Novels You Should Read or Listen to: “Ill Will” by Dan Chaon

I’ve had an Audible account for a while, and I’ve found some gems based on what I already liked to read before I started listening. With my commutes in and out of Baltimore, and with some long trips we’ve had — and will have — I’ve found it much easier to turn on a book and listen than to try…

Whose Fault Is It That I’m Fat?

We were talking in an epidemiology class the other day about the association between obesity and diabetes. It’s a pretty strong association, with a lot of good evidence that obesity causes diabetes. As the students and the professor talked about this, the other teaching assistant in the course took some pictures of us. I was standing at the podium as he…

Is Gun Violence the Symptom or the Disease?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are about 33,500 firearm deaths each year in the United States. There are also within those about 21,300 suicides by firearm each year in the United States. That’s over 50,000 a lot of people each year whose lives are ended by firearms. (Edit: I corrected the numbers. See the comment by…

Epidemic Curves and Homicide Counts in Baltimore

One of the tools that we use in the investigation of outbreaks is the epidemic curve, or, as we say in the biz, the “epi curve.” An epidemic curve is a simple graphical representation of the number of cases per a unit of time over a span of time. For example, you could graph the number of new cases of diarrhea…

America First by Neglecting the World?

As you may or may not have heard, Brenda Fitzgerald, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), resigned from her post last week. Some point to her investment in tobacco and pharmaceutical companies as the reason why she left. Others don’t care why she left, as long as Anne Schuchat is Acting Director and not someone…

The Imbalances of Violence

There’s a theory in criminology called the “Routine Activities Theory.” The theory posits that there are three factors that figure into whether or not violence happens in a particular place and time, and how much violence happens. The three factors are targets, guardians and villains (aka “motivated offenders”). I’ll explain the factors a little more in a little bit, but…

You’re Angry at the Wrong People

It’s very common for xenophobic people to say something like, “Illegals are taking are jobs.” They don’t care if it’s true or not because truth is not the primary aim of the xenophobe or the racist. Their primary aim is to get people angry at undocumented immigrants and then let the hate do the heavy lifting. Lately, the same people…

Immigration, Again

Slavery is “America’s Original Sin,” without a doubt. I think the way that the United States governments since Independence have treated immigrants is a close second. Time after time, the country seemed to settle on what being “American” was, and then the country rejected anyone not fitting the description until it was necessary to re-define the definition. The first post-independence…

The Adversity That Will Shape You

When I was four years old, my mother bought me an old red bicycle at a garage sale. I didn’t know how to ride a bicycle, but I wanted to learn so I could ride with the kids in my neighborhood. As you probably guessed, I hit the ground several times while learning to ride. A couple of those times…

A new public health surveillance tool?

When my wife and I found out that we were going to be parents, we kind of freaked out a little. It wasn’t that we were not ready. We were, mostly. It’s just that we were aware that a little person would soon be joining us, and we would be responsible for their life. We had to keep them alive,…