Adolescence starts earlier in modern generations than previous ones lasting twice as long as it did in the 1950s. So children are hitting puberty earlier than ever before said Psychology professor Laurence Steinberg who explained why to Brainwaves. Adolescence is a period of life between starting puberty and becoming stable, independent adults. This time is being extended because some children begin puberty earlier.
Adolescence is three times as long as it was in the 19th Century and it’s twice as long as in the 1950s.
Professor Laurence Steinberg
According to Professor Steinberg, in the western world adolescence runs from age 10 or to about age 25. Professor Steinberg attributed this phenomenon of lengthening of adolescence to several surprising factors as follows:
Obesity & Man-made Chemicals
The first and most important is obesity. The kids who are fatter go through puberty earlier than the leaner kids he said. Man-Made Chemicals. There are other factors as well. One has to do with the exposure of children to endocrine-disrupting chemicals in the man-made environment. The chemicals are not just in food, they’re in cosmetics, they’re in plastics, they’re in pesticides they’re ubiquitous.” “When people are exposed to these endocrine disrupters it alters their hormonal development and many chemicals lead to earlier onset puberty mostly in girls.”
More SunLight exposure
The third factor that’s been discovered fairly recently has to do with exposure to sunlight.” It turns out that kids who grow up near the equator go through puberty earlier than kids who grow up near the north or south pole and that’s because, when you grow up near the equator, you have more exposure to sunlight over the course of childhood years.” While it may not be of too much concern to parents in northern Europe, recent research suggests a final factor which applies to many children here.
“Scientists discovered recently the light emanating from tablets or smartphones or computer screens can affect onset of puberty by disrupting brain’s melatonin system. Kids who spend more and more time in front of these screens especially in front of the blue light emitted by the devices probably contributed to earlier puberty as well. Light from the phones impacts brains of kids and adults.“
Brainwaves of the adolescent brain as Pennie Latin examines is relatively a young field of teenage neurology. It has revealed lack of frontal cortex ability to understand risk and consequences. And so although adolescent children may hit puberty earlier, they may not be able to handle the harsh realities of the trauma of war years, distress, rations, famine, lack of tough physical life forced upon previous generations. They worked in factories, chimney sweepers, railway as tracks as children making them more mature. They develop faster on growth spurt but face challenges of the modern generation.
Billy Graham said, read the Bible and watch the Bible unfold in the news. The news is full of global events setting the stage towards fulfilment of Rapture and Armageddon. Updates everyday reveals the contents of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation precisely as Jesus foretold. It is also written in the Bible that the truth you know sets you free. So those free in God in Christ see the signs and wonders of the supernatural events testifying of God’s Glory in majestic created universe and firmament. Weather forecasts and storms, flood warnings, fire risks, other warnings to the world are relayed constantly throughout the day to alert people. Various channels also provide documentaries to educate the public and provide entertainment. Publicity generated by news creates awareness for injustices all over the work to make people bring change.Although the news is at times repetitive news of exact words repeated every 15-30 minutes overwhelming but ensures people are alerted, updated, reminded of more breaking news. Some however find the news irrelevant so are advising people not to watch news at all to prevent fear mongering. They argue “In the past few decades, the fortunate have recognised the hazards of living with an overabundance of food (obesity, diabetes) so started to change diets. But most do not understand news is to the mind what sugar is to the body. News is easy to digest so media feeds small bites of trivial matter, tidbits that don’t really concern lives or don’t require thinking. So experience no saturation unlike the reading of books and the long magazine articles (which require thinking). The limitless quantities of news flashes are bright-coloured candies for mind. Today reached same point in relation to global information faced 20 years ago similar in regard to food. People are beginning to recognise how toxic news can be:News misleads. For example following an event of a car driving over a bridge, and if bridge collapses, the news media focuses on the car, person in car, where from, journey etc not the structural root causes of instability of the bridge. That’s underlying risk lurking or lurk in other bridges. The car is flashy, dramatic and a person in the news cheap to produce.’ News leads ‘misleads’ with completely wrong risk map in heads. Some news are over-rated. Chronic stress is under-rated. The collapse of Lehman Brothers is overrated. Fiscal irresponsibility is under-rated. Astronauts are over-rated. Nurses are under-rated it continued.
Article also said, some are ‘not rational enough if exposed to press. Watching an airplane crash on television changes an attitude toward that risk, regardless of its real probability. Bankers, economists with powerful incentives to compensate news-borne hazards could not prevent the credit crunch. So said, ‘cut yourself off from news consumption entirely. To advise people to boycott news totally is not possible because lives are saved by the dedicated services of newsmakers. Everyone has their own perspectives in life so entitled to their opinions, views or dimension of relevant suitable news If anyone feels strongly influenced to an extent of depression then it is better not spend whole day watching the news. In life moderation is required and so quick check of the weather forecast help the people to dress suitably, if they need an umbrella from rain, wind or the storm causing hazards warning drivers to be careful on roads. The media educates the public to warn of spread of diseases and where to avoid. So the news is not just exclusively consistently bad news. One has options to change the channel or switch it off if too busy at times. With unpredictable weather, storms tsunami, or fires, news becomes available source of information during crises to alert and save lifes. The Christian Channel News is available teaching and explaining the endtime signs and wonders to preapare people to store food, water and blankets or essentials before disaster happens.
News is irrelevant. In approximately 10,000 news stories read in the last 12 months, name one that allowed you to make a better decision about a serious matter affecting your life, your career or your business. To them consumption of news is irrelevant but people find it very difficult to recognise so. It’s much easier to recognise what’s new, relevant versus new is the fundamental battle of the current age. So Media organisations want people to believe ‘news offers the sort of competitive advantage many fall for.’ Get anxious if cut off from flow of news consumption as a competitive disadvantage. The less news consumed, the bigger advantage one has they said.
News has no explanatory power. News items bubbles popping on surface of a deeper world is accumulating facts but not helpful to understand world in their opinion. “Relationship is inverted so important stories are non-stories and slow, and powerful movements develop below journalist radar has transforming effect. The more ‘news factoids’ digested the less of bigger picture is understood.” If more information leads to the higher economic success, journalists will be at top of the pyramid. That’s not the case.” Journalists not relay news from various places in all weathers risking life to tell world stories affecting lives. Journalists do not vlog their personal lives in news as the YouTube videos do.
News is toxic to body. It constantly triggers limbic system. Panicky stories spur release of cascades, glucocorticoid (cortisol). This deregulates the immune system and inhibits release of growth hormones. So body in a state of chronic stress. High glucocorticoid levels causes indigestion, lack of growth of cells, hair, bone, nervousness and susceptibility to infections. A potential side-effect causes fear aggression, tunnel-vision and also desensitisation and lethargy.
News increases cognitive errors. News feeds cognitive error towards the confirmation bias. Warren Buffett: said “What the human being is best at doing is interpreting all new information so their prior conclusions remain intact.” News exacerbates this flaw to become prone to overconfidence, to take stupid risks and misjudge opportunities. It also exacerbates a cognitive error story bias. Brains crave stories “make sense,” even if they don’t correspond to reality. Any journalists who writes, “market moved because of X” or a is company bankrupt because of Y” is cheap “explanation” to the world they also stated in the article.News inhibits thinking. Since thinking requires concentration, concentration requires uninterrupted time. The News is specifically engineered to interrupt so like “viruses distract attention for own purposes. The News makes some people shallow thinkers but worse than that, it severely affects memory. There are two types of memory. Long-range memory’s capacity is nearly infinite, but working memory is limited to a certain amount of slippery data. The short-term to long-term memory for brain to understand passes through it. If brain passageway is disrupted nothing gets through. Because news disrupts concentration, it weakens comprehension. Online news has worse impact. In a 2001 study two scholars in Canada showed that the comprehension declines as the number of hyperlinks in a document increases. Whenever a link appears the brain makes the choice not to click so distracting. News interrupts the system of focus and concentration.
News works like a drug. Ongoing story develops so people want to know how they continued. Hundreds of arbitrary storylines in a head craves increasingly compelling information hard to ignore. Scientists thought dense connections in brain formed in the 100 billion neurons inside skulls were largely fixed by time one reached adulthood. But nerve cells routinely break old connection forming new ones. As more news is consumed the neural circuits devoted to skimming and multitasking ignores reading skills for deep thinking and profound focus. Most news consumers even if avid book readers lost ability to absorb lengthy articles or books. After four, five pages get tired, concentration vanishes, and restless. Not because older or schedules or more onerous but physical structure of their brains changed from the news.”
News wastes time. Read newspaper for 15 minutes each morning, check news for 15 minutes during lunch and then 15 minutes before going to bed, add five minutes here and there when at work, then count distraction and refocusing time loses half day a week. Information is no longer scarce commodity attention is. If responsible with money and health or reputation health why not the mind?
News makes some passive. The News stories overwhelmingly about things one cannot influence by daily repetition not acted upon makes some passive. It grinds down until adopts the worldview pessimistic, desensitized, sarcastic and fatalistic. The scientific term is “learned helplessness.”So not surprised if a news consumption, partially contributes to the widespread disease of depression.
News kills creativity. Finally, the news limits creativity. Great mathematicians, novelists, composers and entrepreneurs often produce their most creative works at a young age. Their brains enjoy wide, uninhabited space that emboldens them to come up to pursue novel ideas. There is no single truly creative mind who is a news junkie not a writer, not composer, mathematician, physician or a scientist, musician, designer, architect or painter. But viciously uncreative mind consume news like drugs si come up with just old solutions by reading the news. However those looking for new solutions they said do not listen to the news.
Its necessary society has journalism in a different way especially investigative journalism is relevant. Reporting news on policies, institutions, uncovers truth. But the important findings do not have to arrive in form of news. Long journal articles or in-depth books are good too.
The writer of the article said, has gone without news for 4 years so sees, feels and reports effects of freedom from the first-hand: less disruption, less anxiety, deeper thinking, more time and insight. Concludes its not easy, but it’s worth it.
This is an edited extract from an essay first published at dobelli.com. The Art of Thinking Clearly: Better Thinking, Better Decisions by Rolf Dobelli is published by Sceptre, £9.99. Buy it for £7.99 at guardianbookshop.co.uk
In the past few decades, the fortunate among us have recognised the hazards of living with an overabundance of food (obesity, diabetes) and have started to change our diets. But most of us do not yet understand that news is to the mind what sugar is to the body. News is easy to digest. The media feeds us small bites of trivial matter, tidbits that don’t really concern our lives and don’t require thinking. That’s why we experience almost no saturation. Unlike reading books and long magazine articles (which require thinking), we can swallow limitless quantities of news flashes, which are bright-coloured candies for the mind. Today, we have reached the same point in relation to information that we faced 20 years ago in regard to food. We are beginning to recognise how toxic news can be.
News misleads. Take the following event (borrowed from Nassim Taleb). A car drives over a bridge, and the bridge collapses. What does the news media focus on? The car. The person in the car. Where he came from. Where he planned to go. How he experienced the crash (if he survived). But that is all irrelevant. What’s relevant? The structural stability of the bridge. That’s the underlying risk that has been lurking, and could lurk in other bridges. But the car is flashy, it’s dramatic, it’s a person (non-abstract), and it’s news that’s cheap to produce. News leads us to walk around with the completely wrong risk map in our heads. So terrorism is over-rated. Chronic stress is under-rated. The collapse of Lehman Brothers is overrated. Fiscal irresponsibility is under-rated. Astronauts are over-rated. Nurses are under-rated.
We are not rational enough to be exposed to the press. Watching an airplane crash on television is going to change your attitude toward that risk, regardless of its real probability. If you think you can compensate with the strength of your own inner contemplation, you are wrong. Bankers and economists – who have powerful incentives to compensate for news-borne hazards – have shown that they cannot. The only solution: cut yourself off from news consumption entirely.
News is irrelevant. Out of the approximately 10,000 news stories you have read in the last 12 months, name one that – because you consumed it – allowed you to make a better decision about a serious matter affecting your life, your career or your business. The point is: the consumption of news is irrelevant to you. But people find it very difficult to recognise what’s relevant. It’s much easier to recognise what’s new. The relevant versus the new is the fundamental battle of the current age. Media organisations want you to believe that news offers you some sort of a competitive advantage. Many fall for that. We get anxious when we’re cut off from the flow of news. In reality, news consumption is a competitive disadvantage. The less news you consume, the bigger the advantage you have.
News has no explanatory power. News items are bubbles popping on the surface of a deeper world. Will accumulating facts help you understand the world? Sadly, no. The relationship is inverted. The important stories are non-stories: slow, powerful movements that develop below journalists’ radar but have a transforming effect. The more “news factoids” you digest, the less of the big picture you will understand. If more information leads to higher economic success, we’d expect journalists to be at the top of the pyramid. That’s not the case.
News is toxic to your body. It constantly triggers the limbic system. Panicky stories spur the release of cascades of glucocorticoid (cortisol). This deregulates your immune system and inhibits the release of growth hormones. In other words, your body finds itself in a state of chronic stress. High glucocorticoid levels cause impaired digestion, lack of growth (cell, hair, bone), nervousness and susceptibility to infections. The other potential side-effects include fear, aggression, tunnel-vision and desensitisation.
News increases cognitive errors. News feeds the mother of all cognitive errors: confirmation bias. In the words of Warren Buffett: “What the human being is best at doing is interpreting all new information so that their prior conclusions remain intact.” News exacerbates this flaw. We become prone to overconfidence, take stupid risks and misjudge opportunities. It also exacerbates another cognitive error: the story bias. Our brains crave stories that “make sense” – even if they don’t correspond to reality. Any journalist who writes, “The market moved because of X” or “the company went bankrupt because of Y” is an idiot. I am fed up with this cheap way of “explaining” the world.
News inhibits thinking. Thinking requires concentration. Concentration requires uninterrupted time. News pieces are specifically engineered to interrupt you. They are like viruses that steal attention for their own purposes. News makes us shallow thinkers. But it’s worse than that. News severely affects memory. There are two types of memory. Long-range memory’s capacity is nearly infinite, but working memory is limited to a certain amount of slippery data. The path from short-term to long-term memory is a choke-point in the brain, but anything you want to understand must pass through it. If this passageway is disrupted, nothing gets through. Because news disrupts concentration, it weakens comprehension. Online news has an even worse impact. In a 2001 study two scholars in Canada showed that comprehension declines as the number of hyperlinks in a document increases. Why? Because whenever a link appears, your brain has to at least make the choice not to click, which in itself is distracting. News is an intentional interruption system.
News works like a drug. As stories develop, we want to know how they continue. With hundreds of arbitrary storylines in our heads, this craving is increasingly compelling and hard to ignore. Scientists used to think that the dense connections formed among the 100 billion neurons inside our skulls were largely fixed by the time we reached adulthood. Today we know that this is not the case. Nerve cells routinely break old connections and form new ones. The more news we consume, the more we exercise the neural circuits devoted to skimming and multitasking while ignoring those used for reading deeply and thinking with profound focus. Most news consumers – even if they used to be avid book readers – have lost the ability to absorb lengthy articles or books. After four, five pages they get tired, their concentration vanishes, they become restless. It’s not because they got older or their schedules became more onerous. It’s because the physical structure of their brains has changed.
News wastes time. If you read the newspaper for 15 minutes each morning, then check the news for 15 minutes during lunch and 15 minutes before you go to bed, then add five minutes here and there when you’re at work, then count distraction and refocusing time, you will lose at least half a day every week. Information is no longer a scarce commodity. But attention is. You are not that irresponsible with your money, reputation or health. Why give away your mind?
News makes us passive. News stories are overwhelmingly about things you cannot influence. The daily repetition of news about things we can’t act upon makes us passive. It grinds us down until we adopt a worldview that is pessimistic, desensitised, sarcastic and fatalistic. The scientific term is “learned helplessness”. It’s a bit of a stretch, but I would not be surprised if news consumption, at least partially contributes to the widespread disease of depression.
News kills creativity. Finally, things we already know limit our creativity. This is one reason that mathematicians, novelists, composers and entrepreneurs often produce their most creative works at a young age. Their brains enjoy a wide, uninhabited space that emboldens them to come up with and pursue novel ideas. I don’t know a single truly creative mind who is a news junkie – not a writer, not a composer, mathematician, physician, scientist, musician, designer, architect or painter. On the other hand, I know a bunch of viciously uncreative minds who consume news like drugs. If you want to come up with old solutions, read news. If you are looking for new solutions, don’t.
Society needs journalism – but in a different way. Investigative journalism is always relevant. We need reporting that polices our institutions and uncovers truth. But important findings don’t have to arrive in the form of news. Long journal articles and in-depth books are good, too.
I have now gone without news for four years, so I can see, feel and report the effects of this freedom first-hand: less disruption, less anxiety, deeper thinking, more time, more insights. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.
This is an edited extract from an essay first published at dobelli.com. The Art of Thinking Clearly: Better Thinking, Better Decisions by Rolf Dobelli is published by Sceptre, £9.99. Buy it for £7.99 at guardianbookshop.co.uk
Coconut oil classified is considered a superfood according to Dr Michael Mosley on BBC program. The need to watch the calories and cholesterol brings up debates on which oil is best for the body to digest. Coconut oil is high in saturated fatSales of coconut oil are rocketing, propelled by celebrity endorsements and claims that drinking the stuff will cure everything from halitosis to digestive disorders. Actress Angelina Jolie-Pitt is said to have a tablespoon or so with breakfast most mornings, while model Miranda Kerr says she not only adds it to salads and smoothies, but she cooks with it and splashes it on her skin as well. The health claims that swirl around coconut oil are treated with a great deal of scepticism by scientists. Coconut oil is seen, in the scientific community, as an unhealthy fat. It is very high in saturated fat (86%), even more so than butter (51%) or lard (39%). The reason that foods rich in saturated fats are frowned on is because eating them causes a rise in blood levels of LDL (low density lipoprotein). LDL is known as “bad cholesterol” because high levels are linked with increased risk of heart disease. On the other hand, saturated fats – which are particularly bad for you – also tend to raise HDL, “good” cholesterol, which has the opposite effect. It is possible that a particular food can raise overall cholesterol levels, yet still be heart-friendly.
So is coconut oil a cholesterol-busting wonder food, as some claim, or is this all dangerous hype? Despite all the sound and fury that surrounds coconut oil there have been surprisingly few human studies carried out to test specific health claims. So for the current BBC2 series of Trust Me I’m a Doctor, we thought we should help organise a trial. The Trust Me team started by contacting Prof Kay-Tee Khaw and Prof Nita Forouhi, both eminent Cambridge academics. With their help we recruited 94 volunteers, aged 50-75 and with no history of diabetes or heart disease, and designed a study to assess what effect eating different types of fat would have on their cholesterol levels. We began by randomly allocating our volunteers to one of three groups. Every day for four weeks, the first was asked to eat 50g of extra virgin coconut oil – that’s about three tablespoons full.
Type of oil or fat
The second group was asked to consume the same amount of extra virgin olive oil. Olive oil is a key element of the Mediterranean diet, which is widely seen as being extremely healthy. And the third was asked to eat 50g of unsalted butter a day. Again, that adds up to just over three tablespoons. The volunteers were told that they could consume these fats in whatever way they pleased, as long as they did so every day for the whole four weeks. On the other hand others think that Coconut oil ‘as unhealthy as beef fat and butter’ so the Diet debate: Is butter back and is sat fat good? They were also warned that, because they were consuming an extra 450 calories a day, they might well put on some weight. Before our volunteers started on their new high-fat regime we took blood samples to get baseline measurements, focusing mainly on their levels of LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) and HDL (the “good” cholesterol) The importance of these two measures is that your heart attack risk is best calculated, not by looking at your total cholesterol score, but your total cholesterol divided by your HDL score. NHS Choices suggests that this figure should be below four. So what happened? As expected the butter eaters saw an average rise in their LDL levels of about 10%, which was almost matched by a 5% rise in their HDL levels Those consuming olive oil saw a small reduction, albeit a non-significant drop, in LDL cholesterol, and a 5% rise in HDL. So olive oil lived up to its heart-friendly reputation.
Early Stages of Studies
But the big surprise was the coconut oil. Not only was there no rise in LDL levels, which was what we were expecting, but there was a particularly large rise in HDL, the “good” cholesterol, up by 15. On the face of it that would suggest that the people consuming the coconut oil had actually reduced their risk of developing heart disease or stroke. Olive oil is a key element of the Mediterranean diet, which is seen as particularly healthy. I asked Prof Khaw, who was clearly surprised by these results, why she thought it had happened. “I have no real idea,” she candidly replied. “Perhaps it is because the main saturated fat in coconut oil is lauric acid and lauric acid may have different biological impacts on blood lipids to other fatty acids. The evidence for that comes mainly from animals, so it was fascinating to see this effect in free-living humans.” So should we be hailing coconut oil as a health food? “I think decisions to eat particular oils depend on more than just the health effects” she said. “This is just one study and it would be irresponsible to suggest changing dietary advice based on one study, however well conducted.” This was a very short-term study and compared to olive oil, research on coconut oil is at an early stage. So the claims about coconut oil being a superfood are premature. But if, like me, you enjoy putting coconut in your curries, there seems no very good reason to stop.
The new series of Trust Me I’m a Doctorcontinues on BBC2 at 20:30 GMT on Wednesday 10 January and will be available on iPlayer afterwards.
A North Carolina Gospel Minister Sows Seeds of Hope in a Food Desert in USA.The Reverend Richard Joyner of Conetoe Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Conetoe, NC, exhorts his congregants to strengthen their community. First, the Reverend Richard Joyner got mad. Then he got a trowel. Sick and tired of seeing his congregation suffer from poor nutrition, the North Carolina minister sowed seeds of hope in a food desert. ABOUT A DECADE AGO, the Reverend Richard Joyner of Conetoe Chapel Missionary Baptist Church realized he ministered to a congregation of people often hungry and living in poverty but never complained. He came up with an ingenious use of land that helped keep the young ones involved in learning about nature first hand. The Church members unfamiliar with farming in the city are educated on how to grow own good produce. The pastor found it difficult to comfort grieving or contain his outrage: “How do you tell someone who’s just lost a child to poor nutrition that this was God’s plan when it was totally preventable? Who would hang out with that God?” Each Sunday, Joyner felt like a hypocrite, urging congregants to worship a deity he doubted. During the week, he was forced to confront the community’s health problems constantly as a hospital chaplain. After one particularly trying hospital shift, Joyner pulled his car over and began to pray. “I heard a voice saying, ‘Open your eyes and look around,’” the 64-year-old remembers. All he saw was farmland. His parents and grandparents had been share- croppers; his great-grandparents, slaves. That moment fields blanketing Edgecombe County represented not untapped opportunity but a painful reminder of the region’s racist past.
Young people enjoy outdoors activity so this roadside epiphany directly inspired the church’s now-bustling nonprofit agriculture and education center might construct a tidy narrative. It would, however, be inaccurate. Back in 2005, when Joyner first equipped area youth with seeds and spades on a borrowed plot down the road, he simply hoped to engage kids at summer camp. The campers consumed their initial harvest, but the following year, they started delivering free boxes of ‘Hen Pecked’ mustard greens, ‘Puerto Rican Red’ sweet potatoes and the vegetables to local senior citizens. “One 97-year-old lady, she was so excited, she kissed the children,” Joyner says. “That was the first time in a long time I witnessed anybody speaking a blessing over our troubled children.” Not everyone welcomes bounty. Only a generation or two removed from sharecropping, some church elders questioned the wisdom of participating in any sort of agrarian pursuit. They remained uncomfortably familiar with Edgecombe County’s role in the South’s antebellum cotton economy. Henry Toole Clark, a Civil War–era governor of North Carolina, owned a vast plantation—and dozens of slaves here. Joyner explains prevailing concern: “Do we really want our kids going back to that?” He empathized. Then again, he’d witnessed satisfaction junior parishioners derived from the soil. Less encumbered by Conetoe’s complicated history, they were free to dig in the dirt. “They’re bringing food to people who need it,” Joyner says. “They enjoy the process. They’re playing out there.” Meanwhile, various activities on the farm like preparing beds, selecting seeds, tending crops, selling produce, tracking digital data impart valuable lessons in science, technology, exercise, economics, math, and nutrition.
Joyner and young participants in the church’s farm program harvest collard greens destined for Edgecombe County’s hospital and school cateterias.
Reverend Joyner’s brother and nephew, Bennie (left) and Dante Joyner, plant sweet potatoes.
Marquon Pettaway was named a Local Food Hero by Farm to Fork North Carolina last year. When Pettaway started working on the farm, he says, “My friends asked, ‘Why you doing that?’ Then they saw me on the news.”
Joyner thunders from the pulpit in stereotypical Baptist fashion, but heed his words. They’re less fire and brimstone than sweet rain for parched souls. Ponder this passage from one rousing sermon: “Friendship is deeper than what you do. Friendship is deeper than your actions. Friendship is deeper than the story told. That’s how we are going to transform this community. Not by being churches. Not by being preachers. We are going to transform it by being friends! heightened dramatic effect.] Can I get a witness?!!”Adept as Joyner may be at casting visions, he admits to shortcomings in the arena of organizational management. At the outset of the farm’s second season, the preacher petitioned Vidant Edgecombe Hospital, where he volunteers as a chaplain, for a grant. “I wrote application, with my dyslexia, and it was terrible. I prayed over it: God, please help them understand what’s going on.”
Although a phone conversation was required to clarify intent, the hospital ponied up $2,000. Two years later, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) gave Joyner $15,000. And in 2011, The Conservation Fund donated $7,500 through its North Carolina–based Resourceful Communities initiative, which emphasizes the link between socioeconomic and ecological strengths. “Richard can sweet-talk people out of tractors,” says the initiative’s director, Mikki Sager, “yet the whole effort seemed random.” So she made further funds dependent on proper managerial oversight. “We weren’t trying to be controlling,” explains Sager. “We wanted them to have the pieces in place so they could articulate a good plan and deliver on it.”Joyner’s magnetic charisma and missionary zeal have attracted a wide base of fervent fans. Among the converted: Garrie Moore, a retired vice-chancellor of the City University of New York, who signed on as executive director of the program three years ago. Ruth Little, an assistant professor of public health at East Carolina University, has pitched in by training a number of Edgecombe County citizens as lay health advisers over the years. Tes Thraves, of North Carolina State University’s Center for Environmental Farming Systems, immediately thought of Joyner in 2010 when she founded the Food Youth Initiative, a statewide effort to bring teens together to explore food justice issues. Of the Conetoe delegation, Thraves says, “They grasp the power analysis of the world around them. They’re raised with integrity and empowerment. They believe in something.”
Today, the Conetoe Family Life Center—a name befitting the farm’s beyond-the-field ambitions—encompasses five different plots that together total 21 acres. Vidant Edgecombe Hospital, the Edgecombe County school system, and a number of area restaurants pay in advance to secure salad greens, peppers, broccoli, strawberries, and other crops. The center’s 150 hives generate $10 jars of honey, as well as an alternative income stream from local farmers renting the pollinators. Proceeds are reinvested in the program. A single market-rate cabbage puts 10 cabbages on the tables of needy families. Approximately 25 percent of the produce is distributed among church members, with those who can afford to contribute subsidizing others who cannot. Health-related outreach continues year-round. The results are nothing short of dramatic. Since 2012, visits to Vidant’s emergency room—the de facto primary care clinic for underinsured parishioners—have decreased by 75 percent. Collectively, the 250-member congregation spends $4,000 less on medication per quarter than it did a decade ago. Joyner’s many accolades include the 2014 Purpose Prize (honoring the social work of citizens over 60) and a 2015 Hero salute from CNN. Last year, when he accepted a Local Food Hero award from the nonprofit Farm to Fork North Carolina, the pastor did not stand alone. Two of the program’s participants—Tobias Hopkins, 19, and Marquon Pettaway, 20—were also honored. Pettaway thrived in the apiary. He’ll talk endlessly about the hives, about honey’s merits, about how he made beeswax candles for a school project. “The bees have a job, too. They have an everyday job,” he says. “That made me motivate myself to keep pushing.”Before getting involved with the farm, Pettaway viewed the army as his only option, but he now attends community college. “The program,” he says, “changed things for me.” Still, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be challenging in Conetoe, a food desert that lacks a single full-size supermarket. Pettaway’s mother works at Bojangles’, where fried chicken and biscuits anchor the menu. “I get the grilled Cajun Filet Biscuit from Bojangles,” he insists. “I get the grilled.”
Last September, I visited the Conetoe Family Life Center with a delegation from Princeton Theological Seminary and helped plant 10,000 cabbage and collard green seedlings. Three weeks later, on October 8, Hurricane Matthew hit the Carolinas. Conetoe and the neighboring towns of Tarboro and Princeville occupy low-lying, flood-prone terrain (shortcomings that explain the relative ease with which rich whites ceded this land to poor African Americans). The Tar River overflowed its banks and destroyed most of those plants, 100,000 others, plus 120 beehives and all the honey in them. Joyner was apoplectic. “I was not angry at God,” he clarifies. “I was angry at those of us who add to global warming. I was angry at people who will not take ownership.” For centuries, his community has wrestled with the compounding consequences of others’ sins, and he considers climate change another variation on that theme. When I spoke to the pastor again in June, the church had recently buried a 29-year-old woman after she succumbed to renal failure. Several of her relatives had also died of kidney disease. But Joyner noted that this funeral was one of only a handful he’d performed for people under 40 over the previous 12 months. And he mentioned that the woman’s 13- and 19-year-old cousins currently work on the farm. The fields, at least, “were flush green and full,” he said. “You can become hopeless real quick around here. But things are improving. I’m totally hopeful about these children.”
This Christmas season be jolly to enjoy the moment. After months of hard work and sacrifices it is good to let your hair down and celebrate the festive parties. It is good to reward yourself and others in your family with the frantic presents bought and protracted during shopping. With possiblity of overeating, many are over-tired so argumentative by the time the big day itself is reached. Therefore it is easy to overeact and be hyper strung over insignificant issues. So thrown into the mix is a handful of the family feuds, with a dash of strong alcohol sprinkled with overtired children are ingredients for an explosive recipe row. A recent survey found the average British family has at least 5 arguments on a Christmas Day. Keep focus on peace, goodwill to prevent fights breaking out by following the top, tension-diffusing tips:
1. Make a seating plan
Arrange and label place if the potential exists for toxic reaction of people based on past history. If you know Uncle Bob is going to press buttons over dinner, moaning about the fox-hunting ban and poor choice of plonk, position yourself opposite end of the table. A seating plan can prevent unnecessary friction during the Christmas meal. It is just a case of knowing who to keep away from who to prevent and stop arguments in advance.
2. Lay off the eggnog
Do not say things to regret after one too many mulled wines. Remember alcohol causes chemical changes in the brain if even it initially makes you feel relaxed, but reduce your ability to think straight. Professor McMurran, a psychologist at the University of Nottingham, explains if provoked under influence of alcohol, people tend to disregard “consequences of rising to the bait. This leads to violent reactions from people who would shrug things off. If tensions are rising, swap a cocktail for a mocktail and encourage others to do the same.
3. Share the cooking
Preparing the festive feast is a huge job. Leave it up to one person and it’s likely that tempers will become frayed and sprouts will be thrown. One way of getting around this is to have different people taking responsibility for each course. Offer to take care of the cheese board, dessert or nibbles and take the strain off the head chef.
4. Budget for presents
With so many outgoings, money can be tight at Christmas so financial pressure can be big source of stress and tension. To ease the pressure on everyone, agree on set budget for presents. Encourage homemade gift-giving options including jams and chutneys, a day of babysitting, orguided pub walk around a local area.
5. Be grateful for gifts
Be diplomatic when you’re unwrapping your presents. Be it a fish steamer, or a shoehorn or Star Wars bath mat, smile and say “its just what I always wanted.” It sets a brilliant example to all the kids. And remember, you can always re-gift it next year to other people so investment.
6. Embrace daytime Nap
If feeling more grumpy and irritable or tired and exhausted that is also because sleep-deprived so amygdala bit of brain control of emotions becomes overactive causing prefrontal cortex brain, the bit in charge of logic and decision-making switched off. The result is more erratic, emotional and likely to lose it over the Christmas pudding. So stay in control, try to get a good night’s sleep before the big day and if you feel yourself nodding off in the Queen’s speech, don’t fight it. You can listen to again later.
7. Channel the innerself
Do something helpful so offer to do the driving, walk the dog, take the kids for a run around, or distribute canapés. By mucking in and lending a hand you’re setting the bar for everyone else, and lightening the load for the people you care about. There is always something required to be done at all times. Doing so helps to distract you and you feel fulfilled by helping others.
8. Learn to let things go
Pick your battles carefully so you do not want to win arguments as and have no friends in life. Do you really care how parsnips are prepared? Or what’s in the box? Grit your teeth and turn blind eye for sake of the peace. Do not be control freak rubbing people wrong way. Avoid controversial topics of football, politics, or who eats last After Eight chocolate.
9. Take a breather
If things are getting a bit much, step in to the garden for some fresh air. Oxygen and sunlight are thought to increase the levels of serotonin released in the body, and more serotonin means lighter mood and more relaxed you. If getting outside isn’t an option, take a cup of tea and the paper to cupboard under stairs, or have a ten-minute phone rant with a friend.
10. Avoid Pictionary gaff
It’s fun playing Monopoly or a game of charades, but there a fine line between competitive spirit, outright aggression. Don’t embark on a board game unless you’re convinced everyone will be able to get to end without crying, fighting or both. Compromise so agree to disagree.
11. Christmas times hard
Christmas time unrealistic expectations or excessive self-reflection create issues in our lives coming starkly into focus. It can be really hard time of year for those who lost the loved ones or experiencing financial hardship, illness, depression. A study by Samaritans revealed, amid pressures to be “merry”, nearly half of men admit they actually feel depressed or sad at Christmas. Be aware of needs of people around you, be patient, and if you feel stressed or anxious yourself too reach out to someone.
Finland Fathers are paid paternity leave for universal daycare. Finland is closing the gender gap so the rest of the world can learn from them. To Americans and Britons, Nordic countries represent the paradise of gender equality and family harmony, where the legions of happy fathers do push prams through streets, relaxed mothers enjoy lengthy a paid maternity leaves, and well-nourished children in chunky sweaters glow from free healthcare. It is against that backdrop as one statistic on Finland nation of 5.5 million, stands out. According to recent OECD report, it is the only country in the developed world where fathers spend more time with school-aged children than mothers, to the tune of eight minutes a day.https://interactive.guim.co.uk/embed/2017/12/the-mother-load/embed.html
Global Gender Gap report rates Finland the second most equal country in the world in 2016, and Economist recently rated it the third best country to be a working mother. How did Finland get there? And what can the rest of us learn from this small Nordic nation might accelerate the battle for gender equity in other places? It’s a story of collective action and political will, of a strong tradition of social democracy and an accommodating tax system. But it also boils down to a key difference in how Finland frames the conversation: it’s not about what’s good for adults it’s about what’s good for the children. So,
“This is a question of gender equality, but more a question of the rights of the child,” says Annika Saarikko, Finland’s minister of family affairs and social services, one of six female ministers out of a cabinet of eleven. “This is not about the mother’s right or the father’s right – but the child’s right to spend time with both parents.” Finland believes fathers play a crucial role in child development. The government gives fathers 9 weeks of paternity leave, during which they are paid 70% of their salary. And to encourage fathers to take advantage of the benefit, it recently launched a new campaign – with flyers showing a burly construction worker joyfully pushing a pram called “It’s Daddy Time!”
“We want fathers to take more of the shared parental leave available,” says Saarikko. “We are quite sure if we look at the research the connection between the baby and father is really important the early years are vital and we believe in investing in that.”Annika Saarikko, Finland’s minister of family affairs and social services said: ‘The early years are vital.’ While she advocates for fathers, Saarikko is a fitting example of how mothers in Finland are to a degree liberated from the constraints of motherhood by the country’s supportive policies. She is 33 and has a three-year-old child in full-time public daycare. Her husband works full-time. “You can be a young woman and minister here,” she says. “My situation is not abnormal. In Finland it is normal to combine work and family it’s not easy, but it’s not impossible.”
Finland’s current standing reflects a long legacy of women’s advancement. The country was second in the world to give women the right to vote, and the first in 1906 to give them full political rights. Today, 42% of parliamentarians are women, whereas in the US, women hold just 19.6% of seats in Congress. “Finland was a poor country where women worked alongside men, and we all had to work together after the war to pay off our debt to the Russians,” says Paulina Ahokas, director of Tampere Hall, the largest concert and convention center in the Nordic countries. “But women have been involved in decision-making for a long time we believe that leads to the best decisions.”
Social support from start
The Finnish state strives to provide both mothers and fathers with meaningful social support before their child is even born and perhaps not coincidentally the parents Guardian spoke with in Finland seemed significantly less stressed than their counterparts on the other side of the Atlantic. When parents have a child in Finland, they do nit have to worry about a huge medical bill. A pregnant woman with no complications expects to be seen 11 to 15 times before giving birth for free, and the cost of having a baby is nominal. Meanwhile, in the US, a delivery alone costs average $10,000, while a caesarean delivery costs over $15,000, according to the International Federation of Health Plans (IFHP).
On top of that, for the past 80 years, the Finnish state has also gifted parents with a “baby box”, filled with newborn essentials including a sleeping bag, mattress, outdoor gear, toiletries and playsuits – all in gender neutral colors, of course. While families can opt to receive €140 instead, 95% of first-timers take the goodies, as they are worth much more. The baby box has been credited with helping Finland achieve one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world – it saw only 1.7 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2015, compared with states’ strikingly high rate of 5.82 – not because of the bed itself, but because pregnant women must have a checkup before the end of their fourth month of pregnancy to receive it. “It’s the contact that’s important, not the box,” says Anita Haataja, who works for the Finnish social agency Kela. Inside Aleksi daycare centre in Helsinki, Finland.
Once the baby is born, Finland gives the mothers about four months of the paid maternity leave and fathers a little more than two months of paid leave. On top of all that, couples can share an additional five-plus months of paid parental leave between them. While most dads take the first three weeks of leave offered to them, only about half take the full two months and only a small percentage beyond that numbers the “Daddy Time” campaign is hoping to boost. Even after the parental leave period ends, one parent has the right to stay home, and get “paid” €450 a month, and return to the same job until child is three years old. Granted, some critics argue this stipend encourages women to stay away from workplace for too long, thus harming their job prospects. For Sami Sulin, who works in the back office of a bank, the benefit offered a welcome opportunity to spend time with his daughter. He stayed at home for a full 10 months from the time she was 10 months old, and he says an increasing number of his friends are doing the same. “No one was negative about it,” reports the 35-year-old. “I think it is just more socially acceptable now. There is a recognition that fathers need to participate in family life.”
Naturally Good To Help
Most parents, including mothers, do eventually go back to work and when they do, the state provides universal daycare. At its most expensive, service costs €290 a month by comparison, in the US, full-time childcare costs 85% of a family’s median rent in some places and can be more expensive than sending the child to college. In London, the average is around £650 a month. Oh, and in Finland, someone else will take care of all the details. “I guess the big difference is it is not stressful at all,” says sales manager Tuomas Aspiala, 40. “Someone else organizes everything.” When a local nursery didn’t have any space available for his two children, the city of Helsinki organised a nanny share to look after them until room became available. “The situation at the daycare centre is really fantastic. It’s really close, the people who look after the children are wonderful,” he says. “We really don’t feel guilty about leaving them there at all.” The Aleksi daycare centre in Helsinki.
Indeed, Finland’s early years care is arguably the best in the world, credited with helping country land consistently high in Pisa education rankings when children go to elementary school at the age of seven. “In Finland, schooling isn’t something people stress about at all,” says Noora Ahmed-Moshe, 37, who had her second daughter in Finland two months ago, after having her first while living in London. Finnish companies’ attitudes tend to be progressive, too. Here, most people start the day around 8am and commonly wrap up between 4.pm and 5.pm. All of which adds up to a culture where parents are better able to divvy up the work of parenting.
For Petri and Kirsi Louhelainen, a tech startup entrepreneur and the CTO of a tech firm respectively, they both see the division of time and labor in the home as important for their sons. “When at home so really involved that’s normal,” says Petri, 41. “Dads participate in their kids’ life and kids have a lot of hobbies, in my experience it’s often the dad who takes them.” Kirsi, 38, can’t personally attest to the finding that Finnish dads spend more time with school-age kids than moms and it’s true women still spend around 71 more minutes a day than men with their preschoolers she appreciates how relatively egalitarian her country is compared with others in the western world. “Petri takes care of all kids’ clothes. I find it too stressful,” she says. “But I cook more. It just feels natural and good to share the load.”
Deeprooted social Justice
None of this comes cheap, of course. Taxes account for 44% of Finland’s GDP, compared with about 25% in the US. Income taxincludes payments to the town or city, the state, a church tax, and a public broadcasting tax. Someone earning $1.2m a year would pay as much as 51.5% to the state. “Americans will say we pay a lot of tax, and it’s true, we do. I pay a lot, but I don’t lose any sleep over it,” says Aspiala, the sales manager. “Of course I would like to pay less tax, I would like the public sector to be less heavy but I’m comfortable with it. I know that I am a net giver rather than net receiver, but if my tax goes to help someone worse off, then OK. Finns have a pretty deep-rooted idea of social democracy.” Like many families in Finland, Petri and Kirsi Louhelainen balance raising their two children.
So does Finland agree with American perception it’s a utopian paradise? Not yet. Minister Saarikko acknowledges that a deeply ingrained gender-related problem remain, particularly in remote areas. The gender pay gap is at 16% to 18%, depending on which measure is used, which is not dissimilar to the 17% to 20% in the US. Most professions are dominated by one gender. And women make up only 23% of board members in listed companies. A main barrier faced is illusion of gender equality,” she says. “Many people think gender equality has already been achieved in Finland.” But the government is actively working to improve figures. This year, the Finnish government launched an International Gender Equality Prize as part of the celebrations marking 100 years of independence it will give €150,000 to a person or organization “with advanced gender equality in a globally significant way” to donate to the cause of its choice. “I don’t know of any other country that would make this kind of prize it’s major statement in a celebratory year, that makes me proud,” says Ahokas, the convention center director who is also the chair of the prize. So where does the country go from here? The next big push is for the greater gender balance may just come from fathers, predicts Katja Lahti, 43, who writes a popular family blog Project Mama. “It feels like a real millennial movement of fathers who are asking for more, who want their voice,” she says. “It’s like they want to have it all.”
A family does not feel pain according to the story recently reported in the news. Letizia Marsili and five other members rarely feel pain Letizia Marsili, 52, first realised she was different when she was very young. She has high threshold for pain meaning she did not feel burns or notice broken bones. Five other family members are also affected by condition which means they are insensitive to pain. Letizia told the BBC: “From day to day we live a very normal life, perhaps better than the rest of the population, because we very rarely get unwell and we hardly feel any pain. “However, in truth we do feel pain perception of pain, but this only lasts for a few seconds.” Scientists believe the condition could be down to some nerves not reacting properly. Researchers who studied the family hope their discovery of a gene mutation in family members could help chronic-pain sufferers in future. “We have opened up a whole new route to drug discovery for pain relief,” said Prof Anna Maria Aloisi from the University of Siena in Italy.
How is family affected?
Letizia’s mother, two sons, sister and niece all show signs of being affected by syndrome that is named after the family Marsili pain syndrome. She said pain was an important alarm signal because they feel it fleetingly, the family often have fractures go undetected and this leads to inflammation in their bones. They also experience burns and other injuries without knowing. Letizia said her 24-year-old son Ludovico, who plays football, has encountered problems. “He rarely stays on the ground, even when he is knocked down. However, he has fragility at the ankles and he suffers distortions, which are micro fractures. “In fact, recently X-rays have shown that he has lots of micro fractures in both ankles.” She said her younger son Bernardo, 21, had a calcification of the elbow without realising he had broken it after falling off his bike. He continued cycling another nine miles. Fractures, broken bones and burns are often not noticed and don’t heal properly.
Letizia says when she fractured right shoulder skiing she continued to ski all afternoon, only going to the hospital the next morning because her fingers were tingling. So same thing happened when she broke a bone in her elbow playing tennis. “Because of a lack of pain, it got so stressed that it ended up breaking,” she says. But the worst thing, she says, was problems in her mouth because of a tooth implant went wrong. Letizia’s mother, Maria Domenica, 78, has had a number of fractures which have never healed properly and have hardened naturally. She suffers burns because she doesn’t feel any pain. Her sister Maria Elena often damages the top of her mouth because she burns herself with hot drinks, and her daughter Virginia once left her hand in ice for about 20 minutes without feeling pain. Despite all this, Letizia says she has never seen condition “as a negative for our lives.”
Do they feel little pain?
Lead study author Dr James Cox, from University College London said Marsili family members had all their nerves present, but “they’re just not working how they should be.” He said: “We’re working to gain a better understanding of exactly why they don’t feel much pain, to see if could help us find new pain relief treatments.” The research team, whose findings are published in the journal Brain, worked with family to find out nature of their phenotype the observable characteristics caused by their genetics. The Marsili syndrome, named after them, means the affected individuals are less than normally sensitive (or hyposensitive) to extreme heat, capsaicin in chilli peppers, have experienced pain-free bone fractures.
Scientists discover genes
The researchers mapped out protein-coding genes in each family member’s genome and found a mutation in the ZFHX2 gene. They then conducted two studies in mice which had been bred without this gene and found their pain thresholds had been altered. When they bred a new line of mice with relevant mutation they found they were notably insensitive to high temperatures. Prof Aloisi said: “With more research to understand exactly how the mutation impacts pain sensitivity, and to see what other genes might be involved, we could identify novel targets for drug development.” The family is believed to be the one in the world to be affected by this faulty gene.
By Ian Westbrook & Philippa RoxbyHealth reporters, BBC News