Things to Read - Six Interesting Articles From Around the Web - On Junk Food, Mean Girls, Cyber-Bullying, Princess Culture, Over-Prescribed Antibiotics, and Facebook Updates

1. (Junk Food) - The New York Times Magazine published a fascinating article on the The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food, where industry scientists dished on creating the foods we can't stop eating, "complex formulas that pique the taste buds enough to be alluring but don’t have a distinct, overriding single flavor that tells the brain to stop eating."

"The prevailing attitude among the company’s food managers — through the 1990s, at least, before obesity became a more pressing concern — was one of supply and demand. “People could point to these things and say, ‘They’ve got too much sugar, they’ve got too much salt,’ ” Bible said. “Well, that’s what the consumer wants, and we’re not putting a gun to their head to eat it. That’s what they want. If we give them less, they’ll buy less, and the competitor will get our market. So you’re sort of trapped.” (Bible would later press Kraft to reconsider its reliance on salt, sugar and fat.)"


2. (Mean Girls) - Carly Pifer wrote an article for Slate documenting her own experiences as a high school mean girl, which seemed more awful than anything Hollywood could conjure up.

"We were most devastating when we operated as a pack against one of our own. Fighting among teenage friends is normal, of course, but our fights were a bit more ritualistic than they needed to be. If, for instance, one girl managed to lure the entire group to her side against another girl, we all ganged up on that poor loser in a ritual we called “Circle.” Seriously, we named it Circle. We formed a perfect globe around the offending Magnificent and shouted off reasons we didn’t want to be her friend or why she wasn’t worthy of being ours. Of course, some of those reasons were fair—we were all mean girls, after all, and terrible to each other—but we were merciless by any standard, enclosing her tightly before we expelled her for good. (We actually started as a much larger group, but through Circle and other similarly lovely activities, we whittled ourselves down to seven by yearbook time.)

One particular night at a friend’s unsupervised home, a Circled girl became hysterical and had to be retrieved by her mother. But the following Monday at lunch, the ritual continued. Our former friend knew she could no longer sit with us at our designated spot (smack in the middle of a common walkway, which forced peers and even teachers to alter their paths). So she settled on a distant corner by herself, and I took out my disposable camera—which I always had on hand—and took a picture of her. I still have it."


3. (Cyber-Bullying) - The Atlantic has a great piece on behind-the-scenes attempts at social networking sites to fight cyber-bullying, in particular, trying to stop the conduct before it occurs. At least one computer scientist is researching a "ladders of reflection" approach" - "Think about the kid who posted “Because he’s a fag! ROTFL [rolling on the floor laughing]!!!” What if, when he pushed the button to submit, a box popped up saying “Waiting 60 seconds to post,” next to another box that read “I don’t want to post” and offered a big X to click on? Or what if the message read “That sounds harsh! Are you sure you want to send that?” Or what if it simply reminded the poster that his comment was about to go to thousands of people?"


4. (Boys and Princesses) - Huff Post Parents published a short, well-written article on the difficulties of raising a son in a girl power society.

"Let me be clear -- I absolutely know that there is a need to make sure that girls and women know that what is between their legs should not limit them to achieve anything that their heart is guiding them towards.

But here is what I sadly realized: Within modern girl power, there seems to be a message that girls are better than boys. Boys are BAD. Boys are MEAN. Boys are silly, weak, stupid, clueless, rough.

There are also a lot of double standards when it comes to proclaiming, "girls can do anything!" I have seen parents celebrate that their daughters play with trucks or pick out boxers as underpants. Look! See! Nothing holding this girl back!

This sort of celebration does not happen when a boy picks up a doll or Dora undies.

The modern princess culture seems to be that you can wear a pink dress and still climb a tree. You can love to dance and twirl and still play baseball. You can wear a crown and overalls. I think this message is fine. And I agree with it. Kids -- you can do it all!

Except the point isn't "kids, you can do it all," it is GIRLS can."


5. (Antibiotics)
- This Is Not An Ear Infection is a must-read about the over prescription of antibiotics.

"In a 2010 study, Boston University researchers surveyed 300 pediatricians and found that 85 percent of the time, when infections were minor, doctors ignored the AAP’s guidelines and prescribed drugs. Most of the doctors said they thought that the guidelines made good sense, but they felt pressured by parents to give out drugs anyway. This reckless overuse of antibiotics isn’t just expensive; it is believed to drive antibiotic resistance, too. In 2007, scientists at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified a new form of Streptococcus pneumoniae called 19A that causes childhood ear infections and is resistant to every FDA-approved antibiotic. Now that’s a bug you don’t want your child to get."


6. (Facebook Updates) - Now THIS is interesting - "According to a new study, we are one and a half times more likely to remember [Facebook postings] than any other form of written language. In fact, we remember the random online blathering of friends and family two and a half times more consistently than we remember faces. These are the unequivocal findings of “Major Memory in Microblogs,” a new study from the University of California, San Diego, and the University of Warwick.

“It’s not that you can remember the Facebook posts a little better--you can remember them a lot better,” says study co-author Dr. Laura Mickes, who calls the findings “jaw-dropping.”

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