Newsletter 976

Hic sunt camelopardus: this historical edition of The Browser is presented for archaeological purposes; links and formatting may be broken.

The End Of Sleep

Jessa Gamble | Aeon | 10th April 2013

Imagine a disease that deprived people of a third of their conscious lives. We would be clamouring for a cure. We don't have a cure for sleep yet, but the palliatives are getting better. Take 400mg of modafinil every eight hours, and you can sleep just one night in three. A mild version of electroshock therapy cuts the optimal nightly sleep time down from eight hours to four. As to what we would do with the extra waking hours, science is silent

Open The Slaughterhouses

Jedediah Purdy | New York Times | 8th April 2013

"We should require confined-feeding operations and slaughterhouses to install webcams at key stages of their operations. List the URLs to the video on the packaging. No tricky angles or scary edits by activists. Just the visual facts. If the operators felt their work misrepresented, they could add cameras to give an even fuller picture. A teenager debating her parents at the dinner table would be able to pull out a cellphone to support his or her arguments" (Metered paywall)

Why Paternalism Is Your Friend

Cass Sunstein | New Republic | 8th April 2013

Should governments try to influence or alter people’s choices for their own good? No, if you assume that people have perfect information and perfect instincts. Yes, if you think they need a bit of help. "Here’s a simple but striking example of the possibility that paternalism can actually increase people’s welfare: cigarette taxes appear to make smokers happier. To the extent that this is so, it is because smokers tend to be less happy because they smoke. When they are taxed, they smoke less and might even quit, and they are better off as a result"

How To Make Perfect Grits

Randal Cooper | Medium | 5th April 2013

Buy decent grits. Stone ground, with no adulteration; check the label. If you have to store them, store them in the fridge. Use a liquid-to-grits ratio of at least five-to-one. Clear plenty of time to mind them while they cook — 60 to 90 minutes. And don't worry if they seem too runny in the pan. When hot, starchy liquids cool, they thicken. What looks like liquid when it boils can be a brick at room temperature

Choking on China: Superpower Poisons The World

Thomas Thompson | Foreign Affairs | 9th April 2013

Home to 16 of the world's 20 most polluted cities. Biggest emitter of greenhouse gases. Only 1% of urban residents breathe safe air. Thousands of dead pigs thrown in rivers. New strain of bird flu. Acid rain. And it will only gets worse, as and when private car ownership rises tenfold. But can anything change China's "unabated pursuit of economic development"? Unless the rest of the world can bring pressure to bear, China will poison its own population, and everyone else

I Almost Died in Syria

Olly Lambert | Salon | 9th April 2013

Maker of war-documentary films finds his professional composure failing him, while filming the carnage in Syria. "Suddenly I realized what I was looking at: the remains of someone who was alive just minutes ago, killed in the most brutal and sudden of ways, lying there debased in the dust. The body was not recognizable as human ... While I stood there in the rubble, shouts started going up that the jet was returning to bomb a second time. I ever so slightly pissed myself. Where does one stand in a situation like this?"

Video of the day: Got Me A Beard

Thought for the day:

"In case of doubt, skip to the conclusion. If it’s worthwhile understanding how the author got there, read it all. If not, congratulations. You just avoided wasting time" — Roberto Estreitinho

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