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How plagues shaped the world (The New Yorker)
by Isaac Chotiner
Epidemics have changed the course of wars and revolutions, altered class dynamics, and brought out the best and worst in humans. The effects of any given disease depend a lot on the societies it encounters.

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The exhaustion of living with racism (NBC)
by Janell Ross
For Black Americans, incidents of police violence aren’t isolated news stories. They’re part of an atmosphere of fear, grief, and threats of violence that pervades daily life and goes back generations.

The long shadow of housing discrimination (NPR)
by Maria Godoy
Want to know which areas of a city have high levels of asthma and obesity, short lifespans, and high poverty? New maps show that you can make a very good guess just by finding the places affected by racially discriminatory redlining more than eighty years ago.

What do we feel when we feel afraid? (The Walrus)
by Eva Holland
Are you experiencing any fear these days? How about anxiety? Dread? These emotions may have a lot to do with the world around us, but they live in our bodies’ sensations.

The upside of public shaming (The Atlantic)
by Zeynep Tufekci
Online mobs can traumatize their victims for very little reason. But sometimes, as in the case of Amy Cooper’s call to the police in Central Park, or police brutality in Egypt, they may be the only way to expose terrible acts and stop them from reoccurring.

What do Down syndrome screenings mean for humanity? (The Atlantic)
by Sarah Zhang
When prenatal screenings can easily detect Down syndrome, many parents choose not to have children with the condition. The shift has implications far beyond one demographic—for social expectations, gendered care work, guilt, class, and fundamental questions of human value.

A victory for intersex organizing (Nursing Clio/The Hastings Center)
by Elizabeth Reis
In the 1950s, surgeries to “repair” the genitals of intersex infants became standard. Decades later, many of the adult survivors of these surgeries started organizing to change things.

How to look at a cat (Mental Floss)
by Ellen Gutoskey
Ever try to make friends with a cat? They may not be much for praise or hugs, but new research suggests they appreciate a friendly, slow blink.

How does an octopus taste? (Wired)
by Sara Harrison
Among the many wild things about octopuses is their ability to “taste” the world around them with their suction-cup-covered arms. But under the sea taste means something different than it does to us land-lubbers.