More than slogans and sound bites about the causes of the record-setting low teen birth rates in the United States.
Liz Canning in the Bay Area is crowdsourcing a film about cargo bikes, and the trailer for it is the coolest cycling video I think I’ve ever seen. (And I’ve seen a lot.) Check it out and, if you’re a cargo-ista, shoot some footage to share. Let’s get Cascadia well represented in the film.
Kevin Drum at Mother Jones asks: Are food deserts really the right problem to solve? A few new studies, including one from our very own University of Washington, find that 1) access to different kinds of stores didn’t have any impact on weight gain among elementary-school-aged children; 2) obesity rates are tied more closely to income than access to healthy food; 3) most people don’t shop in the stores nearest their homes anyway; and 4) looking at teens’ self-reported diet, their weight, and the food available within a mile from their home, it became clear that “living close to supermarkets or grocers did not make students thin and living close to fast food outlets did not make them fat.”
So, where should we put energy and resources if not sprouting grocery stores in food deserts? What about getting people out of poverty? Short of that, Mother Jones’ Tom Philpott suggests making sure school lunches are healthier. For one thing, are school lunches really only 11 minutes long!?
An obscure political party in Germany is actually living the dream—putting the Internet to work creating a new structure for politics, energizing citizens, and engaging the public in actual governance! What? They’re the Pirate Party. That’s right, and they are now the third most popular party in Germany! We should probably watch and learn.
From the Neat Gadgets Dep’t.: Charge your cell phone with the heat you usually waste while you’re cooking your morning oatmeal. I give you the Power Pot. (Excellent for camping and for use in developing nations too.)
Why do kids draw pictures of monsters? It’s related to the fact that kids are more creative and more inventive than us old folks. (My two-year old is obsessed with monsters these days, so this is also reassuring to me!) The question naturally arises: How and when do we kill that creativity in our children and can we stop?
Are the ‘burbs going bust? This infographic investigates.
Yahoo Finance picks eight products the Facebook generation won’t buy. Unsurprisingly, the list includes newspapers and landline phones. But it also includes cars, desktop computers…and email. That’s right, Gen Y (or whatever they call the young’uns these days) are communicating by text and Facebook, rather than stodgy old email. Personally, I suspect that some of these are overstatements. Youth driving is undoubtedly on the decline, but I wouldn’t say (yet) that today’s kids will never buy cars.
Road traffic is the leading cause of death for young people worldwide.
At Los Angeles Magazine, Dave Gardetta has a great (though rather long) article on what’s wrong with parking policy in the United States. He highlights the work of Donald Shoup, of course, and includes this observation of Shoup’s that I thought was sage:
Parking makes people nuts. “I truly believe that when men and women think about parking, their mental capacity reverts to the reptilian cortex of the brain,” he says. “How to get food, ritual display, territorial dominance—all these things are part of parking, and we’ve assigned it to the most primitive part of the brain that makes snap fight-or-flight decisions. Our mental capacities just bottom out when we talk about parking.”
Gardetta also wrote a fascinating (though rather long) article on the many secrets of Trader Joe’s.
At the Seattle Times, transportation reporter Mike Lindblom had an intriguing (though rather short) blog post about the emergence of private sector intercity buses in the Northwest. I hope Lindblom writes more about this trend. Buses may not be exactly the most thrilling of transportation choices, but with 3 hour and 15 minute service from Seattle to Portland they will easily be the fastest transit option around. They will also probably be the cheapest option for riders, and they will require virtually no new infrastructure or public funding to operate. More, please.
Reading about surprisingly lousy retail sales figures so far in 2012, I took another step on my long road to converting to peak oiler-ism. I’ve long been a skeptic about many of the claims that circulate in the peak oil world, but it really is starting to seem like oil prices have the whip hand in the US economy. We’re going on several years now of the economy starting to sputter back to life, only to see oil (and gasoline) prices surge in somewhat unprecedented off-season ways, followed by weaker consumer spending.
Finally, a suggestion: go sign up for the daily email news digest from Seattle’s Office of Economic Development. It’s weirdly good. I get approximately one million news roundups and email digests delivered to my inbox and I delete almost all of them. But OED is managing to produce a consistently well-curated blend of Seattle-centric stories. The economy is the main dish (obviously), but it comes with healthy portions of environmental, cultural, and civic issues too.
Here’s a video I’m hoping to watch this weekend: five stories about how bikes can be a tool for social change.
Whatever you’re eating, chances are one of these companies had something to do with it.
Good news, everyone! Surfing the web may make you more productive at work. To YouTube!
Lastly: happy Star Wars Day! May the Fourth be with you.