India’s Bet on World Domination … in Health Care

Indian pharmacy

Peter Ngari had mortgaged his house, sold his car and borrowed from a cousin for his mother’s breast cancer treatment in the southern Indian city of Chennai when a moment of defeat turned into a dose of hope. 

By December 2016 the auto parts businessman had spent 500,000 Kenyan shillings ($4,860) shuttling between Nairobi and Chennai and another 300,000 Kenyan shillings ($2,880) on treatments. The 34-year-old decided he could not afford to continue. Then Ngari learned about a Nairobi chemotherapy center run by an Indian hospital group. The medical costs weren’t lower than in India, but the bulk of his expenses — traveling back and forth — would be saved. He turned to the Nairobi center for his mother.

East Africa in particular is keen on Indian health care. If India sets up treatment facilities here, it will earn dramatic goodwill.

Gerrishon Ikiara, economist, University of Nairobi

Medanta, the company that runs the Nairobi center, is one of many Indian groups that are reshaping India’s global health care profile. For years the country has been the world’s pharmacy — a supplier of cheap generic drugs. And the offer of quality health care at lower costs than those in the West has made India-based hospitals magnets for patients from developing nations in Africa and Central Asia, spawning a medical tourism industry that is expected to reach $8 billion by 2020.

But now Indian firms are also using their medical and managerial expertise to set up international empires — some through investments and others through partnerships with local hospitals. For patients like Ngari, the shift eases access to health care. For the Indian chains, the move opens up new markets, including patients who can’t afford to travel to India, and helps globalize their brands. “We are able to enlarge our patient base,” says Rajeev Dua, head of growth and business planning at Fortis, one of India’s largest hospital chains. It operates and manages facilities in Bangladesh, Nigeria, Ghana and Mauritius. “Our brand becomes a household name there.”

India’s association with health care in the developing world — even war zones — isn’t new. Indian physician Dwarkanath Kotnis is still revered in China for serving there during the war against Imperial Japan in the late 1930s. In that same decade Indian doctors volunteered to fight for Republican Spain against Francisco Franco. And, for more than a century, parts of East Africa, the Caribbean, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands have hosted Indian-origin communities, initially as indentured labor. “That historic association assists Indian hospitals seeking to expand to these regions,” says Biju Mohandas, head of the health and investment team for sub-Saharan Africa at the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation. “Early engagement with local doctors and strategic partners are key to long-term success.”

But there are also factors at play that simply did not exist earlier. Many East and West African nations, and countries like Bangladesh in South Asia, are witnessing rare political stability and economic growth. Expendable incomes have risen. Relatively closed economies in Central Asia and Iran are only now opening up. The Middle East, where wealthy patients have traditionally visited India for specialized surgeries, is ripe as a market.

And unlike the past, it is India’s private health care players — not individual doctors — that are stepping into new territories. India remains their biggest market: Its health care industry, worth $79 billion in 2013, is expected to explode to $280 billion by 2020. But appetites have grown, and they’re ready for expansion abroad. “They see a good opportunity to enter a growing market and get a foot in the door,” says Mohandas.

The hospitals have followed diverse approaches. In 2005 the Chennai-based Apollo group invested in a hospital in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and now plans to open a second one in Chittagong, in 2018. In 2012, it set up a clinic in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Fortis bought stakes in a Mauritius company that in turn bought two hospitals there. A second route involves joint ventures between Indian hospitals that provide technical assistance and investors with funding — that was Medanta’s strategy in setting up Medanta Africare in Nairobi, in May 2012.

A third model has emerged as the most popular. Local health care groups reach out to Indian chains, which devise a business plan and manage the hospitals for a fee. Fortis is running a hospital in Ghana and three in Nigeria using this approach. Apollo helped local health care firms plan and set up hospitals in Poland, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, the Antilles and Yemen. “We don’t invest any money,” says Sukhmeet Sandhu, Fortis’ head of international operations. “That’s our preferred model.” 

To be sure, India’s hospitals have had setbacks. Medanta Africare has faced allegations that it was referring patients to Indian hospitals in return for kickbacks. Anil Maini, Medanta Africare’s chief, denied the allegations before a Kenyan Parliamentary investigative team. He did not respond to an email request for an interview.

Still, both the demand for Indian health care and the desire to deliver it are spreading. “East Africa in particular is keen on Indian health care,” says Gerrishon Ikiara, economist at the University of Nairobi. “If India sets up treatment facilities here, it will earn dramatic goodwill.”

That diplomatic potential is something India now recognizes. Since 2015, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has inaugurated a hospital in Sri Lanka, donated cancer treatment technology to Mongolia and Kenya and visited a hospital in Tajikistan and a biomedical research center in Kyrgyzstan — all built with Indian aid. In Nairobi last year, he also promised a cancer hospital.

Such is the optimism that even challenges are viewed as opportunities. Mauritius, for instance, does not allow organ transplants, but that has upsides for Indian hospitals with a presence there, point out executives. “Since we are present in those countries,” says Dua, “those patients will likely opt for the same provider in India when they come here.”

Stay Ahead of Wall Street at OZY Fest 2017

Shutterstock 617959385

Join us at OZY Fest on July 22 in New York City’s Central Park to rock, think, laugh and eat, courtesy of Jason Derulo, Malcolm Gladwell, Samantha Bee and Eddie Huang, among many others. Find out more and get tickets at ozy.com/ozyfest.

OZY is proud to keep you ahead of the markets with coverage of the trends and people changing the worlds of business, finance and economics. Next month, these conversations will continue in person at OZY Fest 2017 with a star-studded lineup of business leaders who will be discussing forward-looking, thought-provoking and provocative questions about the future of work, what it takes to get ahead, the role of business in politics and society, and more.

In addition to chart-toppers and celebrity chefs, OZY Fest 2017 will serve up a diverse array of special guests in business, from billionaire Shark Tank star Mark Cuban to Bumble founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe. We’re also excited to welcome entrepreneur Sarah Kauss, founder and CEO of water bottle manufacturer S’well; entrepreneur and investor Joseph Sanberg of Aspiration and Blue Apron fame; and investor extraordinaire Michael Moe.

Below is a roundup of some of the conversations that OZY is leading in business — and how OZY Fest 2017 will take them to the next level. 

How to Get Ahead in the Changing Workplace

The future is now, and it’s brought some big changes to your 9-to-5. Big change also brings big, important questions: What happens when bosses can track where you look and advertisers can track what you look like?

As organizations try to prioritize diversity and increasingly acknowledge the significance of reducing implicit biases, what is the next step after so-called blind hiring? Do female-only networks help or hinder women in the workplace? 

 

How Tech Is Changing the Future of Your Wallet

Hot on the heels of Uber in transportation and Airbnb in accommodation, the finance industry is (finally) going mobile. Soon, you won’t need credit cards and you’ll be able to invest your money ethically with the swipe of a finger.

Silicon Valley techies are beating D.C. politicians in designing the future of retirement for millennials; meanwhile, some fintech startups are prioritizing branding over financials.

The Future of Main Street

Entrepreneurial innovation isn’t just limited to the glitzy coasts — Middle America is getting in on the action too. Independent hardware stores and banks are making small sexy again by fighting against the homogenization of big brands. Meanwhile, pioneering individuals, from venture capitalists to social entrepreneurs, are fighting to save small towns and inner cities.

The Evolution of the Side Hustle

The daily grind has never looked so different. Though streams of income on the side have been around forever — whether it was prostitution or DIY with neighbors — the digital economy is transforming the side hustle. Network marketing and travel hacking have already taken off — but strap yourself in for the ascent of the Airbnb of computing.

Going Global

OZY has also taken you on a business trip to far-flung corners of the globe, from rising giant Brazil to plucky fintech hot spot Dublin. We’ve introduced you to the woman bringing Lagos to the world and to the young investor putting Vietnam on the map.

So come check out OZY Fest 2017, where we’ll look at the new and next in business with Mark Cuban, Whitney Wolfe, Sarah Kauss, Joe Sanberg, Mike Moe and more. Get your tickets at ozy.com/ozyfest.

The Great Golf Debate: To Turf or Not to Turf?

Shutterstock 575839291

With its immaculate fairways and majestic views of the ocean and outlying islands, the Reef Palms Resort’s 18-hole golf course along the coastline of Queensland, Australia, is tough to beat. The 100 sprawling acres of lush greenery amid towering palm trees contain another rare feature: They are 100 percent synthetic — or artificial — turf. 

In a region with frequent droughts and salty soil, it seems like a no-brainer to think outside the bunker and try something new. But it’s not just in places like Queensland that golf course owners and developers are facing pressure to reduce their environmental impact and rein in the increasingly onerous costs of maintaining 100-plus acres of natural lawn. Why don’t they do themselves, and the planet, a favor and move toward a more sustainable solution? Why shouldn’t golf go faux?

Today’s synthetic turf … is not your grandfather’s rock-hard AstroTurf.

Consider this: According to the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, there are over 2.2 million acres of golf courses in the United States alone — roughly the size of the state of Delaware — of which about 1.5 million acres are natural, high-maintenance turf. Audubon International estimates the average U.S. course uses more than 300,000 gallons of water per day, and closer to 1 million per day for desert courses — about the same volume of water the average U.S. family uses over a decade. “Golf courses are intensively managed landscapes, which, in addition to the large amount of water,” says Cristina Milesi, a former environmental scientist at NASA and director of the Evalstat Research Institute, “use a lot of pesticides and fertilizer, which are often washed out in the streams, threatening to adversely impact the local ecosystem.”

 

Add to this environmental impact the fact that the areas where golf is expanding most rapidly are generally hot and dry, like the American Southwest, making it expensive and energy intensive to grow fine turf grasses — and the incentives to move beyond natural turf accumulate further. And today’s synthetic turf (usually made of some combination of polypropylene, polyethylene and nylon) is not your grandfather’s rock-hard AstroTurf. Many practice facilities already use synthetic surfaces, and some professional golfers use synthetic greens to practice at home. Synthetic turf also allows for more consistent performance in locales with less friendly year-round climates — courses in places like Luxembourg and Alaska have already used synthetic surfaces for tee boxes and greens.

Golf water

Source Eva Rodriguez/Ozy

To be sure, synthetic golf courses are not without their own problems. Although maintenance costs can be a fraction of natural turf courses, building a new course, or converting an existing one, ain’t cheap. Nor are temperatures on the turf particularly cool on a midsummer afternoon. Synthetic turf does not hold rain or surface water like natural grass, or help prevent soil erosion. In recent years, as Milesi points out, many golf courses have also taken steps to become more sustainable, from using recycled water to drought-resistant turf to improved fertilizers. 

The biggest obstacle to a turf takeover may well be convincing golfers that synthetic surfaces can provide a playing (and aesthetic) experience akin to what they’re accustomed to. But the advent of turf in other sports, like football, baseball and soccer, was greeted with a similar reluctance, and was eventually overcome. And, let’s face it, it’s not like the well-manicured, heavily engineered lawns on a golf course are all that “natural” anyway.

Synthetic golf courses like Reef Palms may never fully replace grass ones, but as costs and environmental concerns with existing courses mount, and the industry looks to expand into new locations and climates, more courses should consider the real benefits of going fake.

Between Herpes and a Hard Place

Herpesfinal

A Wink vs. a Nod

EUGENE, SIR: How do you tell a bruised or busted lip from herpes? — Omar

Dear Oh Man: I’m not an expert on herpes. But I am an expert on knowing that if your dating choices are bookended by a communicable virus and violent facial damage causally connected to either attacking or being attacked, then it just may be that you’re barking up the wrong trees. But who am I to judge? Well, I’m a guy with his fingers on the herpes experts’ pulse who called on Dr. Steve Ballinger for the inside scoop on herpes, hits and the resulting busted lips.

Ballinger’s response? “Herpes is a small cluster of blisters at the ‘vermilion border’ — the margin of the normal face skin and the hairless lip skin — that eventually coalesces into an ulcer. A lip injury starts as a split of the skin, or with an injury inside the mouth. It might be hard to tell the two apart after a week or so, but if you are getting close enough to get infected, you should be able to get a pretty good look. Though my virology professor once said, ‘Everybody has herpes. Everyone who has taken a sip of someone else’s drink, taken a bite of food off someone else’s fork or accidentally made contact with the drinking fountain spout has herpes. Some people don’t shed the virus, but it’s there.’ ”

Make you feel better? I didn’t think so.

 

Not a Bug, a Feature

EUGENE, SIR: I’ve cheated on my girlfriend about five or six times. She started the cheating first, and says she’s been unfaithful about the same amount. We’ve had some straight talk about it and decided we both felt worst about the lying, so we’re going to stop that. We think we should try threesomes and group things so we are not stealing from our relationship but adding to it. Are there ways to do this that are not truly stupid? Your advice will be taken seriously. We’re both 27. — Pokemon

Dear Ya Mon: If your apartment were on fire, you would have a problem. The problem would be that the apartment you owned was causing you problems. If you attempted to put out this fire with gasoline, you could claim later on that you no longer had an apartment that caused you problems, but it might also be the case that that was because you no longer had an apartment. I appreciate your wanting to get to that no-apartment stage as quickly as possible, but the reality is that while your attempt to move beyond bullshit is admirable, your corrective is dangerous. 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Threesomes are complicated machines. There was a recent case in New York that saw a fellow going from a happy threesome to trying to film said threesome (which is, incidentally, verboten without permission) to being subsequently accused (falsely) of rape by the now-angry woman whose boyfriend (who had not been invited to the aforementioned threesome) showed up and, with the able assistance of two friends, stabbed and beat to death the unfortunate and dearly departed Manos Ikonomidis, the third part of the threesome and the erstwhile photographer.

I’m not suggesting that you’ll share a similar fate. But I’m totally suggesting that the think tank levels of thinking that need to go into planning something like this means it’s probably unsuitable as a fix for an already volatile interpersonal relationship. So step back a bit, and maybe delve into the whys behind the initial cheating. Afterward, if y’all are even steven and still want to be in a relationship with each other? Then call it at six and get about the business of improving business. After stability has returned? Revisit the threesome thing. That’s a non-stupid way of doing business. Good luck.

Penis Paucity

EUGENE, SIR: How do I deal in a tactful way with a penis that’s way too small to have sex with? — Charlotte

Dear Ms. Web: Isn’t this like the worst magic trick in the book? Two people come together, over drinks, in a time-honored tradition that leads to one of you saying to the other, “Hey, let’s get out of here.” Your hearts are beating like drums, to paraphrase Rod Stewart, because you’re finally both at someone’s home. Or a motel. Or a car. Or bushes in the park. And the one with the penis and the promises drops his pants to reveal? Disappointment. Sure, you’ve heard all of those canards about it not being the meat but the motion, but you’re old enough to have really firm, so to speak, ideas about this kind of thing. 

So how to ease out now? Well, Anton LaVey once told me that he thought popularity had killed more people than anything else because no one willingly wants to run the risk of being unkind and maybe just a smidgen less popular. To which I say: Screw that.

Would you eat a roach if it came with your ravioli just to make the cook happy? I think you know the answer, even if it’s not what you’re asking me — but what you’re asking very much addresses the how

Look, people who believe themselves to be fat know they’re fat. Short people are rarely confused about how tall they are. Similarly, men who are not packing know they are not packing and, I would guess, are hoping for some sort of positive outcome. Like people in hell hope they’ll get a mai tai.

It’s not your responsibility to be flowing this kind of charity. So you could lie — “I have a boyfriend, a husband, a court date” — or you could tell the truth: “We can’t do this. Maybe after I know you better.” That’s the most tactful thing of all since it doesn’t rule out the possibility, but makes it contingent on other qualities and your willingness to have those qualities change your mind.

He’ll know why you stopped and will respect your tact. If he doesn’t? Self-correcting problem!

A Scandal-Hit NAACP Chapter and the Ex-Con Trying to Fix It

Kurtis robinson 02

Inside the city community building, Kurtis Robinson, 52, has his hands tucked into the pants of his weathered firefighter uniform. He’s listening intently as Virla Spencer, a local advocate for battered women, addresses him. “You’ve been through hell and back,” she says. “They’re going to try to move you. My suggestion to you is to learn to stand still.” Speaking for the marginalized, the alienated, the impoverished — she understands the temptation to stay silent. “A lot of people are ashamed. They try to hide things,” she continues. “Nothing is hidden in this town. So be transparent about it.”

“This town” is Spokane, a city of about 200,000 that was rocked by the scandal of Rachel Dolezal, the former NAACP branch president who two years ago refused to come clean after her parents outed her as white. Since then, two more chapter presidents have come and gone, and now Robinson, elected in May, is trying to pick up the pieces for a city that became “a laughingstock,” as one resident told OZY. Yet the lessons learned here could inform other small cities eager to look past a person’s skin color and seek real justice — in a nation holding 5 percent of the world’s population but 25 percent of its incarcerated people. “Spokane is a very good petri-dish example of that,” Robinson says, noting that the city’s African-Americans make up just 3 percent of the populace — and 15 percent of the county’s imprisoned.

This is a gospel he preaches easily, because he’s lived it. Robinson is a former convict, shot in the ’80s after a drug deal gone wrong and then arrested during an attempted robbery, which had him cycling in and out of jail for three years. Fast-forward to now, and Robinson, a dozen years sober, is a poster boy for the power of reform, working with criminal justice groups like Smart Justice Spokane and I Did the Time. “He was a very dynamic speaker,” recalls Layne Pavey, another former felon, who served with Robinson on Smart Justice Spokane. “You can’t really ever discredit the man. Despite his criminal history, he’s one of the hardest-working people.”

 

Yet this will be his first time running an organization, and leadership comes with scrutiny. Ex-convicts rarely get a second chance to participate fully in society, let alone lead it, as Pavey notes: “We are all sort of fighting for a place.” Even pre-Dolezal, African-American members of the Spokane NAACP felt like meetings were filled with well-meaning white neighbors calling themselves allies — and Robinson, who attends an addiction recovery service rather than the traditionally Black churches in town, will need to make further inroads with the African-American community he didn’t make his name in. “If you don’t come out of that, you do have some work to do in terms of connecting,” says Sandra Williams, editor of The Black Lens, the only African-American newspaper in eastern Washington.

No more conversations about us without us.

Kurtis Robinson

However, “word is already spreading about him,” Williams adds, and so far Robinson’s enthusiasm in telling his personal story has helped win over many. Although he joined the NAACP chapter just a year ago, Robinson is already adept at identifying issues of unevenly applied justice. He’ll have a chance to take some of those issues on while sitting on the racial equity committee of the Spokane Regional Law and Justice Council, which has been tasked with applying a $1.75 million MacArthur Foundation grant to ease jail overcrowding by one-fifth by 2019. He helped push the ban the box initiative in Spokane, joining a national movement that has seen over 150 cities and counties remove the conviction-history question from job applications to give ex-criminals a fighting chance. And he led marchers through the streets in May after an all-white jury acquitted a white 29-year-old who claimed self-defense in the shooting of a 45-year-old Black man in the back. As Robinson pointed out, national studies have shown that juries without color rule disproportionately against defendants of color. “No more conversations about us without us,” he intones, echoing a phrase that has become his calling card.

Robinson takes a similar approach toward racial disparity. “You have to deal with it from multiple perspectives,” says the eight-year veteran of wildland firefighting. “Natural fire is a fluid, dynamic situation — and that’s what we’ve had here on the race issue.” Progress will take organizing, not just with communities of color, but also communities of privilege. And his is a mandate to serve African-Americans, as well as Asian-Americans and Native Americans. “This systemic racism has had a siloing effect,” he explains, and it’s succeeded because “we have been allowing our multigenerational resentment to hamstring us.” 

Whether he can make an impact outside the Lilac City depends on his solutions taking hold — and being exportable, as other communities, from California to Delaware and Louisiana, rethink their incarceration efforts. He admits it feels as if his life is moving at warp speed, and it seems surreal that he, once a cocaine addict, is now expected to lead. 

Still, Robinson has overcome far tougher challenges. Growing up a mixed kid, born to a white mother and a father who was half Black, half Native American and fully absent, he felt ostracized by all sides. He’s since healed, a process that began when he lived on the Colville Tribe reservation near Spokane. There, he says, he received a message from God: “Now you get to serve,” he recalls. And he has, proclaiming he’s ready to stand against powerful forces while trying to be open about his own demons. After Dolezal — who Robinson believes might have been forgiven had she been forthright — perhaps sincerity is just what Spokane needs.  

The Birth of America’s Obsession With the Perfect Cup of Coffee

Shutterstock 581967010

Wanted: someone to set the record straight on coffee’s health effects and work out the recipe for a perfect cup

This was the National Coffee Roasters Association’s proposition to Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Samuel Prescott in 1920, in exchange for $40,000 worth of funding (half a million today). The public was fed up with snake-oil-style health ads and were newly protected from fraudulent pseudo-medical packaging by legislation. So coffee peddlers needed more precise, scientific advertising — and nothing embodied precision like MIT.

Prescott coffee web

Professor Samuel Cate Prescott in his new laboratory devoted to perfecting coffee in 1920.

Source MIT Museum

Prescott accepted the gig and was soon monitoring coffee’s effects on rabbits. He separated decades of quackery from legitimate literature, sipping obscene quantities of brown gold for three years before delivering the perfect cuppa: “One tablespoon of coffee per eight ounces of water, just short of boiling, in glass or ceramic containers, never boiled, reheated or reused.” Prescott didn’t want his fairly basic research bandied about, but that didn’t stop the coffee roasters from plastering his quotes for 36 million newspaper readers to see. Just 20 years earlier, coffee was known for being cut with sawdust, but brewing had now become an exercise in perfection.

To fully understand coffee brewing’s empirical affair, we need to rewind to the magnates, Mad men and bad science involved. Rising demand throughout the 19th century drove massive expansion of Brazilian plantations. Coffee men bet and bought like stockbrokers, on wisps of rumors of boom or bust in Brazil, until, by the 1890s, natural selection had honed an oligopoly of coffee-industry early birds like Folgers, Chase and Sanborn.

The late 19th century was a boom time for claims from patent medicines and psychological misinformation.

Mark Pendergrast, coffee historian

Of the magnates, John Arbuckle wrote the book on coffee salesmanship. His brew was conveniently prepacked with prize-redeemable coupons in every bag, packaged in beautifully crafted collectible crates. When Hermann Sielcken, Arbuckle’s biggest competitor, targeted Native American buyers by saying his coffee made men as strong as the lion on the wrapper, Arbuckle retorted that his insignia’s angel was stronger than 10,000 lions. If “Lion wants to beat my angel, they’ll have to put on their label a picture of God himself,” he mused.

 

Arbuckle modernized coffee advertising with two Don Draper-ish tricks: undermining self-worth and promising health. People had argued about coffee’s healthiness for hundreds of years, but it was Arbuckle’s ads that equated skilled coffee brewing with wifeliness, exploiting housewives’ insecurities, and healthy living.

The industry soon adopted his suggestive, insecurity-targeting advertising style, but they weren’t alone. A flash flood of snake-oil-like entrepreneurs had also noticed, and as coffee historian Mark Pendergrast tells OZY, “the late 19th century was a boom time for claims from patent medicines and psychological misinformation.”

Among them was traveling salesman C.W. Post, whose concept of a “coffee substitute” of burned-and-ground cereal called Postum seemed doomed to fail in 1895. But he pushed it with a fierce campaign, with headlines like “Lost Eyesight Through Coffee Drinking,” citing quack physicians and equating caffeine to “cocaine, morphine, nicotine and strychnine.” Post claimed that customers could “recover from any ordinary disease by discontinuing coffee … and using Postum.” Within a decade he was a millionaire, his $1.5 million advertising budget rivaling the entire coffee industry’s.

The brazenness that made him rich also proved his downfall. After Collier’s Weekly — a periodical that was muckraking fraudulent advertising at the time — lambasted Postum, he slandered it and got sued, with the coffee peddlers eagerly watching as the prosecutor convinced the jury to “make this man honest again,” according to The New York Times. Coffee trade magazines called out the father of the Food and Drug Administration, Harvey Wiley, for ignoring Post in his food-industry investigations. Wiley was no friend of the coffee industry; he believed, as Pendergrast notes in his book Uncommon Grounds, that “coffee drunkenness is a commoner failing than the whiskey habit.” But Post’s ads were an embarrassing pain, and he finally forced Post to stop advertising Postum as coffee.

While the coffee industry successfully capitalized on public demand for transparency, taking down substitutes’ snake-oil-style advertising, it also managed to shoot itself in the foot. Not everyone drank coffee, but access to a cheap cuppa by then had become an American birthright. So in 1906, when Arbuckle’s old competitor Sielcken bankrolled the Brazilian government’s scheme to sequester surplus beans, Americans were outraged. Substitutes offering a “healthier,” cheaper alternative gained steam. Under the subsequent barrage of pseudo-scientific attack ads, coffee brands decided the wisest action was swiping at each other’s throats. If one ad claimed that coffee’s tannins or acids caused a health problem, every other brand countered with pseudo-medical bull claiming that that was what happened when you drank any other brand.

Unsurprisingly, this undermined people’s faith in the health benefits of coffee. So, after Postum was dispatched, heads of the industry and editors of top trade publications formed the National Coffee Roasters Association. In 1912, to improve the industry’s brewing standards, they charged inventor/researcher/entrepreneur and future chairman Edward Aborn with conducting the first study of coffee’s chemical composition. They resigned the whimsical ad campaigns in favor of more scientific ones — employing crack teams of Mad men who used psychological research to figure out how best to target customers, says Pendergrast.

Brands that resisted the new scientific style of advertising, including the once-dominant Arbuckle, quickly crumbled. And on the eve of the Jazz Age, the NCRA approached Prescott for help, raising their glass on a new coffee era.

Brazil’s Hidden Paradise of a Thousand Waterfalls

full size render 26

Some say it’s the most surreal view in Brazil. To get there we venture down an unmarked path and find Graciliano, a smiling old man who lives in a cabin — he offers visitors hot coffee and collects the entrance fee. Along the way we pass one of his hand-painted signs: “Watch out for jaguars.” Over a plateau, down through the valley and then a precarious climb back up the face of the canyon and we’ve made it to Mirante da Janela (the Window View) — and it is something out of a dream. Across the deep green valley are two huge, successive waterfalls: the first with a 260-foot drop into a pool that goes directly into a second 400-foot cascading fall. 

Central Brazil is usually pretty low on travelers’ to-do lists. With its countless beaches, Amazonian jungles and the bustling city of Rio de Janeiro on offer, why head into the country’s heartland, which is mostly known for farmland and Brazilian country music? But reward awaits those who make the three-hour trip from Brasilia through the seemingly endless soy fields to Chapada dos Veadeiros, an 8,000-plus-square-mile park (on public and private land) packed with dramatic plateau mountains blanketed in greenery and so many waterfalls. The spectacular quartz-crystal rock formations, among the oldest in South America, wow with landscapes straight out of Jurassic Park. Plus you’ll glimpse armadillos, bright blue and yellow macaws and, perhaps, even a jaguar.

full size render 25

Just try not to jump into this radiant turquoise water.

Source Courtesy of Anna Jean Kaiser

The park, accessible from São Jorge in the west and Alto Paraíso in the east, is not just about natural beauty: Buzz about extraterrestrial sightings — you’ll even see aliens painted on buildings in towns — and healing miracles abound. Rumor has it that it’s the brightest spot on Earth from space because of its location on a bed of quartz crystal. “Chapada is pure magic,” Marina Almeida, a 34-year-old from the Rio de Janeiro area tells me. She is so enamored with the park and the surrounding cerrado (bushland) that she visited five or six times last year. “I think there’s a lot of wisdom there in the plants, the earth, the crystals,” she says.

Then, at the clearing, absolute majesty: The 115-foot waterfall crashes into the radiant turquoise water. 

But there are more waterfalls to be seen. Santa Barbara Falls, often heralded as Brazil’s most beautiful, is located within a quilombo, a village settled by escaped slaves whose descendants still live there. You’ll need a local guide who’s a resident of the community (obligatory for entering the quilombo). For about $20, they will take you down the bumpy dirt road into the jungle. Then it’s an upstream hike through thick vegetation, where you can catch glimpses of the brilliant blue waters. Then, at the clearing, absolute majesty: The 115-foot waterfall crashes into the radiant turquoise water. It’s a little cold, but with that color it’s irresistible. We jumped in for a swim. 

 

Accessibility ranges from rigorous all-day treks to driving right up to a swimming hole. Don’t miss Vale da Lua (Moon Valley), an otherworldly collection of massive gray rocks formed 600 million years ago. They’ve been smoothed over by the rushing river that weaves through the boulders, creating chutes, waterfalls and several swimming holes where visitors can take a dip. 

full size render 24

One of the many waterfalls in Chapada dos Veadeiros.

Source Courtesy of Anna Jean Kaiser

The sky is also a wondrous sight. After a long day of hiking, as I sip wine on the porch of our rented cabin, I look up and see the brightest stars I have ever seen, and a 360-degree view of an arm of the Milky Way reaching across the sky. That indescribable vibe of Chapada, whether it be aliens or not — I felt it.

GO THERE: Chapada dos Veadeiros, Goiás, Brazil

  • Directions: Rent a car in Brasilia and take the BR-010 to Alto Paraíso and veer off on the GO-239 to continue on to São Jorge.
  • Where to Stay: B&B rooms (known as pousadas) are available in the bohemian backpacker village of São Jorge for around R$180-R$400 ($50-$120) per night. More luxurious B&Bs will set you back more than $180. Spots in privately owned campgrounds typically go for around $15.
  • Fees: The national park is free to enter. Waterfalls on private property outside the park usually have a R$10-R$30 ($3-$10) entrance fee.
  • When to Go: Dry season is April to September, and wet season is October to March. During the dry season, you’re unlikely to encounter rain on your hikes, but the waterfalls might be less impressive (or nonexistent). In the wet season, you’ll see more powerful falls, but you run the risk of dangerous flash floods on the trails. Plan to stay from four days to a week.

Should There Be a License to Have Children?

Bouncer checking ID

Our question this week: Should you need a license to have a child? Email us or comment below with your thoughts.

Dr. Steven Ballinger, a guitarist, artist and master woodworker who also dabbles in orthopedic surgery, weighs in below with his own proposal for how such a licensing system could be enforced:

It seems almost impossible to me that humankind has managed to become a force so dominant on this planet that we are actually in a position to physically destroy it. Somehow our soft, slow, low-fertility species has achieved this position despite the fact that we typically have only one offspring at a time — one that must gestate for nine months and that requires a period of intense nurturing after birth to survive independently. What is the secret to our success? Sex drive.   

Ironically, the biological imperative that allowed the human population to explode has become one of our species’ biggest challenges. Unwanted pregnancy is a genuine tragedy, creating misery across time and class, and attempts to prevent it are likely as old as the knowledge of what causes it. Luckily, thanks to the scientific insights achieved by our large-brained species, we have it within our hands to uncouple human behavior from biology, and end the scourge of unwanted pregnancies once and for all — and without recourse to abortion or conventional birth control. Here’s how to do it: the reversible sterilization of every human male at birth.

All men would be sterile until they decided they want to conceive.…

Humans are among a small fraction of higher organisms that are able to conceive year-round. We have an intense sex drive that begins even before actual fertility occurs, maximizing the chances of reproducing. Therefore, the effective use of birth control to thwart an almost constant biological imperative requires diligence, planning and attention to detail. But what if there were a mechanism that could help forestall the need for such precautions?

The mechanism I am talking about would exploit a biologic detail so propitious that it seems almost too good to be true. The enzyme that provides the energy that allows sperm to swim (known as GAPD2) is unique to sperm, and blocking the normal function of that enzyme would allow production of normal sperm that lack the ability to swim, or fertilize an egg. It’s already possible to create an antibody that would attach to the active site of the enzyme exclusively and render a male infertile until the process is reversed. The technical capacity to induce the body to create these antibodies already exists, as does the means to temporarily block the expression of the antibodies, allowing the man to be temporarily fertile. 

 

Sperm immotility is already the cause of about 80 percent of male infertility, and there are no detectable associated medical or physical problems. Unlike hormone-manipulating contraception, there would be no developmental, maturational or behavioral consequences. All men would be sterile until they decided they wanted to conceive. Then they would take an anti-antibody pill every day until pregnancy occurred or they changed their mind, at which point they would stop taking the pill and revert to sterility.

There are undoubtedly people who will find the proposition of immunizing boys for fertility at birth to be abhorrent. Still, the only difference between a sterilized boy and a natural boy in this scenario is that at puberty, when spermatogenesis starts, the sterile boy will produce sperm that don’t swim. That’s it. Some will also find the idea of uncoupling sexuality from fertility a nonstarter. But, being sterile does not prevent one from practicing abstinence, it merely prevents backsliding from abstinence resulting in a potentially life-ruining event for both the parent and child. The complicated social horrors of rape and incest would be forever relieved of the complication of resulting pregnancy.

Humans have risen above the animal nature of our evolution. Many of the instinctive assets that got us to the top of the food chain have become liabilities. The traits that separate humans from animals — scientific knowledge and reason — are available to us to effectively sever the disastrous connection of sex drive and unwanted pregnancy. A world full of wanted children would be a victory of reason over instinct. Cycles of poverty and abuse would see a major contributor nullified. Divisive social issues such as free birth control and abortion would become almost inconsequential. The price? Swimming sperm.

What do you think? Should men be pre-emptively sterilized? Email thirdrail@ozy.com.