(University of Cambridge) A study in mice has shown that it may be possible to detect the early signs of atherosclerosis, which leads to blocked arteries, by looking at how cells in our blood vessels change their function.
(University of Colorado at Boulder) The evolution of barn swallows, a bird ubiquitous to bridges and sheds around the world, might be even more closely tied to humans than previously thought, according to new study from the University of Colorado Boulder.
(Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute ) Scientists at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute have found that high blood pressure caused by specific signalling from the brain promotes heart disease by altering stem cells with the bone marrow. The results, published in Haematologica demonstrate how an overactive sympathetic nervous system that causes elevated blood pressure can instruct bone marrow stem cells to produce more white blood cells that clog up blood vessels.
(New York University) Chinese adults who have children prefer to receive end-of-life care from family members at home, while those who lost their only child prefer to be cared for in hospice or palliative care institutions, finds a new study led by an international team of researchers and published in the November issue of The Journal of Palliative Medicine. Income, property ownership, and support from friends also influenced individuals’ end-of-life care preferences.
(Stanford Medicine) Compared with US states with the strictest gun control legislation, gun deaths among children and teenagers are twice as common in states with the most lax gun laws, a study from the Stanford University School of Medicine has found.
(American Association for Cancer Research) While the presence of common breast cancer mutations was indicative of increased breast cancer risk, the presence of certain rare mutations was indicative of increased risk from interval breast cancers and death.
A 94-year-old woman in Oregon was doing yard work when she was stung by dozens of wasps. Bernice Arline Patterson was even hospitalized after the attacks.
Belated Happy Halloween! Feast your eyes on this 100 percent true ghost story by Kriston Capps… if you dare:
Tori stepped up to the bus stop and checked her phone. Her app showed all three bus lines were delayed. The one she was waiting for wasn’t even listed. Another app showed rain looming. She hardly needed the alert, as a peal of thunder cracked the sky.
“Sigh,” she sighed. Would her city ever build reliable transit? Bold initiatives for light rail came and went, while traffic grew only worse. So here was Tori, stranded on Halloween, at twilight, just after sunset—don’t forget the full moon—trying to decide whether to Uber or Lyft to her pet-sitting gig at the Victorian mansion on the hill overlooking the old cemetery.
Suddenly Tori received an alert on her phone. Pale Line, 2 mins. Pale Line? There was no Pale Line. Wasn’t this a stop for the X2?
Then, in the darkness, arose a spectral platform. Where just moments before she had seen only a broken bench and a rusted sign, a white enclosure glowed. The structure was faint, the color of goat’s milk, but in its shimmering outline she could see pamphlets bearing schedules and route changes. A great canopy held the weather at bay, even though it was no more material than the rain itself. A word formed in candlelight: ARRIVING. Lightning seared the night.
Tori turned toward the platform, then hesitated. Should I just walk? she thought. She was sure there was no Pale Line, but apart from its formlessness, it looked low-key legit. The illusionary station appeared to be both ADA compliant yet elevated, as visible as any subway station. Gossamer letters materialized on the street itself: GHOST BUS LANE ONLY. Was she hallucinating? She turned to run—but then she remembered her Mint.com dashboard showing how much of her discretionary income was consumed by rideshare apps. She shuddered with a fright and stepped onto the platform. Even more lightning.
Tori perused a phantasmal kiosk at the base of the ghostly canopy. She was reaching for a glowing flyer (“Not in my grave yard!”) and considering all the ways that transit can foster closer connections within a community, when a bus arrived with a howling screech. This was the Pale Line: the public transportation of the damned. “I should just walk,” she whispered to no one in particular.
“All aboard!” boomed the conductor, a human-sized black cat wearing a city transit cap. It pulled on a lever of bone and onyx to operate the creaky door. A whiff of stinky cheese hit Tori’s nose as a poltergeist filed off. “Next stop is… beyond.”
That didn’t sound exactly like Tori’s destination. However it was a northbound bus and the rain was falling in sheets and the nearest Uber was 10 minutes away, which is just way too long to wait for a car in 2018. She looked up to find the bus driver’s glowing feline eyes staring down at her.
While every instinct told her to walk or maybe download an app for one of those dorky scooters, to her surprise, she found herself stepping onto the ghost bus. She felt drawn, despite herself, to the efficiency of a dedicated bus line with all the bearings and reliability of rail transit that ran at a fraction of the operations and maintenance cost. Apparitions in the seats took no notice of her as she fumbled for her smart-ride card.
Other than the behemoth cat driver, her fellow riders included a kindly-looking yet decomposing elderly couple, a man with a jack-o-lantern floating where his head ought to be, a witch reading Rebecca Traister, a—hey, wasn’t that the guy she went on a Tinder date with who ghosted her? The bus lurched as the driver turned into the lane, taking no notice of the parked cars that occupied it.
“Fare, please,” the driver said. Tori held up her smart-ride card, confused. The witch smirked. The bus driver shook its furry head. “County’s doing a study,” it said. “But right now this bus takes only broken promises, shards of sea-glass, and burned half-dollars.”
Tori pulled the chain, irritated. She didn’t have any of those things in her purse. “I’ll get off next stop,” she said. She would have to call a car. As the bus lumbered on, Tori realized that she’d be dead before she saw true working bus rapid transit—and maybe not even then.
What we’re writing:
For cheap rent, live near a cemetery. ¤ Punks in a grocery store! ¤ Where local laws criminalize trick-or-treaters. ¤ Taipei’s mayor is a rapper now. ¤ “Adulting” classes are a thing some of us need. ¤ Neighborhoods are becoming “candy deserts” on Halloween. ¤
What we’re taking in:
“The eBay listing warns, ‘Haunted Doll Dakota Spirit Child *Very Active* *Experienced Only*.’” (The New Yorker) ¤ Also on eBay, other cursed items! (Topic) ¤ Haunted houses on the ‘gram. (Vox) ¤ Meet Southeast Asia’s man-eating lady demon. (Broadly) ¤ “There is no lonelier place in a city than a pitcher’s mound. Nothing grows there.” (SB Nation) ¤ Ghosts of New York. (New York Times) ¤ Somebody is pasting creepy baby heads around Chicago. (Block Club Chicago) ¤ Gravestones: “a valuable and extremely under-studied corpus of linguistic data.” (Atlas Obscura) ¤ Apparently, people in Utah love Halloween music. (New York Times) ¤ “Cars Land is already a bit absurd. For it is a place, themed to Route 66 culture, that is populated with talking, human-like cars who are neither machine nor mammal.” (Los Angeles Times) ¤ How the real Sleepy Hollow came to life. (Atlas Obscura) ¤ “Trick-or-treating in Milwaukee reflects and entrenches the city’s deep racial and economic divides.” (Politico) ¤ The chilling tale of the demon cat of Washington D.C. (The Washington Post) ¤
View from the ground:
Some spirits walk the streets at night / Some leave remnants of their earthly stay in red / Others haunt their castles, filled with spite / But most stay in tombs—they’re just dead. —Karim Doumar
Speaking with The Atlantic’s editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg at the Citylab Detroit conference this week, former New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu broke down his perspective on why the Civil War was fought.
“Well, the first thing it was fought for was to destroy the country,” said Landrieu. “I think we can agree that had the Confederacy won, the United States as we knew it, would have been fractured. So it was against the United States. The second reason is it was done to preserve slavery.”
The discussion was about how to develop a national dialogue on race and diversity, particularly during an era when the president is fanning the flames of racial tension and promoting white nationalism. Earlier this year, Landrieu released his book In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History. The title is an allusion to his work while mayor to take down four monuments in New Orleans that represented paeans to Confederate and white supremacist causes. On the day they came down, Landrieu, as mayor, gave a passionate speech on race, in which he said:
This is, however, about showing the whole world that we as a city and as a people, are able to acknowledge, understand, reconcile, and most importantly, choose a better future for ourselves, making straight what has been crooked and making right what was wrong. Otherwise, we will continue to pay a price with discord, with division and yes, with violence.
One could say that this is exactly what has happened since he made the speech. Just days before Landrieu’s talk in Detroit, a white terrorist Robert Bowers opened fire in a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh, killing 11 people and injuring several others. Bowers’ attack was motivated by his hostility towards this Jewish community’s participation in a refugee settlement program, which brings people from impoverished and war-torn countries such as Afghanistan, Haiti, and Somalia to the U.S.
— AtlanticLIVE (@AtlanticLIVE) October 30, 2018
CityLab spoke with Landrieu at the conference about his thoughts on the Pittsburgh synagogue killings, how to lead a sanctuary city in times of racial violence, the long history of black people fighting to bring down Confederate monuments, and, of course, whether he is running for president.
First, do you have any thoughts you’d like to share with the city of Pittsburgh about the tragic killings that just took place there?
Personally, to the Pittsburgh community and all of the families, I know that they know that the nation grieves with them because the individuals that were lost were friends and family members. On top of that, it was the most aggressive attack against Jewish citizens that the country has ever seen. It’s laid on top of the shootings in Kentucky [Editor’s Note: A white man killed two African Americans in a grocery store in Jeffersontown, Kentucky, over the weekend.] People forget about Tamir Rice. People forget about what happened in Charleston when nine African-American lives were taken at Emanuel A.M.E. church. It’s all the same iteration of the poison of hate.
It fuels the immigration debate. It fueled the Confederate monuments debate. It’s all the same thing, and unfortunately it’s not just in the United States of America. You see a worldwide trend that is giving air to this notion of white supremacy and hating people based on race, creed, color, sexual orientation, and it’s something that needs to be identified, called out, and confronted. It is sad, but it can be beaten back if you call it out for what it is.
How should cities that are aspiring to have “sanctuary” or “welcoming” status respond in the wake of this violence? Should they dial such efforts back or keep pushing forward?
Well, first of all, it’s really hard because when you have people that want to use weapons to hurt other people, it’s very hard to stop them in that act. What you can do though as a community is have an ethos that diversity is a strength. It’s not a weakness. That everybody is welcome irrespective of race, creed or color, sexual orientation, nation of origin, etc. The other side really tries to get a leg up by creating the impression that somehow that means that you are for violence and crime. No, every mayor in America and every citizen wants to live in a safe place and wants to make sure that people who commit crimes and hurt other people on a day-to-day basis are [punished]. I would just say to them, you should treat them based on their behavior but not of their race, creed or their color.
The president continues to make the wrong point, that people who are Muslims are prone to be terrorists; that people who are Mexican are prone to be rapists; that people who African Americans are prone to be criminals. That’s just not the world that we live in. We’re not supposed to aspirationally think that way in America, so you have to create those conditions on the ground. And you do that by being inclusive, not exclusive. The president is the exact opposite of what you should be. And his language is the exact opposite of the language we should use. Now I want everybody to be careful about this. He’s not necessarily the cause, although he’s exacerbating it. He’s a much larger symptom. The country needs to start looking at itself and ask why are we susceptible to these kinds of provocations from him? The way to win is to go vote, to elect other people that think differently.
Some people say that talking about racism when discussing politics is too divisive. How have you tried to keep the issue of racism central in this environment?
There are many people who are admonishing those of us who want to talk about race and say, ‘Oh, don’t talk about it,’ as if not talking about it is going to cure the problem. I completely disagree with that. I think you cannot go around race. You can’t go over it, you actually have to go through it, and you have to talk about it. You have to acknowledge that it is a complicated issue for the country. You have to find a way to address it. You have to be willing to work through it on both sides of the issue. Discriminating against somebody based on race is one of the iterations of hate, like discriminating against somebody because of their religion. It is poison from the same tree. You see it roaring its head. You can’t ignore it as though it’s not happening. You’ve got to call it out and say, look, this is a problem. That’s not who we are. That’s not what we do.
To the extent that for some reason we now have a president, the only one that’s ever talked like this—the way to confront that is to vote for people who don’t think like that and, to check him. He came out and made a recommendation that we end birthright citizenship as though somehow as the president, he could alter the Constitution. We don’t have a kingdom. We live in a representative democracy and the president can’t alter the Constitution. The Constitution reflects the will of the people. And so the will of the people has to make itself known, and we do that normally through elections and that’s why I want to encourage people who disagreed with his view of the world to go vote and make sure that they check him for the next couple of years.
Perhaps one of the unintended consequences of actions such as taking down Confederate statues, is that people who support what the Confederacy stood for get rallied up and they vote their values and people into office.
I mean as a general rule, as a general rule, whatever action is taken in politics—any one of them benign or malintended—creates a backlash. Wherever there’s a consequence there’s a repercussion. But some of them that have to be made. For example, President Obama’s election created a backlash. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have done it. You’ve got to question why are we having a backlash to that? We’re not actually trying to hurt you. We’re trying to help you. The fact that some people see it that way—look, we’re in a democracy, you know. And the battle place of ideas is on the street. Let’s have the argument. You know, at the end of the day, the way it’s supposed to work is that the people who go to the polls and vote for their elected representatives, are supposed to elect people to represent their values. And if for some reason we made a wrong turn a couple of years ago with electing Donald Trump, which I would strongly argue that we did, and he has taken us backwards, as he promised he would do, then you have to say, oh shoot, he really meant “[Make America Great] Again,” like way back when and we don’t want to go back. We want to go forward. You got to course correct and the way you course correct is by the next election, and that’s going to be in a couple of days.
In your book you talk about your decisions around bringing the Confederate monuments down in New Orleans, and there is a decades-long movement of black people working to do that.
It was more than decades. It was hundreds and hundreds of people that have been trying to do that for a long, long period of time. I mean, I can remember back in the 60s, Lolis Eric Elie, and Nils Douglas, and Judy Reese Morse’s father, who was a Freedom Rider, Oretha Castle Haley—all of those people advocated for it. And then of course [former New Orleans mayors] Dutch Morial talked about it. Marc Morial talked about it. Sidney Barthelemy. They all tried. Our team was really just standing on the shoulders of huge numbers of people that helped make that happen. We found ourselves in an interesting political moment where it became possible. But I think about Avery Alexander, who was one of my great friends and one of my heroes, who got pulled down the steps of city hall. He tried to take those monuments down, too. So there was a decades-long struggle almost from the time they went up.
I’ve credited them every time I talk about it. I thank them and everybody else who had anything to do with it. They were an important part of a much larger whole, and I’ve done that. I say it in the book, actually in the end of the book. I credit everybody and I think I named them as well. So you know, sometimes people can’t take yes for an answer, but I feel they did their part along with a whole bunch of other people.
Are you running for president?
Not at this time.
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What We’re Following
Spirit of the law: Old local laws can appear to grow cobwebs; they go unenforced over the years and are eventually forgotten. Case in point: weird Halloween ordinances. In some towns, decades-old laws declare it illegal to trick-or-treat above a certain age (sorry, teens) or after certain hours. The rules can be strangely specific, too—who really wants to ban masks on Halloween?
Aside from spooking some stringent rule-followers, why do these laws stay on the books when police have other ways to address Halloween mischief? CityLab’s Claire Tran and Nicole Javorsky take a look at why these mysteriously selective regulations haunt modern municipalities, and why some advocates say it’s time to repeal them and let kids be kids. Read: The Towns Where Trick-or-Treaters May Run Afoul of the Law.
For more #SpookyLab, look for a special Halloween edition of our Navigator newsletter in your inbox this afternoon (and subscribe here if you haven’t already!)
More on CityLab
Washington, D.C., has all kinds of tunnels, from the many miles carved out by Metro to the underground labyrinth that connects the government buildings on Capitol Hill. A new D.C. Underground Atlas maps them all out in detail, offering a novel lens to look at the city’s underground infrastructure. It also provides an alternative cultural history of Washington, as all these systems have to intertwine with the federal government’s large footprint. “Nowhere else do you have to schedule building around moon landings,” says the amateur cartographer behind the project. Today on CityLab: Mapping the Many Tunnels Under Washington, D.C.
What We’re Reading
When citizen engagement becomes too much (Governing)
California gives Waymo first permit to test self-driving cars without humans (Quartz)
The rise of stadium seating (Curbed)
In the Rust Belt, women candidates hope to disprove the “macho” narrative of 2016 (Vox)
Removing the appendix early in life reduces the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease by 19 to 25 percent, according to the largest and most comprehensive study of its kind. The findings solidify the role of the gut and immune system in the genesis of the disease, and reveal that the appendix acts as a major reservoir for abnormally folded alpha-synuclein proteins, which are closely linked to Parkinson’s onset and progression.
Some ten billion years ago, the Milky Way merged with a large galaxy. The stars from this partner, named Gaia-Enceladus, make up most of the Milky Way’s halo and also shaped its thick disk, giving it its inflated form.
Lindsey Eaton, 24, is from the Phoenix area and works for the Arizona School Boards Association. She has autism, which, she said, she doesn’t see as a diagnosis: “I see it as awesomeness.”
Eaton describes herself as very independent, “but I still need help with some things like laundry, budgeting, and getting to work.” She used to live with her parents despite wanting to live on her own.
In July, Eaton moved into one of the country’s first apartment complexes for adults with autism and neurodiversities. She now has her own one-bedroom unit in the Phoenix complex, which is called First Place. “It’s been a little eye-opening, because for years in a row, I had check-ins every minute—my parents saying, ‘How are you doing? What can I do? Do you need help cleaning?’” she explained. Now, she often has to figure things out for herself. “It’s taught me patience, and to do things and not rely on people.”
First Place may be among the first of its kind, but the need for places like it is clear. Up to half a million teens with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) will reach adulthood in the next decade, following a rise in diagnoses over the past 30 years. One study found that the vast majority of adults with ASD between the ages of 19 and 30 continue to live with their parents, an arrangement that becomes challenging as parents age. Many autistic adults face long waits for state-sponsored group housing and a lack of other options.
Denise Resnik started thinking about this more than 20 years ago, after her son, Matt, was diagnosed with autism. “We were told to love, accept, and plan to institutionalize him,” she said. She visited a number of facilities and was disheartened by the conditions and quality of care: “I thought there has to be another way.”
Resnik is the founder and executive director of the nonprofit that runs First Place and shares its name. In the 1990s, she co-founded the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC), which began to research housing options for people with autism and partnered with other organizations to come up with guidelines. Years later, First Place is the result.
It’s a three-pronged operation. First, there’s the nonprofit-run, 55-unit apartment building, where people with ASD can live near-independently, but with 24/7 support. It has a fitness center, a pool, and a culinary teaching kitchen. Then there’s the on-site Transition Academy, which runs a two-year program to teach residents life and work skills. (While many residents are expected to go on living at First Place after completing the program, for others, Resnik said, “it might be the first place after leaving their family but [then] they may go elsewhere”). Finally, there’s a leadership institute aimed at producing research, policies, and training related to ASD.
Funding has come from a mix of sources, Resnik said: philanthropy, a private loan, and the federal New Markets Tax Credit program, which incentivizes investment in low-income communities. First Place did not use Department of Housing and Urban Development funds, since HUD limits the disabled population of properties it supports to 25 percent (to avoid an institutionalizing effect), a policy that Resnick says is overly prescriptive and not data-based.
Rent at First Place, which includes a basic suite of care services, is not cheap. It starts at $3,300 per resident in a furnished two-bedroom apartment, or $3,600 for a one-bedroom. Resnik hopes a competitive market will evolve over time, and points to what has happened with senior housing. “Today, you recognize how that market has emerged, at different locations, price points, with different kinds of services and amenities for people with mobility and health issues,” she said. “We just want options.”
The design of the complex, by RSP Architects, is tailored to people with ASD and neurodiversities. A main goal was to prevent sensory overload, so the building has no harsh overhead lights such as fluorescents, and gypsum concrete was used between the floors to muffle ambient noise. RSP previously designed the first high school built for autistic students, at the Minnesota Autism Center in Eagan.
Mike Duffy, a senior associate at RSP, said a major difference between First Place and other projects of its size is the amount of space dedicated to common use. He added that one of the biggest challenges was trying to balance sensitive design elements with promoting independent living skills. “We [were] always walking a fine line between creating a place that was catered to those individuals on the spectrum, while at the same time, wanting to create a place that will reflect some of what they are likely to encounter in a typical apartment,” he said.
First Place is in a central location in Phoenix, within walking distance of public transit and close to jobs, cultural facilities, stores and restaurants, and healthcare. That access to support networks and services was considered crucial. So far, more than 30 people have moved in, including 37-year-old Michael Goodrich. He arrived at First Place in July after other living situations didn’t work out.
“Right away, [the staff] had this meeting, where they imagined a day in the life of Michael,” said his sister Lynn Balter, who helped him find First Place. “They value his opinions and made him feel like he matters.”
A California family is grieving the loss of their mother who died shortly after giving birth to their youngest sister in an emergency C-section last week.
Researchers describe a parser that learns through observation to more closely mimic a child’s language-acquisition process, which could greatly extend the parser’s capabilities.