The Guardian's published a long excerpt from Cathy O'Neil's essential new book, Weapons of Math Destruction, in which O'Neil describes the way that shoddy machine-learning companies have come to dominate waged employment hiring, selling their dubious products to giant companies that use them to decide who can and can't work. Read the rest
Since WWI, doctors have speculated that PTSD's underlying cause was some sort of physical damage caused by blast-waves from bombs, which literally shook loose something important in the brains of sufferers. Read the rest
Peter Wieben's five-part series on homelessness in Seattle doesn't try to capture any kind of overarching truth or objective stock-taking of the problem (Seattle is now notorious for its tent cities). Rather, it consists of a series of sharply observed, dryly recounted personal stories from the people he meets, which range from heartbreaking to infuriating.
The conversion of shelter into an asset class has incentivized local governments to make it more expensive, which is a disaster for nearly everyone, except literal rentiers. Combine that with the recasting of poverty as a moral failing and the disappearance of stable employment opportunities and you're well on the way to turning cities into armed standoffs between the fingernail-clinging haves and the have-nots, whose misery only serves to spur the haves to cling harder.
Wieben beautifully captures the difficulty of confronting homelessness in all our lives: the combination of mistrust and sympathy, empathy and helplessness, frustration and affection.
You’d Have to be Crazy (Part I) [Peter Wieben/The Awl]
You’d Have to be Crazy (Part II) [Peter Wieben/The Awl]
You’d Have to be Crazy (Part III) [Peter Wieben/The Awl]
You’d Have to be Crazy (Part IV) [Peter Wieben/The Awl]
You’d Have to be Crazy (Part V) [Peter Wieben/The Awl]
Sarah Kurchak, a personal trainer who has experienced clinical depression, offers the most humane advice for using exercise you're likely to find. Read the rest
Obama wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post (bio: "Barack Obama is president of the United States") explaining his suite of penal reform policies, which begin with ending the barbaric practice of putting children into solitary confinement, deemed a form of torture, "an affront to our common humanity." Read the rest
“Are you okay?”
Researchers examining a possible link between antidepressants and autism found that women who took the psychiatric medications while pregnant were far more likely to have autistic kids.
Women in the study who took antidepressants during the last six months of pregnancy were 87% more likely to have a child later diagnosed with autism. Researchers say the link was most prevalent with women on the class of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs. Celexa, Lexapro, Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft are some of the more common SSRI drug brand names.
Does the new study prove antidepressants cause autism? No. Correlation is not causation, and science is complicated. But increasingly, autism research is focusing on factors that may contribute to the disorder before birth.
John Oliver's segment on mass-shootings and mental health makes all the right points: making the issue about mental health instead of guns stigmatizes mentally ill people (who are more likely to be shot than shoot someone), but since we're on the subject, the American mental health system is a disgrace. Read the rest
In a heartfelt and frank interview (conducted by our own Caroline Siede!), Wil Wheaton discusses the moment he realized he needed help with his clinical depression, and the moment he realized that the help was helping. Read the rest
Just because you're a Type A, "fully invested in the classic American self-image of independence and grit," don't think you couldn't use some help. Read the rest