Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘health’

01 DECEMBER, 2008

World AIDS Day 2008: Join the Fight

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What 20 years, 112 million bloggers and a simple pledge have in common.

We’re doing something a little different today. Because today is the 20th anniversary of World Aids Day, a powerful opportunity to reflect on the deadly pandemic that started eating away at the world over 27 years ago — and the one time when it’s particularly not okay to roll our eyes at the overexposed and underaddressed problem.

World AIDS Day 20th Anniversary No need to drum on about the stats, because we all know how frightening they are, but just consider that by the time you finish reading this, 71 new people will be infected with AIDS, adding to the 33 million worldwide living with the disease.

So what can you do? Generally, “awareness” is a comfortable, failure-free way of pretending to be involved in a cause without really being responsible for its tangible success. (Seriously, has “awareness” cured, say, breast cancer?) But AIDS is extraordinary because in this particular case, awareness is action — in a disease where the only cure is prevention, the more people get tested and know how to “be careful,” the less people get infected.

So learn a thing or two about how not to get infected. And, seriously, get tested — the first step to chipping away at the colossal problem is refusing to think of it as an abstraction, and that begins with personal initiative — if you live in the States, find a testing center near you or just text your zip code to “KNOWIT” (566948) and they’ll text back with a nearby center. And if you live elsewhere in the world, enlist Google and a few friends in finding out about local testing options or check out UNAIDS, the United Nations program against HIV/AIDS.

You can also take the World AIDS Campaign leadership pledge and even follow AIDS.gov on Twitter.

If you’re a designer, allot some pro-bono time to doing a compelling piece that raises awareness, moves people and inspires action — talk about using your power for good Bloggers Unite

And if you’re one of the world’s 112 million bloggers, grab the World Aids Day badge and participate in BloggersUnite, an ambitious initiative to leverage the traction of the blogosphere in reaching more people with the simple yet powerful awareness message.

So go ahead, do your part. Because the more the word spreads, the less the disease does. Think about it.

18 JULY, 2008

Friday FYI: Itchy Throat

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Doing what you couldn’t the way you should.

It could’ve been that not- quite-ripe kiwi. Or your overcarbonated caffeine fix. Or a cat hair from your roommate’s annoying feline. Whatever it was, your throat is itching and it’s driving you crazier than said cat’s dry-humping habit. Worst part: you can’t exactly scratch it.

Well, actually, you can.

Pull on your earlobe and massage it between your thumb and index finger. This stimulates the nerves in the ear, which creates a reflex in the throat, which in turn causes a tiny muscle spasm. That spasm does what your hand can’t — or shouldn’t — and “scratches” that maddening itch.

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27 JUNE, 2008

Friday FYI: The Legal Performance-Enhancer

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How you can get a job promotion, finish the Tour de France, become an art icon and discover electricity in just 20 minutes between 2 and 3pm.

SHEEP AT WORK

Da Vinci took it. Edison took it. Lance Armstrong takes it any chance he gets. We’re talking about the power nap. Research in recent years has confirmed the tremendous recuperative value of power naps in improving our everyday quality of life. Here’s the low-down on how to go down.

WHY

  • Less stress
  • Higher productivity
  • Better memory and learning capacity
  • Improved creativity and motivation
  • Heart and brain health
  • Stable energy levels
  • Improved alertness and focus

WHEN

  • Between 2 and 3pm is ideal
  • Napping later makes you more likely to fall into deep sleep and wake up groggy

HOW LONG

  • Ideally, 20-30 minutes — the perfect duration to recharge both muscles and memory capacity, purging your brain of useless information build-up and opening up more space in your long-term memory tank
  • You can also try a nano-nap (10-20 seconds, just putting your head down) or a micro-nap (2-5 minutes) for a quick kick at sleepiness

BONUS TIPS

  • Avoid high amounts of caffeine, fat or sugar 60-90 minutes before your nap time (and at all times, really, but we won’t judge)
  • Try to darken your nap area or put on one of those dorky eyeshades — helps your body produce melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone
  • Don’t forget to set an alarm — if you oversleep on a nap, you may end up less Energizer Bunny and more Easter Bunny from The Shining

And don’t forget to pass this on to your boss — that way, you can point the finger our way when she raises a could-be-disapproving-could-be-inquisitive eyebrow at your eyeshade. Now, go. It’s almost nap time.

>>> via Ririan Project

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