In a piece translated from De Correspondent on the really interesting science site Undark, Robert Fortner & Alex Park take a look at how the trend for disease eradication–reinvigorated in recent years by the well-meaning billions of the Gates Foundation–may be a folly that simply gets in the way of the boring, actually lifesaving work that is needed to build functional health systems.
The idea of killing off a disease forever retains an emotional punch that building up basic health care in a poor country never has, and perhaps never will. In a world where eradication is considered a viable option, simply fighting a disease without trying to exterminate it looks morally suspect. And yet, in limiting the focus to eradication alone, we overlook the fact that we can prevent malaria deaths with drugs we already have. Instead of setting our sights on “eradication” of the disease, we should consider simply “reducing deaths” as an alternative goal — and work to redirect global funding toward that end.
Reader, you know you can always depend on us to link to stories of lost Amazon settlements and mysterious geoglyphs. These are what we live for.
“The Science Paper Is Obsolete” has so many of our hobbyhorses in one place: Media theory, science journalism, nonlinear dynamics, academia, computery things, Bret Victor. We use technology to do science, right? So why in the damn hell, James Somers politely asks, aren’t we using it to communicate science? Enter, one hopes, the “Computer Essay.” A+.
Would you rather a) shut your eyes, plug your ears, and sing a song every time conversation takes a turn toward self-driving cars, the Future of Mobility, and A.I. or b) share an Ian Bogost piece about the moral blindspots of the narrow-minded Trolley Problem and encourage the conversation?
Businesses touting technological development get all the glory, but it’s a crowded space. The greatest opportunities can be found in wide open grey areas. Whether pushing semi-illicit goods in markets facing regulatory overhaul, or just pushing way way upmarket, you don’t have to be able to do what other can’t, just willing to do what others won’t.
Perhaps Wes Anderson took that thinking too far. He’s done what even Hollywood blockbusters won’t dare in 2018: basing a film on cultural stereotypes and willful misrepresentation (or “whimsy”). And it paid off—Isle of Dogs earned more at the box office per screen than any other film this year.
In “Children’s Crusade” for Real Life, Rachel Giese pushes back against the romantic “if there is hope it lies in these digital kids” narrative that has emerged post-Parkland. “When we anoint high schoolers as our heroes and celebrate their sacrifice for the collective good, adults cede responsibility for their own past failings and inaction — children become a scrim for projecting adult anxieties.”
In which tech entrepreneurs in Detroit stumble upon a truly revolutionary, disruptive idea for building strong communities, where neighbours pool their money and vote on how it should be invested. Salute to all the people on Twitter who responded to this one just as we did: “you’ve invented taxes.”
If you haven’t gotten to it yet, Molly Ringwald’s reevaluation of the sexual politics of her childhood films in the New Yorker, wrestling with the legacy John Hughes left behind with a set of highly problematic films that nevertheless helped a generation understand themselves, is just a really fascinating read. “How are we meant to feel about art that we both love and oppose? What if we are in the unusual position of having helped create it? Erasing history is a dangerous road when it comes to art—change is essential, but so, too, is remembering the past, in all of its transgression and barbarism.”
Rather than sending your friends to the dusty heap of old newsletters that is our site, forward them this edition, fresh off the press.