Bloodstains, Dhaka, Health, Empathy, Riverbanks

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Blood Will Tell

Pamela Colloff | Pro Publica | 31st May 2018

Concluding part of an investigation into the case of Texas schoolteacher Joe Bryan, sentenced to life for murdering his wife in 1985. The conviction turned on a bloodstained torch, which, an expert witness said, tied Joe to the crime scene. It is clear now that the expert was not much of an expert; his claims to the jury were unfounded; and the stain on the torch might not even have been blood. The real mystery is why, after 27 years, Joe Bryan is still in jail (11,500 words)

Walking In The Streets Of Dhaka

Tabassum Zaman | Daily Star | 23rd February 2018

“I, a woman, want to walk the streets of Dhaka. I don’t want the equal rights to pee, defecate, spit, or drill others with my piercing eyes when I’m out in public. All I want is to walk the streets of Dhaka, taking in the urban spectacle, or doing nothing! I want to have the right to choose to either blend in or stand out. I want to be seen on my own terms. I want to walk the streets, without having to carry the burden of my gender. I want to feel at home” (1,140 words)

Your Health Insurer Doesn’t Care

Marshall Allen | NPR | 25th May 2018

Useful contribution to the vast question of why health-care in America costs so much. You might expect insurance companies to drive costs down: They pay most of the bills. The evidence here suggests that insurers do make first run at bringing costs down: If a hospital posts eight times the reasonable price for a procedure, the insurer negotiates the rate down by half. At which point it suits the insurer to swallow the threefold mark-up, and pass on the costs to policy-holders through higher premiums (3,200 words)

Psychopaths And Altruists

Yudhijit Bhattacharjee | National Geographic | 1st August 2017

Is empathy a learned trait, or part of our DNA? Current research suggests that most if not all humans are born with the instinct to care about the feelings of others. But in some infants the loss or absence of empathy is measurable at two years of age; they show an “active disregard” for others. “When someone reported having hurt themselves, these children would laugh at them or swipe at them and say, ‘You’re not hurt,’ or ‘You should be more careful’, in a tone of voice that was judgmental” (4,100 words)

A Line In The Sand

Chris Colin | Outside | 30th May 2018

Take a canoe trip down America’s most scenic rivers and you will find that many riversides are claimed as “private” by local residents. They are not. The banks of navigable rivers are public up to the high watermark, and “navigable” includes navigable by tourists. Property deeds are irrelevant. But try telling that to the locals. “Throughout my journey, I heard a common refrain from homeowners: that they weren’t trying to keep neighbors away, just outsiders. The species of outsider varied” (4,400 words)

Video of the day Islands In The Sky

What to expect:

A visit to the Faroes Islands, midway between Iceland and Norway. Film by Jose Hervas, music by Peter Nanasi (4’34”)

Thought for the day

The best causes tend to attract the worst arguments
Ronald Fisher

Podcast Stephen Greenblatt | The World In Time

Lewis Lapham talks to Harvard professor Stephen Greenblatt about Shakespeare as a political playwright
(27m 59s)

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