• Language, Power, and Global Health: the privilege of speaking English

      My first couple of overseas jobs were pretty much just being the native English speaker on staff. Right after undergrad, I was an intern with the American University in Cairo. I drafted or edited every piece of writing that came out of our office. Later on, after my master’s degree, I was an intern… Read More »

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  • Gratitude in a Time of Climate Change

    Climate change is going to affect life on earth in ways we can’t even begin to understand yet, but the first impact is the one we’re seeing: extreme weather events. Hurricane Sandy last year, Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda this year, the ice storm that just hit the east coast of the US, famine in Somalia – that’s… Read More »

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  • I would suck at being poor. And so would you.

    I was thinking today how bad I would be at being poor. I’m great at being broke. I handle broke like a champion. But broke isn’t poor. Broke is temporary with better things as a possibility. Poor is generally permanent; at the very least it feels that way. Poor has no clear way out. You… Read More »

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  • Dementia and other disasters

    A couple of people have pointed out that my approach to Alzheimer’s, as I outlined in my TED talk, looks an awful lot like disaster preparedness. That’s not by accident. My job shapes my personal life all the time, and since Alzheimer’s is a disaster waiting to happen to me, I took a disaster preparedness… Read More »

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Career Question: What do I study in undergrad?

Dear Alanna: I would really like to go to University next year but am still unable to decide what to study.  All i know is that i am interested in social problems such as poverty, poor education and inequality to name a few.  I am not sure what degree would suit me or give me… Read More »

Where I’ve been

Observant readers will have noticed I have not updated this blog since February. I have every intention of starting again soon. Really soon. In the meantime, I’ve started writing in other places. I am now writing regularly for UN Dispatch on global health issues – see me eviscerate Russian HIV policy right over here. I will… Read More »

A friend of mine in Tajikistan used to consistently buy prepackaged foods for her children. Anything specifically marketed to kids caught her attention. She’d buy it – all of it, and feed it to them, even when it was more expensive than other options. So, functionally, she was raising her kids on a diet of… Read More »

Worries for the new year

Technically, they’re not 2015-specific worries, or even solely worries so much as some ideas. But it’s 2015 now, and this is what I’ve been thinking about lately: I have so many feelings about the article on Aleppo’s Civil Defense Force. Tragedy brings out the good and true in some people. I’ve seen it happen. Not… Read More »

Things I’ve Been Reading: Miami, Britain, Ebola

1. Miami, and delusion. Miami is sinking under water, and everyone pretends it’s not happening. My parents lived in Miami a few years back, and I noticed that myself. everyone went around living in the city – buying real estate, developing land, renovating houses on the beach – and nobody seemed to notice the city will be underwater very, very… Read More »

World Humanitarian Day

We are at a time of change and fear for the human race and all life on our planet. Climate change, globalization and its reversal, losses of biodiversity and the depletion of fossil fuels is making this world a very different place than it was even thirty years ago. We don’t know what our future… Read More »

SWEDOW: Why are we so obsessed with giving away our old stuff?

I’ve always wondered about our obsession with sending old clothes overseas. No matter how many times the idea is debunked by experts and people who rant a lot, the idea doesn’t die. Why? What about giving away our clothes –and other stuff – is so emotionally important to us that we can’t let go of… Read More »

Things I’ve been thinking 6/17/2014

  “Don’t think about where the lines are drawn, think about who draws the lines.” I rarely agree with The Last Psychiatrist, but it’s my go-to source for question assumptions and making the world look different. I found this post especially thought-provoking.  This long blog post about disease diagnostics got me wondering if we’ve been… Read More »

Baku, a Snapshot

Some of you may have noticed I started using all my own pictures in this blog a while ago. I pull them from my Instagram, which is reasonably active. I have found taking pictures helps me think in new ways about the places I live. I always worried that photography would turn me into an… Read More »

Things I’ve been thinking about: May 1st, 2014

1. Can Elinor Ostrom’s work help us understand what to do about antibacterial resistance? I’ve been reading a lot of Ostrom in an attempt to develop an opinion, but it’s tough going for me.  Econ was never my strong suit. Anyone smarter than me want to chime in and explain it? 2. How do we… Read More »