How Herpes Became a Sexual Boogeyman


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If herpes is such a minor deal, why does it come with such a pervasive stigma? In the first half of the 20th century, genital herpes was not on the public radar, and it wasn’t even recognized as a discrete type of herpes infection until the 1960s. But by the 1980s, it was slapped on the cover of Time with headlines like “Herpes: The New Sexual Leprosy.” What happened in the intervening years shows how a public sex panic is made. What’s still happening—herpes shame, fear, and confusion even now—shows how that panic can morph and persist. One of the oddest subplots of the stigma’s endurance has to do with who’s been falsely blamed for making herpes a boogeyman in the first place: drug companies.

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L.V. Anderson — Slate

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Does Economics Ignore Women and Gender?


Our profession’s lack of understanding of gender and diversity is not innocuous. Presumably, it is one reason the climate in our profession is so poor. But it also affects what gets published (or not) and our influence on policy (or lack thereof). While economics is always concerned about causal identification, the bar is higher for papers about gender because, in the words of one of my recent journal reviewers at the American Economic Review (the flagship publication of the American Economic Association): “Unfortunately, papers like this face the uphill battle of having to rule out all unobservables that could possible [sic] be correlated with gender…” [emphasis added].

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Renee Adams — Evonomics

CAN BLOOMBERG KICK-START THE POLITICAL MACHINE HIS BILLIONS HAVE CREATED?


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Michael Bloomberg. Presidential candidate.

Bloomberg’s belated decision to run was motivated in large part by his growing alarm at Elizabeth Warren’s rise from the left. And Warren, trying to regain momentum, has been fast and loud in criticizing Bloomberg’s plans to spend tens of millions of dollars trying to make himself a legitimate candidate for the nomination. But Bloomberg—who is skipping the four February early-primary states to concentrate on Super Tuesday, on March 3, when 14 states vote—now needs to root for Warren or Bernie Sanders to emerge from Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada as the leader for the Democratic nomination. “That way, he can draw a cleaner contrast as the centrist, experienced job-creator,” says Matt Paul, a Democratic strategist who Bloomberg consulted last winter, when he was first weighing a bid. “That has to be Mike’s play. If it’s Biden or Pete [Buttigieg] in front coming into Super Tuesday, it gets much harder.”

The complete article

Chris Smith — Vanity Fair

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What I have learned from my suicidal patients


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When I think of the hundreds of patients I have heard speak of suicide over the past 20 years, whether their own or that of others, and I imagine all those I will no doubt hear in the years of medical practice to come, what seems of most help is not an unwarranted optimism, or a belief that suicide can be right or that it is always wrong, but our flawed human capacity to hold mutually contradictory beliefs and voice them with conviction. When the task in hand is to convince a suicidal patient there is value and purpose in life, then thoughts of suicide are best framed as a shared enemy, a corruption of reality, a manifestation of illness – something to be reasoned away, or quelled with medication. But for the families of the dead, who sit later in the same consulting room, those metaphors of distortion and disease can be unhelpful, even hurtful, and what best replaces them are metaphors of victory and redemption, of suffering followed by release.

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Gavin Francis — The Guardian

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I’m not a junkie. Give me the painkillers, already.


I understand — doctors are responding to the catastrophe of the opioid epidemic. In 2016 alone, more than 42,000 Americans died from opioid overdoses, and about 40 percent of those deaths involved prescription opioids, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Any American who has turned on a TV or opened a laptop or looked at a smartphone during the past few years knows that opioids such as OxyContin are addictive and potentially deadly. Who has been responsible for the carnage? The greedy drugmakers and equally rapacious doctors? The patients who gamed the system to get more painkillers than they need? Some combination of all of them?

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Amber Rose Petrovich — The Washington Post

Why Child Care Is So Ridiculously Expensive


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In the United States, per-child spending doubled from the 1970s to the 2000s, according to a 2013 paper by Sabino Kornich of the University of Sydney and Frank Furstenberg of the University of Pennsylvania. Parents spent more on education, toys, and games. But nothing grew faster than per-child spending on child care, which increased by a factor of 21—or approximately 2,000 percent—in those 40 years.

Although wrapping your head around 2,000 percent growth might be difficult, the underlying cause isn’t so mysterious. As more women entered the labor force in the late 20th century, the work of caring for infants moved from the unpaid world of stay-at-home parents to the world of salaried labor. The 1970s and ’80s—the two decades when the female labor participation rate grew the fastest—also saw the greatest acceleration in child-care spending, according to Kornich and Furstenberg. Raising young children is work—and it always has been work—but the rise of dual-earner households has forced more families to recognize this work with their wallets.

The complete article

Derek Thompson — The Atlantic

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In love with the process of writing


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A needull original.

It is one of those days when you are in a strangely good mood in the morning. And you feel the itch to write.

I have recently started listening to “A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles on Audible during my office commutes. Amor worked in the investment profession for 20 years before taking to full time writing. This is his second novel. As you keep getting older, you start re-calibrating your dreams. You try to find examples of people who have done it who were in a similar or worse situation than you. It gives you hope. And Amor gives me hope that someday I will be able to write.

I love the entire experience of writing. I like everything about it. The solitude, the rigid chair and desk, the smell of fresh ink on paper and the ink flowing from your fountain pen.

It is pure magic. You are able to communicate your most abstruse thoughts to others by etching out symbols on paper. And your thoughts might survive and be read and understood by someone thousands of years later.

Such a feeling of wonder!