👓 How Not to Report on an Earthquake | New York Times

Read How Not to Report on an Earthquake (New York Times)
What I got wrong in Haiti in 2010, and why it matters.

I’m not quite surprised at several of these at all. I am surprised that there are so many that are regularly and poorly reported however. People are too focused on the “story” and the expected narrative to get parts of the reporting right.

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🎧 Summer Series Episode 4: Tectonic Edition | WNYC | On The Media

Listened Summer Series Episode 4: Tectonic Edition from On The Media | WNYC Studios

This summer we are revisiting some of our favorite Breaking News Consumer Handbooks. Episode 4 in this mini-series is Tectonic Edition.

After an earthquake struck Nepal in April of 2015, the post-disaster media coverage followed a trajectory we'd seen repeated after other earth-shaking events. We put together a template to help a discerning news consumer look for the real story. It's our Breaking News Consumer's Handbook: Tectonic Edition. Brooke spoke to Jonathan M. Katz, who wrote "How Not to Report on an Earthquake" for the New York Times Magazine.

Breaking News Consumer Handbook

Understanding how news is reported and the good and bad of it can certainly help one be a better consumer of it. This episode was quite enlightening about how disaster reporting is often done wrong.

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👓 It’s time to reconsider low-dairy diets, new study suggests | NBC

Read It's time to reconsider low-dairy diets, new study suggests (NBC News)
Cheese and yogurt were found to protect against death from any cause, and also against death from cerebrovascular causes, like stroke.
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👓 How Goop’s Haters Made Gwyneth Paltrow’s Company Worth $250 Million | New York Times Magazine

Read How Goop’s Haters Made Gwyneth Paltrow’s Company Worth $250 Million by Taffy Brodesser-Akner (nytimes.com)
Inside the growth of the most controversial brand in the wellness industry.

It took a few sittings to slog my way through this. It feels like the author is attempting to bash Paltrow, but somewhere in the middle she over-idolizes her before going back to bashing her a bit. It’s an interesting viewpoint on the credulity of celebrity in modern culture.

C’mon people! Celebrities are people too. They crap just like everyone else. The one difference I’ve found more often than not though is that they’re painfully insecure, regardless of what you may read or see. I suspect most people would be far better off reading the Greek philosophers to find eudaimonia rather than buying Goop from Gwyneth.

Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia

The minute the phrase “having it all” lost favor among women, wellness came in to pick up the pieces. It was a way to reorient ourselves — we were not in service to anyone else, and we were worthy subjects of our own care. It wasn’t about achieving; it was about putting ourselves at the top of a list that we hadn’t even previously been on. Wellness was maybe a result of too much having it all, too much pursuit, too many boxes that we’d seen our exhausted mothers fall into bed without checking off. Wellness arrived because it was gravely needed.  

August 05, 2018 at 11:59AM

Whom exactly were we trusting with our care? Why did we decide to trust them in the first place? Who says that only certain kinds of people are allowed to give us the answers?  

Part of the broader cultural eschewing of science as well? Is this part of what put Trump and celebrities in charge?
August 05, 2018 at 12:03PM

She reached behind her to her bookshelf, which held about a dozen blue bottles of something called Real Water, which is not stripped of “valuable electrons,” which supposedly creates free radicals something something from the body’s cells.  

I question her credibility to market claims like this. I suspect she has no staff scientist or people with the sort of background to make such claims. Even snake oil salesmen like Dr. Oz are pointedly putting us in hands way too make a buck.
August 06, 2018 at 01:40PM

Her feet were bare now, and they had a perfect, substantial arch, just as the Romans intended, engineered to support her statue body. I bet they were a Size 8. People make shoes so that feet like those can wear them. We blew smoke up the chimney.  

I feel like she’s taken an interesting article and flushed it in the preceding several fawning paragraphs.
August 06, 2018 at 02:34PM

Goop wanted Goop magazine to be like the Goop website in another way: to allow the Goop family of doctors and healers to go unchallenged in their recommendations via the kinds of Q. and A.s published, and that just didn’t pass Condé Nast standards. Those standards require traditional backup for scientific claims, like double-blind, peer-reviewed studies.  

Nice that they come right out and say it.
August 06, 2018 at 03:42PM

I thought about my children, one of whom plays the flute, but unwillingly, and therefore won’t practice. Yes, I thought about my children, only one of whom might shake your hand while the other would sooner spit on it, though they will both reliably do an elaborate orchestration of armpit farting while I’m trying to hear myself think. I thought of my mother and father, and an earlier conversation I had with my sisters that day about where to arrange our parents in a room for one of our kids’ bar mitzvahs so that they wouldn’t interact, so raw still are the wounds 35 years after their divorce.  

No mention of the difference between how we act at home with family versus with strangers. She’s set up a false dichotomy to accentuate a point that’s probably not worth making. Or if she wants to make a point it should be this one that I’ve just highlighted. If course she’s feeling inadequate. I’ll bet G. P. does too, particularly after the writer leaves and she doesn’t have to put her best face on.
August 06, 2018 at 03:46PM

After a few too many cultural firestorms, and with investors to think about, G.P. made some changes. Goop has hired a lawyer to vet all claims on the site. It hired an editor away from Condé Nast to run the magazine. It hired a man with a Ph.D. in nutritional science, and a director of science and research who is a former Stanford professor. And in September, Goop, sigh, is hiring a full-time fact-checker. G.P. chose to see it as “necessary growing pain.”  

But only to protect investors… Not customers that they’ve been duping all along.
August 06, 2018 at 03:52PM

I once went to an internist twice, complaining of preternatural exhaustion, only to be told that I was depressed and sent home. On the third visit, she begrudgingly took my blood and called me later to even more begrudgingly apologize and tell me I had a surprising case of mononucleosis. I know women who’ve been dismissed by their doctors for being lazy and careless and depressed and downright crazy. Was it any wonder that they would start to   

Sample size of one in an anecdote is just rubbish.
August 06, 2018 at 03:54PM

I heard a rumor that she  

Don’t these types of things happen to EVERY celebrity?
August 06, 2018 at 03:58PM

People think they want celebrities to speak honestly, but we’re not really that happy when they do.  

Definition of celebrity: one who is coddled and rarely said no to.
August 06, 2018 at 03:59PM

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👓 U.S. Opposition to Breast-Feeding Resolution Stuns World Health Officials | New York Times

Read U.S. Opposition to Breast-Feeding Resolution Stuns World Health Officials by Andrew Jacobs (nytimes.com)
Trade sanctions. Withdrawal of military aid. The Trump administration used both to try to block a measure that was considered uncontroversial and embraced by countries around the world.

You know what I want for my birthday? Stupidity like that described in this article not to exist.

Nestle gave a half-assed response here. They can do far better. Now that their US headquarters has left Glendale, California for Virginia, I suspect their political stance will actually get worse on these issues.

A 2016 Lancet study found that universal breast-feeding would prevent 800,000 child deaths a year across the globe and yield $300 billion in savings from reduced health care costs and improved economic outcomes for those reared on breast milk.  

Pure corruption here. Protectionism to prop up profits of approximately 630 million versus major benefits and savings of 300 billion. Even if you look at the calculus of the entire industry of 70 billion it becomes a no brainer.

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🎧 Food Safety | Eat This Podcast

Listened Food safety and industry concentration: How the back seat of a car is like a bag of leafy greens by Jeremy CherfasJeremy Cherfas from Eat This Podcast

In the previous episode, I talked to Phil Howard of Michigan State University about concentration in the food industry. Afterwards, I realised I had been so taken up with what he was telling me that I forgot to ask him one crucial question.

Is there any effect of concentration on public health or food safety?

It seems intuitively obvious that if you have long food chains, dependent on only a few producers, there is the potential for very widespread outbreaks. That is exactly what we are seeing in the current outbreaks of dangerous E. coli on romaine lettuce and Salmonella in eggs. But it is also possible that big industrial food producers both have the capital to invest in food safety and face stiffer penalties when things go wrong.

Are small producers and short food chains better? Marc Bellemare, at the University of Minnesota, has uncovered a strong correlation between some food-borne illnesses and the number of farmers’ markets relative to the population.

Phil thinks one answer is greater decentralization. There’s no good reason why all the winter lettuce and spinach in America should come from a tiny area around Yuma, Arizona. Marc says consumer education would help; we need to handle the food we buy with more attention to keeping it safe. Both solutions will take quite large changes in behaviour, by government and by ordinary people.

Right now, it probably isn’t possible to say with any certainty whether one system is inherently safer than the other. But even asking the question raises some interesting additional questions. If you have answers, or even suggestions, let me know.

Notes

  1. Phil Howard’s work on food-borne illness is on his website.
  2. Marc Bellemare’s work on farmers’ markets and food-borne illness has gone through a few iterations. He’ll email you a copy of the final paper if you ask.
  3. An episode early last year looked at aspects of food safety in developing countries. Spoiler: shorter food chains are safer there.
  4. Banner photo, norovirus. Cover photo, E. coli. Both public domain to the best of my knoweldge.
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🎧 ‘The Daily’: A Life-or-Death Crisis for Black Mothers | New York TImes

Listened ‘The Daily’: A Life-or-Death Crisis for Black Mothers by Michael Barbaro from nytimes.com

Black mothers and infants in the United States are far more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than their white counterparts. The disparity is tied intrinsically to the lived experience of being a black woman in America.

On today’s episode:

  • Linda Villarosa, a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine.
  • Simone Landrum, a young mother in New Orleans.

Background reading:

The story in this episode is a superb and emotional follow-on of an excellent NPR/ProPublica story I read back in December. We need more stories like this.

I nearly had a panic attack while listening to this. The disparities in parts of America are so painful and distressing and we can, could, and should be doing more to improve them.

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🎧 Season 2 Episode 10 The Basement Tapes | Revisionist History

Listened Season 2 Episode 10 The Basement Tapes by Malcolm GladwellMalcolm Gladwell from Revisionist History

A cardiologist in Minnesota searches through the basement of his childhood home for a missing box of data from a long-ago experiment. What he discovers changes our understanding of the modern American diet — but also teaches us something profound about what really matters when we honor our parents’ legacy.

There’s a little bit of everything here.

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🎧 Season 2 Episode 9 McDonalds Broke My Heart | Revisionist History

Listened Season 2 Episode 9 McDonalds Broke My Heart by Malcolm GladwellMalcolm Gladwell from Revisionist History

McDonald’s used to make the best fast food french fries in the world — until they changed their recipe in 1990. Revisionist History travels to the top food R&D lab in the country to discover what was lost, and why for the past generation we’ve been eating french fries that taste like cardboard.

I love the double entendre “broke my heart”! This does make me curious to try making my own beef tallow french fries.

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❤️ VioricaMarian1 tweet about afternoon classes

Liked a tweet by Viorica MarianViorica Marian (Twitter)

I wonder what a statistical analysis would do to improve peoples’ lives if registrars attempted to put the mass of classes in the middle of the day? Would educational outcomes improve along with peoples’ psyches? Many schedulers are trying to maximize based on the scarcity of classroom resources. What if they maximized on mental health and classroom performance? Is classroom scheduling potentially a valuable public health tool?

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📺 So Much for So Little (1949) | YouTube

Watched So Much for So Little (1949) by Chuck Jones from YouTube
So Much for So Little is a 1949 American short documentary film directed by Chuck Jones. It won an Academy Award in 1950 for Documentary Short Subject, tying with A Chance to Live. The cartoon states that, annually, 118,481 babies out of 2 million will die before reaching their first birthday. Thus, the cartoon shows John E. Jones, a baby that may add to this statistic if not given proper healthcare. The cartoon proceeds to show most of John's life, including his school years, marriage, later life (as a father), and his golden years, providing other helpful health information along the way. Before the cartoon ends, however, it returns to John as a baby, reminding the audience that John needs proper healthcare to survive. The cartoon then states that if every American paid just three cents a week, sufficient healthcare could be provided for John and babies everywhere.

There’s an awful lot of smoking in this PSA for public health! Welcome to 1949!

🎧 The Daily: Mental Health and Mass Shootings | The New York Times

Listened Listen to ‘The Daily’: Mental Health and Mass Shootings by Michael Barbaro from nytimes.com
President Trump has focused on mental health, rather than weapons, after the mass shooting in Florida. But mental illness is rarely the cause of gun violence.

What a fantastic look at guns and the “mental health” issue.

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👓 Children aren’t starting puberty younger, medieval skeletons reveal | The Conversation

Read Children aren’t starting puberty younger, medieval skeletons reveal by Mary Lewis (The Conversation)
Children are entering puberty younger than before, according to recent studies, raising concerns that childhood obesity and hormone-contaminated water supplies may be to blame. However, our archaeological research suggests that there’s nothing to worry about. Children in medieval England entered puberty between ten and 12 years of age – the same as today.

Of course, naturally, this isn’t the publicly perceived story. There’s still some science missing from the overall arc of the story, but people who believe that chemicals in the environment and hormones in food are causing children to start puberty at younger ages should be questioning why they think this is the case.

If anything, perhaps better first world lives may be pressuring the age down a bit, but even then it sounds like there’s a lower limit. Evolutionary effects are also certainly at play as well.

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👓 Flu Vaccines and the Math of Herd Immunity | Quanta Magazine

Read Flu Vaccines and the Math of Herd Immunity by Patrick Honner (Quanta Magazine)
Simple math shows how widespread vaccination can disrupt the exponential spread of disease and prevent epidemics.

This is a very clear and lucid article with some very basic math that shows the value of vaccines. I highly recommend it to everyone.

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👓 Black Mothers Keep Dying After Giving Birth. Shalon Irving’s Story Explains Why | NRP

Read Black Mothers Keep Dying After Giving Birth. Shalon Irving's Story Explains Why (NPR.org)
Black women are three times more likely to die from complications of childbirth than white women in the U.S. Racism, and the stress it causes, can play a leading role in that disparity.

What a painful story…

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