Best of the Moment
Mike Jay | Aeon | 23rd August 2013
On the history and etiology of paranoid delusions, and their evolving relationship with culture and technology. "Persecutory delusions can be found throughout history and across cultures; but within this category a desert nomad is more likely to believe that he is being buried alive in sand by a djinn, and an urban American that he has been implanted with a microchip and is being monitored by the CIA"
David Schulz | Slate | 22nd August 2013
How drugs get their names. Most come from consulting firms, such as Interbrand, which lays claim to Xalkori, Zelboraf, Yondelis and Horizant — not to mention Prozac and Viagra. Some drug firms use algorithmic name generators: which may account for Zosyn, Ziac, Qnasl, Xeljanz and Isentress. The basic requirement is that the name should be distinctive, to minimise the risk of confusion. (Tell that to Zantac and Xanax)
Kate Christensen | Medium | 22nd August 2013
Let's suppose that you want to know everything about the cashew. Well, it's your lucky day. Just read this. Details include: Why you can't eat cashews raw (they would blister your mouth). Why you never get them in the shell (the shell lining is poisonous). Why the cashew nut is not even a nut, really (it's a seed). Plus best uses in cooked dishes: first, Chinese-style fried chicken; second, Indian curry
Katharine Quarmby | Spectator | 23rd August 2013
"Ask anyone from the settled community what Gypsies do for money and the list would be short: tarmacking, roofing, scrap-metal dealing, hawking or maybe horse dealing. This picture has a germ of truth in it. Many Gypsies still work as skilled labourers — but what’s remarkable is just how entrepreneurial they are, too. These are trading peoples, with a global attitude towards seeking work. Many are Freemasons"
Malcolm Gladwell | New Yorker | 21st August 2013
Author of Outliers gives qualified defence of "ten-thousand-hour rule", which holds that high achievement comes only with prolonged practice. Rule applies strictly to "cognitively complex activities", such as surgery, and music, because "they require that a very long list of situations and possibilities and scenarios be experienced and processed." Simpler skills, such as running and jumping, can be learned more quickly
Andrew Tabler | Foreign Affairs | 21st August 2013
Survival will count as a victory of a sorts for Assad, but Syria will be a huge mess. The Damascus rump state may end up controlling around 40 percent of the country, with 60-70 percent of the population. The rest will be in the hands of militias. Iranian and Hezbollah forces will remain in Syria indefinitely. Syria will be "abjectly dependent" on Russia and Iran for money and resources
Thought for the day:
"A time is marked not so much by ideas that are argued about as by ideas that are taken for granted" — Lawrence Lessig