When Your Country Changes The Wi-Fi Password
September 4, 2019
“The fear of becoming old is born of the recognition that one is not living now the life that one wishes. It is equivalent to a sense of abusing the present.” – Susan Sontag
US health care costs are the highest in the world, yet we rank 27th for the level of health care provided. Almost $4 trillion was spent in 2018 — the vast majority of that on treating sick and chronically ill people. Ours is not a system focused on getting or keeping people healthy. But because the biggest risk factor for chronic diseases is aging, emphasis is being placed on research to find novel interventions to slow down the aging process and simultaneously prevent the diseases.
Enter the science of senolytics, an emerging and highly anticipated area of anti-aging medicine. Discovered in 2015 by a team from Mayo Clinic and the Scripps Research Institute in the US, senolytics are very promising drugs in the fight against cellular senescence, a hallmark of aging. These drugs target senescent cells — the various faulty cells that have been identified as instrumental in our eventual death. These “zombie” cells linger and proliferate as we age, emitting substances that cause inflammation and turn other healthy cells senescent, ultimately leading to tissue damage throughout the body.
The world’s top gerontologists have already demonstrated the possibilities of slowing the aging process in animals; scientists significantly improved the health and lifespan of prematurely aged mice by ridding them of senescent cells. A researcher in the biology of aging says senolytics are particularly exciting because “they seem to still work very late in life….So it will be possible to study more quickly whether they actually work in humans…already at the end of their lives.”
- Optimists For The Win: Finding The Bright Side Might Help You Live Longer 2:15 (NPR)
- Americans Are Dying Even Younger: Drug overdoses and suicides are causing American life expectancy to drop. (Atlantic)
The Brits Slip
- Brits still live longer than Americans, but that may be changing. From 2015 to 2017 life expectancy for those across the pond didn’t budge for the first time in modern history — 79.2 years for men and 82.9 years for women.
- Experts say alcohol, drug abuse, poor diet, obesity, smoking and lack of exercise have taken their toll, increasing the risks of cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Isolation and depression also contribute to premature deaths among older people.
- Underlying many of these problems is the government’s austerity program, in place since the 2008 financial crisis, which has curtailed funding for social programs, transportation and other things that might counter the negative trends.
- And lest we forget, Parliament hasn’t exerted much effort to address these problems lately, as lawmakers have spent the last three years immersed in the Brexit quagmire. (NYT)
No-Deal On The No-Deal Plan
- One monumental thing British lawmakers did get done Tuesday was to block Prime Minister Boris Johnson from crashing the country out of the EU without a formal agreement. By a majority of 328 to 301, lawmakers voted to take control of Parliament away from the government and introduce legislation as soon as Wednesday to stop the brash PM’s no-deal exit plan, which most people believe would be disastrous for the country’s economy.
- An angry Johnson vowed to call for a general election on October 14, just over two weeks before the Brexit deadline of October 31. Tuesday’s vote was also significant for being the one time Johnson’s hardball tactics were finally met with equal resistance. (NYT)
- Gig economy companies are increasingly using algorithms to manage remote workforces. Uber, for example, uses an app that instructs its 3 million drivers which passengers to pick up and which route to take.
- But research reported in the Harvard Business Review reveals that algorithmic management can be so frustrating to some workers that they behave in subversive ways that can potentially cause real harm to their companies.
- Companies can mitigate those concerns — and still take advantage of the benefits of algorithmic management — by sharing information, inviting feedback, increasing human contact, and building trust. (HBR)
- SoftBank is more than $600 million underwater on its Uber investment as stock hits an all-time low (CNBC)
- One Job Is Better Than Two: Millions of Americans have full-time jobs that don’t pay enough to make ends meet. So they have to work a second job, too. (NYT $)
When Your Country Changes The Wi-Fi Password
- One of the defining tools of government repression in the 21st century is to shut down the internet to quash dissent. It’s happening in a growing number of countries, mainly in Asia and Africa.
- The practice is most frequent, however, in India, and most recently used in Kashmir. In 2018 there were almost 200 shutdowns in 25 countries, a marked increase since 2016.
- The shutdowns are more than an affront to the democratic process. They impact whole economies and individual businesses in addition to disrupting the daily lives of ordinary citizens.
- Internet shutdowns also turn the search for mobile service into a game of cat and mouse with the police, and force people to drive across borders just to send emails for work. (NYT)
Additional World News
- Red Heat in China
- The High School Course Beijing Accuses of Radicalizing Hong Kong (NYT $)
- From Asia’s Finest to Hong Kong’s Most Hated: The city’s police force was once widely respected for its restraint and trusted by the local population. No more. (Atlantic)
- China Expels Wall Street Journal Reporter After Article on Xi’s Cousin (NYT $)
- Can Anyone Hold the Global Economy Together? We are trapped between an erratic Trump, a dysfunctional Europe and an authoritarian China. (NYT $)
- We, the peoples of the Amazon, are full of fear. Soon you will be too. (Guardian)
- Argentina imposes currency controls to support economy: Argentina has imposed currency controls in an attempt to stabilise markets as the country faces a deepening financial crisis. (BBC)
Universal Basic Income & A Possible GPS To The Right Path
- Decades of trying to push families out of poverty by squeezing the social safety net — adding restrictions to government welfare programs like work mandates, time limits, and benefit caps — hasn’t worked, and has only created further hardship and suffering.
- Now there’s new interest in trying the reverse. An experimental program in Jackson, Mississippi that not only offers a few poor mothers and their children a guaranteed monthly income, but also mentorship and financial planning support, could be the template for boosting generations out of the systemic cycle of poverty. (WaPo)
Additional USA News
- Texas Is a Leader in Mass Shootings. Why Is the Governor Silent?: Greg Abbott’s failure to respond to shootings like the one in Odessa is a moral disaster. (NYT, $)
- ‘The Supreme Court Is Not Well. And the People Know It.’: A new guns case reveals that the once-noble institution has died, and we’re left working with its corpse. (The Atlantic)
- Student Debt Is Transforming the American Family: The cost of a degree—and the “open future” that supposedly comes with it—has become one of the defining forces of middle-class life. (The New Yorker, $) And The cost of a degree—and the “open future” that supposedly comes with it—has become one of the defining forces of middle-class life.: Politicians and donors want to impose one set of solutions. Schools around the country are trying to find their own way. (NYT, $)
Home Is Where The Calm Is
- From Kramer’s “Serenity Now” to the growing number of architects, designers, professional organizers and environmental psychologists, there’s a belief that the spaces we live in are linked as inextricably to our neurological well-being as sleep, diet and exercise. Nearly 20 percent of Americans report having a stress-related disorder, making the need for a calm, safe sanctuary at home especially important.
- Accordingly, an advisory board member of the WELL Building Standard, a certification program that uses medical research to gauge spaces’ health benefits, offers a few science-backed suggestions for making your home feel more peaceful. (WaPo)
- The Death of Alexander the Great: One of History’s Great Unsolved Mysteries: When You Party Too Hard After Conquering the World (Literary Hub)
- The Problem With Believing What We’re Told: In an age of information overload, it’s important to find ways to resist the brain’s difficulty in separating fact from falsehood (WSJ, $)
- When Faith Comes Up, Students Avert Their Eyes: In college classrooms, where almost anything is up for discussion, religious ideas are met with awkward silence. (Atlantic)
- Everyone has an opinion about naked bodies
- Beach Body Tyranny Hurts Men Too: Women feel tremendous pressure to look good, especially during vacation season. But what about the men and boys who are suffering quietly? (NYT, $)
- What I Know About Famous Men’s Penises: And sincerely wish I didn’t. (NYT, $)
- ‘Don’t wait’: how to talk to teenagers about porn: A generation is growing up with online pornography. What impact is it having on them – and how should parents handle it? (Guardian)
- This is actually a PG rated article, ok, at most PG-13: Sexual Fantasies of Everyday New Yorkers (New Yorker, $)
- Naked humans and Neanderthals: Humans and Neanderthals Kept Breeding—and Breeding—for Ages: Modern humans and Neanderthals commingled at many points in history, raising the possibility that the ancient hominins were just another version of us. (Wired, $)
“The wisest are the most annoyed at the loss of time.” – Dante Alighieri
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