Walking and Thinking

I don’t know why walking is so conducive to letting your brain think. Maybe it’s to do with the blood flow, or like the way sticking your tongue out helps you concentrate, the steady, regular steps allow your mind to delegate body control to some unconscious subroutine, freeing your conscious mind up to really focus.

Whatever it is, it works, and you end up feeling good physically too.

Volcanoes On Venus (Possibly)

Scientists have identified 37 volcanic structures on Venus that appear to have been recently active – and probably still are today – painting the picture of a geologically dynamic planet and not a dormant world as long thought.

The research focused on ring-like structures called coronae, caused by an upwelling of hot rock from deep within the planet’s interior, and provided compelling evidence of widespread recent tectonic and magma activity on Venus’s surface, researchers have said.

via https://www.theguardian.com/science/2020/jul/21/likely-active-volcanoes-found-on-venus-defying-theory-of-dormant-planet

Very interesting – I’ve read a hypothesis suggesting that plate tectonics are only possibly on earth due to the oceans providing the lubrication.

Phoenix Park: Back to Car City

That good news didn’t last – ‘It will be back to car city’ reports the Journal.

Minister of State for the OPW, Patrick O’Donovan, said the decision over the gates was made after discussing issues like a growth of traffic in the surrounding areas over the past few weeks. 

“The volume of traffic built up in adjoining areas has gone up a lot,” he said, adding that there have been an “awful lot of traffic jams” on the western side of the park in particular. 

The decision is hoped to help “find out what impact the reopening was going to have” in relation to these recent bouts of traffic. 

“Whether we like it or not, for an awful lot of people it’s a commuter route,” he said. 

A public consultation on the matter will begin in “the coming weeks”, the Minister of State confirmed. I would love to see the traffic volume reduced in the park, I’m committed to trying to work to see how we do that.

“[The Phoenix Park] is the lungs of Dublin, but unfortunately it has also become an artery,” O’Donovan said. 

Is it a park, or a road with some green bits? If it’s a road, it’s obviously not wide enough, if it’s a park, it’s got too many through-routes. It can’t do both, and now it does neither.

Good News – Phoenix Park to remain a quieter place with less traffic

This is a good thing:

[T]he OPW on Friday morning said it will not reopen the gates on Monday, and has not set any future date for their reopening. It has also given its strongest signal yet that the use of the park as a “throughway” to the city could be brought to an end and said “further measures to curb traffic volumes in the park are likely to be introduced in the coming months.”

Thousands of people signed an online petition, initiated by Green Party councillor Michael Pidgeon last month, calling for the end of the use of the park as a throughway for motorists.

The OPW was “determined to ensure that the park is a safe, quiet, green space for our visitors, where flora and fauna thrives and where visitors’ health and wellbeing can be enhanced through experiencing the natural environment in the park,” OPW commissioner John McMahon said

“With this in mind, reducing the volume of ‘through-traffic’ is critical and maintaining safe, quiet, open spaces for pedestrians and cyclists to enjoy is a key priority for OPW.”

Cars can still access the park through the Castleknock and Parkgate Street gates and the current parking arrangements will be maintained. However, the OPW said: “These measures are being kept under constant review with An Garda Síochána and other key stakeholders and the OPW is monitoring and measuring the impact of these initiatives.”

Lockdown: The Country Scale Experiment

One thing about how humanity has dealt and is continuing to deal with the Covid-19 outbreak is that it’s really a huge experiment with country scale populations. Some really interesting effects are being seen, I’d say that the research hasn’t even really started yet. There’s all sorts of questions that could be examined, from mental health effects to lack of traffic and cleaner air.

Two that caught my eye so far are related to pollution in the air we breathe. I hope that things like these will really bring home to people just how much impact that invisible air pollution has on our health.

Two million people in the UK with respiratory conditions such as asthma have experienced reduced symptoms during the coronavirus lockdown, according to the British Lung Foundation.

Guardian: “Cleaner air during UK lockdown relieves asthma for millions

Back in the day, I remember our science teacher telling us that asthma was on the increase, and at the time we considered smoking as a possible cause, but now I’d point the finger at air pollution. While Dublin had cleaned up the very visible smog, the fine particle pollution was on the increase, as it is today.

Another fascinating one is the fall in pre-term births:

An “unprecedented” fall in pre-term births in one of the country’s largest maternity hospitals is being credited to the effect of positive lifestyle influences during the lockdown.

The number of underweight babies fell dramatically in University Maternity Hospital Limerick in the first four months of the year, a trend researchers believe is due to reduced stress and healthier lifestyles brought on by the Covid-19 restrictions.

There was a 73 per cent reduction in the number of very low birth-weight babies born in the hospital, compared to the average for the same first four months of the year in the preceding two decades, a study has found.

If the same finding is replicated nationally for the first four months of the year, there could be up to 200 fewer very-low-weight births this year, and several hundred more if the effect were to last to the end of the year.

Likening the unique conditions of the lockdown to “nature’s experiment”, lead author Prof Roy Philip said the improvements were due to a mix of self-imposed behavioural changes by mothers and externally imposed socio-environmental changes.

These include: reduced work; stress; commuting and financial strain; increased family support; reduced environmental pollution; better infection avoidance; improved sleep and nutritional support; adequate exercise; and reduced exposure to tobacco and illegal drugs.

Irish Times, “Positive lockdown influence credited with fall in pre-term births”

The real research here will be picking apart the confounding factors, some of the changes noted above for example – I’d guess that lots of mothers experienced more stress, perhaps worse family support (relatives couldn’t visit) for example. I hope more research gets done on this.

The privilege of being clutter free

Don’t pack too light:

A few weeks into coronavirus quarantine, a reader who had cleaned out his home according to the decluttering guru Marie Kondo’s ultra-popular KonMari method emailed me to ask if I had heard from anyone else who was regretting that move. He’d been happy with the results until the country’s circumstances had abruptly changed, and his family ended up reordering some of the same board games and casual diversions they had parted with back when their lives were busier and the boxes were taking up space in a closet.

Packing light for a lifetime has its perks, but it’s not a strategy that’s highly adaptable to sudden unemployment or overburdened supply chains. America’s economy asks its residents to cycle new things in and out of their home constantly, and for decades, the process has looked like a perpetual-motion machine to all but the poorest among us. When the pandemic hit, it became clear that the process was much closer to musical chairs. Tossing everything that isn’t just right in the moment is its own kind of privilege, which is why Kim Kardashian’s house looks like a mausoleum, and why the set for the anti-capitalist film Parasite is all sharp edges and sleek wood. The pursuit of domestic perfection should be done only by those who don’t have to worry about what unforeseen wants or needs might lie ahead. Among consumer culture’s most impressive sleights of hand is convincing far too many people that they’re in that group.

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/07/the-triumph-of-the-slob/612232/?utm_source=digg

Everything in moderation is the best approach. Absolutes tend to be brittle when hit with changing circumstances don’t they? I think it makes it easier to adapt to change. That’s my philosophy piece for today.

“The officers responsible are rarely prosecuted.”

Protests over the murder of an unarmed black man at the hands of a white police officer have reached every single US state, in a level of nationwide demonstration not seen since the 1968 assassination of civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr.

Curfews are in place across dozens of cities and National Guard troops have been deployed to back up an already heavily militarised police in at least 23 states.

The arrest on Friday of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was charged with third-degree murder in Floyd’s case, has not quelled the demonstrations which look set to enter their seventh night in some areas.

This Is How Absolutely Massive The George Floyd Protests Are Across The US

You get the feeling that the cops in the USA just aren’t held accountable to any reasonable standard.

No officers were ever charged” “all four officers acquitted” “No police officers were charged” “was fired but not charged”

Is anyone really surprised the pot boiled over?