Tag Archives: Weekend Reads

Weekend Long Reads: Bitterness Isn’t All Bad

by Kevin Schofield

This weekend’s “long read” is a collection of three shorter reads: a trio of research papers on COVID-19. The virus — and the vaccines — have now been around long enough that the medical research community has large and diverse enough data sets to start to really understand this virus. Along the way, researchers are discovering some fascinating and mystifying things. 

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Weekend Long Reads: A Watershed Ruling on Homelessness

by Kevin Schofield

On Tuesday, April 20, U.S. District Court Judge David Carter of the Central District of California issued a ruling that is likely to become a watershed moment in the United States’ response to homelessness.

In March of last year, the LA Alliance for Human Rights and several individuals sued the City and County of Los Angeles, alleging that they had not only fundamentally failed to address the homeless emergency in Los Angeles but had in fact contributed to creating it over the course of several decades. The complaint they filed reads more like what we might imagine the authors of the “Seattle is Dying” video would have written about Los Angeles: public health hazards, accumulating trash, rising crime, blocked sidewalks, local government leaders unwilling or unable to rise to the challenge of dealing with it. But Judge Carter had his own ideas, and over the last year has fully immersed himself in the issues and the situation on the ground.

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Weekend Long Reads: Why the CDC ‘Paused’ the Johnson & Johnson COVID Vaccine

by Kevin Schofield

Earlier this week Carolyn Bick wrote an excellent article on the CDC’s decision to “pause” use of the COVID vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson after reports of a handful of cases of blood clots in the several days following vaccination. This week’s Long Reads dives into the science of why the CDC made that controversial move, and what happens next.

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Weekend Long Reads: Life Without Parole

by Kevin Schofield

This week’s long read is hot off the presses: a Washington State Supreme Court ruling from this past Thursday. By a 5-4 vote, the Court ruled that a state law requiring a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole for any adult convicted of aggravated first degree murder is unconstitutional when applied to individuals aged 19 or 20, because it violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Underlying this case, and several that preceded it, are two ongoing societal debates: What makes a punishment “cruel,” and at what point does someone cross over from juvenile to adult?

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Weekend Reads: Fluoride is the Word

by Kevin Schofield

This week we dive into another scientific controversy: fluoridated drinking water. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers it one of the 10great public health achievements of the 20th century, and yet others decry it as an attempt by the government to poison us (a conspiracy theory mocked in the movie Dr. Strangelove). What’s the truth? A recent research paper from Sweden tries to get to the bottom of this.

The benefit of fluoridation is in its well-documented ability to strengthen tooth enamel and this prevent tooth decay and cavities — also the reason why fluoride is added to toothpaste. The downside is that in large enough concentrations fluoride can impair cognitive development or, in the extreme, be lethal. The question is really whether a dose that is large enough to improve dental health is small enough to avoid the negative effects. 

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Weekend Reads: The Not So Secret Life of Trees!

by Kevin Schofield

This week we have two weekend reads lined up about trees: one on the outdoor kind, and one on the indoor (and seasonal) kind.

Seattle’s Urban Forest

The approximately four million trees that make up Seattle’s tree canopy, and how best to preserve them, have long been a source of contention here. On one hand, they are critical to the city meeting its environmental stewardship goals; but on the other hand, protecting them at all costs might at times interfere with attempts to increase urban density. Further complicating matters, there are equity considerations: traditionally underserved and economically disadvantaged communities in Seattle tend to have fewer trees (and less city investment in planting new ones), and there have been accusations that tree preservation concerns are wielded by so-called NIMBYs to block development in wealthier single-family residential neighborhoods.

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