Monday, March 19, 2018

You don’t have to be alone to feel lonely


Editor's note

Loneliness, according to some, is an “epidemic,” a silent killer that doesn’t discriminate on the basis of income, politics or nationality. But according to Amherst College Assistant Professor of English Amelia Worley, loneliness is a relatively new concept. The word was rarely used until the 17th century, and back then described the vulnerability of being separated from friends, families and neighbors. Today, you can be surrounded by these same people but nonetheless feel incredibly alone. So what’s changed?

By contrast, immigration is an issue that has deeply divided Americans, not just along party lines, but also in another important way. University of Montana legal scholar Anthony Johnstone writes that the Trump administration’s recent decision to sue California over its sanctuary laws is the latest evidence of a centuries-old battle between the federal government and state governments.

Financial markets around the world went a bit berserk in February. This echoed an event exactly one decade ago when an obscure corner of Wall Street crashed. Similar problems led to both events. And in both cases, after a brief spell of unease, markets recovered. The 2008 incident, however, turned out to be a proverbial dead canary in a coal mine that foreshadowed the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. This year’s sell-off should be seen as another canary, argue economists Steven Pressman and Robert H. Scott III.

Nick Lehr

Arts + Culture Editor

Top Stories

Edward Hopper’s ‘Office in a Small City’ (1953). Gandalf's Gallery

A history of loneliness

Amelia S. Worsley, Amherst College

Although loneliness may seem timeless and universal, the word seems to have originated in the 16th century,

President Donald Trump reviews border wall prototypes in San Diego. AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Sessions suing California is the latest battle in a centuries-old war for power over immigration

Anthony Johnstone, The University of Montana

A legal scholar explains how even in the early days of the republic, Americans struggled to agree on who had the final say on immigration issues.

An ice sculpture titled ‘Main Street Meltdown’ melts near Wall Street. AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

Recent stock market sell-off foreshadows a new Great Recession

Steven Pressman, Colorado State University; Robert H. Scott III, Monmouth University

The collapse of an obscure corner of the financial market a decade ago foreshadowed the Great Recession. The stock-market swoon in February should offer a similar warning.

Health + Medicine

Politics + Society

Economy + Business

Ethics + Religion

  • 10 things to know about the real St. Patrick

    Lisa Bitel, University of Southern California – Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

    There are many myths associated with St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. But Patrick's own writings and early biographies reveal the person behind the legend.

Trending on site

Today’s quote

Kurdish women have long been exceptions in the mostly conservative Middle East.

  Haidar Khezri

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Green neighborhoods and beer


Editor's note

As more Americans move to cities, developers are transforming once-blighted urban neighborhoods. Makeovers that add parks and other green amenities, but also drive up real estate prices and displace working-class residents, have come to be known as "green gentrification." Geographers Trina Hamilton of the University at Buffalo and Winifred Curran of DePaul University propose a different path that they call "just green enough," which gives equal priority to jobs, equity and the environment.

If you're wearing green today, you probably think you've got a grasp on St. Patrick's life and times – but have you ever heard of Bannavem Taburniae? Or the saint's seriously disturbing run-in with a pagan ship captain? Lisa Bitel of University of Southern California, Dornsife offers 10 lesser-known St. Patrick facts.

And with this week's 50th anniversary of the massacre in My Lai, Vietnam, Robert Hodierne details the grotesque violence of that event – and why it's crucial for Americans to remember it.

Jennifer Weeks

Environment + Energy Editor

Top Stories

Small tankers unload along New York's Newtown Creek in 2008. Jim Henderson

Sustainable cities need more than parks, cafes and a riverwalk

Trina Hamilton, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York; Winifred Curran, DePaul University

Gentrification is not the only path for improving urban neighborhoods. A cleanup in Brooklyn and Queens offers another, more inclusive model that scholars have dubbed 'just green enough.'

Saint Patrick. Thad Zajdowicz

10 things to know about the real St. Patrick

Lisa Bitel, University of Southern California – Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

There are many myths associated with St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. But Patrick's own writings and early biographies reveal the person behind the legend.

Dead from the My Lai massacre. Peers Inquiry, v.3/Ron Haeberle

My Lai: 50 years after, American soldiers' shocking crimes must be remembered

Robert Hodierne, University of Richmond

If Americans remember My Lai, they likely know that something awful happened there. On this 50th anniversary, it is worth recalling the grotesque details, in the hope of preventing a future My Lai.

Arts + Culture

Why bland American beer is here to stay

Ranjit Dighe, State University of New York Oswego

The unique role of the temperance movement in US history might explain why, when it comes to Americans' tastes, bland beer is still king.

In a state wrought with racial tension, Jackie Robinson suited up for his first spring training game

Chris Lamb, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

Much has been written about Robinson's first major league game. Far less is known about the first integrated spring training game in Florida.

The man responsible for making March Madness the moneymaking bonanza it is today

Rick Eckstein, Villanova University

In the 1950s, NCAA Executive Director Walter Byers coined the term 'student-athlete,' which laid the groundwork for the organization to reap the windfall from its annual basketball tournament.

Thomas Eakins: Brilliant painter, gifted photographer ... sexual predator?

Henry Adams, Case Western Reserve University

If we're going to grasp what makes Eakins' art so tragically powerful, we should be honest about the man who made them – and the impulses that drove him.

Environment + Energy

Does cloud seeding work? Scientists watch ice crystals grow inside clouds to find out

Jeffrey French, University of Wyoming; Sarah Tessendorf, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

Governments and private companies have been seeding clouds to create snow for decades, without proof that it actually works. A recent study peered into clouds in search of answers.

People are stranded in 'transit deserts' in dozens of US cities

Junfeng Jiao, University of Texas at Austin; Chris Bischak, University of Texas at Austin

Even in cities with good public transportation, some areas can be 'transit deserts,' where demand exceeds supply. Living in these zones makes it hard to access good jobs, health care and other services.


What the National School Walkout says about schools and free speech

Clay Calvert, University of Florida

When students walked out of school to protest what they see as lax gun laws, some risked punishment from their schools. But it may be worth it to send a message, a First Amendment scholar argues.

Zero tolerance discipline policies won't fix school shootings

Derek W. Black, University of South Carolina

Despite the failure of zero tolerance discipline policies in schools, the Trump administration is targeting an Obama-era memo that sought to limit such policies.

DeVos and the limits of the education reform movement

Jack Schneider, College of the Holy Cross

The cycle of overpromising and disappointment has left donors, politicians and policymakers of all stripes looking to improve K-12 public schooling with an underwhelming track record.

Just competing in March Madness is a fundraising win for the schools

Brad Humphreys, West Virginia University

Taking part in the NCAA tournament tends to make a bigger difference for public universities that garner relatively few donations.

Politics + Society

Fearless leader or lame duck? Putin's certain triumph heralds fresh uncertainty

Cynthia Hooper, College of the Holy Cross

The result of Russia's upcoming election is already known: President Vladimir Putin will be re-elected. Will he be content to be a lame duck, or will he undermine democracy to suit his ambition?

Haspel is Trump's chance to reset his bad start with the CIA

Brent Durbin, Smith College

A new head could help repair the president's relationship with the spy agency, but only if leaders stop playing politics with intelligence.

Pompeo's rise will make Mideast war more likely

Gregory Aftandilian, Boston University

Trump's pick to lead the State Department believes Iran is 'intent on destroying America.' But ending the Iran nuclear deal could unleash a violent chain reaction, a Mideast scholar says.

Colombian guerrilla leader ends controversial presidential bid, giving peace a chance

Fabio Andres Diaz, International Institute of Social Studies

A former FARC rebel commander-turned- presidential candidate has withdrawn from Colombia's 2018 election. Despite increased violence, the peace accord he signed will probably survive this setback.

Science + Technology

Adult human brains don't grow new neurons in hippocampus, contrary to prevailing view

Shawn Sorrells, University of California, San Francisco; Arturo Alvarez-Buylla, University of California, San Francisco; Mercedes Paredes, University of California, San Francisco

The scientists behind a controversial new study were surprised by their own results. But they carefully did all they could to 'prove a negative,' and their neurogenesis study is shaking up the field.

Controversial brain study has scientists rethinking neuron research

Janice R. Naegele, Wesleyan University

Neuroscience labs around the world may need to reevaluate some of their assumptions about whether what works in animals will really produce meaningful treatments for people.

Stephen Hawking warned about the perils of artificial intelligence – yet AI gave him a voice

Ana Santos Rutschman, DePaul University

Despite his fears artificial intelligence might one day overtake humanity, Stephen Hawking knew from his own life how profoundly AI could improve humans' daily lives.

Embroidering electronics into the next generation of 'smart' fabrics

Asimina Kiourti, The Ohio State University

Is an archaic sewing skill a key to connected, sensing, communicating fabrics of the future?

Health + Medicine

Giving patients the 'right to try' experimental drugs is a political maneuver, not a lifesaver

Morten Wendelbo, Texas A&M University ; Timothy Callaghan, Texas A&M University

The House plans to vote on 'right to try' legislation. Politically, it's a winner. But will it give terminally patients the help they need or only bring false hope?

Young blood: magic or medicine?

David Irving, University of Technology Sydney

Recent scientific studies have claimed that transfusions of blood from teenagers can help delay or reverse the ageing process. Do they stack up?

Economy + Business

What is a tariff? An economist explains

Amitrajeet A. Batabyal, Rochester Institute of Technology

President Trump recently imposed steep tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum. An economist explains what they are, how they work and why they matter.

Why do gun-makers get special economic protection?

Allen Rostron, University of Missouri-Kansas City

The gun industry has been virtually immune from liability for the deaths and injuries caused by its products since 2005. Can this change?