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.
3 days ago
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.
12 days ago
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 
13 days ago
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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16 days ago
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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17 days ago
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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17 days ago
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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17 days ago
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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17 days ago
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.
17 days ago
Closeness Lines | Olivia de Recat
Simple visualizations of how different kinds of relationships change over time
images 
18 days ago
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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29 days ago
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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29 days ago
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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4 weeks ago
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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4 weeks ago
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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4 weeks ago
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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4 weeks ago
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.
4 weeks ago
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.”
5 weeks ago
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.
5 weeks ago
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?
5 weeks ago
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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5 weeks ago
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.
5 weeks ago
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.
5 weeks ago
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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5 weeks ago
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”
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5 weeks ago
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”
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5 weeks ago
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.
6 weeks ago
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.
7 weeks ago
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.
7 weeks ago
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”
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8 weeks ago
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”
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8 weeks ago
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”
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9 weeks ago
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”
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10 weeks ago
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
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10 weeks ago
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”
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11 weeks ago
Al-Shabaab’s Mata Hari Network | Katharine Petrich | War on the Rocks | 14 August 2018
Letter from Kenya. “I recently spent several weeks in the slum districts of Nairobi, researching al-Shabaab’s criminal activities in the Horn of Africa. I expected to learn about the traditional criminal practices of terrorist groups: drugs, arms, money laundering, and perhaps even a regional particularity like sugar smuggling. What I wasn’t expecting to discover was a highly structured network in which sex workers sell information gleaned from customers — specifically, corrupt police officers — to al-Shabaab”
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11 weeks ago
From Chaos To Punctual In One Week | Zoe Williams | The Guardian | 14 November 2018
How to manage your time. Think of it like physical space. Cluster similar tasks. Give your loved ones regular fifteen-minute periods of undivided attention. Learn how to say No. “If you don’t know what you are supposed to be doing, it is hard to refuse things. And if you have never known what you are supposed to be doing, you won’t even have the vocabulary. Say: ‘I’d love to do it, but my time is accounted for right now’. If that makes you sound like a robot, the upside is that at least you reply to people fast, rather than leaving them hanging for six weeks, agreeing, then pulling out at the last minute”
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11 weeks ago
The EPA Can’t Wait to Reopen the Mine That Poisoned North Idaho | Peter Waldman | Bloomberg | 12 November 2018
The Bunker Hill Mine deposited 75 million tons of toxic sludge in Lake Coeur d’Alene, and the lead and zinc are still flowing.
12 weeks ago
The Inspection Paradox | Allen Downey | Probably Overthinking It | 18 August 2015
“Airlines complain that they are losing money because so many flights are nearly empty. Passengers complain that flying is miserable because planes are too full. They could both be right. When a flight is nearly empty, only a few passengers enjoy the extra space. When a flight is full, many passengers feel the crunch. Once you notice the inspection paradox, you see it everywhere. Does it seem like you can never get a taxi when you need one? When there is a surplus of taxis, only a few customers enjoy it. When there is a shortage, many people feel the pain”
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12 weeks ago
Debt: A Love Story | Andrew Goldman | Wealthsimple | 06 November 2018
Well-educated and well-paid American couple with an armful of credit cards, two mortgages, a succession of cars, a Whole Foods habit, and three children in private school, wonder — with an awe-inspiring mixture of naivety, denial, foolishness and entitlement — marvel that are always in debt. “You can’t believe how many credit card and loan solicitations we get in the mail. When they come, we research them and make sure it’s not something really crazy. Obviously they’d have to be slightly crazy to approach us with a loan. But then we ask them for it, and they give us money. It’s ridiculous”
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12 weeks ago
A Bird That Does Not Fly | Annie Lowrey | The Atlantic | 20 November 2018
The town of Yellville in Arkansas has come to feel a touch bashful about its annual “Turkey Trot” weekend, when a dozen or so turkeys, which do not fly, are thrown from planes, which do, to the delight of many Yellville residents. “When you drop a turkey from hundreds of feet in the air, the panicked animals try to right themselves. Some catch a gust. Others do not. Some die when they hit the ground. Others survive with broken bones. Yet others are grievously injured when they are fought over by local kids. Some perish of apparent shock. A few, it is fair to note, are rattled, but physically unharmed”
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12 weeks ago
Why Doctors Hate Their Computers | Atul Gawande | New Yorker | 12 November 2018
Digitization promises to make medical care easier and more efficient. But are screens coming between doctors and patients?
12 weeks ago
Scouts In A Warzone | Moussa Abdoulaye, Simon Allison, Will Baxter, & Amy Niang | Mail & Guardian | 16 November 2018
If you want to get something done in the Central African Republic, ask a Boy Scout. The Scouts are bigger and better organised than the militias, bolder than the UN peacekeepers. “Because of its rigid hierarchical structure, the Boy Scout movement has survived the onslaught of the civil war, and is one of only a handful of institutions about which it is reasonable to assume that a decision made in Bangui can be implemented elsewhere in the country. The same cannot be said for any government ministry.”
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12 weeks ago
Losing Laura | Peter DeMarco | Boston Globe | 03 November 2018
“Laura made it to the doorstep of the emergency room that day, on her own two feet. She stared through a plate-glass window into the emergency room waiting area — she could see the red-and-white emergency room sign inside — but she could not get in. To her dismay, the door was locked. Her attack intensifying, she called 911, telling the operator she was right there but could not get in. Help was just a few feet away, on the other side of that door. But, incredibly, that help never came. This is the story of how my wife’s life was wasted by the actions of people whose job it is to save lives”
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november 2018
In Defence Of Designer Babies | Ilya Somin | Reason | 11 November 2018
Using genetic engineering to produce smarter and stronger babies may lead to repugnant and unfair outcomes — but leaving genetics to nature already leads to repugnant and unfair outcomes. “Imagine that, thanks to technology, the Jones family has a child free of the Down Syndrome or Tay-Sachs Disease that might otherwise have afflicted her. She grows up to be a successful scientist. Others benefit from the discoveries she makes. If you multiply that effect over thousands of cases, it is clear that designer babies can have a great positive impact, even if the technology is not universally available”
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november 2018
The Best Chemistry Books | Michelle Francl & Caspar Henderson | Five Books | 05 November 2018
Interview. Computational chemist Michelle Francl talks about her work on the structure of molecules, and recommends recent books about water, Marie Curie, spoons, poison, and asparagus. "If you make a spoon from pure gallium, it looks and feels much like a stainless steel spoon, but if you use it to stir your tea, it will seem to vanish before your eyes. It is literally melting. Gallium’s melting point is only 86°F (30°C) and if you pour out the tea you’ll find a pool of silvery liquid gallium at the bottom"
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november 2018
Mail-Order Homes | Josh Jones | Open Culture | 29 October 2018
A century ago Americans could buy anything from the Sears catalogue — even houses. In its first year of production, 1908, Sears sold only one model, number 125, an Eight-Room Bungalow Style House for $945, advertised as “the finest cottage ever constructed at a price less than $1500”. But business soon picked up. "Between 1908 and 1939, Sears sold 70-75,000 houses in 447 different styles all over the country. What’s even more extraordinary is that 50% of these were built by the homeowners themselves. Local builders purchased homes from Sears to market their services to potential customers.”
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november 2018
Babies In Jars | Shannon Withycombe | 31 October 2018
"Doctors went to extremes to obtain products of miscarriages, sometimes deceiving their patients, and pocketing embryos At a time when university-educated, European-influenced medical practitioners were becoming increasingly convinced of the utility of learning anatomy and physiology, but were hampered by a culture that was horrified at the idea of medical researchers using human cadavers, miscarried fetuses allowed doctors the opportunity to investigate how humans became alive and how they died, as well as to research how organs and systems worked in conjunction, and failed at the end"
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november 2018
Running On Moscow Time | Alexei Korolyov | New Humanist | 29 October 2018
Diary of a journey by train from Vienna to Moscow. "The train chugged on, first through Austria, then Poland, then Belarus. All the while the conductor and his assistant could be heard talking about politics and the details of a contraband scheme. This consisted of bringing Austrian fur coats to their buddy at the Belarusian customs, who would give some to his wife and her friends and sell the rest at twice the original price. When this official impatiently told my neighbours that their luggage far exceeded the allowed quota of alcohol, they simply gave him a couple of bottles and that was the end of it"
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october 2018
The Big Meltdown | Craig Welch | National Geographic | 30 October 2018
Report on the effects of global warming in Antarctica. "Humpback whales used to leave Antarctica in late March or early April, when sea ice closed in. Now they have many more ice-free weeks in which to roam widely and feed on krill. Humpbacks are sticking around and fattening up, which is fuelling a population boom. Will there be enough krill to go around? Penguins and humpbacks eat krill, but so do skuas, squid, fur seals, and crabeater seals. Leopard seals sometimes eat krill. A blue whale eats millions a day. Animals that don’t eat krill often feed on prey that does. Antarctica loves fatty krill. So do we"
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october 2018
What I Learned At My College Reunion | Deborah Copaken | The Atlantic | 24 October 2018
“No matter our original backgrounds, no matter our incomes or skin colours or struggles or religions, the common threads running through our lives had less to do with Harvard and more with the pressing issues of being human. No one’s life turned out exactly as anticipated, not even for the most ardent planner. Every classmate who became a teacher or doctor seemed happy with the choice of career. Many lawyers seemed either unhappy or itching for a change, with the exception of those who became law professors. Our strongest desire, over more sex and more money, was to get more sleep”
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october 2018
iPhones are hard to use | Joe Clark | Fawny | 22 October 2018
iPhone users, prepare to be gripped. Android users, pass by on the other side. “iPhone owners know how to force-quit apps. They know how to set a ringtone and choose atrocious wallpaper. That’s it. People don’t know that they can swipe up or down from top or bottom of screen. I never see anybody turn wifi on or off that way (it’s almost always through Settings). They don’t know what Control Center and Notification Center are by name. They also don’t know what their iSight camera is. They don’t know what Springboard is, and shouldn’t have to. But do they know what the home screen is?
october 2018
Japan’s Hometown Tax | Patrick McKenzie | Kalzumeus | 19 October 2018
How Japanese taxpayers and local governments have learned to game the federal tax system, largely at Tokyo’s expense. “The regions pay to educate children, Tokyo reaps the benefits. Japan has a policy response that is sort of beautiful. The Hometown Tax System allows you to donate up to 40% of next year’s residence tax to other cities and prefectures. The idea is to donate to one’s hometown. After the system was created, city governments started getting really creative. Some bureaucrat realised that this created a market: A city government can bid for taxpayers to select you as a hometown”
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october 2018
A Market For Fat | Gwern Branwen | Gwern.net | 20 June 2018
Thought experiment. “What if there were a machine which could transfer kilograms of body fat between people?"
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october 2018
Biggles FRCA | Grant Hutchison | The Oikofuge | 31 December 2015
First published in Today’s Anaesthetist Vol.13 No.4 July/August 1998. "The whole point of a plane is that it is designed to fly, and if it’s not working properly then you don’t take it off the ground. Human beings, in contrast, are not designed to be anaesthetized, and are often not working properly when the occasion arises. They are also rather poorly provided with back-up systems and spares, and frequently have long histories of inadequate servicing. So if giving an anaesthetic is like flying a plane, then this must be what flying a plane is like."
medicine 
october 2018
Herschel, the Very Hungry Sea Lion | Katharine Gammon | Hakai | 16 October 2018
It’s dangerous to blame the decline of one species on a single predator. We humans like to do it anyway.
october 2018
The FBI Of The National Park Service | Rachel Monroe | Outside | 16 October 2018
The most horrible of crimes can happen in the most beautiful of places. When they happen in America’s national parks, the special agents of the Park Service Investigative Services Branch swing into action. “Many people fall to their deaths in national parks every year. But as Faherty dug deeper, several things struck him as strange. For instance, how Harold insisted he’d given his wife CPR, but her lipstick had been unsmudged when he arrived on scene. Faherty asked Harold about his previous marriage. His first wife had died in an accident, Harold said. He was reluctant to talk about it”
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october 2018
The Battle For England | Jonathan McAloon | Artsy | 10 October 2018
Why the Normans invaded Britain, according to the Bayeux Tapestry. In 1064 the childless King Edward of England sent his brother-in-law, Harold Godwinson, to Normandy. Edward had named a distant relative, William, Duke of Normandy, as his heir; he expected Harold to cement this arrangement. While in Normandy, Harold and William developed a mutual respect; Harold fought alongside William, accepted arms from him, and pledged loyalty. Then Harold returned home, and, when Edward died, took the English crown for himself. William gathered his army, invaded England, and killed Harold
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october 2018
Consider The Wombat | Katharine Rundell | LRB | 04 October 2018
A wombat, though barely two feet tall, can outrun Usain Bolt, fell a grown man, and crush a predator with its hard bottom. Bounty hunters and over-grazing in Australia brought the northern hairy-nosed wombat close to extinction by 1982, when a census found just 30 survivors. Last year the population had ticked up to 251. Theodore Adorno, a lifelong wombat lover, lobbied Frankfurt Zoo to buy a pair. Dante Gabriel Rossetti kept two wombats in the garden of his London house as part of a private menagerie which also included kangaroos, racoons, and a toucan that he trained to ride a llama
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october 2018
The Inside Story Of The Trump Transition | Michael Lewis | The Guardian | 27 September 2018
“Bannon and Christie explained federal law to Trump. The nominees were expected to prepare to take control of government. The government supplied them with office space, the campaigns paid their people. To which Trump replied: ‘I don’t give a f—k about the law. Shut down the transition’. Here, Christie and Bannon parted ways. Christie thought that Trump had little chance of running the government without a formal transition. Bannon wasn’t so sure if Trump would ever get his mind around running the federal government; he just thought it would look bad if Trump didn’t at least seem to prepare”
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october 2018
The Child-Abuse Contrarian | David Armstrong | New Yorker | 26 September 2018
The renowned scientist Michael Holick is convinced that “thousands, if not tens of thousands,” of parents worldwide have been falsely accused of fracturing their children’s bones. “It’s just terrible,” he said. “I feel so sorry for these parents.”
september 2018
Comparative Advantage In Math and Science | Alex Tabarrok | Marginal Revolution | 17 September 2018
The economic idea of comparative advantage may help to rationalise why women remain under-represented in maths and sciences. Girls in school tend to do better at maths and sciences than boys do; but they tend to do even better at humanities. So if students pursue what they do best, which is a reasonable course of action, a girl might say: “I got an A+ in English and a A- in math, so I should do English”. A boy might say: “I got a B+ in Math and a B- in English, so I should do Math”
from instapaper
september 2018
Henry | Rob Delaney | Medium | 17 September 2018
Rob Delaney's reflections on Henry's diagnosis of a brain tumor and the treatment that ensued.
september 2018
Everything You Know About Obesity Is Wrong | Michael Hobbes | The Huffington Post | 19 September 2018
“Years from now, we will look back in horror at the ways we addressed the obesity epidemic, and the barbaric ways we treated fat people — long after we knew there was a better path. For 60 years, doctors and researchers have known two things that could have improved, or even saved, millions of lives. The first is that diets do not work. Not just Paleo or Atkins or Weight Watchers or Goop, but all diets. it’s time for a paradigm shift. We’re not going to become a skinnier country. We still have a chance to become a healthier one”
september 2018
A Cardiologist’s 9/11 | Sandeep Jauhar | Nautilus | 13 September 2018
“Cadavers had always made me feel queasy. In the near corner was a group of doctors and nurses, and next to them was a plastic stretcher. Behind the group was a wooden table where a nurse and two medical students were sitting grim-faced. They were covered in grime, but you could still make out the reds and oranges and yellows. In the far corner, next to a blown-out door, was a pile of orange body-bags. Soldiers were standing guard. In the dressing room were stacks of unused body-bags”
from instapaper
september 2018
The French In Afghanistan | Olivier Schmitt | War On The Rocks | 10 September 2018
Review of ‘Jonquille, Afghanistan 2012’, by Jean Michelin, a serving French soldier. “For those Americans who can read French, the book will be interesting not only for its literary qualities, but also because it gives an insight into the French way of war in Afghanistan. Notably, it shows how armed forces with much less logistical support and available means than the U.S. military effectively organize themselves for expeditionary warfare”
from instapaper
september 2018
Speech Can Bury Democracy | Zeynep Tufekci | Politico | 05 September 2018
A wealth of wisdom in six paragraphs. “We thought that, as speech became more democratized, democracy itself would flourish. As more and more people could broadcast their words and opinions, there would be an ever-fiercer battle of ideas — with truth emerging as the winner, stronger from the fight. But it is increasingly clear that more speech can in fact threaten democracy. The glut of information we now face, made possible by digital tools and social media platforms, can bury what is true, greatly elevate and amplify misinformation and distract from what is important”
from instapaper
september 2018
I Don’t Like Parenting | Erik Vance | Last Word On Nothing | 03 September 2018
“Don’t get me wrong, I like being a parent. I definitely love my kid. But the actual work of child-rearing, I don’t know that I like it. I am aware that this might make me a bad person. Playing with my child isn’t what I expected. I envisioned throwing a baseball, wrestling, teaching him to rock climb. But my kid can barely catch a rubber ball thrown from five feet away, let alone shag fly balls. The notion that I am too selfish to be a great father has occurred to me. But now that I have a little rabid chimpanzee to call my own, this thought returns with increasing frequency”
from instapaper
september 2018
The Smell Of Fear | Preet Bano Singh & Valentina Parma | OUP Blog | 08 September 2018
Dentists can smell their patients’ fear, albeit subconsciously. The fear makes them nervous. They perform worse. As Tyler Cowen might say: Solve for the equilibrium. “We recruited two groups of dental students: the first volunteered to donate their body odors; the second performed a series of dental tasks on mannequins under the exposure of different odors. Body odors were collected under two conditions – from donors during a frontal lecture, with minimal involvement on their side, and during a clinical dental session which was likely to induce stress body odors”
from instapaper
september 2018
What The British Did To India | Omer Aziz | LARB | 01 September 2018
Shashi Tharoor explains colonialism from the receiving end. The exploitation of India made Britain one of the richest countries in the world, and left India one the poorest. “Before the British occupation, India was a culturally and economically prosperous civilization. According to economist Angus Maddison, in the 18th century India accounted for 23 percent of the world’s GDP, a percentage greater than all of Europe combined. By the time the British packed up their things and sailed home in 1947, that number had fallen to under three percent”.
from instapaper
september 2018
The New Science Of Seeing Around Corners | Natalie Wolchover | Quanta | 30 August 2018
“In their first paper, Freeman and Torralba showed that the light on the wall of a room, filmed with an iPhone, can be processed to reveal the scene outside the window. Last fall they reported that they can spot someone moving on the other side of a corner by filming the ground near the corner. This summer, they demonstrated that they can film a houseplant, then reconstruct a three-dimensional image of the rest of the room from the shadows cast by the plant’s leaves. Or they can turn the leaves into a visual microphone, magnifying their vibrations to listen to what’s being said”
from instapaper
september 2018
Programming My Child | David Auerbach | Boston Review | 23 August 2018
“A few years after leaving Google, I had a daughter, and thus began another long-term engineering project. The stimulus-response cycle is out in the open with a child, and the feedback loop created between parent and child is tight, controlled, and frequently comprehensible. In the first months of her life, I kept a spreadsheet of my daughter’s milestones. Hardware upgrades to her height and weight were ongoing, but I declared a new ‘version’ whenever my wife and I deemed her sufficiently different to appear as though a software upgrade had been installed”
from instapaper
august 2018
Biopharma Investing | Martin Shkreli | Martin Shkreli | 12 August 2018
Martin Shkreli may have done some bad things in his life, but right now, in jail, he is writing some good things. This note includes hypothetical interview questions for a person seeking a job in the pharmaceutical industry; a review of “The Acquirer’s Multiple” by Tobias Carlisle; and notes on a recent academic paper about asthma. “The number of people who tell me they have statistical experience or chemistry experience only to swing and miss a softball technical question is large. If you can fluster someone with a softball, they’re probably not a good fit”
from instapaper
august 2018
The Algorithmic Trap | David Perell | David Perell | 27 August 2018
All around, I’m struck by disappearing diversity. The world is becoming optimized for the dominant aesthetic of the internet. I swear: every trendy, optimized-for-algorithms place has the same lights, the same chairs, and the same damn avocado toast.
august 2018
Searching | David Wolman | Outside | 24 August 2018
Avery Shawler left her Idaho apartment one morning in 2016 to hike a prominent peak. But the day outing quickly took a turn for the worse, and Shawler would end up needing a lot of luck—and all her backcountry skills—to make it home alive.
from instapaper
august 2018
What Makes a Team Great? | Ben Rowen | The Atlantic | 18 June 2018
Inside the wide-ranging search—led by economists and psychologists—for the elixir that turns good squads into great ones
august 2018
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