“In Britain, only 8 percent of the population is Catholic (compared with 25 percent in the United States). Abortion there is legal. Abortion is free. And yet British women have fewer abortions than Americans do. I asked Cardinal Hume why that is.
The cardinal said that there were several reasons but that one important explanation was Britain’s universal health-care system. “If that frightened, unemployed 19-year-old knows that she and her child will have access to medical care whenever it’s needed,” Hume explained, “she’s more likely to carry the baby to term. Isn’t it obvious?”
A young woman I knew in Britain added another explanation. “If you’re [sexually] active,” she said, “the way to avoid abortion is to avoid pregnancy. Most of us do that with an IUD or a diaphragm. It means going to the doctor. But that’s easy here, because anybody can go to the doctor free.””—
“It’s time for the tech industry to distribute itself beyond the Silicon Valley power center. … Ultimately, I think it’s important that our industry supports people’s ability to live and work wherever they choose, because we need to be around real people in order to understand what the real problems that need solving are.”—Alex Payne (via marco)
“Heartbreak is more common than happiness. We’re taught to believe not only that everyone deserves a happy ending, but also that if we try hard enough, we will get one. That’s simply not the case. Happy endings, lifelong loves, are the products of both effort and luck. We can control them, to some extent, and though our feelings always seem to have a life of their own, we can at least be open to love. But luck, the other component, well, there’s nothing we can do about that one, call it God’s plan or predestination or divine intervention, but we are all it’s mercy.”—from Jane Austen Ruined My Life byt Beth Pattillo (via moonriverdahling) (via jyages) (via poetbabble)
Last year, a group of physicists figured out that achieving warp speed had the potential—depending on how we did it, at least—to create a black hole
that would suck up Earth and destroy us all. Putting aside that cheery bit of news for a moment, another physicist recently said that even if that particular scenario didn’t come to pass, the simple matter of traveling warp speed could kill you—all because of some stray hydrogen atoms.
Johns Hopkins physicist William Edelstein said at the American Physical Societyconference in Washington, D.C. the two hydrogen atoms per cubic centimeter in space pose no threat to regular space travel, but would transform into “deadly galactic space mines” at near-light speed, Space.com reports. Edelstein went on to say that it would feel like getting struck by the high-energy proton beam from the Large Hadron Collider particle accelerator at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland. The audience at the talk wasn’t thrilled with this, apparently, as it caused a minor stir and some good back and forth, the report said. “Getting between stars is a huge problem unless we think of something really, really different,” Edelstein said. “I’m not saying that we know everything and that it’s impossible. I’m saying it’s kind of impossible based on what we know right now.”
I’m reading it again for the umpteenth time. I love this book so much. Read it first as a teenager and didn’t understand half the words so I had a English-Icelandic dictionary by my side for several months. This book is the main reason for the birth of my interest in technology.
Christian Jarrett examines the evidence behind the widely held belief that pregnancy affects cognitive function.
I have to say that I have felt the effects of preggiebrain. It’s super annoying.
I’ve definitely noticed though that it seems to be things like remembering to do things at the right time (like they talk about in the article) as well as decreased focus on detailed work related things (I’m a web designer and have been working on the CSS for a mobile dating site recently). That could chalked to a boring, repetitive project combined with general tiredness and major life change.
In any case, I don’t think preggiebrain is a myth at all. I think they need to keep on doing their studies, but try to focus on the relevant cognitive processes.
“There are not so many gaps in the health care as a result of the Chile earthquake. We at MSF are looking for those gaps. We have gone to Santiago and to Concepcion and the various smaller cities of southern Chile. We find they are quite well equipped medically. We are trying to find the pockets of people outside of the main epicenter, places that may have been overlooked, where people are in emergency need.”—
Marie-Noelle Rodrigue, deputy director of operations for Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)
Empathy seems to have evolved in three major steps.
First, among vertebrates, birds and mammals developed ways of rearing their young, plus forms of pair bonding - sometimes for life. This is very different from the pattern among fish and reptile species, most of which make their way in life alone. Pair bonding and rearing of young organisms increased their survival and was consequently selected for, driving the development of new mental capacities.
As neuroscientists put it, the “computational requirements” of tuning into the signals of newborn little creatures, and of operating as a couple - a sparrow couple, a mountain lion couple, that is - helped drive the enlargement of the brain over millions of years. As we all know, when you are in a relationship with someone - and especially if you are raising a family together - there’s a lot you have to take into account, negotiate, arrange, anticipate, etc. No wonder brains got bigger.
It may be a source of satisfaction to some that monogamous species typically have the largest brains in proportion to bodyweight!
Second, building on this initial jump in brain size, among primate species, the larger and more complex the social group, the bigger the brain. (And the key word here is social, since group size alone doesn’t create a big brain; if it did, cattle would be geniuses.)
In other words, the “computational requirements” of dealing with lots of individuals - the alliances, the adversaries, all the politics! - in a baboon or ape band also pushed the evolution of the brain.
Third, living in small bands in harsh conditions in Africa, and breeding mainly within their own band, our hominid and early human ancestors were under intense evolutionary pressures to develop strong teamwork as a band while they competed fiercely - and often lethally - with other bands for scarce resources. Hominids starting making stone tools about 2.5 million years ago, and during the 100,000 generations since, the brain has tripled in size; much of that new neural volume is used for interpersonal capacities such as empathy, language, cooperative planning, altruism, parent-child attachment, social cognition, and the construction of the personal self in relationships…
“Foreignness was a means of escape—physical, psychological and moral. In another country you could flee easy categorisation by your education, your work, your class, your family, your accent, your politics. You could reinvent yourself, if only in your own mind. You were not caught up in the mundanities of the place you inhabited, any more than you wanted to be. You did not vote for the government, its problems were not your problems. You were irresponsible. Irresponsibility might seem to moralists an unsatisfactory condition for an adult, but in practice it can be a huge relief.”—
I can definitely relate to this one. This is one of the big reasons I loved living abroad, even if it can also be quite alienating not knowing the cultural references or even understanding people’s conversations and being a complete outsider.