Anthony Bourdain Dead, RIP

Depression is a horrible thing. Apparently, he committed suicide in France. He was a great chef, communicator, and shared the glory that is human culinary ingenuity and tradition. He will be missed.

 

Folks, don’t ever let your depression make you ignore this wonderful community of jackals and pet lovers. We will help you, hold, and lift you, just reach out.

I’ll  update with links soon and suicide prevention information.

 

The National Suicide Prevention 24 Hour Hotline is (800) 273-8255

https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org

 

You can also text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741. People are standing by, ready to help without judgement.



Comhghairdeas Éire! (Our Chance Comes In November)

Ireland has done what, as a not-much-younger-human I would have thought impossible in my lifetime: it has legalized abortion — and by an overwhelming margin.

In doing so, it has struck a blow that will resonate worldwide, and especially here, I think and hope.  Most important, it says to the forces of reaction that all people are people (even women!) and to hell with any doctrine, policy or party that says and does otherwise.

The Irish can have nice things.  So should we — and can if we mobilize the energy that is already here to say “not on our watch” this November.

We’ll be talking about that all summer, I’m sure.  For now, lets celebrate a huge win — for a small island and all its friends.

Image: John Duncan, The Riders of the Sidhe1911.



Sunday Evening Open Thread: Look for the Helpers

A happy story, for a change. Took the liberty of stripping out the intermediate twitter-headers, for easier reading…

It was my second day at the biology class. There was a quiz. My bio teacher, Ms. Gallagher, told me I didn’t have to worry about the quiz since I just got to the class, but gave me the quiz sheet anyway.

This is more than 20 years ago, but I still very clearly remember every detail of that quiz sheet. The quiz was about photosynthesis. It had a diagram of a leaf, and I was supposed to write what kind of gas comes to the leaf, what is expelled, etc.

I remember staring at it for about five minutes, slowly getting angry with frustration. I was mad because the quiz was easy. I learned about photosynthesis in Korea as a 7th grade. I knew all the answers. Just not in English.

The quiz was my new reality. I hope you all have a chance to experience this: the experience of suddenly becoming stupid, suddenly having all of your knowledge turning into dust, useless and inaccessible in a new environment with new language.

After five minutes, I just decided to write in the quiz in Korean. It didn’t matter that Ms. Gallagher told me the quiz wouldn’t count; I wasn’t going to turn in a blank quiz sheet. I just had to prove to myself that I didn’t suddenly become stupid.

Two days later, Ms. Gallagher handed out the graded quiz. Then she announced to the class: “[TK] has the highest grade. He had the perfect score.” What – I looked at my quiz sheet. She graded my quiz in Korean, and gave me all the check marks.

I asked Ms. Gallagher (somehow) how she managed to grade my paper. Turned out Ms. Gallagher took my quiz to a Korean Am math teacher at my school. The math teacher’s Korean wasn’t great either, but she looked up the dictionary to help my bio teacher grade my quiz.
Read more



Another Launch! – Delayed until 11:15

Folks,

Some time around 11:15 or later Eastern, Blue Origin is doing a test launch of New Shepard, one of their rockets. This company is owned by Jeff Bezos, who gives 1 billion dollars a year to support it. Wowzers, that’s a lot of scratch!

 

Anyway, I’m very busy this morning, but wanted to put this here for interested folks.  If any other front pagers find a better link, feel free to edit.

 

 



Hero Pilot Brings It In

Yesterday a Southwest Airlines flight from LaGuardia to Dallas lost an engine. That’s lost an engine, as in parts of it flew out. The pilot, Tammie Jo Shults, brought the plane to an emergency landing at Philadelphia. The voice recording between her and air traffic control shows a total professional.

Shults was a Navy fighter pilot with a number of firsts in her record. She retired as a lieutenant commander. More at the Washington Post.

She lives in the San Antonio area. I hope they give her a parade.

 

And Open Thread!



Of Microbes and Men — and Women and Children

Update: I see I inadvertently bigfooted Adam. (This is the only context in which that statement could be remotely plausible).  But I figure the Jackals can read below, comment, and then, when they get around to it and if interested, read something else. Consider this is a proof-of-concept experiment.

Self-aggrandizement apology.

I’ve got a long piece (by newspaper standards) up now at The Boston Globe:  “The world defeated smallpox.  Why does polio still exist?” (Dead tree version comes out on Sunday.)

What I’m really on about (and I’m on and on and on about it — no one ever accused me of excessive terseness) is what it means when the institutions and norms of collective action erode.

Smallpox eradication can be understood in many frames, but a key one is that it was a Cold War phenomenon.  It was so not just in the sense it occurred over the same years that the Soviet Union and the US maneuvered around the edge of direct, hot conflict, but as a skirmish within the larger competition as well.  Not to be nostalgic for hair-trigger nuclear confrontation, but in a bipolar world in which international institutions could both call on superpower resources and, in essence, play a kind of intermediary role, coalition efforts towards the common good could take place.

That capacity, that ability to play a kind of virtuous game, has degraded over the last several decades, and my story is the long way round to this conclusion:

There were just 22 wild-polio infections worldwide last year, all in Pakistan and Afghanistan. So far in 2018, there have been only two new cases, both in Afghanistan. It’s conceivable that polio incidence may drop to zero before the end of the decade.

If and when that occurs, it will be a monument to the power of public health work. But the question will remain: Why was the end of polio so long in coming? It wasn’t because, after solving smallpox’s riddles, human reason couldn’t solve the problem, or that science or medicine failed. Rather, it was because such achievements exist within history, the way human beings construct our world at any given time.

The history still being made of polio eradication reveals the costs that follow when the ability to pursue common goals degrades within and between nations. Infectious disease, pollution, and conflict itself do not respect borders, not even those of countries that build big, beautiful walls.

That is:  there are so many subtle ways in which Donald Trump and the entire Republican Party are both deluded and dangerous. Infectious disease is one arena where we can see the risks and consequences of their malign folly play out.

There’s one more little story that follows that thought, a tragic one, as you might expect, a kind of foretaste of what happens if we are going to get this kind of thing wrong going forward. Anyway, if you’re interested, check it out  — and if you are so moved, comment there (as well as, or instead of) here.

Image: Anonymous, Christ cures a leper; an apostle holds a garment in front of HimWellcome Collection, undated.



Wut Choo Looking At?

Tikka is not amused:

 

Meanwhile:  this is the kind of thing a good representative does:

This isn’t headline legislation. It’s not going to transform lives tomorrow, or next month.  It’s not going to answer the question of why, in a modern, extremely wealthy and technologically sophisticated country, everyone isn’t sure of their next meal.  It doesn’t even make a difference to many folks in the slice of the problem under scrutiny: elite colleges, for example, are pretty good about making sure everyone’s on a meal plan.

But it does move the ball.  Maybe just a little — but you take the small steps when you can get them along with (and especially in between) the breakthroughs. There are lots and lots of students for whom college is a struggle.  Food insecurity doesn’t help, or rather, it just makes life worse, perhaps derailing education altogether.  This is an attempt to ease that burden, not now, not fast, but sooner than it would have been without this one senator’s intervention.

In other words:  good leaders do good in plain view and way below the reader radar. Let’s elect more of them this fall.