My Father’s Body, at Rest and in Motion | Siddhartha Mukherjee | New Yorker | 08 January 2018
His systems were failing. The challenge was to understand what had sustained them for so long.
16 hours ago
Making China Great Again | Evan Osnos | New Yorker | 08 January 2018
As Donald Trump surrenders America’s global commitments, Xi Jinping is learning to pick up the pieces.
yesterday
A Water-Based Religion | Nicholas Shakespeare | New Statesman | 07 January 2018
In praise of fishing. Each cast is like a prayer. “What I love almost best about fishing is another property it shares with reading and writing: it concentrates the mind, while at the same time liberating it. It is much less about catching a fish than releasing the fisherman. This ecstatic dreamtime lies within the reach of anyone able to bait a hook and is what many of us, really, are angling for – a settled but excited state of mind in a place of outstanding beauty”
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9 days ago
Why Do We Need To Sleep? | Veronique Greenwood | The Atlantic | 03 January 2018
Report from the International Institute for Integrative Sleep Medicine in Tsukuba, Japan, where 120 researchers from various disciplines try to understand why humans and other animals need to sleep, what causes them to do so, and what benefits they derive from it. “What is the physical substrate of sleepiness?” No answers as yet. But there must be something vital in sleep, if we have evolved as sleeping creatures even when our sleep assists our predators
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15 days ago
When the Cure Is the Cause | Jeanne Lenzer | Undark | 15 December 2017
Too often, a medical treatment can make matters worse; as demonstrated in the epidemic of the green hairy tongues — a bizarre epidemic in 1960s Japan should have set off alarms around the world.
16 days ago
Awake Under Anesthesia | Joshua Rothman | New Yorker | 03 January 2018
What can we learn from people who remain aware when they’re supposed to be under?
16 days ago
Less is More: The New paradigm in Critical Care | Paul Marik | iSepsis | 26 December 2017
List of all the studies which have shown less or none of something to be beneficial to ICU patients.
medicine 
18 days ago
Peak Pharma | Drew Smith | Undark | 02 January 2018
Human genes encode about 1,000 proteins having “anything to do with disease”. Existing drugs target 555 proteins. “If we knew nothing else about drug discovery and development, we would know that the pace of new drug introduction is bound to decline”. The clinical value of new drugs shirnks, while the cost rises exponentially. Soon all mass-market drugs will be generics, all new drugs will be orphans: “Don’t be surprised when the first million-dollar treatment hits the market”
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18 days ago
Adderall: Much More Than You Wanted To KNow | Scott Alexander | Slate Star Codex | 28 December 2017
Everybody wants Adderall. It improves concentration. You work better. Doctors are supposed to prescribe Adderall only to sufferers from ADHD, a condition which determined patients can easily fake. Why not just give Adderall to everybody who asks, and let everybody concentrate better? There are risks — do the benefits outweigh them? “I didn’t realize how much of a psychiatrist’s time was spent gatekeeping Adderall. This post records my attempt to figure out something better”
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18 days ago
An Algorithmic Solution To Insomnia | Ilya Sukhar | Ilya Sukhar | 23 December 2017
Regularly deprive yourself of sleep until you regularly want to sleep more. “Insomnia is largely a form of performance anxiety that accrues over years of episodic poor sleep. Drastically restricting your sleep with this regimen wrestles control away from your mind and puts it back into the rightful hands of your body and its circadian rhythm5. If you stick to the rules, you’re effectively running a search algorithm to find your body’s optimal schedule”
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23 days ago
19 Things We Learned From The 2016 Election | Andrew Gelman & Julia Azari | Statistics And Public Policy | 23 December 2017
Social scientists collate lessons learned from the Trump-Clinton campaigns. Among their conclusions: The party didn’t decide. The ground game was overrated. Overconfident pundits get attention. Survey nonresponse bias is a thing. Public opinion does not follow elite opinion. Swings are national. Red state blue state is over. Third parties are still treading water. Goldman Sachs rules the world. The Electoral College was a ticking time bomb
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27 days ago
Silicon Valley Is Turning Into Its Own Worst Fear | Ted Chiang | Buzzfeed | 18 December 2017
Ted Chiang looks at capitalism, Silicon Valley, and its fear of superintelligent AI.
29 days ago
Ending The Bitcoin Energy Drain | Joshua Gans | Digitopoly | 17 December 2017
On the economics and incentives of mining Bitcoin. “Bitcoin is global. You don’t have to search for a gold mine. What you search for is a place to mine where electricity is cheapest. Then you face no transportation costs. It is the purest form of energy arbitrage we as a species have invented to date. If it continues, it has the capability to equalise the price of electricity world-wide. The thing about all of this is that there is no mechanism to stop it”
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4 weeks ago
The Man Who Didn’t Save the World | Peter Singer | Project Syndicate | 12 December 2017
The $450 million paid for a Leonardo painting last month could have restored sight to nine million people with curable blindness. “Rightly or wrongly, most of us do give much more weight to our own interests than to the interests of others. Yet there is a line at which the discount rate becomes so great, and the interests of others are treated with such indifference, that we must say no, that is going too far”
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5 weeks ago
Life In American Health Care | David Chapman | Meaningness | 08 December 2017
While American healthcare technology advances into the mid-21st century, American healthcare bureaucracy regresses towards the medieval. “Hospitals can still operate modern material technologies (like an MRI) just fine. It’s social technologies that have broken down and reverted to a medieval level. Working in a medical office is like living in a pre-modern town. It’s all about knowing someone who knows someone who knows someone who can get something done”
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5 weeks ago
Tales Of War And Redemption | Phil Klay | American Scholar | 04 December 2017
US Army veteran reflects on the experience of war as a test of religious faith. “A soldier may call out to God while in combat, but the experiences that cause him to do so might be the very ones that later cause him to abandon his faith altogether. What kind of God would allow any of the innumerable things that happen in a war zone? This old complaint takes on a particular urgency when you’ve seen children dying slowly after going through more pain than any human being should ever experience”
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6 weeks ago
Diary Of An Oil-Company Lawyer | William Carter | LRB | 07 December 2017
Diary of an oil-company lawyer, trying to enforce best practice in a lawless Libya. “My company’s store of nuclear materials was kept in a bunker designed to withstand the force of a massive explosion and was normally heavily protected by specially trained troops. Now the bunker lay completely unguarded. The employees believed that it was only a matter of time before this bunker was overrun and plundered. What should they do to make the materials safe? Should they try and smuggle them out of the country?”
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6 weeks ago
Napoleon Was The Best General Ever | Ethan Arsht | Medium | 04 December 2017
Who is the greatest general ever? This quantitative analysis finds for Napoleon, by a very large margin, with Julius Caesar second. “Outside of Napoleon’s outlying success, the generals’ wins-above-replacement largely adhere to a normal distribution. This suggests his success is attributable to command talent, rather than an anomaly in the model’s findings. Napoleon’s total WAR was nearly 23 standard deviations above the mean WAR accumulated by generals in the dataset”
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6 weeks ago
The Case for Normalizing Impeachment | Ezra Klein | Vox | 30 November 2017
Impeaching an unfit president has consequences. But leaving one in office could be worse.
7 weeks ago
Motel Living | Craig Lancaster | LARB | 01 December 2017
“They call me a ‘pig tracker’, which means I monitor the location of cleaning and diagnostic tools traveling through pipelines, and when I’m not in the field, I’m in a hotel somewhere along the line, sleeping my way toward my next shift. The particular rhythms of what I do — track the pig in its journey beneath the prairies, hand off the job to my counterpart on the other shift, find a hotel near where I’ll rejoin the line, sleep, lather, rinse, repeat — have made me something of an unintentional expert on hotel living”
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7 weeks ago
A Failure to Heal | Siddhartha Mukherjee | NYT | 28 November 2017
The clinical subgroups were there, as requested — but he had inserted an additional one: “The patients were subdivided into 12 ... groups according to their medieval astrological birth signs.” When the tongue-in-cheek zodiac subgroups were analyzed, Geminis and Libras were found to have no benefit from aspirin, but the drug “produced halving of risk if you were born under Capricorn.”
7 weeks ago
The Last Iron Lungs | Jennings Brown | Gizmodo | 20 November 2017
In the 1940s and early 1950s American hospital wards were lined with iron lungs — mechanical breathing machines for victims of polio, which can paralyze respiration. When vaccines began to eradicate polio in the mid-1950s, iron lungs soon became obsolete. No more service engineers, no more spare parts. Yet, somehow, three elderly polio survivors still rely on old iron lungs to keep them alive. “What these iron lung users have in common are generous, mechanically skilled friends and family”
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8 weeks ago
Mikaela Shiffrin Does Not Have Time for a Beer | Elizabeth Weil | Outside | 21 November 2017
Profile of the world’s best alpine skier. “Mikaela has won 31 World Cup races, the 2017 World Cup overall title, four World Cup slalom titles, three World Championship slalom races, and an Olympic gold medal in slalom. And she’s on track to win more races and more championships than any skier ever. Mikaela’s quads look capable of leg-pressing entire alpine villages. Her glutes, halfway up her five-foot-seven frame, are abrupt, definitive forces of nature, the Rockies rising out of the Midwest”
8 weeks ago
The Correct Use Of Economics | John Ioannidis | LA Times | 14 November 2017
Researcher famed for debunking research in the hard sciences turns his attention to economics — and finds that results reported in economics papers are not wholly fabricated, but greatly exaggerated. “The value of a statistical life, which measures how much people are willing to pay to reduce their risk of death, appears to have been exaggerated by a factor of eight. On average, the strength of the results may have been exaggerated by a factor of two. In a third of the studies, by a factor of four”
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8 weeks ago
Underwear Of Uncertain Origin | Andy Kroll | Pacific Standard | 09 November 2017
What happens to the products that you return to the store or sender? Returns used to be a tiny share of sales, but with online shopping they have boomed. “The industry-wide consensus is that 8 to 10 percent of all goods bought in the U.S. will be returned. For online sales, the rate is much higher, in the range of 25 to 40 percent.” The term of art is “reverse logistics”. To a first approximation, everything from unwanted blenders to tried-on underwear will be auctioned for cents on the dollar in Los Angeles
9 weeks ago
The Rules of the Doctor’s Heart | Siddhartha Mukherjee | NYT | 24 October 2017
"I felt paralyzed. Medicine depends on looking at data objectively, dispassionately; a decade of training had taught me that. But it also depends on understanding that tests can mislead us, that data can deceive: What patient ever fits squarely into an assigned box?"
9 weeks ago
Saving Lives In Las Vegas | Judith Tintinalli & Kevin Menes | Emergency Physicians Monthly | 03 November 2017
Las Vegas doctor tells how he mobilised the emergency room at Sunrise Hospital to receive more than 200 victims of the October 1st mass shooting. “My plan was that we were going to take care of all of our major resuscitations (red tags) in Station 1. Station 2 was going to have our orange tags, patients with threatening gunshots in critical areas, but had not crashed yet. This is not in the textbook. In my mind, these orange tags were expected to crump near the end of the Golden Hour”
10 weeks ago
A Very Old Man For A Wolf | Emma Marris | Outside | 30 October 2017
The life story a black-furred wolf from Idaho, who swam west across the Snake River into Oregon and met a mate. “They made a den inside a huge felled ponderosa and cared for their first round of pups, born blind and helpless in early spring”. They were now officially the first wolf-pack in Oregon since 1947. “A state biologist tracked him, collared him, counted his pups, weighed him, photographed him, and protected him. But then the animal known as OR4 broke one too many rules”
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11 weeks ago
The Fax Of Life | Sarah Kliff | Vox | 30 October 2017
Why does American medicine still run on fax machines, abandoned by most other industries twenty years ago? Fax still accounts “about 75 percent of all medical communication”, long after the Obama administration spent $30 billion encouraging doctors to use digital records. The answer seems to be that doctors and healthcare institutions don’t want to make medical records shareable, for fear that patients might then find it easier to change providers
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11 weeks ago
John Boehner Unchained | Tim Alberta | Politico | 29 October 2017
The former House speaker feels liberated—but he’s also seething about what happened to his party.
11 weeks ago
The Seventy-Four Best Entries In The Devil’s Dictionary | Anthony Madrid | Paris Review | 25 October 2017
“Christian, n: One who believes that the New Testament is a divinely inspired book admirably suited to the spiritual needs of his neighbor. One who follows the teachings of Christ in so far as they are not inconsistent with a life of sin. Piano, n. A parlor utensil for subduing the impenitent visitor. It is operated by depressing the keys of the machine and the spirits of the audience”
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12 weeks ago
Kolmogorov Complicity | Scott Alexander | Slate Star Codex | 23 October 2017
How do scientists survive and work under totalitarian rule, when the continued pursuit of truth is almost sure to collide with existing dogma? They keep their heads down, don’t mount public challenges, build trust in one another, and hope that times will change. “A really good scientist is like a heat-seeking missile programmed to seek out failures in existing epistemic paradigms. God help them if they find one before they get enough political sophistication to determine which targets are safe”
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12 weeks ago
Robert Sapolsky’s Tour De Force | Henry Marsh | New Statesman | 21 October 2017
Brain surgeon reviews Robert Sapolsky’s book Behave, about how the physical characteristics of the brain seem to determine the broad outlines of our behaviour, reducing if not eliminating the scope for free will. “This is the best scientific book written for non-specialists that I have ever read. You will learn more about human nature than in any other book I can think of, and you will be inspired, even if you find some of it hard to accept”
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october 2017
The Supreme Court Is Allergic To Math | Oliver Roeder | Five Thirty Eight | 17 October 2017
We expect judges to be well read in the humanities, perhaps somewhat in the social sciences, but not necessarily in mathematics or hard science. Which becomes a problem when they have to rule on cases in commercial law and public policy that turn on statistical numeracy and mathematical logic. “More and more law requires genuine familiarity with the empirical world and, frankly, classical legal analysis isn’t a particularly good way of finding out how the empirical world operates”
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october 2017
The Problem Is The Prices | Sarah Kliff | Vox | 16 October 2017
Political turmoil over healthcare insurance in the United States obscures a deeper problem, which is that hospital tariffs are borderline insane. “Take a bill I was sent last year: a $629 fee charged for an emergency room visit where a Band-Aid was placed on a 1-year-old’s finger. The bill included a $7 fee for the Band-Aid — and a $622 facility fee. It is not that we go to the doctor too much. The culprit is that whenever we do go to the doctor, we pay an extraordinary amount”
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october 2017
Totality | Vi Hart | Vi Hart | 13 October 2017
Notes on watching the recent solar eclipse: “I’d seen photos of coronas around suns, but this wasn’t that. I thought there might be a glow of light in a circle, or nothing, or, I don’t know. What I did not expect was an unholy horror sucking the life and light and warmth out of the universe with long reaching arms, that what I’d seen in pictures was not an exaggeration but a failure to capture the extent of this thing that human eyes, and not cameras, are uniquely suited to absorb the horror of”
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october 2017
The Philosophy Of Fly-Fishing | John Knight | Paris Review | 10 October 2017
Updating Izaak Walton’s Compleat Angler for the modern age. “In Walton’s esteem for all the odd particularity of the fish and its environs, he seems to be attempting to merge two worlds that exist only in opposition to each other—the terrestrial and the aquatic. We know hardly anything of the vast empire that exists just below the surface of the water, but we know just enough that with a bit of study, a dash of faith, and a great deal of patience, we can, occasionally, break through”
from instapaper
october 2017
How Ether Transformed Surgery | Lindsey Fitzharris | Scientific American | 01 October 2017
Gripping account of Robert Liston’s first use of ether to anaesthetise patients during surgery, in 1846. “It took all of 28 seconds for Liston to remove Churchill’s right leg, during which time the patient neither stirred nor cried out. When the man awoke a few minutes later, he reportedly asked when the surgery would begin and was answered by the sight of his elevated stump, much to the amusement of the spectators who sat astounded. The age of agony was nearing its end”
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october 2017
The Horizon Of Desire | Laurie Penny | Longreads | 10 October 2017
PG-13. But for anybody possessed of the facts of life, strongly recommended. “Giving someone your consent — sexually, politically, socially — is a little like giving them your attention. It’s a continuous process. It’s an interaction between two human creatures. I believe that a great many men and boys don’t understand this. That lack of understanding is causing unspeakable trauma for women, men, and everyone else who is sick of how much human sexuality still hurts”
from instapaper
october 2017
If Newtown Wasn't Enough, Why Would Las Vegas Be Enough? | Charles P. Pierce | Esquire | 02 October 2017
"Better that one Stephen Paddock go free than a hundred law-abiding gun owners wait a week before buying an Uzi. We are all walking blood sacrifices waiting to happen."
october 2017
Casualties of War - Military Care for the Wounded from Iraq and Afghanistan | Atul Gawande | NEJM | 09 December 2004
How military research on casualties reduced deaths from battlefield wounds from 25% to 9%.
october 2017
Is Health Care a Right? | Atul Gawande | New Yorker | 02 October 2017
It’s a question that divides Americans, including those from my home town. But it’s possible to find common ground.
october 2017
Snopes.com and the Search for Facts in a Post-Fact World | Michelle Dean | Wired | 20 September 2017
How the legendary internet fact-finding site snopes.com came to be, and how a messy divorce and ownership and control squabbles have threatened the site’s existence.
september 2017
Camping with Kids: A Non-Primer | Reid Doughten | Longreads | 22 September 2017
I start to realize that taking the kids backpacking like this is little more than an abbreviation of my old camping trips. And this may be the real folly in my thinking — the notion that this is based less on their idea of adventure than on my own, the whole thing rooted in my longing for cold mountain air and dark skies and the kind of exhaustion borne out from a long day’s hike.
september 2017
What We Didn’t Get | Noah Smith | Noahpinion | 21 September 2017
Cyberpunk sci-fi of the late 20th century did a pretty good job of predicting our current world. We have private rockets, mass surveillance, genetic engineering, brain-computer interfaces, AI that can trade stocks and play Go, private crypto-money for criminals and libertarians. But what we don’t have is interplanetary travel. No Star Trek, no Jetsons. What went wrong? “First, we ran out of theoretical physics. Second, we ran out of energy”
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september 2017
Trigger-Happy, Autonomous, And Disobedient | Tony Ingesson | Strategy Bridge | 20 September 2017
Gripping account of the Nordic Battalion in Bosnia, explaining why Sweden, seemingly Europe’s most peace-loving nation, has its most freebooting military culture. “Officers and enlisted men were taught that the only truly mortal sin was to hesitate. To seize the initiative and act was the primary imperative. There was no priority higher than that of achieving the mission objectives at hand. Orders could be disobeyed, rules could be broken — as long as the mission was successful”
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september 2017
When Every Bra Size Is Wrong | Mallory Ortberg | Shondaland | 18 September 2017
Underwear review: The GC2B black half-binder. “I cannot promise this will happen for you, but here is what happened for me: I put on a shirt over the binder and I saw a look on my own face I had never seen before. There was joy in it, and amazement, and utter delight. There were other things, too, that I do not yet have words for. I felt, at thirty years of age, a wholly new feeling about my own appearance”
from instapaper
september 2017
Why Happy People Cheat | Esther Perel | The Atlantic | 10 September 2017
Adultery has existed since marriage was invented, yet this extremely common act remains poorly understood. Around the globe, the responses I get when I mention infidelity range from bitter condemnation to resigned acceptance to cautious compassion to outright enthusiasm.
september 2017
China’s Objectives In Doklam | Jonah Blank | Rand | 08 September 2017
China and India have managed down their border confrontation in Doklam, which began in June when Chinese soldiers set about paving a road through the disputed territory. The crisis may have been unintended, or it may have been China’s way of warning India not to get involved with “the most important Chinese concern in the Himalayas”, the succession to the 82-year-old Dalai Lama. The last time India sheltered a Dalai Lama, in 1959, China’s response was war
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september 2017
This Tiny Country Feeds The World | Frank Viviano | National Geographic | 04 September 2017
The Netherlands is a small, densely populated country, with more than 1,300 inhabitants per square mile. It is bereft of almost every resource long thought to be necessary for large-scale agriculture. Yet it is the globe’s number two exporter of food as measured by value, second only to the United States, which has 270 times its landmass. More than half the nation’s land area is used for agriculture and horticulture. How on Earth have the Dutch done it?
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september 2017
What Is It Like To Be An Octopus? | Amia Srinivasan | LRB | 31 August 2017
“They are sophisticated problem solvers; they learn, and can use tools; and they show a capacity for mimicry, deception and, some think, humour. Just how refined their abilities are is a matter of scientific debate: their very strangeness makes octopuses hard to study. Their intelligence is like ours, and utterly unlike ours. Octopuses are the closest we can come, on earth, to knowing what it might be like to encounter intelligent aliens”
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september 2017
How Washington Made Harvey Worse | Michael Grunwald | Politico | 29 August 2017
Government-subsidised flood insurance encourages Americans to build and live in flood-prone areas. “Houston’s low-lying flatlands keep booming, as sprawling subdivisions and parking lots pave over the wetlands and pastures that used to soak up the area’s excess rainfall”, with the result that Houston has hosted three “500-year floods” in the past three years. One house in Houston has flooded 16 times in 18 years, netting its owners more than $800,000 on a valuation of 115,000
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august 2017
Baked Alaska | Christopher Solomon | Outside | 18 April 2014
The volcanic remains at the heart of Aniakchak National Monument—the least visited site in the national park system—are a trippy mishmash of postapocalyptic cinder cones, hardened lava, and flame-colored walls. The only catch? Doing it right involves days of trekking and rafting through some of the planet’s toughest, most bear-heavy terrain.
august 2017
Into The Grey Zone | Henry Marsh | New Statesman | 27 August 2017
Neurosurgeon discusses Adrian Owen’s efforts to detect consciousness in seemingly vegetative patients by means of brain scans. “The hemispheres are powered, in ways we do not understand, by the brainstem, the part of the brain between the hemispheres and the spinal cord. In the medical model, the brainstem is equivalent to an electric cable supplying the millions of light bulbs. Small injuries to the brainstem can cause profound coma – all the light bulbs will be dimmed at once”
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august 2017
Dogger, Fisher, German Bight | Fiona Harvey | The Guardian | 24 August 2017
Short history of the Shipping Forecast, launched 150 years ago by Robert FitzRoy, first head of the British government’s Metereological Office and previously captain of HMS Beagle, on which Charles Darwin sailed. “The shipping forecast is now 93% accurate overall, and the forecast for inshore waters is about 97% accurate. Wind direction is not always as easy to get right as wind speed, with about 80% accuracy and more than 90% respectively, while about 15% of gale warnings turn out to be false alarms”
from instapaper
august 2017
The Drive For Perfect Children | Tyler Cowen | Bloomberg | 22 August 2017
As the genetic engineering of embryos comes to seem almost inevitable, what qualities will parents seek in their children? You might assume intelligence above all; but American mothers prize extraversion over intelligence; they want children who are fun to have around. “The current mix of human personalities and institutions is a delicate balance which, for all of its flaws, has allowed society to survive and progress. I’m not looking to make a big roll of the dice on this one”
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august 2017
Unpopular Ideas About Social Norms | Julia Galef | Julia Galef | 23 August 2017
Bullet-point list of claims that have much in their favour — indeed, I think I agree with most of them — but which would be guaranteed to start an argument in a public place. “Divorce should be stigmatized more than it is now, to preserve the significance of marital commitment”. “Incest that doesn’t involve children, coercion, or procreation should be socially accepted”. “We should de-stigmatize suicide, because some people would in fact be better off ending their lives”
from instapaper
august 2017
Why Is Westeros Still Poor? | Adam Ozimek | Modeled Behavior | 20 August 2017
“Technological and economic conditions in Westeros seem to have been stuck in the same place for a very long time. Bran the Builder constructed Winterfell and the Wall about 8,000 years ago, suggesting the same basic medieval technologies existed back then. If anything, it’s unclear that the wall could be built today, suggesting possible decline. So given they’ve had so much time, why hasn’t Westeros had an industrial revolution and emerged from medieval poverty?”
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august 2017
Jobs Most Segregated by Gender and Race | Justin Fox | Bloomberg | 16 August 2017
Whatever the reasons for it, the division between jobs dominated by men and jobs dominated by women is clear-cut. All of the jobs with the highest percentage of male workers involve working primarily with things. Almost all of the jobs with the highest percentage of female workers involve working primarily with people. “If you are one of those who believe that men are congenitally disposed to prefer working with things and women to prefer working with people, these numbers offer some support for your position”
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august 2017
McGregor Versus Mayweather | William D'Urso | LARB | 20 August 2017
Just climbing into the ring will be a triumph for Conor McGregor: He gets “the biggest fight available in a sport in which he has never before competed”. The betting public loves him: The odds against his winning have shortened from 225/1 to 3/1, which is ridiculous. “McGregor won’t win. Absolutely not. For Mayweather, hitting him will be as easy as it would be for an adult to smack a child. That’s not hyperbole. Oh, you disagree? You have questions? Give me your hand. I’ll walk you through this”
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august 2017
A Bit More Toaster | Ian Bogost | The Atlantic | 20 July 2017
In praise of the “Bit More” button on Breville toasters, and its inventor, Keith Hensel. “The button is nothing short of brilliant. It highlights an obvious but still unseen problem with electric toasters, devices that have been around for more than a century. Your bread comes up too light, so you put it back down, then get distracted and forget, and it goes through a full cycle and burns. Keith thought, why can’t the consumer have more control? Why can’t they have A Bit More?”
from instapaper
august 2017
How Big Data Saved the Mountain Town | Abe Streep | Outside | 04 August 2017
How does a town go from logging and livestock to bits and bytes? Tiny Prineville, Oregon, is finding out as huge data centers from Apple and Facebook transform the timber town into a recreational hub of mountain bikers and craft brewers.
august 2017
Korean Borderland | Kurt Kohldstedt | 99% Invisible | 14 August 2017
“Strange structures start to appear all around as one drives toward the Korean Demilitarized Zone from either side of the border. There are overhead signs and what appear to be bridges connecting nothing at either end, roadside concrete blocks stacked like Brutalist totem poles, beach ball-sized steel orbs rusting on stumpy pedestals and other odd varieties. While the forms vary, these odd assemblies share a common purpose: in case of war, explosives can quickly turn them into defensive rubble”
august 2017
The Stethoscope | Emmmett FitzGerald | 99% Invisible | 06 August 2017
The invention of the stethoscope in the early 19C changed the fundamentals of medicine. Before the stethoscope, “the only way for a doctor to figure out what was wrong with a patient was to ask them, and as a result patients’ accounts of their symptoms were seen as diseases in themselves.” After the stethoscope, “it didn’t matter what patients thought was wrong with them, it mattered more what the doctor found. Our understanding of disease shifted from one centered on symptoms to one centered on objective observation of the body”
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august 2017
How To Please A Customer | Lisa Naftolin | Vestoj | 01 August 2017
A dry-cleaner explains his trade. “There are two kinds of stains: wet side and dry side. Wet side includes coffee, juice, wine, blood, anything from the body, which has to be taken out with water or water-based solvents. The dry side is lipstick, paint, nail polish, grease; those can’t be taken out with water, which will only set the stain. What you’re trying to do with stain removal is kind of cool; you dilute it with what it is”
from instapaper
august 2017
An Honest Business News Update | Morgan Housel | Collaborative Fund | 02 August 2017
The truth as satire, or possibly vice-versa. “The S&P 500 closed at a new high on Wednesday in what analysts hailed as the accumulated result of several hundred million people waking up every morning hoping to solve problems and improve their lives. The index finished up 4 points. Facebook stock fell $0.23 to close at $169.16. No one knows why. Analysts expect more of the same tomorrow, with the trend continuing into next week”
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august 2017
The Baccarat Binge That Bled Bangladesh | Alan Katz & Wenxin Fan | Bloomberg | 03 August 2017
On the 2016 theft of $81 million from an account held by the central bank of Bangladesh at the New York Fed. Hackers sent bogus instructions via Swift telling the Fed to transfer the money to accounts in Manila, where it was withdrawn and laundered by two Chinese gamblers in a casino blackjack marathon. The gamblers ended up in jail, but most of the money is thought to have ended up in North Korea
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august 2017
Venezuela’s Unprecedented Collapse | Ricardo Hausmann | Project Syndicate | 31 July 2017
Venezuela’s economic catastrophe “dwarfs any in the history of the US, Western Europe, or the rest of Latin America”. The economy has shrunk by 35% since 2013, or 40% in per capita terms, since the population is also shrinking through emigration. Venezuela is now the world’s most indebted country. Imports of goods and services have fallen by more than three-quarters. The mortality rate for newborns has increased 100-fold. It is like Romania under Nicolae Ceausescu, but worse
from instapaper
august 2017
God’s Gift To Men | Zoe Heller | NYRB | 30 July 2017
Review of Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins, starring Gal Gadot. “She adores babies and ice cream and snowflakes. She is sweetly oblivious to her own beauty and its devastating effects on those around her. She has absolutely no problem with men. She loves men! The imperative to eradicate any hint of bossiness or anger from her character weighs heavily on the film, threatening to turn it into one long, dispiriting exercise in allaying male fears about powerful women”
from instapaper
july 2017
Claude Shannon, Las Vegas Cheat | Jimmy Soni & Rob Goodman | Nautilus | 27 July 2017
The father of information theory was also an obsessive tinkerer and gadget-builder. Shannon’s creations included a machine that made sarcastic remarks, a Roman numeral calculator, and a mechanical coin tosser which could produce a head or tail on demand. When the young physicist Ed Thorp walked into his office proposing a miniaturised computer which would predict the spin of a roulette wheel, Shannon was hooked. Eight months later, they were ready for Las Vegas
from instapaper
july 2017
The Hijack Of The Brillante Virtuoso | Kit Chellel & Matthew Campbell | Bloomberg Businessweek | 27 July 2017
Breathtaking account of a maritime insurance fraud, the staged hijacking and scuppering of an oil tanker in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia. “The events of July 6, 2011, set in motion a tangle of lawsuits and criminal investigations that are still nowhere near conclusion. The Brillante Virtuoso reveals the shipping industry’s capacity for lawlessness, financial complexity, and violence. Everyone at sea that night survived. But the danger was just getting started”
from instapaper
july 2017
Stu Ungar, Greatest Poker Player Of All Time | Liel Leibovitz | Tablet | 26 July 2017
“Over the course of his short and thunderous life, Stu Ungar, the greatest poker player in history and one of only two people to win the World Series three times, made more than $30 million, and blew it all on drugs, cars he rarely drove, and meals he consumed quickly and furiously. As we celebrate one Jewish poker champ, it’s only right to pay tribute to the other, largely forgotten hero of the sport, a Jewish athlete every bit as iconic as Koufax”
from instapaper
july 2017
Transformers: Superheroes Of Electrical Inventions | Vaclav Smil | IEEE Spectrum | 25 July 2017
In praise of the humble transformer, unsung hero of power transmission on which our grids and our gadgets depend. The Stanley transformer of 1876 remains the standard design. “It puts to shame all mechanical attempts at regulation, it handles with ease, certainty, and economy vast loads of energy that are instantly given to or taken from it. It is reliable, strong, and certain. In this mingled steel and copper, extraordinary forces are so nicely balanced as to be almost unsuspected”
from instapaper
july 2017
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