Left Out: Living In A Right-Handed World

About one of every 10 people is left-handed. That can be profitable if you’re a pitcher – and a pain if you’re an average Joe living in a right-handed world. Howard Kushner – a historian of medicine and neuroscience – explains why so few people are lefties; and about the many ways cultures worldwide discriminate against them. His new book is called “On the Other Hand: Left Hand, Right Brain, Mental Disorder, and History”.

KERA’s Think

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How the Nation of Luxembourg Is Racing to Privatise Space

Arkyd 6 spacecraft
Arkyd 6 spacecraft

Mining asteroids is the new old game, though no longer science fiction. The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg – which has all the square footage of an asteroid and, with a population up to slightly over half a million – has earmarked €200m to fund NewSpace companies that join its new space sector. In July, the parliament passed its law – the first of its kind in Europe, and the most far-reaching in the world – asserting that if a Luxembourgish company launches a spacecraft that obtains water, silver, gold or any other valuable substance on a celestial body, the extracted materials will be considered the company’s legitimate private property by a legitimate sovereign nation.

Should space benefit “all of humankind”, as the international treaties signed in the 60s intended, or is that idealism outdated? How do you measure those benefits, anyway? Does trickle-down theory apply in zero-gravity conditions?

The Guardian’s Audio Long Reads

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How Casinos & Slot Machines Are Designed to Facilitate Gambling Addiction

Sideroad slot machine, photo by Skip the Filler / CC BY-NC-ND

Gamblers, and more specifically slot machine gamblers, get addicted because they crave to be in the “zone” – the feeling players describe when they’re completely absorbed in a game, claims this podcast’s guest – Natasha Dow Schüll, a cultural anthropologist at New York University. They don’t really care about winning; rather they want to escape the world and become subsumed in their game.
Casinos also facilitate this addiction by designing the most optimal gambling experience which keeps gamblers playing…and playing…and playing. This ranges from the perambulant layout of the casinos themselves to the ergonomic design of the slot machine chairs, to the games’ false wins that create an illusion of winning. And casinos are now taking advantage of big data systems which track users’ gambling preferences to incentivize players to stay in their chairs as long as possible.
Natasha Dow Schüll is the author of “Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas”.

Adam Ruins Everything

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Making it Work: Affordable Medical Equipment in India

In India around one fifth of the population still live below the poverty line, according to the most recent World Bank estimates. Businesses selling to this market need to keep prices low. In the famous tech city of Bengaluru, south India, we visit a veterinary clinic for pets, the unlikely home of a surprising young start-up, which is set to revolutionise one of the most common medical devices on the planet – the stethoscope. In a village in Mathura, about three hours drive from New Delhi we take a look at the installation of a new affordable solution to providing solar energy. We then meet a young entrepreneur in Kenya who is looking at the success of firms like Amazon and has developed his own similar internet based delivery system for Kenya’s low-income customers.

The Compass – BBC World Service

 

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Ponte City Tower

Ponte City Tower, the brutalist cylindrical high-rise that towers over Johannesburg, has gone from a symbol of white opulence to something far more complex. It’s gone through very tough times, but also it’s hopeful. It’s a microcosm of the South Africa’s history, but it’s also a place that moves on. And to this day, this strange concrete tube at the center of Johannesburg’s skyline continues to play the same role for newcomers that it has for decades: serving as the diverse entry point to the city.

99% Invisible

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Collective Intelligence

Photo by batwrangler / CC BY-NC-ND

If you wanted to build a team in such a way that you maximized its overall intelligence, how would you do it? Would you stack it with high-IQ brainiacs? Would you populate it with natural leaders? Would you find experts on a wide range of topics? Well, those all sound like great ideas, but the latest research into collective intelligence suggests that none of them would work. In this episode we will discuss what factors constitute the best solution.

You Are Not So Smart

 

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The British Hacker’s Fight for His Life

Lauri Love is charged with masterminding a 2013 attack by Anonymous on US government websites. He has not protested his innocence – he only points out that, without seeing the evidence, which the US Department of Justice refuses to reveal until he is on US soil, he cannot say one way or the other. But he had the means, motive and opportunity to carry out the crimes of which he stands accused. Even if Love is guilty, however, there are important legal and moral questions about whether he should be extradited to the US – a nation that has prosecuted hackers with unrivalled severity, and one where Love could be sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison. Had Love been allowed to stand trial in the UK following his initial arrest, and had he pled guilty to every charge, he would have spent a maximum of 18 months in prison. Four years after his initial arrest, Love has nearly exhausted his legal options. His extradition to the US is now perilously close. In September 2016, a district judge refused to block Love’s deportation.

The Guardian’s Audio Long Reads

 

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Fantasyland

The roots of the post-truth, alternative facts present can be discovered in America’s “promiscuous devotion to the untrue” and its instinct to believe in make believe, evident across four centuries of magical thinkers and true believers, hucksters and suckers, who have embedded an appetite for believe-whatever-you-want fantasy into the national DNA, argues Kurt Andersen, author of a new book, “Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire, a 500-Year History.” Kwame Anthony Appiah, NYU professor, philosopher, and author of fiction and nonfiction books questions him about the bold claim that America’s love of the fantastic has made this country exceptional in a way that has yet to be understood?

The New York Public Library

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Oliver Sipple

One morning, Oliver Sipple went out for a walk. A couple hours later, to his own surprise, he saved the life of the President of the United States. But in the days that followed, Sipple’s split-second act of heroism turned into a rationale for making his personal life into political opportunity. What happens next makes us wonder what a moment, or a movement, or a whole society can demand of one person. And how much is too much?

Radiolab

 

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