What Are Screens Doing to Our Eyesand Our Ability to See?

The eyes are unwell. Their childhood suppleness is lost. The lenses, as we log hours on this earth, thicken, stiffen, even calcify. The eyes are no longer windows on souls. They’re closer to teeth.

To see if your own eyes are hardening, look no further than your phone, which should require no exertion; you’re probably already there. Keep peering at your screen, reading and staring, snubbing life’s third dimension and natural hues. The first sign of the eyes’ becoming teeth is the squinting at phones. Next comes the reflexive extending of the arm, the impulse to resize letters into the preschool range. And at last the buying of drugstore readers.

Virginia Heffernan (@page88) is an Ideas contributor at WIRED. She is the author of Magic and Loss: The Internet as Art. She is also a cohost of Trumpcast, an op-ed columnist at the Los Angeles Times, and a frequent contributor to Politico. Before coming to WIRED she was a staff writer at the New York Times—first a TV critic, then a magazine columnist, and then an opinion writer. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree and PhD in English from Harvard. In 1979 she stumbled onto the internet, when it was the back office of weird clerics, and she’s been in the thunderdome ever since.

Modern medicine offers little apart from magnifying glasses to treat presbyopia (from the Greek presbus, meaning “old man”). But those $3.99 specs will get you on your feet just fine, which is to say, you can once again relish your phone without squinting or arm-stretching. A remedy for farsightedness evidently succeeds to the degree that it restores a woman or man to the comfortable consumption of texts, email, ecommerce, and social media on a glazed rectangle of aluminum alloys held at a standard reading distance of 16 inches. With reading glasses we live again.

Doesn’t this seem like an unwholesome loop? The eyes may be unwell, but the primary object of our eyesight seems corrosive. We measure our vision against the phone, all the while suspecting the phone itself is compromising our ability to see it.

Even if we don’t say out loud that failing vision has something to do with our vastly narrowed visual field, our bodies seem to know what’s up. How convenient, for example, that you can turn up a phone’s contrast and brightness with a few taps. If perception can’t be improved, objects can be made more perceivable, right? But then the brightness seems, like morphine, to produce a need for more brightness, and you find yourself topping out, hitting the button in vain for more light only to realize that’s it. You’ve blinded yourself to the light that was already there.

Having recently, in my forties, gotten reading glasses, I now find myself having to choose between reading and being, since I can’t read without them and I can’t see the world with them. The glasses date from a time when reading was much rarer a pastime than being; you’d grope for them to see a book, while relying on your naked eyes for driving, talking, walking.

But of course now so many of us read all day long. And I opt to flood my field of vision with the merry play of pixels and emoji rather than the less scintillating, brown-gray “real world.” This means wearing the reading glasses, even on the street, and affecting blindness to everything but my phone.

What might modern vision be today without the phone as its reason for being? If you were a nomadic goatherd in the Mongolian grasslands, you might not even consider presbyopia a pathology. Many nomads carry cell phones for calls and music, but, except to play games, they rarely gaze at them. Instead, they rest their eyes on the ever-moving flock, alert to vagaries in the animals’ collective configuration and inclinations; but simultaneously they soften the vision to wide angle, so as to detect peripheral anomalies and threats. On camelback in the wide-open grasslands, the eyes line easily with the horizon, which means their eyes take in distance, proximity, an unpixelated spectrum, and unsimulated movement. A panoramic view of the horizon line roots the beholder in the geometer’s simplest concepts of perspective: foreshortening, a vanishing point, linearity, and the changeable shadows cast by the movement of the sun over and under the horizon line. That third dimension—depth—is never, ever forgotten by the nomads. The sun rises and sets on depth.

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Nik Mirus

Depending on your after-hours curriculum in Mongolia (cooking, talking, playing the fiddle), you might rarely even need to do what digital moderns never stop doing: recruit the eye’s ciliary muscle and contract it, releasing tension in the ligaments that suspend the eye to acutely curve the lens and train it to a pixelated 1.4-milimeter letter x on, for instance, a mobile news app. If you explained to a nomad the failures of her aging eyes, she might shrug: Who needs anxious ciliary muscles?

Indeed. And the use of those muscles by digital moderns gets even more complicated when we encounter our x’s not on paper—carbon-­black ink, like liquid soot, inscribed on bleached pulpwood—but on screens. That’s where we come across the quivering and uncertain symbols that play across the—surface, is it? Where are they exactly? Somewhere on or in our devices. No wonder the eyes are unwell.

Every vocation has consequences for eyesight. Ice fishermen can go snowblind. Welders suffer arc eye. Ships’ lookouts hallucinate. Academics develop myopia. And texters—call it an avocation—have blurred vision.

There are at least two recorded cases of something called smartphone blindness. The New England Journal of Medicine notes that both patients had been reading their phones in bed, on their sides, faces half-hidden, in the dark. “We hypothesized that the symptoms were due to differential bleaching of photo-­pigment, with the viewing eye becoming light-adapted.” Differential bleaching of the eyes! Fortunately, smartphone blindness of this kind is transient.

The blanket term for screen-borne eyesight problems is computer vision syndrome, an unsatisfactory name given to the blurring, dry eyes, and headaches suffered by the people of the screen. The name is unsatisfactory because, like many syndromes, it describes a set of phenomena without situating them in a coherent narrative—medical or otherwise. For contrast, arc eye is a burn: Welders get it from their exposure to bright ultraviolet light. Snowblindness is caused when corneas are sunburned by light reflecting off snow. Hallucinations afflict lookouts because, as Ishmael explains in Moby-Dick, they’re up at odd hours and alone, parsing the “blending cadence of waves with thoughts” for danger, whales, or other vessels; the brain and eyes are inclined to make meaning and mirages of undifferentiated land- and seascapes where none exist.

Computer vision syndrome is not nearly as romantic. The American Optometric Association uses it to describe the discomfort that people report feeling after looking at screens for a “prolonged” period of time. When screens pervade the field of vision all day, what counts as prolonged? (Moreover, reports of discomfort seem like not much to predicate a whole syndrome on.) But the AOA’s treatment of the syndrome is intriguing. This is the so-called 20-20-20 rule, which asks that screen people take a 20-second break to look at something 20 feet away every 20 minutes.

The remedy helps us reverse-engineer the syndrome. This suffering is thought to be a function not of blue light or intrusive ads or bullying and other scourges. It’s thought to be a function of unbroken concentration on a screen 8 inches to 2 feet from the eyes. The person suffering eyestrain is taught to look 20 feet away but she might presumably look at a painting or a wall. Twenty feet, though, suggests it’s depth she may be thirsty for.

The naming of a syndrome discharges the latest anxiety about screens, which have always been a source of social suspicion. People who are glued to screens to the exclusion of other people are regarded with disdain: narcissistic, withholding, deceitful, sneaky. This was true even with the panels that prefigured electronic screens, including shoji, as well as mirrors and newspaper broadsheets. The mirror-gazer may have been the first selfie fanatic, and in the heyday of mirrors the truly vain had handheld mirrors they toted around the way we carry phones. And hand fans and shoji—forget it. The concealing and revealing of faces allowed by fans and translucent partitions suggest the masquerade and deceptions of social media. An infatuation with screens can easily slide into a moral failing.

Not long ago a science writer named Gabriel Popkin began leading tree walks for city dwellers in Washington, DC, whose monomaniacal attention to screens had left them tree-blind. That’s right, tree blindness—and the broader concept of blindness to the natural world—might actually be the real danger screens pose to vision. In 2012, Popkin had learned about trees to cure this blindness in himself and went from a naif who could barely pick out an oak tree to an amateur arboriculturist who can distinguish hundreds of trees. The biggest living beings in his city suddenly seemed like friends to him, with features he could recognize and relish.

I opt to flood my field of vision with the merry play of pixels and emoji rather than the brown-gray “real world.” This means wearing reading glasses, even on the street, and affecting blindness to everything but my phone.

Once he could see trees, they became objects of intense interest to him—more exhilarating than apps, if you can believe it. “Take a moment to watch and listen to a flowering redbud tree full of pollen-drunk bumblebees,” he has written. “I promise you won’t be bored.”

If computer vision syndrome has been invented as a catch-all to express a whole range of fears, those fears may not be confined to what blue light or too much close-range texting are doing to the eyesight. Maybe the syndrome is a broader blindness—eyes that don’t know how to see and minds that increasingly don’t know how to recognize nondigital artifacts, especially nature.

Lately, when I pull away from the screen to stare into the middle distance for a spell, I take off my glasses. I try to find a tree. If I’m inside, I open a window; if I’m outside, I will even approach a tree. I don’t want mediation or glass. The trees are still strangers; I hardly know their names yet, but I’m testing myself on leaf shapes and shades of green. All I know so far is that trees are very unlike screens. They’re a prodigious interface. Very buggy. When my eyes settle after a minute or two, I—what’s that expression, “the scales fell from my eyes”? It’s almost, at times, like that.

Read More

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Virginia Heffernan (@page88) is a contributing editor at WIRED and the author of Magic and Loss: The Internet as Art.

This article appears in the April issue. Subscribe now.

Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/failing-vision-screens-blindness/

This Brutal Anti-PETA Rant Is Going Viral, And People Are Shocked To Learn About Their Hypocrisy

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is the largest animal rights organization in the world, but not everyone thinks they’re very righteous. For example, Calum Mcswiggan claims people shouldn’t donate money to them at all. Considering that PETA is funded almost exclusively by member contributions (according to their official 2017 financial statement, contributions amassed to roughly 96% of their $48,5M revenue), it’s basically saying that the organization should cease to exist. Someone, however, fully agree with Calum and have continued his line of thought, offering more examples why no one should give them money. As their intense rant went viral, people were shocked by most of the claims. Scroll down to read the text and let us know what you think about it in the comment section.

PETA, the largest animal rights organization in the world, has been under fire for quite some time now

Photo by Robert Sebree for peta2.com

But this emotional rant is trying to uncover the big picture

Source: huffingtonpost.com

Source: petakillsanimals.com

Image source: Former PETA employee

Source: nathanwinograd.com

Source: peta.org

Source: gizmodo.com

Shearer Sean Harrison holds a freshly shorn sheep in response to a social media campaign by PETA featuring musician Jona Weinhofen. (Source: abc.net.au)

Source: nathanwinograd.com / theatlantic.com

Source: time.com

Source: peta.org

Source: digitaljournal.com

Source: usatoday.com

Source: nbcnews.com

Ahoskie Police Detective Sgt. Jeremy Roberts prepares to bury a puppy killed by PETA. This puppy and dozens of other animals including cats and kittens were found by police throughout June of 2005 after PETA employees dumped them in a garbage bin in North Carolina. (Source: nathanwinograd.com)

Source: huffingtonpost.com

People were shocked to learn the harsh truth the American organization doesn’t want them to know

What do you think? Does PETA help or harm the animals they claim to protect? Let’s talk below

Read more: http://www.boredpanda.com/anti-peta-hate-rant-dear-tumb1r/

WHO launches health review after microplastics found in 90% of bottled water

Researchers find levels of plastic fibres in popular bottled water brands could be twice as high as those found in tap water

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced a review into the potential risks of plastic in drinking water after a new analysis of some of the worlds most popular bottled water brands found that more than 90% contained tiny pieces of plastic. A previous study also found high levels of microplastics in tap water.

In the new study, analysis of 259 bottles from 19 locations in nine countries across 11 different brands found an average of 325 plastic particles for every litre of water being sold.

In one bottle of Nestl Pure Life, concentrations were as high as 10,000 plastic pieces per litre of water. Of the 259 bottles tested, only 17 were free of plastics, according to the study.

Scientists based at the State University of New York in Fredonia were commissioned by journalism project Orb Media to analyse the bottled water.

The scientists wrote they had found roughly twice as many plastic particles within bottled water compared with their previous study of tap water, reported by the Guardian.

A colourful microfibre of plastic found in bottled water. Photograph: Abigail Barrows

According to the new study, the most common type of plastic fragment found was polypropylene the same type of plastic used to make bottle caps. The bottles analysed were bought in the US, China, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Lebanon, Kenya and Thailand.

Scientists used Nile red dye to fluoresce particles in the water the dye tends to stick to the surface of plastics but not most natural materials.

The study has not been published in a journal and has not been through scientific peer review. Dr Andrew Mayes, a University of East Anglia scientist who developed the Nile red technique, told Orb Media he was satisfied that it has been applied carefully and appropriately, in a way that I would have done it in my lab.

The brands Orb Media said it had tested were: Aqua (Danone), Aquafina (PepsiCo), Bisleri (Bisleri International), Dasani (Coca-Cola), Epura (PepsiCo), Evian (Danone), Gerolsteiner (Gerolsteiner Brunnen), Minalba (Grupo Edson Queiroz), Nestle Pure Life (Nestle), San Pellegrino (Nestle) and Wahaha (Hangzhou Wahaha Group).

A World Health Organisation spokesman told the Guardian that although there was not yet any evidence on impacts on human health, it was aware it was an emerging area of concern. The spokesman said the WHO would review the very scarce available evidence with the objective of identifying evidence gaps, and establishing a research agenda to inform a more thorough risk assessment.

A second unrelated analysis, also just released, was commissioned by campaign group Story of Stuff and examined 19 consumer bottled water brands in the US.It also found plastic microfibres were widespread.

The brand Boxed Water contained an average of 58.6 plastic fibres per litre. Ozarka and Ice Mountain, both owned by Nestle, had concentrations at 15 and 11 pieces per litre, respectively. Fiji Water had 12 plastic fibres per litre.

Abigail Barrows, who carried out the research for Story of Stuff in her laboratory in Maine, said there were several possible routes for the plastics to be entering the bottles.

Plastic microfibres are easily airborne. Clearly thats occurring not just outside but inside factories. It could come in from fans or the clothing being worn, she said.

Stiv Wilson, campaign coordinator at Story of Stuff, said finding plastic contamination in bottled water was problematic because people are paying a premium for these products.

Jacqueline Savitz, of campaign group Oceana, said: We know plastics are building up in marine animals and this means we too are being exposed, some of us every day. Between the microplastics in water, the toxic chemicals in plastics and the end-of-life exposure to marine animals, its a triple whammy.

Nestle criticised the methodology of the Orb Media study, claiming in a statement to CBC that the technique using Nile red dye could generate false positives.

Coca-Cola told the BBC it had strict filtration methods, but acknowledged the ubiquity of plastics in the environment meant plastic fibres may be found at minute levels even in highly treated products.

A Gerolsteiner spokesperson said the company, too, could not rule out plastics getting into bottled water from airborne sources or from packing processes. The spokesperson said concentrations of plastics in water from their own analyses were lower than those allowed in pharmaceutical products.

Danone claimed the Orb Media study used a methodology that was unclear. The American Beverage Association said it stood by the safety of its bottled water, adding that the science around microplastics was only just emerging.

The Guardian contacted Nestle and Boxed Water for comment on the Story of Stuff study, but had not received a response at the time of publication.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/mar/15/microplastics-found-in-more-than-90-of-bottled-water-study-says

Watch Ted Cruz’s Reaction When Asked To Take A DNA Test To Prove He’s Human

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was issued an unusual challenge on Tuesday night when a constituent asked him if he’d take a DNA test. 

Tammy Talpas read a statement to Cruz saying she was worried about her access to health care due to seven pre-existing conditions. 

“If you force me into a high-risk pool, you will either bankrupt me or kill me,” she said. “I take these threats of medical aggression personally and seriously, and I can assure you I’m not the only Texan who does. My question is: Will you pledge to submit to a DNA test to prove that you’re human?”

Cruz didn’t directly answer. 

“Well, ma’am, thank you for that, and one of the great things about our democratic system is we can treat each other with respect and civility,” he said. 

“Is that a yes or a no?” she shot back. 

“Ma’am, if you want to engage in insults, that’s your prerogative, but I’m not going to reciprocate,” he said.  

(h/t The Hill)

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/ted-cruz-dna-test_us_5ac59a0fe4b056a8f5982f9e

5 Surprising Ways The World Is Secretly Looking Out For You

Very few professions are out there actively trying to keep you alive. Firefighters, doctors, uh … erotic bakers? What even is life without a good dong cake? But that’s pretty much it, right? Nope. We’ve told you before how some famously “good” organizations are secretly doing awful things. Now let us restore some of that lost faith in humanity by showing you the other side of the coin …


Illinois Is Training Hairdressers To Recognize Domestic Violence

When you’re stuck making awkward chitchat with your hairdresser for extended periods of time, some secrets are bound to slip out. That was more or less the thinking behind a recent state ruling in Illinois, which now requires salon workers be trained to recognize signs of domestic abuse and sexual assault. It’s not as easy as saying, “So, uh, has the hubby punched you lately?” and reporting it to the authorities. In fact, calling 9-1-1 yourself is a big no-no. Instead, salon workers are taught to 1) encourage their clients open up on their own speed, 2) listen compassionately, and 3) provide support and information about professional resources.

While this is not a new idea, Illinois is the first state to actually require cosmetologists to go through the one-hour training class every two years if they want to renew their licenses. Now 14 other states, including New York and Wyoming, are working on similar laws and initiatives. Sometimes, asking for frosted tips is a cry for help, and salon workers are here to answer it.


One UK City Recruited Plumbers And Handymen To Spot Child Abuse

Plumbers are used to dealing with problems most of us wouldn’t touch with several ten-foot poles stuck together. It’s appropriate, then, that the city of Lincoln, England recruited them (along with repair men, electricians, and housing officers) to spot and report child abuse and neglect. Since it can take a while to fix a sink or unclog a toilet, the city trained contractors to keep an eye out for signs that the children of the household might be in danger. For instance, if a kid is wearing long sleeves on a really hot day, that might be less about making a fashion statement and more about hiding bruises. Things like scalds and cigarette burns are dead giveaways for physical abuse, but the checklist includes other signs of trouble, like unexplained mood changes, avoidance of certain family members, or … well … pregnancy.

Yeah …

Hey, here’s a puppy being perplexed by a mirror:


Facebook Uses Their Creepy Algorithms To Fight Suicide

Facebook is simultaneously one of the most popular things to have ever existed and one of the most criticized, for many, many reasons. But while the amount of information Facebook has on each of us will never not be creepy, they’re doing at least one positive thing with all those fancy algorithms: helping spot suicidal users in real time. Basically, Facebook’s giant decentralized brain pores through billions of posts, trying to find patterns that correlate to suicidal thoughts, in the hope that maybe they can save a few lives. When a user is flagged as suicidal, a Facebook moderator can immediately get in touch and send them helpful resources, or even contact local first responders. Oh, and this is where all those “friends” come in handy, since health experts claim that hearing from a bud is one of the best ways to prevent a suicide. The moderator can make that happen, too.


FacebookThe “Talk to someone” option really needs a “(Not that racist guy from high school)” disclaimer, though.

Within one month of testing, Facebook says they’ve initiated over 100 wellness checks, helping first responders reach troubled users before they did anything rash. Considering the disturbing trend of teens committing suicide via livestreaming services (like Facebook’s own), and the fact that suicide is the second-leading cause of death for people aged 15-24, an idea like this could have a real impact on young people. Why, it almost makes up for the sin of inventing Facebook in the first place.


Tattoo Artists And Beauticians Are Being Taught To Watch Out For Skin Cancer

Both tattoo artists and beauticians have to look at your greasy, pockmarked skin for extended periods of time. Why not make the most of it? Specialists have started training them to identify signs of skin cancer on their customers, so people might receive earlier treatment and thus have better chances of survival. On the beautician side, researchers from the University of Southern California and the University of Colorado Denver collaborated on this training video designed to teach hairdressers about melanoma and how to recognize lesions.

University of Southern California and University of Colorado DenverIf you don’t have melanoma, but also don’t have a face, definitely talk to a doctor anyway.

Meanwhile, tattoo artists have gone from hindering melanoma detection (because a lot of people specifically ask to cover up ugly moles) to presenting a great opportunity to raise awareness of the subject. The artist doesn’t have to be an expert on skin cancer; they just have to know the basic warning signs and pass that information on to the public. And it’s working! From the U.S. to Australia to Brazil, multiple referrals, diagnoses, and successful treatments have resulted from hairdressers and tattoo artists being like, “Uh … this black thing consuming your face might not be normal.”


Cab Drivers, Flight Attendants, Bankers, And UPS Are All Fighting Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is a subject most of us don’t even like thinking about, but people far braver than us are tackling the problem head-on. And it’s not who you might expect.

First up, cabbies. Taxi drivers are being trained by authorities in New York, London, Houston, and Canada to spot victims of sexual exploitation. They’re looking out for certain telltale signs in their passengers: young people travelling long distances and paying high fees in cash, requesting collections from house parties, hotels, or B&Bs, and travelling with just huge, huuuge jerks. Even Uber, that trash bag of a company, decided to start educating their drivers about this issue after one of them saved a soon-to-be-trafficked underage girl in California in 2016.

Next up on unlikely sources of help: bankers. The European Bankers Alliance recently released a toolkit that searches for red flags indicating that slavery is involved in a financial transaction. But we know what you’re thinking: What about UPS drivers? Yep, them too. In a program started in January 2017, UPS freight drivers all over the country undergo training to recognize signs of human trafficking, with help from the Truckers Against Trafficking organization. (Oh right, truckers help too!)

Of course, some traffickers prefer to move their “cargo” through more luxurious means … and that’s where flight attendants come in. Since 2009, Airline Ambassadors International has been training flight attendants to look out for common signs of human trafficking, and their efforts quickly paid off. In 2011, a flight attendant on a flight to California noticed a disheveled teenage girl flying with a well-dressed older man and left a note in the bathroom for her to find. She did, and rescue swiftly followed. According to an ABC report …

86 children were freed from a sex ring in Boston after the trafficker and two crying victims were noticed on a flight.

Yep, kids crying on a plane saved the day. Forgive us as we reconsider everything we know about life.

Nathan Kamal lives in Oregon and writes. He co-founded Asymmetry Fiction for all your fiction needs. S.S.A is also on TopBuzz. Check him out here. Look out for more mind-blowing facts on Markos’ Twitter.

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For more, check out 6 Horrifying Ways Society Repaid Good Deeds and 5 Inspiring Acts of Kindness by Terrifying Crime Syndicates.

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Read more: http://www.cracked.com/article_25470_5-surprising-ways-world-secretly-looking-out-you.html

10 Facts About Sex They Dont Cover in Sex Ed, but Really Should

Ah, sex education in America. It’s really not the best, is it? Sex Ed teaches you the basic facts, very cut and dry, but it definitely doesn’t teach all the strange, wacky facts about sex you definitely should know. Here are 10 of the best ones.


Read more: http://twentytwowords.com/facts-about-sex-they-dont-cover-in-sex-ed-but-really-should/

She was nice to the boy who bullied her. He still turned into a mass shooter.

Julia Suconic, hugs her friend Nathan Schoedl. Both are students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Photo by Gerald Herbert/AP Photos.

The first time Isabelle Robinson met Nikolas Cruz, he knocked the wind out of her and smirked as he watched her cry.

“The force of the blow knocked the wind out of my 90-pound body; tears stung my eyes. I turned around and saw him, smirking,” Robinson, a survivor of the Parkland shooting, writes in an op-ed for The New York Times. “I had never seen this boy before, but I would never forget his face. His eyes were lit up with a sick, twisted joy as he watched me cry.”

It’s a chilling picture, one made even more frightening by the fact that Robinson assumed that adults would take notice and take care of the situation. She even showed Cruz kindness. Five years later, Robinson writes, she was huddled in a closet as he took 17 lives.

Robinson’s piece isn’t a personal takedown of Cruz. Rather, it’s a reality check for those who believe that “kindness” will stop school shootings.

This is an idea that has been perpetrated by the leaders of the “Walk Up, Not Out” movement that made headlines leading up to nationwide school walkouts on March 14.

On the surface, the idea is deceptively logical: If more people were friendly to those deemed “outsiders,” gun violence would decrease and schools would become safer places.

On March 14, encourage students to walk up. Walk up to the kid who sits alone at lunch and invite her to sit with you. …

Posted by Amy Flynn on Thursday, March 8, 2018

But the reality of the situation is much different. As Robinson recounts in her op-ed, kindness is exactly what she tried to show Cruz. In eighth grade, a year after she says he physically assaulted her, she was assigned to tutor him. She did her best to push down her feelings of fear as Cruz continued to harass her.

“Despite my discomfort, I sat down with him, alone,” she writes. “I was forced to endure his cursing me out and ogling my chest until the hourlong session ended. When I was done, I felt a surge of pride for having organized his binder and helped him with his homework.”

“Looking back, I am horrified. I now understand that I was left, unassisted, with a student who had a known history of rage and brutality.”

The reason Robinson didn’t refuse the assignment? She cites a “desire to please” and to be seen as mature. “I would have done almost anything to win the approval of my teachers.”

That’s what those who believe that kindness alone is the answer are missing: that the children they’re entrusting with the task of ending violence are just that — children.

Make no mistake, Robinson isn’t against the idea of kindness. But kindness isn’t enough. And when it comes to solving issues like gun violence, students — who load up their backpacks and go to school with the expectation of learning in a safe environment — should never be the first line of defense. Nor should the blame for violence be placed squarely on those who have been victimized in school shootings.

Brandon Dasent and Tyah-Amoy Roberts, students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

“It is not the obligation of children to befriend classmates who have demonstrated aggressive, unpredictable, or violent tendencies,” Robinson writes. “It is the responsibility of the school administration and guidance department to seek out those students and get them the help that they need, even if it is extremely specialized attention that cannot be provided at the same institution.”

Robinson’s story is both heartbreaking and all too familiar. A tragedy like Parkland has everyone demanding answers and seeking solutions. But too often, the conversation steers to victim-blaming, with fingers quickly being pointed at the survivors for not doing enough to prevent the tragedy. Even when, as in Robinson’s case, students actually put themselves in potential danger trying to be kind.

Asking children to put themselves in danger in the name of kindness is not the answer.

“The implication that Mr. Cruz’s mental health problems could have been solved if only he had been loved more by his fellow students is both a gross misunderstanding … and a dangerous suggestion that puts children on the front line,” Robinson states.

But then what should be done? While children are leading the #NeverAgain movement, they can’t be the only ones who demand change. As adults, we must protect them at all costs. And that means we must listen. And we must take action by recognizing that kindness isn’t the first line of defense against mass shootings — widespread gun reform is.

A sign featuring Emma Gonzalez is seen at the March for Our Lives Los Angeles. Photo by Sarah Morris/Getty Images.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/she-was-nice-to-the-boy-who-bullied-her-he-still-turned-into-a-mass-shooter

Saving Baby Boy Green

Jessica Green was getting impatient. She was 19 weeks pregnant and waiting for her ultrasound images at Whitehorse General Hospital, but it was taking forever. She’d never had to wait this long before. Her fiancé, Kris Schneider, had already headed back to work for the day, and Green wanted to do the same. She told the receptionist that she would pick up the images later and headed out. It was late October in Whitehorse, the capital city of Canada’s northern Yukon Territory, and winter was beginning to set in.

The ultrasound technician caught up to her in the parking lot. Green couldn’t leave, the tech said. She needed to be admitted, right away. Green remembers responding with some sort of instinctive, mulish refusal: “I can’t.”

But she knew her pregnancy was considered high-risk: She was 37, she’d conceived via IVF, and she was carrying twins. She followed the tech inside and headed up to the maternity ward, where she learned that her cervix was shortening precipitously, a precursor to labor—it was already down to 1.1 centimeters, less than half of what it should have been. A baby’s lungs and guts take a long time to fully develop in the womb, and her tiny babies still lacked the abilities to breathe or digest food on their own. But the barrier between them and the outside world was fading away.

See more from the Life Issue.
April 2018. Subscribe to WIRED.

Nik Mirus

Within a few days, a doctor performed an emergency cervical cerclage—effectively, he sewed her cervix shut—to protect the twins. That procedure came with serious risks: Both twins might die. But doing nothing might also mean losing them, so Green and Schneider had opted for action. After the surgery, Green gritted her teeth through a week of strict bed rest at home, but then pain and heavy bleeding chased her back to the hospital, where she was admitted and given morphine, fentanyl, and laughing gas while the staff waited to see if her labor would hold off. When she began to dilate again, the doctors removed the cerclage sutures before they could tear through her cervix. She and Schneider now lived in her hospital room. Contractions, irregular but powerful, came and went for days.

All hope of the twins reaching full term was gone. The couple simply hoped to reach what neonatologists call the threshold of viability: the point at which medical science has the ability to keep a premature baby alive outside the womb.

A full-term human baby can seem helpless at birth, but in comparison to a preemie that baby has an impressive toolkit of skills. Aside from their underdeveloped lungs and guts, babies born too early don’t yet have the reflexes or muscular control to suck and swallow simultaneously. They are prone to cranial hemorrhage, and sometimes a heart duct remains open. Their skin is thin and fragile; the veins glow eerily. They are sensitive to sound, to light, to touch. Their eyelids may still be fused shut, and the tiniest preemies may not yet even have the ability to close a fist around your finger—that essential early act, the moment when they take possession of you.

Over several decades, doctors and nurses have become better at grappling with all of these obstacles. The threshold still varies widely depending on a baby’s circumstances and on the care available immediately at birth. But advances in drugs, technology, and methods of care have pushed that line earlier and earlier, and today there are preemies growing up, healthy and whole, whose survival would have been unimaginable a generation ago. These days, the line between birth and death generally lies somewhere between 22 and 25 weeks’ gestation. Green and Schneider could only pray that they would get there.

Jessica and Kris take Owen for a hike through the woods behind their house.

Kamil Bialous

Whitehorse is a small city, home to roughly 25,000 people, that sits along the only highway to Alaska. Schneider works for the post office, and Green is self-employed as a massage therapist, acupuncturist, and osteopath­-in-training. The hospital where she lay bearing through jagged contractions was not equipped to deal with preemies younger than 35 weeks. So as they waited and hoped for her labor to subside, they made plans to get to Vancouver, to the neonatal intensive care unit where the very tiniest and sickest babies in British Columbia and Yukon wind up.

On November 10 one of the amniotic sacs began to leak—the one containing Baby A, who lay on the bottom of the uterus. (These were fraternal twins, so each had their own placenta and sac.) Green and Schneider were loaded onto a small plane and flown more than 1,000 miles south to Vancouver, and in the early hours of November 11, Green was admitted to BC Women’s Hospital. Viability was in sight. They were at roughly 22 weeks—and, after a hard conversation with their physicians, they had agreed that the doctors would attempt to resuscitate the twins if they made it to 23 weeks. The babies’ heartbeats were still strong. Green went to sleep; Schneider crashed out on the floor beside her.

A few hours later, Green woke up feeling that something was wrong. A nurse came in, took a look, and rushed her to labor and delivery. The umbilical cord attached to Twin A, the girl they’d named Maia, had slipped out of the uterus and into the birth canal. Maia had no heartbeat. Now doctors had to deliver her as fast as possible before her movement through the birth canal triggered labor in Baby B, the boy they called Owen.

This meant Green had to push, even though she knew Maia wouldn’t survive. She asked the doctors to put her under, to let it happen without her participation, but they couldn’t—a C-section would risk Baby B too. Do it for Owen, someone said to her.

Maia came out weighing just 12.3 ounces, minuscule and bruised. The nurses handed her to Green and she held the little body against her chest. “I think she’s still alive,” Green said. But Maia was gone. Hospital staff dressed her tiny body in tiny baby clothes, sewn by volunteers. They took her photo, took casts of her feet—collecting mementos that her parents might spurn now but want to have later. Green was anesthetized and her cervix was sewn shut once more.

For 12 more days she remained in the hospital, enduring regular inspections of her cervix by a pack of doctors who were watching for signs of infection. Every extra day in utero could give Owen a better chance at life, but if the amniotic sac became infected, it could take him. How soon should they induce? How long could they safely wait? It was another seemingly impossible life-or-death decision.

On November 22, at about 24 weeks gestation, Green spiked a fever. The next day Owen was delivered by emergency ­C-section. Schneider held Green’s shoulders while the delivery team worked on the other side of a raised curtain. They caught a glimpse of their tiny son, wrapped in plastic to trap his body heat, before he was wheeled away in an incubator. At 1.4 pounds, Baby Boy Green was admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit at BC Women’s Hospital. He had a 60 percent chance of survival. The NICU would be his home, and the center of Green and Schneider’s world, for nearly five months.

Neonatology is a relatively young field. The first incubators for babies were invented in the 19th century, adapted from poultry incubators to create a stable and warm environment intended to simulate the womb. These early incubators were cumbersome creations of glass and metal. To fund them, they were put on public display—with living preterm babies inside them—at exhibitions across Europe and North America. Incubator babies were regular attractions at Coney Island and occasionally on the Atlantic City boardwalk throughout the early decades of the 20th century. A total of 96 preterm babies in incubators were shown to visitors at the 1939–40 New York World’s Fair. (Eighty-six of them survived.)

By the 1960s and ’70s, neonatology had graduated from carnival sideshow to accepted medical discipline. But the basic nature of the NICU hadn’t changed that much from the Coney Island days: A typical nursery held rows of incubators, a tiny baby lying behind the plastic in each, with parents mere spectators of their day-to-day care.

Doctors’ abilities to keep preemies alive a half-century ago was limited. Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, the third child of John and Jacqueline Kennedy, was born five and a half weeks premature and died just 39 hours after his birth—today he would be considered only a moderate preterm baby, not in the danger zone at all. Several treatments, often working in combination, have driven that dramatic improvement. Among the most important are the invention, in the 1980s, of an artificial version of a natural lung lubricant that preemies initially fail to produce enough of on their own; antenatal steroids, widely adopted in the 1990s, to jump-start a likely preemie’s lung development even before birth; continual tweaking of the mechanical ventilator and the incubator, which is now far more complex, offering controlled levels of moisture and ambient oxygen in addition to providing heat; and the ability to deliver nutritional solutions intravenously to babies who can’t yet eat.

When Owen was born, neonatal units around North America were increasingly adopting a family-focused model of care: Parents of preemies and other infants receiving treatment in the NICU were encouraged to join on rounds with the medical staff, to touch and hold their babies more, to change diapers and help with feedings, and to be more involved in decisions—especially life-or-death ones. Ten or 15 years ago, many hospitals had firm rules: They would not agree to resuscitate babies born at or before 23 weeks, say, and they would not recommend the practice before 25 weeks. Now the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that physicians, with the parents’ input, at least begin to consider resuscitation as an option at 22 weeks.

Back when Green and Schneider were waiting in Whitehorse, they’d had a tough conversation by phone with Sandesh Shivananda, a senior neonatologist and the medical director of the NICU at BC Women’s. He’d told them that, at 22 weeks, the twins would have less than a 5 percent chance of survival. At 23 weeks, they would have a better chance at life, but high odds of living with severe neurological complications. Even at 24 weeks, they would likely spend several months in intensive care. He’d talked to them about the difference between “active care”—working to save a preemie’s life, and “compassionate” care—easing its way from birth into death. Discussions around extreme preterm births—generally defined as 28 weeks or earlier—are similar to the ones around end-of-life care: What kinds of extraordinary measures will we deploy? For how long? To what end—saving a life, or just prolonging it?

The policy at BC Women’s is to lay out the potential outcomes for parents and to work with them to form a plan, aiming for realism without being overly discouraging. It’s a delicate dance, and Shivananda’s goal is to give parents as much information and as much control as possible: to give them some ownership, some sliver of power, over their nightmare.

Kris Schneider at home with Owen in Whitehorse, Canada, 14 months after the baby was born.
Kamil Bialous

The N.I.C.U. is both paradise and inferno. It’s a place of modern miracles, where babies whose lungs are too small to draw breath are made to breathe, their tissues forcibly inflated and deflated by tubes connected to machines; where parents burn quietly while they watch each new heartbeat register on the glowing screen above their baby’s incubator, unable to look away, in a slow immolation that can last for days or weeks or months.

“Off the bat,” Schneider says, “they tell you, ‘He’s going to be a champion for two or three days,’ and then he falls off a cliff.”

“And then,” Green says, “you fall off a cliff.”

Owen was immediately diagnosed with extreme prematurity and respiratory distress. He was also vulnerable to sepsis. In other words: He couldn’t breathe and was at risk of a severe infection. He was intubated in the delivery room, and his issues piled up from there. In the first week of his life, he was given drugs to help a valve in his heart close properly, and more drugs for his blood pressure. When he was a few days old, he had what appeared to be a seizure—more drugs. His kidneys were too small and new to function fully—more drugs. He received antibiotics for the possible infection he was born with, and then more for a suspected case of pneumonia, thought to be caused by his ventilator. He had a breathing tube down his throat for 45 days and a feeding tube threaded through his nose for four months. He received a steady supply of morphine to numb the pain of the treatments keeping him alive.

If someone so much as spoke too loudly near his incubator, his oxygen levels could drop, setting off alarms from the monitors. He received seven blood transfusions in his first two months. “It was just so tenuous,” Schneider says. Green wondered, in those early days, if they had made the right decision for their son. It was an agonizing 22 days before they were allowed to hold him.

When another baby was having a bad day, its monitors beeping out constant alarms as it struggled to grow and live, the couple felt relief that today was not their bad day—and the awful certainty that their turn would come soon enough.

The couple moved into Ronald McDonald House, a charity-run residence on the hospital campus reserved for out-of-towners whose children faced life-threatening illnesses. Schneider took leave from his job; Green canceled months of scheduled appointments with her clients. Back home, friends took in their two dogs and raised more than $12,000 to help them make up their lost income. Green was as sleep-deprived as the mother of any other newborn: waking up repeatedly in the night to pump her milk and freeze it for when Owen was strong enough to digest it. She spent her days sitting beside his incubator, reading children’s books to him in a whisper, refusing to allow herself to dwell on anything except his survival. “I remember walking into the NICU and making a choice—my feelings of anger, my feelings of grief, I really tried to keep them out of the NICU because he was so sensitive,” she says. “I swear to God that he could sense the energy you brought in.”

The nursery was kept as quiet as possible, but Green and Schneider were uncomfortably, intimately aware of the other parents hovering over other incubators nearby. Their feelings about those other parents were complicated. They’ve formed lasting connections with some, but in the NICU, envy and sadness and anger mingled with their solidarity. When another parent’s baby was having a bad day, its monitors beeping out constant alarms as it struggled to grow and live, Green and Schneider felt relief that today was not their bad day—and the awful certainty that their turn would come soon enough. On one of the first days, Green glimpsed twins in side-by-side incubators, and suddenly anger and jealousy—and the pain of her loss—shot through her. One day in late January, a new mom arrived with a daughter, Bronwyn, born at 28 weeks. To Green, the baby seemed so much more stable than Owen. But after nearly 200 days of treatment in the NICU, Bronwyn died.

Technology is essential to neonatology, but there’s a critical human side to the science of saving preemies too. In the late 1970s, something happened in Bogotá, Colombia, that would begin to bridge the divide between the incubator babies and their parents. A lack of equipment and concern about the risk of hospital infection led doctors at San Juan de Dios Hospital to send stable preemies home with their mothers instead of incubating them. The doctors instructed the mothers to hold the babies continuously, bare skin on bare skin, vertically against their chests, and to feed them only breast milk whenever possible. When mothers started doing this, the area’s low survival rates for larger preterm babies tripled. The close contact seemed, in some ways, to replicate the womb better than an incubator—at least one in an underfunded hospital. This practice is now well known as kangaroo mother care and was written up in the Lancet in 1985. The paper’s authors didn’t endorse the home-care option for babies with access to modern NICUs. “Nevertheless,” they wrote, preemies in a hospital setting “could benefit from similar emphasis on education and motivation of mothers and early skin-to-skin contact.”


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Three decades later, while Green and Schneider adapted to life in the open NICU, an experiment built in part on the Bogotá breakthrough was unfolding in two rooms down the hall. For the first time in North America, some new mothers could receive their postpartum care in the same private room where their infants received their neonatal care. The same nurse who checked a baby’s oxygen levels and drew blood from his tiny arteries would also be checking his mother’s cesarean incision site or monitoring her for excessive bleeding.

The program was part of a reimagining of the entire NICU at BC Women’s. Around 2010, hospital administrators had invited past patients to consult on the design for a new building. They gave the former patients a cardboard model of the hospital and a handful of Lego figures. One woman kept moving the mother Lego character next to the baby. Why, she asked, couldn’t she just get her care with her baby nearby? The answer was rote and unsatisfying. It’s just not done that way. Postpartum is postpartum, and the NICU is the NICU.

But the idea of private rooms where parents could spend more time with their babies had been on the administrators’ minds. “Mothers tell us, and it’s in the literature, that the most stressful event of having a baby in the NICU is being separated from baby,” says Julie de Salaberry, the director of neonatal programs at the hospital. This was about more than just alleviating parental distress too. One research paper, from Sweden in 2010, found that private NICU rooms reduced babies’ hospital stays by an average of five days. In fact, plenty of medical literature now shows that restoring parent-child connections helps improve the lives of the tiniest preemies as surely as the drugs and the tubes and the machines do.

BC Women’s opened the doors of its new building in late October last year. The new NICU, made up entirely of private rooms (including a dozen built for integrated mom-and-baby care), is intended to safely facilitate breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact, the most basic human interactions that were once off-limits to sick babies.

Jessica Green and Owen, who so far has met every developmental benchmark for his corrected age.

Kamil Bialous

Even though Owen was at B.C. Women’s before the new building opened, skin-to-skin contact was a part of his life as soon as he was stable enough. In between the rounds of drugs and tests, he’d spend hours curled up on Green’s or Schneider’s bare chest, listening to their heartbeats and their breaths, so much stronger than his own. After about two months, Green and Schneider began to believe that he would make it. Finally on April 7, 2017, after four and a half months of blood tests, of tubes and wires, of constant monitoring of his oxygen levels, Baby Boy Green was discharged. Schneider had flown back to the Yukon a week earlier to get their small townhouse ready; he retrieved the dogs from their long stay with friends; he set up a bassinet in his and Green’s bedroom. He met Green at the airport—his initial amazement of how other people were living their lives free of the hypervigilance and fear of the NICU finally subsiding. Owen slept the whole way home.

Owen is now 16 months old, and happy almost all the time, smiling and content to roll around on the townhouse floor. He’s pale, blond, and blue-eyed; he makes eye contact and grins at strangers. He can breathe on his own now, but his lungs are fragile; a chest cold could put him back in the hospital. For months after they brought him home, Green and Schneider kept a sign fixed to his carrier that read: “I’m a Preemie! NO TOUCHING! Your germs are too big for me!” They keep hand sanitizer with them at all times, and bottles of it sit on tables and shelves around the house. Early on, they wiped down everything they brought into their home that Owen would come in contact with—bottles, toys, new furniture—with disinfectant. On Christmas Eve, they called ahead to check if anyone at their intended dinner party had a cold; some of Green’s clients will cancel, penalty-free, if they feel a bug setting in. “You want to be normal,” Green says of their protocols, but you have to resist the urge to let things slide.

The literature now shows that restoring parent-child connections helps improve the lives of the tiniest preemies as surely as the drugs and the tubes and the machines do.

So far, Owen has met every developmental benchmark for his corrected age—he’s within the expected height and weight, and has the motor skills you would expect in a baby who was born on his mid-March due date, instead of late in the previous November. His only limitation so far is his unwillingness to swallow solid foods—possibly an aversion from the weeks he spent with a tube forced down his throat. Eventually he’s expected to catch up to his chronological age, but a medical team will be monitoring his neurological and motor development (among other things) until he’s 4 and a half years old, to see if any hidden legacies of his early birth and his time in the NICU emerge.

In November, Green and Schneider marked the first anniversary of Maia’s birth and death—and then, less than two weeks later, they celebrated Owen’s first birthday with friends at a snow-covered cabin outside town. It will always be that way: Every milestone for Owen will be paired, for his parents, with a reminder of what they’ve lost. But Green strives to appreciate her daughter’s short life. She likes to think about what Maia might have experienced or perceived in utero. She would have heard her parents arguing, Green figures. She would have heard the family’s dogs barking. She would have heard laughter. She also wants to find the right way for her son to know that he had a sister, and that they were born on opposite sides of a flexible, shifting line that we are gradually pushing back but whose exact location we might never be able to pin down.

In the old NICU at BC Women’s, there was a bulletin board with notes and pictures from parents who’d already done their time. Green saw one from a mother who promised the current crop of parents that the fear and anxiety of the NICU would fade with months and years. “I thought, there’s no way,” she says. “How am I ever going to relax again?”

But it turned out to be true. She has begun to forget the language of hemoglobin and oxygen desaturation and outcomes and odds. She’s forgetting what it felt like to be afraid all the time. She’s forgetting the sound of the monitors beeping, the alarms going off, the glow of the screen as it announces each new heartbeat.

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Eva Holland (@evaholland) is a freelance writer based in Canada’s Yukon Territory.

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Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/preemies-neonatal-medicine/

Finland is the happiest country in the world, says UN report

Nordic nations take top four places in happiness rankings, with annual study also charting the decline of the US

Finland has overtaken Norway to become the happiest nation on earth, according to a UN report.

The 2018 World Happiness Report also charts the steady decline of the US as the worlds largest economy grapples with a crisis of obesity, substance abuse and depression.

The study reveals the US has slipped to 18th place, five places down on 2016. The top four places are taken by Nordic nations, with Finland followed by Norway, Denmark and Iceland.

Burundi in east Africa, scarred by bouts of ethnic cleansing, civil wars and coup attempts, is the unhappiest place in the world. Strikingly, there are five other nations Rwanda, Yemen, Tanzania, South Sudan and the Central African Republic which report happiness levels below that of even Syria.

For the first time the UN also examined the happiness levels of immigrants in each country, and found Finland also scored highest.

Finland has vaulted from fifth place to the top of the rankings this year, said the reports authors, although they noted that the other three Nordic countries (plus Switzerland) have almost interchangeable scores.

The report, an annual publication from the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, said all the Nordic countries scored highly on income, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust and generosity. The rankings are based on Gallup polls of self-reported wellbeing, as well as perceptions of corruption, generosity and freedom.

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The UN placing is the latest accolade for Finland, a country of 5.5 million people that only 150 years ago suffered Europes last naturally caused famine. The country has been ranked the most stable, the safest and best governed country in the world. It is also among the least corrupt and the most socially progressive. Its police are the worlds most trusted and its banks the soundest.

That Finland is the top scorer is remarkable, said Meik Wiking of the Happiness Research Institute in Denmark. GDP per capita in Finland is lower than its neighbouring Nordic countries and is much lower than that of the US. The Finns are good at converting wealth into wellbeing.

In the Nordic countries in general, we pay some of the highest taxes in the world, but there is wide public support for that because people see them as investments in quality of life for all. Free healthcare and university education goes a long way when it comes to happiness. In the Nordic countries, Bernie Sanders is not viewed as progressive he is just common sense, added Wiking, referring to the leftwing US politician who galvanised the Democrat primaries in the 2016 presidential election.

In Britain, figures from the Office for National Statistics suggest people have become happier in recent years. But the UN ranking places the UK in a lowly 19th place, the same as last year but behind Germany, Canada and Australia, although ahead of France and Spain.

The UN report devotes a special chapter to why the US, once towards the top of happiness table, has slipped down the league despite having among the highest income per capita.

Americas subjective wellbeing is being systematically undermined by three interrelated epidemic diseases, notably obesity, substance abuse (especially opioid addiction) and depression, said Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University in New York, and one of the reports authors.

Despite African countries getting the worst happiness scores, one west African nation has bucked the trend. Togo came bottom in 2015 but was the biggest improver in the 2018 report, rising 18 places. Latvians and Bulgarians are also reporting higher levels of happiness.

Venezuela recorded the biggest fall in happiness, outstripping even Syria, although in absolute terms it remains a mid-ranking country. The report notes that Latin American countries generally scored more highly than their GDP per capita suggests, especially in contrast to fast-growing east Asian countries.

Latin America is renowned for corruption, high violence and crime rates, unequal distribution of income and widespread poverty, yet has consistently scored relatively highly in the happiness report. The authors attributed this to the abundance of family warmth and other supportive social relationships frequently sidelined in favour of an emphasis on income measures in the development discourse.

Meanwhile, the greatest human migration in history the hundreds of millions of people who have moved from the Chinese countryside into cities has not advanced happiness at all, the report found.

Even seven-and-a-half years after migrating to urban areas, migrants from rural areas are on average less happy than they might have been had they stayed at home, according to John Knight of the Oxford Chinese Economy Programme at the University of Oxford and one of the contributors to the UN report.

Top 10 happiest countries, 2018

(2017 ranking in brackets)

1. Finland (5)

2. Norway (1)

3. Denmark (2)

4. Iceland (3)

5. Switzerland (4)

6. Netherlands (6)

7. Canada (7)

8. New Zealand (8)

9. Sweden (10)

10. Australia (9)

The 10 unhappiest countries, 2018

(2017 ranking in brackets)

147. Malawi (136)

148. Haiti (145)

149. Liberia (148)

150. Syria (152)

151. Rwanda (151)

152. Yemen (146)

153. Tanzania (153)

154. South Sudan (147)

155. Central African Republic (155)

156. Burundi (154)

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/mar/14/finland-happiest-country-world-un-report