Seven for Saturday: News You Can Use 4/30


catching tree petals

The wind doth shake the boughs, causing the petals to snow down

I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart:

I am, I am, I am.

-Sylvia Plath

My top stories for the week:


1. 50.3% of Americans live in counties that have unhealthful levels of either ozone or particle pollution.

“The [American Lung Association] State of the Air 2011 shows that the air quality in many places has improved during 2007-2009. Still, over 154 million people—just over one half the nation—suffer pollution levels that are too often dangerous to breathe.”

I can’t get over the fact that half the nation breathing dangerous air shows improvement.

2. New York City Council Considers Banning Happy Meal Toys

Only, they’re NOT: “New York City Council member Leroy G. Comrie Jr. of Queens is leading the charge to ban kid-friendly toys from any fast-food meal that doesn’t meet certain nutritional standards, arguing that the plastic playthings serve to reward children for making poor food choices and undermine parents’ attempts to steer kids toward healthful options…Predictably, McDonald’s condemned the proposed measure. An executive for the company’s New York region said: “Taking away toys from kids’ meals won’t solve childhood obesity.”

What they’re trying to do is lean on McD’s to sell Happy Meals— with a toy, dammit— that meet certain nutritional standards. So that parents can reward kids for eating a good dinner, not saying, “You can’t play with your cheap crappy plastic toy until you eat ALL YOUR FRENCH FRIES.” Why is this such a difficult concept to grasp?

3. Sleep-deprived brains turn themselves off

“The research could mean that the 35% of Americans who told the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that they routinely sleep less than seven hours a night are also having portions of their brains go off-line even though they’re still awake.” In rats kept up 4 hours past bedtime, the brain  went on strike, shutting down neuron by neuron. Which means that by the time you’re sleepy, your most-used neurons are already impaired.

This frightens me because 1) I rarely sleep more than five hours during the week and b) I drive. Best not to even think about ER doctors, ambulance drivers, truckers, air traffic control…

4. Pantene Rolls Out First Sugarcane-Based Plastic Packaging

“(T)he new packaging is expected not only to slash P&G’s fossil-fuel consumption by 70 percent but also to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 170 percent, according to Len Sauers, the company’s vice president of sustainability.”

You can recognize the sugarcane packaging by the green label of the Nature Fusion line, which scores pretty well as far as ingredients go. Pantene is still on the list of companies that tests their products on animals, though (seems strange that this is a battle I’m still fighting 20 years later).

5. Study: 4-H Students Make Better Decisions

“Young people who participate in programs through 4-H, the nation’s largest youth club, are less likely to do drugs, drink alcohol, and smoke cigarettes and are more likely to be civically active than kids who don’t participate in its programs.”

My fascination with 4-H comes from the Trixie Belden series of books. I had wanted to sign the kids up before, and now I’m thinking of actually doing it (not so much because of what this study claims to reveal, more because it reminded me). If anyone has any experience with 4-H I’d love to hear about it.

6. The 30 best obnoxious responses to misspellings on Facebook.

This is fantastic. Period.

7. Karl Lagerfeld to create fragrance that smells of books

“Paper Passion.. will be sold inside a hardcover book with the pages hollowed out to hold the flacon.” Yes please!

I think I might love Karl Lagerfeld. Have you seen his library?

karl-lagerfeld-libraryvia The Hairpin


I just can’t get this song out of my head.


Happy weekend, ya’ll!

What good reads did you see this week?



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