Friday, April 7, 2017

Learning! Roundup: Ballet and life skills, stem cell advancements, the #NotAllWhitePeople quiz, trans awareness, and more!

Image by Tommy Wong

Just Enroll Your Kids in Dance Already

Here's another great article on the vital skills that kids learn from taking dance that you don't get from science and technology. (Besides, if Prince George is taking ballet, then obviously it's good enough for everyone, right?)

Stem Cell Advancements

A 60-something man in Japan was the first person ever to receive a transplant of stem cells donated by another person. They took donated skin cells, reprogrammed into IPS cells (induced pluripotent stem cells), and then turned the now-stem-cells into retinal cells for an eye surgery.

SCIENCE!

The #NotAllWhitePeople Quiz

Ever wonder how systemic racism has impacted your thoughts processes? Here's a simple quiz of yes/no questions that might help you identify some sticking points of what you've internalized from society.

It's a bit of a difficult questionnaire because the questions are all framed through the extreme lens of absolutes: "have you EVER ____" - well, I can't say for sure whether I have ever done some of these things. I've been alive for 32 years. I don't think that I've ever made fun of a characteristically black name, but in the past when I was less secure in myself I went along with a lot of jokes that made me uncomfortable. Were some of them racist? Undoubtably. Did some make fun of black names? Maybe.

That aside, it's still a useful survey of some of the signs and symptoms of systemic racism and how we can be a part of it.

Trans Visibility Day

Last week was Trans Visibility Day! Here's a bit of groundwork to get us started.


"Most people are comfortable with the gender label they're assigned. But for some people it never quite fits and doesn't feel right. That's what's called being transgendered... The most important thing is that there is no right way to be trans."
Want to learn more about trans life and issues? The Trans 101 website has a bunch of videos and background info from trans people.

Trans Research

Speaking of trans people - there is growing research around transgendered people, finding that the brains of trans people pre-transition are more similar to the brains of their gender identity than their biological sex/assigned gender.

It's good to remember that there is no "male" or "female" brain, but a spectrum of brains with more women falling on one side and more men on the other, but this research still shows that when a person says they feel like they are meant to be a different gender than the one assigned at birth, there is a medical backing for that claim.

The Biggest Threat to Men

You'd probably guess heart disease as the biggest health risk to middle-aged men, right? Or some stress-related illness? Turns out, it's loneliness. It starts with family: when you have one, and are still busy with work and managing a home, you aren't going to abandon your kids, you're going to abandon your friends. Add in the fact that women are encouraged and expected to maintain social lives and men aren't, and the lack of vulnerability socially expected from male friendships, and it's a recipe for loneliness.

Oh, and if you're thinking about people who don't have kids (like I did), here's a thought: even if you don't have kids, chances are that many of your friends do, so you may not be doing the abandoning, but getting abandoned. (Although they may perceive it the other way around.)


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