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Week of 7/15/18

PUBLISHED: July 21, 2018

In an effort to better acquaint you, the reader, with the VQR staff, members of our team will share excerpts from our personal reading—The Best 200 Words I Read All Week. From fact to fiction, from comedic to tragic, we hope you find as much to admire in these selections as we do.

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The news of the pay disparity felt as personal—as undermining to her sense of shared reality—as learning about an infidelity. The BBC presenter Samira Ahmed wrote, “I can only describe the feeling of being kept on much lower pay than male colleagues doing the same jobs for years as feeling as though bosses had naked pictures of you in their office and laughed every time they saw you. It is the humiliation and shame of feeling that they regarded you as second class, because that is what the pay gap means.”

Gracie, whose mother died when she was seventeen, had learned forbearance at a young age. For days, she wrestled with her feelings. “Once you know the truth, what are you going to do with it?” Gracie said to me. “Are you going to quit, live with it, or try to act?” Coming to terms with her choice, she said, was “like watching something crystallize in a glass of water.”

In August, she wrote privately to Tony Hall. “I imagined that, once I pointed out my case and pointed out what the law was, we’d sort it out,” she recalled. After two months, the corporation offered her a thirty-three-per-cent raise. It was a substantial amount, but still left her salary far short of her male equivalents’. She turned down the money and filed a formal grievance.

Executive Editor Allison Wright
Excerpt from “How the BBC Women are Working Toward Equal Pay,” New Yorker, by Lauren Collins, July 23, 2018


To Sam Parnia, death is potentially reversible. Cells inside our bodies don’t usually die when we die, he says; some cells and organs can remain viable for hours, maybe even days. The timing of the declaration of death is sometimes a matter of personal attitude, he says. When he was in training, he notes, people would stop CPR after just five to ten minutes, assuming that any longer would mean irreparable brain damage.

But resuscitation scientists have learned ways to keep the brain and other organs from dying even after the heart stops. They know that lowering body temperature helps—which happened naturally with Gardell Martin, and which happens deliberately in some ERs that routinely chill patients before doing CPR. They know that persistence helps too, especially in hospitals that use machines to regulate chest compressions or that someday might use drugs such as iodide.

Parnia compares resuscitation science to aeronautics. It never seemed possible for people to fly, yet in 1903 the Wright brothers flew. How incredible, he says, that it took only 66 years from that first, 12-second flight to a moon landing. He thinks such advances can happen in resuscitation science too. When it comes to reversing death, Parnia believes we’re still in the Kitty Hawk era.

Yet doctors are already able to snatch life from death in stunning, inspiring ways. In Nebraska that happened on April 4, 2015, the day before Easter, when a baby boy named Angel Pérez was born by C-section at Methodist Women’s Hospital just before noon. Angel is alive today because doctors were able to keep his brain-dead mother’s body functioning for 54 days, long enough to let him grow into a small yet otherwise perfectly normal newborn, two pounds, 12.6 ounces, miraculous in his ordinariness. A baby who turned out to be the milagro his grandparents had been praying for.”

Editorial Assistant Caroline Hockenbury
Excerpt from “Crossing Over: How Science is Redefining Life and Death,” National Geographic Magazine, by Robin Marantz Henig, July 23, 2018


Breavman knows a girl named Shell whose ears were pierced so she could wear the long filigree earrings. The punctures festered and now she has a tiny scar in each earlobe. He discovered them behind her hair.

A bullet broke into the flesh of his father’s arm as he rose out of a trench. It comforts a man with coronary thrombosis to bear a wound taken in combat.

On the right temple Breavman has a scar which Krantz bestowed with a shovel. Trouble over a snowman. Krantz wanted to use clinkers as eyes. Breavman was and still is against the use of foreign materials in the decoration of snowmen. No woolen mufflers, hats, spectacles. In the same vein he does not approve of inserting carrots in the mouths of carved pumpkins or pinning on cucumber ears.

His mother regarded her whole body as a scar grown over some earlier perception which she sought in mirror and windows and hub-caps. 

Children show scars like medals. Lovers use them as secrets to reveal. A scar is what happens when the word is made flesh.

Editorial Intern Tess Steele
Excerpt from The Favorite Game by Leonard Cohen


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