Attention: No Deficit in Disorder

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Most likely you’ve heard of that growing condition. Perhaps you even know someone who has been diagnosed with A.D.H.D. How could I make such a claim? Because according to the Center for Disease Control’s latest numbers, something like 11 percent of the children in our country are labeled as such. 6.4 million kids. Wow. Where did that come from?

This captivating article in the NYT’s, A Natural Fix for A.D.H.D., points to something outside of our brain chemistry. Or better put, it places our brains in the context of our daily environments and in a deeply profound way. The article’s author Richard A. Friedman, professor of clinical psychiatry and director of the psychopharmacology clinic at the Weill Cornell Medical College, offers some interesting approaches to handling A.D.H.D.

Friedman surmises that the so-called negative effects of A.D.H.D. are completely related to the environment in which one operates. Neuroscientific evidence suggests that those with A.D.H.D. are hard-wired to seek novelty, hence the small attention spans. In today’s society, especially in the classroom, a short attention span is problematic and we often label that as a problem that can be medicated into submission. But the NYT article looks back to ancient history, to a time when we were hunters and gatherers, and notes that A.D.H.D.-like traits are what helped keep our kind alive and thriving. In other words, the novelty-seeking behavioral trait was an evolutionary advantage. Apparently there weren’t many straight-backed chairs and black boards out in the African savannah 100,000 years ago. (more…)

Putting A Band-Aid on a Severed Limb

It’s not a secret that the smog in Beijing is bad. So bad, in fact, that last year the New York Times published an article titled On Scale of 0 to 500, Beijing’s Air Quality Tops ‘Crazy Bad’ at 755.

“Crazy Bad” simply isn’t sustainable – the air is actually killing people. So an architecture and design firm called Orproject has decided to do something about the need to breathe in China’s capital city: they’ve created a massive, transparent bubble that will give people the feel of being outside without having to consume the awful air. The bubble is to be made out of the same material that was used in the Beijing Olympics aquatic stadium. Its bumpy-looking structure (which you can check out in this Fast Co. article) gives the space the capability of having several different climates in one big biosphere. It lets in the sun, provides an outdoorsy atmosphere and keeps the bad air out. (more…)

DIFFERENT INPUTS PRODUCE DIFFERENT OUTCOMES

In the 1890s it was common for the New York Times to devote a ton of front-page newspaper real estate to the most pressing issue of the era. The scourge?  Horse dung.  Where were they going to put the millions and millions of pounds of  hooey produced by the thousands of draft horses that made NYC move every day?  There were predictions that by the 1920s Manhattan was going to be uninhabitable.  And then the 1920s came around and guess what: hardly any more horses and no messy poop problem either. (more…)

REVITALIZING OUR NATION, ONE STARBUCKS COFFEE AT A TIME

Hold the phone – One of the biggest coffeehouses in the country recently announced the coolest, smartest, most innovative plan to salvage our wounded nation. Starbucks has an idea: lend money; create jobs; save the great US of A.

With millions of customers and around 7,000 locations nationwide (that’s an average of 140 coffee shops per state!), Starbucks has behemoth influence power, and genius CEO Howard Schultz decided to use it to our country’s advantage.  I think he’s onto something. (more…)

THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION OF 2011

Just about every time I tune into Minnesota Public Radio or visit NewYorkTimes.com, I’m inundated with statistics about the jobless rate rising or falling by mere fractions of percents. It’s great to have tabs on such a crucial part of the American existence, but it has recently been brought to my attention that perhaps this jobless rate isn’t necessarily measuring what it should be.

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