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You’re Not Behind

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When you spend all of your time staring at the back of the person in front of you, you’ll never appreciate where you are.


Do you want to know one of the most amazing tricks the human mind can pull off? Accomplish something pretty cool. It can be anything–setting a personal best on your morning run, getting a promotion, making it all the way through a piano piece without having to stop, finally painting the guest bathroom that totally-in shade of gray.

And then? Maybe you enjoy it for a minute or two, or a week or two, even. Perhaps you feel some sort of confirmation–I could do this after all!–which saturates your brain momentarily.

The problem is, it wears off, and this is where your brain really messes with you. Did you set a personal best? Great, run faster. Got a promotion? Still not making as much money as your friend so-and-so. Finished The Entertainer? You’ll never make it through Rachmaninoff. Paint the bathroom? Gray is so out.

Let’s talk about suicide

OP-ED

 

Maybe Anthony Bourdain’s last travelogue will lead us on a journey in which we learn to take better care of each other.


I was brushing my teeth yesterday morning when my phone screen lit up with a breaking news alert. It is not unusual for the New York Times to ping me with tidbits they think I’ll find interesting, but since the phone was near the sink, and since I often have nothing better to do while brushing my teeth than scanning Twitter, I picked up the phone, turned the screen back on, and read:

Anthony Bourdain, whose memoir about the dark corners of New York’s restaurants started a TV career, died at 61. CNN said the cause was suicide.

I’m not sure how to describe the kind of reader I am, but I knew within the first four words that Bourdain was dead. Still, I had to read it twice–is that right? possible? The final sentence was a sucker punch.

I was in the seventh grade when one of our classmates committed suicide. He wasn’t someone I knew well, but even then I remembered the chilling coldness that came in understanding a living, breathing human being made the deliberate decision to stop living and breathing.

When Everyone’s Truth is Real

OP-ED

 

Imagine waking up to a breaking news broadcast that shows Donald Trump speaking from the Oval Office and declaring war on North Korea1. Then imagine changing the channel to see a startled-looking Trump quickly going on air to say the war declaration was a hoax. How would you find the truth?


Turn on the television right now, and you’re likely to come away thinking that we are in the midst of a public health crisis never seen before. The flu is, indeed, pretty bad this year. If Facebook is any indication, this year’s flu is a particularly nasty strain, one that takes a long time to go away.

Flu season never ceases to open up a Pandora’s box of conspiracy theories, though. Chief among them is an unshakable belief that the flu shot will, in fact, cause you to get the flu.

This week the New York Times sent a brave reporter into a hospital tent set up outside an out-of-space emergency ward in Pennsylvania. There, he interviewed patients suffering from the flu, including one woman, who delivered this timely summation:

Dr. Greenberg […] asked if she got flu shots. “I hear the shot gives you flu,” said Ms. Rogers. “I heard you can get Alzheimer’s from it — that there’s mercury in it, and it goes to your brain.”

Mr. Moyer interrupted to ask Dr. Greenberg what caused flu, and Ms. Rogers interjected: “I heard it’s a government plot for population control.”

Dr. Greenberg, who has already heard her patient turn down a prescription for Tamiflu (“No, I heard it causes hallucinations,” she said. “I heard about a lady whose daughter got Tamiflu and tried to kill her.”) then asks gently where on earth she was getting this information.

“Social media” she replied.

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