“Five for Your Eyes” is a new series of posts where I share five features that I found to be interesting or worth reading. I read a lot of books, but I also love reading long-form pieces in publications like the New York Times, the Atlantic, and the New Yorker, looking into slices of the world I was previously unaware of, or have held interests in. I hope some of these articles will interest you as well!
☆ How Social Isolation is Killing Us (The New York Times)
My patient and I both knew he was dying.
Not the long kind of dying that stretches on for months or years. He would die today. Maybe tomorrow. And if not tomorrow, the next day. Was there someone I should call? Someone he wanted to see?
Not a one, he told me. No immediate family. No close friends. He had a niece down South, maybe, but they hadn’t spoken in years.
For me, the sadness of his death was surpassed only by the sadness of his solitude. I wondered whether his isolation was a driving force of his premature death, not just an unhappy circumstance.
Every day I see variations at both the beginning and end of life: a young man abandoned by friends as he struggles with opioid addiction; an older woman getting by on tea and toast, living in filth, no longer able to clean her cluttered apartment. In these moments, it seems the only thing worse than suffering a serious illness is suffering it alone.
☆ The Price of Nice Nails (The New York Times)
The women begin to arrive just before 8 a.m., every day and without fail, until there are thickets of young Asian and Hispanic women on nearly every street corner along the main roads of Flushing, Queens.
As if on cue, cavalcades of battered Ford Econoline vans grumble to the curbs, and the women jump in. It is the start of another workday for legions of New York City’s manicurists, who are hurtled to nail salons across three states. They will not return until late at night, after working 10- to 12-hour shifts, hunched over fingers and toes.
On a morning last May, Jing Ren, a 20-year-old who had recently arrived from China, stood among them for the first time, headed to a job at a salon in a Long Island strip mall. Her hair neat and glasses perpetually askew, she clutched her lunch and a packet of nail tools that manicurists must bring from job to job.
Tucked in her pocket was $100 in carefully folded bills for another expense: the fee the salon owner charges each new employee for her job. The deal was the same as it is for beginning manicurists in almost any salon in the New York area. She would work for no wages, subsisting on meager tips, until her boss decided she was skillful enough to merit a wage.
It would take nearly three months before her boss paid her. Thirty dollars a day.
☆ The Tipping Equation (The New York Times)
The balancing act plays out every day in restaurants across America: Servers who rely on tips decide where to draw the line when a customer goes too far.
They ignore comments about their bodies, laugh off proposals for dates and deflect behavior that makes them uncomfortable or angry — all in pursuit of the $2 or $20 tip that will help buy groceries or pay the rent.
There was the young server at a burger joint in Georgia, Emmallie Heard, whose customer held her tip money in his hand and said, “So you gonna give me your number?” She wrote it down, but changed one of the digits.
There was the waitress in Portland, Ore., Whitney Edmunds, who swallowed her anger when a man patted his lap and beckoned her to sit, saying, “I’m a great tipper.”
And at a steakhouse in Gonzales, La., Jaime Brittain stammered and walked away when a group of men offered a $30 tip if she’d answer a question about her pubic hair. She returned and provided a “snappy answer” that earned her the tip, but acknowledges having mixed feelings about the episode.
“Literally every time it happens, I will have this inner monologue with myself: ‘Is this worth saying something, or is it not?’” said Ashley Maina-Lowe, a longtime server and bartender in Tucson. “Most of the time I say, ‘No, it’s not worth it.’”
☆ Letting Go: What Should Medicine Do When It Can’t Save Your Life? (The New Yorker)
A few days before Thanksgiving, she had another CT scan, which showed that the pemetrexed—her third drug regimen—wasn’t working, either. The lung cancer had spread: from the left chest to the right; to the liver; to the lining of her abdomen; and to her spine. Time was running out.
This is the moment in Sara’s story that poses a fundamental question for everyone living in the era of modern medicine: What do we want Sara and her doctors to do now? Or, to put it another way, if you were the one who had metastatic cancer—or, for that matter, a similarly advanced case of emphysema or congestive heart failure—what would you want your doctors to do?
The issue has become pressing, in recent years, for reasons of expense. The soaring cost of health care is the greatest threat to the country’s long-term solvency, and the terminally ill account for a lot of it. Twenty-five per cent of all Medicare spending is for the five per cent of patients who are in their final year of life, and most of that money goes for care in their last couple of months which is of little apparent benefit.
☆ If There’s Only One Woman in Your Candidate Pool, There’s Statistically No Chance She’ll Be Hired (Harvard Business Review)
There are more CEOs of large U.S. companies who are named David (4.5%) than there are CEOs who are women (4.1%) — and David isn’t even the most common first name among CEOs. (That would be John, at 5.3%.)
Despite the ever-growing business case for diversity, roughly 85% of board members and executives are white men. This doesn’t mean that companies haven’t tried to change. Many have started investing hundreds of millions of dollars on diversity initiatives each year. But the biggest challenge seems to be figuring out how to overcome unconscious biases that get in the way of these well-intentioned programs. We recently conducted research that suggests a potential solution.
It’s well known that people have a bias in favor of preserving the status quo; change is uncomfortable. So because 95% of CEOs are white men, the status quo bias can lead board members to unconsciously prefer to hire more white men for leadership roles.
We conducted three studies to examine what happens when you change the status quo among finalists for a job position. In our first study, using an experimental setting, we had 144 undergraduate students review qualifications of three job candidates who made up a finalist pool of applicants. The candidates had the same credentials — the only difference among them was their race. We manipulated this by using names that sound stereotypically black (Dion Smith and Darnell Jones) or white (Connor Van Wagoner and David Jones), and we used a job that has some ambiguity about the racial status quo (athletic director).
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So that was my first installment of “Five for Your Eyes“! I hope at least one of the articles intrigued you! Let me know what you think, or anything you thought was interesting!
If you have a recommendation for an article, please share them with me!