Art imitiating life

I am at a lost for words to describe how it feels to hear the decision of juries for the Mike Brown and Eric Garner cases. Hurt, anger, fear, shame, sadness, indifference and grief all at the same time. This is some traumatic kind of living.

“For his part, director Spike Lee took the video of the incident, which went viral, and intercut scenes of Radio Raheem’s death sequence in his seminal 1989 film, “Do The Right Thing,” essentially holding up a mirror to reality, emphasizing how much his art seemingly imitates (or maybe I should say, reflects) real life – still, some 25 years later, since that film’s releaseway.”

h/t Shadow and Act

A Nudge in the Right Direction

A few days ago, a colleague shared Katrin Bennhold’s NYTimes article, Britain’s Ministry of Nudges, with me. In it, Bennhold shows how Britain is using American behavioral science experiments to improve public policy, reduce unemployment, and increase tax revenue.

I laughed.

While I am thrilled about this reinvention of government services, the ethics of such experiments baffles me. Why does the world of academia always choose to experiment on the poor and unemployed without their consent? In this case, the experiments yield favorable results, but what if they did not? Who would be at fault – the scientist or the unsuspecting participant?

Medicaid Accountable Care Organizations in NJ for the Win


When I read Dan Goldberg’s article, New Jersey hospitals reach out to patients to reduce ER visits, I did a happy dance. In the midst of all the bad press that the Affordable Care Act implementation has been getting, this piece offers a glimmer of hope. It’s such a well-written article showing how doctors and hospital systems in New Jersey are really trying to address the cost issues in our sick care healthcare system. Not only are they sharing data, they’re providing better patient care AND saving money.

So, yes the Affordable Care Act is changing the system for the better.

Well, of course walkable cities are better than the suburbs

Jeff Spek, tells us why designing a city for walkers rather than cars makes it a nicer place to live. We probably didn’t need a TED talk to tell us that, but Jeff uses data and pictures to explain it, so you should watch it anyway. Then, you might want to befriend your local city council and encourage them to adopt a complete streets policy.


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Guest Post: It’s a Noisy Planet

Everyday we are bombarded with sounds and noises, but how often do we think what this exposure could cause permanent hearing loss?

Because of this, the National Institute of National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), part of the National Institutes of Health has launched a campaign to raise awareness about the issue. I think their slogan, “It’s A Noisy Planet: Protect Their Hearing,” is rather catchy. 

Today’s post comes from, John O’Connor, read his blog at

Help Your Hearing Later by Making Lifestyle Changes Now

When it comes to discussions about making lifestyle changes, some people are gung ho for it and other people cringe in dread.  Sometimes, all a person needs is a little bit of information to learn just how much a few minor lifestyle changes can positively benefit them, both now and later.

A person’s hearing in their later years is often dependent on how they have lived previously.  While there are many illnesses and natural causes and accidents that can damage a person’s ability to hear, there are also many lifestyle choices people make that play an important role in determining how well they can hear.

Use Electronics Responsibly to Help Protect Your Hearing

In modern times, electronics play an important part of millions of lives.  Not only do people use cell phones and typically have them either attached to their bodies or resting within arm’s reach, but many people also go through their daily lives with cell phone ear pieces attached to their ears.  Having this constant noise at a moderate or high volume be a consistent part of a person’s life can damage a person’s ability to hear.  Keeping cell phone volumes turned as low as possible and refusing to wear ear pieces except when it is absolutely necessary is a great action to take to help protect hearing ability.

Listening to music, playing video games, and watching TV are other activities that millions of people participate in on a daily basis.  Many times, people are talking during the activities and the volume steadily gets pushed higher to hear the sound over other noises in a home.  Becoming aware of volume and making a deliberate effort to keep all volumes at a low or medium sound level can help to protect the hearing of every person in the home.  This is also a great action parents can take to help educate their children about the importance of volume on electronics and how it can affect their hearing.

Develop New Patterns for You and Your Family

Teaching children and teenagers about the potential damage loud music and other forms of media can cause to a person’s hearing is a fantastic tool to depart to your children.  When children and teens learn at an early age how to be responsible and use electronics wisely, they will begin establishing healthy patterns and making smart choices when it comes to the way they use their electronics.   This will provide them with multiple benefits over the course of their lives.

While it may be necessary for a person to wear a hearing aid to help restore partial hearing ability that has been lost, there are also numerous things parents can do to educate their children about electronics and how to protect their ears and their hearing.

To learn more about the campaign, visit the Noisy Planet. The website is a highly-informative and easy-to-read government resource that gives parents tips on how to help control the noise their families are exposed to.

So, the Supreme Court Rules Affordable Care Act is Constitutional. Does it matter?

"What's The Prognosis?" By David Fitzsimmon, Arizona Daily Star

Yesterday morning, the Supreme Court ruled that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional.

Since the Affordable Care Act was introduced  in 2010, there has been debate as to whether access to healthcare and health insurance is a privilege or a right that can be enforced by the constitution. So, I was surprised to see the Supreme Court rule (5-4) to uphold the ACA with only a few important exceptions to the Medicaid provision.

Maybe you’ve had a chance to read and digest all 193 pages of the Supreme Court’s opinion. I have not, so I’ve decided to highlight a few of the noteworthy blog posts, articles and statements, surrounding the topic.

  • Above the Law blog, wrote “Chief Justice John Roberts has upheld the individual mandate. But not under the commerce clause. Instead, Roberts has said that the law can proceed under Congress’s ability to tax.
  • Amy Howe explained in plain English why the ruling is constitutional.
  • Brian Fung from The Atlantic highlighted  3 reasons why this ruling was unexpected.
  • Jessica Aron from the The Daily Beast reminded readers that the practice of “gender rating,” which means charging women higher premiums than men becomes illegal in all new individual and small group plans beginning in 2014.
  • Jordan Rau and Julie Appleby from Kaiser Health News delved into the details of the court’s decision and what it will mean for state enforcement.
  • Kaiser Health News Blog, Capsules, provided a great summary of important links about today’s landmark decision.
  • Lyle Denniston on the SCOTUS blog informed us that this ruling is not a mandate but rather a tax.
  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s President and CEO, Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, released a statement. In it she emphasized, “that affordable health care is not a partisan issue.”
  • Also, a fiery debate is taking place in the comments section of The Chronicle of Philanthropy website about the significance of this decision and how it will effect nonprofits and grant makers in the future.

While I can breathe a sigh of relief (for now), I still wonder if there will ever be a day that health care costs become more reasonable thus negating the heavy reliance on health care insurance companies.

What do you think about this historic Supreme Court decision? Have you found other interesting commentary about this topic?  And what do think should or will happen next? But most importantly, why does it matter to you?

I’m Not Lovin’ It: McDonald’s New York Metro Nutrition Network

Whenever I see a headline with McDonald’s as the subject I have to read it. At first I thought the article would be another exposé about the company’s questionable food selections, but I was mistaken. Instead the article, McDonald’s Will Help Teach Nutrition, highlighted the New York Metro Nutrition Network that was recently established. Have you heard abut it? 

According the NYMetro Nutrition Network website,

the initiative is part of a corporate commitment to offer improved nutritious choices and wholesome options at McDonald’s restaurants, and to teach children how to make good food choices while using recommended food groups.

Additionally, local community organizations that are promoting nutrition and responsible eating (whatever that means) can apply for a $5,000 grant to support their work.  The grant application states that the initiative is an extension of McDonald’s national commitment to offer improved nutrition choices. With each project being evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Nutrition Focus
  • Impact on Community
  • Longevity/ Enduring Value
  • Organization’s Program Track Record (i.e. past successes)
  • Creativity

Not to discredit how much impact a small grant to an organization can make, but I am very weary of one time nutrition related grants especially those distributed by a fast-food restaurant. Yes, it is commendable that McDonald’s is subtly addressing  the perception that the general pubic has of its products offerings, but I hope this signals that more changes will be coming to their menu in the future. Seriously, when you think about nutritious food, I bet McDonald’s is not your first thought. Although, upon closer examination of their menu there were actually some healthy and affordable options. For example, a hamburger, a side salad with low fat balsamic vinaigrette, a kiddie cone and a bottle of water are only 350 calories. As for the meal being locally-sourced and organic, that is another issue.

What do you think about this new initiative? Is this just another PR effort or is McDonald’s really changing and supporting nutrition?