7 Things You Need To Know Today (September 16)

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1. The U.S. really doesn't want another water crisis on its hands.

Yesterday, the Senate approved legislation to give $270 million to the residents of Flint, Michigan, and other poor communities that have suffered from lead contamination in their water. The funding will likely be used to repair ports, dams, levees, and other water infrastructure. (NYT)

2. One day in the not-too-distant future, you might be able to use your shirt to charge your iPhone.

Fabric designer Marianne Fairbanks and organic chemistry professor Trisha Andrew have teamed up to create a breathable, pliable solar textile that they hope to eventually turn into fabric panels for heated car seats and wearable garments that produce solar power. (Smithsonian)

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3. We know that a conversational ratio favoring deep conversation over chitchat makes us happier, but we shouldn't stop sharing pleasantries altogether.

Having a higher percentage of substantive conversation than small talk is correlated with greater happiness, but small talk is important for other reasons. Making eye contact or just saying hello to a stranger can increase our sense of belonging and help maintain the bonds between ourselves and people with whom we're already close. (The Atlantic)

4. Considering growing pot in your backyard? It might not be the worst idea — especially if you're a parent of a child with autism.

In Washington, parents are farming marijuana along with their tomatoes and zucchini. Many of them are using these crops in hopes of alleviating their kids' autism and epilepsy symptoms. (The Atlantic)

5. Binge-watching television together can actually strengthen your relationship.

Research has long supported the theory that couples with a shared social circle tend to be more satisfied with their relationships. Now, it appears, even if you don't share friends IRL, watching the same shows or reading the same books can have similarly affirming effects on intimacy. (Quartz)

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6. Fidgeters everywhere, rejoice!

And don't fight that fidgety feeling. New research shows that these micro-movements have a host of benefits that counteract the negative impact of sitting. Fidgeting can help keep blood moving, which prevents blood sugar from getting too high and aids in building healthy blood vessels. (NYT)

7. Do you know which birth control method is the most effective? Most women don't.

According to a new study that tested women's awareness of birth control methods, 69 percent of women surveyed weren't aware of birth control options aside from the Pill and male condoms. The study also uncovered a misconception that IUDs aren't safe or effective, when data shows they are statistically the most effective nonsterilization form of contraception. (Urban Institute)

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