I’ve been listening to podcasts recently so I can “read” on the go. I love NPR’s TED Radio Hour. This episode, “Becoming Wise,” includes a lovely story told by a guy whose family hosted Nelson Mandela when he was first released from prison. He tells about a herd of elephants that helped a young elephant with a birth defect survive, as a metaphor for how we can only truly exist in the context of other people, and even in the context of the whole living world. And in this episode, “The Fountain of Youth,” I like that they go beyond diet and exercise to talk about the social aspects of longevity and a life well-lived. One speaker talks about how, in a particularly long-lived area in Japan, people don’t define themselves by their job or whether they have retired from their job. Everyone, no matter their age or employment status, has “ikigai,” their reason to get up in the morning.
And NPR has a new podcast, Code Switch, about race and identity. The first episode, about whiteness, is great.
Finally, Becoming Wise had a beautiful episode about Einstein, race, and empathy.
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Sarah Kliff at Vox just published this fantastic explanation of the gender wage gap (hint: it is real and it has something to do with babies and inflexible work hours.)
As an almost-daily Pronto user, reading this article on equitable bike-sharing filled my morning commute with hope and excitement today. Now that the City of Seattle has purchased the bike-share and committed to engaging low-income populations and communities of color, I’m eager to see how the future of Pronto will unfold.
I’ve been reading really interesting articles about genes lately. I’m not sure if I’m feeling nostalgic for my days as a biology undergrad student or if it’s because I just finished reading a sci-fi novel, but genes are endlessly fascinating to me. This conversation with author Siddhartha Mukherjee explores his new book The Gene: An Intimate History, and gives a nice overview of the history and possibilities of gene manipulation. Another recent article from National Geographic discussing the process of gene manipulation, with particular emphasis on mosquito-transmitted illnesses, is a good follow-up read. And if you simply cannot get enough, be sure to check out this ear made of cervix that is held together by an apple!
Did you know that unmarried women, people of color, and millennials will make up the majority of voters for the first time in the upcoming November election? This “New American Majority,” also called the “Rising American Electorate,” is key to winning progressive change. In the new bestseller, Brown is the New White, author Steve Phillips explains how America is experiencing a “demographic revolution” that will shift how governing bodies make decisions.
So how can advocates, nonprofits, and elected officials shift their outreach plans to engage the rapidly changing demographic landscape? Sightline Institute is partnering with the Communications Hub at Fuse, Latina Creative Agency, and Washington CAN to present case studies from local experts who have effectively reached and mobilized diverse communities including: people of color, women, LGBTQ communities, and young voters. Register here for this free event in Seattle! Space is limited.
Freakonomics Radio featured lots of interesting folks singing very Sightline-sounding tunes in their recent episode called Ten Ideas to Make Politics Less Rotten. Olympia Snowe, Rob Richie (Fairvote), Joaquin Castro, Karl Rove, Norman Ornstein (American Enterprise Institute), among others, each offered one thing that they’d get rid of to make US democracy work better. My favorite was Howard Dean talking about doing away with single-vote plurality elections (wha?!):
If I could do a single thing in American politics, it would be to get rid of the single-vote for your favorite candidate. Right now, we vote for one person, and that person either wins or doesn’t win. That is, if there’s ten candidates in a race, you get one vote. There’s a system called ranked-choice voting, where you don’t get just your vote for the top choice that you have, you also get to vote on all the other choices. And you get to rank them. So that if your candidate doesn’t win, your second-choice vote counts. What that does is create as the winner, the person who is best respected and best liked overall in the electorate. It’s just a good system. The other thing about it is that it makes people behave themselves better. San Francisco put in ranked-choice voting a few years ago, and they had the most polite mayor’s campaign that you ever saw, because if you’re hoping to get somebody’s second or third choice vote, if you know you’re not going to get their first, you’re not going to say anything bad about them in the campaign, because you drive those voters away. And those are the voters that eventually get you elected. So ranked-choice voting simply means that you get multiple choices, you can weight your choices, and the candidate that the most people like — and usually the one that’s the most reasonable — becomes the next mayor, the next president, the next senator. And I think that makes voters happy, it makes politicians behave better, and it’s something that’s coming slowly to the United States and where we have it, it works well.