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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4 days ago
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.
14 days ago
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”
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15 days ago
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”
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15 days ago
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”
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15 days ago
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.
19 days ago
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?
19 days ago
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
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20 days ago
Those Indecipherable Medical Bills? They’re One Reason Health Care Costs So Much | Elisabeth Rosenthal | NYT | 29 March 2017
Hospitals have learned to manipulate medical codes — often resulting in mind-boggling bills.
4 weeks ago
The Heart of Whiteness | Ijeoma Oluo | The Stranger | 19 April 2017
Amusing and ruthless interview with Rachel Dolezal, the white Spokane woman who passed for a decade as black, headed the local chapter of the NAACP, and has since changed her name to Nkechi Amare Diallo. “For a white woman to imagine herself into a real-life black identity without any lived black experience, to place herself at the forefront of local black society — well, it’s the ultimate ‘you can be anything’ success story of white America. Another branch of manifest destiny”
4 weeks ago
The Blood of the Crab | Caren Chesler | Popular Mechanics | 13 April 2017
Horseshoe crab blood is an irreplaceable medical marvel—and so biomedical companies are bleeding 500,000 every year. Can this creature that's been around since the dinosaurs be saved?
4 weeks ago
Why Some Opioid Addicts Overdose on a Diarrhea Drug | Sarah Zhang | The Atlantic | 07 April 2017
“We’ve had patients tell us they take 400 to 500 tablets day … They put it in a blender and make a smoothie and drink it over one or two hours.”
5 weeks ago
How Google Book Search Got Lost | Scott Rosenberg | Backchannel | 11 April 2017
A brief history of Google Books. “At the birth of the project, in 2002, as Larry Page and Marissa Mayer set out to gauge how long it might take to Scan All The Books, they set up a digital camera on a stand and timed themselves with a metronome”. Fifteen years and 25 million books later, after titanic legal battles, the outcome is an astonishing achievement, a new Library of Alexandria, a game-changer for academia; in Google parlance, a true moonshot. So why does Google hide it away?
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6 weeks ago
In The Land Of Giants | Jon Mooallem | NYT | 23 March 2017
Communing with some of the biggest trees on Earth, in California’s Sequoia National Park. “The trees are so big that it would be cowardly not to deal with their bigness head on. They are very, very big. The delirium of their size is enhanced by their age, by the knowledge that the oldest sequoias predate the English language and most of the world’s major religions — older by centuries, even millenniums. The appearance of a tree cannot be deafening, and yet with these trees, it is”
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7 weeks ago
Food Fights | Jerome Groopman | New Yorker | 03 April 2017
Is fat killing you, or is sugar? What we do and don’t know about dietary science.
7 weeks ago
Findings | Rafil Kroll-Zaidi | Harper's | 30 March 2017
News from the world of science. “Honeybee guards accept drifting migrant bees but repel hostile raider bees. Buddhists can suppress reactions to terrifying stimuli by chanting the name of Amit obha but not by chanting the name of Santa Claus. Rangers in Western Australia observed a 3,000-foot-tall fire tornado. The genomes of the death cap and the destroying angel have been sequenced. The guardian of the thousand-year-old windmills of Nashtifan was expected to die with no successor”
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7 weeks ago
Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds | Elizabeth Kolbert | New Yorker | 27 February 2017
New discoveries about the human mind show the limitations of reason.
8 weeks ago
The Deliciously Fishy Case of the "Codfather" | Ben Goldfarb | Mother Jones | 13 March 2017
New England’s seafood industry is in deep trouble—thanks in no small part to one mogul’s seriously shady business
8 weeks ago
The Most Expensive Weapon Ever Built | Daniel Soare | LRB | 24 March 2017
At a lifetime cost of $1.5 trillion, the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter plane is history’s most expensive weapons system — and perhaps the most expensive peacetime project of any kind. And yet the first F-35s were already obsolescent by the time they were declared combat-ready last year: Piloted planes are yielding to drones. The F-35 pilot, watching screens inside his headset and touching more screens to fire missiles, is “just another node in the network, through whom information is filtered”. He might as well be on the ground a thousand miles away
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8 weeks ago
The Fake Freedom of American Health Care | Anu Partanenmarch | NYT | 18 March 2017
What passes for an American health care system today certainly has not made me feel freer. Having to arrange so many aspects of care myself, while also having to navigate the ever-changing maze of plans, prices and the scarcity of appointments available with good doctors in my network, has thrown me, along with huge numbers of Americans, into a state of constant stress. And I haven’t even been seriously sick or injured yet.
9 weeks ago
Eight Expectations | Charles Foster | Literary Review | 06 March 2017
The wonder of Nature that is the octopus: “It can squeeze through a hole the size of its eyeball. Its oesophagus tunnels through its brain, and the brain is sometimes skewered by a spiky mouthful of food. It smells and tastes with its arms, sees with its skin, plays with toys and craves novelty. It can turn off lights by squirting water at them, negotiate mazes, undo jam jars from the inside, carry round two halves of a coconut shell and assemble a house from them wherever it stops”
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11 weeks ago
How Ikea’s Billy Bookcase Conquered The World | Tim Harford | BBC | 27 February 2017
IKEA stays far head of its rivals, not by leaps of innovation but by a constant search for small efficiencies. The “bare-bones, functional bookshelf” called Billy has sold 60 million units since its launch in 1978 — one for every 100 people in the world. Over that time the cost of producing a Billy has fallen 30% thanks to scale and automation. The single manufacturing plant in Sweden employs humans only to tend the robots that process 600 tons of particle board per day
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11 weeks ago
Why So Many Young Doctors Work Such Awful Hours | Ryan Park | The Atlantic | 21 February 2017
Neither truck drivers nor bankers would put up with a system like the one that influences medical residents’ schedules.
12 weeks ago
Why Nothing Works Any More | Ian Bogost | The Atlantic | 23 February 2017
“Toilets flush three times instead of one. Faucets open at full-blast. Towel dispensers mete out papers so miserly that people take more than they need. Instead of saving resources, these apparatuses mostly save labor and management costs. To flush a toilet or open a faucet by hand offers almost wanton pleasure given how rare it has become. The common response to precarious technology is to add even more technology to solve the problems caused by earlier technology”
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february 2017
The Coming Amnesia | Geoff Manaugh | BldgBlog | 23 February 2017
If the universe goes on expanding, the point will come at which all the galaxies are so far apart that they will cease to be visible to one another. No observer will have reason even to theorise that other galaxies exist. “All evidence of a broader cosmos will disappear. Cosmology itself will be impossible.” But what if something like that has already happened — if our Big Bang theory is a “side-effect of having lost some other form of cosmic evidence that long ago slipped eternally away from view?”
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february 2017
The Heroism of Incremental Care | Atul Gawande | New Yorker | 16 January 2017
We devote vast resources to intensive, one-off procedures, while starving the kind of steady, intimate care that often helps people more.
february 2017
Warfighter: Toad Hall | PPT Sapper | Angry Staff Officer | 20 February 2017
“The situation is as follows. Two heavily armed factions – the Weasels and the Stoats – have undermined the local power in the region; namely, that of Toad and Toad Hall. While Toad was a fairly unsteady leader – investing at random in items that took his fancy – he remained the rightful leader of the region. Taking advantage of a time when Toad was absent, the Weasels and Stoats infiltrated the seat of power and established themselves as the new brokers in the region”
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february 2017
Queens Of The Stoned Age | Suketu Mehta | GQ | 14 February 2017
New York pot dealer “Honey” tells all, hoping to boost the value of her business ahead of legalisation. Eight years without a single police bust, 150 calls a day, every one a felony. Her secret? She is an ex-model, and she uses models for delivery. “Good-looking girls don’t get searched”. She says that in a good month she takes home about $150,000. “She spends $15,000 on herself. The rest goes into the bank, she says, but of course it doesn’t. It goes into a pile of cash somewhere”
february 2017
Intellectual Integrity In The Age Of Donald Trump | Bret Stephens | Time | 18 February 2017
Bret Stephens gives the Daniel Pearl Memorial Lecture at UCLA: “We crossed a rubicon in the Clinton years, when three things happened: we decided that some types of presidential lies didn’t matter; we concluded that “character” was over-rated when judging a president; we allowed the lines between political culture and celebrity culture to become hopelessly blurred. But whatever one might say about President Clinton, what we have now is the crack-cocaine version of that”
february 2017
The Coffee Shaman | Sam Dean | Lucky Peach | 16 February 2017
George Howell “pushed light roasts and sourced single-origin beans” while the rest of us were still drinking Nescafé. He invented the Frappucino, sold out to Starbucks, then spent 20 years working with coffee-growers as a UN consultant. Now he claims to have a new method for spotting the best beans — and it seems to work: “The third cup tastes unbelievable, so good that each hit from the cupping spoon exerts a magnetic effect on my tongue as powerful as the crumbs at the bottom of a bag of Doritos”
february 2017
General Chaos | Nicholas Schmidle | New Yorker | 18 November 2017
What the removal of Flynn as the national-security adviser reveals about Donald Trump’s White House.
february 2017
Fat In Every Language | Jonatha Kottler | New York | 08 February 2017
On being fat in America, the Netherlands, and Scotland. The Netherlands is worst: “Every sidewalk, tram car, and restaurant chair made it clear that in the land of the very tall and very slim I was taking up more than my share of space. Struggling and homesick, I was living proof of the worst American stereotypes. I wasn’t just an overweight woman who was singled out as fat in her own country, but the manifestation of the fat, lazy, loud, insincere, stupid Americans that they always knew existed”
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february 2017
What We’re Fighting For | Phil Klay | NYT | 10 February 2017
"If we choose to believe in a morally diminished America, an America that pursues its narrow selfish interests and no more, we can take that course and see how far it gets us. But if we choose to believe that America is not just a set of borders, but a set of principles, we need to act accordingly. That is the only way we ensure that our founding document, and the principles embedded within, are alive enough, and honorable enough, to be worth fighting for."
february 2017
Republicans in Idaho tried to design a better plan than Obamacare — and failed | Robert Samuels | Washington Post | 09 February 2017
Idaho serves as an example of what could happen in states across the country if Congress, with the support of President Trump, repeals the Affordable Care Act. Many of the proposals to replace the federal law call for states to come up with their own health-care solutions, to be “laboratories for innovation.”

In 2012, Otter set up a 15-person working group to figure out whether the state should do more. The task force’s conclusion was unanimous: expand Medicaid.
february 2017
Fascism And Infrastructure | Ingrid Burrington | Melville House | 10 February 2017
“Authoritarians tend to have really comprehensive infrastructure plans, which usually contributes to their appeal. Anyone seeking the legitimacy afforded a state understands that maintaining infrastructure not only builds goodwill (or at least subservience), it’s also a tremendous display of power. It’s telling that the term that’s gaining more and more traction here is ‘infrastructure’ and not ‘public works’. The noble sentiments of the latter are often implied by the former, but they’re far from guaranteed”
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february 2017
I Accidentally Bought A Giant Pig | Steve Jenkins | The Guardian | 10 February 2017
In which the writer agrees to give house room to a “mini-pig” which he is told will grow to the size of “a large cat”. Events prove otherwise. ” By her first birthday she had blown past 250lb; she was on track to be at least 500lb. She’s unlike any animal I’ve met. Her intelligence is unbelievable. She’s house trained and even opens the back door with her snout to let herself out to pee. Her favourite treat is a cupcake. She’s bathed regularly and pigs don’t sweat, so she doesn’t smell”
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february 2017
Bias In The ER | Michael Lewis | Nautilus | 09 February 2017
Profile of “medical detective” Don Redelmeier, a disciple of Amos Tversky, who strives to identify and prevent common errors of judgment among doctors. Doctors have cognitive biases just like everybody else, but they are peculiarly reluctant to acknowledge as much because so much certainty is expected of them, and because the cost of an error in medicine can be so high. “Most physicians try to maintain this facade of being rational and scientific and logical and it’s a great lie”
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february 2017
Cost Disease | Scott Alexander | Slate Star Codex | 09 February 2017
“So, to summarize: in the past fifty years, education costs have doubled [in real, inflation-adjusted terms], college costs have dectupled, health insurance costs have dectupled, subway costs have at least dectupled, and housing costs have increased by about fifty percent. US health care costs about four times as much as equivalent health care in other First World countries; US subways cost about eight times as much as equivalent subways in other First World countries”
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february 2017
How Systems Engineering Can Help Fix Health Care | Peter Pronovost, Alan Ravitz, & Conrad Grant | Harvard Business Review | 09 February 2017
When an aircraft manufacturer decides to create a new model, it doesn’t ask pilots and crew to identify the best cabin, wings, jet engines, and other parts, and then put all the pieces together. By contrast, the way we build hospitals and clinics typically happens in a piecemeal, patchwork approach. Institutions purchase hundreds of individual, siloed technologies — each with its own work processes, training, and user interfaces — based on what the market offers. We then plop them into an ICU or operating room and hope that they somehow work together.
february 2017
How to Build an Autocracy | David Frum | The Atlantic | 30 January 2017
The preconditions are present in the U.S. today. Here’s the playbook Donald Trump could use to set the country down a path toward illiberalism.
february 2017
Sick But Not Sick | Jerome Groopman | NYRB | 30 January 2017
Physicians typically spend about one-quarter of their time dealing with patients whose symptoms “appear to have no physical basis”. But is an illness in the mind any less of an illness? “Every week I tell somebody that their disability has a psychological cause. When they ask me how I have come to that conclusion, all I can provide is a list of test results. When a person is paralyzed or blind, it is not difficult to see why they find that a very unsatisfactory explanation”
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january 2017
It Could Happen To You | Adam Kotsko | An Und Für Sich | 26 January 2017
Thought experiment about torture. “And then it hit me: this was what he was after! This was what the whole setup was for. He had kidnapped my baby — which again, I totally have and am just desperate to get back and unbomb — and then let himself fall into my clutches specifically to tempt me into contradicting my stated opposition to torture. That was literally the only reason that anyone would do anything remotely this convoluted. I had to hand it to the terroristic bastard: he had really put me in a spot. It was funny, if you thought about it”
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january 2017
The Political Uses Of Lying | Tyler Cowen | Bloomberg View | 24 January 2017
Why lie, when people are sure to know or discover that you are lying? Partly because lying is a show of power, a declaration that you don’t have to take into account what others think. And requiring your subordinates to lie on your behalf is a test of their loyalty — if they balk, they aren’t fully with you. This is not usual behaviour in American presidential politics, but President Trump may “simply be replicating tactics that he found useful in his earlier business and media careers”
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january 2017
Life-And-Death Experiments | Julian Baggini | Aeon | 17 January 2017
We may worry about the psychological effects of playing violent video games — but perhaps moral philosophy is just as corrosive. “A worryingly large proportion of ethical thought experiments involve fantasies of homicide, requiring you to decide who gets tortured or killed. Is it justifiable to hang an innocent man to calm a mob who would otherwise run riot and kill many more? Should a doctor let a patient die, knowing that the patient’s organs can save five other people?”
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january 2017
Peter’s Choice | Rick Perlstein | Mother Jones | 23 January 2017
A liberal historian teaching in Oklahoma presses Peter, “one of the brightest students in the class”, to explain why he supports for Donald Trump. Peter replies with an essay called Plight of the Redneck: “Imagine being one of those rednecks under the poverty line, living in a camper trailer on your grandpa’s land, eating about one full meal a day, yet being accused by Black Lives Matter that you are benefiting from white privilege and your life is somehow much better than theirs”
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january 2017
The Traffic Ticket Trial Of The Century | Adam MacLeod | Public Discourse | 13 January 2017
“The traffic-camera ticket: Like a parking ticket, it looks lawful enough. Most people simply write the check. But this is not a parking ticket. In legal terms, it is not a proceeding in rem against your car. It is a legal action against you personally. And before you pay the fine, you might want to hear my story. My story is not legal advice. I offer it only to show how our ruling elites have corrupted the rule of law and to suggest why this matters for the American experiment in self-governance”
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january 2017
Saint Of Saint Bernards | Elena Passarello | Paris Review | 10 January 2017
In affectionate memory of Barry, the greatest Saint Bernard, who saved at least 40 lives in the Pennine Alps between 1800 to 1812, probably including some of Napoleon’s soldiers. He was “close to the size of an Airedale”, much smaller than today’s picture-postcard Saint Bernards, which date from the 1820s, when the monks of the Saint Bernard hospice brought in Newfoundlands for cross-breeding. The big new dogs proved too clumsy for rescue work — but ideal as pets and film stars
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january 2017
The Fighter | C. J. Chivers | NYT | 28 December 2016
The Marine Corps taught Sam Siatta how to shoot. The war in Afghanistan
taught him how to kill. Nobody taught him how to come home.
january 2017
All About Avocados | Joanna Sciarrino | Lucky Peach | 22 December 2016
The avocado is a fruit, specifically a single-seeded berry; and — at 82% fat — probably the fattiest fruit in the world. It matures on the tree but ripens only when picked. It can take anywhere from a few days to two weeks for an avocado to ripen naturally at room temperature. A ripe avocado will keep in the refrigerator for seven to ten days. Americans eat four billion avocados a year. There are more than a thousand varieties of avocado, but the Hass, first grown in 1926, accounts for 95% of the US market
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january 2017
Annual Kitchen Gift Guide | Megan McArdle | Bloomberg View | 21 December 2016
An institution. A joy for ever. Coolest gadget for advanced cooks: The PolyScience induction burner, $1,800. “This thing is amazing. It is, to be sure, a specialty product. But it’s a great specialty product. Basically, it’s an induction burner that also has a temperature probe to regulate the temperature. I’ve used it as a deep fryer, to make candy, to do sous vide and slow cooking, and, of course, just to cook regular things. Spectacular success with all of them. It is both precise and powerful”
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december 2016
The Economist Bids Farewell | The Economist | Medium | 22 December 2016
A look back at fifty years of life and work in The Economist building on St James’s Street in London — which the paper will vacate this year in favour of slightly more affordable space off the Strand. The tower block, a distinctive product of Britain’s brief infatuation with brutalism, was much more of a pleasure to work in than to look upon — even though, in this case, the brutalism was tempered; the architects were persuaded to use Portland stone rather than bare concrete for the cladding
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december 2016
A Bigger Problem Than ISIS? | Dexter Filkins | New Yorker | 28 December 2016
The Mosul Dam is failing. A breach would cause a colossal wave that could kill as many as a million and a half people.
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december 2016
Superintelligence | Maciej Cegłowski | Idle Words | 23 December 2016
Claims that artificial intelligence will conquer and perhaps destroy humankind are tech-industry propaganda. “I live in California, which has the highest poverty rate in the United States, even though it’s home to Silicon Valley. I see my rich industry doing nothing to improve the lives of indigent people around us. But if you’re committed to the idea of superintelligence, AI research is the most important thing you could do on the planet right now. It’s more important than politics, malaria, starving children, war, global warming”
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december 2016
Live Animal Export: Escapees | Lynn Simpson | Splash 24/7 | 22 November 2016
Harrowing notes from the diary of a sea-going vet. “The night before we had had a 500kg escapee bull. He had broken out of one of the ratty Libyan trucks. Libyan trucks appear to be held together by prayers only. He jumped the breakwater and headed north across the Mediterranean Sea towards Italy. I was proud of his boldness until he became the hit and run victim of a 36,000-ton container ship. As a cattle vet I needed nothing short of a magic wand to help him. Alas, down he went”
december 2016
In Search Of The World’s Hardest Language | The Economist | Medium | 01 December 2016
And the winner is: Tuyuca, spoken in the eastern Amazon, which divides nouns into 140 classes. The noun-class used for “bark that does not cling closely to a tree” is also used for baggy trousers and for wet plywood in the process of coming apart. Tuyuca requires “evidential” verb-endings to signal the source of a speaker’s knowledge: diga ape-wi means that “the boy played soccer (I know because I saw him)”, while diga ape-hiyi means “the boy played soccer (I assume)”
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december 2016
How To Be Your Own Investment Manager | John Kay | John Kay | 02 December 2016
If you invest £1,000 for 40 years at a 5% return you end up with £7,000. But if you pay a professional 2% to manage your money you end up with just £3,250. So do it yourself. “The least risky method of improving investment returns is to pay less to the financial services industry.” Buy things that you understand, and hold on to them. It’s that simple. “Modern financial markets are complex, but much of the complexity is for the benefit of providers rather than consumers of financial services”
december 2016
52 Things I Learned In 2016 | Tom Whitwell | Fluxx | 01 December 2016
Every one a gem. “Call Me Baby is a call centre for cybercriminals who need a human voice as part of a scam. They charge $10 for each call in English, and $12 for calls in German, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Polish.” “A Californian company called Skinny Mirror sells mirrors that make you look thinner. When installed in the changing rooms of clothes shops, they can increase sales by 18%.” “Twitter has enough money in the bank to run for 412 years at current losses”
december 2016
The Devil’s Hair Dryers | David Dudley | City Lab | 03 November 2016
Running a leaf blower for 30 minutes creates more emissions than driving a pickup truck for 3800 miles. The noise of a leaf blower exceeds 100 decibels and carries hundreds of feet in every direction. “The tragedy of the leaf blower is that it makes assholes of us all, users and neighbors alike”. The suburban garden is conceived as peaceful refuge, “predicated on the assumption that other people are fundamentally irritants. And when we move there, we discover just how true that can be”
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november 2016
Magnus Carlsen Makes Chess Cool | David Cox | Vice Sports | 22 November 2016
Profile of Magnus Carlsen, defending his world chess title in New York this week. His edge is stamina. He wears rivals down. “His practical strengths are at a completely new level. He has vast patience. Some people want to win immediately but he has no problem winning after six hours. There will be positions where most players will agree to a draw, but he’ll see some small things and keep playing for another three hours, applying moderate pressure with simple but exact moves. People crack”
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november 2016
Learning From Elevators | Paul Dawson | Fluxx | 22 November 2016
Malfunctioning lifts don’t fall. At worst, they rocket upwards and crash into the roof. “The most terrifying potential lift incident is the dreaded free-fall to the bottom of the shaft if a cable snapped. Talk to anyone in the elevator industry though, and they will tell you that the last instance of this was in 1945 when an errant B-25 bomber pilot turned the wrong way and ran in to the Empire State Building — severing all of the cables on two separate elevators in the process”
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november 2016
Can Hypothermia Save Gunshot Victims? | Nicola Twilley | New Yorker | 21 November 2016
Many trauma patients die of blood loss before treatable injuries can be fixed. A new procedure freezes trauma patients who are bleeding out in order to buy time to operate.
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november 2016
Jack London, A Century On | Michael Caines | Times Literary Supplement | 22 November 2016
London, “a second-rate writer of genius”, died one hundred years ago at the age of forty — and he was lucky to get that far. “During his short life he smoked sixty Russian Imperiale cigarettes a day. He drank so much that his kidneys began to fail before he reached thirty-five. He ate for dinner, when he could get them, two whole and barely cooked ducks. He was also addicted to morphine. By the end, he had become the absolute inversion of the image that made him and his fictional characters famous”
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november 2016
Inside A Moneymaking Machine | Katherine Burton | Bloomberg Businessweek | 21 November 2016
A computer-driven hedge fund limited to 300 investors has produced has produced $55 billion in profits over the last 28 years. The Renaissance Technologies Medallion Fund is “perhaps the world’s greatest moneymaking machine”, producing annualized returns of almost 80 percent a year before fees. “In addition to language specialists, astrophysicists have historically had an outsize impact on the system’s success, according to people familiar with the firm. String theorists have also had a major role”
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november 2016
How To Annoy People In The Most Effective Ways | Ella Morton | Atlas Obscura | 15 November 2016
An alarm designer explains how to give warning signals the appropriate degree of urgency: “The faster an alarm goes, the more urgent it tends to sound. And in terms of pitch, alarms start high. Most adults can hear sounds between 20 Hz and 20,000 Hz. Baldwin uses 1,000 Hz as a base frequency, which is at the bottom of the range of human speech. Harmonics are also important. To be perceived as urgent, an alarm needs to have two or more notes rather than being a pure tone”
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november 2016
The Most Effective Modern Weapon Is Concrete | John Spencer | Modern War Institute | 14 November 2016
Concrete is the most effective defensive weapon in modern warfare. It shuts out threats that cannot be shut down. “Many soldiers deployed to Iraq became experts in concrete during their combat tours. Concrete is as symbolic to their deployments as the weapons they carried. No other weapon or technology has done more to contribute to achieving strategic goals of providing security, protecting populations, establishing stability, and eliminating terrorist threats”
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november 2016
Big Money, Big Questions | Daniela Wei & Matthew Campbell | Bloomberg Businessweek | 13 November 2016
“On a tiny island in the western Pacific, between a one-story laundromat and a cell-phone shop, you’ll find what may be the most successful casino of all time. Nothing about the facility, which opened last year on the US island of Saipan, hints at the money flowing through it — table for table, far more than at the biggest casinos in Macau, the world’s number-one gambling capital”. But no cause for concern. An ex-Trump gambling boss is in charge, advised by former directors of the CIA and the FBI
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november 2016
The Deadly Business Of War-Zone Medical Care | Katrin Kuntz | Der Spiegel | 22 September 2016
At work with Médicins Sans Frontières in two of their most dangerous deployments, the Central African Republic and the Jordanian border with Syria. “Since the war in Syria began five years ago, the regime and its allies have murdered 698 Syrian doctors and nurses. Some 63 hospitals supported by MSF were bombed in 2015 and a further 16 have been attacked by August of this year. When officials planned to rebuild a hospital in southern Syria, the local residents protested — out of fear”
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november 2016
Autocracy: Rules for Survival | Masha Gessen | NYRB | 10 November 2016
Russian emigree Masha Gessen offers sobering pointers on how to survive under—and stand in uncompromising resistance to—the rule of a totalitarian autocrat.
from instapaper
november 2016
How We Got It So Wrong | Matt Taibbi | Rolling Stone | 10 November 2016
A mea culpa on behalf of the American press. “We journalists made the same mistake the Republicans made, the same mistake the Democrats made. We were too sure of our own influence, too lazy to bother hearing things first-hand, too much in love with ourselves to imagine that so many people could hate and distrust us as much as they apparently do.Just like the politicians, our job was to listen, and we talked instead. Now America will do its own talking for a while”
from instapaper
november 2016
It's Just a Job | Louis M. Profeta | news.com.au | 01 November 2016
No matter how we like to hold up ourselves as the pillars of compassion, the keepers of the public wellbeing, we are just one profession out of countless others that keep our world moving.
november 2016
The Pyramid And The Garden | Scott Alexander | Slate Star Codex | 05 November 2016
The speed of light in a vacuum is 299,792,458 meters per second. The coordinates of the Great Pyramid — you can check this on Google Maps — are 29.9792458° N, 31.1342880° E. So the Great Pyramid is “telling” us the speed of light. Is this a message from an ancient or alien civilisation? Probably not, and it’s not necessarily even that much of a coincidence. The reasoning here is a brief parable in probability, with wider implications for science. An event can be striking without being significant
from instapaper
november 2016
The Gone Girl With The Dragon Tattoo On The Train | Emily St John Mandel | Five Thirty Eight | 27 October 2016
Analysis of 800 popular recent novels with “girl” in the title. In two-thirds of the books the titular “girl” is in fact a woman. Four-fifths of the “girl” books are written by women; but the “girl” is three times as likely to get killed or to disappear in the course of the story if the author is a man. After Girl With Dragon Tattoo, Gone Girl, and Girl On A Train, sales of “girl” books are still rising — so expect more. “There are five different galleys on the shelf with ‘girl’ in the title pubbing this fall”
from instapaper
october 2016
Crash: Computer-Assisted Disaster | Tim Harford | The Guardian | 11 October 2016
A computer that is a hundred times more accurate than a human, and a million times faster, will make 10,000 times as many mistakes. “This is not to say that we should call for death to the databases and algorithms. There is at least some legitimate role for computerised attempts to investigate criminal suspects, and keep traffic flowing. But the database and the algorithm, like the autopilot, should be there to support human decision-making. If we rely on computers completely, disaster awaits”
from instapaper
october 2016
Essentially Witchcraft | Megan Thielking | Stat | 20 October 2016
A former naturopath takes on the field. For the past two years, Hermes has been waging a scathing fight against naturopathy on social media, in science blogs, and on her own website, Naturopathic Diaries, which just won a “best blog of the year” award from a scientific skepticism magazine in the United Kingdom. She has not pulled punches.
october 2016
Congratulations! You Essay Has Been Accepted! | Aaron Guest | McSweeney's | 23 October 2016
Satire. But only just. “Dear Mr. Guest: Thank you for your recent submission, “What I Talk About When I Talk About Paying Off My Student Loan Debt,” to Navient’s Loan Repayment Success Story Quarterly. We read it with great interest! We are excited to present it to our student loan borrowers! We know it will encourage the many thousands of borrowers to give us the money they owe in a more timely manner! As you know, repaying your Student Loan Debt is an achievement worth sharing!”
from instapaper
october 2016
The Evolutionary Economics Of Ikea | Oliver Roeder | Five Thirty Eight | 21 October 2016
IKEA consumes 1% of the world’s timber, and may well have achieved the scale needed to deter all competitors, since it has none. Compare IKEA catalogues over the years, and you see evolution at work. This is “survival of the fittest” for furniture. Products survive from decade to decade only if they achieve the scale needed for their cost of manufacture to fall sharply. Thus the Poäng chair sold for the inflation-adjusted equivalent of $300 in the early 1990s; now it costs $79
from instapaper
october 2016
Fuller House: High-End Poker Cheating | Elie Bursztein | Elie | 21 October 2016
Senior Google cyber-security expert pursues a Chinese-made platform for cheating at poker using marked cards and repurposed iPhones. “I decided to follow the trail of this fabled device to see if people were indeed cheating at poker using devices that would fit naturally into a James Bond movie. Without spoiling too much of the rest of this post, let’s just say that the high-end cheating device that I was able to get my hands on far exceeded my expectations and it really is an outstanding piece of technology.
from instapaper
october 2016
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