Weekend reads: Why Pharrell is so 'happy'

Interesting stories and studies from the past week

The Daily Briefing editorial team highlights several interesting health care stories and studies that didn't quite make this week's Briefing. What are you reading this weekend? Let us know in the comments.

Clare Rizer's reads

I guess Pharrell doesn't live in New York City. This week, researchers from Harvard and the University of British Columbia released a working paper detailing the country's happiest and least happy cities. While researchers caution that the paper should be "taken with a grain of salt," they note that it also offers clues to how people make decisions, namely that we "willingly endure less happiness" in exchange for things like lower cost of living or higher incomes.  Considering I live in Virginia, I'm pretty pleased with the study's findings.

The new-age rape whistle. Tech developers have created a device known as the personal drink identification device, or pd.id, that can detect the presence of drugs —including alcohol, zolpidem (Ambien), Rohypnol, and other drugs— in liquids by testing the liquid's light quality, conductivity, and temperature. The device costs about $75, but can be used up to 40 times before needing to be recharged.

Awww kale, no! This week, one of the world's major kale seed suppliers, Bejo Seeds, said it has run out of every variety of the vegetable and, in fact, we should brace ourselves for a potential worldwide kale shortage. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go work off my anger at SoulCycle.

Clare's recent posts

Paige Baschuk's reads

Mental health coverage is not always what it is quacked up to be. The town of West Lafayette, Ohio says an Army veteran is not allowed to raise 14 ducks at his home, even though the vet says his feathery friends help him with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. The vet also said he relies on the ducks because he could not get coverage for physical therapy or mental health.

Fido gets green with envy, too. Most pet owners attribute emotions to the animals—happy, sad, angry—but a new study finds that dogs may feel at least one emotion: jealousy. For the study, researchers videotaped dogs as they watched their owners pet and talk sweetly to plastic pumpkins. 

Obama hindering access to health care? Just this once.  If you've ever complained about having to wait for President Obama's motorcade to pass by (OK, so maybe it's more of a D.C. thing), this woman's story takes the cake. A woman in labor reportedly was not allowed to cross the street to get to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles because the Prez was rolling through. Luckily, medical staff got to the woman quickly after.

Paige's recent posts

Dan Diamond's reads

Working out and sitting in the sun is better for your brain than doing crosswords: A piece in The Economist last year points to an often-ignored fact: The cognitive benefits of playing board games and listening to classical music are pretty questionable, but there are real brain-boosts from getting sunlight and going to the gym.

A newly discovered virus has been in your body for years. Interesting Ed Yong piece on how our bodies are home to many, many viruses that help make us work—including crassphage, a bug that lives in our guts.

Dan's recent posts

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