Weekly newsletter 96

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Best of the Week

Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us

Steven Brill | Time | 20 February 2013

Familiar subject, dynamite long piece of investigative reporting. Must be a Pulitzer contender. "What are the reasons, good or bad, that cancer means a half-million- or million-dollar tab? Why should a trip to the emergency room for chest pains that turn out to be indigestion bring a bill that can exceed the cost of a semester of college?"

The Extraordinary Science Of Addictive Junk Food

Michael Moss | New York Times | 20 February 2013

Fourteen years ago the heads of America's biggest food companies held a secret meeting to discuss the early signs of an obesity epidemic. Did they agree to tackle the public health issue? Not exactly. They decided to profit from it, by making snack foods more addictive. Some industry figures now show a proper sense of shame. But the damage is done

Social Work In The Tenderloin Will Kill Something Inside Of You

Blake Butler | Vice | 19 February 2013

Interview with San Francisco social worker. May leave you feeling a bit queasy, but that's part of the point. "The first thing is getting through the door at 9 AM. We usually have to step over clients or random strangers passed out on the benches from drinking and/or using since God knows when. The smell is the first thing that hits you"

American Death In London

Sarah Bee | NSFW Corp | 18 February 2013

A father's death, in a British hospital. Not all bad. "The doctors are amazing. They are frank, they are kind, they are judicious. They negotiate the treatment of an almost-lost cause deftly and delicately. They respect life and death equally, and they allow death to take over the second they see that inducing life to continue would be abominable"

I'm Waiting For My UPS Man

Ned Beauman | n+1 | 18 February 2013

Buying drugs online. "There are two websites where you can add a gram of heroin to your shopping cart. One belongs to Sigma-Aldrich, the chemical company that synthesizes pure opioids for use in laboratory studies. For this you need to be a federally accredited laboratory. The other is Silk Road. For this you just need an internet connection"

Unmanned Flight

John Horgan | National Geographic | 15 February 2013

Future of weaponised drones: they will masquerade as insects and birds. "They show me an animated video starring micro-UAVs that resemble winged, multi-legged bugs. The drones swarm through alleys, crawl across windowsills, and perch on power lines. One of them sneaks up on a scowling man holding a gun and shoots him in the head"

Encapsulated Universes

Lera Boroditsky | Edge | 19 February 2013

Does language shape thought, such that speakers of different languages think in different ways? Transcript of discursive talk with Stanford linguist, full of interesting anecdotes and observations, arguing that, yes, the structure of language and the structure of thought can be seen to mirror one another, and to differ across cultures

Last Man Up

Christopher Solomon | Runner's World | 21 February 2013

At 3.5 mlles, up and down a mountain, the Mount Marathon Race in Seward, Alaska is shorter than a jog round Central Park. But the course is so brutal and dangerous, the pace so fierce, that serious injuries are commonplace. Last year, the last-placed runner, Michael Le Maistre, disappeared. Got to the top, never came down. Where did he go?

Video of the week: How To Become Pope

Thought for the week:

"It isn't disrespectful to the complexity of existence to point out that despair is, often, just low blood sugar and exhaustion" — Alain de Botton

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