From the Editors
Readers say hurray for our American Ingenuity Award winners. Chris Hedges’ profile of the justice advocate Bryan Stevenson quickly garnered thousands of “likes” on Facebook. Fans of the movie director Benh Zeitlin, winner of the visual arts prize, cheered his Beasts of the Southern Wild. “It illustrates that family is where love resides and love can bloom in poverty and despair,” Robinson Yvette says. Robert Gibbons of Washington, North Carolina, saluted Elon Musk, our technology award winner, who is setting out to revolutionize the automotive industry and human space travel. “Musk truly deserves this award,” Gibbons says. “I look forward to the day I can afford a Tesla electric car.” Readers were astounded by Jack Andraka, a teenager who developed a test for detecting pancreatic cancer. “When we foster education,” Gene Savory says on Facebook, “this is something we see.”
The Doctor Is In
Thanks for Ron Rosenbaum’s sensitive reading of one of the more subtle and humane minds in the world today, Oliver Sacks [“The Gonzo Neurologist”]. He has pioneered the discussion of medicine’s great philosophical mysteries. Many doctors have followed in his steps, but none is on the same plane. Putting Rosenbaum to work in the magazine was a great editorial decision. I’m sure I’m not the only subscriber who values Smithsonian more because of articles by him.
Where There’s Smoke
Thank you so much for this informative and insightful piece. Few people realize that in many parts of the world, the simple act of cooking carries so many dangers [“Smoke Alarm”]. World Health Organization data show indoor air pollution kills two million people every year and injures even more: It is the fourth-biggest health risk in developing countries.
Elon Musk wants to reach Mars during his lifetime, not just lay the groundwork for a later generation [“Rocket Science”]. He wants to see the world cooking with solar power and driving on electrons. He’s in a hurry. I keep running across the opinion that somehow he’s an irrational dreamer or con man. Absurd. He has made a name for himself in history and sparked a momentum that’ll do great things for the human race.
Stopping the Violence
The United States leads the world in mass incarceration [“New Life”] in part because the nation does not use the robust knowledge it has developed about what works to prevent violent crime in cities, such as New Orleans, which have among the world’s highest rates of homicides. The knowledge is clear from research that gun violence is prevented by services that reach out to young men before they acquire handguns or join street gangs. For every dollar invested in such youth programs, $7 or more of additional incarceration costs will be saved. Yes, mass incarceration is horribly racially biased, but so is the lack of investment in proven strategies that prevent violence. Offenders are accountable for the harm they do. But not using the best methods to stop violence—all of us are responsible.
International Organization for Victim Assistance