This Week in Upgrades: September 12

Monday, Monday. Let’s see what this week has in store. Hope you had a good weekend amidst the start of the NFL season, reflecting on 15 years after 9/11, and whatever else you may have been up to.

The past week was full of important happenings–and that’s in addition to the unfolding, depressing drama of the presidential election.

This was a fairly positive surprise: the Dakota Access Pipeline has been temporarily halted by the Department of Justice. “The recognition that the government may not have adequately taken tribes’ considerations into account is a significant achievement, but the decision by the Obama administration is far from definitive. In the meantime, the activists on the ground say they have no plans to move.” More work to do. Props to the activists.

This was not a good surprise: the most thorough study of ocean warming yet has some alarming findings. The oceans have been keeping the planet habitable, and they can’t take a whole lot more.

Tesla’s autopilot, “the best semi-autonomous system on the road today,” is upgrading in some crucial ways.

Yosemite National Park added 400 acres–the largest expansion there in 70 years. Wonderful!

Watch bacteria overcome antibiotics and turn into superbugs. Fascinating, yet terrifying.

Neuroscientists may have just identified the brain cells associated with schadenfreude. Why do we sometimes feel delight from other’s misfortune?

Babies are dumb so adults can be smarter.

Ever see floaters? A few visual disturbances are pretty common. Reassuring for my hypochondriac self.

A new drug has proven effective against one of the deadliest cancers without side effects. Immunotherapy findings like this are super promising.

Stay awesome.

 

This Week in Upgrades: April 11

Hello there! Welcome to a new week. I don’t know about you, but I’m locked in a real battle with my tiredness. Last week was a long one without a lot of free time.

But in the time that I did have, I’ve been enjoying reading After Nature: A Politics for the AnthropoceneThe US, along with the rest of the world, needs to take a good look in the mirror about our relationship with nature, and what we need to do now to adapt to climate change. After Nature has a lot of great things to say about that, and I’m sure some of it will end up in future posts.

It was a busy week for human things happening the world. Here are some of the most interesting:

Twitter announced that they’ll be offering employees 20 weeks of paid parental leave. That’s not bad compared to other businesses and some US cities, but still not even close to other countries. Paid maternity and paternity leave of several months should be in every presidential candidate’s platform.

In encouraging environmental news, wild tiger populations are growing for the first time in 100 years. The world’s wildlife has been decreasing dramatically in recent decades.

Quartz took a look at the paltry state of public transportation in the United States and who will fix it. Plenty of room to improve where I live.  How about where you are?

Such a curious thing that we have moving stairwells everywhere. Have you ever wondered about the invention of the escalator?

The more we study bacteria in the gut, the more we understand how important it is. A recent study shows how they relate to brain function.

Speaking of bodily health, almost all of us will probably have checked WebMD at some point. Is it trustworthy?

Continuing the conversation about stuff: fast fashion is not sustainable. Let’s fill our closets with stuff made to last, yeah?

Have a great week!

 

This Week in Upgrades: March 28

Oh, hello! It’s the start of another week, and I’ve got Upgrades to make your Monday better. Hopefully you had a wonderful Easter if that’s your thing, or just a great weekend.

Does it feel more like Spring now? The New York Times had a cool feature this week on the ways nature tells us it definitely is the Spring season: the smell of bacteria in the soil, the return of gray whales, and more. Check it out. (How neat is that?)

Unfortunately, this week also showed signs that climate change is really starting to take its toll. A new paper by the father of global warming science suggests sea level rise will be greater than expected over the next several decades, and this year may have been one of the last Iditarod races in Alaska because there’s no snow for it anymore. The time to act for the sake of our future and the future of the planet is now, clearly.

So many interesting and important human things on the inter-webs in the last week. Here are just some of them:

As demand for grass-fed dairy grows, how do we maintain standards for it? Do you look for grass-fed at the grocery store? How do you decide what’s good?

Speaking of food standards, is it wrong if the best chef of Mexican cuisine is not Mexican? A new series on the podcast The Sporkful explores “other people’s food“.

Also in food, there’s a Madagascar vanilla shortage. Some vanilla ice cream enthusiasts are worried. It’s always the things you take for granted.

Glass-blowing is awesome. Here’s a very enjoyable 10 minute film of pros doing their thing. Love the guy smoking a pipe at the same time.

British English is more than a great accent. Here are 41 things Brits say differently than Americans.

Increasingly, teachers cannot afford to live in the communities they teach. This is a problem. How do we get educators properly compensated for the difficult, vital work they do?

Thanks to medical innovation, people are living longer and longer. That’s great, but there are some important things we need to talk about.

In excellent nature news, after 140 years, a herd of plains bison will return to their native Montana home to roam free as millions of their ancestors once did.

 

This Week in Upgrades: December 5

RIP to the understatement. Welcome to death by Internet hyperbole.”

Amazon is serious about Prime Air.

What does loneliness do to our bodies?

The health benefits of running are not hard to achieve.

The stress of holidays with family is an expectations-versus-reality problem.

Are “ultra-safe” playgrounds stunting children’s growth?

Why are end-of-year lists so popular?

The United States has an unsustainable meat addiction.

The rise of self-driving cars will likely bring an end to car ownership. I’m OK with that.

MTV wants to call the generation after Millennials Founders. No pressure. (Also, does MTV still carry that kind of cultural weight?)

“The baby market is essentially a commodity market.” Having a baby makes you susceptible to a whole new consumerist trap.

This bandage will glow green if the wound is infected.