Showing posts from February 2, 2020

Cosleeping and SIDS

In 1963, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) became a medical concern, and the death rate was two to three babies per 1,000 live births in most Western nations. Epidemiological research in the ‘70s and ‘80s identified factors that co-occurred with SIDS, especially stomach sleeping and sleeping with adults. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics took their cue, and all pediatricians recommended that babies be put to sleep on their backs, separately from adults. The SIDS rates began to decline.

At the same time, researchers observed that SIDS is lowest in cultures where cosleeping is most common. During the vulnerable age of two to three months when voluntary breathing comes online (and SIDS peaks), the close supervision and presence of the adult may be especially important if the baby has a glitch in the development of her breathing mechanics.

What to do? Research over the last 30 years revealed that the risk of bedsharing can be managed when it is done safely—when the infant is placed on he…

How Cosleeping Can Help You and Your Baby

The decision whether to cosleep with your baby is extremely controversial—and there are two sides to the story.

By Diana Divecha

Few parenting conversations in early childhood elicit as much angst and judgment as the one about our children’s sleep: Where should they sleep, and how do we get them to sleep through the night? We label newborn babies as “good,” or not, depending on how much they disturb us in the nighttime, or we believe babies’ sleep is a reflection of our parenting competence.

But our beliefs and decisions about children’s sleep are more a reflection of the culture we live in than the scientific evidence for what’s best for children, says anthropologist James J. McKenna, in many of his 150 scientific articles on children’s sleep. McKenna is director emeritus of the Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory at the University of Notre Dame, and author of Safe Infant Sleep: Expert Answers to Your Cosleeping Questions. He has devoted his career to understanding what happens to b…

How to Make a Good Apology

Learn the four steps to making an effective apology, with comedian Jolenta Greenberg of the By the Book podcast.

By Jane Bahk

How Unequal Discipline Hurts Black Students

Discipline gaps and achievement gaps may be a vicious cycle.

By Carrie Spector

Students of color are suspended at disproportionately higher rates than white students and, on average, perform more poorly on standardized tests. But no peer-reviewed nationwide research has documented a link between the two disparities—until now.

A new Stanford-led study published in AERA Open finds that an increase in either the discipline gap or the academic achievement gap between black and white students in the United States predicts a jump in the other. Similarly, as one gap narrows, so does the other.

“Prior research has suggested that achievement gaps and discipline gaps may be two sides of the same coin,” said Francis Pearman, an assistant professor at Stanford Graduate School of Education and lead author of the study. “This is the first study to document this relationship at the national level.”

Documenting a theoretical connection

Past studies have provided evidence of racial disparities in both scho…

The Tiny Town That Became a Kingdom of Books

In the 70s, the UK gained a new, independent kingdom: a kingdom of books! Explore Hay-on-Wye, a tiny town in Wales that is every book lover’s dream!

On April 1st, 1977, a new independent kingdom was declared in Wales right on the border with England. But unlike most kingdoms, they didn’t claim riches or great tracts of land. No, the new ruler, Richard Booth, was the self-proclaimed monarch of a Kingdom of Books! So how did he turn this tiny market town into one of the world’s most sought after book lover destinations? Come along and find out.

By Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

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Growing Your Own Garden: Emotional Resilience for Entrepreneurs

"It has been many weeks, and I finally got the itch to write again, this time about a symbol that in just a few days has given me a profound sense of relief: growing your own garden. I'm not speaking about an herb garden. I mean cultivating, in your own fertile mind, a set of values and standards by which you will measure your life's worth separately from what anyone else says or thinks." The following post by Leila Janah, the inspiring founder of SamaSource who passed away earlier this year, shares four strategies, including vital reading on moral philosophy, for keeping a cynical world at bay.

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Beyond Civilization

"I want to live in a world with more wild salmon every year than the year before. More migratory songbirds. More blue whales, slender salamanders, red-legged frogs. More prairies, canebrakes, native forests, beds of sea grass. I want to live in a world with less dioxin in every human and nonhuman mother's breast milk, a world with fewer dams each year than the year before. I'll never live in that world. I'll never know what it's like to live in a world with more butterflies each year, where each year frog songs get louder, flocks of birds get larger, as do herds of bison, herds of elephants. A world where seeing a tiger or wolf or marten or hawk or eagle or condor is not remarkable in the slightest. I'll never see that world. I'll never know that security, that homecoming." This poignant piece shares more.

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Twelve Films That Highlight the Best in Humanity

It’s time for the Greater Goodies, honoring movies from the past year that exemplify human strengths and virtues.

By Jeremy Adam Smith, Elise Proulx, Jill Suttie, Emiliana R. Simon-Thomas, Amy L. Eva, Maryam Abdullah, Alicia Crawford, Andrea Collier, Zaid Jilan

This year’s Oscar nominees for Best Picture tend to emphasize the worst in humanity. For example, Joker is about the descent into homicidal madness. Jojo Rabbit is about one of the worst events in human history, the Nazi Holocaust. 1917 is about another catastrophe, World War One.

In each of those films, however, we can still find elements of humanity’s best qualities: heroism, growth, fortitude, and more.

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How Do You Become a World Champion Pizza Spinner?

Pizza spinning is mesmerizing, but what if you added fire, multiple flying doughs, and the occasional behind-the-back spin? That’s how world champion spinner Justin Wadstein does it! Get ready—you’ve never seen dough spun quite like this before.

I have a very specific memory of seeing someone spin pizza dough for the first time. Our family was going out to dinner at our local Italian restaurant, and we were seated in the booth closest to the pizza making station. I noticed the man behind the counter pick up the dough and start throwing it in the air. I was transfixed: the way the dough spun, how easy it looked for him, I couldn’t stop watching. Maybe you have a similar experience—there is something truly amazing about watching. But how does spinning pizza dough prove it is still an amazing world? Just wait until you see a world champion pizza spinner in action!

By Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

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Living Light

"We had sailed Indonesias shattered archipelago before arriving at the uninhabited island chain of Wayag a gumdrop cluster of limestone peaks cloaked in an aura of brilliant, turquoise lagoons. Our crew, a ragbag of scientists and sailors, had come to this remote corner of the globe to study coral reefs. Unlike the bony, barren graveyards that haunt much of the tropical world, the reefs in this part of Indonesia are still vibrant, prismatic wonderlands, and if kept intact, can serve as nurseries to repopulate our oceans. These Technicolored coral wildernesses are unforgettable, yet what I saw at night during that voyage glistens most brightly in my memory."...

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Of Wild Wolves And Bottle-Fed Squirrels

"In the arena of ocean ecology and conservation, Carl Safina is a superstar. Through television documentaries, his writings and the Safina Center, he's been a vital force for years in educating the public about ocean pollution, overfishing and conservation [...] I was enthralled with Safina's blend of stories from his time in the field with elephants, wolves and orcas (killer whales) and the people who study them, especially with the way he blended those stories with the latest science of animal minds." This fascinating interview...

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Can Threats to Humanity Make Us More Prejudiced?

Research suggests that prejudice increases in the face of threats like climate change, recessions, and epidemics.

By Zaid Jilani

We often think of prejudice as a matter of individual choice—but a new study suggests that it can arise among many people in societies facing environmental threats.

In 2011, University of Maryland psychologist Michele Gelfand conducted a 33-nation study of the differences between “tight” and “loose” cultures. For the purpose of this research, Gelfand defined cultural tightness as “the strength of a society’s norms and the strictness of its punishments for deviant behavior.” Loose cultures are more permissive.

In a new series of studies published in the journal PLOS ONE, Gelfand and her colleagues drew on the insights from that first study to analyze the relationship between cultural tightness, ecological threats, and prejudice against perceived outsiders.

The first study related the findings on tightness and looseness to results from the World Values Survey, whic…

Can You Fit a 2-Acre Garden in a Shipping Container?

How do we increase access to fresh, nutritious foods in places lacking the land to grow it? Square Roots may be bringing us towards the solution by growing the equivalent of a 2-acre garden inside a shipping container!

As the bustling streets of Brooklyn, New York rumble nearby, most passersby have no idea there’s a bountiful garden just steps away. It may have something to do with the fact that this garden’s not in a field or in someone’s lawn but in a parking lot, with acres and acres of fresh food growing inside shipping containers!

By Sam Burns

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Serious Fun

--by Carolyn North

I have a wonderful photograph on my altar of several of us at Red Clover a few summers ago, standing in front of a lilac bush in full bloom and laughing our heads off. My brother had just made some wry joke, no doubt spoken out of the side of his mouth, and the shutter clicked just as everyone broke into full laughter, while he and I exchanged a private grin. Probably none of us can remember what was so funny at the time, but there it is, the bemused essence of this quiet guy caught on film, surrounded by folks who adored him.

I call it the ‘Cosmic Crack-up.’

Leon was a renegade even as a little kid, and bless him, lived a successful life doing it his own way. He came of draft age exactly as America was entering the war in Vietnam, told us he had no intention of getting drafted and then made good on his promise by baking bread for members of the Draft Board the morning he had to appear. There, he ceremoniously cut his loaf into generous slices and handed each member o…

Want to Change Your Life? Try Self-Compassion

Change can be hard. But if we practice self-compassion, it’s much more likely we’ll succeed.

By Shauna Shapiro

So often we feel stuck in our lives. Maybe we’re in a dead-end job, or we can’t seem to find a healthy romantic relationship, or we keep procrastinating on starting to exercise. As we struggle to improve our lives, we may become dispirited, feeling as if we’ve missed our chance and it’s just too late.

Why do so many of us fail to change? It’s not because change is impossible: All of us have the ability to transform our life at any age, thanks to neuroplasticity—the capacity of our brain to change throughout our lives. Instead, it’s often because of the critical, judgmental voices in our heads—the ones that tell us we are not good enough and berate us for any mistakes or shortcomings.

Science suggests that constant self-judgment and shame shut down the learning centers of the brain, robbing us of the resources we need to learn and grow. Shame locks us into repeating vicious cycle…

How Memories of Kindness Can Make You Happy

A new study compares how we feel when performing or just remembering acts of kindness.

By Shanna B. Tiayon

Just this month, a group of middle school students in Alabama made the news for posting positive notes on the lockers of fellow students. For Christmas, a few Attleboro, MA, students chipped in to buy their beloved school janitor new boots as a present. And in December, a Michigan waitress received a $2,020 tip for a $23 dinner bill, sparking the “2020 Tip Challenge” craze.

People perform acts of kindness both to do good and to feel good. Research finds that being kind makes us happy, can help to lower our blood pressure, and encourages stronger social connections. People who perform acts of kindness even report having more sex! Now, a new study suggests that we can access some of these benefits simply by recalling acts of kindness we did in the past—making kindness a gift that keeps on giving.

Researchers from the University of California, Riverside, conducted a three-day experiment…