Thursday, August 10, 2017

Ideas, Action, and Inspiration for a Better Tomorrow - August 10 Edition

Infrastructure, Public Policy

"“When it comes to upgrading the nation’s infrastructure, Gad Allon, Wharton professor of operations, information and decisions, says that strategic emphasis should be placed on the nation’s major airports and high-speed trains. But he also believes that it is important for long-range prosperity and competitiveness to make sure that every person in the U.S. has access to high-speed internet, ideally fiber optic. “Only a fraction of the U.S. has LTE [wireless coverage]; most people have 4G. When people come from [South] Korea to the U.S., they cannot bear the speed here, so they stop connecting to the internet while they are here. This is, for me, first order.”

Allon argues that the impact of such an internet upgrade would be transformative because many people in geographically remote regions in the U.S. have “the feeling of being left behind” in the social and political narrative about progress and modernity. The technology gap further deepens other social and political rifts between economically deprived regions and those regions that have advanced infrastructure of all sorts. Bridging that gap would allow a much larger portion of the populace to enjoy “more and more educational resources that are online,” including those provided by Coursera, Udacity and Kahn Academy. Innovation would be positively impacted as well: Access to the internet “makes it easier for people to start and manage their own businesses,” he notes.”"

Maternity Care, Heroes, Inspiration

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: It was a pretty typical day at the Edna Adan Hospital. Three babies had just been born, a half-dozen high-risk women were in labor, several others were being treated for life-threatening illnesses, and at the center of it all, the hospital’s founder and namesake, Edna Adan.

EDNA ADAN, Founder, Edna Adan University Hospital: These are the kind of women I built the hospital for anyway, anemic, a woman who has had previous complications, a woman who has a scar, a woman who has lost babies before.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: What is especially remarkable is where this is all taking place, in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, an enclave that declared its independence three decades ago from the war-torn Somalia, but is not recognized by the rest of the world.

The region suffers from some of the world’s highest rates of infant and maternal mortality. Adan was born here 79 years ago, the daughter of a prominent physician. At 17, she won a scholarship to study in England, becoming a midwife. She returned to Somalia, marrying a politician who would become prime minister. She’s seen with him here and next to President Lyndon Johnson at a White House reception.

She fled Somalia’s civil war in the 1980s. When Edna Adan returned to her native Hargeisa, the city lay in ruin from years of war. She was given a plot of land that had been used as a burial ground and on it laid the foundation for rebuilding the city’s health care system.

Visit Edna Adan Hospital to support her work.

World, Women, Rape

"Many countries are moving to repeal long-established laws that allow rapists to escape punishment if they marry their victims.

A handful of places have recently repealed these laws, including Tunisia, Morocco and, just last week, Jordan.

But these laws are still on the books in countries as far apart as the Philippines, Lebanon and Tajikistan. Purna Sen, policy director for UN Women, tells NPR's Ari Shapiro these laws were enacted in order to normalize illicit sexual contact by categorizing this conduct as part of the institution of marriage.

These laws enable societies to make sexual relations more respectable, as it is often considered problematic in some cultures, Sen said. The penal codes in these countries do not approach rape as violence or abuse, but focus more on the idea that sexual contact occurred outside of marriage."

Workplace, Wellness, Productivity

"There are two ways to hang toilet paper: 1) over (with the loose end draped over the top) and 2) under (with the loose end hanging inside next to the wall). Most offices hang it "over" but I've been in many restrooms where it's been hung "under."

The over/under issue is surprisingly controversial and was allegedly the topic that generated the most letters to Dear Abby on a single subject. I'm here today to remove that controversy forever.

According to science, the correct way to hang toilet paper is "over." Why? Because "under" vastly increases the possibility that food-poisoning bacteria will spread from the restroom to the rest of the workplace."

Urban Spaces, Conservation

"Urban development hasn’t always accommodated birds. Window collisions due to reflective glass and bright lights have hurt migrating bird populations wherever there are skyscrapers, with the American Bird Conservancy estimating that each year, up to a billion birds die via collisions in the U.S. alone.

An overnight storm this past March left 395 warblers and orioles dead outside the 23-story One Moody Plaza in Galveston, Texas. The skyscraper is among the tallest in the area, and while it’s not wrapped in bird-unfriendly, floor-to-ceiling glass, a combination of lightning, building lights, and corner windows still disoriented the migrating birds into colliding with the structure.

However, when ecology and engineering unite, city roofs can become bird-roosting and bird-watching havens. Take New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. New York City Audubon once ranked this I. M. Pei-designed fusion of glass and steel among the top three bird-killing buildings in the area. But since its 2009 renovation by FXFOWLE Architects, retrofitted low-reflectivity glass has reduced collisions by 90 percent. The new windows feature dot patterns visible to birds from the air, and a 6.75-acre green roof tops off the overhaul, ensuring that it not only kills fewer passing birds, but also feeds and shelters growing numbers."

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