JANA Partners Urges Apple, Inc. to Think Differently

Who is responsible for the vast amount of hours that kids spend using technology today? Should parents be held responsible? Should schools? Or should the creators and distributors of that technology have a part of the responsibility? These are tough questions, and certainly there is much room for debate. One organization, JANA Partners, together with the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, is offering their opinion to Apple, Inc. JANA Partners and Callstrs own approximately $2 billion in shares of Apple.

In the letter called Think Differently About Kids, JANA admits that they aren’t looking for an “all or nothing” approach to technology. They recognize that there are many benefits to today’s technology. As they explain,

“More than 10 years after the iPhone’s release, it is a cliché to point out the ubiquity of Apple’s devices among children and teenagers, as well as the attendant growth in social media use by this group. What is less well known is that there is a growing body of evidence that, for at least some of the most frequent young users, this may be having unintentional negative consequences.” They list many of the consequences and the research that points to the many difficulties dealing with children today and their use of technology in educational, social and family settings.

They are asking Apple for a number of important steps that Apple can follow. These include creating an expert committee, offering Apple’s information resources for research efforts, creating new tools and options, educating the public and reporting.

In response, Apple explained that it already had extensive parental controls that govern the content and applications. They said that,

“We think deeply about how our products are used and the impact they have on users and the people around them. We take this responsibility very seriously and we are committed to meeting and exceeding our customers’ expectations, especially when it comes to protecting kids.”

Certainly, opening channels of communication about technology is the first step in helping today’s kids (and tomorrow’s) to approach their use of technology in a different way.



The Smallest Town in America

Talk about getting away from the rat race. Elsie Eiler, 84, is the only resident of her hometown in Monowi, Nebraska. There used to be two of them, but that was before her husband passed away in 2004. She is the town’s mayor, village clerk, treasurer and librarian. The only business in town is the Monowi Tavern, which she owns and operates. She runs the town’s library as well. The town is technically the smallest town in the entire country; many shrinking areas have decided to unincorporate – but not Elsei, who files the required paperwork to keep Monowi designated as a village.

She actually completes a road plan for the municipality each year to secure funding from the state. She applies for her liquor and tobacco license each year for the restaurant and sends the paperwork to the secretary of the village for approval – who is Elsie. As she explained to the BBC,

“So, I get them as the secretary, sign them as the clerk and give them to myself as the bar owner.”


Oldest Message in a Bottle Discovered

So this is a really cool story. A Woman in Australia has found the oldest known message in a bottle in the world. Tonya Illman was on a beach in Western Australia, just north of Wedge Island when she discovered something sticking out of the sand. She picked up what looked like a “lovely old bottle” and then when a friend went to tip the sand out of the bottle, they discovered the note.
The message was dated June 12, 1886 and was thrown into the Indian Ocean from a German sailing boat which was going to Cardiff, Wales. There were thousands of such bottles thrown into oceans as part of a German experiment on global currents to help them find faster shipping routes, according to the Western Australia Museum. The Illmans brought the bottle to the museum and the finding was compared to the ship captain’s journal notes indicating they had thrown a bottle overboard. So far, 663 message slips have been recovered from that experiment but only one bottle – the one the Illmans brought in.

Should You Eat a Sugar-Free Diet?

You’ve probably heard the buzz about taking on a sugar-free diet. But does the cost of your suffering really offer you enough benefit to make it worth it? What are the difficulties of a diet of this sort, on top of the lack of sugar?

  1. Often times, when you’re given a list of allowed foods, it makes you want the not allowed foods even more. This promotes a diet mentality and makes people people feel bad when they do indulge in those foods.
  2.  Researchers have actually found that dieting isn’t effective in the long term and can actually lead to more weight gain. When the brain interprets the diet as a restriction, it causes fat storage to build up for future shortages. In addition, if the diet causes stress, the body releases cortisol which can cause the body to store fat.
  3. These diets also advocate avoiding fruit for a certain period of time and then slowly introducing it.

And the list continues. Assuming you don’t want to go on a sugar-free diet, here are some recommendations. Eat two servings of fruit a day and eat plenty of plants, whole grains, beans and legumes. You can eat a little less sugar but you don’t have to go crazy avoiding it. When you do eat foods with sugar, try to eat mindfully to really enjoy the food you’re eating. Learn more for healthy eating.



Weighted Sleep Blankets…Do They Work?

If you are an insomniac or suffer from PTSD or similar types of anxiety, you may want to know about weighted blankets. These blankets have been used for decades in therapy for kids with developmental disorders and for anxious animals. But now they are becoming more popular for people as well.

A study in Sweden in 2015 found that a weighted blanket improved sleep quality for insomniacs by providing the feeling of being cocooned. The pressure stimulation has been shown to reduce cortisol and increase serotonin and melatonin in the brain, all of which can help with sleep.

While more research needs to be done, the findings so far are promising. In 2008, a study was done at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst with 32 participants and a 30 pound weighted blanket. They found that 63% of the participants reported lower anxiety after using it.

Certainly, it seems like something worth looking into if you suffer from an inability to get to sleep, or to stay asleep through the night.


Serena Williams Helping Pregnant Women

It is inspiring to see how Serena Williams is working to help moms-to-be around the world. After giving birth to her daughter, Williams experienced a great deal of medical trauma and she wants to prevent other women from having a similar experience. Williams had a c-section after her daughter’s heart rate plummeted. Soon after giving birth, Williams had trouble breathing and a scan revealed that she had blood clots in her lungs. After many complications, doctors saved her life and had to be on bed rest for six weeks.

As Williams recently wrote in an op-ed for CNN, “If it weren’t for their professional care, I wouldn’t be here today. Every mother, everywhere, regardless of race or background deserves to have a healthy pregnancy and birth. And you can help make this a reality.”  She urges readers to donate to UNICEF or to write to governments. It’s certainly inspiring to see someone as well known as Williams putting her energy towards helping others.