $1,047 average cost 
  • Virginia: $1,063

When compared to the national average for car insurance, data indicates that: 

  • Maine is 42% below the national average 
  • Wisconsin is 35% below the national average
  • Idaho is 29% below the national average
  • Iowa is 28% below the national average 

The states also have some of the lowest average expenditures for auto insurance when compared to other states. The average expenditures for auto insurance were: 

  • Maine: $650.38 average spending
  • Wisconsin: $688.32 average spending
  • Idaho: $599.77 average spending
  • Iowa: $628.10 average spending 


If you’re driving a vehicle, or plan on driving a vehicle, you need insurance. While minimum auto insurance coverage gets the job done, it’s important to parse through all your insurance options to find a policy that fits your unique needs. 

If you are considering a new auto insurance policy in your state, we’ve compiled a list of the best car insurance companies of 2019 for you to find the coverage you need at a fair price. 

The post [Survey] 56% of Americans Are Overly Optimistic About Their Insurance Coverage appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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Books with Impact: A Guide to the Good Life

The “Books with Impact” series takes a deeper look at specific books that have had a profound impact on my financial, professional, and personal growth by extracting specific points of advice from those books and looking at how I’ve applied them in my life with successful results. The previous entry in this series covered Atomic Habits by James Clear.

A few months ago, I wrote a list of my “five books” for financial and life improvement. In that article, I made a nod to a few additional books that I thought would make great supplemental reading for my choices, and A Guide to the Good Life by William Irvine was one of them.

So, what’s A Guide to the Good Life all about? The subtitle really sums it up beautifully: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy. This book draws upon the philosophy of stoicism and puts it in a modern context, aiming to show how the principles of stoicism can help you find inner peace, calmness, and joy without constantly buying new things and luxury experiences. While I believe that many of the original Stoic texts are more powerful, they’re not nearly as approachable to a modern audience; this book, on the other hand, is very applicable today, particularly in a sense of overcoming the struggle with chronic dissatisfaction with modern life. It takes those ancient principles and puts them in a context that works today. Let’s dig in.

The Rise of Stoicism

The first part of the book is the slowest, at least for people who are mostly interested in learning about how stoicism can apply to their lives. It’s 70 pages or so that covers the history of stoicism in ancient times, discussing how it grew and thrived and eventually became the guiding philosophy of one of the Roman Empire’s greatest emperors, Marcus Aurelius. While this opening material is great in a historical context, if you’re mostly just here for how stoicism can impact your life, you can probably skim this section for now and come back to it after you’ve read the rest of the book.

After this comes a bunch of shorter chapters on techniques based on stoicism that can help your life or how to use those techniques to handle specific challenging life situations that many of us will face.

Negative Visualization: What’s the Worst That Can Happen?

Modern life is full of challenges and stress. We’re often expected to provide excellent performance in many different areas of life, often all at once. It’s easy to feel like we’re constantly walking a tightrope, especially when a real challenge comes up.

One technique that stoicism offers to help overcome that stress is that of negative visualization. Rather than visualizing a situation coming out perfectly, you should actually visualize the worst possible outcome (within reason). How do you handle that worst case scenario? Furthermore, is it really all that bad?

Often, what you’ll find is that if you imagine that worst case scenario, you’ll recognize that even if that disastrous outcome happens, it’s really not all that bad, and it’s likely that something better than that will happen. In other words, you might still be walking a tightrope, but rather than being 50 feet in the air without a net, you’re actually more like ten feet in the air with a net. You don’t want to fail, but it’s not really apocalyptic if you do, and that reduces the stress and enables you to actually focus on the task at hand much better.

The Dichotomy of Control: On Becoming Invincible

One key element of stoicism is the idea of a locus of control. There are some things you can control – generally, your emotions, your words, and your personal actions – and many more you can’t control – nature, other people, and so on. Understanding where that line is and realizing that you do actually control the things on your side of that line, like your emotional responses to things, is vitally important.

It’s worth noting that we all have emotional responses to things. We feel things inside of us, powerful things – anger, sadness, frustration. The thing is, we can control how we choose to act on those emotions. We might feel a swell of anger inside of us, but we control how we act in response to that anger. We might feel very sad, but we choose how to act in response to that sadness.

What about things we can somewhat control, like whether we win a tennis match? Focus on the aspects of those things that you can control, like who you’re associating with, how much you practice and how, and so on.

The idea of “becoming invincible” is that you recognize that things outside of your control are just that, outside of your control, but you have full control over how you respond to it. You choose what to feel and you choose how to respond to it.

Fatalism: Letting Go of the Past … and the Present

Many people adopt a fatalistic view of life, one that tells a story in which they are swept along by things outside of their control. People who blame others for many of their problems and seem to accept that either fortunate events or unfortunate ones have entirely shaped their past or will entirely shape their future fall prey to this.

Stoicism seems to value this kind of fatalistic view of the past – you can’t control the past, after all – but opposes it going forward, believing that acting within the areas that you can control influences greatly the impact on your own life of the things outside of your control.

In other words, stoicism says that dwelling on the past is a waste of time beyond merely mining it for lessons on how to live life going forward. You can’t control it, so don’t spend your time or energy on it.

Self-Denial: On Dealing with the Dark Side of Pleasure

This section overlaps a lot with the principles of secular buddhism, which deal directly with the challenge of overcoming desire. Desire is a very powerful emotion which drives us to making very suboptimal decisions.

The stoic perspective on this is to try living for periods as though bad things have happened in our life so that we can appreciate all of the pleasure of a more modest life that we often overlook as it becomes rote and familiar. Spend three months without Netflix and it feels like an overwhelming smorgasbord of viewing options. Spend a month without spending a dime on anything unnecessary and suddenly buying a small treat seems like an extreme pleasure.

I often do 30 day and 90 day challenges that center around self-denial of some particular thing that I enjoy and desire but isn’t wholly good for me, just so I can re-learn how to appreciate it in moderate amounts and not be driven by desire into a state of gluttony. It’s easy – try it with things like drinking soda or drinking beer or eating sugar or drinking coffee or going shopping at a particular store, or even more extreme actions like spending 90 days without buying anything unnecessary.

Meditation: Watching Ourself Practice Stoicism

To be clear, the meditation that stoics prescribe is a lot different than the “emptying the mind” type of meditation that often comes from Buddhist traditions. Rather, stoic meditation is simply a reflection of the day’s events, an “after action report” in which you reflect on some of the choices you made throughout the day and consider whether you followed the right course of action or could have done them better.

The goal here isn’t to beat yourself up, but rather to guide yourself toward better practices going forward. You shouldn’t feel bad for making a mistake, but rather view it as an opportunity to see firsthand what the wrong move is so that you don’t make it again.

If there’s any principle I’ve really pulled from stoicism, it’s this one. I spend a surprising amount of mental free time (like when I’m driving a child to soccer practice or something like that) doing this kind of “after action” reflection, where I recall a situation where I’m not sure I did the right thing, tease it around in my mind a little, decide with more reflection what the right thing would have been, and visualize myself doing the right thing when a similar situation comes up.

Duty: On Loving Mankind

Marcus Aurelius often had negative thoughts toward his fellow people, as do many of us. For him, one of the major struggles in life was to figure out how he could interact in a society with people who he didn’t like, that in many cases he felt were bad people. He largely felt that humans were bad people with poor behavior and not to be trusted. Yet he is widely regarded as one of the best emperors of Rome and ruled during a period of peace and prosperity.

He was able to balance that because he was able to separate his duty not just as emperor but as a person from his feelings toward others. His belief, and it’s one shared as a general stoic principle, is that we’re all born with a certain skill and a duty to perform and that following such duty is the key to happiness.

I tend to translate this into modern living as a twofold recommendation for life. If you aim to live life as a good person as much as possible (your duty as a member of society) and put genuine work and effort into doing the things you’re skilled at, you’ll find the closest thing to genuine happiness there is in this world. For me, I view the former as being the good feeling you get when you do good things, and the latter as the good feeling you get when you’re in a “flow state,” where you’re deeply engaged at applying your skills to create or fix or make something. (Note that neither of those elements involves buying stuff or spending money.) That’s a stoic ideal of living, and it does create a pretty good life.

Social Relations: On Dealing with Other People

The advice here is straightforward. Try your best to associate with people that share your true values. However, doing that all the time is impossible, so when you’re dealing with people who do not share your true values, try to avoid actions or other things that go against those values and look for areas of commonality where you do share values.

I like to think of this in terms of family sitting around the Thanksgiving table. You are going to have some values in common with those people and some values not in common. In those situations, try to aim for the values you do have in common – the things you both genuinely care about – and avoid the values you don’t have in common.

In terms of broader social settings, engage with lots of people, but develop deeper relationships with people with whom you have a significant number of values in common. When you do that, it’s much easier to live by the values you hold true.

This is even true in the workplace. You should aim to find work and find tasks within your work that are in line with your values as much as you can.

Insults: On Putting Up with Putdowns

Insults and slights are a part of life. They can hurt. They can stir anger. They can bring about sadness. How does one avoid the emotional response and the disruption of tranquility that they can bring?

Stoics offer a great deal of advice for taking the sting out. Is it true? If so, there’s nothing to be upset about. Is it coming from a dubious source? If so, don’t be bothered by the words of a dodgy person. Is the person misinformed? Just correct that person if the insult is inaccurate.

How do you handle the insult, though? If you’re quick-witted, respond with humor. If you’re not that quick-witted, just ignore it and go about your business, because the person firing insults mostly just wants to see your response. If it becomes a persistent problem for some reason, ask for advice from others as to how to handle that specific situation.

This is advice that I’ve given my children many times for dealing with playground bullies and it works well with adults, too.

Grief: On Vanquishing Tears with Reason

All of us feel grief at some point in their lives, often at the loss of a loved one. It hurts – there’s no getting around it.

The stoic advice on dealing with grief is to actively engage in negative visualization (discussed above) in advance, so that the sting isn’t as intense. You’ll inherently know that life will go on and that things will be okay. Furthermore, such negative visualization often leads to saying the things that you want to say now rather than later, when it might be too late, and thus there are no regrets to add to the grief.

It’s in situations like these, however, that stoicism gains its modern reputation. Stoicism leans heavily into addressing your emotions within and not acting upon them, which often results in being outwardly calm during moments where others might express emotional distress. When you’re the only person not crying at a funeral, it can seem cold and off-putting. The middle road seems to be to express such emotion when it fits the situation, but to evaluate it internally when outside the situation. Cry at the funeral, but process it internally afterwards.

This does somewhat fly in the face of many modern ideas of being more open with one’s emotions, but it’s an issue that Irvine gets back to later in the book.

Anger: On Overcoming Anti-Joy

What should you do when you feel anger? Stoics often identify anger, not sadness, as the antithesis of joyful living, as anger is even more effective at destroying tranquility. How can it be handled?

Stoicism offers a bunch of tools to help you avoid an angry outburst. Remind yourself that most things that make you angry do no actual harm, or consider that humor is a much better response to the situation.

If you do find anger bubbling up regularly, spend some time when not angry reflecting on the fact that acting on anger almost never does you any good and doesn’t do anything good for the people around you. If you still do act out, apologize genuinely with the blame going directly to yourself.

Personal Values: On Seeking Fame

The stoic advice for people seeking fame is very simple. Don’t worry about what others think of you. Instead, live according to your own values and if others find that admirable, fame will come naturally. It’s when you bend your own values and do things in accordance to what you think will bring you acclaim that internal tranquility is disrupted.

If you want to be famous, live life according to values that bring you peace, work to build skills that others will value, and treat others in a way according to your values. Sticking with that will eventually bring renown.

It’s much like happiness itself: if you aim for that and seek that, it’s elusive and you’ll never have it for more than a moment. Rather, don’t seek it and merely live a life that cultivates fertile soil for it to grow.

Personal Values: On Luxurious Living

Modern thinking often links stoicism to minimalist living and self-denial, which is true, but it misses the point. The purpose of minimalist living and self-denial, as discussed above, is so that you can adequately and deeply appreciate the good things in life.

In other words, someone following stoic ideals doesn’t have to inherently avoid luxury. Rather, what they seek to do is to put themselves in a mindset to truly appreciate luxury.

If you live next door to the best coffee shop in the world, you might think that’s great and you’ll go there every day, but before long… that coffee is ordinary. Stoics would instead encourage you to drink ordinary coffee every day and then go to the amazing coffee shop only on occasion, so you can appreciate that wonderful coffee rather than having it be relegated to the ordinary.

This, of course, also saves you a lot of money along the way to happiness.

Exile: On Surviving a Change of Pace

What about when there’s a rapid change in your life? How do you handle a sudden job loss, a sudden move, a sudden change in your personal relationships?

The key thing to remember is this: your happiness should revolve around your values, not in where you reside or what your surroundings happen to be like at a given moment. Yes, a rapid change can have an impact on your opportunities and choices, but they have no reason to change the values under which you operate, and if those values are solid, keep on trucking.

The truth is that unexpected events do happen, but they are outside of our control. They only can disrupt us if we allow those unexpected events to cause us to act against our values or cause us to abandon our values.

Old Age: On Being Banished to a Nursing HomeDying: On a Good End to a Good Life

A major part of stoicism is contemplation of one’s death and asking yourself if you’ve really lived a life well lived. While one might see that as a form of preparation for death, the real reason for such reflection is to ensure that you’ve lived a life well lived.

If you continue that train of thought, the conclusion becomes clear: if you live a life well lived, then death isn’t a great tragedy. You have already given much to the world and enjoyed much. What else is really left other than decline? To know you lived a life in accordance with your values up to the last moment is the best balm against the sting of death.

It still remains a fear – how could it not – but it’s a reasonable answer.

On Becoming a Stoic: Start Now and Prepare To Be Mocked

Practicing stoicism takes effort. Many of the practices – negative visualization, reflection on your day, control over one’s response to emotion – aren’t easy. Furthermore, proclaiming you’re a stoic is often going to get you some odd looks.

So, what should one do if this philosophy is appealing? Start practicing it anyway and keep the fact that you’re practicing it to yourself. Aim to live a virtuous life. Practice negative visualization and consider worst case scenarios so that you recognize life isn’t so bad after all. Reflect on your days. Practice some degree of self-denial so that you can truly appreciate the good things. Most of all, keep quiet about it and don’t wear it as a badge; share it if people wish to know, but don’t shout it from the rooftops.

It’s surprising how well all of this integrates into modern life, really.

The Decline of Stoicism

So, why did stoicism decline? What made it fall out of favor in the later years of the Roman Empire?

The big reason is that stoicism is hard to practice in a truly corrupt society, and that’s what Rome became after the death of Marcus Aurelius. If you can’t find people around you with which you share values, it’s easy to simply not have values at all or to watch the ones you do have degrade into nothingness.

Another reason is that stoicism doesn’t really promise anything beyond a more content life. It doesn’t promise an afterlife or anything metaphysical. It’s about living a good life here, even amidst troubling times. It doesn’t offer a promise of another plane of existence, something which is attractive to many.

The pieces of stoicism that people did recall tended to lead to a view of stoicism as grim and unfeeling. It encouraged people to not act out in anger or to make choices in a strong emotional moment, and when acting upon emotion is the norm, stoicism can seem strange.

Stoicism Reconsidered

The thing is, these criticisms were more relevant in the intervening period between ancient Rome and today than they are today.

In today’s world, there is often more harm than good that comes out of acting out in anger or with strong emotion. A purely emotional response to something like road rage or to someone’s internet postings isn’t going to do you or anyone else any good.

In today’s world, people often feel unhappy with their life here on Earth and want to know how to make their life here on Earth better, something that stoicism directly addresses. People want their lives to be good, rather than merely a struggle towards some promised afterlife.

Furthermore, today’s world is in many ways less corrupt than ancient Rome. While there is still great corruption, we live in a world that is relatively peaceful and relatively virtuous in comparison to the fall of Rome. It is easier to find like-minded good people out there with which we share values.

Stoicism is actually quite a good fit for a philosophy for living modern life.

Practicing Stoicism

How can you start practicing it? Irvine offers a few specific suggestions.

First, start quiet. Don’t shout out that you’re a stoic. Instead, start practicing and reflecting without talking openly about it.

Second, start with just one practice, then add more later. Start off with a practice of self-reflection, for example. Practice negative visualization. Start a simple thirty day challenge to recharge your appreciation of something.

Try to simplify your lifestyle a bit. We’re primed to react with emotion and instinct when we’re overwhelmed. Look for pieces of your life that can be pared down a little so you have time to breathe and reflect.

Consider what your values are and what you consider to be a great life, then try to live in accordance with those values. What are the values of what you consider to be a great person? Try to live by them.

Further Reading

A Guide to the Good Life is just one of several books that do a wonderful job of putting stoicism’s principles in a modern context. Here are a few others that are excellent, too, and why and how they differentiate themselves from A Guide to the Good Life.

The Stoic Challenge: A Philosopher’s Guide to Becoming Tougher, Calmer, and More Resilient by William Irvine is a sort-of sequel to A Guide to the Good Life. It’s a new release and I’m actually reading it for the first time as I write this review of Irvine’s earlier book. It very much feels like a complement or sequel, and it’s definitely a worthwhile follow-up read that address a lot of specific modern issues that aren’t dealt with in the earlier book.

A Handbook for New Stoics by Massimo Pigliucci and Gregory Lopez is something of a “workbook” for people interested in stoicism, offering 52 week-long exercises to delve into this philosophy of living.

How to Be a Stoic by Massimo Pigliucci is just as good of an introduction to stoicism in the modern life as A Guide to the Good Life, but it just happened to be the one I read a little later. My general feeling is that A Guide to the Good Life handles specific life issues better with the individual chapters on specific life problems, while How to Be a Stoic seems to offer more general-purpose strategies.

The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday offers a daily reading from an ancient Greek or Roman text on a stoic issue, along with an application to modern life by Holiday. This book will feel wonderfully familiar to anyone who’s ever read a yearlong devotional. Holiday’s other books, The Ego Is the Enemy and The Obstacle Is the Way, are also worthwhile; while not quite strictly about stoicism, the books do draw in a lot of stoic ideas when discussing how to handle specific challenges of modern life.

I would also strongly encourage you to read some of the original works of Stoicism, translated from ancient Latin and Greek. Here are three key ones worth reading.

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius is essentially excerpts from the personal journals of the Roman emperor, offering a lot of insight as to how he used stoic ideas to help him not only be a better governor, but be a better and more virtuous person. This is probably the single most powerful work on stoicism around, because it’s so personal.

Letters from a Stoic by Seneca are a series of letters he wrote in his retirement to a younger Roman official, outlining much of what he had learned about good living and death. The letters cover a lot of detail about applying stoicism to life.

Discourses and Selected Writings by Epictetus is a large collection of writings by the philosopher perhaps most responsible for stoicism’s growth; while Seneca was a wealthy advisor and Marcus Aurelius was a Roman emperor, Epictetus started off as a slave and eventually became a freedman who taught what he had learned in a small school in Greece. This book is a collection of transcriptions of many of his lectures; while some are a bit dry, there are moments of absolute brilliance on almost every page.

One of my themes/goals for next year is to do a deep study of several philosophies of living, and most of these books are on my reading list for the year for a first read or a re-read.

Final Thoughts

Over the last few years, I’ve struggled with a few central questions in my life. How do I overcome bad emotional responses to the world around me? How do I overcome desire? How do I feel contentment and joy without expending my life’s resources? What does it mean to be a good person, and how can I do that? What kind of mark am I leaving on the world?

All of those questions absolutely have a financial component to them, but they’re far from just financial questions, either. They each drive to a core part of the entire human experience, cutting across all spheres of life.

For me, stoicism has been the answer to the question of how I can overcome bad emotional responses to the world around me, and has provided some secondary help to most of the other questions. A Guide to the Good Life was really my introduction to stoicism and, for many people, would be my recommended introduction to the ideas.

Many people identify the word “stoic” with someone who rarely shows emotion. Rather, I think it’s just a guide to a healthy way of processing that emotion, one that doesn’t result in damaging outward action. I find that stoicism, through the ideas in this book and others, has helped me greatly in figuring out how to better process my emotions in the moment so that I don’t react in a foolish way – spending money on something I don’t need, for example, or having some kind of emotionally-driven outburst.

Good luck!

The post Books with Impact: A Guide to the Good Life appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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