A brief gallivant about the marketplace of ideas.

Month: May, 2015

Read — 2015/05/19

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. As Chinese stocks rise, Beijing wins“, by Shen Hong & Chao Deng (Wall Street Journal). The SHCOMP is up nearly 37% year-to-date, and over 125% year-to-year. This article claims that “the biggest winner has been the Chinese government”.
  2. Thai ex-PM Yingluck Shinawatra’s negligence trial begins” (BBC). A rice-subsidy program during Ms. Shinawatra’s time in office paid rural farmers “twice the market rate”. Ms. Shinawatra argues the program was “an attempt to support the rural poor”.
  3. Rise in suicide by black children surprises researchers“, by Sabrina Tavernise (NY Times). And it should shock you, too. I hope “the government” figures out an effective counter, but in the meantime, let’s each of us make a conscious, sustained effort to meaningfully engage the people (especially the children) in our lives, and to respect those like grade-school teachers who make such interactions their vocation.

Science — 2015/05/17

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. How birds got their beaks“, by Elizabeth Pennisi (Science). Dr. Abzhanov and Dr. Bhullar “have demonstrated a powerful new approach: pinning down how anatomy changes using fossils, then trying the recapitulate the changes in the lab by tinkering with genetic signals”. Their study suggests that the genes Fibroblast growth factor 8 (Fgf8) and WNT were involved in the evolution of beaks from snouts. Other researchers express reservations about these pathways, proposing sonic hedgehog (SHH) as the critical gene in beak formation.

Read — 2015/05/17

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. The great distortion” (The Economist). Government-instituted tax deductions on mortgage interest payments costs the U.S. 2-3% of GDP annually. The code encourages over-investment in housing and worsens income inequality. The article points out that the present time, with interest rates low, is likely the easiest time to initiate change.
  2. More hands to rock the cradle” (The Economist). Paid paternity leave, in lieu of or in tandem with paid maternity leave, may combat gender inequality in the workforce by giving (married) women the opportunity of returning to the work force more quickly. Sweden’s “equality bonus” is an interesting idea and might encourage fathers to be more hands-on in child-rearing.
  3. It is, in fact, rocket science“, by Leonard Mlodinow (NY Times). In defence of arduous, unglamorous, authentic scientific discovery.
  4. Matthew Weiner on the end of ‘Mad Men’“, by Dave Itzkoff (NY Times). “Mad Men”-creator Matthew Weiner reflects on the conclusion of the series. 34-minute interview.
  5. Outside-in“, by Kathryn Schulz (The New Yorker). The long-distilling development of an original author, Nell Zink.

    That job [as a bricklayer] was more valuable for my intellectual life than my entire college career. In college, they allow you to be entertained and let your mind wander…

Read — 2015/05/13

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. Election results: Conservatives win majority” (BBC).
  2. Russian spacecraft ‘ceased to exist’, burned in Earth’s atmosphere“, by Ben Brumfield & Laura Smith-Spark (CNN). The crewless cargo spacecraft Progress M-27M was carrying “3 tons of food, fuel, oxygen, spare parts, and scientific experiment hardware” for the International Space Station.
  3. Measles vaccine reduces death from other diseases“, by Alexandra Ossola (Popular Science). A retrospective meta-study in Science argues that the measles vaccine makes patients more resistant to other opportunistic diseases including tuberculosis, pneumonia, and sepsis.
  4. Peter Gay, historian who explored social history of ideas, dies at 91“, by William Grimes (NY Times).

Investing — 2015/05/15

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. Japan: the long road back to inflation” (Vanguard).

Read — 2015/05/08

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. Two retail veterans take aim at Amazon’s e-commerce reign“, by Farhad Manjoo (NY Times). Ron Johnson (Enjoy) and Marc Lore ( hope to take a slice of the e-commerce pie, via two different methods.

And on this day in history:

  1. The war in Europe is ended!“, by Edward Kennedy (NY Times, 8 May 1945). The rest of the title reads “Surrender is unconditional; V-E will be proclaimed today; our troops in Okinawa gain”. The last clause, and the remark midway through the article that “Germany’s formal capitulation…did not silence all the guns, for battles went on in Czechoslovakia”, serve as a grim reminder that more carnage was to come. Never forget.

Read — 2015/05/06

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. Syria conflict: Aleppo civilians suffer ‘unthinkable atrocities’” (BBC News). An Amnesty International reports that both sides of in the Syrian conflict are likely targeting civilians.
  2. opens to all developers after Net neutrality row“, by Don Reisinger (CNET). Progress in the move to bring Internet access to all.
  3. ‘Flash Crash’ a perfect storm for markets“, by Roger Kenny, Bradley Hope, Tynan DeBold, & Stephanie Yang (Wall Street Journal). “After the steep drop, both futures and stocks bounded back and erased the earlier paper losses of more than a trillion dollars from the markets”.
  4. Lawmakers in France move to vastly expand surveillance“, by Alissa J. Rubin (NY Times). France seems set to permit wide-sweeping government surveillance.
  5. The best candids from the Met Gala red carpet“, by Liana Satenstein, photography by Phil Oh (Vogue). This photo in particular speaks to the fact that at fancy events, the beautiful, rich, and famous want to have fun like the rest of us.
  6. Canada poised to pass anti-terror legislation despite widespread outrage“, by John Barber (The Guardian). Bill C-51, granting the Canadian government “sweeping new powers to investigate and disrupt broadly defined threats to public safety”, seems poised to pass Parliament.
  7. The world’s first self-driving semi-truck hits the road“, by Alex Davies (Wired). The self-driving “Freightliner Inspiration” only takes over on highway driving, and then plays by the defensive driving textbook (and then some). Self-driving trucks offer both safety and economic benefits.

Science — 2015/05/06

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. Dolphins living in closer quarters are friendlier“, by Lori Cuthbert (Discovery News).

Science — 2015/05/04

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. Managing eight arms“, by Peter Stern (Science). Kinematic analysis of how an octopus moves.
  2. Beyond graphene“, by Robert F. Service (Science). Forget 3D, 4D, etc. — 2D materials is a modern hotspot.
  3. Selective information routing by ventral hippocampal CA1 projection neurons“, by S. Ciocchi et al. (Science). Brain areas appear to communicate via directed signals.
  4. Proteomics reveals dynamic assembly of repair complexes during bypass of DNA cross-links“, by Markus Räschle et al. (Science). Insight into the proteins and timing involved in DNA replication of damaged chromatin (more precisely, DNA with interstrand cross-links).