Car crashes kill an absurd number of people

The numbers are so huge they are not easily grasped, and so are perhaps best understood by a simple comparison: If U.S. roads were a war zone, they would be the most dangerous battlefield the American military has ever encountered. 

I take the bus to work, and I absolutely love walking and biking. There are certain niche uses where a car is essential, but in an urban centre like Ottawa, many people can get around without relying on a car.

Having said that, just as many people, if not more, absolutely DEPEND on a car every day for transport to and from work and other social obligations. Most of this is because housing in big cities (Ottawa to some extent, Toronto and New York, for example, just take the example to astonishing extremes) is very expensive, so people choose to live where it’s cheaper, work in the urban centre, and commute for 30-60 minutes by car.

That thought is crazy to me. Even though I spend a ton of my life listening to podcasts, which are pretty perfect for car trips such as that, the thought of getting into a car every day to drive to the office is not something I think I’d enjoy that much.

Adding to that, we tend to think of car crashes as a tiny risk in our day to day lives, and it gets worse as those lives come to rely more and more on absolute certainty of normalcy. If our pizza is late, it’s free. If our Uber takes 10 minutes, we complain. When a bus breaks down (or doesn’t show up at all), we’re late for work.

But in a life (and society) where things are so safe (#firstworldproblems, anyone), the fact that any of us could die in such a quick, violent way on any given day is cause for alarm. We put car traffic above everything else in our transportation system, and yet it’s responsible for so many totally preventable deaths on our roads every day.

At some point, self-driving cars will take over, and crashes between two of those will be as unlikely as a plane crash is today. But for now, we’re stuck with an incredibly convenient transportation method where countless unknown cars around you are capable of completely changing, or ending, your life in an instant.

That’s scary, but it gives us something to strive for, and I think car culture as it exists now might be nearing its peak.

> The Absurd Primacy of the Automobile in American Life – The Atlantic

Carbs are getting in the way of healthy eating

Canadians heeded the exhortation to reduce fat and reduced their fat intake to 31 per cent by 2004. But during this time, obesity rates spiked, which suggests that dietary fat is not a “primary contributing factor” in obesity, said the report.

I got healthy (and lost 45 pounds in the last 8 months) but not by focusing on eating healthier foods (like salads) at restaurants and at home. But my main focus was on the AMOUNT I ate, not on the types of foods as much. I didn’t count a single calorie, and though I started my diet exercising by biking to work every day, for the last few months I’ve only really been moderately active, but haven’t gained any weight back.

The demonization of fat (and subsequent need for people to eat lots of carbs at the grocery store, or restaurants, has meant that people have to eat a lot MORE food to feel full. Letting yourself eat fat, and trying to limit the amount of carbs you eat, is probably going to become increasingly important to the North American diet, whether these guidelines officially change or not.

> The Canada Food Guide is killing you: ‘The obesity epidemic… really began with our dietary guidelines’

I’m probably not allergic to peanuts because I love them so much

The early introduction of peanut to the diets of infants at high-risk of developing peanut allergy significantly reduces the risk of peanut allergy until 6 years of age, even if they stop eating peanut around the age of five, according to a new study led by King’s College London.

Let’s all talk about something we’ve assumed for years. I’m going to be giving my kids peanut butter baths just in case.

> Eating peanut in early years helps reduce risk of allergy even with later abstinence, study suggests — ScienceDaily