Floods, Arianna Huffington, Midazolam, Australia, Farming, Natural Experiments


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Landscapes Of The Great Flood Myths

David Montgomery | Nautilus | 18th June 2015

Myths can preserve ancient memories of real events which are otherwise lost to history, but which can be reconstituted from geological evidence. The bursting of a lake in the Himalayas around 800 is remembered in Tibetan Buddhist teaching as a miracle attributed to the Guru Rimpoche. Noah's Flood may recall the moment seven thousand years ago when the Mediterranean overflowed into the Black Sea (2,160 words)

Arianna Huffington’s Content Machine

David Segal | New York Times | 30th June 2015

Profile of Arianna Huffington and the Huffington Post. She preaches serenity and deplores internet addiction, while her sites feed and profit from that same addiction. AOL twice turned down billion-dollar offers for the Post this year. Huffington's astonishing record in exploiting people and technology appears all the more astonishing when, according to Post staffers, she has never been seen to open a web browser (4,700 words)

I Just Took The Drug Used For The Death Penalty

Stephanie Mencimer | Mother Jones | 30th June 2015

"Midazolam is a sedative, and as the anesthesiologist told me, it is highly effective for minor surgical procedures because it wears off fast and yields few side effects. Those same properties that made midazolam beneficial to me are precisely the reasons it doesn't work so well in executions. For major surgery, and even minor surgery, doctors have to use additional drugs to keep you under" (1,250 words)

The Art Of Tour Guiding

Robert Skinner | The Monthly | 15th June 2015

Tips for keeping a tour group happy through a week in the Australian Outback. Start by getting them to bond: "Bush camping works for many reasons, chief among them that no one wants to die alone". Germans are prickly but not unreasonable: "What sounds like complaining is really just Germans having a good time". Beer soothes: "You can tell the non-drinkers because they are impatient for something to happen" (4,100 words)

Of Cabbages And Kings

John Byron Kuhner | Eidolon | 11th May 2015

A classicist learns to farm, guided by Cato's De Agri Cultura ("On Agriculture"), the oldest surviving work of Latin prose. "I found most of Cato’s advice about how much wine you can give the members of your chain-gang (yes, he does talk about compediti, chained slaves) irrelevant for my life in the woods. But there is one section of the book I can thoroughly recommend: the six and a half pages about cabbages" (2,700 words)

Nineteen Natural Experiments

Mark Egan | Stirling Behavioural Science Blog | 30th June 2015

How much starvation can an unborn child endure? Are poorer people more prone to psychosis? Is military service a good career move? You can't run controlled experiments to answer questions such as these because you can't starve mothers-to-be or force random civilians into the army. But if nature or government does the sorting — as with the Vietnam War draft — you have the conditions for a natural experiment (6,600 words)

Video of the day: Kendrick Lamar - Alright

What to expect: Classic rap song anchors short b/w film dramatising racial tensions in American policing (6'54")

Thought for the day

In politics obedience and support are the same
Hannah Arendt

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