The Good and the Bad: The Microbiome and Antibiotics, Politics and Tammany Hall

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Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Dr. Martin Blaser explains why our microbiome—the good bacteria and cells in our body—is essential for our health and how overusing antibiotics can damage it. An oncologist talks about losing his wife to breast cancer how that experience changed his attitude toward cancer treatment. Lydia Davis discusses her new collection of short stories, Can’t and Won’t. And we’ll take a look at Tammany Hall and how the infamously corrupt political machine also empowered the poor and disadvantaged.

Microbes, Antibiotics and Our Health

The human microbiome is the combination of bacterial and human cells that exist in a peaceful symbiosis and is responsible for the health and equilibrium of our body. Dr. Martin Blaser explains the role of the microbiome in keeping us healthy and discusses how the overuse of antibiotics is harming our health—contributing to the rise of obesity, asthma, diabetes, and certain forms of cancer. In Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics is Fueling Our Modern Plagues, Dr. Blaser takes us into both the lab and deep into the fields where these troubling effects can be witnessed firsthand and tells us what we can do to avoid even more catastrophic health problems in the future.

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A Cancer Doctor on Losing His Wife to Cancer

Peter Bach, a doctor at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, talks about losing his wife to breast cancer. He examines how his views on treatment shifted in his role as patient’s husband. His article “The Day I Started  Lying to Ruth,” is in the May 5-18, 2014, issue of New York magazine.

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Lydia Davis's New Short Stories, 'Can't and Won't'

Lydia Davis talks about her new collection of short stories, Can’t and Won’t. Her stories may be one-liners or they may be lengthier investigations, stories in the form of letters of complaint, stories extracted from Flaubert’s correspondence, or they may be inspired by the author’s own dreams or the dreams of friends. Davis is a MacArthur "Genius" Grant recipient and in 2013 she was awarded the Man Booker International Prize.

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How Tammany Hall Created Modern American Politics

New York’s Tammany Hall is synonymous with corruption and machine politics, but journalist Terry Golway argues that reputation is somewhat undeserved. He dismantles the stereotypes and looks at some of the progressive ideas that emerged from Tammany Hall.

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