When you get a stitch in your side, what’s really going on?

Before the mile run each year in middle school, on the dreaded walk down from the classroom to the course, my classmates would argue over the best way to prevent a side stitch. More so than turning an ankle or coming in last, that repetitive stabbing pain is what the majority of us dreaded most. Our cures ranged across the map from taught techniques, like breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth and not eating for three hours prior, to my favorite: Punching yourself in the stomach at the slightest hint of pain (don’t try it, it doesn’t work).


Who Is Trying to ‘Save Parking Structure 3’ From Becoming Affordable Housing?

In the middle of the 20th Century, as Americans fled urban areas for the suburbs by the millions every year, cities thought they could save themselves by building lots of downtown parking. It didn’t work, but in recent years, many of those same cities have realized their fortunes are changing, more people want to live downtown, and parking is hardly the best use of that space. Coupled with a nationwide housing crisis, the tradeoff has become relatively simple: Do we want to trade some of this excess parking for some much needed housing?


Cities that grow themselves

In 1996, one in three inhabitants of China lived in an urban setting. In 2021, the figure was close to two in three. In the United States, in comparison, the figure is four in five. The construction boom in China tracks a moment of transition of geological significance in Earth’s history: humans are now a modally urban species. Sometime less than 15 years ago, the population of urban areas surpassed that of rural areas for the first time in history, and trends in the size of Earth’s cities show accelerating growth over the past 200 years. Approximately 250 years ago, there were three cities on Earth with more than a million human inhabitants: Edo (present-day Tokyo), Beijing and London. Today the figure is around 550.


This Land is Their Land

When the billionaire John Malone became the country’s largest private landowner in 2011 with the purchase of nearly a million acres of forest in Maine and New Hampshire, it sparked a great deal of curiosity in the press. Why, reporters wanted to know, did a then-seventy-year-old media tycoon want to own 2.2 million acres of land—an area roughly half the size of Lake Ontario?


Remember when Carl Sagan trashed Star Wars on late-night TV?

Today is the birthday of the late Pulitzer Prize-winning astronomer, professor, and science writer Carl Sagan, otherwise known as Carl Sagan Day. Born in Brooklyn in 1934, Sagan was an avid fan of science fiction at an early age; he got lost in the worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs, particularly his John Carter novels. In 1955, he earned his bachelor’s degree and in 1956, he earned his master’s degree. Both degrees were in physics and were awarded by the University of Chicago. After earning his Ph.D. in astronomy and astrophysics from UChicago in 1960, Sagan took up teaching at Harvard. In 1968, after Harvard declined to give Sagan tenure, he joined the faculty at Cornell University as the director for the Laboratory for Planetary Studies and the associate director of the Center for Radio Physics and Space Research.


‘Autistic person’ and ‘person with autism’ are not one and the same

It may seem counter-intuitive that there would be any difference between these, and yet, the distinction, to many in the autism spectrum community including me, is actually quite significant. Autism is referred to as a spectrum because considerable diversity exists within our community with respect to the types of challenges we face, the levels of severity of these challenges and attitudes about the diagnosis. As such, differences of opinion are natural and understandable, as is dissent. I therefore validate those who disagree with me about there being an important distinction between “autistic person” and “person with autism”. 


The Joe Manchin Trolley Problem

Sometimes, in idle moments, I get a vision of my teenage son’s son — my imaginary unborn grandson — manually pollinating soybeans for 12 hours a day in exchange for a ration of drinkable water. I prefer not to linger on this image. Once I have forced my mind away from it, though, to picture said grandson coming home and feeding me my mush, I end up wondering how I will explain to him why it was so vitally important, in the year 2021, that we preserve the normal function of the Senate and respect the personal autonomy of a man named Joe Manchin III.