A’glitter in the Net: Recent readings, Sept 6 2013

Some of the more intriguing posts and links from my recent internet fishing trips. Apologies for all the great stuff I’ve missed. Been busy, plus doubtless forgot a few.


How City Living Is Reshaping the Brains and Behavior of Urban Animals Brill piece by Brandon Keim — a model of science reporting: clear exposition, splendid contextualizing

Speaking of urban animals, Farewell to Gus, Whose Issues Made Him a Star

How do expert cricketers keep their eye on the ball? | Pete Etchells  Baseball and tennis fans will also like.

Consciousness is a Process, from Virginia Hughes at NatGeo

The Upside of Trauma, on how trauma can (and usually does) do good things for you. By Ethan Watters

‘The Cancer Chronicles’ Wanders Through the Disease’s World – NYTimes review of George Johnson’s new book. And here’s a lovely piece drawn from it: Cancer’s Primeval Power and Murderous Purpose .

Wiring the Brain: The Trouble with Epigenetics (Part 2) Kevin Mitchell, one of the best writing on neurodevelopment these days, on the baggyness and limits of that word (and field).

Mitchell is also sharp on Why optogenetics deserves the hype.

Three takes on how poverty is a brain drain. The Poor’s Poor Mental Power and  Poverty Impedes Cognitive Function, both from Science, and  Poverty saps mental capacity to deal with complex tasks, say scientists, Alok Jha’s wonderful report at The Guardian

Related: The appalling war on food stamps On the Edge of Poverty, at the Center of a Debate on Food Stamps

Barry Yeoman’s Journey to Turkey | Audubon Magazine is a good trip.

If A Parent Murders An Autistic Child, Who Is To Blame? Not such a good trip. But another great column from the smart and fearless Emily Willingham.

One year at Haldane’s Sieve | Haldane’s Sieve  A barebones blog experiment in pre-print peer review turns one. Congratulations to Graham Coop, Joe Pickrell, and Bryan Howie.

Yes, I really want to know | Prion Alliance Some people don’t want to know if they carry a nasty fatal gene. Some do. This remarkable post is by one of the latter.

Butterfly On A Bullet   Lee Hotz tells how to write a 6-part newspaper series on a shuttle disaster that’s already had over 50,000 stories written about it. Short and brilliant.

Medicine good and bad

Why aren’t you dead yet? Laura Helmuth can tell you. If she can’t, you tell her: Life expectancy history: Public health and medical advances that lead to long lives. An ode to modern medicine.

From here it goes downhill:

How to Charge $546 for Six Liters of Saltwater  Another in the NY Times invaluable series on the outrageous profiteering bazaar that is the American healthcare system. That anyone defends this system any longer is an outrage.

13 patients possibly exposed to rare and fatal brain disease from N.H. hospital – NBC News.com  Looks quite bad.

M.D. Anderson’s top national cancer center rating aided by huge error in data. Looks even worse. Paul Raeburn with yet more horrific behavior from M.D. Anderson. I grew up near that hospital, and its reputation as a great cancer center made the sight of it a thing of pride. Now it stands tall for shameless profiteering — a transition emblematic of U.S. medicine.

Coroner “listed the cause of death as “therapeutic misadventure.” Texas Observer on failure to stop v v bad doc.

Finally, I’m grateful for a couple smart posts on my Pacific Standard feature, “The Social Life Of Genes,” that raised angles I hadn’t thought of myself: David Dobbs on Genes, Environment, and the Power of Social Environment, by Deb Blum at KSJ Tracker, and Genetic evidence that humans’ “default state” is not solitude, by Annalee Newitz at io9.

On the NSA scandal:

Explaining the latest NSA revelations – Q&A with internet privacy experts | Comment is free | theguardian.com

15 things journalists (and everyone) need to know about digital security | Poynter.

The US government has betrayed the internet. We need to take it back | Bruce Schneier at The Guardian

Science reporters play the access game too: What embargoes have to do with Greenwald, Snowden, and Assange | Embargo Watch

Other views of the world:

Strange histories of bookshelf use, with gorgeous pics: Paris Review – Shelf-Conscious, Francesca Mari and When Books Were Shelved Backwards | ephemeris

In Praise of Asparagus by Marcel Proust | Jenny McPhee

On Vreeland’s lunch instructions. Don’t you wish.

New Hendrix Documentary to Be Released in November Can’t wait.

quentin compson on Tumblr  I hung out with him there quite a while. At least I think it was — time around quentin behaves strangely.

At first, even Michael Lewis sucked. Here’s how he got better. by me, stolen from Brain Pickings

How did you catch that?

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