Let us now discuss Ebola, meningitis, public health, and western-centrism.
I am recovering from meningitis but still a long way from feeling back to my regular self. I hope to be fully recovered in the next couple weeks, but between now and then I’ll be a bit less active than usual online.
This set includes:
- Six CDs of John Green reading The Fault in Our Stars, because his voice perfectly emulates that of a 16 year old girl.
- A wristband for The Hectic Glow, a band so beautifully underground that they don’t even exist. (bright orange, different from those received in 1st and 2nd edition box sets)
- An awesome concert ticket for The Hectic Glow, a concert so epic that it never technically occurred.
- Four TFiOS-themed postcards designed by nerdfighters that you can send to your friend to brag that you own the John Green-narrated audiobook and they don’t.
- Three TFiOS-themed stickers, designed by the ever-talented Risa Rodil.
- A set of four TFiOS buttons, also designed by Risa (did we mention how talented she is?)
- Also, all 3,000 copies are–get this–UNSIGNED.
aRE y ou sERIOUS iS THIS MAN REAL?????
No, that is not real. In the (deleted) cameo, which will appear in the DVD’s deleted scenes, I play the father of a seven-year-old child who is trying to tie his shoes after going through security in an airport.
In real life, I am not the father of a seven-year-old child, and I only wear slip-on shoes to the airport.
Q:John! John! I just saw your video from a NICU in Addis Ababa. THANK YOU. I loved that you spoke about KMC. I am a doctor and a newborn receiving KMC is the single most beautiful thing I have ever seen. May I suggest you read Abraham Verghese's Cutting for Stone? It is about growing up in Ethiopia and medicine and life and beauty and I think you will love it and I would love to hear you talk about it! Love your work!
I have read Cutting for Stone!
I was very impressed with what I read about Kangaroo Mother Care after talking to Dr. Gessesse. One of the things Bill Gates said to me was that a lot of the effective strategies for improving health care in the developing world (like KMC) aren’t that expensive, and many don’t require highly trained specialists.
Obviously, we need more Dr. Gessesses in the world, but a lot of the improvement in Ethiopian child mortality and vaccination rates is due to health extension workers and the amazing volunteer Women’s Health Army. These people provide prenatal care, talk to their neighbors about issues like family planning and when to introduce solid food to keep infants growing, and how to get folic acid and iron supplements inexpensively. Health extension workers, meanwhile, have only a tenth grade education and a year of training, but they can diagnose and treat illnesses from malaria to rotavirus to TB. (You’ll meet some of these people in future videos.)
All that noted, I don’t want to make it sound like a solved problem: Even with this progress, over 6% of Ethiopian children die before the age of 5. Most of those deaths are preventable, and if you believe that all human lives have equal value, you have to acknowledge the ongoing injustice and needless suffering in poor countries like Ethiopia. But the progress is real, and I think Ethiopia is blazing an important trail for the developing world.
In which John continues the Nerdfighter Book Club’s discussion of Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers. Are there unambiguous victories? How should we approach our understanding of and relationship with charities domestic and international? I look forward to reading all of your thoughts in comments when I get back.
Perk Update: John Green Writing Sneak Peak
If you donated for the John Green Writing Sneak Peak, you should find it winding its way into your email inbox very soon! Thanks again for donating to the Project for Awesome 2013 and for your patience in the delivery of this perk.
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In which John discusses his forthcoming trip with Bill Gates (yes, that Bill Gates), his health anxiety, the worldwide threat of mosquito-borne illnesses, health anxiety, Behind the Beautiful Forevers, the tyranny of Hollywood in re haircut frequency, and the arrival of pre-roll advertising on the vlogbrothers channel.
Q:"It's a metaphor" I have no doubt that you completely understand and stand by this statement that the act of putting an unlit cigarette in Augustus Waters' mouth is in fact a metaphor. But for some folks, we don't see it asa metaphor, we see it as situational irony, or a simple statement. Please explain how it is a metaphor.
Well, a character in a novel saying that something is a metaphor is not the same thing as the author of the novel saying that it’s a metaphor. Gus’s intellectual grasp often exceeds his reach (he calls a monologue a soliloquy, and misuses quite a few of the bigger words in his vocabulary). But I do think the cigarette is a metaphor, albeit a different one for us than it is for him.
Gus’s idea is that the cigarette is a metaphor for illness, and he keeps it unlit and in his mouth as an expression of his power over illness. “You put the killing thing between your teeth but you don’t give it the power to do its killing.” Gus’s thinking here is that HE has the power. This is why he tends to use the cigarette when he’s feeling nervous or powerless. (He’s also using the most famous commercially available carcinogen to make this statement, so obviously there’s a connection there in his mind: Humans can prevent cancer by not smoking; cancer is something we can have power over; your job is not to give cancer the power to kill you; etc.)
But of course Gus is wrong about all of this, or at least almost all of it. You may have SOME control over whether you die of cancer (you can choose not to smoke), but in most cases humans don’t have control over illness. “You don’t give it the power to do its killing” imagines more agency over illness than we actually have, because in the end much of the fault is in the stars, not in ourselves. So to us, the unlit cigarette is a metaphor for our false perception of control, and our urgent need to feel in control. It’s no coincidence, then, that when Gus’s life is spiraling out of control and he finds himself powerless before fate, he tries (and fails) to buy cigarettes.
the fault in our realtors
This is the John Green who owns johngreen.com. For many years, I wanted (desperately) to be the first person to come up when you searched “John Green” on google*, and John Green the Realtor was in my way. Plus, I narrowly missed the window to own johngreen.com, and I always resented John Green the Realtor.
(But really it was my fault: I told Hank in the late 90s that I didn’t want my own domain name because it was a waste of money and that I’d rather him build me a web site for my college “comedy writing” using a subdomain of his web site about Mars Exploration. “People don’t type URLs,” I told him. “They click them. So it doesn’t matter what your web site is called.” Other brilliant Internet predictions from me include, “Lonelygirl15 is definitely real,” “There will never be an Internet audience for widescreen video,” “MySpace is cooler than Facebook,” and “I don’t understand what a tumblr even is; it’s like a blog, but I already have a blog; why would I need a new blog?”)
Anyway, I know that some people on tumblr feel like I apologize too much, but I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize to John Green the Realtor, who has done a great job with johngreen.com and seems by all accounts to be an excellent choice for your real estate needs in Southwestern Tennessee and northern Mississippi.
* I am deeply embarrassed of this ambition, but anyway this was in the days before google personalized search, when there was but one Internet for all of us.
In which John Green returns to teaching World History! This week, we’ll be talking about the idea of civilization, some of the traditional hallmarks of so-called civilization, and why some people would choose to live outside the civilization model. It turns out, not everyone who lives outside of what we traditionally think of as a “civilized” social order is necessarily a barbarian! To defuse any tension you may be feeling, I’ll just tell you now, the Mongols are back. You’ll learn about Zomia, swidden agriculture, and even a little about anarchy!