Has Great Depression Chic Jumped the Shark?

Recent economic hardships have made the Great Depression something of a cultural hot topic. Is that making the economy worse?

It’s hard to believe that in a world where the average person can watch a movie on their handheld phone, so many people would be referencing the Great Depression, but that dismal time is seeing something of a pop culture renaissance.

Perhaps the most enduring portrayal of the period, John Steinbeck’s the Grapes of Wrath, has seen constant reinventions over the years. And now, in the most ambitious retelling of the classic dustbowl tale, the University of Houston’s Moores Opera Center recently premiered an opera based on the Steinbeck classic, complete with original score. Meanwhile, Our Town, the 1938 Thornton Wilder’s classic play that reminded Americans of their pre-Depression resilience, has suddenly become a hot theatrical property. February saw off-Broadway productions of the play in New York and Chicago and the end of April will see a production in California starring David Schwimmer.

High school curriculums, which have always included the Great Depression, have amped up their study with students suddenly growing increasingly curious about the era. Following that lead, Nova Southeastern University in Florida is hosting Soul of the People, a series of Depression-themed exhibits, performances, and lectures running through the month and part of May.

Perhaps most important is the sudden appreciation for the people that actually lived through the Great Depression. While every senior citizen who lived through the period has auspiciously been approached by every news outlet within earshot, the New York Times has launched an impressive compilation of these Americans’ stories. Entitled the New Hard Times, the site features the stories of countless seniors while also including reader submissions. One scan of these stories and most Americans should realize that they’ve come back from worse.

Antimicrobial resistance is a growing threat to good health and well-being

Antimicrobial resistance is growing worldwide, rendering many "work horse" medicines ineffective. Without intervention, drug-resistant pathogens could lead to millions of deaths by 2050. Thankfully, companies like Pfizer are taking action.

Image courtesy of Pfizer.
  • Antimicrobial-resistant pathogens are one of the largest threats to global health today.
  • As we get older, our immune systems age, increasing our risk of life threatening infections. Without reliable antibiotics, life expectancy could decline for the first time in modern history.
  • If antibiotics become ineffective, common infections could result in hospitalization or even death. Life-saving interventions like cancer treatments and organ transplantation would become more difficult, more often resulting in death. Routine procedures would become hard to perform.
  • Without intervention, resistant pathogens could result in 10 million annual deaths by 2050.
  • By taking a multi-faceted approach—inclusive of adherence to good stewardship, surveillance and responsible manufacturing practices, as well as an emphasis on prevention and treatment—companies like Pfizer are fighting to help curb the spread.
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No, the Syrian civil war is not over. But it might be soon. Time for a recap

Strange Maps
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Bespoke suicide pods now available for death in style

Sarco assisted suicide pods come in three different styles, and allow you to die quickly and painlessly. They're even quite beautiful to look at.

The Sarco assisted suicide pod
Technology & Innovation

Death: it happens to everyone (except, apparently, Keanu Reeves). But while the impoverished and lower-class people of the world die in the same ol' ways—cancer, heart disease, and so forth—the upper classes can choose hip and cool new ways to die. Now, there's an assisted-suicide pod so chic and so stylin' that peeps (young people still say peeps, right?) are calling it the "Tesla" of death... it's called... the Sarco! 

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How to bring more confidence to your conversations

Entrepreneur and author Andrew Horn shares his rules for becoming an assured conversationalist.

  • To avoid basing action on external validation, you need to find your "authentic voice" and use it.
  • Finding your voice requires asking the right questions of yourself.
  • There are 3-5 questions that you would generally want to ask people you are talking to.
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