My Favorite Bit this week was about the creation of “superblocks” in Barcelona as a way to reclaim city streets for pedestrians. The idea is to create a “nine-square-block mini village” where the streets are reserved for local traffic with slow speed limits of under 10mph. By routing traffic to the peripheral roads pedestrians can walk freely in the streets and the space can be used for human-centered activities like festivals, markets, cafes, and children playing.
New Health research is frequently identifying inflammation as “a major factor in the development of depression, dementia, and other brain disorders” and another study points to the benefits of the “mediterranean diet” (which is fish- and poultry-heavy with an emphasis on whole grains, fruits, olive oil, vegetables, and moderate alcohol intake) in decreasing inflammatory markers and improving visuospatial cognition. Other researchers taking a look at why fiber is good for you have identified the role it plays in feeding your body’s baterterial ecosystem (i.e. microbiome) and ensuring a proper balance of specific bacteria within your body. A new theory on maintaining good health points to the fact that our human instinct to seek “comfort has made us fat, lazy, and increasingly in ill health” and that subjecting ourselves to harsh environments can stimulate “environmental and physical oscillations that invigorate our nervous systems.”
Modern society is designed for people who wake up early and both subtly and overtly discriminates against people who are biologically predisposed to wake up late. Other Social Science research has led to “the first brain-mapping study linking lesions to a higher propensity of criminal acts” investigating the idea of “acquired sociopathy” that results from brain injuries.
Government regulation is a crucial component of ensuring that workplaces are safe for employees and maintain a minimum quality of production and service for customers. Many U.S. state governments use a form of occupational licensing to enforce these protections; however, excessive licensing on jobs like florists and home-entertainment installers has increased the cost of finding a new job in a way that serves to pad the government’s coffers with licensing fees and protect existing job holders from competition without meaningfully improving public safety. Economic researchers took a look at some of the causes of the 11.4 million U.S. jobs that disappeared between 1999 and 2016 and found that trade with China and “the rise of robots” were significant contributing factors while “popular scapegoats, such as immigration, food stamps and Obamacare, did not even move the needle.”
Finishing off your week in review is a Hodgepodge of articles that take a look at the difference between how men and women define bad sex (generally, for men, it’s not having an orgasm, and for women, it’s painful), Donald Trump’s key insight that American conservatism is about the feeling of loss (even if that loss is “a landed estate or the privileges of white skin, the unquestioned authority of a husband or the untrammeled rights of a factory owner”), the truth about Poland’s role in the Holocaust, how a German man (whose family sought asylum from Turkey when he was a child) started a hotline for Germans fearful of non-white immigration to call and talk through their feelings with him, and the illegal military detention of a U.S. citizen abroad.
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Have a great rest of your week!