The gassy dead. A million-genome march. How to do science.

Highgate cemetery

What to do with the dead? This timeless problem took extra urgency in Victorian London. Excerpted from the book Dirty Old London, by Lee Jackson, in the Guardian.

The existence of such gases was undisputed – sextons and undertakers were often called up to “tap” coffins in church vaults, drilling a hole to prevent them breaking open with explosive force. Walker dutifully recorded the effects of leaking miasma on the constitution of gravediggers, ranging from general ill health (“pain in the head, heaviness, extreme debility, lachrymation, violent palpitation of the heart, universal trembling, with vomiting”) to sudden death. Gas could, indeed, prove fatal: graveyard workers who broke into bloated coffins were occasionally suffocated by the release of “cadaverous vapours”.

Ken Weiss is not too thrilled with the million-genome project. At The Mermaid’s Tale.

In desperate need for a huge new mega-project to lock up even more NIH funds before the Republicans (or other research projects that are actually focused on a real problem) take them away, or before individual investigators who actually have some scientific ideas to test, we read that Francis Collins has apparently persuaded someone who’s not paying attention to fund the genome sequencing of a million people! Well, why not? First we had the (one) human genome project. Then after a couple of iterations, the 1000 genomes project, then the hundred thousand genomes ‘project’. So, what next? Can’t just go up by dribs and drabs, can we? This is America, after all! So let’s open the bank for a cool million.

John Hawks likes the small questions: How do we make science better?

Simply, we have to begin to expect failure. Ideas are like mutations: Most of them will be bad or neutral, and only a few good. A grant panel of experts may be able to eliminate many of the bad ideas. But we know from the history of science that most good ideas are not obvious at the time, and that it’s hard to distinguish the neutral ones from the good ones. We should be funding science where the outcomes cannot be easily predicted, putting ideas to the test. To do that we need to accept that a high proportion of these ideas will be dead ends. But we need to fund a broader range of creative people to increase the chance of finding a really good idea, the kind that can give rise to new fields of inquiry.

These items are 3 of the 5 in today’s edition of my Read 2 newsletter. .

Photo by dani0010 at flickr, creative commons, some rights reserved. 


Alice Munro has some very bad news. Plus consciousness and Brits on the dole.

Three of thefive reads from today’s edition of my Read Two newsletter. You can get the other two here or sign up for more.

Why can’t the world’s greatest minds solve the mystery of consciousness? They don’t call it the hard problem for nothing. By Oliver Burkeman at The Guardian.

The brain, Chalmers began by pointing out, poses all sorts of problems to keep scientists busy. How do we learn, store memories, or perceive things? How do you know to jerk your hand away from scalding water, or hear your name spoken across the room at a noisy party? But these were all “easy problems”, in the scheme of things: given enough time and money, experts would figure them out. There was only one truly hard problem of consciousness, Chalmers said. It was a puzzle so bewildering that, in the months after his talk, people started dignifying it with capital letters – the Hard Problem of Consciousness – and it’s this: why on earth should all those complicated brain processes feel like anything from the inside? Why aren’t we just brilliant robots, capable of retaining information, of responding to noises and smells and hot saucepans, but dark inside, lacking an inner life? And how does the brain manage it? How could the 1.4kg lump of moist, pinkish-beige tissue inside your skull give rise to something as mysterious as the experience of being that pinkish-beige lump, and the body to which it is attached?

A fascinating subject that many stories manage to make boring. Burkeman lights it up nicely.

“The slow-burning fuse that is a Munro story frequently hides, then exposes, something violent, shameful, or sensational.” Hermione Lee on Alice Munro, at NYRB.

Down-and-out characters struggling on the edges, psychopathic killers, vindictive children or vengeful old people, abused women, passionately self-abnegating lovers, irresponsible adulterers, horrible acts of cruelty, startlingly show up inside these domestic, realistic narratives. “Southern Ontario Gothic,” this gets called, though the luridness of “Gothic” doesn’t quite fit the remarkable mixture of savage extremes and formal control.

The mixture is at full blast in the first story in the selection, “The Love of a Good Woman” (1996), which follows one of Munro’s favorite structures, or plots, the slow uncovering of a secret act of violence, emerging from an environment where there is too much surveillance, too much unspoken knowledge, too many collaborations in silence, too much shame. In this story, the corpse of a small-town optometrist is found in his car in an icy river by a gang of boys, and the secret story of his murder is revealed, as unpleasantly as possible, to the nurse of a malevolent dying woman. The vindictiveness of the characters in this story can take your breath away:

Once a woman had asked Enid to bring her a willow platter from the cupboard and Enid had thought that she wanted the comfort of looking at this one pretty possession for the last time. But it turned out that she wanted to use her last, surprising strength to smash it against the bedpost.

“Now I know my sister’s never going to get her hands on that,” she said.

Euro-freeriders are not the problem some Brits may think. Vice-versa as well. The Guardian.

About 2.5% of Britons in other EU countries are claiming unemployment benefits – the same level as the roughly 65,000 EU nationals claiming jobseeker’s allowance in the UK. Dr Roxana Barbulescu, researcher on international migration at the University of Sheffield, said the numbers claiming unemployment benefits were minuscule. “Thirty thousand people, or 2.5% of all British nationals, in other EU member states means that the overwhelming majority of Brits abroad as well as European citizens in Britain are not an undue burden for the countries in which they live.”

The war on Billie Holiday; happy marriages; racist Oregon


Billie Holiday and her dog, Mister, in NYC, 1946. Photo courtesy Wikimedia.


The War on Drugs started with Billie Holiday. – Johann Hari, POLITICO

Jazz was the opposite of everything Harry Anslinger believed in. It is improvised, relaxed, free-form. It follows its own rhythm. Worst of all, it is a mongrel music made up of European, Caribbean and African echoes, all mating on American shores. To Anslinger, this was musical anarchy and evidence of a recurrence of the primitive impulses that lurk in black people, waiting to emerge. “It sounded,” his internal memos said, “like the jungles in the dead of night.” Another memo warned that “unbelievably ancient indecent rites of the East Indies are resurrected” in this black man’s music. The lives of the jazzmen, he said, “reek of filth.”

He wanted to bring the full thump of the federal government down upon that scourge of modern society, his Public Enemy #1: Billie Holiday.

Happy Marriages Hint at Horrors of Middle Age. by Maya Dusenbery at Pacific Standard.

No wonder people whose spouses also happen to be their best friends get such a greater benefit from marriage than others. For some, this particular “super-friend” may well be one of the only close friends they see with any regularity—it helps to really, really like them.

Looked at from that angle, the fact that marrying your best friend seems to make middle age “slightly less terrible” (as the headline of the Washington Post’s coverage of the study sardonically boasts) seems less a ringing endorsement of marriage than an indictment of the way many of us spend our middle age—in socially isolated domestic units, each consumed with the nearly impossible task of balancing work and family, made bearable only by having a close friend in the trenches with us.

Oregon Was Founded As a Racist Utopia by Matt Novak at Gizmodo.

The constitution was put to a popular vote in the state in 1857 and included two referendums that were to be voted on independently. The first was whether they should reject slavery. Roughly 75 percent of voters opted to reject the adoption of slavery. The second measure was whether or not to exclude black people from the state. About 89 percent of voters cast their vote in favor of excluding black and mixed race people from the state. And thus, the exclusionary aspects of the state constitution were adopted.

These were 3 of the 5 links in today’s edition of Read 2. You can sign up here or in the form at right.

The 80 richest people own as much as the poorest 3.5 billion

A 1916 leaflet proposes to segregate St. Louis. The measure passed. (Missouri History Museum Library and Research Center, via Coates at The Atlantic


Hand it to the rich — no, wait, they already took it. Anyway, they get the job done. From my latest Read 2 roundup, a connection of pieces on wealth paints a dismal picture. (Unless you’re one of those 80).

First, from Michael M. Phillips at The Wall Street Journal:

In 2010, it would have taken the combined riches of the 388 top billionaires to equal the combined assets of the bottom 50% of the planet. But the billionaires’ assets have appreciated so quickly since then, and the total value of the poor’s resources has dropped so precipitously, that last year it took just the top 80 billionaires to equal the wealth of the bottom 3.5 billion people on the planet, Oxfam said.

The wealthiest 80 people have a combined net worth of $1.9 trillion, up from $1.3 trillion in 2010, with the bulk of their fortunes coming from the financial, pharmaceutical and health care industries. More than a billion people live on less than $1.25 a day, Oxfam said.

That’s a 50% increase, in just 5 years, in the wealth of the wealthiest 80 people. (And yours?) Conceivably that has something to do with what Ta-Nahesi Coates, in an essay from last fall, calls segregation as a system of plunder. In this superb round-up, Coates, having summarized a report showing how housing policies established in the early 20th-century systematically pushed poor blacks into specific underserved neighborhoods, describes how

Once the big game has been fenced off, then comes the hunt:

According to a study by the St. Louis nonprofit Better Together, Ferguson receives nearly one-quarter of its revenue from court fees; for some surrounding towns it approaches 50 percent. Municipal reliance on revenue generated from traffic stops adds pressure to make more of them. One town, Sycamore Hills, has stationed a radar-gun-wielding police officer on its 250-foot northbound stretch of Interstate.

With primarily white police forces that rely disproportionately on traffic citation revenue, blacks are pulled over, cited and arrested in numbers far exceeding their population share, according to a recent report from Missouri’s attorney general. In Ferguson last year, 86 percent of stops, 92 percent of searches and 93 percent of arrests were of black people—despite the fact that police officers were far less likely to find contraband on black drivers (22 percent versus 34 percent of whites).

It gets worse. In an essay Coates links to, John Light at Moyers & Company, drawing from a fine story by Matthew Goldstein at the Times, shows how this profiteering continues, with a boost from the still-lingering 2008 economic bust, in the very housing economy that the original segregation created:

Nationally, 17 percent of homeowners are underwater — they owe more on their mortgages than their homes are actually worth. In Ferguson, that figure sits at 50 percent. Because so many homeowners are struggling, the town is ripe for institutional investors — often hedge funds or private equity groups on the coasts, thousands of miles away — to buy up homes, then rent them to low-income tenants. And that’s what has happened. Investment firms are responsible for roughly a quarter of all recent housing purchases in the town.

As Goldstein notes, tenant advocates say the problem comes when investors try to turn too quick a profit on their investment — or fail to turn a profit at all. In New York City, for example, private equity firms have invested in neighborhoods — often low-income communities that investors were unfamiliar with — where the economics of their investment didn’t work out and tenants suffered. In some cases, residents watched their buildings fall into disrepair as their new Wall Street landlords sought to wring maximum profit. In others, tenants faced intense pressure to leave their homes as new landlords tried to gentrify neighborhoods and raise rents. Tenants’ rights groups have dubbed this style of landlordship “predatory equity.”

These practices have spread far beyond urban neighborhoods to the suburbs, where an abundance of cheap homes are teetering on the brink of foreclosure. In the wake of the housing crisis, Bloomberg reported, Blackstone Group raised $20 billion to purchase “as many as 200,000 homes.” As of 2013, the fund was renting residences in 14 cities. Ferguson was “largely avoided” by Blackstone, Goldstein writes, but other investment groups filled the gap.

From my semi-daily and sometimes very occasional newsletter, Read 2: Sneaky cops, sneakier capitalists, healthier minds, and parachuting beavers.

The Spy Who Wasn’t, or how a guy named Simons walked home with a vial of plutonium

DM US cover

Being immersed lately in tales of deception, deceit, and betrayal lately — my voracious read of Ben Macintyre’s magnificent A Spy Among Friends is only the tip of the iceberg — I was fascinated to read this morning P.D. Smith’s story of a true innocent who was swept up in early Cold War paranoia. Sanford Lawrence Simons, who died of cancer last week at 92 in Colorado, was best known for pocketing a vial of plutonium when he worked at Los Alamos in the 1940s. Smith tells this in his book The Doomsday Men, and briskly in a piece he posted at Kafka’s Mouse, his excellent blog, yesterday:

Simons, who had trained as a metallurgical engineer, readily admitted taking the radioactive material, but he claimed it was just a “souvenir” of his time at Los Alamos, which he left in July 1946. Flanked by two impassive FBI men wearing Humphrey Bogart fedoras, Simons talked freely with journalists after he’d been committed for trial. Unshaven and handcuffed, though still clutching his pipe, Simons seemed remarkably unfazed by his predicament. Under the Atomic Energy Act he faced a possible maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Just a few weeks earlier, the FBI had arrested Ethel and Julius Rosenberg in New York on suspicion of atomic espionage. They were both convicted the following year and, despite international pleas for clemency including from Einstein, the couple were subsequently executed in the electric chair.

“Why did I take it?”, said Simons sheepishly, in answer to reporters’ questions. “Well, it seems pretty silly now, but I’ve always collected mineral samples. I realized almost instantly that I didn’t want it, but it was like having a bull by the tail. I couldn’t let go!”

One of the press men asked how he managed to smuggle the plutonium out of the top-secret military research laboratory.

Simons grinned: “I just walked out with it.”

The whole thing is delicious. Check out the fuller tale, and other wonders, at  Kafka’s mouse.

The Art of Deception: When Kindness is a Lure to Betrayal

Over at NPR, Barbara King has a post about the mostly amusing deceptions that chimpanzee mothers sometimes engage in. It’s a nice post that includes an amusing video, which I’ve pasted below; note the look on the face of the mom when she cashes in on the deception, which is centered around an exchange of favors, and take her child’s tools. “Thanks; I’ll have that.”

King’s post put me in mind of an example of chimpanzee deception I highlighted in an article a few years ago. In this one, far more cruel, an act of apparent generosity is used to disguise something quite different. It came from the work of Frans de Waal.

Deception runs deep. In his book, “Our Inner Ape,” Frans de Waal, a primatologist at Emory University, describes a simple but cruel deception perpetrated by a female chimp named Puist. One day, Puist chases but cannot catch a younger, faster female rival. Some minutes later, writes de Waal, “Puist makes a friendly gesture from a distance, stretching out an open hand. The young female hesitates at first, then approaches Puist with classic signs of mistrust, like frequent stopping, looking around at others and a nervous grin on her face. Puist persists, adding soft pants when the younger female comes closer. Soft pants have a particularly friendly meaning; they are often followed by a kiss, the chimpanzee’s chief conciliatory gesture. Then, suddenly, Puist lunges and grabs the younger female, biting her fiercely before she manages to free herself.”

Happy holidays, folks — and careful what offers you accept at those office parties.

James Watson as genetic error

Adam Rutherford addresses James Watson’s attempt to dodge his past:

Like all contemporary biologists, my career is largely based on his work. The medal? If I could afford it, I wouldn’t want it. My field, human genetics, was founded by another racist, Francis Galton, who sought to demonstrate white British dominance over the colonies using biometrics. He gave birth to eugenics, an endeavour never realised in the UK, but that was broadly supported around the beginning of the 20th century across the political spectrum, from Churchill to Marie Stopes to William Beveridge. His and my alma mater, UCL, is currently thinking hard about how to scold his racism and continue to respect his scientific legacy, which is undeniable and unrivalled. The nicest irony is that genetics – the field he founded and Watson transformed – is precisely the subject that has singularly demonstrated that race as a scientific concept holds no water.

“No one really wants to admit I exist” says Watson. That’s not it. It’s more that no one is interested in his racist, sexist views. Watson, alongside Crick, will always be the discoverer of the double helix, to my mind the scientific breakthrough of the 20th century. Here’s our challenge: celebrate science when it is great, and scientists when they deserve it. And when they turn out to be awful bigots, let’s be honest about that too. It turns out that just like DNA, people are messy, complex and sometimes full of hideous errors.

It’s a short, lovely, smart takedown. Get the rest at He may have unravelled DNA, but James Watson deserves to be shunned | Adam Rutherford | Comment is free | The Guardian.

Read 2: Trouble at Vassar, peace in Rwanda, success at the Strand. Plus Angela Merkel’s secret & how brains create agency.

The Astonishing Rise of Angela Merkel. By George Packer at The New Yorker

John Kornblum, a former U.S. Ambassador to Germany, who still lives in Berlin, said, “If you cross her, you end up dead. There’s nothing cushy about her. There’s a whole list of alpha males who thought they would get her out of the way, and they’re all now in other walks of life.” On Merkel’s fiftieth birthday, in 2004, a conservative politician named Michael Glos published a tribute:

Careful: unpretentiousness can be a weapon! … One of the secrets of the success of Angela Merkel is that she knows how to deal with vain men. She knows you shoot a mountain cock best when it’s courting a hen. Angela Merkel is a patient hunter of courting mountain cocks. With the patience of an angel, she waits for her moment.

German politics was entering a new era. As the country became more “normal,” it no longer needed domineering father figures as leaders. “Merkel was lucky to live in a period when macho was in decline,” Ulrich said. “The men didn’t notice and she did. She didn’t have to fight them—it was an aikido politics.” Ulrich added, “If she knows anything, she knows her macho. She has them for her cereal.”

My Vassar College Faculty ID Makes Everything OK By Kiese Laymon at Gawker.

The fourth time a Poughkeepsie police officer told me that my Vassar College Faculty ID could make everything OK was three years ago on Hooker Avenue. When the white police officer, whose head was way too small for his neck, asked if my truck was stolen, I laughed, said no, and shamefully showed him my license and my ID, just like Lanre Akinsiku. The ID, which ensures that I can spend the rest of my life in a lush state park with fat fearless squirrels, surrounded by enlightened white folks who love talking about Jon Stewart, Obama, and civility, has been washed so many times it doesn’t lie flat.

After taking my license and ID back to his car, the police officer came to me with a ticket and two lessons. “Looks like you got a good thing going on over there at Vassar College,” he said. “You don’t wanna it ruin it by rolling through stop signs, do you?”

Love for My Enemies. An extraordiary tale, with video alternating with short stretches of connective-tissue prose, of reconciliation among the perpetrators and survivors of the Rwanda genocide. By Lukas Augustin and Niklas Schenck at The Atavist. Skip the latte, buy this instead. It will stick with you much longer.

When Wellars again asked Innocent to forgive him, in front of the group at Christophe’s workshop, Innocent gave him a hug and told him, “Let’s go to the bar and have a drink.” Step by step, Innocent had lost his anger toward Wellars. He had learned that Wellars had not planned the killings and had given back the land he stole during the genocide. He had also helped Innocent discover the identity of the man who had killed one of his brothers. Over time, something deeper evolved: The two men became friends again. When Innocent’s wife fell ill, Wellars bought her medicine. When Wellars moved houses, Innocent helped him. When one has money, he buys Fanta—or, at night, beers—for both. “Before the genocide, our friendship was about childhood,” Innocent says. “Now it is more focused, it is stronger. I can call upon him when I am in trouble.”

The Strand: The business model that’s kept the NYC bookstore up and running despite the threat of Amazon and e-books. By Christopher Bononas at Slate.

Until [2003], the Strand had been a beloved, indispensable, and physically grim place. Like a lot of businesses that had hung on through the FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD years, it looked broken-down and patched-up. The bathroom was even dirtier than the one in the Astor Place subway. You got the feeling that a lot of books had been on the shelves for years. The ceiling was dark with the exhalations from a million Chesterfields. There were mice. People arriving with review copies to sell received an escort to the basement after a guard’s bellow: “Books to go down!” It was an experience that, once you adjusted to its sourness, you might appreciate and even enjoy. Maybe.

That New York is mostly gone, replaced by a cleaner and more efficient city—not to mention a cleaner and more efficient Strand. “Books to go down!” is extinct. So is Book Row, the Fourth Avenue strip that fortified the readers and writers of Greenwich Village. Though there are signs of life in the independent-bookseller business—consider the success of McNally-Jackson—few secondhand-book stores are left in Manhattan. Only two survive in midtown, and the necrology is long. Skyline on West 18th Street, New York Bound Bookshop in Rockefeller Center, the Gotham Book Mart on West 47th—closed. Academy Books is now Academy Records & CDs.

So, then: Why is there still a Strand Book Store?

Top-down causation and the emergence of agency. By Kevin Mitchell at Wiring the Brain.

Causes of behaviour can be described both at the level of mechanisms and at the level of reasons. There is no conflict between those two levels of explanation nor is one privileged over the other – both are active at the same time. Discussion of meaning does not imply some mystical or supernatural force that over-rides physical causation. It’s not that non-physical stuff pushes physical stuff around in some dualist dance. (After all, “non-physical stuff” is a contradiction in terms). It’s that the higher-order organisation of physical stuff – which has both informational content and meaning for the organism – constrains and directs how physical stuff moves, because it is directed towards a purpose.

Is SCOTUS’s gambit to wreck healthcare unprecedented?

Linda Greenhouse says it is — and that next to SCOTUS’s decision to put Obamacare on the choppping block, Bush v. Gore was nothing.

There was no urgency. There was no crisis of governance, not even a potential one. There is, rather, a politically manufactured argument over how to interpret several sections of the Affordable Care Act that admittedly fit awkwardly together in defining how the tax credits are supposed to work for people who buy their health insurance on the exchanges set up under the law.

Further, the case the court agreed to decide, King v. Burwell, doesn’t fit the normal criterion for Supreme Court review. There is no conflict among the federal appellate circuits. (Remember that just a month ago, the absence of a circuit conflict led the justices to decline to hear seven same-sex marriage cases?) In the King case, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Va., unanimously upheld the government’s position that the tax subsidy is available to those who buy insurance on the federally run exchanges that are now in operation in 36 states.…The absence of a circuit conflict and an imminent rehearing by the country’s most important court of appeals would, in the past, have led the Supreme Court to refrain from getting involved.

So no, this isn’t Bush v. Gore. This is a naked power grab by conservative justices who two years ago just missed killing the Affordable Care Act in its cradle, before it fully took effect. When the court agreed to hear the first case, there actually was a conflict in the circuits on the constitutionality of the individual insurance mandate. So the Supreme Court’s grant of review was not only unexceptional but necessary: a neutral act. The popular belief then that the court’s intervention indicated hostility to the law was, at the least, premature.

As Greenhouse notes, it takes four justices to call a case to the court. She assumes the four who did so likely include the four who tried to kill ACA in its crib two years ago; they failed only because Chief Justice John Roberts failed to vote along with them, as he often does. The healthcare of tens of millions may soon depend on how John Roberts views a few clumsily written phrases.

The link and excerpt above are part of today’s edition of my almost-daily Read Two newsletter,  which you can get by signing up here or in the box at right.  Also in today’s Read Two were stories by Alex Horton on How Three Veterans Uncovered the Iraq War’s Biggest Untold Story, Frank Swain on  tuning his hearing aid to WIFI, and Ed Yong on Why Some Microbiome Studies May Be Wrong.

Read Two: Philosophy of the pee-pee dance; fun failures.

The Philosophical Implications of the Need to Pee. By Daniel Yudkin at Scientific American.

What if I were to tell you, for instance, that belief in free will is negatively correlated with the desire to urinate? Those are the implications of a new study published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition by Michael Ent and Roy Baumeister. They predicted—and found—that the more people felt they needed to pee, the less they believed that humans are in control of their destinies.

Falling short: seven writers reflect on failure. A few snippets from this fun trip through failure:

Howard Jacobson: It starts early. You can come into the world smugly trailing clouds of glory, already sainted in the life before life, or you can enter it reluctantly and ashamed, helpless, naked, piping loud – Blake’s baby not Wordsworth’s, at the first sight of whom your mother groans, your father weeps. I was a Blake baby.

Diane Athill, at 95 years of age and still writing: It was the writing that really put an end to failure. In the early 1960s nine stories “happened” to me. I say “happened” because I did not decide to write them, but suddenly felt a peculiar sort of itch, which produced them. One of them won the Observer’s short-story prize. I was told that I’d won it on my birthday, in December, and having submitted the story in March I had forgotten about it. The news was astounding, and became even more so when I went to collect my cheque and they kindly offered to show me the room in which all the entries were stored: two thousand of them. Two thousand stories, and mine had been judged the best! I understood at once what had happened, and it was by far the best part of a lovely experience: that dreary bedrock under the surface of my life was no longer there, and off I could go into happiness.

Anne Enright: The writer’s life is one of great privilege, so “Suck it up”, you might say – there are more fans than trolls. But there are two, sometimes separate, ambitions here. One is to get known, make money perhaps and take a bow – to be acknowledged by that dangerous beast, the crowd. The other is to write a really good book. And a book is not written for the crowd, but for one reader at a time.

The piece also features Margaret Atwood, Will Self, and Lionel Shriver, and Julian Barnes.

Also excerpted in today’s Read Two newsletter*. A Fight to Save Children From a Fatal Genetic DiseaseHealth Care Reform ImperiledOur ‘Mommy’ Problem.

 *The excerpts and links above are from today’s issue of Read Two and Call Me In the Morning, my most-days TinyLetter email offering snippets from recent reading. In the full newsletter, all five links have excerpts. You can see them here. To get the almost-daily email with all five, sign up below. Fear not: I won’t share your email with anyone, and should you change your mind, it’s easy to unsubscribe.
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