The Durable Feeling That a Child Is Always at Risk | Rachel Pearson | New Yorker | 10 June 2019
In times of medical crisis, the ways that doctors and nurses communicate with frightened parents can have lifelong effects on infants.
8 days ago
Parenting by the Numbers | Lizzie Widdicombe | New Yorker | 27 May 2019
The economist Emily Oster challenges the conventional wisdom on child rearing.
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15 days ago
The Randomized Time Machine | Kevin Kelly | The Technium | 15th May 2019
A Rawlsian thought experiment. You are offered a one-way ride in a time machine that has only one controlling lever. You can set the lever to take you forward in time, or back. Either way, you arrive in an otherwise random place, at an otherwise random time, as a new-born baby, with random parents and random status. “I have not met anyone yet who would point the lever to the past. We would rather inhabit a random future role than a random past role because progress, on average, is real”
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4 weeks ago
A Pointed Review | Scott Alexander | Slate Star Codex | 07 May 2019
New study by geneticists overturns years of psychiatric research, debunks hundreds of scientific papers that claimed a genetic basis for mental illnesses in the serotonin transporter gene 5-HTTLPR. "This is a rare case where methodological improvements allowed a conclusive test of a popular hypothesis, and it failed badly. How many other cases like this are there? How many of our scientific edifices are built on air? How many useless products are out there under the guise of good science? We still don’t know"
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4 weeks ago
How To Build A Thermometer | Jeremy Webb | Delancey Place | 08 May 2019
Imagine trying to build a thermometer in the early 19th century when you didn't know what heat was, and you weren’t too sure what a liquid was either. “Even the greatest scientific pioneers did not understand that everyday objects are made of atoms, that heat is the kinetic energy of moving atoms, and that temperature is a measure of the speed with which atoms move — specifically the square of the average molecular speed. Ideas of this kind were were roundly rejected by London’s Royal Society”
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4 weeks ago
Breast Is Not Best | Laura Frances Callahan | Aeon | 09 May 2019
A philosopher investigates whether mothers should breastfeed their babies. “Breastfeeding seems to be just one more way of giving children an advantage in life. It’s like violin lessons. The dominant narrative says that because breastfeeding benefits your children, you have a responsibility to do it if you can. But, just as we don’t have a responsibility to give to each and every effective charity at every opportunity, we don’t have a responsibility to do each and every thing we could to benefit our kids”
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4 weeks ago
Free Solo And Economic Growth | John Cochrane | Grumpy Economist | 13 May 2019
An economist’s view of rock-climbing. Sixty years ago it took Warren Harding 47 days to climb El Capitan with pitons and ropes. Two years ago Alex Honnold climbed El Capitan in four hours, with no equipment at all. What makes such progress possible? “There is essentially no technology involved. Clearly, there has been an explosion in human ability to climb rocks — just as there has been in human productivity, in our knowledge of how to do things, in more prosaic and more economic activities”
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4 weeks ago
The Other Montana | T. Edward Nickens | Garden & Gun | 20 April 2019
While they may not get the attention of the storied waters out West, two East Tennessee rivers—the South Holston and the Watauga—hold the kind of brown and rainbow trout that usually only swim through anglers’ dreams. Welcome to the Tennessee Tailwaters
6 weeks ago
My Parents Are Flat-Earthers | James Fisher | James Fisher | 20 January 2019
“What’s the point of being a conspiracy theorist? An under-acknowledged reason is that it’s fun! You get to do research. You get to conduct experiments. You get to participate in a global club. You get to surprise people with new ideas, challenging the person next to you on the plane to find the curvature of the horizon. And it’s fun for me, too. At your family dinners, instead of banal chat about holidays and food, wouldn’t you prefer interesting conversations about evolution and astronomy?”
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6 weeks ago
The Descent of Man | Nick Paumgarten | New Yorker | 22 April 2019
The punishing Hahnenkamm downhill brings street-party revelry to a medieval town in the Tyrolean Alps.
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7 weeks ago
A Night at the Museum | Jake Halpern | New Yorker | 07 January 2019
The skilled climber and thief Vjeran Tomic, whom the French press referred to as Spider-Man, has described robbery as an act of imagination. He also pulled off his generation's biggest art heist.
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7 weeks ago
The Truth About Dentistry | Ferris Jabr | The Atlantic | 18 April 2019
In the nature of things, we trust dentists much more than we should. They are not doctors, nor are they held to doctors’ clinical standards. “A masked figure looms over your recumbent body, wielding power tools and sharp metal instruments, doing things to your mouth you cannot see, asking you questions you cannot properly answer, and judging you all the while. In the dentist’s office the impulse is to comply without much consideration, to get the whole thing over with as quickly as possible”
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8 weeks ago
Heaven or High Water | Sarah Miller | Popula | 02 April 2019
"In Miami, sea water will just go under a wall, like a salty ghost. It will come up through the pipes and seep up around the manholes. It will soak into the sand and find its way into caves and get under the water table and push the ground water up."
8 weeks ago
Huawei: A Risk Analysis | Nicholas Weaver | Lawfare | 17 April 2019
Admirably hard-nosed appraisal of the risks and benefits of allowing Huawei to dominate 5G telecom infrastructure. Top figures in business and politics around the world would have to expect their calls to be monitored by Chinese intelligence. “This may actually be a worthwhile trade-off. The damage done by Chinese spies would have to be weighed against the billions of dollars saved by purchasing Huawei equipment. That trade-off just needs to be acknowledged when making purchase decisions”
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8 weeks ago
The Deadly Truth About a World Built for Men | Caroline Criado-Perez | The Guardian | 23 February 2019
Crash-test dummies based on the ‘average’ male are just one example of design that forgets about women – and puts lives at risk
9 weeks ago
Paint Is Coloured Glue | Mark Miodownik | Delancey Place | 05 April 2019
How oil paint works. The job of any paint is to turn from liquid to solid, and to stay where it is put. Water colours achieve this by evaporation. Oil paints do so by polymerisation; they react with oxygen in the air to form a hard, plasticky, wa­terproof deposit on the canvas. Oil painting might more accurately be called plastic painting. The hardening of the paint takes time — time that great painters use to their advantage, adding layer upon layer of pigments to yield new effects of colour and texture
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10 weeks ago
Death of the Calorie | Peter Wilson | 1843 | 30 March 2019
For more than a century we’ve counted on calories to tell us what will make us fat. The simplicity of calorie-counting explains its appeal. Metrics that tell consumers the extent to which foods have been processed, or whether they will suppress hunger, are harder to understand. Faced with the calorie juggernaut, none has gained wide acceptance. Yet, the scientific and health establishment knows that the current system is flawed.
10 weeks ago
Turning Bystanders Into First Responders | Paige Williams | New Yorker | 01 April 2019
In the mass-shooting era, civilians must help one another in a crisis—and keep victims from bleeding to death.
10 weeks ago
Growing Up With Money | Sarah McVeigh | The Cut | 28 March 2019
Beguilingly candid interview with heiress Abigail Disney about how it feels to be hugely rich. The answer appears to be, generally pretty good, though you do get conflicted every now and again. “My kids don’t want anyone to know; they want to support themselves. I keep trying to tell them that money is morally neutral. It does not, in and of itself, make you a bad person. It also does not, in and of itself, make you a good person. You are who you are and the least important thing about you is what you have”
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10 weeks ago
Joe Rogan’s Galaxy Brain | Justin Peters | Slate | 21 March 2019
How the former Fear Factor host’s podcast became an essential platform for “freethinkers” who hate the left.
10 weeks ago
I Am Not A Robot | Oliver Emberton | Quora | 16 February 2019
You know that little Google-powered check-box which says, “I am not a robot”? How does it tell lying robots from truthful humans? How complicated can a little box be? More than you can begin to imagine, apparently. “Google invented a virtual machine to run that checkbox using an invented language decoded with a key that is changed by the process of reading the language — and the language also changes as it is read. All this is just to make it hard for you to understand what Google is even doing”
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11 weeks ago
Why American Costs Are So High | Alon Levy | Pedestrian Observations | 03 March 2019
Why do American subways cost three to six times as much to build as subways in other countries? By this account, the reasons, in order of magnitude, are: station design; contracting and procurement, project management, and political interference. If your appetite for construction news is limited, skip to Section 9 Part 3, which asks: So why don’t American cities adopt best practices from overseas and save themselves billions of dollars? The answer, apparently, is sheer lack of curiosity. “Americans are unique in not caring to learn from other countries, even when those countries do things better”
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11 weeks ago
Two Wolves And A Sheep | Scott Alexander | Slate Star Codex | 28 March 2019
Eleven very short fables, featuring wolves and sheep, which capture in stylised form some of the perverse behaviours and outcomes of democratic party-political systems: “Democracy is two wolves and a sheep deciding what to have for dinner. Talks between the Gray Wolf Party and the Timber Wolf Party break down over the issue of who gets the tastiest cuts of mutton. The Gray Wolf Party enters into a surprise ‘grand coalition’ with the Sheep Party, and they agree to eat the second wolf”
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11 weeks ago
Every Decision My Kids Made Me Make In A Day | Emma Marris | Last Word On Nothing | 28 March 2019
A shoo-in for the most popular piece of the year, at least among parents. “My modern American lifestyle, with its endless variety of choices, from the yogurts at the grocery store to the movies on Netflix, breeds decision fatigue. But it is my kids that really fry my brain. I decided to write down every question that my two kids asked me during a single day. Limiting myself to just those queries that required a decision, here are the results”. They are legion, and a surprising number of them involve mittens
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11 weeks ago
For My Next Trick… | Erica Klarreich | Quanta Magazine | 14 April 2015
Let’s say you shuffle a pack of playing cards the way a toddler might — or, indeed, as a baccarat dealer would in the casino at Monte Carlo — by spreading them out on a table and messing them around for a while. The term of art for this is “smooshing”. But how effective is it? Does it randomise the deck? We may never know. Nobody has yet managed to model this act of child’s play. There are as many possible shuffles in a deck of cards as there are atoms in the Milky Way. “Any time you shuffle a deck to the point of randomness, you have probably created an arrangement that has never existed before”
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12 weeks ago
The Believer | Davy Rothbart | The California Sunday Magazine | 14 March 2019
After a mysterious freestyle ski run in last year’s Winter Olympics, people called Elizabeth Swaney a scam artist and the worst athlete in the history of the games. They’re wrong.
12 weeks ago
How Harvey Karp Turned Baby Sleep Into Big Business | Ruth Margalit | NYT | 21 April 2018
This generation’s Doctor Spock popularized the swaddle and simple techniques for soothing infants. Why is he now selling a $1,160 robotic bassinet?
12 weeks ago
In Memory Of Yellowstone Wolf 926F | Rick McIntyre | Outside | 13 March 2019
Prepare to have your heart broken by tales of wolf heroism. “Until the last moment of her life, no matter what challenges and tragedies she faced, she always figured out a way to survive, to carry on. Then in late November, just a mile outside Yellowstone National Park, a hunter’s bullet struck and killed wolf 926. I knew her well, starting with her days as a pup. I also knew her parents and other ancestors, back to two of her great-great-grandmothers. Rather than dwell on her death, let me tell you about the extraordinary life she lived and why so many people cared about her”
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march 2019
What Happens When You Teach a Cowboy to Sail | Claire Antoszewski & Will Grant | Outside | 07 March 2019
Can a relationship survive a grand adventure? That’s a question neither partner thought to ask when She got the bright idea to refit an old sailboat while He was dreaming of life on the range. A he-said-she-said tale of a voyage that somehow managed to avoid the rocks.
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march 2019
Why We Sleep, and Why We Often Can’t | Zoë Heller | New Yorker | 10 December 2018
Does our contemporary obsession with sleep obscure what makes it special in the first place?
march 2019
The Phantom Gambler | Michael LaPointe | Paris Review | 05 March 2019
In September 1980 a man walked into Binion’s Horseshoe Casino in Las Vegas, placed a $777,000 bet on the backline at a craps table, doubled his money, and walked out again. In March 1984 he came back, placed a $538,000 bet, doubled his money, and walked out again. In November he came back and bet $1 million. By now the casino knew a bit about the “phantom gambler”. He was called William Bergstrom, he was in the thirties, he speculated in property, he was deep in debt to the bank, and he carried a bottle of sleeping pills. His plan was to win money. And, if he lost, to kill himself
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march 2019
The $15 Minimum Wage Doesn't Just Improve Lives. It Saves Them. | Matthew Desmond | NYT | 24 February 2019
A living wage is an antidepressant. It is a sleep aid. A diet. A stress reliever. It is a contraceptive, preventing teenage pregnancy. It prevents premature death. It shields children from neglect.
march 2019
Resident Wellness is a Lie | Jennifer R. Bernstein | in-House | 18 February 2019
If we are to heal medical education, we might start by affirming what wellness is not. Wellness is not a yoga class, or a coffee cart or a meditation practice. No amount of meditation will compensate for not having nutritious food to eat, time to sleep or emotional bandwidth to spend on one’s loved ones. Insofar as scientists have studied happiness, most notably in the Harvard longitudinal study, they have identified interpersonal connection as the sine qua non of fulfillment.
march 2019
Rule Thinkers In, Not Out | Scott Alexander | Slate Star Codex | 26 February 2019
Even the most brilliant people sometimes come up with bad or offensive ideas. Linus Pauling thought Vitamin C cured everything; Isaac Newton spent half his time working on weird Bible codes; Nikola Tesla pursued mad energy beams; Lynn Margulis was a 9-11 truther. Perhaps only Einstein ever had a perfect batting average. “Some of the people who have most inspired me have been inexcusably wrong on basic issues. But you only need one world-changing revelation to be worth reading”
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february 2019
When Kodak Discovered The Atom Bomb | Matt Blitz | Popular Mechanics | 20 June 2016
The summer of 1945 brought a surge of complaints from users of Kodak’s X-ray films: Prints were coming back fogged. Kodak traced the problem to cardboard film packaging sourced from paper-mills in the mid-West. The mills were using river water tainted with by-products of nuclear fission. Kodak had accidentally stumbled on to America’s deepest wartime secret: Nuclear weapons were being tested. After the war, with the nuclear programme continuing, Kodak negotiated a secret deal. The US government would give Kodak advance notice of tests, in time for Kodak to take the precautions needed to protect its stock
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february 2019
“Reverse Innovation” Could Save Lives | Tom Vanderbilt | New Yorker | 04 February 2019
Cheap and simple medical devices could improve performance and lower health-care costs, but first they have to overcome deeply rooted biases.
february 2019
For The Pangolin | Sam Kriss | Idiot Joy Showland | 16 February 2019
In praise of the pangolin, strangest and gentlest of nature’s creations. Slow and thoughtful, pangolins walk on their hind legs, which are flat and splaying, holding their little hands timidly crossed in front of them. They are the only mammals with scales. Their bodies are “like flowers”. Baby pangolins, too young to walk, ride along on their parents’ tails. Catch them while you can. They are defenceless against their only predators, humans. Of the eight species of pangolin, four are listed as vulnerable, two as endangered, and two as critically endangered. “They are the most trafficked animals in the world”
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february 2019
The 26,000-Year Astronomical Monument Hidden in Plain Sight | Alexander Rose | Long Now | 29 January 2019
There’s a little-known monument located at the site of the Hoover Dam that shows the progression of “North Stars” as the Earth moves through its 25,772-year change of rotational axis.
february 2019
The Myths Of War | David Barno & Nora Bensahel | War On The Rocks | 12 February 2019
The long war in Afghanistan is almost over, the Taliban has prevailed. The US Army must accept its own large part in this failure, and resist the temptation to blame civilians back home, if the right lessons are to be learned for the future. “After Vietnam, the US military allowed myths to be promoted that obscured the real causes of the military defeat. Today’s military leaders and their troops paid the price of those myths, thrust into two irregular wars for which they were almost wholly unprepared. As they confront the looming end of the Afghanistan war, today’s leaders must not repeat the same failure”
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february 2019
Buy (Or Rent) Coal | Alex Tabarrok | Marginal Revolution | 12 February 2019
The detailed math remains to be shown, but this sounds like a cost-effective way to counter climate change: Buy coal mines, especially in China and India, shut them down, and build housing on top of them so that the closure cannot easily be undone. Or just lease mines for a decade or two and leave the coal in the ground, while solar gets cheaper. A reduction in supply is liable to raise the price of coal, and thus, in theory, to stimulate new coal production — but any such adjustment will be very slow in coming, because it takes a very long time to dig a new coal mine
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february 2019
The Caviar Con | David Gauvey Herbert | Longreads | 12 February 2019
Cut open a pregnant Ozark paddlefish and you may find 20 pounds of roe looking very much like caviar. Sold as paddlefish eggs, the roe will fetch $2,000. Sold as caviar it can fetch $40,000. So when cars full of Russian-speakers from out of town started crowding the Ozark riverbanks, fishing and fighting and bidding openly for roe, the US Fish and Wildlife Service got suspicious. Its investigation grew to involve 125 state and federal agents across four time zones. “The idea was to follow the roe to a black market. Who knew what they would find? Russian mafia? An international caviar cartel?” Hmmm. Not quite
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february 2019
As a Woman Serving Alongside Green Berets, I Had No Problem Keeping Up. It Wasn’t Enough. | Jackie Munn | NYT | 05 February 2019
Women have shown that they can meet what the standards demand. For them to succeed in Special Forces, they will need to be mentally, physically and emotionally capable. And so will the men they work alongside.
february 2019
ICU Physiology in 1000 Words: Blood Pressure | Jon-Emile S. Kenny | PulmCCM | 03 February 2019
If we assume that the decay from peak systole is mono-exponential, it takes roughly 5 time constants for a distensible structure to return to its baseline state of deformation. A time constant is the product of compliance and downstream resistance. Therefore, a poorly compliant aorta [e.g. old, unhealthy, high volume], coupled with a low downstream resistance [e.g. vasodilator, sepsis, high metabolic demands] will radically reduce the decay-time from systole to diastole. If this is coupled with a long duration of diastole [e.g. beta-blocker], then the final diastolic pressure can be quite low
medicine 
february 2019
Time for Some Queueing Theory | Jason Kottke | kottke.org | 29 January 2019
Suppose that a small bank has only one teller. Customers arrive at the rate of 5.8 per hour, and take an average of 10 minutes to serve — when they get served. What will the expected waiting time be for the average customer, and what happens if the bank adds a second teller? With only one teller, customers will have to wait nearly five hours, on average, before they are served. But if you add a second teller, the average waiting time is not merely cut in half; it goes down to about three minutes
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february 2019
Don’t Overthink It | Agnes Callard | Boston Review | 21 January 2019
Though-provoking review of Far-Sighted, a new book about decision-making by Steven Johnson. Johnson says we should make the big decisions of life more scientifically; we should listen to other voices, measure costs and benefits, revisit and re-analyse past decisions. It sounds like sensible advice; but what’s the evidence? How do you control for luck and for opportunity cost? “Suppose that I could look into a crystal ball and see myself twenty or forty years after the decision to go to college or emigrate or get married or have children. What do I look for to check whether the undertaking was a success?”
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january 2019
The Plot Against The Principality Of Sealand | Dylan Taylor-Lehman | Narratively | 23 January 2019
Sealand is a fictitious country that happens to be real — a disused oil rig in the North Sea, outside British territorial waters, seized by a buccaneering British ex-soldier and his family in 1967 and proclaimed a sovereign state. It has been “straddling a line between eccentric experiment and legal entity of uncertain definition” ever since. Sealand passports were discontinued after they became a favourite of money-launders and arms-traders, but royal titles are still for sale. “We’ve been a country longer than Dubai’s been in existence”, says the current head of state, Prince Michael Bates
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january 2019
The Business Of Kidnapping | Joel Simon | The Guardian | 25 January 2019
How kidnap and ransom insurance works. You can never reveal that you have such insurance; you take a training course up-front in risk mitigation; if kidnapped, you have to pay the ransom money from your own resources and get reimbursed later; you let the insurer’s agent run the negotiations. The tricky stuff comes if the policy-holder is the national of a country, such as the US or the UK, that opposes ransom payments in general, and penalises payments to terrorists very severely. If your kidnapper is a terrorist, they will have to pass themselves off as a criminal in order to get any money
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january 2019
Security Theatre: How To Perform Better | Brad Templeton | Ideas | 29th January 2019
Heavy-handed screening procedures at American airports are meant to do two things: prevent terrorist attacks and reassure the public. Is it possible to do those things without imposing fundamentally pointless inconvenience on the mass of travellers? Not entirely. But a useful rule of thumb would be to favour measures which create the maximum of public reassurance while imposing the smallest cost in terms of government money and travellers’ time. This could scarcely be a stated policy, since it would leave security as such out of the equation entirely, but it could be used by the TSA as an internal rule
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january 2019
No One Is Prepared for Hagfish Slime | Ed Yong | The Atlantic | 23 January 2019
It expands by 10,000 times in a fraction of a second, it’s 100,000 times softer than Jell-O, and it fends off sharks and Priuses alike.
january 2019
Closeness Lines | Olivia de Recat
Simple visualizations of how different kinds of relationships change over time
images 
january 2019
V-2 And Saturn V | Patrick Hicks | Guernica | 11 January 2019
An account of the remarkable efficiency with which the United States laundered the reputations of Wernher von Braun and other German scientists after World War 2, erasing their life as Nazis and reinventing them as pioneers of the American space programme. In 1945 von Braun was an SS officer running an evil dictator’s missile factory where slave labourers were worked to death. In 1955 he was the hero of a Walt Disney series on US television, and in 1958 he had the cover of Time magazine. “There was no mention of the tunnels, the V-2, or a ravine full of human ash at Dora-Mittelbau”
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january 2019
The Sicario | Charles Bowden | Various Enthusiasms | 28 April 2009
Jaw-dropping conversation with a hit-man for a Mexican drug cartel — who is also, nominally, a policeman. “They hardly ever do police work; they work full-time for narcos. This is his real home, a second Mexico that coexists with the government. In his transports of human beings to bondage, torture, and death, he is never interfered with by the authorities. He is a state policeman with eight men under his command. But his key employer is the organisation, which he assumes is the Juárez cartel, but he never asks, since questions can be fatal. He estimates that 85 percent of police work for the organisation”
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january 2019
What People Actually Say Before They Die | Michael Erard | The Atlantic | 16 January 2019
Deathbed aphorisms and declarations of love for one’s country are exceptions or inventions. According to one doctor, the last words of the dying are often strings of curses; a hospice nurse says that most dying men call for ‘Mommy’ or ‘Mama’, if they can call at all. “At the end of life, the majority of interactions will be non-verbal as the body shuts down and the person lacks the physical strength for long utterances. People will whisper, and they’ll be brief, single words — that’s all they have energy for”
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january 2019
Gulliver’s Travels: A Correction | Toshio Kuroki | Journal Of Physiological Sciences | 04 January 2019
A comparative physiologist examines the species data provided by Jonathan Swift in Gulliver’s Travels (1726), detects a scaling error, and proposes a correction to Gulliver’s minimum calorie intake. “According to the original text, the food of 1724 Lilliputians, tiny human creatures, was needed for Gulliver. But the author found that food for 42 Lilliputians — or of 1/42 Brobdingnagians (gigantic human creatures) — was enough. The author further estimated heartbeats, respiration rates, life spans and blood pressure with reference to those of the giraffe and the barosaurus”
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january 2019
Good News Stories | Angus Hervey | Future Crunch | 12 December 2018
An anthology of good news reported in the past year, for fear that it passed you by. The population of tigers in Nepal has almost doubled over the past decade. The rate of new HIV infections in South Africa has almost halved since 2012. Global suicide rates have dropped 38% since 1994. India’s poverty rate has halved in a decade. Germany’s crime rate has fallen to its lowest level in 30 years. Chinese cities have reduced pollution by one-third in four years. Global fertility has halved since 1950
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january 2019
The Economics Of Skyscraper Height | Jason Barr | Building The Skyline | 03 January 2019
Skyscrapers are usually designed to extract the maximum return from the land on which they are built. For the past century this has meant that most skyscrapers in Manhattan rise to about 60 floors. But what of super-tall buildings around the world that rise to two or three times that height — the Burj Khalifa in Dubai for example? Are they also optimising for something, and, if so, what? Here are at least nine theories that try to explain these outliers, falling into four main categories: ‘local economics’; ‘the selfish developer’; ‘the ambitious politician’; and ‘the urban growth strategy’
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january 2019
The Invisible Helping Hand | Ray Fisman & Tim Sullivan | Slate | 07 June 2016
How a network of food banks learned to feed more people by embracing the free market.
january 2019
What Does Tulsi Gabbard Believe? | Kelefa Sanneh | New Yorker | 06 November 2017
An Iraq veteran and the first Hindu in Congress, Gabbard is a compelling figure. When she was elected, Rachel Maddow said, “She is on the fast track to being very famous.”
january 2019
The History of Blood | Jerome Groopman | New Yorker | 07 January 2019
For centuries, curiosity about the mystical and biological functions of blood has fuelled both dangerous misunderstandings and revolutionary discoveries.
january 2019
Is Sunscreen the New Margarine? | Rowan Jacobsen | Outside | 10 January 2019
Current guidelines for sun exposure are unhealthy and unscientific, controversial new research suggests—and quite possibly even racist. How did we get it so wrong?
january 2019
52 Things I Learned In 2018 | Kent Hendricks | Kent Hendricks | 26 December 2018
Interesting throughout. “Around 90% of infants lie with their heads facing right”. “Violent movies lead to a slight decline in violence, because, even though people who are likely to commit violent crimes enjoy watching violent movies, they don’t commit violent crimes while sitting in a movie theater”. “Cheese pizzas are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, while pepperoni pizzas, which have meat, are regulated by the Department of Agriculture”. “As late as 1939, the United States had a well-developed plan to invade Canada”
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january 2019
The Myth of Drug Expiration Dates | Marshall Allen | ProPublica | 18 July 2017
Hospitals and pharmacies are required to toss expired drugs, no matter how expensive or vital. Meanwhile the FDA has long known that many remain safe and potent for years longer.
january 2019
On Checklists | Mike Lauria | EMCrit | 03 January 2019
It is fantastic that checklists are gaining popularity and institutions are implementing them in their emergency departments and ICUs. Indeed, more institutions should endeavor to incorporate them. However, in some cases “checklists” have ballooned into complicated, unwieldy, multi-page monstrosities.
january 2019
Consider The Narwhal | Katherine Rundell | LRB | 03 January 2019
A fine addition to Katherine Rundell’s brief lives of offbeat animals. The narwhal is “one of the mammals about which we know least”, given that it lives beneath pack ice and swims a mile deep. The name means “corpse whale” in old Norwegian, probably a reference to the narwhal’s mottled grey colouring. Males, and a few females, have single tusks full of nerve endings, that they rub together when meeting. In the middle ages the narwhal tusk was often sold as a unicorn’s horn. Elizabeth I had a jewel-encrusted one said to be worth £10,000 — enough, at the time, to buy and staff a small castle
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january 2019
Taking Shape | Lamorna Ash | TLS | 11 December 2018
Observations about childhood and adolescence, drawn from the experience of managing boys and girls at a summer camp, assisted by insights from William Blake and Philip Pullman. “Usually too subtle to observe, the metamorphosis from child to adolescent was isolated in each child at camp. The seven-year-olds were entirely unselfconscious, never considering for a moment how they might be presenting themselves to others. If they fell over, they would weep instantly out of shock; if someone else fell, they laughed wildly. There seemed to be, still, an absolute mergence between their interior and exterior lives”
from instapaper
january 2019
Immanetising The Equestrian | Gwern Branwen | Gwern.net | 23 December 2018
Deep dive into the artistry and ideology of My Little Pony and its fan-fiction subcultures. Nerdish. Some prior exposure to My Little Pony probably required for full enjoyment. “Equestria is not post-scarcity by magical fiat, but is capitalist to the core, and its prosperity is due the capitalism and competition. Capitalism contributes to the self-actualisation of ponies. To gain a sense of self-worth which is genuine and grounded in reality, one must discover something one does well (finding one’s cutie-mark), which is of value to one’s peers and society, and said value is only honestly expressed when freely expressed against a background of genuinely competitive options”
from instapaper
january 2019
Gluten-Free Antarctica | Maciej Ceglowski | Idle Words | 20 December 2018
Food notes from five weeks in the Antarctic on a small Russian cruise ship, the Akademik Shokalskiy. “Antarctica, the only continent without a Michelin star, has never been a destination for fine dining. We’ve been to the historic huts and seen the ghastly parade of canned Edwardian meats, probably no less inedible now than they were in 1907. The culinary history of the continent is one of suffering and deprivation. But with passengers paying $20,000 a berth for the voyage, a diet of ship’s biscuit and pemmican is not going to cut it. The situation requires a certain degree of finesse”
from instapaper
january 2019
Six-Year-Old Moira Is One of the Sickest People in America. So Why Is North Carolina Trying to Gut Her Health Care? | Melinda Wenner Moyer | Mother Jones | 03 January 2019
Moira is one of about 400,000 “medically complex” American children—kids who have serious health issues but who, thanks to modern technology, can survive past infancy and even lead long, fulfilling lives. Yet the US health care system is increasingly failing children like her.
january 2019
What if the Placebo Effect Isn’t a Trick? | Gary Greenberg | NYT | 07 November 2018
New research is zeroing in on a biochemical basis for the placebo effect — possibly opening a Pandora’s box for Western medicine.
december 2018
An Anti-Vaxxer’s New Crusade | David Armstrong | New Yorker | 27 November 2018
Dr. David Ayoub used to be active in the anti-vaccination movement. Now he’s challenging mainstream science again—as an expert witness for accused child abusers.
december 2018
A Conversation With Daniel Kahneman | Tyler Cowen | Mercatus Centre | 19 December 2018
Wide-ranging discussion with the pioneer of behavioural economics. Topics include bias, noise, happiness, memory, decision-making, replication, forecasting, Freud, and argument. Kahneman warns against trusting in intuition, save for top athletes and chess players. “The problem with intuition is that it forms very quickly, so that you need to have special procedures in place to control it except in those rare cases where you have intuitive expertise. I don’t think CEOs encounter many problems where they have intuitive expertise. They haven’t had the opportunity to acquire it, so they better slow down”
from instapaper
december 2018
I Read 1,182 Emergency Room Bills | Sarah Kliff | Vox | 18 December 2018
Interim report on a project to itemise how much American hospitals charge, using bills submitted by Vox readers. Hospitals don’t publish price lists, so the information is hard to come by. Main finding so far: Costs vary even more than you might imagine. For identical applications of an antibiotic ointment, a Tennessee hospital charges $1 and a Seattle hospital charges $76. And beware, the bills start mounting the moment you walk in, even without treatment. A woman in New Jersey with a cut ear was billed $5,751 for sitting and waiting in ER; she was given an ice pack, which triggered a “facility charge”
from instapaper
december 2018
Safecracker Of Last Resort | Geoff Manaugh | The Atlantic | 14 December 2018
Profile of Charlie Santore, licensed safecracker in Los Angeles. “A good safe technician can pass through sealed bank vaults and open jammed strongboxes after just a few minutes of casual manipulation, using skills that often look more like sleight of hand. But just when I started to think that it was all art, I’d see feats of sheer industrial brutality, watching Santore bore through several inches of heavy metal, steel filing past his face like smoke. For the safecracker, there is always a way through”
from instapaper
december 2018
A Divorce Lawyer’s Guide To Staying Together | Sean Illing | Vox | 03 December 2018
Interview with James Sexton, a divorce lawyer for 20 years, on pitfalls to avoid in married life. “I can’t remember the last time I had a case where social media was not either a root cause or implicated in some way. And it’s always the same story: people maintaining affairs via social media or communicating with people they don’t have any business communicating with. Infidelity is so easy now, and it’s poisoning marriages. People are using social media when they’re bored or vulnerable or in transition, not when they’re having a wonderful time with their spouse or enjoying life”
from instapaper
december 2018
52 Things I Learned In 2018 | Tom Whitwell | Fluxx | 02 December 2018
An annual miscellany. At Hangzhou Zhongheng Electric, “workers wear caps to monitor their brainwaves”. Rera is “an online poultry farm startup from Harare, Zimbabwe. It’s like Kickstarter for chickens. You order, the farmer grows, you save 40% of retail costs”. Expensive placebos work better than cheap placebos. 35% of Rwanda’s national blood supply outside the capital city is now delivered by drone
from instapaper
december 2018
Four Years To Go | David Conn | The Guardian | 20 November 2018
Qatar prepares for the “most unfeasible World Cup ever” in 2022. The rich, tiny, embattled Gulf State is spending $10 billion on new stadiums and $200 billion on new infrastructure including a metro. If the expected 1.5 million football fans arrive, a two-way culture shock seems inevitable. Qatar is a conservative Muslim country where homosexuality is illegal, “modest” dress is required at sporting events, and public drinking is illegal. “It is difficult to envisage what the fans will do with their leisure time”
from instapaper
november 2018
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