Newsletter 1007


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Best of the Moment

Dirty Medicine

Katherine Eban | Fortune | 15th May 2013

Ranbaxy, one of the world's biggest generic drug manufacturers, produced sub-standard products for years, and faked the clinical data needed to get regulatory approval abroad. It wasn't an aberration, or a failure of controls, it was the business model. You might think the scandal would have ruined Ranbaxy. But it has paid a fine, and prospered. Has it reformed? Its millions of customers can only hope so

The Cicada’s Love Affair With Prime Numbers

Patrick De Justo | New Yorker | 14th May 2013

On the mathematics of evolution. A species flourishes best when it has a life-cycle out of sync with that of its main predator. Optimally, a prime number of years. "A cicada that emerges every seventeen years and has a predator with a five-year life cycle will only face a peak predator population once every eighty-five (5 x 17) years, giving it an enormous advantage over less well-adapted cicadas"

Bain Capital Might Be Bad For America

Karl Smith | Forbes | 14th May 2013

Growth requires innovation. Innovation is risky. The bigger the risk, the more you need a visionary chief executive — a Sergei Brin, a Jeff Bezos — to grasp the possibilities, quell the doubters, see it through. That's why private equity firms are bad for growth: "They will come in, crunch the numbers, see that the whole thing is madness and put the silly business of growth to an end. Rational stagnation results"

Why The World Faces Climate Chaos

Martin Wolf | Financial Times | 14th May 2013

We worry — now and then — about climate change, but we don't act, because rich countries don't want to jeopardise their wealth, nor poor countries their hopes of growth. "There is no point in making moral demands. People will not do something on this scale because they care about others, even including their own more remote descendants. They mostly care rather too much about themselves for that" (Metered paywall)

Dropping In On Gottfried Leibniz

Stephen Wolfram | 14th May 2013

Illustrated essay, prompted by a visit to the Leibniz archive in Germany. "Newton was quintessentially practical: he invented tools, then showed how these could be used to compute practical results about the physical world. Leibniz had a more philosophical view. He saw calculus not just as a specific tool in itself, but as an example that should inspire efforts at other kinds of formalization, other kinds of universal tools"

Video of the day: Dove Man-Care Manual

Thought for the day:

"The old cliché about having all your eggs in one basket takes on new meaning with Canada and the United States, because there is something even more wrong about having all your eggs in someone else's basket"— John Ralston Saul

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