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“This Roundup ingredient might cause cancer—but the EPA won’t ban it,” Popular Science told its readers in a terribly misleading January 13 story about the weedkiller glyphosate. After nearly 50 years on the market and thousands of studies investigating its health effects, most experts are convinced that the herbicide poses minimal risk to humans. That should be the end of the discussion, but a handful of ostensibly reputable publications,...

Can we agree that our political views are increasingly polarized? Doesn’t the abandonment of the middle for the “poles” suggest an imbalance? The chart is one, among many, metrics of that divisiveness. (Thank you Vox)

I added the vertical line for 2000 because it was around then that Google appeared, followed by Twitter and Facebook in 2006. The Internet was no longer DIY “bulletin boards” but a growing means of communication. CNN was founded in...

Late on August 29, 1892, the SS Moravia crept into NY Harbor carrying two passengers with cholera, seeding the 1892 American cholera epidemic. Not particularly dramatic in terms of the number of deaths, the epidemic was significant in governmental conflict regarding who makes the epidemic rules – and who suffers from them. Four days later, two more ships docked bearing cholera patients, the SS Normannia and the SS Rugia.

All had departed Hamburg, Germany, where the epidemic began several days earlier. Even then, international transport of disease was a concern, and countries had consul stationed in Hamburg, a leading international port, to prevent ships from sailing in the event of an outbreak. Not surprisingly, perhaps, Germany hid the outbreak until...

Perhaps that last line is a bit of self-reflection, and "we" is just me. I was already sensitized to the issue of life expectancy by the latest book by Steven Johnson Extra Life (which I heartily recommend) that discusses the advances that have doubled our life expectancy in roughly the last 100 years. The two reported studies offered me and perhaps you an opportunity to understand better the information quantified by life expectancy. 

The Studies

COVID-19 rocketed to the 3rd leading cause of death in the US last year, and up to this point, the US has had the greatest number of deaths globally. The first study, reported by the BMJ, placed the decrease in life expectancy at “1.87 years (to 76.87).” In JAMA Network Open, the second...

This article was originally published at Geopolitical Futures. The original is here.

Traditionally, military, government and financial institutions have been the primary targets of international cyberattacks. But the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the extent to which soft targets such as pharmaceutical companies and hospitals are attractive. It’s time to consider the geopolitical reality that cyberattacks can threaten public health and safety.

Coming to a Hospital Near You

Before the coronavirus pandemic, there were minimal consequences to a cyberattack on public health targets. The tampering with pharmaceuticals or the death of patients...

The COVID-19 pandemic, which is caused by a coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2, has killed more than 300,000 worldwide and completely disrupted normal life on most of the planet. Politicians would have us believe that it is an unprecedented, unanticipated, unpredictable bolt from the blue. Not true. The warning signs were ignored, and we were ill-prepared.

A review article in the American Society for Microbiology's publication, Clinical Microbiology Reviews, entitled, "Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus as an Agent of Emerging and Reemerging Infection," concluded:

  • Coronaviruses are well known to undergo genetic recombination, which may lead to new genotypes and...

My generation, the Boomers, are not shy in expressing their opinions, but what about those of us, slightly older, the generation of the Korean war, so “inconsequential” that their name is “The Silent Generation,” lost between the Greatest Generation and the Boomers. Here is a first-hand account, of a couple, age 85 and 87, who at least in this instance, is silent no more. (I am publishing this under my byline to protect their anonymity.)

DAY 1. How can it be March so soon? We haven't had a winter, but daffodils are up, and the forsythia has green buds. Everyone is talking about the winnowing of the Democratic slate for president from two dozen diverse men and women to two old white men.

DAY 2. I call my friend who spent a year teaching English in China. "Wasn't...

We rarely take a moment to reflect on the beauty, indeed, the awe-inspiring nature of what makes us tick. And while all of our physiologic systems are intricate shorelines that we can continually discover and reimagine, our immune system is perhaps the most elaborate. Immunity stands at the portal where our inner selves meet and interact with all of the outside worlds, all of the other. While one group of scientists have attempted to understand immunity through its finest detailing, bringing us vaccines, antimicrobials and now CAR-T therapies; other scientists continue to search for the evolutionary underpinnings of immunity. By the mere facts that we breathe and eat, we are integrated into our environment; immunity helps to regulate that integration.

There are two competing...

Sometimes it's good to recognize your limitations.

For example, I could describe how DNA works, or how to make crystal meth, poison your neighbor or blow stuff up. I won't, but I could. And I'd know what I was talking about.

Perhaps I could also write something about teapots from the Ming Dynasty if I read about it on Wikipedia, but in reality I wouldn't know one if it fell off the Chrysler Building onto my head.

Nicholas Kristof is a columnist for The New York Times. As such, he has written about a wide range of topics such as politics, human rights, poverty, foreign affairs, and economics. He does this extremely well, as demonstrated by his multiple awards, including two Pulitzer Prizes. He also appears to be nothing short of brilliant, and an all-around...