This is the two-months-left reminder for entries to our MYSTERY CONTEST. There are already two entries, and you still have two months to write and submit yours!
Speaking of mysteries: Jeff Wood’s story of diagnosing his ME/CFS as a mechanical problem with the craniocervical junction, the place where your skull connects to the first two vertebrae (h/t JG in the comments on N=1: Symptom vs. Syndrome). He found a treatment that worked for him, and as far as we’ve heard, he is still in remission. Most interesting for the simple, obvious diagnostic test; if you have ME/CFS symptoms, try wearing a neck brace or just pull up on your head and see if your symptoms get better. See also the CCI + Tethered cord series from Jennifer Brea.
Still speaking of mysteries: “Paranasal sinuses are a group of four paired air-filled spaces that surround the nasal cavity… Their role is disputed and no function has been confirmed.” Also, why do they (reportedly) generate nitric oxide? The Wikipedia talk page on this one is also amusing. “more details of structure please. they are just empty pockets of air? how does the air get there? are they lined with tissue or Moo Hog are they just bone? hoopenings does each have? how do they becom e ‘pressurized’? etc etc-” writes User:Omegatron in 2005. Maybe the sinuses are well-understood by experts, but in that case, the Wikipedia page itself is a mystery.
No longer speaking of mysteries: We made a tumblr, in case the bird site dies or becomes unusable.
Adam Mastroianni argues that science is a strong-link problem. See also this excellent elaboration on the point, A Model of Quality Control in Strong Link Science, from Maxwell Tabarrok.
Salt, Sugar, Water, Zinc: How Scientists Learned to Treat the 20th Century’s Biggest Killer of Children. Like the story of scurvy, a clear example that eventual cures may look no more than vaguely promising at first, before we figure out the details of how to make them work reliably. Also, a lesson on following up on leads, even if they look weird or dumb or inconsistent at first. It doesn’t have to take 140 years!
The Ineluctable Smell of Beer — Part 1 in a fascinating series about the rise of healthcare costs (h/t Krinn). Really about the costs and reasons for “coordinative communication”. Kind of argues that bureaucracy is a symptom of bad things rather than the cause of them? You normally look at a dysfunctional, bureaucratic system and assume, “the bureaucracy caused the dysfunction”. But: “maybe it should take us aback that our health care system incurs such extreme coordinative communications costs, that paying all those people to handle it is actually more cost effective than not.”
The Atlantic: Could Ice Cream Possibly Be Good for You? (or here to avoid the paywall). “The dissertation explained that he’d hardly been the first to observe the shimmer of a health halo around ice cream. Several prior studies, he suggested, had come across a similar effect. Eager to learn more, I reached out to Ardisson Korat for an interview—I emailed him four times—but never heard back. … Inevitably, my curiosity took on a different shade: Why wouldn’t a young scientist want to talk with me about his research? Just how much deeper could this bizarre ice-cream thing go?” lol
Tyler Ransom did a N=1, T=1166 self-experiment where he lost 15 lbs in four months.
A School of Strength and Character:
The institution builders of the Civil War embodied a type of excellence that foreign observers of their era described as characteristically American. … But less than a century after the Civil War, American life did become dominated by centralized and professionally managed bureaucracies. The two world wars only served to entrench this way of life in business and politics. The population, in response, became increasingly conditioned to lobbying for centralized decisions instead of self-organizing. Those who introduced managerial bureaucracy to American life understood the “great strength” bureaucratic tools would grant them. But these tools destroyed the conditions that made them so adept at institution building in the first place. The first instinct of the nineteenth-century American was to ask, “How can we make this happen?” Those raised inside the bureaucratic maze have been trained to ask a different question: “how do I get management to take my side?”
Someone tracked down the original take of the Wilhelm Scream.
Weinersmith on political hobbyism.
AI and the American Smile: How AI misrepresents culture through a facial expression
On the unexpected joys of Denglisch, Berlinglish & global Englisch:
The great Milk Diet experiment results are in (h/t anon). Compare for sure to ExFatLoss’s +80% cream diet. Do be careful of excessive calcium intake, drinking this much milk may not be good long-term (though ExFatLoss seems to be doing ok?).