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The Indian Sanitary Pad Revolutionary

Vibeke Venema | BBC | 4th March 2014

Heroic tale of an unschooled Indian entrepreneur who has "revolutionised menstrual health for rural women" by "inventing a simple machine they can use to make cheap sanitary pads". He tested prototypes using goat's blood from a friendly butcher; "everyone thought he'd gone mad"; family and friends shunned him; even his wife left him, for a time. The secret of his resilience: "Being uneducated, you have no fear of the future" (2,800 words)

Closing Time

Thomas Laqueur | London Review Of Books | 18th August 1994

From the LRB archives: Review of of How We Die, by Sherwin Nuland, who died this week. "The fascination of this book lies not primarily in its biology lessons for the layman but in the stories it tells of the mysterious places where we die: the insides of our bodies ... We learn how sepsis comes to be the terminal event in a cancer patient’s life and why she is so thin; why Dr Livingstone being attacked by a lion probably felt no pain" (1,060 words)

Russia And Ukraine: A Clash Of Brothers

Akos Lada | Washington Post | 4th March 2014

Countries with "shared identities" but radically different political institutions are prone to conflict, because "elites in repressive regimes are threatened by a culturally-similar country where citizens are becoming empowered". A more democratic Ukraine "may serve as an example to Russian citizens of how similar people can be alternatively governed. As history shows, a dictator with an army does not wait for this to happen" (630 words)

How Will The 2014 World Cup Ball Swerve?

Simon Choppin | The Conversation | 5th March 2014

On the aerodynamics of footballs. The traditional ball has 32 panels stitched by hand; the Teamgeist developed by Adidas for 2006 World Cup had 14 heat-bonded panels; the Jabulani, for the 2010 World Cup, eight panels; the new ball for 2014, the Brazuca, has six. The Teamgeist and Jabulani were both notorious for swerving unpredictably; the Brazuca should be more stable in flight thanks to very deep seams (1,100 words)

Dmitri Simes: We Carry A Small Stick

John Judis | New Republic | 3rd March 2014

Interview on the crisis in Ukraine, critical of US tactics. "Yanukovych is a despicable character. He also is inept. He was the principal architect of his own demise. Yet he was legally elected. He commanded a clear majority in the Ukrainian parliament. And essentially the United States and the European Union have decided to side with the protesters. We clearly were rocking the political boat in Ukraine, a country deeply divided" (3,000 words)

Project Flame

Ted Sutton | Slate | 4th March 2014

College freshman has brainwave: Start a computer dating service. But it is 1966, four decades before OKCupid, and computers are hard to come by. "I had borrowed the IBM cards from the registrar’s office, and I had no intention of finding a computer to feed them into. Instead, I took the cards belonging to men and those belonging to women, shuffled them all up together, and made matches by chance". It did not go well (1,160 words)

Video of the day:  Adventures In Economics

Thought for the day:

"Power expands through the distribution of secrecy" — John Le Carré

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