"… we’ve just spent the better part of a century doing our unwitting best to wreck the human-associated microbiota with a multifronted war on bacteria and a diet notably detrimental to its well-being. Researchers now speak of an impoverished 'Westernized microbiome' and ask whether the time has come to embark on a project of 'restoration ecology' — not in the rain forest or on the prairie but right here at home, in the human gut." —In this week's New York Times Magazine cover story, Michael Pollan shrinks to the size of an amoeba and traverses the human body: "Some of My Best Friends Are Germs."
Just as we once knew that infectious diseases killed, but didn’t know that germs spread them, we’ve known intuitively that loneliness hastens death, but haven’t been able to explain how. Psychobiologists can now show that loneliness sends misleading hormonal signals, rejiggers the molecules on genes that govern behavior, and wrenches a slew of other systems out of whack. They have proved that long-lasting loneliness not only makes you sick; it can kill you. Emotional isolation is ranked as high a risk factor for mortality as smoking.
Every so often, you'll hear a reference to some really disturbing studies that demonstrate a sharp decline in sperm density AND quality since tests began over fifty years ago. And then, because, well, who pays that much attention to what happens to the world once we're gone, you may hastily flip past it to something about the merits of dark chocolate. But then the Utne Reader (the piece originally appeared in Tomorrow Magazine) decided to talk about it for seven pages, and also that it's happening in animals, and may have resulted in behavioral changes in boys:
In 2000, American researchers not only confirmed results from the original [...]
Well, that is a relief.*
Yesterday: Part one.
*No, both of these articles are sad but also end in touching and uplifting ways. Although hopefully there will not be too many more installations. :-/
There's apparently such thing as a "scientific" seven-minute, 12-step exercise routine, if you want to start the day out with or otherwise experience significant "discomfort" for the length of that Paul Simon dance remix, for instance.
And six years ago Rolling Stone put together a list of other seven-minute songs (alternate link), for what it's worth, not that you'd want to be doing this to "Scenes From an Italian Restaurant," although who knows. (There were reaction lists, too.)
In case you missed Coachella, or some version of this exact video yesterday, here's R. Kelly performing "Ignition (Remix)" with French band Phoenix (whose new album, Bankrupt!, is out April 22 and streaming now on iTunes). Nice for a morning.
Also: Kids who eat fish seem to have fewer allergies. But why?
And here's one good way to leave the house.
"I wanted to write this to tell other women that the decision to have a mastectomy was not easy. But it is one I am very happy that I made. My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87 percent to under 5 percent. I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer." —Angelina Jolie's op-ed in today's New York Times.
"Earlier motion-capture research by the Portsmouth scientists established that unsupported female breasts — that is, those not contained within a bra — oscillate as much as eight inches in space when a woman runs, and not just up and down, but also side to side, forward and backward."
An epidemiologist reaches out to her dad, on the subject of his anti-vax Facebook posts:
I know how crazy it drives you when Republican politicians (and friends and relatives) post pictures and stories that are flat-out wrong, about the deficit, the economy, “Obamacare,” and more. It makes you nuts how uncritically they quote Fox News. They don’t examine their own biases; they don’t stop and think why they accept that Obama is the anti-Christ and that everything associated with him is evil, even if the facts clearly contradict their belief. Sure, they may know a lot, but it’s all from the same sources and it reinforces their pre-existing belief [...]