Things To Read - Five Interesting Articles From Around the Web (on the fall of neighborhoods, destructive tweets, food safety, fairness, & internet trailblazing)

1. (The Fall of Neighborhoods) - Would You Call 911 on Another Parent? - "The real issue? We can’t rely on our neighbors to help look out for our kids, and that’s why our neighborhoods don’t feel safe enough. When you let a 10- and 6-year-old walk home on their own, it feels scary because they’re fully responsible for their own safety. What’s missing is the sense that we’re all responsible for everyone’s children.

. . . .

I understand that the reasons for this are vast, starting with the disappearance of the front porch and ending with the disconnectedness of the Internet. These structural shifts can seem too big to push against on our own.

But here are some simple things we can each do:

We can invite a next-door neighbor over for dinner.

We can make a point of attending neighborhood events, such as farmers markets or park dedications or festivals.

We can make an effort to chat with other parents when we pick up our kids from daycare or school.

We can walk instead of drive, so that we see our neighbors and have a chance of talking to them.

We can teach our children that if they’re alone and feeling scared, they can seek out a woman with children and ask for help. Teach them not to fear all strangers.

We can tie the shoe of someone else’s kid at the playground, or reach out a hand when someone else’s kid wants to get down from the playground ladder. We can ask a parent who’s juggling too much stuff: “Please let me carry that for you.” We can accept offers of help instead of demurring. These small things say “We’re in this together” when every message around us says “It’s all on you.”

2. (Destructive Tweets) - How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life - “I cried out my body weight in the first 24 hours,” she told me. “It was incredibly traumatic. You don’t sleep. You wake up in the middle of the night forgetting where you are.” She released an apology statement and cut short her vacation. Workers were threatening to strike at the hotels she had booked if she showed up. She was told no one could guarantee her safety."

3. (Food Safety) - Why Last Night's Chicken Made You Sick - "Identifying the cause of an outbreak is much simpler than trying to stop one. Once officials have traced the contamination to a food producer, the responsibility to curb the problem falls to the U.S.D.A.’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, or F.S.I.S. In the summer of 2013, as the outbreak spread, F.S.I.S. officials shared the C.D.C.’s conclusion that Foster Farms meat was behind the outbreak, but they had no power to force a recall of the tainted chicken. Federal law permits a certain level of salmonella contamination in raw meat. But when federal limits are breached, and officials believe that a recall is necessary, their only option is to ask the producer to remove the product voluntarily. Even then, officials may only request a recall when they have proof that the meat is already making customers sick. As evidence, the F.S.I.S. typically must find a genetic match between the salmonella in a victim’s body and the salmonella in a package of meat that is still in the victim’s possession, with its label still attached. If the patient has already eaten the meat, discarded the package, or removed the label, the link becomes difficult to make, and officials can’t request a voluntary recall."
. . . .

Some products, such as cut-up chicken parts, have no performance standard at all. A hundred per cent of the product in supermarkets may be contaminated without running afoul of federal limits. Rangan told me that she was stunned when she discovered this, just recently: “We’ve asked the U.S.D.A. point blank, ‘So does that mean there aren’t standards for lamb chops and pork ribs?’ And they said, ‘Yeah, we don’t have standards for those.’

4. (Fairness) - Believing that Life is Fair May Make You a Terrible Person - "The world, obviously, is a manifestly unjust place: people are always meeting fates they didn’t deserve, or not receiving rewards they did deserve for hard work or virtuous behaviour. Yet several decades of research have established that our need to believe otherwise runs deep. Faced with evidence of injustice, we’ll certainly try to alleviate it if we can – but, if we feel powerless to make things right, we’ll do the next best thing, psychologically speaking: we’ll convince ourselves that the world isn’t so unjust after all.

Hence the finding, in a 2009 study, that Holocaust memorials can increase antisemitism. Confronted with an atrocity they otherwise can’t explain, people become slightly more likely, on average, to believe that the victims must have brought it on themselves."

5. (Internet Trailblazing) - How Your Travels Around the Internet Expose the Way You Think - "Trailblazer gave me an x-ray view of my own mental activity. Clicking on random memes triggered a curious search query and—boom—20 pages later I’d find a useful scientific paper. (I’m now more forgiving of falling down a Twitter hole.) Traditional academic citations never capture serendipity, the stumbling, associational nature of how knowledge relates to itself. Trailblazer does.

Imagine if trail sharing became routine. Reporters could enrich their stories by showing how they came to their conclusions. You could send funny or jokey pathways, like cognitive emoji. Trails are like Proustian cookies, teleporting us back to mental states from weeks ago. Vannevar Bush was right: The journey is a destination."

1 comment:

  1. on #1, I can't agree more. Just a few weeks ago an acquaintance we were carpooling with to basketball went above and beyond and helped me out on several occassions. When I said, "I owe you!" she said "nope..it takes a village"..we all need to recognize that more!!!



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