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For all the risky adventures Bran Ferren has chased in the past six decades—a list that includes a variety of hazardous undertakings, from traveling through Afghan war zones to working in Hollywood—there was one highly perilous pursuit he never dared take on: parenthood.
“Having a family,” Ferren says, “wasn’t a priority.” It’s a late-summer afternoon, and Ferren—celebrated inventor, technologist, former head of research and development for Disney’s Imagineering department—is sitting inside a guesthouse-slash-storage facility on his ample East Hampton, New York, spread, drinking his third or fourth Diet Coke of the day.
He’s 61 years old and towering, with a wily-looking red-gray beard and dressed in his everyday uniform of khaki pants, sneakers, and a billowy polo shirt. Ferren is the cofounder and chief creative officer of Applied Minds, a world-renowned tech and design firm whose on-the-record customer list includes General Motors, Intel, and the US Air Force; before that he worked on everything from Broadway shows to theme park rides.
But today Ferren is focused on his most important client: his 4-year-old daughter, Kira, who is just a few yards away, traipsing across the garden with a pal. Several years ago, when Ferren was still in his midfifties—a time when many men are easing into their grandfather phase—his partner of more than 25 years, Robyn Low, told him that if he ever wanted to have a kid, the time was now.
Finally having a child became a priority, and in 2009 Kira was born. It took Ferren a while to adjust to fatherhood. He had to scale back on the hazardous work trips, and he had to curtail some of his more treacherous leisure activities, like racing motorcycles and flying helicopters.
“I thought, what will it be like for my daughter if I end up becoming a cripple or dropping dead, doing something like that when she’s 4 years old? It changes your perspective.” The sacrifices, though, are worth it. “Everyone says, ‘Well, you’ve never felt love like this before,’” Ferren says. “It turns out to all be absolutely correct.”
If you attended a U.S. college in the late 1960s, your parents might have worried about protests and other campus goings-on, but at least they were less likely to go broke paying your tuition bills.
How big a bite does sending the kids to college take out of a typical family’s income today compared to a generation ago? About twice as big. Since 1969, the average cost of college has almost doubled compared with the median family income. That cost includes tuition, fees, and room and board for full-time students at degree-granting institutions—for both public and private colleges and universities.
Back then, the average cost came to $9,502 after adjusting for inflation, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. By 2012, the average was $19,339. With a typical family earning $51,017—the U.S. median income—college tuition for just one child will absorb almost 40 percent of their income. That surpasses housing as the single biggest household expense.
For the kids in Tehran’s underground rock scene, the dream was simple: party, make music, and escape to New York, where the life they wanted was legal. By 2011 three bands—the Yellow Dogs, Hypernova, and the Free Keys—had found their way to Brooklyn.
But as their indie community thrived, one of the band members was sinking fast. Nancy Jo Sales discovers how, on November 11, four young Iranian musicians ended up dead.
By the time they reach high school, nearly 20 percent of all American boys will be diagnosed with ADHD. Millions of those boys will be prescribed a powerful stimulant to “normalize” them. A great many of those boys will suffer serious side effects from those drugs. The shocking truth is that many of those diagnoses are wrong, and that most of those boys are being drugged for no good reason—simply for being boys. It’s time we recognize this as a crisis.
FLORIDA’S UNDERCOUNT OF CHILD ABUSE DEATHS
The state says abuse and neglect deaths are receding after a spike. But are they? And, if so, by how much? A closer look at the numbers.
It did not take long for the infant to die. A half hour after her parents brought her into the makeshift emergency room lit by hazy flashlights, she was gone.
The 26-year-old doctor, a third-year resident, worked frantically over her lifeless body. He had not slept for a day, but he was determined to save her life. The doctor, who goes by just the name Dr. Hamza, lost the battle.
After a few minutes’ resuscitation, the girl died. The doctor wrapped a triangular cloth around the small corpse. Her mother slumped on a chair, in shock. Her father paced the room.
They had not yet named her. This baby did not die of shrapnel wounds or a sniper’s bullet. She died from a respiratory illness.
According to the charity Save the Children, the majority of children’s diseases in Syria-measles, diarrhea and respiratory illnesses-are treatable.
"When I see a wizened dead baby," said one U.N. officer. "I think: did they really die of starvation? Or did they die of some horrible disease? Or even a treatable one they can’t get drugs for?"
Sixty percent of the hospitals in Syria are damaged or destroyed; half the doctors have fled the country. Medicine is heading backward several centuries.
(via Can You Say…”Hero?”)
Why Mr. Rogers, famous for doing the same thing year in and year out, was a hero.
Here’s an un-fun experiment: the next time your kid’s in the other room, sneak a peek at her science textbook. Chances are, it says evolution is just a theory and global warming is debatable.
If you’re living in Louisiana or Tennessee, you may also want to check out what your kids’ teachers are discussing in class: Teachers in those states are now allowed to teach creationism along with evolution and to argue both sides of global warming - even over the objections of their school principals and superintendents.
In 2013, nine anti-science bills were introduced in seven states, and legislators nationwide have filed about 50 bills in the past 10 years declaring evolution a “controversial” idea whose opposing side, creationism, must be taught in the interest of academic freedom. Though most of these efforts died in committee - as South Dakota’s did last week - some become law.
It’s all being done under the guise of fairness: Missouri’s House Bill 1587, creeping toward a vote, would force principals and administrators to let teachers “help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of the theory of biological and hypotheses of chemical evolution.”
The bill’s authors say it’ll help students “develop critical thinking skills, and respond appropriately and respectfully to differences of opinion about controversial issues, including biological and chemical evolution.”