Longer Looks: Being Black In America, A Tale Of Two Epidemics & Designing Babies
Each week, KHN's Shefali Luthra finds interesting reads from around the Web.
Being Black In America Can Be Hazardous To Your Health
One morning this past September, Kiarra Boulware boarded the 26 bus to Baltimore’s Bon Secours Hospital, where she would seek help for the most urgent problem in her life: the 200-some excess pounds she carried on her 5-foot-2-inch frame. (Olga Khazan, 6/11)
Why Didn't My Drug-Affected Family Get Any Sympathy?
Today, the white face of the opioid epidemic has garnered a sympathetic response throughout the country. During the 2016 election, candidates tripped over themselves to be seen as the most sympathetic candidate toward heroin addicts and their families. Candidate Donald Trump, now known for his failure to muster appropriate levels of sympathy—like when he tossed out paper towels at a post-hurricane appearance in Puerto Rico or forgot the name of a fallen service member during a condolence call, according to the man’s widow—had no such problems when it came to the subject of heroin addiction. (Isaac J. Bailey, 6/10)
The New York Times:
Scientists Can Design ‘Better’ Babies. Should They?
For nine frustrating years, Lesley and John Brown tried to conceive a child but failed because of her blocked fallopian tubes. Then in late 1977, this English couple put their hopes in the hands of two men of science. Thus began their leap into the unknown, and into history. (Clyde Haberman, 6/10)
'She Absolutely Has Sociopathic Tendencies': Elizabeth Holmes, Somehow, Is Trying To Start A New Company!
Some C.E.O.s told taradiddles, exaggerating the number of users on their platforms (ahem, Twitter); some in Congress say Mark Zuckerberg lied when he told Congress that people on Facebook have “complete control” over their personal data. (They don’t.) But all of these, all these made-up numbers, concocted valuations, and apocryphal stories of how a company was realized in a garage, are nothing—nothing!—compared to the audacious lies of Elizabeth Holmes, the founder and C.E.O. of Theranos. (Nick Bilton, 6/8)
Sean Curtis. Alex Foster. Kevin Sullivan. They grew up together in Somerville, Mass., at the same time OxyContin first hit the streets. They each became addicted to the new prescription drug before switching to heroin and overdosing. "Runnin'" takes an intimate look at a group of friends who came of age as an epidemic took hold and morphed into a national nightmare. The film goes inside a tight-knit community just outside Boston grappling with the crisis. It retraces the lives of friends lost, and one last member of the group struggling to avoid the fate of his boyhood pals. (6/14)
Why Doctors Are So Bad At Predicting Pregnancy Due Dates
A pregnant friend of mine is due to give birth on Saturday, but as she told me this week, she really has no idea if the baby will come on time, or two weeks from now. Only 4 percent of women give birth on their estimated delivery date. That’s because of the natural variation in how long it takes a baby to grow and because of our limited ability to predict due dates. (Julia Belluz, 6/11)
Inside A Chemist’s Quest To Hack Evolution And Cure Genetic Disease
David Liu's office on the third floor of the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts is designed to quiet the mind. A museum-grade gemstone collection lines the walls, interspersed with blue-tinged photos Liu has taken of inspiring science-on-location scenes—the concrete corners of the Salk Institute, a sunset through the Scripps pier, the lights of Durango, Colorado where Darpa often meets. (Liu is a member of Jason, an elite group of scientists that advises the US government on next-generation technologies.) The only thing out of place in the 45-year-old’s chemist’s office is a three-foot-high perfect replica of Iron Man standing atop his Hulkbuster armored suit. (Megan Molteni, 6/12)
Suicide Prevention: How Scientists Are Using Artificial Intelligence To Help People At Risk
When horrible news — like the deaths by suicide of chef, author, and TV star Anthony Bourdain and fashion designer Kate Spade, or the 2015 Paris attacks — breaks, crisis counseling services often get deluged with calls from people in despair. Deciding whom to help first can be a life-or-death decision. At the Crisis Text Line, a text messaging-based crisis counseling hotline, these deluges have the potential to overwhelm the human staff. (Brian Resnick, 6/8)
The New York Times:
The Wounds Of The Drone Warrior
In the spring of 2006, Christopher Aaron started working 12-hour shifts in a windowless room at the Counterterrorism Airborne Analysis Center in Langley, Va. He sat before a wall of flat-screen monitors that beamed live, classified video feeds from drones hovering in distant war zones. On some days, Aaron discovered, little of interest appeared on the screens, either because a blanket of clouds obscured visibility or because what was visible — goats grazing on an Afghan hillside, for instance — was mundane, even serene. Other times, what unspooled before Aaron’s eyes was jarringly intimate: coffins being carried through the streets after drone strikes; a man squatting in a field to defecate after a meal (the excrement generated a heat signature that glowed on infrared); an imam speaking to a group of 15 young boys in the courtyard of his madrasa. If a Hellfire missile killed the target, it occurred to Aaron as he stared at the screen, everything the imam might have told his pupils about America’s war with their faith would be confirmed. (6/13)