David Graeber, Innovation, Terrorism, Near-Death Experiences, Universal Vaccine, Martin Wolf

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The Criminalization Of American Life

David Graeber | Gawker | 19th March 2015

Lessons from Ferguson. "Only about 10% of the average police officer's time is devoted to criminal matters. The remaining 90% is spent dealing with infractions of various administrative codes and regulations. The police are bureaucrats with weapons." In towns such as Ferguson they have come to function mainly as a machine for extracting money from the most vulnerable members of the public (1,220 words)

Moore’s Curse

Vaclav Smil | IEEE Spectrum | 19th March 2015

Moore's Law is a dangerous rule of thumb. It leads to exaggerated expectations. "The doubling time for transistor density is no guide to technical progress generally. Modern life depends on many processes that improve rather slowly, not least the production of food and energy and the transportation of people and goods". Established technologies typically produce gains in performance of 1.5% to 3% a year (612 words)

The Theatre Of Terror

Yuval Noah Harari | Guardian | 31st January 2015

Brilliant essay on how terrorism works. "Terrorists don’t think like army generals; they think like theatre producers." They aim to provoke the state into over-reacting. States know this, so why do they oblige? Because they have set the trap for themselves. The state's legitimacy rests on its promise to keep the public sphere free from political violence. Terrorism is thus critical for the state, however slight the material damage (2,717 words)

The Science Of Near-Death Experiences

Gideon Lichfield | Atlantic | 18th March 2015

People who come very close to clinical death often remember it as a spiritual adventure. They report voices, euphoria, floating outside the body, being in a magical realm. Either they glimpsed the next world, or their brains were doing something weird. Go with the first explanation and you have a best-selling book. Go with the second and you have a neurological problem: What causes the near-death experience? (7,800 words)

DARPA Has A Solution To Ebola

Alexis Madrigal | Fusion | 18th March 2015

DARPA has a fix for Ebola and all communicable diseases. You isolate antibodies from survivors of a given disease, encode the plans for making those antibodies in RNA, and inject the RNA into people who might encounter the disease. Their bodies start manufacturing more of the antibodies. It's fast and cheap. It scales. It sounds too good to be true. But these are the people who brought us the Internet (3,588 words)

George Osborne’s Mirage

Martin Wolf | Financial Times | 19th March 2015 | | Read with 1Pass

George Osborne is a "shrewd political tactician", but the claims he makes for Britain's economic recovery are a "mirage" and his fixation with reducing national debt is "ridiculous". The UK government can borrow at negative real interest rates; it should be borrowing to invest. Instead it is cutting public spending, while households are starting once again to borrow more. Future growth looks "questionable, fragile, or both" (1,140 words)

Video of the day: Ukraine: Inside The War Economy

What to expect: Bloomberg report from Russian-held eastern Ukraine, shattered and isolated (6'34")

Thought for the day

Below every tangled hierarchy lies an inviolate level
Douglas Hofstadter (http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Douglas_Hofstadter)

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