I Am Afraid to Write

Wandering Bark Books

I have writing notebooks hidden under my bed. The writing in them spans years of my life; there are many words on the pages.

The thing is…I haven’t looked at them in years. Literally. I am afraid to look at them. I am afraid to remember things I wrote about, things I have long since forgotten. I am afraid of the memories. Most of all, I am afraid of my voice.

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How microbes define, shape — and might even heal us


As both a scientist and a human being, I am continually awestruck by discoveries about the power of the microbiome to define and shape us. But what excites me most is the very real prospect that, as we come to better understand and even influence the microbiome, it could have the power to heal us.

We’re already starting to link our microbes to a wide spectrum of specific diseases, from the obvious — like infectious diseases and inflammatory bowel disease — to surprising ones such as multiple sclerosis, autism, and depression.

It’s worth noting that just because we know a microbe is involved in a specific disease, it doesn’t mean the answer — or the cure — is to eliminate that microbe. In fact, doing so might cause irreversible damage. It may turn out that targeting diet or inhibiting an enzyme (that’s a protein that speeds up a particular chemical reaction) might be more effective than attacking the microbes directly. And yet the reason there is…

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The Finger, or “Bird Is the Word”

Strong Language

Nixon did it, and so did Kennedy. George W. Bush has been caught numerous times on tape grinning broadly and flashing what he called the “one-finger salute.” It has been described as “flipping someone off” or “giving someone the bird,” but when it comes right down to it, the gesture of raising the middle finger ultimately translates as “fuck you!” Every nation has its own array of verbal assaults, but they also have their arsenal of insulting gestures as well. In the United States, the ubiquitous finger is our call to arms. Unlike swearing aloud, which is based upon actual words with specific meanings, gestures are purely visual, and the finger has a kind of inherent meaning that words don’t have. In our case, the raised finger was initially most likely meant to resemble the erect penis, with the tucked-under fingers as testicles. As obvious as this may be, few…

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