Monday, October 23, 2017

Ideas, Actions, and Inspiration for a Better Tomorrow - October 23 Edition

Inspiration, Invention, Problem-Solving, Kids

“When the drinking water in Flint, Mich., became contaminated with lead, causing a major public health crisis, 11-year-old Gitanjali Rao took notice.

"I had been following the Flint, Michigan, issue for about two years," the seventh-grader told ABC News. "I was appalled by the number of people affected by lead contamination in water."

She saw her parents testing the water in their own home in Lone Tree, Colo., and was unimpressed by the options, which can be slow, unreliable or both.

"I went, 'Well, this is not a reliable process and I've got to do something to change this,' " Rao told Business Insider.

Rao tells ABC that while she was doing her weekly perusal of MIT's Materials Science and Engineering website to see "if there's anything's new," she read about new technologies that could detect hazardous substances and decided to see whether they could be adapted to test for lead.
She pressed local high schools and universities to give her lab time and then hunkered down in the "science room" — outfitted with a big white table — that she persuaded her engineer parents to create in their home.

And she set about devising a more efficient solution: a device that could identify lead compounds in water and was portable and relatively inexpensive.”

United States, Government, Political Polarization

Opinion: America needs big ideas to heal our divides. Here are three.

“Trust in one another and in key institutions — the media, government, and the courts — are at historic lows. Such trust is critical to a functioning democracy and healthy communities. The percentage of Americans who say others can be trusted fell from 46 percent in 1972 to just 31 percent in 2016, with 36 percent of whites and 17 percent of blacks expressing such trust. In turn, the number of hate groups has more than doubled since 1999. It is no surprise that communities are fraying in places like Charlottesville, Ferguson and Chicago. As America becomes more diverse, we need bridges across racial and socioeconomic lines to build inclusive communities with more opportunities for all.

Even though the latest neuroscience tells us we are social animals wired to cooperate, Americans are increasingly isolated. New findings from the University of Southern California show that only 28 percent of Americans say they belong to any group with leaders they consider accountable and inclusive. In turn, 35 million Americans live alone, up 114 percent since 1960.

Four large-scale, integrating civic institutions built up during the 1900s have shrunk significantly since the turn of the century: churches and other religious congregations; unions; metropolitan daily newspapers; and political parties for grassroots participation sustained beyond specific campaigns. We wonder what institutions, if any, are taking their place.

Americans are also less active in important ways that undergird a healthy democracy. Regular volunteering is down from about 30 percent of the population in the aftermath of 9/11 through 2005 to less than one-quarter of Americans in 2015, notwithstanding waves of natural disasters that typically inspire Americans to lend a hand. Voting is down in presidential elections and significantly so in midterm elections since the 1960s.

This gloomy picture is moderated by some hopeful trends.”

Fitness, Aging

'The RBG Workout': 84-Year-Old Justice Might Put You To Shame In The Gym

“In photos of the sitting Supreme Court, 84-year-old Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg looks tiny compared to her colleagues, but don't be fooled: She is "TAN," says her personal trainer, Bryant Johnson, and "by TAN I mean Tough. As. Nails."

Ginsburg's health has been a topic of discussion — and concern among Democrats — since President Trump was elected, but it's particularly buzzworthy right now because of a new book by Johnson that's officially out as of Tuesday: "The RBG Workout: How She Stays Strong...And You Can Too!" Also, because Axios reports that Trump expects to have the chance to replace her, commenting to an unnamed source, "What does she weigh? 60 pounds?"

Ginsburg may be more of a judicial heavy than a physical heavy, but once you see her workout, you'll bet on her over Trump in a push-up contest any day. She does multiple sets of full-on, military-style push-ups. She does one-legged squats. She recently started doing planks. She is, it seems, an iron octogenarian.”

Foreign Affairs

Saving “America First” what Responsible Nationalism Looks Like

“…fears that his embrace of “America first” will lead the United States to turn its back on the world have already proved groundless. Ordering punitive air strikes against a regime that murders its own citizens while posing no threat to the United States, as Trump did in Syria, is not isolationism. Nor is sending more U.S. troops to fight the campaign in Afghanistan, the very epitome of the endless wars that Trump once disparaged. And whatever one makes of Trump’s backing of the Sunnis in their regional struggle with the Shiites, his vow to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, his threats against North Korea, and his evolving views on trade and the viability of NATO, they do not suggest disengagement.

What they do suggest is something much worse: an ill-informed, impulsive, and capricious approach to foreign policy. In fact, if “policy” implies a predictable pattern of behavior, U.S. foreign policy ceased to exist when Trump took office. The United States now acts or refrains from action according to presidential whim. Trump’s critics have misread their man. Those who worry about the ghost of Charles Lindbergh, the aviator and America First backer, taking up residence in the Oval Office can rest easy. The real problem is that Trump is making his own decisions, and he thinks he has things under control.

Whatever the consequences of Trump’s own fumbling, that allure is likely to persist. So, too, will the opportunity awaiting any would-be political leader with the gumption to articulate a foreign policy that promises to achieve the aim of the original America First movement: to ensure the safety and well-being of the United States without engaging in needless wars. The challenge is to do what Trump himself is almost certainly incapable of doing, converting “America first” from a slogan burdened with an ugly history—including the taint of anti-Semitism—into a concrete program of enlightened action. To put it another way, the challenge is to save “America first” from Trump.

Reading, Cognitive Development

Why Reading Is the Most Intelligent Thing You Can Do

“We've all had it embedded within us since the day we were born: The only way to become smarter, no matter what you study or where you are, is to read. What few people tell us, however, is why reading plays such an integral role in developing our intelligence, problem-solving, and analytical skills, and our ability to understand others with alacrity.

Why, then, is this hobby--one that gets more and more difficult to maintain as we get older--so crucial to maintaining our brain function and improving our overall intelligence?

Well, for starters, children who are exposed to books from a young age are naturally forced to incorporate a larger working vocabulary in their everyday language. Being exposed to a wide range of words, especially in fundamentally developmental years, encourages children to learn new things in an eager manner--developing an inquisitiveness that ultimately shapes how people approach all kinds of learning later on in life.

In addition, reading boosts our ability to understand new concepts--such as when one encounters a scenario, setting, or people they haven't yet had exposure to--and our capacity to incorporate these new ideas in our existing everyday lives.

Stories have also been shown to aid greatly in determining our abilities to understand, deduce, and analyze a situation.”

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