Links 8/28/15

My feeling on “awareness” as a charitable concept is that it should arise as a byproduct of something else (read: doing actual work), and if I see a charity promoting awareness I assume it’s a self aggrandizing waste of resources and they don’t really care about helping people.  This is very true about, say, the Susan G. Komen lighting up a record-setting number of buildings to raise awareness for breast cancer.  But it’s not always true.  This 99% invisible is about the original AIDS ribbon, which started at a time when HIV was excruciatingly taboo.  The ribbon advanced the ability of people to talk about AIDS, and in doing so accelerated the development of treatment options and increased the emotional support available to tens of thousands of dying people and those that cared for them.  Breast cancer was never as taboo as AIDS, but for a long time it was literally unspeakable in polite company.  Awareness was probably a good idea back then.

So I’m amending my position to “spreading awareness: a good idea if people will literally not talk about your issue.”

Yes, diet and exercise affect your weight.  But lab animals are fatter than their equivalents of 30 years ago despite provably identical genetics, diets, and activity levels.  I think it is time we consider the concept of an environmental cause.

It never occurred to me to wonder how hummingbirds got nectar out of flowers.  I was nonetheless delighted to learn they do so by way of grooved, spring loaded tongues. They also fly weird.  Good job hummingbirds.

Do you do your best work or feel your emotional best when you wake up hours before you want to?  Turns out children don’t either and if we want to keep up the pretense that school is about teaching them it needs to start later.

One criticism of Uber in Seattle is that they abandon people in the suburbs, because they don’t follow the law requiring taxis to send a certain number of cars to the suburbs even when the bars are getting out in the city and everyone wants a taxi.  Despite this, Uber actually serves the suburbs better than taxis.  They also maybe prevent DUIs.

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