Men, Lance Armstrong, Decisions, Colours, Richard Feynman

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Do We Even Need Males?

John Launer | Literary Hub | 24th April 2018

A doctor writes: “You don’t actually need sexes to produce variation: the vast majority of organisms like microbes happily mutate and vary without sex. There are at least 40 species where the female kills the male during or after sex. In the case of the praying mantis, she literally bites his head off as part of foreplay. Male scale insects have been demoted to microscopic excrescences on their females’ legs, while female angler-fish carry their mates on their backs as tiny dwarves” (1,300 words)

The Ridiculous Saga Of Lance Armstrong

Patrick Redford | Deadspin | 20th April 2018

“In purely pharmacological terms, Armstrong’s habit of using EPO, testosterone, blood doping, and cortisone is notable for its volume, though the fact that he chemically enhanced his performance during an era in which doing so was a near-universal fact of life at cycling’s highest levels is not necessarily damning. Legalisms aside, though, what set him apart was the way he exercised his power to abuse teammates and those around him to create the perfect winning machine” (7,600 words)

Reversible And Irreversible Decisions

Shane Parrish | Farnham Street | 26th April 2018

Life is full of decisions. You can’t agonise over all of them. When should you pause, and when should you punt? “One heuristic might be defaulting to saying no, as Steve Jobs did. Or saying no to any decision that requires a calculator or computer, as Warren Buffett does. Or it might mean reasoning from first principles, as Elon Musk does. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, has another one we can add to our toolbox. He asks himself: Is this a reversible or an irreversible decision?” (1,480 words)

The Next Billion-Dollar Colour

Zach Schonbrun | Bloomberg | 18th April 2018

At work with Mas Subramanian, pigment researcher. He found the perfect blue. Now, with the world’s car makers looking over his shoulder, he seeks the perfect red. “The world lacks a great red. Always has. We’ve made do with alternatives that could be toxic or plain gross. The gladiators smeared their faces with mercury-based vermilion. Titian painted with an arsenic-based mineral called realgar. The British army’s red coats were infused with crushed cochineal beetles” (3,350 words)

Another Side Of Feynman

Freeman Dyson | Nautilus | 26th April 2018

Glimpses of Richard Feynman from the letters of Freeman Dyson. “That afternoon Feynman produced more brilliant ideas per square minute than I have ever seen anywhere before or since. In the evening I mentioned that there were two problems for which the finiteness of the theory remained to be established, both of them well-known and feared by physicists. Feynman said, ‘We’ll see about this’, and in two hours, before our eyes, obtain finite and sensible answers to both problems” (3,145 words)

Video of the day The Face Of Distracted Driving

What to expect:

A texting driver kills a teenage cyclist. A short film from Errol Morris (7’47”)

Thought for the day

You will recognize life by its seriousness
Rainer Maria Rilke

Podcast Hashtag Brands | Slate Money

Felix Salmon and guests discuss how what were once companies are now brands
(49m 30s)

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