Times Tidbits

Over the last week or so, The New York Times has just had a lot of great material that I wanted to share with you.

First up is a piece on traditional healers and US immigrants entitled “Illegal Farm Workers Get Health Care in Shadows.” Interested in curanderas? Then take a look. Because it includes a video too.

Benedict Carey has a piece “I’m Not Lying, I’m Telling a Future Truth. Really.” Tend to fib? “It’s basically an exercise in projecting the self toward one’s goals,” says Dr. Richard Gramzow.

Jennifer Senior’s review Chronicle of a Death Foretold covers the new book Blood Matters by Masha Gessen. Gessen is a “previvor,” and writes about her learning and decisions about what to do about her extremely high genetic risk for breast and ovarian cancer

The next one is primarily because I know the person who starts the article off! I used to train with Jenny Higgins at Emory, so it’s great to see her as the lead-in for Gina Kolata’s piece on training for triathalons and the difficulties of peak performance.

Carl Zimmer wrote on Lots of Animals Learn, But Smarter Isn’t Better. “Why have most animals remained dumb?” is a good evolutionary question, and it has to do with the costs involved in being smart. Zimmer also addresses how learning as widespread in the animal kingdom, so bye-bye to notions of animals operating primarily by hardwired instincts.

Janet Rae-Dupree had her short and sweet Can You Become A Creature of New Habits? How about making good habits to overcome old habits, and trying to canalize creativity too.

Hurt Girls: The Uneven Playing Field analyzes the higher rates of injury in women’s sports, asking is there an injury epidemic? A Magazine piece, so it’s comprehensive.

If you haven’t heard yet, they’ve analyzed the platypus genome. And we’ve got a mammal, bird and reptile cross! And I thought it just looked strange.

Did the Sahara become a desert overnight? A collapse? Recent evidence points to a more gradual transition from savannah to sand.

Then there were some editorials.

Susan Faludi, The Fight Stuff, describes Hillary Clinton as brawler—crossing a cherished cultural and political threshold in gender, politics, and US history. Hillary’s gone beyond It Takes A Village to downing shots and fighting until the bitter end, making a break with the the historical role of “public arbitrer” that US women have often taken on. Excellent cultural analysis.

David Brooks discusses The Conservative Revival, saying: “The central political debate of the 20th century was over the role of government. The right stood for individual freedom while the left stood for extending the role of the state. But the central debate of the 21st century is over quality of life. In this new debate, it is necessary but insufficient to talk about individual freedom. Political leaders have to also talk about, as one Tory politician put it, ‘the whole way we live our lives’.”

Finally, Dan Barber in Change We Can All Stomach takes on farming, agri-business, and hope. “Farming has the potential to go through the greatest upheaval since the Green Revolution, bringing harvests that are more healthful, sustainable and, yes, even more flavorful. The change is being pushed along by market forces that influence how our farmers farm. Until now, food production has been controlled by Big Agriculture, with its macho fixation on ‘average tonnage’ and ‘record harvests.’ But there’s a cost to its breadbasket-to-the-world bragging rights. Like those big Industrial Age factories that once billowed black smoke, American agriculture is mired in a mind-set that relies on capital, chemistry and machines. Food production is dependent on oil, in the form of fertilizers and pesticides, in the distances produce travels from farm to plate and in the energy it takes to process it.”

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