your brain on cities


As a kind of modern update on Simmel, researchers have found that people get pretty negative side effects to living in cities. Simmel had some good news, I suppose. But scientists have found that the amygdala kinda freaks out, and increases the chances of stimulating the anxiety and danger-alertness of city dwellers. The diversity of the results, however, are perhaps the most interesting:

In an accompanying commentary in Nature, Dr Daniel Kennedy and Prof Ralph Adolphs, both at the California Institute of Technology, said that there are wide variations in a people’s preferences for, and ability to cope with, city life.

“Some thrive in New York city; others would happily swap it for a desert island. Psychologists have found that a substantial factor accounting for this variability is the perceived degree of control that people have over their daily lives. Social threat, lack of control and subordination are all likely candidates for mediating the stressful effects of city life, and probably account for much of the individual differences.”


the history of the corporation

101, culture

I love the documentary, The Corporation. Here‘s an interesting economics lesson on the rise of corporations, and the (author’s) projected decline of their power on our culture, particularly, mastery of our attention and the amount of ‘free agents’ who offer attention-grabbing content. Interesting, even if I didn’t get it all.

Rise and Fall of Corporate influence