Wash Your Damn Hands

Welp. It’s time for the April issue of The Zaleski Minute. Pour a drink, I guess. And wash your hands. If this takes you longer than 60 seconds, send all complaints to management.

What I Was Writing:

  1. For Popular MechanicsDisaster preppers with “End of the World” closets weren’t hoping for a pandemic. But when coronavirus hit, they were ready. What to learn, what to buy, and what to prioritize during the worldwide spread of COVID-19, from five expert preppers.

  2. For OneZero: As the world grapples with coronavirus, the average person is turning to YouTube for answers. And as people devour once-obscure medical programming, medical professionals are becoming overnight sensations. Meet Doctor YouTube.

  3. For GQ: We’ve all heard it before: Stop eating processed foods. But what does that even mean? And are processed foods even as bad for you as they’re made out to be?

Wear A Mask (Seriously. Wear One):

One of the best science journalists working today answers the question, in Wired: “Do masks work? Should everyone wear them? And if there aren’t enough medical-grade masks for the general public, is it possible to make a viable substitute at home? Decades of scientific research, lessons from past pandemics, and common sense suggest the answer to all of these questions is yes.”

Best American Science & Nature Writing

A quick update from The Zaleski Minute on some news I’d like to share:

In February 2019, I wrote a story about 12-year-old Tanner Collins, a boy from Pittsburgh who was missing one-sixth of his brain. When he was 6 years old, a benign tumor the size of a golf ball formed in his head. It pressed against regions of his right brain, and the result was always the same: serious seizures that disrupted his life and could stunt his future intellectual development. His parents made the grave decision to have the tumor surgically removed. Whether Tanner would ever see again or recognize his parents faces again was completely unknown.

But then something unexpected happened. The left side of Tanner’s brain took over all the functions that would have been the purview of the resected regions of his brain’s right hemisphere. In other words, he was perfectly fine.

You can read the story right now at Elemental. And in the fall, you’ll see it published in the 2020 edition of The Best American Science and Nature Writing. Entries in this latest, forthcoming edition were selected by world-renowned theoretical physicist Michio Kaku.

If you’re interested, here’s the pre-order link. The book publishes in October.

And during these times of pandemic, remember to be like T. rex: Don’t touch your face.

It's A Mad World

Here’s the first Zaleski Minute of 2020. I took a two-month break from sending these — so buckle up, I suppose. This one will probably take you longer than 60 seconds, so I look forward to all your complaints to management.

What I Was Writing:

  1. For Grist: Lab-grown meat. Plant-based burgers. The fake-meat revolution is here — just go to your local Burger King for their Impossible Whopper, the soy-protein take on the classic beef burger. But to distribute fake meat to the masses, the makers of fauxteins will need help from an unlikely source: the titans of Big Meat like Tyson, Smithfield, Nestle, and Conagra.

  2. For Elemental: Here comes a two-fer. Last month I wrote about the intermittent fasting diet, a trend more and more embraced by the tech culture of Silicon Valley, even as some eating specialists have their doubts and concerns. And for the second piece: You might be losing your hearing and not even know it, even if your hair cells are fully intact. Even sounds on a busy city street are enough to induce hidden hearing loss.

  3. For GQ: Up on GQ.com, I have a new biweekly health column. It’s been good fun so far. First we take a look at whether when you eat during the day is actually more important than what you’re eating. Next: man boobs. That’s right. Man boobs — and whether those soy burgers that Burger King is selling is enough to create them.

  4. For The Washington Post Magazine: What happens to our favorite navigational apps when cities and counties change street names? Here’s a look at how Google and Apple updated their maps when Arlington County decided to rename Jefferson Davis Highway.

Get Ready For:

The summer 2020 issue of Popular Science, which will publish in late May. Do any of you remember racing pinewood derby cars in the heyday of your youth? Well, get ready to meet a pack of middle-age men with serious Big Dad Energy who go to incredible lengths to build and race souped-up pinewood derby cars.

Coronavirus Is Here, We’re In Fear — Or Something:

I’ve been reading way too much about novel coronavirus, which has intermittently made me worried, concerned, pacified, and confused. Sometimes all that reading has made me a combination of all four. So here’s your unofficial COVID-19 reading list:

  1. The Washington Post has a good, running list of stories about the disease that’s regularly updated. Today they published a fascinating story about one man in South Korea who was infected and has since recovered: “I have now fully recovered and do push-ups in the morning.”

  2. Wondering about the spread of coronavirus? The Johns Hopkins University has a live map that shows current outbreaks, total confirmed cases, and the number of people who have recovered.

  3. Finally, here’s an article in MIT Technology Review. Written by Antonio Regalado, their biomedicine editor, it’s a humorous and informative take on preparing for COVID. (Featuring an appearance by Grey Goose as a disinfectant.)

This Is The End

Welcome to the last Zaleski Minute of 2019. As always, if it takes you longer than 60 seconds, complain to management.

So Long, 2019:

I wrote 31 articles this year, for publications including Popular Science, Bloomberg Businessweek, Outside, MIT Technology Review, Elemental, The Washington Post Magazine, and elsewhere. Here are some of the hits:

  • Meet the Wounded Veteran Who Got a Penis Transplant: For MIT Technology Review, a feature about the first full penis transplant ever performed on a war veteran.

  • The Scam of Deadly Fitness Supplements: For Elemental, a feature about a $400-million-dollar supplement manufacturer taken down by the Justice Department after their products killed consumers, including a soldier.

  • The Salt King of America: For Bloomberg Businessweek, a feature about Ben Jacobsen, the first person to set up a salt works on the Oregon coast since the days of Lewis and Clark.

  • The Giving Trees: For Popular Science, a feature about the meaning of urban trees and Gene DeSantis, who has planted more than 15,000 trees over a span of 40 years in Baltimore.

  • The Brain That Remade Itself: For OneZero, a feature about a 6-year-old who had 1/6 of his brain removed and turned out to be fine — after his brain literally changed.

  • A Month on the Carnivore Diet: For Outside, a feature about my month-long experiment as a member of Shawn Baker's all-meat cult, eating nothing but animal protein in September 2018.

Thanks for reading. Happy new year. Wishing us all a healthy and prosperous 2020.

The Ghosts Of War

Happy Halloween, I suppose. Here is the October Zaleski Minute. You know the drill: If it takes you longer than 60 seconds to get through this, complain to management.

What I Was Writing:

  1. For MIT Technology ReviewMeet Ray, the first war veteran to receive a full penis transplant. The surgery resides at the radical frontier of organ transplantation. (It’s been successfully performed just four times.) But bomb blasts from below, like those experienced by thousands of American soldiers who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, leave more men than before with major genitourinary trauma — and feeling like specters of their former selves. “This was actually something that could fix me,” says Ray. “I could go back to being normal again.”

  2. For Elemental: A dangerous dietary supplement. More than $400 million in profit. A trail of fraud and misdirection. And a handful of deaths. The inside story of the rise and fall of USP Labs, a Texas supplement manufacturer tracked for years by the federal government before it was finally taken down in 2015.

  3. For Curbed: So you’re thinking of buying a new RV? Well, you should maybe, probably, most definitely not do that: “The rule, typically, is don’t buy a new RV. If you buy a new RV, you’re going to be sitting in a dealership for two years getting it fixed.”

And Now For Something Different:

Read this delightful profile of Adam Driver (aka Kylo Ren), Hollywood’s newest leading man: “Despite his stolid presence, his characters are often thwarted and befuddled—high-strung alpha males driven by an ancient code of valor but tripped up by contemporary frustrations, like a Cro-Magnon man airdropped into Bed-Stuy and handed the wrong person’s latte.”

Loading more posts…