Weekly Selection 28 February 2020

The Difference Between Worry, Stress and Anxiety

(The New York Times, February 26, 2020)

Most of us would agree that the past week and all its brouhaha about the coronavirus has been a source of worry, stress and anxiety. This short and highly digestible article does a great job at explaining the difference between these three notions. In a nutshell: worry happens in our mind, stress happens in our body, and anxiety happens in our mind and body. It also proposes a few simple tips to better deal with them (reads in 4-5 min).

Bill McKibben, A Very Hot Year

(The New York Review of Books, March 12, 2020)

The founder of 350.org who just wrote “Falter: Has the Human Game Played Itself Out?”
says it as it is: “It is far too late to stop global warming, but these next ten years seem as if they may be our last chance to limit the chaos. If there’s good news, it’s that 2019 was also a hot year politically, with the largest mass demonstrations about climate change taking place around the world”.

Maggie Koerth, Quarantines Won’t Save Us From Coronavirus

(FiveThirtyEight, February 28, 2020)

This article well informed by history questions the common wisdom according to which quarantine is the most effective way to contain an epidemic. Most public health experts would agree that it is not the case. Isolation can be effective but quarantine is leaky and panic inducing. Testing + communicating properly about health best practices seems to be much more effective (reads in 5-6 min).

Josh Dzieza, How Hard Will the Robots Make us Work?

(The Verge, February 27, 2020)

We’ve been watching the horizon for the self-driving trucks and cars, perpetually five years away, but the robots have already arrived in the form of the supervisor, the foreman, and the middle manager. As this article explains, in warehouses, call centres, and other sectors such as hospitality, intelligent machines are managing humans, and making in the process work more stressful, grueling, and dangerous. The greatest fear of many workers isn’t that robots might come for their jobs: it’s that robots have already become their boss (reads in 12-15 min).

Amelia Hill, The 100-year life: how to prolong a healthy mind

(The Guardian, February 24, 2020)

As concerns about dementia grow, more research is investigating how we can keep our brains fit and sharp. This article is a great primer to understand what’s going on with simple responses to complex questions such as: How long will we live? Why are we living so much longer? How can we stay healthy for longer? Are there any anti-ageing drugs in the pipeline? It also contains at the end a short and useful reading list (reads in 7-8 min).