Thursday, June 23, 2013: Muxes, Unregulated stem cells, Save the sand; Opinion: don't bomb Syria

Bathroom Debate Complicates Mexican Town’s Acceptance of a Third Gender

"To the people of this town in southern Oaxaca State, the existence of a third gender is as much a part of life as the ancient Zapotec language they speak and the huge, spiny iguanas that laze in the trees. Here, the muxes — people born with male bodies but who identify as neither male nor female — are part of the social fabric, admired for their embroidery, hairstyling, handicrafts and cooking."

A Cautionary Tale of ‘Stem Cell Tourism’

"Jim Gass has undergone stem cell therapy at clinics in Mexico, China, and Argentina to try to recover from a stroke. But doctors found a huge mass with someone else’s cells growing aggressively in his lower spine."

The World’s Disappearing Sand

"Every yard of asphalt road that connects all those buildings is also made with sand. So is every window in every one of those buildings. Sand is the essential ingredient that makes modern life possible. And we are starting to run out. That’s mainly because the number and size of cities is exploding, especially in the developing world. Every year there are more people on the planet, and every year more of them move to cities. Since 1950, the world’s urban population has ballooned to over 3.9 billion from 746 million."

The False Lure of Military Intervention in Syria

"There have never been good options in Syria, and the situation is getting worse. But no one has yet made a persuasive case that direct American military involvement against Mr. Assad is the answer."