THE WASTE LAND


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On the coast of Cumbria, in the Lake District, there is a nuclear reprocessing plant called Sellafield, formerly Windscale, that daily pumps up to a million gallons of radioactive waste down a mile and a half of pipeline, into the Irish Sea. It has done this for thirty-five years. The waste contains caesium and ruthenium and strontium, and uranium, and plutonium. Estimates published in The Times and in the Observer are that a quarter of a ton of plutonium has passed into the sea through this pipeline–enough, in theory, according to The Times, to kill 250 million people; much more than enough, in theory, according to the Observer, to destroy the population of the world. The plant was designed on the assumption that radioactive waste would lie harmlessly on the sea floor. That assumption proved false, but the plant has continued to operate in the hope that radioactive contamination may not be so very harmful, after all. If this hope is misguided, too, then Britain, in a time of peace, has silently, needlessly, passionlessly, visited upon us all a calamity equal to the worst we fear.

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Marilynne Robinson — Granta

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Lonely


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The urban epidemic – loneliness.

That people are feeling lonely in today’s world seems ironical. We are better ‘connected’ than ever—at least on social media. Today, one gets the instant gratification of sharing something with others and watching the ‘likes’ and comments come in. Duke University psychologist Jenna Clark and her team have pointed at the superficiality of what they call ‘social snacking’, where one browses the Facebook timelines of other people for a sense of belonging. “Social media just gives the appearance of intimacy,” says Dr Vishal Sawant, a Mumbai-based psychiatrist. “A few years ago, if we got bored in a place like Mumbai, we would go call a friend. But now we open our laptops. Something has got to give.”

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Rahul Pandita & Lhendup G Bhutia — OPEN

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Most Men Don’t Realize They’re Depressed


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“Men are more likely to externalize their symptoms, so depression can come out as anger rather than sadness, making it less likely to be diagnosed as such,” says Michaelis. In fact, depressed men are more likely to feel angry and aggressive, exhibit more risky behavior, and more likely to turn to substance abuse than women, according to a study published in JAMA Psychiatry. Alcohol isn’t the only mechanism, either. Men more often use tools like drugs, abuse, inappropriate sex, or gambling to attempt to control their feelings or quell their anxiety, Michaelis adds.

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Rachael Schultz — Men’s Journal

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Why Your Health Insurer Doesn’t Care About Your Big Bills


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Do insurers drive medical bills up or down? This is counter intuitive. As a result, “Tens of millions remain uninsured. And millions are in financial peril: About 1 in 5 is currently being pursued by a collection agency over medical debt. “

One line stood out — the cost of the implant and related supplies. Aetna said NYU Langone paid a “member rate” of $26,068 for “supply/implants.” But Frank didn’t see how that could be accurate. He called and emailed Smith & Nephew, the maker of his implant, until a representative told him the hospital would have paid about $1,500. His NYU Langone surgeon confirmed the amount, Frank said. The device company and surgeon did not respond to ProPublica’s requests for comment.

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Marshall Allen — NPR

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The Truth About the “Vegan Lobby”


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The idea that there’s a powerful vegan lobby has caught on with vegans and non-vegans alike. In a Telegraph essay last year, titled “I would sign up to veganism if it weren’t for all the damned vegans,” a photo caption uses the term to refer to PETA protestors, thus equating the vegan lobby with animal rights groups as King does. But others use the term even more loosely. A writer for The Guardian seems to believe that the vegan lobby is people who love soy. And in a recent essay, vegan writer Janey Stevenson wrote, “I’ve deliberately disconnected myself from the vegan lobby because frankly, it’s embarrassing,” without explaining what, exactly, she’d disconnected herself from. A PETA membership? A vegan Meetup?

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Emily Atkin — The New Republic

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The Least Stressful Way to Get Rid of Stress


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Tons of products and treatments in the wellness category seek to treat stress and inflammation with everything from relaxing massage to acupuncture to restrictive anti-inflammatory diets. But in doing so, it’s easy to fall into fear-based marketing. What happens when I can’t follow a restrictive anti-inflammatory diet? Once, when I asked a paragon of alternative health this very question, she shrugged, “You don’t really have a choice.” Cortisol shot up my spine like a geyser.

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Brennan Kilbane — GQ

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The Surprisingly Intolerant History of Milk


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But even with these deep cultural connections, milk held a peculiar status among early civilizations. The Greeks castigated barbarians for their gluttonous desire for dairy, and in Rome, milk was widely regarded as low-status food because it was something only farmers drank. Northern Europeans would earn similar ridicule for their love of reindeer milk, and Japanese Buddhists later rebuked Europeans as “butter stinkers.”

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Daniel Fernandez — Smithsonian

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