Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Recent Media Goodness

Sometimes the stories pile up faster than I can post them, and I have to resort to a list. So here goes:

Crazy clock that looks like it shows ages instead of timeNPR's Robert Krulwich on why we perceive time to be speeding up as we get older. I've been somewhat obsessed with this phenomenon since I noticed time changing when I was 10 or 11. The reasons are pretty much what I suspected, but the story was interesting anyway.

The Economist reporting on linguistic research that shows the more widespread a language is, the simpler it becomes grammatically. "Linguists have long known...that 'simple' people with primitive technologies do not speak simple languages. By the definitions used here, the native languages of North America and South America are the most complicated in the world, while Europe’s are the simplest."

Dan Gunderman, writing on Network for Good's blog, about six words nonprofit organizations should avoid. He nailed some of the verbal stumbles (such as writing "website" as "Web site" or using the vague term "capacity building"), but left out one of my least favorite nonprofit terms: "community engagement."

Radio tower on a red background, looking  menacingA BoingBoing story (by Cory Doctorow) about people in a South African neighborhood who believe they suffer extreme physical effects from a nearby radio tower, and are suing to get rid of the tower. This despite the fact that (wait for it...) the tower was not in use for six weeks of the time they say they were suffering from its use. The placebo effect giveth and sometimes it taketh away.

A story (which I haven't seen reprinted anywhere) reporting on a study that found rats exposed to the air around Southern California's heavily trafficked freeways showed precancerous changes in their brains within just three months. It sounds like completely legitimate, if preliminary, research, carried out by a neurosurgeon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Kids playing on a playgroundTwo New York Times stories related to recess for school children: one about its importance to development and concentration, and another about its timing: having kids each lunch after recess resulted in less food waste, higher consumption of milk, vegetables and fruits, and improved behavior. In the school that made the change and analyzed the outcome, the nurse saw a 40 percent decrease in visits in the afternoon, too -- fewer headaches from not eating enough, and fewer stomach aches. It even resulted in more instructional time because the kids got a cool-down period while they were eating and were ready to go back to class right away.


elena said...

Thanks for collecting an array of fascinating stories. A couple of schools in the town where I live made the recess-before-lunch switch, to dramatic positive effect.

David Steinlicht said...

About Dan Gunderman posting: Guess I'm going to have to stop using "Web site." Yes, I knew "Web site" was a little quaint when I was using it back in 2000. But I guess it's gone past "quaint" and into "old fashioned."

Blythe said...

My husband (aka the Healthy Skeptic) just wrote a column on the "dangers" of cel phones and Wi-Fi. I wish I'd read this before he filed it.

Nocebo should be a household word.