Five Reads: Why Does the US Love Guns?
What follows is our roundup of five of the most compelling stories discovered over the last few days. Look for this column every week in this space.
Imagine a Week Without Gun Violence
Considering the Thousand Oaks shooting took place only hours before, Jack Holmes produced a remarkably cogent piece for Esquire about the absurd and devastating nature of the American gun control debate. Though, as he demonstrates in grim detail, we’re suffering these shootings at such a relentless clip, the article could have been written at nearly any point during the last few years. As he writes, “A world where you cannot leave your house unarmed for constant fear of being shot is not a free world….To be an American is to know that when you venture outside, you have a better chance than the citizen of any other country in the developed world of being shot by a complete and total stranger with easy access to incredibly powerful weaponry.” The conversation about guns in America needs the attention of our brightest and most capable minds to bring about a fundamental and seismic shift.
How to Make Twitter Better
In the Atlantic, Taylor Lorenz suggests killing retweets rather than the “Like” button might help put a brake on some of the hate and bile that infects the Twitter discourse. “Retweets prey on users’ worst instincts,” she writes, “They delude Twitter users into thinking that they’re contributing to thoughtful discourse by endlessly amplifying other people’s points — the digital equivalent of shouting ‘Yeah, what they said!’ in the midst of an argument.” Hoping people could just simply follow the Golden Rule of behavior seems unfortunately far out of reach.
Good News About Jeff Sessions Getting Booted
Some times you can find a silver lining where you least expect it. While Trump’s firing of Jeff Sessions may spell trouble for the Mueller investigation and New York magazine calls it “the most dire threat to the republic since Trump’s election,” Bloomberg reports that the cannabis industry managed to see a bright side, and marijuana stocks shot up in the wake of the announcement. Things had already been looking good for the business after Michigan became the 10th state to legalize recreational use in the midterms, and voters in Utah and Missouri joined 29 other states in approving medical use. The former attorney general was a major blocker of pot legalization and his departure may speed up national decriminalization efforts.
Learn more about the fast-growing industry at SXSW 2019. Find details on the new Cannabusiness track here.
Are You Ready for Robots in Your Eyes?
It sounds like a scene with Dennis Quaid from “Innerspace,” but Science magazine reports that researchers are using nanoscale 3D printing to create microbots tiny enough to move through eyes, propelled by magnetic force. This technology, when and if approved for human use — it’s currently being tested in pig eyes — will allow for faster and more precise delivery of ophthalmic medicine.
SXSW 2019 will showcase more of the latest innovations in this industry (another recent example of such developments is how stimulating the spinal cord can enable paralyzed people to walk) in the Health and MedTech track.
Recovering From Heartbreak
In a beautifully written piece in the New Yorker, Elaine Pagels rips open her personal tragedy of coping with the agonizingly slow loss of a beloved child. “Since antiquity,” she writes, “people have spent enormous time and energy trying to [heal the heart], whether through faith, medication, therapy, meditation, or physical activity. And though I’ve often grappled with such questions while poring over ancient sources, it was only when I faced an anguish beyond my imagining that they acquired a new, startling intensity.” She explores the questions of how to find meaning in tragedy and how to move forward in the face of unimaginable adversity and the universal pain we all must face with the inevitable loss of loved ones. No matter how you’re feeling about the news this week, it’s well worth reading.
Hugh Forrest serves as Chief Programming Officer at SXSW, the world’s most unique gathering of creative professionals. He also tries to write at least four paragraphs per day on Medium. These posts often cover tech-related trends; other times they focus on books, pop culture, sports and other current events.