The Lede, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018
By David Royse
Good Day! I have some great news for all you beer and coffee drinkers and for anyone who is putting on a few pounds as you get older. You very well might live very long.
More on that in a bit in The Follow. But first, in The Lede, I’ll follow the lead of the nation as a whole and get briefly back to the gun debate.
Then on to how to live longer.
School Shooting Prevention Tech Update
Last week after the Parkland shooting, I suggested that, as we go through the process again of wrestling with what kind of gun laws we want in our society, that we also look hard at other ways to protect students from would-be school shooters until we can figure out how to prevent them.
This morning I noticed a press release from a company working in this area, and while I haven’t done any reporting yet on this particular idea (I intend to), I’ll just mention the company and the idea here, with a promise of follow-up to come later.
The company is called SilverShield, and it’s based in Broward County, where the Parkland shooting occurred. It is essentially a high tech security firm that, in addition to schools, markets itself as a company that can help protect other workplaces and businesses.
It announced on Friday that it has finished beta testing and is making available a school security system that it has been testing in two South Florida private schools.
Basically, the cloud-based system allows schools to do background checks on anyone coming into the building.
Obviously, it’s not a complete solution to our school shooting problem. If shooters are students at a school, they’d be on school grounds anyway. And, as the Parkland shooting is starting to show, all kinds of systems meant to flag dangerous people fail if nobody follows up on them anyway.
And as opponents of stronger gun laws often note, criminals are criminals because they don’t follow the rules. That is to say, if someone wants to shoot up a school, it doesn’t seem very likely they’d check in at the front desk first.
But as I said in my next-day frustration the morning after the shooting, we need to look at just about everything that can protect our school kids. While this may not be an answer, it’s worth taking a look. I often use the general safety of airline travel as an example of an industry that has figured out how to mitigate risk. Three key things that make air travel safe: redundancy, redundancy, redundancy. The more possible solutions, the more likely one will work and the lower the likelihood of catastrophic failure.
From the SilverShield release:
“SilverShield offers a comprehensive visitor management system that provides instantaneous watch list and sex offender background checks on every visitor. The system also offers optional criminal background checks for a deeper look into a visitor’s background before allowing them onto a campus. SilverShield’s incident management system automatically and silently notifies all designated staff to any watch list, sex offender, or criminal background match through a sophisticated 3-way communication system that sends text (SMS), email, and push notifications within seconds. In addition, SilverShield’s manual silent alarm system enables staff to alert some or all persons on a campus to minor or major incidents, including a lockdown situation. This proprietary alarm system also communicates with local police departments as to any threatening or non-threatening situations on campus.”
More to come at a later date on this and other school protective tech ideas.
Meanwhile, more on guns in American society.
Worth another listen perhaps – the Freaknonomics episode from early 2013, not long after the Sandy Hook shooting, about the effort to reduce gun violence. If you want to just read it, the transcript is here.
And speaking of Freakonomics, it’s also worth pointing to another old article, this one from 2016, and entitled “The Freakonomics of Gun Control.”
It makes the point that mass shootings aren’t the big gun crime problem in our country, certainly not in a numbers sense, and argues the “for” side of a national gun registry. It’s also worth a read, though, I’m sure many people who favor gun rights won’t read it (another part of the problem in our national “debate.”)
And finally, the Washington Post has an interesting look today at how Israel deals with school security. Israel doesn’t have a school shooting problem (it’s hard to get guns there), but the case study is instructive because the country does have to worry about terrorists attacking schools. Military-style armed guards work at the schools there. Washington Post
There are other things besides not getting shot we can all strive for to help us live longer.
And for many of us, there’s some good news this week out of the University of California-Irvine (Go Anteaters!)
A researcher at UCI looked at long-livers, studying the health and habits of people who make it to, in this case, older than 90. It’s called, creatively, the 90+ study.
What do they have in common?
1. They drink alcohol. Moderately, of course. One or two glasses of wine or beer a day.
Woohoo! This is good news.
“I have no explanation for it, but I do firmly believe that modest drinking improves longevity,” Claudia Kawas, a key researcher for the study, recently said at the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Austin, according to the Independent.
It also says that the super agers also drank moderate amounts of coffee.
Woohoo! More good news.
2. They were slightly overweight, at least at one point in their life.
From the study webpage: “People who were overweight in their 70s lived longer than normal or underweight people did.”
Woohoo! More good news.
3. Regular exercise.
I try. I do.
4. Getting out and hanging with friends, especially if you’re talking or doing something that makes you think, what the researchers called “social and cognitive engagement.”
So what’s everybody doing this weekend?
I’d suggest having coffee, then going to the gym, then finishing up by going out for a couple beers with friends and maybe playing some trivia. The “with friends” part is key. Besides just being sad, drinking alone, will likely not help you, it seems.
The researchers have used this study group for all kinds of things – including related studies on what might lead people who still have sharp memories in old age to have been successful in this regard.
Data show that the risk of developing dementia has declined slightly in the past decades, Kawas said, which she attributes to people improving their lifestyles: eating better, exercising more, trying to minimize stress. Research has also showed better cognitive performance in people who usually get at least 8 hours of sleep.
WHAT’S NEW IN IDEAS?
Good Idea: Addressing Domestic Violence Not Just By Focusing on Victims or Abusive Men. Focusing on Boys and Teaching Them Not to Become Abusers in the First Place.
Richard Tolman, a professor of Social Work at the University of Michigan who studies domestic abuse prevention, has this look at a shift in focus toward the people who might eventually become abusers: Young men. The Conversation
ROAD WARRIORS, NEWS FOR COMMUTERS
First, if you’re traveling somewhere this weekend, you might want to check before you head out and make sure it’s not underwater. There’s some bad flooding out there in the Midwest.
What happens in Vegas really can stay in Vegas. The airport there will help you get rid of your legal pot before you get on a plane. Associated Press
DISRUPTION IN MEDIA
It’s an interesting time in journalism. We’re all trying to figure out how to make the delivery of information both useful to consumers and sustainable in terms of bringing in money. Here’s an interesting idea:
“Block Club Chicago, founded by former DNAinfo Chicago journalists, is launching a news site in April that will focus on reporting local neighborhood news … It will support itself off $5 per month subscriptions and through a partnership with Civil, a New York-based startup that has created a publishing platform built on blockchain technology.
“The platform, which also goes live in April, will allow readers to pay for content using USD and other traditional currencies, but also with bitcoin, ether and CVL, a utility token Civil is developing that will play a vital role in the self-governance of newsrooms on the platform. The tokens are designed to economically incentivize activity that produces quality journalism.”
Other Disruptor News
Is starting Airbnb Plus aimed at travelers who want a higher-end stay with more amenities. It will start with more than 2,000 homes in 13 cities, including LA, Chicago, Capetown (bring your own water), and London. New York Times
Plans to open more cashless/cardless Amazon Go stores. Recode
Snap shares dropped more than 7 percent, wiping out $1.3 billion in market value, after a tweet from Kylie Jenner, who said she doesn’t use Snapchat anymore.
Says its XMM 8000 series modems will power 5G in notebooks in the second half of 2019. MSN
Also, Georgia lawmakers reject idea for taxing the internet. AJC
Let’s go out with a bit of anecdotal evidence to add to the UCI study. The sample size on this one is small – one subject. But Richard Overton, America’s oldest veteran, talks in this video from last year about how he still drives because all the other drivers are crazy. He is still alive – and he’s now 111.
Let it be noted, that he drinks about four cups of coffee in the morning. “This morning I drank about that much whiskey,” he adds. He also eats butter pecan ice cream every night. “It’s the Overton diet,” he says. The ice cream may not have much to do with his longevity, but then again it might. That’s because of what it does for him. “It makes me happy,” he says. Researchers say having something to look forward to is another thing that super agers have in common.
But let it also be noted that the UC Irvine research does NOT say that you should smoke 12 cigars a day, even if you don’t inhale. Mr. Overton doesn’t inhale. “I’m doing it the healthy way,” he says.
He also has another habit that many super long-lived people have: he’s a regular church-goer. “I think that helps me push myself along, going to church,” he says.
His habits match many of those in the biggest research effort on why people might live really long in the places where they do – the Blue Zones study. You can find not just four – but 20 habits that match those of the super agers, at the Blue Zones website
That’s it for now. Have a great weekend.
Take us out Mr. Overton.