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
6 days 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?"
7 days 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”
8 days 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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20 days 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.
21 days 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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24 days 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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26 days 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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29 days ago
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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4 weeks ago
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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5 weeks ago
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”
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5 weeks ago
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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5 weeks ago
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”
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5 weeks ago
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."
6 weeks ago
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%.
6 weeks ago
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.
6 weeks ago
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.
8 weeks ago
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.
8 weeks ago
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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8 weeks ago
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”
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8 weeks ago
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.
9 weeks ago
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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9 weeks ago
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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10 weeks ago
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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11 weeks ago
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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11 weeks ago
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.
12 weeks ago
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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12 weeks ago
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”
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12 weeks ago
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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12 weeks ago
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”
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12 weeks ago
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?”
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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”
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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
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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”
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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
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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”
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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”
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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”
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july 2017
A Conversation With Atul Gawande | Tyler Cowen | Conversations with Tyler | 19 July 2017
Interesting throughout. Subjects include artificial intelligence, CRISPR, anaesthesia, sponges, checklists, health insurance, longevity, regulation, Michael Crichton, Peter Carey, Frightened Rabbits. “One of the things you realize is that, when you have an awake patient in the operating room, they can be part of the team, not just someone sitting there who is annoyingly awake, and they’re actually piping up to tell you they’d like to change the music you’re playing. In many ways, having people awake can be far safer”
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july 2017
What If Somebody Opens A Door During A Flight? | Patrick Smith | Ask The Pilot | 09 July 2017
Short answer: It can’t happen. Cabin pressure forces the doors shut. “At a typical cruising altitude, up to eight pounds of pressure are pushing against every square inch of interior fuselage. That’s over 1,100 pounds against each square foot of door. So, while I wouldn’t recommend it, unless you enjoy being pummelled and placed in a choke-hold by panicked passengers, a person could sit there all day tugging on a door handle to his or her heart’s content”
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july 2017
#Vanlife, the Bohemian Social-Media Movement | Rachel Monroe | New Yorker | 24 April 2017
What began as an attempt at a simpler life quickly became a life-style brand.
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july 2017
America’s Future Is Texas | Lawrence Wright | New Yorker | 07 July 2017
With right-wing zealots taking over the legislature even as the state’s demographics shift leftward, Texas has become the nation’s bellwether.
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july 2017
Americans Lie About Sex | Sean Illing | Vox | 27 June 2017
PG-13, obviously. Interesting throughout. What Google and Pornhub data reveal about Americans’ inner sex-lives. “Women are eight times more likely to ask Google if their husband is gay than if he is an alcoholic and 10 times more likely to ask Google if their husband is gay than if he is depressed. It is far more likely that a woman is married to a man who is secretly an alcoholic or secretly depressed than secretly gay. About 98 percent of women’s husbands are really straight. Trust me”
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june 2017
Putting Profits Ahead of Patients | Jerome Groopman & Pamela Hartzband | NYRB | 15 July 2017
At the center of both our flawed current system and its disastrous proposed replacement is a more fundamental reality: health care in the United States is enormously costly, often in ways that are baffling not only to patients but to doctors themselves.
june 2017
Why California Has the Lowest Maternal Mortality in America | Julia Belluz | Vox | 29 June 2017
The maternal mortality rate in the state is a third of the American average. Here's why.
june 2017
The Mosteller Hall Puzzle | Jonathan Weisberg | 14 June 2017
Variant on the Monty Hall problem. Three prisoners are condemned to die in the morning. The king decides in the night to pardon one of them. Prisoner A welcomes the news. He says to the guard, “I know you can’t tell me whether I am condemned or pardoned. But at least one other prisoner must still be condemned, so can you just name one who is?”. The guard says B is still condemned. “OK”, says A, “it’s either me or C who was pardoned. So my chance of survival has gone up to 50/50”. A is mistaken. But how?
june 2017
The Long-Term Price Of Oil | Liam Denning | Bloomberg | 15 June 2017
Long-term oil-future prices have halved over the past three years to around $55. Why so? Because that it is the trigger price for US shale producers to boost drilling and fracking. But traditional oil producers, including Saudi Arabia, “require oil prices far above $50 to make their economies function”. And electric vehicles are eating into oil’s core market, transportation. So here’s one scenario: the collapse of a major producer, a spike in prices, and a huge shift among consumers to electricity
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june 2017
How To Win The Doctor Lottery | Donna Jackson Nakazawa | Health Affairs | 01 April 2017
Not every doctor-patient encounter is healing, and it can seem a game of chance. One patient explores what it takes to win.
june 2017
The World Is Running Out of Sand | David Owen | New Yorker | 29 May 2017
It’s one of our most widely used natural resources, but it’s scarcer than you think.
june 2017
Pump Action | Gavin Francis | New Statesman | 10th June 2017
Thomas Morris’s Matter Of The Heart, a history of heart surgery, is “lively, enthusiastic and brimming with detail”. The 17C polymath Robert Hooke proposed a machine to maintain blood circulation while the heart was under repair, but this did not become a reality until the 1950s, prior to which “children undergoing surgery sometimes had their hearts plumbed into their mother’s or father’s circulation” — the only surgical procedure with “a potential mortality of 200 per cent”
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june 2017
The Greatest Sports Achievement Of My Lifetime | Eugene Wei | Remains Of The Day | 10 June 2017
Alex Honnold’s free climb of El Capitan demands a new category of admiration. “What makes a free climb of El Capitan perhaps the greatest sports achievement of my lifetime is the mental challenge of entering a flow state for four hours straight. People marvel at a basketball player entering the zone and hitting shot after shot, but Honnold had to enter a new level of zone in which he could not miss a single shot or the game would end forever”
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june 2017
The Great Self-Esteem Con | Will Storr | The Guardian | 03 June 2017 |
By now, the idea that positive self-esteem is necessary for success is more or less taken for granted. But what if it’s all based on very shaky, smartly packaged science?
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june 2017
Is Pharma Research Worse Than Chance? | Scott Alexander | Slate Star Codex | 05 June 2017
The biggest advances in psychopharmacology this century have been the use of ketamine against depression, and MDMA against PTSD. We owe these discoveries not to big pharma but to recreational drug users. “Abusers take the vast flood of possible chemicals and select the ones they think will feel good at raves. Psychopharmacologists select the ones they think will treat mental illnesses. How come the abusers’ selection process is better at picking out promising mental health treatments?”
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june 2017
Fall To Your Death And Live | Neil Steinberg | Mosaic | 05 June 2017
Alcides Moreno fell 472 feet from a New York skyscraper and lived. But falls from more than 100 feet are almost always fatal. For older people, merely falling over on to a hard surface can kill. Falls are the leading cause of death for the over-60s. “Young people break their wrists because they shoot their hands out quickly when falling. Older people break their hips because they don’t get their hands out quickly enough. You’d much rather break a wrist than a hip”
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june 2017
The Loneliness of Donald Trump | Rebecca Solnit | Literary Hub | 30 May 2017
The corrosiveness of privilege, particularly that of Donald Trump.
june 2017
Hungarian Education | Scott Alexander | Slate Star Codex | 30 May 2017
Laszlo Polgar studied intelligence in university, wrote a book called Bring Up Genius, and said any child could become a prodigy with the right upbringing. He “recruited an interested woman to marry him” with a view to testing his philosophy by raising children together. And, apparently, he was right. The Polgars’ three daughters became the 1st, 2nd, and 6th best female chess players in the world. They also spoke seven languages. How was it done?
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june 2017
The Hedge Fund Managers Are At The Bellagio | Hamilton Nolan | Deadspin | 01 June 2017
Report from a conference of hedge-fund managers in Las Vegas. “All of the younger men looked like Jared Kushner, and all the younger women looked like Ivanka Trump might look if she had to work 14-hour days. Their lives stretched out in front of them, down the Bellagio’s gaudy, carpeted halls. They could fall in love over credit strategies, have a marriage announcement in the New York Times at 26 and a scandalous divorce announcement in the New York Post at 44"
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june 2017
Anaesthesia: The Gift Of Oblivion | Kate Cole-Adams | The Age | 27 May 2017
“Every time you have a general anaesthetic, you take a trip towards death and back. The more hypnotic your doctor puts in, the longer you take to recover and the more likely it is that something will go wrong. The less your doctor puts in, the more likely that you will wake. It is a balancing act, and anaesthetists are very good at it. But it doesn’t alter the fact that people have been waking during surgery for as long as other people have been putting them to sleep”
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may 2017
The Atomic Bomb As A Hungarian School Project | Scott Alexander | Slate Star Codex | 26 May 2017
Why did early-20C Hungary produce so many brilliant physicists? Because Budapest was a centre for a European Jewry that had selected for intelligence through centuries of oppression. “Around 1880 economic and political conditions finally became ripe for the potential to be realised in a few countries only. The result was one of the greatest spurts of progress in scientific history, which lasted for approximately one generation, after which a psychopath with a moustache killed everyone involved
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may 2017
Rewriting Greek Tragedy | Colm Tóibín | The Guardian | 20 May 2017
“The Kingsmill massacre happened when 12 men, 11 Protestants and one Catholic, coming home from work in a minibus, were stopped by gunmen who asked the one Catholic to identify himself. Since they all believed that this man was to be singled out to be killed, neither he nor his colleagues wanted to tell the gunmen who he was. But eventually he stepped forward, only to be told to run. As he did so, the gunmen opened fire on the other 11, killing 10 of them”
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may 2017
Why Everything We Know About Salt May Be Wrong | Gina Kolata | NYT | 08 May 2017
Research on Russian cosmonauts suggests that salt makes you hungry but not thirsty, and may help burn calories.
may 2017
How Does Alex Jones Make Money? | Seth Brown | New York | 04 May 2017
“Jones makes no money from selling advertisements on his radio show. He makes no money selling advertisements on his YouTube channel. He makes, most likely, around $1 million from selling ad space on his popular website — not a paltry sum by any means, but not nearly enough to support a media empire on the order of Infowars. So where does Alex Jones’s money come from? It comes from dietary supplements”
from instapaper
may 2017
Simple Rules For Complex Decisions | Jongbin Jung et al | Harvard Business Review | 19 April 2017
We worry about handing life-changing decisions over to algorithms — for example, a doctor’s decision about a medical procedure, a judge’s decision about setting bail; and it is certainly worrying when decisions are made by algorithms too complex for human understanding. But very simple algorithms, the workings of which are clear to all, can be a great aid to consistent decision-making. For example, a three-step rule to setting bail “significantly outperforms expert human decision makers”
from instapaper
may 2017
Death By Fire | Miles Wilson | Longreads / Crazyhorse | 08 May 2017
A veteran firefighter’s tribute to his enemy. “Like much of the West, the Angeles is built to burn: heavy fuel loads, Biblical droughts, perpendicular country, big wind, and lots of citizens building cabins, wrecking cars, pitching cigarettes. I put out some of those fires. Turns out, I was doing almost exactly the wrong thing. Putting those fires out was, at best, beside the point. What we did was exchange a temporary fix for a guaranteed apocalypse in the historically fire-rich chaparral brushscape”
from instapaper
may 2017
Why the Menace of Mosquitoes Will Only Get Worse | Maryn McKenna | NYT | 20 April 2017
Climate change is altering the environment in ways that increase the potential for viruses like Zika.
may 2017
The Algorithm Will See You Now | Siddhartha Mukherjee | New Yorker | 03 April 2017
Will the invention and expansion of neural nets into medicine fundamentally change the way medicine is practiced?
may 2017
The Watchmaker and The Easter Egg | Jack Forster | Hodinkee | 17 April 2017
Patek Philippe makes the only watch in on Earth that shows the date of Easter, “probably the single most difficult complication in horology”, and even Patek Philippe’s mechanism relies on a notched wheel that needs to be replaced every 28 years. It would be theoretically possible to put a full cycle of Easter dates on to such a wheel, but since the cycle spans 5,700,000 years, the wheel would be six kilometres wide, making for a rather large watch
from instapaper
may 2017
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