Black Women’s Maternal Mortality Rates in the US are Staggeringly High


As part of ProPublica and NPR’s series on maternal care in the U.S., Nina Martin and Renee Montagne tell the devastating story of Shalon Irving, a vibrant 36-year-old epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who died three weeks after the birth of her daughter earlier this year. Irving was educated, insured, and well-supported by family and friends; still, she became a casualty of missed opportunities and neglect by healthcare providers. The story explores how a constellation of factors — not least of all bias in the healthcare system and the chronic stress of living with racism — combine so that black women are more than two times more likely than white women to die of causes related to pregnancy and childbirth.

By April 2016, Shalon had given up. She had a new boyfriend and she was on her way to Puerto Rico to help with the…

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Jay-Z Opens Up About Race in America, Therapy, and ‘4:44’


In the recent issue of T: The New York Times Style Magazine, hip-hop artist and mogul Jay-Z sat down with the newspaper’s executive editor Dean Baquet for a wide-ranging conversation about black identity and success, the state of leadership in America, and emotional healing and vulnerability. The artist’s latest album, 4:44, released last summer, gave listeners a raw and moody look into many of those themes, and bristled with discomfort and regret. It earned eight Grammy award nominations, the most of any artist this year.

BAQUET: This album [“4:44.”] sounds to me like a therapy session.

JAY-Z: Yeah, yeah.

BAQUET:  Have you been in therapy?

JAY-Z: Yeah, yeah.

BAQUET: First off, how does Jay-Z find a therapist? Not in the phone book, right?

JAY-Z: No, through great friends of mine. You know. Friends of mine who’ve been through a lot and, you know, come out on the other side as, like…

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Performing Pain: Autism

Autism and expectations

I am not good at communicating my pain. It’s my greatest weakness. I am terrible at asking for help, I am terrible at reaching out to you, and I am worst at this when I’m distracted by physical discomfort.

I have often been told what a “coper” I am. How well I cope with stressful situations, how well I cope with shock and pain. Not because I am coping, but because I communicate these things differently.

What is pain? How do you quantify it? How do you get across just how much or how little you are in?

I am autistic, which means that I have a social communication condition, which means that I do not naturally or intuitively understand or (perhaps more importantly) perform social communication.

Most of the time I can do it all. I have learnt your ways, I may not understand why THIS QUESTION needs THIS…

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Chocolate Box Sachertorte Drizzle Cake


Transform a classic rich chocolate sponge into a showstopper by cooking it in 3 tins, layering it up, drizzling with chocolate ganache and piling on some special chocolates.

Chocolate Box Sachertorte Drizzle Cake The ultimate celebration chocolate cake

Chocolate Box Sachertorte Drizzle Cake

There’s a growing trend for tiered cakes – which I love.  Tiered cakes used to be saved for weddings – but not any more!  Thanks to Wilton’s Tiered Trio Round Pan Set (that I discovered on Ocado) you can make an impressive showstopper – that’s a more manageable size – perfect for any celebration  or birthday.  These cakes are 10cm, 15cm and 20cms  or (4inch, 6inch and 8 inch) in diameter.

I also love the trend for drizzle cakes – so this cake is smothered with a rich chocolate ganache for a simple and  stylish topping.

The final flourish is decorating the stacked cake with a selection of posh chocolates. Mine came…

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Let’s Talk About Rudolph

Giddy Up America

On Tuesday night we get our first airing of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer this Christmas season. Lucky you if you own it and have gotten a jump on the rest of us. It’ll be the first time I’ve watched it this year, but I’m going to be honest, with each viewing I find myself more and more confused by the beloved holiday classic. I try to keep my comments to myself because quite frankly, My Darling Wife would sometimes prefer it that way, but even at my most polite and supportive, I can’t help myself. The movie has some issues and while the issues aren’t as disturbing as those in another holiday classic Home Alone, there are still enough there to be considered somewhat troubling.

If for some reason you’ve never seen the movie or it’s been ages since you have, let me quickly refresh you.

Two reindeer…

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How We Got There from Here


Anna Armstrong | Longreads | December 2017 | 12 minutes (2,903 words)

“Jefferson, I think we’re lost.” — Little America, R.E.M.

The distance between Rodeo and Santa Cruz is just over 90 miles. For the most part the drive is unremarkable — urban, industrial cities and rural, unincorporated towns along the Eastshore Freeway, shaping the wasteland east of San Francisco Bay. But then the interstate gives way to Highway 17 and you begin the ascent to another world. The road is a thin, curlicue curved by the green Santa Cruz Mountains.

As a child I made this trip many times with my parents in our wood-paneled station wagon packed tightly with my five siblings and me — my gaze resting out the window, tracking the miles by the three-minute pop songs on the radio while an endless imaginary flat-panel saw tethered to my slight wrist sliced through the redwoods. Our…

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Imaginary Blurb

Michael Wehunt

I was idly writing a fake blurb for my not-quite-finished novel The Lighted Hand (because why not?) and it sort of turned into a micro-story of its own. No spoilers for the book are here outside of the vaguest thematic sort.

“I finished this Wehunt novel and took it outside and beat it to death with a shovel in my back yard. I know a book isn’t a living thing so I couldn’t beat it to actual death, but at the same time it kinda is a living thing, too, you know? But I use the expression to mean I really went to town on it with that shovel. I was wearing a cap and I took the cap off when I was done and wiped the sweat off my brow. My hands had started to blister. But that wasn’t enough so I dug a hole with the shovel and…

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Derivative Sport: The Journalistic Legacy of David Foster Wallace


By Josh Roiland

Longreads | December 2017 | 32 minutes (8,200 words)

At a hip Manhattan book launch forJohn Jeremiah Sullivan’s 2011 essay collection Pulphead,David Rees, the event’s emcee, asked the two-time National Magazine Award winner,“So John…are you the next David Foster Wallace?” The exchange is startling for its absurdity, and Sullivan shakes his head in disbelief before finally answering, “No, that’s—I’m embarrassed by that.” But the comparison has attached itself to Sullivan and a host of other young literary journalists whom critics have noted bear resemblance to Wallace in style, subject matter, and voice.

WhenLeslie Jamison published The Empathy Exams, her 2014 collection of essays and journalism,a Slate review said “her writing often recalls the work of David Foster Wallace.” Similarly, whenMichelle Orange’s This is Running for Your Life appeared a year earlier, areview in the…

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Getting to Greenland: Book Excerpt

Common Sense and Whiskey

Here is an excerpt from my book Out in the Cold, in which we arrive in Greenland and try to sort out what to do next. Enjoy it:


First thing we have to do, we have to find Robert.

The men smoking outside the concrete block terminal are not Robert so I ask around inside. The man behind the check-in counter might as well be collecting Arctic tumbleweeds. No flights are pending; no one is checking in.

He does not know Robert.

Together we lean over his counter to look down to the harbor. One boat is speeding away and there don’t seem to be any others. He flips his palms up and shakes his head, “I think you just go down there and wait. That is your only chance.”


Humans inhabit the fringe, the perimeter of Greenland not flattened by the ice cap, and…

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