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Resilience is mentioned 29 times in the New Urban Agenda (NUA), 20 times in Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and 6 times in the Paris Climate Agreement. Furthermore, goal 11 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) aims to ‘ make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable’ – resilience is the underlying mobilising philosophy of the SDG’s. [3] [4] [5] [6]

Prevalent in both scientific and non-scientific fields, researchers have identified the inability of ‘ sustainability’ to sufficiently address the rapid changes brought upon by urbanisation. Subsequently, resilience has emerged as a new paradigm which has been widely adopted in urban design/planning (urban studies), ecological sciences, psychology, engineering, sustainability studies, economic development, governance/public policy and social studies. [7] [8] However, despite this transformative popularity, resilience remains to be a vague and malleable term. Contemporary urban resilience theory literature has gravitated towards defining urban resilience as:

the ability of an urban system and all its constituent socio-ecological and socio-technical networks across temporal and spatial scales to maintain or rapidly return to desired functions in the face of a disturbance, to adapt to change and to quickly transform systems that limit current or future adaptive capacity.’ [9]

The above definition has been developed through a series of rigorous studies examining and identifying the taxonomies of urban resilience across several disciplines, importantly, the definition remains diverse and adaptable. Identified in the UN Urban Resilience Trends Report, ‘ urban resilience’ (as a conceptual framework) remains contested in its definition, however, this contestation acts as a catalyst for cross-disciplinary collaboration – a noted strength in urban resilience. [10] [11] [12] The consequence of this malleability is in the subsequent difficulty to create generalisable indicators to operationalise urban resilience. [13] [14] The purpose of this article is merely to illuminate the term urban resilience by constructing an understanding of the origins of resilience theory and what constitutes the ‘ urban system .’ From this, we are able to ascertain why urban resilience is difficult to define, the current phase of urban resilience and the unifying concepts amongst major organisations/disciplines.

Resilience Theory Origins

Resilience is a term originating in ecological literature, popularised by Crawford Stanley Holling’s seminal paper, Resilience and Stability of Ecological Systems. [15] Since this publication, there has been a growing interrelation between resilience and urban development. Researchers have conceptualised this growth into phases, documenting the generation, emergence, expansion, integration with infrastructure sector, synthesis and operationalisation phases. [16] With each phase, a new discourse is engaged, consequently, the ambiguity and blurring of various research fields have thereby, made defining resilience relatively contested - constantly evolving and adapting to contemporary conditions. As we move towards a focus on the operationalisation of urban resilience in the current phase, this malleability serves urban resilience to function as a unifying term – creating cohesion amongst various actors across distinct sectors and supporting cross-disciplinary collaboration. [17]

Even the hilarity at the German man falling in the frozen swimming pool may have united the friends. “It’s interesting how quickly his friends start laughing – I think it’s to make him feel better,” says Scott. Along these lines, Robin Dunbar at the University of Oxford has found that laughter correlates with increased pain threshold , perhaps by encouraging the release of endorphins – chemicals that should also improve social bonding.

Scott is now interested in picking apart the differences between the “posed” giggles we might use to pepper our conversation – and the absolutely involuntary fits that can destroy a TV or radio broadcast, like this:

This video is no longer available

For instance, she found that the less authentic tones are often more nasal – whereas our helpless, involuntary belly laughs never come through the nose.

Her fMRI scans, meanwhile, have looked at the way the brain responds to each kind of laughter. Both seem to tickle the brain’s mirror regions – the areas that tend to mimic other’s actions. These areas will light up whether I see you kicking a ball, or if I kick it myself, for instance – and it could be this neural mimicry that makes laughter so contagious. “You are 30 times more likely to laugh if you’re with someone else,” she says. An important difference, however, is that the less spontaneous, social laughs, tend to trigger greater activity in areas associated with “mentalising” and working out other people’s motives – perhaps because we want to understand why they are faking it.

You may think it is easy to tell the difference between involuntary and more artificial laughs, but Scott thinks the skill develops slowly across the lifespan and may not peak until our late 30s. For this reason, she has recently set up an experiment at London’s Science Museum, where her team will be asking visitors of different ages to judge the authenticity of different clips of people laughing and crying. After all, she points out that crying is an infant’s primary way of communicating, whereas laughter gains more importance the older we get.

(Credit: Thinkstock)

Although we may tend to dislike certain people’s “fake” laughs, Scott thinks it probably says more about us, and the way we are responding to their social signals, than anything particularly irritating about them. She tells me about an acquaintance who had frequently irritated her with a persistent, fluting, laugh. “I always thought that she laughed so inappropriately, but when I paid more attention to it I saw that what was odd was simply the fact I didn’t join in. Her laughter was entirely normal.” If she hadn’t disliked the person already, she says, she would have laughed away and wouldn’t have even noticed.

Why not listen to some of Scott's clips and judge your own abilities to read people’s laughter:

Beside probing the bonds in our closest relationships, Scott’s curiosity has also taken her to comedy clubs. “What’s interesting about laughter in the situation of stand-up is that it’s still an interaction,” she says. In a way, the audience is having a conversation with the comedian. “I’m interested in what happens when the audience starts laughing and how it dies away – whether are you in sync with people around you or whether you don’t care, because the experience is just between you and the person on the stage.”

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Chris Adamski | Thursday , Jan. 18, 2018, 3:45p.m.
Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Steelers quarterback coach Randy Fichtner during practice Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015 on the South Side.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
New Steelers offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner stands on the sidelines with Ben Roethlisberger during the 2017 season.
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The Steelers didn't search too far in finding their next offensive coordinator.

Try a few doors down the hall at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.

Randy Fichtner was promoted to coordinator, the team announced Thursday. Fichtner has been a part of the offensive coaching staff since Mike Tomlin was hired in 2007, the first three seasons as wide receivers coach before taking over the quarterbacks in 2010.

He will keep the title of quarterbacks coach, taking on a dual role.

“We have a tremendous roster, and it will be my charge to continue putting our offensive players in position to succeed and score points,” Fichtner said in a statement. “We have the nucleus to be successful, and I am thrilled about the chance to lead the offense as we have already started preparing for the 2018 season.”

Fichtner, 54, succeeds Todd Haley, whose contract was not renewed after the season ended in the divisional playoff round Sunday. A Meadville alumnus who played defensive back at Purdue, Fichtner's relationship with Tomlin dates to the 1997-98 seasons, when both were on the staff at Arkansas State.

Fichtner was a quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator during four years at Arkansas State, and he had the same positions from 2001-06 at Memphis before Tomlin gave him his first NFL job.

As quarterbacks coach, of course, Fichtner spent plenty of time working with Ben Roethlisberger. That will continue, and Roethlisberger often has spoken of the positive relationship the two share.

That is at least partially in contrast to the sometimes-prickly dynamic between Haley and Roethlisberger, who has said he will play next season at age 36.

Fichtner was brought from the coaching box to the field during games this season, a change CBS Sports reported was made so he could serve as a buffer between Roethlisberger and Haley.

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Singapore is a wealthy city state in south-east Asia. Once a British colonial trading post, today it is a thriving global financial hub and described as one of Asia's economic "tigers". It is also renowned for its conservatism and strict local laws and the country prides itself on its stability and security.

Chinese account for more than 75% of Singapore's multi-racial population, with Malays and Indians making up much of the remainder.

Densely-populated, most of its people live in public-housing tower blocks. Its trade-driven economy is heavily supported by foreign workers. In 2013, the government forecast that by 2030, immigrants will makeup more than 50% of the population.

The People's Action Party has dominated politics since the country declared independence from Malaysia in 1965. Issues such as the rising cost of living, immigration and income inequality are major challenges facing the government.

Republic of Singapore

Capital: Singapore

Population 5.3 million

Area 660 sq km (255 sq miles)

Major languages English, Malay, Mandarin, Tamil

Major religions Taoism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism

Life expectancy 79 years (men), 84 years (women)

Currency Singapore dollar

UN, World Bank
Getty Images

President: Halimah Yacob

President: Halimah Yacob

Halimah Yacob was sworn in as Singapore's first female president in 2017. As a member of the Muslim Malay minority, she is also the country's first Malay leader in 47 years.

She became the sole contender when the two other prospective candidates failed to meet eligibility requirements. It's the first time the presidency has been reserved for a particular ethnic group, as authorities seek to foster harmony in a multicultural society dominated by ethnic Chinese.

She was the Speaker of parliament before taking up the largely ceremonial post of president.

Presidential candidates run as individuals because Singapore's head of state is supposed to be non-partisan.

Prime minister: Lee Hsien Loong

The eldest son of Singapore's founding father Lee Kuan Yew, Lee Hsien Loong has been in office since August 2004.

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