September 20th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

A Doctor's Broken Heart, the new cocaine, and fat pills are here.

These days, it seems harder than ever to be a patient. Even if you live in an area that’s well-served in terms of medical care and you’ve got the wherewithal to pull a few strings, getting an appointment and being the quarterback for your own health care can be tough. As irritated as you feel, today’s doctors feel even more frustrated. And doctors in rural areas that have very few care providers and a patient-base that’s increasingly dubious of science have it even worse. Oliver Whang in the NYT (Gift Article): A Rural Doctor Gave Her All. Then Her Heart Broke. “As the political climate around Covid-19 grew heated, and as some of Dr. Becher’s patients and neighbors began to dismiss the science, she became frustrated, then angry. She began to run more, sometimes twice a day, for hours at a time, “raging down the road.” She was mad about the widespread distrust of vaccines; mad about teachers who went to school even after testing positive for the virus; mad about the endemic food insecurity, the county’s lack of affordable transportation, the high rate of fatty liver disease. The indignities layered one atop the next, forming a suffocating stack. More than anything, Dr. Becher was mad at how she couldn’t seem to do anything about any of it. Some days she went home from work, chugged a beer and ran for miles. Then, on April 17, 2021, her heart broke.”

+ If you missed yesterday’s edition, I shared some thoughts on why people seem so obsessed with the Queen’s funeral. The Tears of a Crown.

+ And happy book pub day to the most excellent Dahlia Lithwick. If you haven’t order your copy of Lady Justice, let’s go!


Everyone is Addicted

Water is going to become the new oil. And the new cocaine. This story is just the beginning. The Sinaloa Cartel Is Controlling Water in Drought-Stricken Mexico. “During what Mexican authorities called the worst drought in the country’s history last year, thousands of local farmers—many of them Indigenous Raramuri people—lost their crops. But the Sinaloa Cartel saw a new business opportunity: the control and distribution of water.” This is one drug no one needs to push.


A Blast from the Cast

“A Baltimore judge on Monday ordered the release of Adnan Syed after overturning Syed’s conviction for the 1999 murder of high school student Hae Min Lee — a case that was chronicled in the hit podcast Serial, a true-crime series that transfixed listeners and revolutionized the genre.”

+ Sarah Koenig, host of the podcast that popularized this case, is as surprised as you are. “I was shocked. I did not see this coming at all. One of the first things I did was call Adnan’s brother and then his mother — they told me they didn’t know either.” NYT: Adnan Syed, Freed.


I Just Flew In, and Boy Are My Arms Tired

Imagine taking an 7,000 mile flight with no food, no drinks, no seats, no wifi … and no plane. That’s the annual experience of birds who fly nonstop from Alaska to New Zealand. NYT (Gift Article): The Godwit’s Long, Long Nonstop Journey. “Tens of thousands of bar-tailed godwits are taking advantage of favorable winds this month and next for their annual migration from the mud flats and muskeg of southern Alaska, south across the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean, to the beaches of New Zealand and eastern Australia. They are making their journey of more than 7,000 miles by flapping night and day, without stopping to eat, drink or rest.” Finally, a migration story that has nothing to do with Ron DeSantis…


Extra, Extra

The Skinny on Fat: “It might be the trickle that precedes a torrent—tirzepatide is just one in a class of new extremely effective weight loss drugs that threaten to upend the way we think about and treat obesity.” GQ: Is the World Ready for Extremely Effective Weight-Loss Drugs? (Ready? I literally have a trunkload of Cheddar and Sour Cream Ruffles for the day my doctor prescribes this stuff.)

+ Immigrant Wrong: “A Texas sheriff said Monday evening his agency will open an investigation into the transportation of 48 Venezuelan migrants from the state to Martha’s Vineyard.”

+ Annex Marks the Spot: “Almost seven months after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, four areas under Moscow’s control have announced plans for urgent so-called referendums on joining Russia.” (In other words, things are not going as planned.)

+ World Cup Half Empty: “Some house three or four workers in single beds, others five or six in bunks, but all those viewed by the Guardian were windowless, cramped and dirty. Towels draped between the upper and lower bunks provide what little privacy there is. Water bottles, cooking utensils and personal belongings are crammed under the beds. Clothes hang on lines strung across the walls. The camp is as squalid as any this journalist has seen in nine years of reporting from Qatar.” Workers at Qatar’s World Cup stadiums toil in debt and squalor.

+ Just Breathe: Considering a high blood pressure drug? You might want to try a breathing exercise device first. NPR: Daily ‘breath training’ can work as well as medicine to reduce high blood pressure. (I’d suggest this Bush song as background music…)

+ King Pin: “Barr has realized that Trump, far from being the indispensable person for the realization of his vision of an autocratic president, has become perhaps the greatest obstacle to its achievement. In a party where Barr’s bizarre ideal of an unfettered president holds tremendous sway, Trump can’t win in the general election, and if nominated he would likely take the banner of autocracy down with him. Barr feels the need to remove Trump from serious consideration so that another standard-bearer for that cause can pick up where Trump left off.” The Atlantic: Why Bill Barr Turned on Trump.

+ Walk This Way: Check out the time Eli Manning went undercover as a College Football walk-on at Penn State. This is fun. It’s amazing that the Manning brothers are as successful on TV as they were on the football field.


Bottom of the News

“Meet an amazing man who has dedicated his entire adult life to stone skipping, sacrificing everything to produce world-record throws that defy the laws of physics. To hear him tell it, he has no choice.” Stone Skipping Is a Lost Art. Kurt Steiner Wants the World to Find It. (When he told his parents he planned to pursue a career in stone skipping, they were like, “Phew. We thought you were gonna say newsletter writing…”)

+ A food company executive went Beyond Meat … all the way to cartilage. Beyond Meat COO arrested for biting man’s nose near Razorback Stadium.

+ And the most Bay Area obituary of all time: “Deward Hastings, a 78-year-old Berkeley man known for welcoming the public to his backyard hot tub, died on Saturday afternoon while doing what he loved best, hot tubbing.”

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