Thursday, March 17th, 2016


After the Facts

From science to medicine, we're becoming increasingly convinced that more data equals more access to facts. But what if -- at least when it comes to the human brain -- the opposite is true? What if our instant access to information is slowly eroding our ability to know fact from fiction? In The New Yorker, Jill Lepore provides a glimpse of what a post-fact life could be like. "Imagine a society where smartphones are miniaturized and hooked directly into a person's brain ... Now imagine that, after living with these implants for generations, people grow to rely on them, to know what they know and forget how people used to learn -- by observation, inquiry, and reason. Then picture this: overnight, an environmental disaster destroys so much of the planet's electronic-communications grid that everyone's implant crashes ... No one would really know anything anymore, because no one would know how to know." (Hey, it could happen. You've probably already forgotten how to find news stories on your own...)

+ And as if we needed a reminder that the Internet is not necessarily the path towards truth: What it's like to be a hot girl online ( … when you're a nerdy guy in real life).


What Do You Stand For?

"What we actually found is that most of it is, very much, just fashionable and not proven good for your health." We know sitting is not good for us. But do standing desks really make a difference? According to NPR: An analysis of 20 studies failed to find good evidence that standing at a work desk is better than sitting. (I got a standing desk. Then about a month later I got a taller chair.)


G Rating

"My purpose here today is to assert in my judgment, Daesh is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control including Yazidis, Christians and Shiite Muslims." John Kerry and the long, thorny path to calling ISIS genocidal.

+ BBC: What makes the use of the G word so controversial?


Safety Cap

"I have a patient with inoperable spinal stenosis who needs to be able to keep chopping wood to heat his home. A one-size-fits-all prescription algorithm just doesn't fit him. But I have to comply." Prescription opioids are the real gateway drug -- often leading to addiction and heroin abuse. But there are also millions of chronic pain patients who now depend on them. So like everything related pain and its various treatments, the situation is complicated. From the NYT: Patients in pain, and a doctor who must limit drugs.


Between the Pages of My Mind

"The important point is, this is a proof of concept. That is, even if a memory seems to be gone, it is still there. It's a matter of how to retrieve it." A new paper published by an MIT scientist hints at the possibility that memories lost to Alzheimer's could someday be recoverable.


Electric Boogaloo

"They went around to guys who were in their second and third startup and had been eating ramen noodles for eight years. They said, ‘Look, how would you just like to have a normal lifestyle, live an hour outside the Bay Area, make a quarter of a million bucks a year, and give your kids a really good education?'" This is a story about a start-up that is in the middle of a major pivot. What makes the story unique is that the start-up is 124 years old. Bloomberg on GE's determination to become a top software company. I can't wait to see how Thomas Edison looks in his hoodie.

+ Google is putting Boston Dynamics up for sale in robotics retreat. (Uh oh. Even Google is afraid of the robots...)


Moby Flick

"The fact that SeaWorld is doing away with orca breeding marks truly meaningful change." Three years after the Blackfish documentary, SeaWorld is phasing out its whale breeding and shows.


Another Unwanted Audit

"Ron Miscavige, the father of Scientology leader David Miscavige, has written a memoir about his controversial son." It's never fun when your own dad writes a scathing book about you. And this is David Miscavige's second relative to do so.


Just Waiting on a Friend

Nautilus: "Intriguing research by Istvan Molnar-Szakacs, Ph.D., a research neuroscientist at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience at the University of California, Los Angeles, suggests that listening to music activates the brain's mirror-neuron system ... that stirs a sense of human agency and 'social belonging.'" So please don't bother me next time you see me with my headphones on. I'm with friends.


Bottom of the News

Hamilton the person was in extreme danger of being completely booted from the ten dollar bill. But then came Hamilton the Musical.

+ At its very earliest stages, YouTube was intended to be a sort of dating site.

+ Tired of hearing what it sounds like when doves cry? Well here's what it sounds like when a fox laughs.

+ Bruce gave some kid the greatest tardy excuse note ever.