A Dose of Dopamine, Round 8

Ignore his quibbling, unintelligible interview in the New York Times where the president-who-must-not-be-named claims that health insurance costs twelve dollars a year. Ignore it—I implore you! Relax with some chamomile tea and enjoy some wonderfully positive news from the past few weeks.

Last month, six Afghan girls who intended to participate in the FIRST Global Challenge robotics competition in Washington, DC, were denied visas to enter the United States after President Trump’s travel ban was implemented. However, after significant public outcry, the six girls were granted entry to participate in the competition held last week, and they finished with silver medals around their necks! Afghanistan’s defined gender roles often bar women and girls from equal access to education, often coercing them into a lifetime of household duty once they reach adolescence. To have six girls, all in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, participate in a robotics competition and finish second is a magnificent achievement, and an experience that they can take home to Afghanistan and share with women and girls around the country.

A study recently published in Medical Gas Research describes how doctors successfully managed to reverse the brain damage a North Dakota toddler suffered after drowning in February 2016. The team of doctors used two types of oxygen therapy on two-year-old Eden Carlson after she spent fifteen minutes submerged in a swimming pool. For two hours her heart did not beat on its own. Subsequent MRI scans found significant damage to her brain’s “gray matter.” In the proceeding months, the doctors continued her therapy which increased her levels of alertness and decreased her uncontrolled motor functions. Doctors believe oxygen therapy can be successful, but noted that since Eden was a child without a fully developed brain, the therapy’s success was more likely.

In other medical news, rapper 2 Chainz converted his pink trap house attraction into an HIV testing clinic in early July after working with the Fulton County Board of Health in Atlanta, Georgia. On his Instagram feed, the rapper posted a picture of the “trap clinic” calling Atlantans to “come get tested and know your status.” (A “trap house” is a term used for a drug den.) 2 Chainz’s pink house has been a multipurpose building in Atlanta, providing the community with art, music, cultural ideas, a church, and even a hair and nail salon.

The country of Chile has also been looking to repurpose as the government converted over eleven million acres of privately donated land into national parks. The Tompkins Foundation (founded and run by former Patagonia CEO Kristine McDivitt Tompkins and The North Face founder Douglas R. Tompkins) assisted the country in conserving the magnificent Patagonia area. The efforts will create five new national parks among the existing seventeen in an effort to “re-wild” Chile and halt decades of devastating deforestation. Chile hopes to create a “Route of Parks” that would triple the combined size of Yosemite and Yellowstone. The effort itself will not just help Chile’s environment, it will also create approximately 40,000 new jobs and bring in nearly $270 million per year from tourism.

While the newly acquired public land in Chile will remain untouchable, people in India will thankfully not! India elected a member of its “untouchables” caste to become the new president. While the presidential role is ceremonial in nature, India has a long history of a rigid caste system that rarely, if ever, allows for upward mobility. The election is symbolic of India’s movement towards improving social mobility, further evidenced by the removal of strict boundaries dictating where lower castes were forced to live. Now in India’s cities caste members are, for the most part, free to move around. The election of President Ram Nath Kovind exemplified this new trend with his extensive history of keeping his head down and working hard.

Finally (you know I can’t resist), two lost dogs in the UK returned home only after their owners cooked up some familiar sausages near where they went missing. Little schnauzers Charlie and Theo excitedly scampered back to their owners when they heard the sausages sizzlin’. The poor pups were missing for three days and a massive search was conducted to find them.  Thankfully the dogs have safely returned home, bellies full.

Keep all this good news in mind and fully enjoy Shark Week, #BarkWeek, Game of Thrones, or whatever else gets you going. Ignore the stupidity and ineptitude in Washington for just a moment and know that around the world there have been some great things happening. Whether it’s a rapper turning a trap house into an HIV clinic, Afghan girls getting a chance, or Chile creating five new national parks, there’s always a reason to smile!