‘I Was the Sick Passenger’

Anne Mcdermott, writing for the New York Times:

When the emergency medical workers arrived, the conductor got back on the train, and I urged the three women to do the same. “There’ll be another train right behind it,” the nurse said.

She must not have lived in New York City for long.

A wonderful look at the compassion (and occasional lack thereof) of ordinary New Yorkers.

‘Organic farming is so much harder than just getting stoned and picking tomatoes’

Nathanael Johnson, writing for Grist:

I mean, think about the rise of farmer’s markets. When they started it was just them out on a corner with another farmer, who really did just grow pot — and a few tomatoes on the side.

Indeed!

‘California’s next oil rush might be surprisingly delicious’

Nathanael Johnson, writing for Grist:

Mueller writes, “It’s rare to find authentic extra virgin olive oil in a restaurant in America, even in fine restaurants that ought to know better. It’s nearly impossible in some localities such as southern California, where large-scale counterfeiters pump out blends of low-grade olive oil and soybean oil dyed bright green…”

Eww.

‘The Overprotected Kid’

Hanna Rosin, writing for the Atlantic, begins:

A trio of boys tramps along the length of a wooden fence, back and forth, shouting like carnival barkers. “The Land! It opens in half an hour.” Down a path and across a grassy square, 5-year-old Dylan can hear them through the window of his nana’s front room. He tries to figure out what half an hour is and whether he can wait that long. When the heavy gate finally swings open, Dylan, the boys, and about a dozen other children race directly to their favorite spots, although it’s hard to see how they navigate so expertly amid the chaos. “Is this a junkyard?” asks my 5-year-old son, Gideon, who has come with me to visit. “Not exactly,” I tell him, although it’s inspired by one. The Land is a playground that takes up nearly an acre at the far end of a quiet housing development in North Wales. It’s only two years old but has no marks of newness and could just as well have been here for decades. The ground is muddy in spots and, at one end, slopes down steeply to a creek where a big, faded plastic boat that most people would have thrown away is wedged into the bank. The center of the playground is dominated by a high pile of tires that is growing ever smaller as a redheaded girl and her friend roll them down the hill and into the creek. “Why are you rolling tires into the water?” my son asks. “Because we are,” the girl replies.

It’s still morning, but someone has already started a fire in the tin drum in the corner, perhaps because it’s late fall and wet-cold, or more likely because the kids here love to start fires. Three boys lounge in the only unbroken chairs around it; they are the oldest ones here, so no one complains. One of them turns on the radio—Shaggy is playing (Honey came in and she caught me red-handed, creeping with the girl next door)—as the others feel in their pockets to make sure the candy bars and soda cans are still there. Nearby, a couple of boys are doing mad flips on a stack of filthy mattresses, which makes a fine trampoline. At the other end of the playground, a dozen or so of the younger kids dart in and out of large structures made up of wooden pallets stacked on top of one another. Occasionally a group knocks down a few pallets—just for the fun of it, or to build some new kind of slide or fort or unnamed structure. Come tomorrow and the Land might have a whole new topography.

Rosin’s piece is both fascinating and depressing at the same time. If you have time for a great long-form piece, read it.

There’s clearly a balance to be struck between laissez-faire childrearing and organized structured activities. We may have been unbalanced in the 1970s, but we’re certainly unbalanced now.

I hope the pendulum starts swinging back before I have kids.

‘Let’s Cool It in the Bedroom’

Gretchen Reynolds, writing for the New York Times:

The cold temperatures, it turned out, changed the men’s bodies noticeably. Most striking, after four weeks of sleeping at 66 degrees, the men had almost doubled their volumes of brown fat. Their insulin sensitivity, which is affected by shifts in blood sugar, improved. The changes were slight but meaningful, says Francesco S. Celi, the study’s senior author and now a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University. “These were all healthy young men to start with,” he says, “but just by sleeping in a colder room, they gained metabolic advantages” that could, over time, he says, lessen their risk for diabetes and other metabolic problems. The men also burned a few more calories throughout the day when their bedroom was chillier (although not enough to result in weight loss after four weeks). The metabolic enhancements were undone after four weeks of sleeping at 81 degrees; in fact, the men then had less brown fat than after the first scan.

The message of these findings, Celi says, is that you can almost effortlessly tweak your metabolic health by turning down the bedroom thermostat a few degrees. His own bedroom is moderately chilled, as is his office — which has an added benefit: It “keeps meetings short.”

I want to see a study that recommends sleeping in a nice, warm bed.