Longer Looks: The Root Of The Opioid Crisis; Mind Control Startups; Transgender Soldiers; And More
Each week, KHN finds interesting reads from around the Web.
What Caused The Opioid Epidemic?
In 2015, Jennifer Silva, a professor of sociology and anthropology at Bucknell University, began interviewing people in the coal region of northeastern Pennsylvania. She was working on a project, which would become the book We’re Still Here, about how poor and working-class Americans were affected by the collapse of the coal industry—the major job provider in the region. She was curious how the regional decline might have shaped her subjects’ politics. But she quickly noticed a startling trend alongside the growing unemployment: Her subjects and their families were struggling with opioid abuse. At community meetings, doctors and coroners would debate solutions to the problem. Should they be arresting people? Should they be creating support groups? She describes one desperate parent who asked whether Donald Trump’s proposed border wall would keep black tar heroin from getting to Pennsylvania. (Khazan, 1/2)
Mind Control For The Masses—No Implant Needed
When Sid Kouider showed up at Slush, the annual startup showcase in Helsinki, wearing an ascot cap and a device he claimed would usher in a new era of technological mind control, no one thought he was crazy. No, he was merely joining the long line of entrepreneurs (see: Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg) who believe that we will one day manage our machines with our thoughts. The quest to meld mind and machine dates back to at least the 1970s, when scientists began, in earnest, to drill into peoples’ skulls and implant the first brain-computer interfaces—electrodes that translate brain cell activity into data. (Pardes, 1/2)
The New York Times:
Living As Myself, At Last
“I don’t believe that transgender people should be in the military.” In 2015, when I heard those words from my supervisor, I was a young technical sergeant in the United States Air Force, and a closeted transgender person. My boss, a master sergeant, went on to explain to me and a couple of other airmen in the office that transgender people had too many problems, that they had mental health issues, that there were too many logistical problems with dorms and open-bay showers and not being deployable. (Holder, 12/26)
Clogging The System: The Feud Over Flushable Wipes
In the basement of the Center for Urban Innovation at Ryerson University in Toronto, a lone toilet sits on a raised, tiled platform. Darko Joksimovic, an associate professor of civil engineering, drops a clean bathroom wipe into the bowl and flushes. It swims down a 66-foot pipeline that includes two 90-degree turns and clears it in one go. He then collects the soggy material and drops it into something called a slosh box. This clear tank agitates a gallon of water at a gentle 18 revolutions per minute for 30 minutes. When that’s done, Joksimovic rinses the wipe over a sieve with inch-wide holes for a minute. The material left on the sieve’s surface gets baked in an oven, and then weighed. (Peters, 12/23)