Lorde apologises for ‘extremely poorly chosen’ Instagram caption

Lorde has apologised to fans after Instagramming a photo of a bathtub captioned with a Whitney Houston lyric.

Lorde posted a photo of a bathtub on her Instagram alongside the words “and iiiii will always love you”—a lyric from “I Will Always Love You.” Whitney Houston’s version of the song—penned by Dolly Parton in 1973—became a huge hit after it featured on the soundtrack of The Bodyguard in 1992. 

But, the coupling of the image and its caption prompted fans to criticise Lorde for being “insensitive.” Whitney Houston was found dead in a bathtub in 2012. The autopsy report revealed her death was caused by drowning and “effects ofatherosclerotic heart disease and cocaine use.”

Lorde’s post has since been deleted, but not before Whitney fans tweeted screenshots of the post, calling the choice of caption “disgusting.” 

Others rushed to Lorde’s defence, stating that the caption was a “very bad coincidence.” 

Lorde posted a prompt apology on her Instagram Story. “Extremely extremely poorly chosen quote,” wrote Lorde. “I’m so sorry for offending anyone—I hadn’t even put this together, I was just excited to take a bath.”

Image: instagram /@lordemusic

“I’m an idiot. Love Whitney forever and ever. Sorry again,” she added. 

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/04/06/lorde-whitney-houston-apology/

Michio Kaku picks five books to help you understand the future

From medicine to space travel, these works explore how the newest wave of science will transform society

Science is the engine of prosperity. From the industrial revolution (powered by the steam engine), to the electric revolution (which lit up our cities), to the current computer revolution (which connects us all), science creates wealth and progress. Now, to predict the future of society, we have to understand the fourth wave of science, which is AI, biotech and nanotech.

Beyond Boundaries: The New Neuroscience of Connecting Brains with Machines and How It Will Change Our Lives by Miguel Nicolelis captures all the progress and excitement in this field. He predicts a future in which we will create a brain net: an internet where emotions, memories and feelings can be sent over the internet. Like magicians, we will simply think and send messages, move objects, feel the thoughts and emotions of others, and control exoskeletons with superpowers.

Working for Google, Ray Kurzweil has made many predictions that have surprised and amazed others, because he believes in the exponential rise of technology, leading to the singularity. In The Singularity Is Near, he predicts that computers may begin to rival or surpass human intelligence. Also, computers may one day be so small they will circulate in our blood, repairing cellular damage, giving us health and perhaps some form of immortality. Should we fear these computers, or celebrate their arrival?

In The Patient Will See You Now, Eric Topol charts how digitisation is slowly transforming medicine. Most industries have already been digitised the media, music, banking but perhaps the most important transformation will be in medicine, which still resembles something from the middle ages. Your mobile phone, for example, will analyse your heart beat for possible heart disease. Your DNA will be used to create new therapies and cures. The tricorder of Star Trek, which analyses your health by simply scanning your body, is coming.

Beyond Earth by Charles Wohlforth and Amanda R Hendrix imagines what will it be like to create settlements on Mars and even Titan, a moon of Saturn. We might be entering a new age of space exploration. Nasa has laid out a timetable, starting with going back to the moon after 50 years, and then going to Mars, perhaps to the asteroids and beyond. What will we find when we explore the oceans of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn? Can Titan be colonised, or used as a gas station for future space missions? Will we find intelligent life in outer space?

A few weeks ago, millions of people watched the launch of Elon Musks Falcon Heavy, the first genuine moon rocket to blast off in 50 years. Musk was inspired to bankroll this moon rocket in part because he read Isaac Asimovs Foundation trilogy as a child. I, too, was fascinated by Asimovs gripping saga of the rise and decline of a galactic empire. For Musk, creating a civilisation beyond the Earth would be an insurance policy for the human race. After all, the dinosaurs did not have a space programme.

Michio Kaku is the author of The Future of Humanity: Terraforming Mars, Interstellar Travel, Immortality, and Our Destiny Beyond Earth. He is a professor of theoretical physics at the City University of New York.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/mar/12/further-reading-michio-kaku-books-to-understand-future

Ellen presenting Jimmy Kimmel with a surprise for his son is super emotional

Ellen DeGeneres often surprises the guests she has on her show. But it’s not often the surprise is as heartwarming as this one.

On Tuesday, Jimmy Kimmel appeared on The Ellen Show to chat about hosting the upcoming Oscars.

At one point the subject turned to his son, Billy, who was born with a genetic heart disease he’s previously had to undergo surgery for. Kimmel wanted to thank DeGeneres for helping to raise $1 million for Children’s Hospital LA in Billy’s honour.

Turns out that wasn’t all she’d done, though.

“We called our friends at Children’s Hospital LA, including Billy’s surgeon, and we have named one of the rooms of the heart institute floor in honour of Billy,” DeGeneres tells Kimmel in the clip above.

Kimmel’s emotional reaction says it all.

DeGeneres later tweeted to encourage more people to donate.

And Kimmel and Billy thanked her once again.

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/02/28/jimmy-kimmel-emotional-ellen-son/

Going TV cold turkey what is it like to give up the box for a month?

In this golden age of television, the pressure to binge-watch is immense even as evidence mounts about the health risks. So how did one heavy user cope with the big switch-off?

There are almost no pleasures left in life that someone hasnt suggested we give up to better ourselves. Booze, sugar, smoking, meat, clutter, coffee, even our smartphone. Soon well be told that all this teeth-brushing is getting rid of our bodies important natural tooth bacteria and Joe Wicks will launch his new book: How to Live with Decay … Everyday!

Yet there is one indulgence that engulfs our life like nothing else. We spend a dizzying amount of time doing it, yet it goes almost completely unchallenged by self-help books and wellbeing advice: watching television. We spend, on average, over four hours a day looking at our TV sets. In the UK, 74% of viewers say they sometimes watch more TV than they intended to, with a third of adults admitting that binge-watching has cost them sleep and left them feeling tired.

Weve found that self-proclaimed binge-watchers exhibit higher levels of stress, anxiety and depression, says Jessica S Kruger, an assistant professor at the University at Buffalo who has studied the public health impacts of binge-watching. There are also studies out of Harvard showing that among people who spend two hours watching TV the risk of diabetes goes up by 20%, the risk of heart disease by 15% and early death by 13%.

Given that people in Britain watch twice that amount, you would think the government might have declared a national crisis and appointed a bingeing tsar by now. But the only message we ever hear about TV is that we are living in its golden age and have a responsibility to watch it all: every week there is another must-see show we have to finish, just to engage with our fellow humans.

Im starting to think I could be spending this time better. A lot of my other life goals making my flat nice, reading more serious books, shedding a roll or two of stomach have been sidelined by TV. After a particularly square-eyed Christmas, I decide its time to try life without television and promise not to watch any for a month.

It wont be easy. Im what you would call a heavy user. I have a 43in TV in the front room, with Freeview Play, an Amazon Fire TV stick and Apple TV. Ive got Netflix and Amazon Prime.

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More time for jigsaw puzzles … Wolfson discovers one of the great things about switching off the TV. Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian

I have always been like this. When I was young, I would go to friends houses where TV was presented as a reward that should be rationed out: You can watch cartoons when youve done your homework. But in our house, TV was part of the family. We would eat dinner in the living room, watch EastEnders and then get into heated family discussions about the precariousness of Steve and Mel Owens relationship. Even as I got older, I would spend an inordinate number of Saturday nights in with the family, voting for Will Young on Pop Idol or doing those weird national IQ tests they used to have on BBC One. I learned as much about the world from Harry from Spooks and Toby from The West Wing as I did from my teachers.

Now I go out quite often, but when I stay in, TV can sap the life out of my evenings. Ill come home with plans to better myself. Then, almost as if by magic, five-and-a-half hours disappear and Im splayed on the sofa, surrounded by the crumbs of some stale crackers Ive managed to forage from the kitchen, the remote having never left my hand.

Giving up TV is complicated because the boundaries between what is and isnt TV are foggy in the age of Netflix and Amazon. Kruger tells me that its these on-demand services, available on every device and making it easy to watch an entire series in one go, that make us most susceptible to bingeing. So I opt for a total ban. No TV shows, sport or films on any device. Im still allowed to go the cinema because thats, you know, living life.

The first week or so feels fantastic. Almost immediately I become a grown-up version of myself. I read the first few chapters of Ta-Nehisi Coates collected essays on the Obama years, while starting Michael Wolffs Fire and Fury on audiobook. I go to a talk about the early Jewish settlers in London, and see the Ai Weiwei documentary about the refugee crisis. My girlfriend, who doesnt watch much telly and is thrilled about this new development, takes me to an exhibition by the painter Roy Colmer at the Lisson Gallery exactly the sort of thing I would normally try to get out of. Unexpectly, I love it: spray-gun patterns that echo TV distortion on canvas, it all feels very fitting for my journey.

My initial pang of withdrawal comes on the first Friday night I come back from the pub, feeling drunk and very ready to sink into the sofa and put away a couple of old 30 Rock episodes. When I realise I cant, Im suddenly at a loss: Im too drunk to read, too awake to go to sleep. Then, after a few minutes, it just happens: I tidy my room not just shoving things under the bed, but folding, ironing, get-to-the-bottom-of-the-wash-basket tidying. I wake up on Saturday morning in what feels like a hotel room, but one of my own making. I feel like I have a secret butler.

Lots
Lots of reading time, too. Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian

While I think Im doing quite well, my friends and family seem almost angry with me. When I tell people what Im doing theres a look of exasperation on their faces, as though I have insulted a relative. People cant understand what point Im trying to prove. What, youre not even going to watch McMafia, says my mum, sounding hurt that we wont be able to discuss it.

The hardest thing is missing the snooker. Its the Masters, and for me this would normally mean a lovely week of horizontal evenings, gently dozing between frames. But with my new go-getter attitude, I organise a trip to see a match live instead, a thrilling showdown between Ryan Day and Ding Jun-Hui. I feel like Ive cracked the code for life: dont just watch, do.

Its all going well until week three, when my girlfriend leaves to go on a week-long retreat, and it really hits me. This would be perfect boxset time; instead I am slightly bereft. I try everything to stop myself from watching: laser quest; bowling; bingo, twice. On Saturday night my friend Anna comes for dinner, and we begin a 1,500-piece jigsaw puzzle of a shelf of soft drinks. I bought it at a charity shop years ago and never opened it. At 4am we are still going, in silence, fitting pieces together with mindful clarity.

Not all the ways I distract myself are so wholesome. Ive always been a light gambler, but now its rampant: betting on football matches and then listening to them on BBC 5 Live, like a wideboy in the 1950s. On a particularly dark night I download the app of the ITV gameshow The Chase, which allows you to play the Bradley Walsh quiz on your phone with a virtual Bradley cracking gags between the questions. It even has the same music. I beat the chaser twice. My cravings are sated.

But I only properly break my abstinence once during the month. I have to watch a bit of the Trump and Piers Morgan interview on my laptop for work. Its as if, in my absence from television, we have switched over to some state-controlled, despotic network, the interviewer fawning over a politician telling him he is so fabulous he could even manage our football team. Im happy to switch it off.

By the end of the month I havent, as I had hoped, finished a library of books and become trim and fit. But I am enjoying life in a more rounded way: getting up early, reading the paper, cooking for myself every night.

Then, finally, I am allowed to watch again. I wait till midnight on the final day and then feel the soft remote in my hand again, endorphins rushing through me before I have even reached the familiar Amazon Fire homepage. I decide to start with the Grammys, having felt like I had missed out on all the bitching about Lorde being snubbed and Gagas new face earlier in the week.

But something isnt quite right. Its almost like watching through someone elses window. Maybe its because Ive already missed the zeitgeist, or it was just a really bad Grammys, but it isnt giving me the same buzz. I switch off about a third of the way through.

Three days later, Ive watched a bit of a film, but I just cant quite bring myself to get back into a series.

Im sure it wont last. One friend has sent an unsolicited list of everything Ive missed, and the weight of unwatched box sets feels heavy on my shoulders once again. But Kruger gives me a few tips on how to fight the urges: we shouldnt fast-forward adverts, which make the bingeing process less enjoyable and less addictive, and I should consider getting an app that locks you out of your Netflix account after a certain amount of time.

Its advice worth heeding. New studies about the dangers of extended TV watching emerge all the time. One, published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, found that a higher frequency of binge-viewing was related to poorer sleep quality, more fatigue and insomnia. There was also evidence that bingeing drama boxsets, with complex storylines and cliffhangers, had a greater impact on normal sleep patterns than traditional TV watching.

Im going to start putting in my calendar when I plan to watch something, like a treat, and switching off after that. Im grateful for everything TV has taught me, and Im certain my formative years would have been much worse without it. But after decades of devotion, Im ready to start being my own strict parent: only watching cartoons when Ive done my homework.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2018/feb/25/television-binge-watcher-eastenders-give-up-a-month

Risky relationships: why women are more likely to die of a broken heart

In her new book, heart surgeon Dr Nikki Stamp explores how modern medicine is only beginning to understand the connection between body and emotion

Takotsubo cardiomyopathy commonly known as broken heart syndrome is rare but real. As a heart and lung surgeon, Dr Nikki Stamp has seen a few cases herself, and the phenomenon provides a compelling opening chapter to her first book, Can You Die of a Broken Heart? The title reminds us of when Debbie Reynolds died of a broken heart the day after her daughter, Carrie Fisher, passed away in 2016, but this book rises far above the online pseudoscience accompanying those reports. It is possible to be so affected by grief or shock that a predisposed heart simply cannot cope, and Stamp uses this as an opener to explore the myriad ways modern medicine is only recently understanding (and admitting) to the connection between body and emotion.

Weve sort of come full circle in terms of emotion and health, Stamp says. When early physicians were discovering organs and the body, they actually thought the heart was the centre of emotion, because it was warm and hot and thats where the idea of being hot-blooded came from. And then we got kind of cold and clinical; that your emotions come from the brain, that your emotional state has nothing to do with your physical state, and now weve come full circle and were starting to encompass a more holistic view of health.

Relationships are a great example. There is a trend to suggest that the risk of dying is higher after the loss of someone important and close to you, Stamp says. Conversely, she says, both romantic and platonic relationships are hugely beneficial. Theres a lot of positive physiology and positive actions that happen in the body when youre in a relationship. When you have social connection and emotional connection, it seems that our brains recognise that as something that means youre healthy.

Australian
Australian heart and lung surgeon Dr Nikki Stamp. Her book Can You Die of a Broken Heart? argues research into womens heart health has suffered from entrenched gender bias. Photograph: Chris Chen

Good hormones such as serotonin and oxytocin flood the body, preventing inflammation and assisting with blood flow.

The book doesnt sugarcoat the risks of relationships though, and the section about divorce is sobering. One study Stamp notes in the book showed that pain centres in the brain lit up when people were shown photos of their ex-partners, and of course pain and stress have negative effects on the heart.

Its interesting because weve come to a point in culture and in society where were socially more accepting of divorce, yet it still has this profound effect on our health, Stamp says. Divorce puts women under significantly more physiological strain than men, research reveals. When men remarry, their risk of heart attack drops again, but Stamp writes that, for women, divorce means a rewriting of their health prospectus forever: The risks posed by divorce to a womans heart health is on a similar level to that of high blood pressure or smoking. Men married to women, on the other hand, are significantly less likely to have heart attacks in the first place and those who do recover from them much faster than single men or women married to men.

The gendered issues inherent in heart health dont end there either. In fact, Stamp says one of the reasons she started writing Can You Die of a Broken Heart? was because of how scary and frustrating it was that women dont identify with heart disease despite it being the No 1 cause of death in Australian women. The book explains: If youre a woman under 50 years of age and you have a heart attack, then you are twice as likely to die than a man in the same boat.Why? A contributing factor is the dearth of resources put into womens heart health because most of the research has been done by men, on men.

Stamp who is often mistaken for a nurse and referred to by her first name where her male colleagues are addressed with titles explains that gendered issues in the industry affect medicine itself. Women in academic medicine or even in higher levels of medical research in general are quite underrepresented. And whether we like it or not, we all have a bias towards looking at things that are more pertinent to ourselves, she says. So, with all of that, were only just now learning about both the biological and social differences between mens and womens hearts. And because of that, the knowledge isnt there among healthcare practitioners, and so we dont know what to look out for and we dismiss symptoms. Women dont want to seem silly and then they go to their healthcare expert, a doctor or nurse, and they dismiss it as well because the symptoms are strange or because women are more likely to be perceived as being anxious. Its just this storm of complications that mean that womens hearts are so much more at risk.

Australian
Photograph: Murdoch Books

The most affecting thing about the book is Stamps infectious admiration for the organ. She describes how breathtaking it was the first time she saw a heart beating inside a chest as though it were love at first sight. Her book is peppered with compelling anecdotes from her professional adventures (when one patient threw a table at her, she responded, No judgment there: grief is a nasty piece of work). A lot of health books seem quite prescriptive and almost paternalistic. I didnt want to write something like that, Stamp says. In the introduction we learn that the very human side of what it is to care for another person is what got her into medicine, and it shows. One patients heart surgery was put on hold so she could marry the love of her life right there in the ward. Two days after her wedding she was wheeled down the same corridor to the operating theatre.

Stamp admits that knowing the effect of heartbreak on her heart hasnt made her superhuman. At times when I was researching this book and learning about the effects of heartbreak it just sort of made me cross at the people who had broken my heart all over again, she says, laughing, But I think I muddle through. One of the sad inevitabilities of life is that heartbreak is going to happen to all of us at some point in time and I just hope that if and when it happens again that I do remember some of this stuff and that I might muddle my way through it just a little bit better.

Can You Die of a Broken Heart? by Dr Nikki Stamp is out now through Murdoch Books

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/feb/24/risky-relationships-why-women-are-more-likely-to-die-of-a-broken-heart

Trump had a list of compassionate responses while meeting with shooting survivors

President Donald Trump takes part in a listening session on gun violence with teachers and students in the State Dining Room of the White House on Feb. 21, 2018.
Image: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

In the wake of a school shooting which left 17 people dead in Parkland, Florida, the White House held a listening session with President Trump and the victims and parents of gun violence in schools on Wednesday.

Apparently, Trump needed some notes on how to sound like a compassionate human. 

While it’s not uncommon for a president to have notes, especially during a sensitive session such as talking to survivors of a deadly mass shooting, Trump accidentally flashed one of the sheets to the room, and it was essentially a list of compassionate responses written by someone other than the president. (Trump reportedly writes in uppercase letters.) Photographer Chip Somodevilla managed to snap part of the list for Getty Images.

Trump was spotted holding a list of compassionate responses while meeting with gun violence survivors at a listening session on Wednesday.

Image: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Below are three of the notes scribbled on Trump’s list. Trump’s hands are blocking notes numbered three and four. 

1. What would you most want me to know about your experience? 

2. What can we do [to] help you feel [safe]?

5. I hear you. 

Trump faced heavy criticism last week when he posed for smiling photos after meeting with victims and first responders from last week’s shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School. It’s not surprising someone from his team would pass him some notes, especially considering his tendencies to go off script.

President Donald Trump picks up a pile of notes while in a listening session with gun violence survivors.

Image: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Trump can be seen picking up the paper, after asking the room if they had any solutions to combat gun violence in school, though it’s unclear if he read any of the responses off the list. 

Regardless, when the photo was revealed, plenty of people on Twitter had some criticisms for the president.

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/02/21/trump-notes-school-shooting-survivors/

Blue-sky thinking: how China’s crackdown on pollution is paying off

Clear skies above Beijing again but some fear the problem is just being pushed elsewhere

The photographs on display at Wu Dis Beijing studio imagine China and Beijing at their dystopian worst.

Naked, expectant mothers stare out from the walls, their bellies exposed but their faces hidden behind green gas masks.

Worshippers prostrate themselves around the Ming dynasty Temple of Heaven, desperately petitioning the smog-choked skies for a breath of fresh air.

But while the interior of Wus atelier offers a desolate panorama of Chinas pollution crisis, outside, a different, brighter side to the country is, for once, on show.

Beijings skies, so often noxious and smoggy, are a perfect and perplexing cerulean blue.

Its 26 today, said Wu, a visual artist and documentary photographer, checking his smartphones pollution app to confirm the uncommonly low levels of PM2.5, an airborne particulate linked to lung cancer, asthma and heart disease.

In the past, we made money first and could only talk about the environment later. But its clear the government has changed its mind, he said. We can see everything is starting to move in the right direction.

During the creation of the nightmarish airpocalypses portrayed in Wus artwork, pollution levels might have been 20 or even 30 times higher. Beijing was like a giant airport smoking room that day. It was an epic haze, he recalled, pointing to an image staged in October 2013 in which a girl appears to inhale oxygen through a tube connected to two heart-shaped balloons.

Times, though, appear to be changing.

Wu
Wu says he became an artist after he saw foreign athletes wearing facemasks at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Photograph: Tom Phillips for the Guardian

Traditionally, winter is Beijings smoggiest season, as coal burning ramps up to keep millions of residents warm. But the skies over Chinas capital have been almost inconceivably clear of late, thanks partly to a government crackdown on the use of the fossil fuel.

Beijing enjoyed a record 226 days of good air quality last year and endured 23 heavily polluted days, compared with 58 in 2013, state media announced last month. The South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong newspaper, greeted the recovery with the incredulous headline: How did Beijing become one of Chinas top cities for air quality?

Hu Xijin, the editor of the party-controlled Global Times, tweeted alongside a photograph of Beijings azure-framed CCTV headquarters: Isnt it good to have a ruling party that can honour its promise?

Lauri Myllyvirta, a Greenpeace campaigner, said Chinas leaders could rightly claim credit for making Beijing blue again, temporarily at least, even if favourable weather conditions had played a major role in the exceptionally good spell.

Since last year, thousands of environmental inspectors have fanned out across the industrial belt around the capital as part of an aggressive clampdown on coal use. Heavily polluting vehicles, factories and construction sites have also been targeted. There is clear evidence the measures worked, said Myllyvirta, who said overall PM2.5 levels in Beijing had fallen by 40% from their peak in 2012-2013.

But he sounded a note of caution. Average PM2.5 levels in Beijing remained 65% above the national standard and more than five times World Health Organization guidelines last year. A recent bout of severe smog highlighted the fight ahead.

There are also fears that the crackdown around Beijing is forcing polluting industries to migrate south to regions such as the Yangtze river delta around Shanghai, where smog levels are rising. The war on pollution is far from over few people harbour illusions, Myllyvirta said. But there is also no reason for cynicism as theres clear evidence the measures worked.

Wu, 41, abandoned his job as an executive to become an environmentally engaged artist a decade ago, shocked into a career change by images of foreign athletes wearing facemasks at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Ten years on, and with the skies over his adoptive home starting to clear, he said he is glad his artwork and photographs, some of which have featured in Greenpeace anti-pollution campaigns, have played a role in increasing public awareness.

I want to produce work that can push society and the government to make positive changes …. [and] the most effective way to push the government to make changes is through public opinion, he said. It shows my work isnt a waste of time … It shows the power of art.

Wu worries, however, that change may have come too fast. He was among those left shivering when environmental inspectors began destroying coal-fired heaters late last year as part of a push to switch to natural gas or electric heating systems. Its only four degrees in here I can hardly work, he complained, touring his studio in a thick brown coat.

I agree with the government that we need lucid waters and lush mountains but the measures should be more gentle and more human. I can cope with the low temperature, but what about the elderly? What about children?

In one nearby area, primary school students reportedly suffered frostbite and were forced to study outdoors in the sunshine after their radiators stopped working.

Wu is also concerned about the environmental damage still being inflicted on less visible regions, where pollution crises have not received the same level of media attention as Beijings toxic skies. For one installation, he asked 12 volunteer disciples to recreate one of Leonardo da Vincis frescos, The Last Supper, in a derelict factory. The message is that because of pollution, mankinds last supper could come at any time because of pollution.

Overall, however, Wu believes China is on the right track. We should admit the government is trying to do the right thing and we need to recognise that it takes time to deal with environmental issues, he said.

If Chinas war on smog robbed him of his principal inspiration, he is unperturbed. Theres no lack of problems to inspire artists in China, he joked. Some western artists are jealous of that.

Additional reporting by Wang Xueying

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/22/blue-sky-thinking-how-chinas-crackdown-on-pollution-is-paying-off

While You Were Offline: And the Real Fake News Award Goes To…

Maybe it's just us, but it seems as though everyone was on pins and needles last week. Between the looming shutdown of the US government, fretting over President Trump praising anti-abortion efforts, and everyone wondering just why Ja Rule was a trending topic on Twitter (no, really, why?), there was a lot of cause for unease—and that feeling spread. Still, it’s not all worrying; at least Superman found his red trunks again. There is good in the world. And then there’s also all of this, too.

The Real Fake News Awards

What Happened: It took some time, but the president finally got around to releasing his Fake News Awards last week. It was not a smooth rollout.

What Really Happened: Remember earlier this month when Trump said he was going to hand out awards for the media he found to be the most dishonest in their reporting? No? That's OK. A lot has happened since then. Here's a refresher.

Though you shouldn't have forgotten about the awards, they were a big deal.

You see? Even President Trump says that the “importance” of the awards is “far greater than anyone could have anticipated.” Well, last Wednesday he made good on his promise. Kind of.

The problem—well, one of the problems, let’s be honest—was that the link didn’t work, which Twitter was very happy to note.

And when the link eventually did work, it wasn’t as if the reaction improved much. For one thing, people were upset that the awards were hosted by the official Republican Party site, and not the White House’s.

And then there’s the actual “awards” themselves, which turned out to be … not exactly awards?

Sure, the stunt got a lot of media coverage, but when the president fails at fact-checking his own declarations of Fake News, everything really starts to look like it's happening in the Upside Down—or Irony Land.

The Takeaway: An event with a big build-up that was undone by a site that wouldn’t load when everyone wanted to see it, and then disappointed others when it eventually did show up. What was that about history repeating itself?

Trump's Checkup

What Happened: Is Donald Trump fit to hold the Oval Office? Medically speaking, yes—unless you listen to some medical experts who don’t work for the President of the United States.

What Really Happened: Every year, the President of the United States undergoes a physical to make sure that he’s, you know, up to the job of being the leader of the free world. Given what has become known of his diet, many wondered if the White House was going to quietly skip the annual tradition of publicly announcing the results. And yet…

…The results of the physical, as announced during a lengthy press conference, were surprising to many.

Oh, don’t worry; there were definitely conspiracy theories abounding about some of the results.

Still, as it turned out, it wasn’t just conspiracy theorists who were calling shenanigans. Many medical professionals read the results and suggested he has heart disease and is overweight. But that’s not what the White House says, and a couple of days after the official release of the results, the president happily shared the exercise regime that allowed him to be so healthy.

We sense a workout video in the making!

The Takeaway: Can anyone make an argument that those height and weight statistics are accurate?

Turns Out, Sex and Politics Is Still an Amazingly Potent Combination

What Happened: Last week another political scandal grabbed everyone's attention—and this one had a porn star.

What Really Happened: Given the metabolism of the news cycle, you would've been forgiven for thinking that the revelation that Donald Trump’s lawyer paid adult actress Stormy Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet about an alleged affair would be a one-day story at best. Turns out, not so much.

While people wondered who had the story early—a surprising number were apparently chasing this down before the 2016 election—it turned out that one outlet definitely had the dirt all along: In Touch magazine, which had an on-the-record interview with Daniels—one that provided plenty more details to keep this story alive.

As it turns out, other people had noticed a similarity, as the In Touch piece revealed.

What else?

That’s not the only new detail that came out last week, either.

And then there’s the question of where the money came from. But don't worry, that also got answered in an appropriately forehead-slapping moment.

The Takeaway: Maybe there’s a way this can be spun into a win by the president?

The Opinion Pages

What Happened: It’s hard for the Forgotten Men and Women of America to earn that title when the New York Times can’t help but promote them at every given opportunity.

What Really Happened: It's about to be the one-year anniversary of the Trump presidency, which means it’s time to look around and take stock of what's happened, what changes have been brought by the current administration, and reflect.

Or, you know, there’s that option. The Times replaced it’s editorial page on Thursday with letters from those who voted for Trump and didn’t regret it, arguing that it did so "in the spirit of open debate." It’s fair to say that a lot of people didn’t agree.

There’s something to be said for exposing people to opinions and outlooks that they wouldn’t normally see. However, the common consensus was this didn’t do that. Was there anything to learn from these letters, though?

OK, maybe not.

For those wondering, the Times did try for balance, following up the letters from Trump voters who love Trump with letters from Trump voters who aren’t so sure anymore. It’s a start, right?

The Takeaway: If nothing else, always remember… it could be worse.

I Don’t Know What’s Happened to the Kids Today

What Happened: You’re only as young as you feel, although science would like you to know that you might be younger than you think.

What Really Happened: Good news for those criticized for never growing up: Scientists are now saying that adolescence lasts until your mid-20s. Hey, collective grown children that constitute the internet, how do you feel about this news?

…That seems about right.

The Takeaway: If only there was some way to blame millennials for all of this, what with their avocado toast and their not buying houses…

Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/real-fake-news-award/

Jimmy Kimmel’s baby son had a second heart surgery

Jimmy Kimmel will be taking a break this week to spend time with his family following his son Billy’s successful second heart surgery. 

According to ABC News, the late night host will have the help of various guest hosts filling in for him this week so he can be with his family during the 7-month-old’s recovery process. 

Chris Pratt took over the show on Monday, and for the rest of the week, Tracee Ellis Ross, Neil Patrick Harris, and Melissa McCarthy will take turns making themselves comfy in Kimmel’s seat. 

Kimmel and his son’s story have been one of the unexpected voices speaking out against the proposed health care bill and the national conversation about health care. In May, Kimmel made the announcement that his newborn son was born with heart disease and since then, he has used his show to advocate against the various Republican health care bills and to raise awareness by analyzing and discussing the bill on his show. 

This will be the second time this year Kimmel has stepped away from his hosting gigs due to family obligations. Billy’s scheduled surgery was initially intended to take place in October, but was postponed due to a cold. Nonetheless, Shaquille O’Neal, Dave Grohl, Channing Tatum, and Jennifer Lawrence stepped up to the plate for him that week and we got some hilarious clips out of that—so this week should be just as fun. 

We are all wishing Billy a very speedy recovery. 

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/12/05/jimmy-kimmel-son-second-surgery/

How innovation has pushed ergonomics beyond efficiency

Image: pexels

Ergonomics is a science that examines the interactions between humans and the objects they use. This involves designing and arranging objects so that humans can interact with them as efficiently and safely as they can.

The practice of ergonomics is particularly important in the workplace, and through things like adjustable desk chairs and keyboard wrist rests, employers provide safer and more efficient environments for their employees. In addition to reducing injuries and improving overall safety, workplace ergonomics can increase productivity by 11 percent on average. And since ergonomic practices improve the quality of an office environment, this often results in happier employees.   

So if our workplaces are becoming more and more optimized, why can’t we think about the rest of our daily activities in the same way?

Ergonomics began as a way to bring more safety and efficiency into people’s lives, but modern technology has allowed for innovation to play a role in ergonomics and extend the practice to our homes and everyday lives. Companies are making an effort to create products that provide unique and valuable experiences for consumers. Because oftentimes, these experiences are so common in our day-to-day lives that we forget we could be optimizing them.  

Automatic optimal lighting 

Something you might not think about when it comes to ergonomics is your environment’s lighting. But poor lighting, especially when looking at a computer screen for long periods of time, can cause strain to your eyes and bodies. F.lux is a software that automatically adjusts your computer’s screen color to its most optimal setting. The technology makes your computer screen warm at night and like sunlight during the day, so that your screen always adapts to your surroundings no matter what time it is. 

Image: pexels

Personalized posture improvement

When you can’t avoid sitting for long periods of time, it’s important to maintain good posture so that your neck and back muscles don’t suffer unnecessary strain. Upright makes this easier by providing immediate posture feedback. Simply place the wearable device on your back and it will send gentle vibrations to remind you to sit up straight if you are slouching. You can also track your progress with their app and set daily goals for yourself through a personalized training program.

A desk that adjusts for you

Whether you sit at a desk all day at work or find yourself sitting for long periods of time at a table or desk at home, we spend a lot of our lives sitting. Research has found that standing for a few hours each day helps reduce the risk of things like heart disease, back pain, and obesity. While taking a break to walk around the office or simply stand up can help, technology has fueled even more possible solutions. 

Companies like Evodesk are creating mechanical standing desks that are designed with the user in mind. With the press of a button you can choose from more than 250 different sitting and standing positions to find the one that suits your needs in that moment. The desk moves one and a half inches per second, so you’ll never feel like you’re waiting for the technology to catch up to you.

Image: volvo

A car made with you in mind

We usually think of ergonomics in the office or at home, but these practices can be extended to our cars as well. Given that ergonomics is all about maximizing the interaction between people and their environment, vehicles are the next frontier for ergonomics powered by connected technology.   

The new Volvo XC60 was designed with human-centric features that make driving more efficient and safe without sacrificing luxury and style. The center display makes navigation and entertainment seamless with intuitive control options and a larger display so you don’t need to scroll to see the details of your route. And the car’s seats were designed by orthopedic surgeons to complement the human form. The seat cushions are adjustable so that they maximize comfort and support, and were designed to absorb energy and thus protect your spine in the event of an accident or sudden movement. 

The XC60 also features an entire suite of safety technologies, called IntelliSafe, which makes driving more comfortable and helps prevent accidents. City Safety is at the core of this safety technology, identifying other vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and large animals ahead of you, warning you of any hazards, and braking the car automatically if you don’t react in time. There are also automatic steering adjustments and braking to help avoid collisions with oncoming traffic and prevent your car from leaving the road. The car’s Blind Spot Information System alerts you of vehicles alongside you, and its Driver Alert Control recognizes if you’re tired or distracted and may suggest taking a break.

Even though the study of ergonomics began with the simple goal of making people’s lives more efficient and safe, innovative products, devices, and vehicles like the Volvo XC60 use technology to elevate a user’s experience. From office furniture to household products to the cars we drive, technology is constantly changing how we think about the items we interact with every day—and how those interactions can be as seamless as possible.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/11/22/innovative-ergonomic-products/