San Franciscos Air Quality Matches Beijings

Air quality in San Francisco sank to the level of smog-choked Beijing this week, as soot from more than a dozen wildfires in California’s wine country blanketed the Bay Area.

As San Francisco residents woke up to a hazy sky for the fifth day in a row, the concentration of dangerous particulate matter was forecast to be 158 on the air-quality index, according to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. That’s roughly on par with notoriously smoggy Beijing, which clocked in at 165.

The gauge, known as PM2.5, refers to particles with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers, which can be inhaled and penetrate deep into the lungs. While long-term exposure is correlated with lung and heart disease, Bay Area residents should only experience temporary discomfort with no permanent effects, said John Balmes, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

Lenard Lesser, a doctor at primary care group One Medical, said he has seen several patients with smoke-related complaints, including sore throat and difficulty breathing, at his San Francisco office this week. Children, older adults and people with lung disease such as asthma should stay indoors while the air quality is bad, and wear an "N95"-rated mask when outdoors, Lesser said in an email.

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    US people of color still more likely to be exposed to pollution than white people

    New federal government-funded study finds exposure to a key air pollutant is significantly influenced by race, far more than by income, age or education

    People of color are still far more likely to suffer from harmful air pollution than white people across the US and this disparity has barely improved in recent years, despite overall improvements in air quality, a new federal government-funded study has found.

    Exposure to nitrogen dioxide, NO2, a key transportation-related pollutant, is significantly influenced by race, far more than by income, age or education, the paper found.

    While the racial imbalance in pollution impacts has long been noted by researchers and environmental justice campaigners, the study found that progress in addressing it has been sluggish.

    The report comes as the Trump administration has outlined plans to dismantle the EPAs office of environmental justice, which advocates for communities of color.

    What surprised us is that race matters more than income when it comes to who is breathing in NO2, said Julian Marshall, UW professor of civil and environmental engineering and senior author of the study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives on Thursday.

    I just stared at these findings and thought: What is going on? You would think places near highways would cost less. But its race that is driving this, not income. Urban planners tell us that cities are still really segregated people live close to people who look like them. We are seeing the outcome of that.

    In columns A and B, red identifies locations where NO2 concentrations were higher for nonwhite people than white people; blue indicates that NO2 concentrations were higher for white than nonwhite people; and white means they were equal. In column C, red indicates that the absolute difference inNO2 concentration between nonwhites and whites increased over time; blue indicates that difference decreased over time; and white indicates no change. Photograph: Handout

    The study, funded in part by the Environmental Protection Agency, found that overall exposure to NO2 among all Americans dropped between 2000 and 2010. But black and Hispanic people experienced 37% higher exposures to the pollutant than white people in 2010 only a slight decrease from the 40% gap in 2000.

    In some parts of the country, the situation has actually become worse. In 2000, concentrations of NO2 in neighborhoods with the smallest proportions of white people were 2.5 times higher than in areas that are overwhelmingly white. In 2010, this discrepancy increased to 2.7 times higher. The gap between white and nonwhite people is starkest in the midwest and California.

    NO2 is a nationally regulated pollutant that is emitted through the burning of fuel by cars, trucks and power plants. The pollution can make the air hazy and trigger a range of health problems, such as coughing, wheezing and infections, particularly in those with respiratory issues such as asthma.

    According to the EPA, annual concentrations of NO2 have dropped across the US by 56% since 1990. But this overall improvement hasnt wiped out the disproportionate impact suffered by black and Hispanic people, who have historically been housed nearer to major roads, industrial plants and other sources of pollutants than whites.

    The University of Washington study estimated that if people of color breathed in the same level of NO2 as white people, about 5,000 premature deaths from heart disease would have been avoided in 2010.

    Everyone benefited from clean air regulations and less pollution; thats the good news, said Lara Clark, lead author and UW civil and environmental engineering doctoral student.

    But the fact that there is a pervasive gap in exposure to NO2 by race and that the relative gap was more or less preserved over a decade is the bad news.

    Previous research has found that the very worst polluting sites are situated next to neighborhoods with high minority populations. The EPA has typically been reluctant to use the Civil Rights Act to prosecute polluters and help remedy this situation.

    We have policies in place to reduce pollution in general but we dont have policies in place on environmental justice, said Marshall. We arent addressing the disparities in health risks. Its important that this is recognized. We cant just ignore it.

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    No, a standing desk isn’t as unhealthy as smoking

    Does a new study really claim that standing at work is as unhealthy as a cigarette a day? Closer inspection suggests probably not

    A headline in the Independent today has proclaimed that standing at work is as unhealthy as a cigarette a day, citing a new study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Illustrated with a picture of a woman bent over her standing desk clutching at her back, were instructed to sit back down.

    But a closer look at the research in question reveals very little to do with standing desks. In fact, the study did not look at standing desks at all. The research was conducted on a sample of 7,320 residents of Ontario, Canada, followed up for over a decade. And its findings are striking people whose job requires them to stand for long periods of time were twice as likely to contract heart disease compared to those who do jobs that predominantly involve being seated.

    So should we all lower our standing desks and recover our office chairs from wherever weve stashed them? I am not going to rush to do so (at this point I should fess up and say I have used a standing desk for the past three years and I love it).

    Firstly, did the researchers ask people whether they stood or sat at work? No, they did not. People were categorised by the job they did. This immediately means that if youre an office worker with a standing desk, youll be categorised as a sitter, because thats predominantly what office workers do. The supplementary table of the paper lists a number of common jobs and how they were categorised for the study. Seated jobs included truck drivers, administrative officers, secretaries, professional occupations in business services and accounting clerks. Standing jobs on the other hand included retail salespersons, cooks, food and beverage servers and machine or tool operators.

    Now here we get on to the classic problem with observational epidemiology. People who work different types of jobs are going to be different in loads of ways other than their jobs, all of which might also impact on risk of heart disease. This is called confounding. The authors of the study take a number of these in to account, for example pre-existing health conditions, whether the person smokes, whether they were obese, and various others. But its very hard to be sure that youve taken all of the potential confounding factors like these in to account. There could very easily be other differences rather than just whether a person is more likely to be standing or sitting. For example how much they exercise could have a big impact. Perhaps, as one person on Twitter suggested to me, after a day on your feet youre less inclined to go for a run of an evening.

    Also, as can be seen from the list of jobs theyve included in each group, there might be socio-economic differences between people who do jobs that require standing at work and those who are more likely to sit and these might be related to how good your diet is, how much disposable income you have, all things that sadly are associated with ill health. Even if you attempt to take these factors in to account in a statistical model, if youre relying on self-reported or large scale data its almost impossible to be sure youve really accounted for all the variability.

    So while this study is really interesting, and might indicate that jobs where youre more likely to stand are linked to an increased risk of heart disease, personally I think theres a little more going on than simply that we should all sit down at work if we want to protect our hearts. Not to mention that this study has absolutely nothing to do with standing desks, and didnt actually ask the individuals included whether they did stand or sit at work, but inferred it from the type of job they did. Im not lowering my standing desk just yet.

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    Tenth of men aged 50 ‘have heart age 10 years older’ – BBC News

    Image copyright Getty Images
    Image caption In September alone, an estimated 7,400 people will die in England from heart disease or stroke

    One-tenth of 50-year-old men have a heart age 10 years older than they are, heightening their risk of a fatal heart attack or stroke, a study suggests.

    The Public Health England analysis is based on responses from 1.2 million people to its Heart Age Test – 33,000 of whom were men aged 50.

    The organisation also predicts that 7,400 people will die from heart disease or stroke this month alone.

    Heart disease is the main cause of death among men and second among women.

    Most of these deaths are preventable and a quarter are people aged under 75.

    “Addressing our risk of heart disease and stroke should not be left until we are older,” PHE’s head of cardiovascular disease Jamie Waterall said.

    How to improve your heart health:

    • Give up smoking
    • Get active
    • Manage your weight
    • Eat more fibre
    • Cut down on saturated fat
    • Get your five a day fruit and vegetables
    • Cut down on salt
    • Eat fish
    • Drink less alcohol
    • Read labels on food and drink packaging

    Source: NHS Choices

    PHE said about half of the survey respondents did not know their blood pressure and that 5.6 million people living in England currently have high blood pressure without knowing it.

    This is “extremely worrying”, according to Dr Mike Knapton of the British Heart Foundation.

    “These silent conditions can lead to a deadly heart attack or stroke if untreated,” he said.

    A new version of the test on the BHF website refers users to apps and other resources to help them get their blood tested and improve their heart health.

    Getting your blood pressure tested “can be the first important step to prolonging your life”, said Katherine Jenner of Blood Pressure UK.

    Related Topics

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    I live a healthier life now Im free of the trappings of modernity | Mark Boyle

    Being healthy is not about doctors, ambulances and technology. I use natural methods to keep my body in balance, writes Mark Boyle, the Guardians Life Without Technology columnist

    When people learn of my decision to reject modern complex technology in favour of older, slower, forgotten ways, their first line of inquiry usually involves healthcare. Considering its importance to our lives, this is hardly surprising. Yet because of its emotive nature which of us, after all, doesnt have friends or family needing glasses, hearing aids, stents or prescription drugs? it seems difficult to have a calm, objective discussion on the subject.

    The more concerned and curious inquirers often ask me what I would do if I got seriously ill. While the long answer is complicated and nuanced, honestly, I dont know. Its easy to live by your values when times are good, much harder when youre having a stroke or dying of cancer.

    One thing I can say with more confidence is this: if we continue pursuing this political ideology of mass industrialism which has given us ambulances, dialysis machines, wheelchairs and antidepressants not only will we continue to harm our physical, emotional and mental health (leading to even more people needing such things) well also wipe out much of life on Earth.

    Industrial civilisation, itself only 200 years old, is already causing the sixth mass extinction of species of the last half billion years. Whats that got to do with an ambulance? Well, both nothing and everything. The ambulance itself undoubtedly saves lives (including my dads). Yet deconstruct a single ambulance with its plastics, oils, fluids, copper, acids, glass, rubber, PVC, minerals and steel and Ill show you how to lay waste to the very thing all our lives depend upon: the planet.

    Big picture aside, most of what afflicts us today cancer, obesity, mental illness, diabetes, stress, auto-immune disorders, heart disease, along with those slow killers: meaninglessness, clock-watching and loneliness are industrial ailments. We create stressful, toxic, unhealthy lifestyles fuelled by sugar, caffeine, tobacco, antidepressants, adrenaline, discontent, energy drinks and fast food, and then defend the political ideology that got us hooked on these things in the first place. Our sedentary jobs further deplete our physical, emotional and mental wellbeing, but instead of honestly addressing the root cause of the illness we exert ever more effort, energy, genius and money trying to treat the symptoms and contain the epidemics.

    Weve developed Stockholm syndrome, sympathising with the very system that has economically held us hostage since the 18th century. Industrialism, along with its partner in crime, capitalism, has even persuaded us that, in order to save ourselves and loved ones from the horrors of disease we should spray every surface with chemicals, keep childrens hands out of the dirt and muck, and try to sterilise our entire world. With our immune systems compromised as a result, multi-billion-dollar pharmaceutical companies then sell us products to fend off what our bodies should be able to fight off naturally.

    In their cleverness they have even persuaded us to pop painkillers for things that hardier generations would balk at. My own approach to healthcare wont satisfy the critics, the advocates of this strange thing called progress that seems to have us all more stressed and less content. And thats OK; Im not trying to tell people what to do, and Ive got no product to sell. I share it only because my editor tells me its the most common online inquiry.

    In doing so Im very aware that Ive been blessed to be born without any serious long-term health issues, and that at 38 Im relatively young. That said, Im not convinced that its necessary to fall into such poor physical shape, as civilised peoples tend to do. My dad is almost 73 and he can still cycle 150km before dinner, simply because he has never stopped looking after his health.

    The philosophy underlying my approach is that of any herbalist: keep the vitality in your body strong, and be mindful to do it every day. When it goes out of ease and into disease, use the appropriate plants the original source of many industrial medicines to bring your body and mind back into balance, and to restore optimal functioning. Your body is always aiming for balance and health, and listening to it is one of the best things you can do. Illness is feedback the sooner you heed it and restore your vitality, the less likely it is youll develop more serious problems.

    I find it impossible to describe my approach to health without describing my approach to life. I wouldnt dream of suggesting that this is a prescriptive solution for anyone else; but with the exception of a voluntary vasectomy, I havent seen a doctor or nurse for 20 years.

    I pick my own fruit and vegetables from the garden and hedgerows, and eat them as fresh, raw and unwashed as is optimal. I cycle 120km each week to lakes and rivers, where I then spend three evenings of that week relaxing and catching the following days dinner. I work outdoors, getting sweaty and dirty doing things I enjoy. I made the tough decision to live in the natural world so that I could breathe clean air, drink pure water and create life that allows others the same. I wash with water, and water only. I use no chemicals inside or outside the house. I wear as few clothes as I need, I use nothing electrical no fridge, no screens, no phone. I avoid sugar, caffeine and stress like the plague.

    Sleep comes and goes with the light I find six hours of peaceful rest sufficient. If and when I do feel ill or out of balance, my girlfriend Kirsty (who illustrates these articles and is teaching herself herbalism) recommends a plant from our herb patch and I slowly feel vital again. Shes currently drying yarrow, horsetail, silverweed, self-heal, calendula and chamomile for the winter months.

    Ive suffered from hay fever something becoming more common as CO2 levels in the atmosphere increase since I was a child. These days I eat a handful of plantain leaves a natural antihistamine three or four times a day, and that sorts it. Plantain comes out just before hay fever season and goes to seed shortly afterwards, and is a common in the cracks of city pavements and lawns as it is in the countryside.

    I appreciate that this may sound unrealistic to many. When I was working 60 hours a week in a low-paid job in the City, 10 years ago, it did to me too. I only managed to do it by stripping away modernitys bullshit, learning to live with the land, and reducing my bills down to zero. Simplicity in these times is hard won, but Ive found that its worth it.

    I can only speak for myself, and I support everyones decision to care for their own health as they see fit. Ultimately, were all going to die and I wish to go out like the American writer and conservationist Edward Abbey: by taking off to the wilderness, where wildlife can feed on my dead body just as I have done on theirs. It seems only fair.

    Two things, in this respect, I find important. One is that like Henry David Thoreau once remarked, I do not safely reach death and discover that I had not lived. Second, that I dont cling to my own fading light so desperately that I extinguish it for all else. Like all good guests, its wise not to overstay your welcome.

    This article was written by hand and posted to an editor at the Guardian, who typed it up to go online. Get in touch with Mark Boyle, the Guardians Living Without Technology columnist, here or in the comments below, a selection of which will be posted to him

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    Jimmy Kimmel’s baby may save healthcare for 30 million people

    Image: randy holmes/ABC via Getty Images

    Welcome to 2017, where the American government has ceded its already crumbling moral authority to the former host of The Man Show.

    Don’t you miss the 2016 election now?

    Still, the last few days have produced some of the best material late night television has ever had to offer, and all it’s because of former Man Show star, Win Ben Stein’s Money co-host, and late night host, Jimmy Kimmel. Kimmel has not only taken on the Senate’s practically homicidal Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill, he’s done it without resorting to lies or distortions (how quaint!). He accomplished this by speaking from a place of deep empathy, and by centering on a character that remains untouchable across the political spectrum: his baby.

    Back in May, Kimmel’s newborn son had to undergo an emergency open-heart surgery. It was this hardship that brought America’s perilous healthcare situation into sharp focus for the comedian. And as he’s grown more vocal about the issue, he returns to his own child as the impetus for his outspokenness.

    That’s why every counter-attack by GOP politician and pundits against Kimmel has fallen flat on its face: in the symbolic war between sick babies and man-baby Senators, the sick baby will always win.

    By positioning his baby at his monologue’s heart and center, he’s created the most sympathetic protagonist imaginable and made anyone who opposes that character a hateful antagonist by extension (which, I mean, is accurate). Everyone who attacks Kimmel’s position, is essentially attacking his baby. 

    Not a good position for a politician.

    “Before 2014, if you were born with congenital heart disease like my son was, there’s a good chance you would never be able to get health insurance because you had a pre-existing condition,” Kimmel said in May. “If your baby is going to die, and it doesn’t have to, it shouldn’t matter how much money you make … we all agree on that, right? I mean, we do!” 

    Babies work. There’s a reason why every politician is required to take a photo with them at some point in their campaign.

    When I was a social worker, we talked a lot about “worthy victims” and “unworthy victims.” “Unworthy victims” are people a society has collectively decided are victims because of their own poor choices: the poor, victims of sexual assault, the homeless, welfare recipients, people of color, criminals and undocumented immigrants. “Worthy victims,” by contrast, are folks that society has deemed sufficiently worthy of empathy (and consequently, of charitable donations) including sick children, the elderly and people with *certain* disabilities.

    That doesn’t mean that worthy victims are exactly living large in America. Just think of the folks who were cruelly pulled from their wheelchairs by Capitol police while protesting Trumpcare that summer. But it does mean that they, culturally at least, have tremendous worth. I can’t think of a stronger symbolic lead than Kimmel’s son — a sick, wealthy kind with a devastating illness — followed closely by his acerbic father. Is there anything Americans love more than a cynical man, who simultaneously knows his facts and is deeply in touch with his own tenderness?

    Of a Fox and Friends host who attacked Kimmel for his monologues, Kimmel had this to say:

    “And you know, the reason I’m talking about this is because my son had an open-heart surgery and has to have two more, and because of that, I’ve learned that there are kids with no insurance in the same situation,” Kimmel said. “I don’t get anything out of this, Brian [Kilmeade], you phony little creep. Oh, I’ll pound you when I see you.”

    Just look at how these Republican politicians and pundits tiptoed around his attacks, especially as  they relate to Kimmy’s son, and relied on the tired excuse than Kimmel wasn’t smart enough to analyze the bill because’s he’s a late night comedian. 

    Remember: these folks voted for a man who recently made up an African country in front of Africans and didn’t realize that Frederick Douglass was dead, so we’re not exactly dealing with “wonks” here. 

    All late night comedians have in some ways impacted culture and by extension, politics, but Kimmel might become the first late night politicians to have an immediate, substantive impact on policy. There’s a Jimmy Kimmel test Senator Cassidy once told Congress it has to pass. Kimmel even ended his monologue with a screen full of Senator’s phone numbers, amplifying his personal story and turning it into collective action.

    Babies work. There’s a reason why every politician is required to take a photo with them at some point in their campaign. There’s a reason why political ads that include children, like this one of Hillary’s, are far more effective than those that feature rehabilitated criminal — even though both would be endangered by Graham-Cassidy.  Kimmel even admitted that he was “politicizing his baby” for the greater good.  

    Doing anything that might directly harm babies is one the last moral lines we have around these broken parts. Let’s see if one man’s 13-minute monologues are powerful enough to keep us from crossing it.

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    The 5 Grains You Need To Add To Your Diet Like, Yesterday

    We all learned in like, infancy, that carbs are evil incarnate. But it would probs surprise you to know that working whole grains into your diet is actually like, good for you. They won’t make you fat, and they could actually make you live longer. Shit, they’ll even reduce cholesterol, improve your heart health, keep you full, and make you better at sex. One of those things was not true. But like, aside from rice and couscous, what else is there in the grain world? (And don’t say pasta.) We rounded up a few so that you don’t have to traipse through the aisles of Whole Foods’ self-serve bulk area for longer than is absolutely necessary.

    1. Amaranth

    Ever heard of it? Probs not but that’s okay. Amaranth is full of protein, calcium, fiber, AND iron so naturally it’s great for you. You can cook it and add it to your morning oatmeal, use it as a rice or pasta, or just eat the raw seeds for extra crunch (jk, don’t do that). Oh, and it’s gluten-free for all you fake celiacs out there.

    2. Oats

    Yawn. Oats are totally boring and have been a snoozefest at breakfast for years, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t healthy. As told by the frightening Quaker man on the box whom I’ve had nightmares about, oats are super heart healthy and can keep you full for more than breakfast. If you really hate oatmeal, sprinkle whole oats into your baking adventures or make a savory oat porridge and serve it with something fancy. Really.

    3. Quinoa

    Quinoa was a super popular buzzword (buzz-grain?) a few years ago, but just cause it’s kinda gone out of style doesn’t mean it lost its benefits. If you aren’t super tight with heart disease, diabetes, and being a fat fuck, this should be your go-to grain. It’s also a complete protein since it actually contains all nine essential amino acids. The ancient Incans must’ve been some healthy motherfuckers.

    4. Barley

    Do the cholesterol goblins keep you up at night? Me either, but keeping them at bay still isn’t a bad idea. Whole grain barley (not pearled, which is the not-as-healthy variety with the germ and bran removed) lowered cholesterol by A LOT for people in a study who apparently had to eat it for five weeks. That’s a lot of barley, but the benefits are legit. It’ll also keep you fuller for longer, making you less likely to reach for a candy bar later.

    5. Freekeh

    The name is stupid, the benefits are not. And no, it is not the first half of the hook to a Petey Pablo song. This ancient wheat is super low carb and has four times the fiber of brown rice. This shit also has more vitamins and minerals than other grains. FUCK, it even helps digestion. I guess the real question is why aren’t you already inhaling this? You can make it rice style and serve for dinner OR get kinda weird with it and make a sweeter version for breakfast. Oh, and if you can’t find it, head to the Middle Eastern section of the grocery store. 


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    Mother refuses to allow fat teacher to educate her daughter

    Hilary Freeman, a London-based mom, has decided against enrolling her daughter in a certain nursery school because the assistant was obese.

    “The nursery assistant was clearly a lovely woman: kind and great with children. But as I watched her play with my two-year-old daughter, I felt a growing sense of unease,” Freeman penned in an essay explaining her position.


    “[The assistant] was only in her 20s, but she was already obese—morbidly so. She moved slowly and breathlessly, her face flushed,” Freeman continued.

    But Freeman claims her choice to enroll her daughter in a school with more physically fit teachers isn’t “fatism” or based on looks – it’s about safety.

    “Would she, I wondered, have the lightning reflexes needed to save an adventurous toddler from imminent danger? And what sort of unhealthy habits would she teach my daughter, who would be eating her lunch and tea there each day?” Freeman asked.

    The mom also noticed that the assistant wasn’t the only one at the school who was “extremely overweight.”

    Freeman decided her worries “about the message [the staff] was sending to the children in their care: that being very fat is normal and – when children adopt role models so readily – even desirable” were enough of a concern to place her daughter in another nursery.

    Since Freeman’s personal essay, people have accused her of “fat-shaming.” She notes that she has been attacked relentlessly on message boards about her opinions, as far as being called “anti-feminist” for suggesting that obesity is not a healthy way of life.

    However, her lack of sympathy for larger people is steeped in her own insecurities, she writes.

    “Perhaps I feel so strongly about this because I’m a slim person with a far person inside, wanting to burst out.”

    Freeman is a size 10 now, she said, but was once a size 14 because of a hormonal issue – she suffers with an underactive thyroid that makes it hard to lose weight and can cause severe weight gain. Her grandmother was also morbidly obese – a lifestyle Freeman does not want to hand down to her own daughter.


    “Research has proven that, in many ways, being obese is as unhealthy as smoking. It causes cancer, heart disease and diabetes and can impede fertility. Studies also disprove the notion one can be fat and fit. The heavier you are, the more likely you are to suffer from heart failure or stroke,” she says.

    Regardless of dissenting opinions on the mom’s choice of nursery, Freeman is sticking to her guns about the “rising obesity problem,” and ended her essay with a pointed call-to-action.

    “Discrimination is never good,” she says. “But neither is obesity. So let’s stop celebrating it, and instead offer a bit of tough love.”

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    A 14-year-old founder built Swiipe, the Tinder of news apps

    Swipe right.
    Image: Shutterstock /

    The news has been so awful for so long, who wouldn’t want to swipe left? 

    Swiipe is an iOS news app—from a 14-year-old founder in Ireland, no less—that lets users evaluate the news exactly as they would a profile on Bumble. Users see stories from 52 news sources and swipe left on stories they don’t want to read, swipe right to save an article for later, or tap the screen to read a story now. 

    It’s sort of strange to “swipe left” on a piece of news, but swiping doesn’t imply that you don’t like the news—just that you don’t really want to read about it. 

    “If you use Tinder, you might be used to it. But my age group might not be used to it,” founder Alex Goodison said. 

    Goodison always wanted to pay closer attention to everything going on in the world, but it was hard with school and extracurriculars. He looked for a way in, but Flipboard, Medium, and even Snapchat Discover all came up short. 

    “I would like to read the news more often, but I never found a certain app that had me coming back,” Goodison said. 

    Swipe right on Swiipe.

    Image: swiipe

    That was one reason he started building the Tinder-inspired news app. Instead of relying on push alerts or scrolling through endless top stories, users interact with and make a decision about the news of the day. On Product Hunt, Goodison described his app as “a different take on viewing the headlines by a 14-year-old 📰.” 

    “When people get given a whole long list of text they’re not as intrigued,” he said. “My idea is to make it more fun and interactive for the person to make them read the news again.”  

    Goodison built the app during his 13-week summer vacation in Ireland. He just started the Irish equivalent of ninth grade, and he’s set to graduate from his secondary school in Cork County in 2021. 

    He started to get interested in tech because of his father, who works as a developer for a mortgage company in Dublin. In his free time, Goodison taught himself to code through free tutorials on YouTube and a few paid courses from Udemy. He could have taken some computer classes through his school, but instead he chose the enterprise competition, or business, track. 

    Alex Goodison, right, at Ireland’s BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition.

    Image: alex goodison

    Swiipe is the fifth app he’s built, following a revision tool for national exams in Ireland, an app to locate defibrillators nationwide, a tennis scoring app, and a currency converter. 

    Those projects all stemmed from his own personal interests; heart disease ran in Goodison’s family, he likes tennis, and he needed a tool to study for his own exams. He wanted to build a news app, though, because of the specific coding skills it involved. This time, too, he wanted his app to appeal to people anywhere in the world, not just in Ireland. 

    Goodison rushed to finish his self-assigned summer project before school started up at the end of August. He uploaded the app to the App Store, where it sat quietly with barely a dozen downloads, short of Goodison’s goal of 100. Then he got on the homepage of Product Hunt, and suddenly Swiipe had been downloaded almost 1,300 times. 

    It’s not a ton of downloads—but it’s definitely a lot for a summer project. The app itself is appealing to users, like Goodison, who hadn’t found the news app that was quite right for them. 

    “People have contacted me and said this is now their daily news app,” he said. 

    Goodison has a few updates in the works—more choices for news sources, subscribing to stories by keyword instead of just publisher—and ideas for monetization and a social component. He can’t work full time on Swiipe now that school has started, but he still plans to work on the app—and other projects—on the weekends. 

    As for Goodison, he plans to move to the United States after graduating to pursue a career in tech, and he’s not too enthusiastic about taking the time to go to college. 

    “For the job I want to do, university isn’t famously attended,” he said. 

    First, there are this year’s exams—and his first app to really take off. 

    “There are big exams at the end of the year. I didn’t expect Swiipe to do this well,” he said. “I still have to do a lot of studying.” 

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    5 Delicious Ways To Enjoy Your Pumpkin Seeds After You’re Done Carving

    The fall season is inching its way toward us, bringing with it its signature warm hues, nippy weather, bright orange pumpkins, and, something I’m sure you often forget about, pumpkin seeds! As much as everyone glorifies all things of the pumpkin variety this time of year, it’s not often you hear much about those little pumpkin seeds, which is a shame because they come with a whole host of benefits and can make any recipe a whole lot better. There are tons of easy pumpkin seed recipes that definitely don’t get the credit they deserve, especially come Halloween season.

    Whether roasted or raw (if you ask me, they taste way better roasted), pumpkin seeds make for a tasty snack that is loaded with magnesium, one of the seven essential macrominerals. Your body requires magnesium for support with the metabolism of food, synthesis of fatty acids and proteins, and for the proper functioning of muscles.

    Plus, research has suggested that increasing your consumption of plant-based foods like pumpkin seeds decreases the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and overall mortality, while promoting healthy complexion and hair, as well as increased energy levels. Not too shabby for some measly seeds, huh?

    So, as you can see, there are plenty of reasons to not throw away your pumpkin seeds after you’re done carving your jack o’ lantern this fall. Save those babies for later so you can spruce up a meal, add a garnishing touch, or even hold yourself over with a light, healthy, seasonal snack. Her are five delicious ways to make the most of your plethora of pumpkin seeds.

    1. Embellish Your Smoothie

    I personally love to make a protein smoothie with blueberries, spring mix, protein powder, almond milk and handful of pumpkin seeds sprinkled on top. And, I won’t lie, the finished product is totally Insta-worthy. But get this, not only do pumpkin seeds make my smoothie more photogenic, but they add a desired crunch to my protein-packed morning beverage.

    I don’t know about you, but when I have something like a smoothie, I need a little crunch — just something to chew on to make myself feel as if I’ve actually consumed something hearty (it’s all in the mind, baby). So, if you’re like me, sprinkling pumpkin seeds on top of your smoothie adds some much-needed texture to the mix, and also provides your body with some serious nutrient-dense benefits, like chlorophyll, which alkalizes and cleanses the body.

    2. Add Them To Your Homemade Muffins

    What I love about this is that, with pumpkin seed muffins, you can get that sweet, carb-loaded satisfaction, but with a slight hint of a nutty undertone — and to me, that sounds delectable.

    Plus, who says dessert can’t be nutritious? These apple pumpkin seed muffins courtesy of Homemade Food Junkie sound absolutely delicious.

    3. Add Them To Your Pesto Pasta

    Pumpkin seeds are a surprisingly versatile food, guys.

    If you love pesto, try adding pumpkin seeds to your usual mix for an extra kick to get that perfect balance of nutty crunch and savory flavor.

    4. Make Creamy Pumpkin Seed Butter

    There’s peanut butter, almond butter, and hazelnut butter, but there’s very little talk about pumpkin seed butter, and I honestly don’t know why.

    For a creamy butter spread on a warm piece of to-die-for bread, you can get all the healthful benefits of pumpkin seeds (like omega 3 fatty acids) at cost and delightful taste. can you pass that up?!

    5. Sprinkle Them Over Your Soup

    Not only does sprinkling pumpkin seeds over your soup provide for additional flavoring, but it can also make a really plain soup look very fanciful.

    If you’re having guests over for a cozy fall night and you plan on whipping up a hearty batch of soup, garnishing your dish with pumpkin seeds will make you look like your adulting skills are not to be f*cked with.

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