A 10-jab weekend

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Measuring freedom and success by the number of track marks in your arms may strike the non-drug-addicted as somehow counter-intuitive. Not these days. Saying to someone “May I see your upper arm?” may sound odd now, but it will soon be seen as a sign of caring cautiousness. Meanwhile, here are 10 quick brain-jabs for your weekend.……

1. This Year’s Top 10 Breakthroughs. There’s no better source for how tech is changing our lives for good and ill than the MIT Technology Review. Here’s their list – from lithium metal batteries and data trusts, to multi-skilled AI and the tech that’s saving the world, mRNA vaccines.

2. How the British Marines use jetsuits. Not bad either for finding lost hikers in the mountains. Or delivering medicines to remote communities. Or delivering babies in remote communities.

3. Why ‘captchas’ are getting harder. Why don’t they trust me when I check that I’m not a robot? I have to confess, it takes me longer to check the boxes that show crosswalks or fire hydrants. But it’s not just me losing my memory and mind. It is getting harder, and here’s why.

4. Who needs steroids when you have the placebo effect? If I got my hands on a bottle of Gatorade at mile 20 of a 26.2-mile marathon, I knew I would go like the wind. It turned out not to be true. But that didn’t keep me from believing it. Now we have proof that belief is the most potent medicine of all.

A recent study in the Frontiers of Nutrition showed that runners who drank a pink liquid ran faster than those who drank the exact same liquid, except it was colourless. Why? Because we seem to associate pink with sweetness, sugar with a sugar-high, high with energy, and energy with speed.

5. Dinner parties of tomorrow. Last week we invited a friend over for dinner on our patio. It felt like hosting the first dinner party in the history of the world. Here’s Chandra Ram in Epicurious on Why Dinner Parties Need to Change.

Plus the world of gastrocuriosities, pictured on Gastro Obscura’s Instagram site.

6. Charts are so instant. Here’s two to ponder. The first, called Off the Charts, is a weekly feature from The Economist. Rosamund Pearce writes about how Polar charts look so wildly different from Cartesian charts. “The same data can look surprisingly different depending on how you choose to plot them, because each method emphasises different aspects.”

So...here’s a chart that tracks how non-white Americans rank with citizens from other nations according to their life expectancy, infant mortality, murder rate and prison population. Shocking.

7. Dreaming (and reading) of a brighter future. Ali Smith, Malcolm Gladwell and more on books to help you change, the way they changed them. It’s from The Guardian where I get a lot of recommendations. If it’s behind a wall when you click on the link, don’t worry, it’s not a paywall. Just sign up and one of the world’s best newspapers is yours. (And if you want to pay, it’s as you go, or nothing, or your inheritance. You decide).

8. Changing your mind can make you less anxious. Don’t let those consistency-spreaders dilute your power. Lose your fear of contradicting yourself. Each week, Arthur Brooks writes a column in The Atlantic called How to Build A Life, about pointing yourself towards happiness. This week, it’s all about how to get better at admitting you’re wrong.

9. World’s Worst Acronym. In a world where MAD means Mutually Assured Destruction and MAID means Medical Assistance in Death, here’s the worst acronym you’ll ever fall across.

10. Dancing you out with a song. Here are two reminders that bodies are built to move.

This first is a dance-mashup with some of Hollywood’s iconic early stars in their most famous pieces. Second, the tiny and always-financially threatened Regent Park School of Music in Toronto hit the jackpot when Taylor Swift used some of their samples. Who says creative arts groups can’t be creative self-financers too. Get the story here.

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