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From Issue #35 January 30, 2014

Editor’s Note

Free to be you and me.

By The Editor Twitter icon 

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The cover of issue 35

Issue 35’s cover features a metal master of a Louis Armstrong album from the Library of Congress’s collection. Photograph by Glenn Fleishman.

In this issue

The United Kingdom is well known for its robust national healthcare system, one that the country celebrated in a bizarre and wonderful performance during the opening ceremonies of the London Olympics. Those who reside in the UK and receive its benefits like to complain about the NHS, but defend it vigorously when outsiders attempt to critique it.

That national defense is coming to an end, however. The coalition government, led by the center-right Tory Party, has engaged in a systematic dismantling of universal healthcare through partial privatization and other techniques designed to hobble it. That issue is large, worth noting both for those covered by the British system and those of us who wish more people had effective coverage here in America.

Alongside this wholesale, surprisingly obscured change to the NHS, the government in Westminster is well into a revision of disability payments. Disability and related subsidies come out of an entirely different part of the budget than healthcare, but as with NHS, these payments are intended to provide a baseline for all citizens to live normal lives — in theory if not in practice.

Using a prudent alarm at the growth in those receiving payments, the Cameron-led government pushed through a massive overhaul that will shed hundreds of thousands of people from the ranks while also reducing the number who will qualify in the future. So many aspects of the program have been designed and executed badly that people receiving disability in the UK are terrified about what will happen next.

In “Balancing without a Net,” Chris Stokel-Walker talks to two women who are both beneficiaries of the current program and active online advocates for spreading the word about what the new regime of testing and payments will do to the most vulnerable members of their society. This includes them, and they reject our pity. They want their voices heard, not our tut-tutting.

Also in this issue:

San Francisco is a city that is in the middle of its latest upheaval, one of several across its history, this time about wealth — as it was in some previous turns of the wheel. Colleen Hubbard looks at the meaning of “free” in San Francisco during a time of excess in “To Have and Not Hold,” by examining past and present movements to build social capital while giving things away.

Readers of a delicate disposition may wish to obtain smelling salts, or least close the door to their office or bedroom and put on headphones, before reading Leah Reich’s history of “Dirty R&B.” A rich genre of sexual innuendo in blues was pushed to the side when R&B went mainstream and was replaced by rock ’n’ roll. Fortunately, Leah finds ample evidence, and plenty of YouTube documentation, to bring a blush to our cheeks. You can also find a link to her performing one number.

The current obsession with writing implements may bewilder those outside the phenomenon. Gabe Bullard wrote in August 2013 for The Magazine, in “Penultimate,” about that addiction. He returns with a good pen mystery in “Blurred Visionnaire.” One of the most successful pen projects on Kickstarter may have been a bulk order from China.

NASA has been encouraging private companies to get into the space game to encourage more commercial development, reduce the reliance on government spending and research in a time of tightened budgets, and lower its own costs in lofting missions into space. Chris Krupiarz, who works as a spacecraft flight software engineer for the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory on the Mercury Messenger mission, got “On the Road with New Space” for a quick trip to the Wallops Flight Facility to watch Orbital Sciences send a bird to the moon.

Read at Medium

You can read more reporting and essays edited and published by The Magazine at our collection on Medium, a site that is a combination of publishing platform and editorial operation.

We commission original articles that are published first at Medium, as well as reprint some work from our issue archives. We’re experimenting with Medium’s medium, and some stories have a very different tenor than what we present in issue format.

Two of the stories in this issue appeared first under our banner at Medium: “Blurred Visionnaire” and “On the Road with New Space.”

You can receive updates about new stories we publish in our section of Medium by logging in to that site via Twitter and clicking Follow on our home page. Or, subscribe via RSS.

Letters

You can tap the Share button in iOS at the top of any article and then tap Write Letter to Editor. Or email us with your thoughts, noting any article to which they apply. We also read comments and questions on Facebook, Twitter, and App.net. (Although we see iTunes reviews, we cannot respond there; please contact us directly with any issues that need a response.)

On “Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Davy:

In the Belgian hospital Gasthuisberg in Leuven, they’ve opted for a color-coded approach. (You can see an image of the arrows they use here.) Visual cues are given in the exact areas by colored walls. When you go visit a patient, you get a color and a floor (e.g.: Red 3), and the colors are repeated inside the valid elevators. Specific departments have a specific color, like Blue for radiology.

It’s a very complex hospital, ever-expanding. But the system has been in place for all my life, since before 1990.

On “Head’s Up

Maarut:

Although I suffer from the occasional migraine myself, I have never experienced so frequent and debilitating migraines as you. I would get “the floaties,” followed by a severe headache and nausea that would require a dark room and a bed. The symptoms always cleared up within a couple of hours and I’d be ready to get back to the world.

I am glad that you shared your experiences, and more importantly, a way to manage the problem. I certainly have been won over by the idea of acupuncture and will be trying it to see if migraines become a thing of the past for me.

I have also been given another potential resolution, though haven’t given it enough time to see if it works — diet. The book Grain Brain by Dr. David Perlmutter suggests that many maladies involving the brain can be cured by removing grains and carbs from the diet. If correct, the ideas in the book to be beneficial to other migraine sufferers.

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You can purchase our complete archives, almost 300 articles, as a DRM-free ebook in PDF, EPUB, and MOBI formats. We ceased publication of new work on December 18, 2014.
You can purchase our complete archives, almost 300 articles, as a DRM-free ebook in PDF, EPUB, and MOBI formats.
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