Meet the hippie-turned-doctor who helped save us from the worst epidemic in history.

In 1962, a chance encounter with Martin Luther King Jr. would transform the life of a young medical student named Larry Brilliant.

Larry Brilliant with an early Apple II computer. All images courtesy of HarperCollins.

Dr. Brilliant would go on to help eradicate smallpox, direct Google.org, help save 4 million people from blindness, and become one of the foremost experts in global pandemics.

But at 19 years old, Brilliant was holed up in his dorm room, subsisting on stale peanut candy and comic books, grief-stricken at the thought of losing his father to cancer.


One rainy Michigan day, Brilliant pulled himself out of his dorm and stumbled into an auditorium to see a black preacher from Atlanta, Georgia, speak of hope, truth, and justice.

Only 60 students stood in a cavernous room meant for 3,000. The school administrators were embarrassed by the low turnout, but Martin Luther King Jr. wasn’t. Chuckling warmly, he told the assembly, “Why don’t y’all come up here. That way, there’s more of me to go around.”

Martin Luther King Jr. at the University of Michigan, 1962.

Brilliant joined the others at King's feet and sat transfixed as a one-hour lecture turned into six.

“[King] famously talked about the arc of the moral universe that would bend towards justice, but it wouldn’t bend on its own. You have to jump up, drag it, twist it, pull it down towards justice. You have to influence that arc,” Brilliant said.

The experience changed Brilliant. He knew he couldn’t just lie around feeling unmotivated.

Brilliant started a journey of self-discovery and transformation that would help save the lives of millions in the process.

Inspired by King, Brilliant became an activist. He marched in civil rights rallies. In 1970, he delivered a Native American baby on Alcatraz Island during a standoff with the United States government. He even saved the life of a former Green Beret who attacked him on the island with a knife.

Larry Brilliant at Alcatraz Island.

Ensuing fame led to a call from Warner Brothers, and soon, Brilliant was starring in a "Woodstock on wheels" film called "Medicine Ball Caravan," playing a doctor alongside musical luminaries like Alice Cooper and B.B. King. Then, he ended up taking a caravan across the Khyber Pass with his wife, Girija, and his best friend, a hippie named Wavy Gravy.

Brilliant's adventures can seem too wild to be true. But, through it all, he was on the way to finding his destiny.

In 1972, Brilliant ended up in the Himalayas at the feet of a holy man. The guru, named Neem Karoli Baba, clasped Brilliant's hand and gave him the realization of a deep, profound, and universal love for everyone in the world.

Brilliant with his guru, Neem Karoli Baba.

“These machines that we live in, these bodies, they don’t come with an operating manual, and I did not know that mine was capable. I didn’t know where the on switch was that loved everybody. But he turned it on,” Brilliant said of their meeting.

The guru — who referred to Brilliant as "Dr. America" —  told him that his destiny would be to work to cure one of the worst pandemics of all time: smallpox.

Smallpox killed over 300 million people in the 20th century, and it was wreaking havoc on families in India.

Following the instructions of his guru, the now 27-year-old Brilliant took the 17-hour train ride to the World Health Organization headquarters in New Delhi. But success didn't happen overnight for the young doctor.

“I was kicked out in 30 seconds," Brilliant said. "I walked in with a dress on, and a beard down to my knees, and it was a gown. But you know, they thought it looked like a dress. It was an ashram robe. And they kicked me out." 13 attempts later, he finally got the lowest paid job there.

In just a few years, Brilliant went on to lead a WHO team that would play a key role in eradicating smallpox.

Smallpox eradication team from Chota Nagpur.

Brilliant recalled that there were staff from 170 different countries in the WHO smallpox eradication program — all fighting the disease together despite deep division among many of their countries.

"In the middle of the Cold War, Russians and Americans worked together to eradicate smallpox, and the people sitting around the table were from every race, every religion, every language you could think of," Brilliant said.

The team was greater than the sum of their parts, and in 1975, they won. Brilliant saw the last case of killer smallpox with his own eyes: a girl named Rahima Banu. After contracting the disease at 2 years old, she was cured.

Rahima Banu, the last known smallpox patient.

Brilliant went on to mobilize friends — including Steve Jobs, whom he had met in his Guru's ashram in India — to do even more good.

He contacted former members from WHO and created Seva, an organization that gave sight to 4 million blind people.

He became executive director of Google.org and won the TED Prize. He laid out his wish for an early warning system to stop pandemics and helped create Google Flu Trends.

He chaired the Skoll Global Threats Fund, becoming one of humanity's greatest hopes in the fight against global pandemics.

Ultimately, Brilliant is one of the biggest heroes in global health today.

Larry Brilliant gives polio vaccine drops in Chitrakoot, Uttar Pradesh, India.

He's truly lived a "brilliant" life. Just like many of us, he’s struggled with depression and fear, and he's wondered what his purpose was — but he's always known to listen.

"I used to tell my students when I was a professor, always expect the imponderabilia. That’s a made-up word," Brilliant said. "It’s a little creature that comes upon you when you least expect it and whispers in your ear something you haven’t thought of. Always expect that little unexpected twist. Always be willing to listen."

Brilliant’s story teaches us that incredible human accomplishments can only be achieved through faith in ourselves and joining together with a common goal in mind. It takes all of us to bend the arc of the moral universe toward justice.  

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Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

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The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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