Debraining Fish for Science’s Sake and More January SmartBrief Highlights

February is here, and Punxsutawney Phil predicted the news will continue to develop rapidly. Just kidding – he predicted an early spring. BUT the news will continue to develop rapidly, and I enjoy helping deliver the most important stories to SmartBrief readers. These are my favorites from February:

From ASPA (The American Society of Public Administrators)

Denver City Council unanimously bans conversion therapy

Why it’s so interesting: The American Psychiatric Association says, “No credible evidence exists that any mental health intervention can reliably and safely change sexual orientation; nor, from a mental health perspective does sexual orientation need to be changed.” I believe they are right. Kudos, Denver.  

From Sigma Xi Science Honor Society

Monogamous species may have similar genetics

Why it’s so interesting: The point of this article is that monogamous fish, frogs, mice and voles may share a genetic pattern. There were two sentences in the article that made me say, “wow, people will do a LOT for science.” It was: “Hofmann donned scuba gear and plunged into Africa’s Lake Tanganyika to chase finger-length cichlid fish into nets. Delicately debraining them while aboard a rocking boat, he says, was a struggle.” The picture of these scientists debraining finger-length fish while aboard a rocking boat gave me a sense of their dedication. (It also confirmed what they said about their work: “We wanted to be bold—and maybe a little bit crazy.”)

From the National Association of Social Workers

Cleaning up the public perception of hoarding

Why it’s so interesting: I imagine most of us have joked about ourselves or acquaintances being “hoarders” because we accumulated so many material goods and let them take over our spaces. But, as this piece notes, hoarding can be a mental health problem. The part that struck me about this article was the issues that accompany hoarding — some people’s lives are at stake because they can’t be rescued quickly due to obstacles created by their accumulations. People who hoard animals endanger their lives because they become overwhelmed by their needs and fail to care for them properly. The town featured here created a Hoarding Task Force whose goal is to “get the person to agree to a significant clean-out.” 

From UN Wire

Anti-Semitism is worsening, UN chief warns

Why it’s so important: Sadly, I doubt this is news. Holocaust Education Week events will be happening this week in Tallahassee through the Holocaust Education Resource Council. “…hatred is easy to uncork, and very hard to put back in the bottle,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. He is right.  

From BoardSource

St. Louis program aims to curtail gun violence

Why it’s so interesting: This piece describes a de-escalation program in St. Louis designed to reduce gun violence. It describes a situation where the nonprofit paid a victim of violence to leave town while it attempted to intervene with the perpetrator.The victim then returned to St. Louis “with the guarantee no harm would come to him.” I really hope this works, but the “guarantee” part leaves me a little skeptical. However, what a great thing that this effort is being made. 

From the Reserve Officers Association

Changes to Uniform Code of Military Justice Now in Effect and Thousands vie for spots on Army’s esports team

Why they are so interesting: The esports story was my choice this month (6,500 active-duty and Reserve troops competing for 30 spots  on the Army’s esports team, vying for about 30 positions? The Army has an esports team? (They do, obviously.)

However, the Uniform Code of Military Justice story was far and away the most popular story in the ROA SmartBrief in January, so clearly it was of high significance to our readers. (The UCMJ was revised to incorporate new definitions of adultery and domestic violence, among other things.) I learn something new every day working for SmartBrief, but editing this story led me to learn more about the UCMJ, and to appreciate, as I always do, having a job that encourages me to keep learning.

From the National Emergency Number Association

Dispatch center’s foster dog helps lighten the emotional load

Why it is so interesting: It has become clear to me that being a dispatcher and/or first responder is a profession that is stressful. This dispatch center in Johnson County, Ind., took one step toward alleviating stress by bringing on a foster dog, Lincoln (he’s named after Lincoln Logs). Inspired by the dispatch center that handled the Sandy Hook Elementary School emergency, the dispatch center and the county’s animal control department worked together to match Lincoln with the center until he is adopted. The power of animals, again. 

From ICMA (the International City/County Management Association)

Mom from Zimbabwe describes city’s challenges

Why it is so interesting: This piece described, from a mother’s perspective, the intersection between a city’s economic and government conditions and the day-to-day survival of families. As the city’s mass transit system deteriorated and private transportation took control, someone like a mom needing to do the grocery shopping on Saturday found herself in a catch-22 situation. Maureen Sigauke says that high prices are an issue because of inflation, but those are made worse by the difficulties of getting to vendors — she can only afford to take two of her six children with her because fares are so expensive (she also faces a Central Business District beset by danger). Another mom must walk. A mother in slightly better economic conditions doesn’t face the same difficulties, but still must contend with high prices for gas and parking. As a mom, I felt so much empathy for these other mothers, just trying to feed their families against difficult odds.

Checking Out Some SmartBrief Features While Traveling

During my recent trip to New York City, I got to see two things that had been featured in SmartBrief newsletters I had edited.

Pier 55 Park

When I filled in as the editor of the National Recreation and Park Association SmartBrief in December, we ran a story about Champagne-glass-shaped pylons going up on NYC’s Pier 55 park project.  As I read the stories about the project the day I was editing, I tried to get my head around the 90-ton, champagne-glass-shaped pots that will be the centerpiece of the project. My itinerary in the city was NUTS, so I didn’t have tons of time to thoroughly indulge my curiosity, but I did catch a glimpse of the project as I took a Lyft one day:

Favorite January2019 SmartBrief stories

Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art and Storytelling

We talked about this place in the BoardSource SmartBrief in October, then I discussed it in a video shortly afterward. Although it was a brief (no pun intended!) visit, I loved seeing the museum in person.

Favorite January2019 SmartBrief stories

Favorite January2019 SmartBrief stories

This is the mural, Recuerdame, that is behind me in the above picture.

Favorite January2019 SmartBrief stories

The weather had been pouring and rainy when I arrived. When I left, it was a different — and beautiful — story.

SmartBrief’s DC Office

This doesn’t relate to a story we’ve covered, but it was a highlight of my trip. I started as a freelancer with SmartBrief in January 2017 and became a full-time editor in September 2018, working remotely the whole time. I spent one of the days of my trip working in the Washington, D.C., office.

Although I love almost everything about working from home, I am also a big believer in the power of spending time in person with team members when possible. It was a memorable day, and only confirmed what I already instinctively knew: I work with bright, enjoyable people!

Favorite January2019 SmartBrief stories

Speaking of bright, enjoyable people…

When I share my recaps, I also like to give an update about openings. I wrote in more detail about my experience here.

SmartBrief’s open position(s)

Here are SmartBrief’s currently advertised open positions:

And in the New York office:

If you are interested in applying, please list me as your referrer or email me so we can discuss further. 

To Recap

To subscribe to one (or more) SmartBrief newsletters, including our newest, the “end of the work day” While You Were Working, for which I am a contributing editor, click here.

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Thanks for reading, and I hope to play a part in keeping you informed long into the future!

Favorite January2019 SmartBrief stories

*Note: My opinions about the stories are my personal viewpoint; they do not reflect an endorsement by my employer.

4 thoughts on “Debraining Fish for Science’s Sake and More January SmartBrief Highlights

    • Thanks. I so enjoy digging up these items! (Or editing them in conjunction with the people who dig them up – it’s a team effort.)

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