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🍔  💀  📸  😭  🕳️  🤠  🎬  🥔 posts about walking

The Walking Dead: American Pedestrian Fatalities on the Rise

In the last decade, the number of pedestrians hit by cars in the United States has increased by almost 50%, even as that rate has decreased in Europe and other wealthy nations (“thanks primarily to new street and crosswalk designs, implemented in the belief that most road deaths are avoidable”). In a review of Angie Schmitt’s 2020 book Right of Way: Race, Class, and the Silent Epidemic of Pedestrian Deaths in America for the New York Review of Books, Peter Baker explores why America is increasingly hostile to pedestrians. Part of the reason is the rise of SUVs (and one would assume, trucks) in the US:

In the 1980s SUVs were a rarity. It was only in 2015 that they started outselling sedans. In 2018 they accounted for just under half of new vehicle sales, more than any other category of car. The height of American SUVs makes it harder for drivers to see pedestrians and means the hit comes higher on the body — and backed by extra mass — which makes organ damage and death two to three times more likely for adults, and four times more likely for children. More SUVs than ever are “overpowered” — that is, equipped with a high horsepower-to-weight ratio; this makes speeding more likely, which, like increased height and weight, increases the chances of pedestrians being hit and killed. More cars on the road, taller and heavier than ever before, going faster: each factor alone presents a serious problem. Together, they are a recipe for disaster.

And pedestrian deaths are also not equally distributed across population groups, both because of who owns cars but also shifts in where people are living:

Low-income pedestrians, Black and Hispanic pedestrians, elderly pedestrians, and disabled pedestrians are all disproportionately affected. Black and Hispanic men are twice as likely as white men to die while walking, and four times more likely than the average member of the population. Native American men are almost five times more likely.

The piece is interesting throughout, as is Schmitt’s book I’m sure.

A Long Walk Along Japan’s Historic Nakasendo Highway to Eat Pizza Toast

Kissa By Kissa

Kissa By Kissa

Last year, Craig Mod walked 620 miles from Tokyo to Kyoto along the Nakasendō historic highway and along the way he stopped at kissaten (or kissa), old-school Japanese cafes known for their pizza toast. Mod wrote about his quest late last year for Eater and has now turned a fuller account of the journey into a gorgeous book called Kissa By Kissa.

Those kissaten — or kissa — served up toast. I ate that toast. So. Much. Toast. Much of it pizza toast. If you buy this book, you’ll learn more than you ever dared to know about this variety of toast available all across Japan. It’s a classic post-war food staple. Kissa by kissa, and slice by thick slice of beautiful, white toast, I took a heckuva affecting and long walk. This book is my sharing with you, of that walk, the people I met along the way, and the food I ate.

Even more interesting is that to sell the book, Mod built a Kickstarter clone on top of Shopify called Craigstarter. And he’s released the code for it on Github.

Kickstarter is an excellent way to run a crowdfunding campaign. But if you already have a community built up, and have communication channels in place (via a newsletter, for example), and already run an online shop, then Kickstarter can be unnecessarily cumbersome. Kickstarter’s 10% fee is also quite hefty. By leaning on Shopify’s flexible Liquid templating system and reasonable CC processing fees, an independent publisher running a campaign can save some ~$7,000 for every $100,000 of sales by using Craigstarter instead of Kickstarter. That’s materially meaningful, especially in the world of books.

You can order Kissa By Kissa right here.

Update: Mod made a short video of the proprietor of BÅ«gen, one of the kissaten featured in the book, making pizza toast:

Walking, the easy superpower

Photo by Galen Crout on Unsplash

One of the very few productivity tips I trust 100% (ok, probably the only one) is the recommendation for getting up and walking around. It’s been proven time and time again by various authors and creatives of all types, as well as by science through research after research. Walking is good for the body, changes the mode our brain is in, and helps get our thinking going.

This piece at the Guardian covers some of those ideas and research behind Shane O’Mara’s new book on the topic, In Praise of Walking.

He favours what he calls a “motor-centric” view of the brain - that it evolved to support movement and, therefore, if we stop moving about, it won’t work as well.

Needless to say, that’s not what many of us do for most of our days. It seems this sitting around and non-movement might even affect our personality.

A 2018 study tracked participants’ activity levels and personality traits over 20 years, and found that those who moved the least showed malign personality changes, scoring lower in the positive traits: openness, extraversion and agreeableness.

I’ll note here that a lot of what O’Mara cites has to do with “movement” which he equates with walking. Granted, it’s probably one of the easiest ways to move, but one assumes that any kind of movement (swimming, yoga, etc.) also fits a lot of the research he bases his comments on even though his preference is clearly for walking.

According to him, it looks like walking might even be good against one of the great problems of our time, stress and anxiety, while at the same time fostering some of the skills we need in many fields of work; learning constantly, memory, and an ability to think on our feet (pun intended) and come up with solutions.

“It turns out that the brain systems that support learning, memory and cognition are the same ones that are very badly affected by stress and depression,” he says. “And by a quirk of evolution, these brain systems also support functions such as cognitive mapping,” by which he means our internal GPS system.

You might even see walking as a kind of superpower, because “when we get up and walk, our senses are sharpened.”

As I mentioned earlier, different kinds of exercice and movement could do the job. O’Mara, correctly, raves about walking in part because it’s accessible, easily woven into every day life, and doesn’t require much preparation, if any. His recommendation is pretty simple:

To get the maximum health benefits, he recommends that “speed should be consistently high over a reasonable distance - say consistently over 5km/h, sustained for at least 30 minutes, at least four or five times a week.”

The piece finishes with some words on creativity and multiple examples of authors praising walking, I’ll close with this one:

Only thoughts reached by walking have value.
— Friedrich Nietzsche

Pedestrian hackers discover how to click those

Pedestrian hackers discover how to click those crosswalk buttons to get the walk signal at any time.