reading

Why ‘Getting Lost in a Book’ Is So Good for You

Sarah DiGiulio, writing for BETTER:

Whether you’re the reader who rips through a new book each week or the one still slogging through that bestseller your friend recommended months ago, psychologists (and their research) say your time is being well spent.

And if it’s been a while since your last date with a good book, the experts have a few reasons that might convince you to give it another go.

As science has shown, the act of reading comes with a ton of benefits. Books can provide a sense of human connection, the strengthening of social skills, and a healthy form of escape from real life. And if for some reason that's not enough to convince you to pluck a book off your shelf and give it a go, how about the fact that reading is very engaging for the brain and may actually even help us live longer? Be sure to check out this article and find out about why you should be reading more.


Weekend Thoughts - 4.28.18

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Happy Saturday y'all! Below, I have rounded up some things for you to think about this weekend:

1. Dockless bike sharing companies should scoot over a bit on their loveseat, because now there's a new option available—dockless electric scooter rentals. The idea is essentially the same; you can rent a scooter off the street for a low price, ride it to your desired destination, and leave it anywhere. One of the main problems is that riders are discarding them anywhere they want, cluttering up sidewalks and making them dangerous to walk on. It's gotten so bad (in a very short time, mind you) in California that San Francisco is already thinking about how to deal with the scourge of discarded electric scooters littering its streets.

2. There's some scientific research showing why you should read every day. For starters, it can reduce your stress. In fact, a mere six minutes of reading can reduce stress levels by up to 68 percent! Reading also changes the circuitry of the parts of the brain. There's a bunch of reasons to read regularly, so you should!

That's all for this week's edition of Weekend Thoughts. Until next week, keep thinking wilder.

Image by susannp4, courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.

Weekend Thoughts - 10.7.17

Image  by  mikegi , courtesy of  Creative Commons  licensing.

Image by mikegi, courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.

Happy Saturday y'all! Below, I have rounded up some things for you to think about this weekend:

1. I love books and lend some credit for that all the way back to going to the book fairs at my elementary school. It turns out that I'm not entirely alone on this—apparently plenty of other people have fond memories of the Scholastic Book Fair from their childhoods as well. The linked article takes a look at what caused us to get nostalgic about the book fair. It turns out that one of the keys to our enjoyment in the fairs was that they marked the first times we were presented with choice about what we would like to read, upgrading the experience of reading from a forced homework assignment into a pleasurable recreational experience. I can still remember perusing the books in my elementary school library and wanting to read them all! Alas, I'm sure I (well, my parents really—thanks Mom and Dad!) only bought a few dozen of them, but the Scholastic Book Fair certainly played a role in my reading education and helped me form a lifelong reading habit.

2. Nowadays it seems like there's yet another online security breach every day. This time it's a bit different though—Yahoo is revising its statement from last year when it admitted that it had been hacked in 2013 and estimated that 500 million user accounts had been affected. Now they've revised that statement to say that all 3 billion Yahoo user accounts were compromised in 2013, which is huge news. If you had ever had a Yahoo account, it would be wise to change your password as soon as possible. But probably even more important than that—if any other user accounts used the same password, you'll want to change those passwords too. This is a great example of why it's important to have a different password for each service that you use, because your Yahoo password is now up for grabs by people with malicious intent, and could be used on any other services that used the same password. Your email account or bank account, for example. Make sure you make password management a priority!

3. Drone deliveries seem to be just around the corner, and a new app called DelivAir is shifting the focus to have drones deliver directly to a person instead of a location. With this technology, users can request a delivery from the app, a delivery drone identifies their location via GPS, and once it arrives the user points their phone at the drone to deliver a coded blinking pattern via the camera flash to verify that the drone is delivering to the correct person. The drone then hovers near the person and lowers the package into their hands before returning to its base. There are plenty of scenarios that this delivery method would be useful for, like delivering essential supplies to stranded people or during disaster relief efforts, or delivering medical equipment directly to those in need. One downside of this technology might be that our skies may eventually be filled with buzzing drones, but that may be a trade-off that our society is willing to make for the sake of convenience.

4. I wasn't anticipating this final bit of news anytime soon, but McDonald's has launched it's McVegan burger—a fully vegan burger that is only available for a limited time in Finland while McDonald's performs a test run. The burger is made out of a soy patty and comes complete with fully-vegan chips (known as "French Fries" in America). This is great news because it means that veganism is becoming more accepted (apparently 6% of Americans self-identify as vegan now as opposed to 1% in 2014). Although I'm not a fan of McDonald's, I would probably still stop in on a road trip to try out a McVegan if it was available.

That's all for this week's edition of Weekend Thoughts. Until next week, keep thinking wilder.

Weekend Thoughts - 7.15.17

Image  by  J Aaron Farr , courtesy of  Creative Commons  licensing.

Image by J Aaron Farr, courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.

Happy Saturday y'all! Below, I have rounded up some things for you to think about this weekend:

1. Microsoft must be on an environmentalist bent of some sort lately, as the company has recently announced an "AI for Earth" initiative. The program will attempt to use artificial intelligence to solve the major environmental issues that we are currently facing. Ultimately, Microsoft's President Brad Smith said, "Our goal is to empower others in new and more impactful ways to help create a more sustainable future. This program expands our commitments to democratizing AI and advancing sustainability around the globe." So far, the company has focused on creating more detailed land maps to aid conservation, improving agriculture with smart technology, and using drones to collect mosquitos to track and prevent potential emerging infectious diseases. Considering the state of affairs that our world is in, Microsoft deserves a big round of applause.

2. Elsewhere in the technosphere, Amazon has been considering allowing third-party developers to access the private transcripts of Alexa-powered devices so they can build better voice apps for the device. This is something that Google Home already allows. If Amazon moves forward with this decision, it would raise privacy concerns for its customers. At this point, Alexa developers can only see non-identifying information, like the number of times you use a specific command, how many times you talk to your Amazon Echo, and your location data. This change would potentially allow third-party developers access to actual transcripts, although we do not know the method that would be used and how much data would be divulged.

3. Audi is concerned that millenials will be bored in self-driving cars, so the company has developed a research product called The 25th hour, which is designed around the issue of what people will do to avoid boredom while riding in their fully-automated vehicles. The idea is that people will have extra time in their busy days to spend doing something other than focusing on the road. My initial reaction was, "Why wouldn't people use that time to read books?!" But while it's probably more likely that people will be watching television or scrolling through Facebook than reading, this project's existence means that automobile manufacturers are already thinking of ways to keep their customers entertained (and probably market to them, as well). In my opinion, the riders' recovered time would be best spent producing content rather than consuming it, but that's a whole other conversation altogether.

That's all for this week's edition of Weekend Thoughts. Until next week, keep thinking wilder.

Weekend Thoughts - 6.10.17

Image  by  Ed Schipul , courtesy of  Creative Commons  licensing.

Image by Ed Schipul, courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.

Happy Saturday y'all! Below, I have rounded up some things for you to think about this weekend:

1. Although gardening can be a rewarding experience, identifying and pulling weeds is not always fun. That's why the creators of the Roomba are hard at work developing the Tertill, a robot that automatically weeds your garden for you. After placing protective collars around your plants, the solar-powered device will use sensors to identify small weeds and chop them down. The company, Franklin Robotics, will be launching a Kickstarter on June 13th to raise funds for this project.

2. The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to settle a digital rights privacy case that will determine whether police will be required to obtain a warrant to get access to your cellphone location data, which is archived by wireless carriers. This will be an interesting case to follow, as it will decide once and for all whether a police officer can request access to private details of our lives without a warrant.

3. Dubbed "Subway Libraries", the New York Public Library has outfitted 10 MTA subway cars with downloadable ebooks that will be available to riders for free during the next six weeks. I'm all for encouraging reading, and if I was a New Yorker I would be all over this!

That's all for this week's edition of Weekend Thoughts. Until next week, keep thinking wilder.