What I'm Reading (Mar. 23)

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He invented the thermos and smokeless gunpowder.
Rising angst
Right to repair
What are we drinking


“Since the eighth century A.D., the world’s number one low explosive (the kind you put in guns, as opposed to using it to blow things up) had been gunpowder. …

But there were problems with gunpowder. One was that it gave off a puff of smoke, which made it easy for your enemy to work out where you were, and fire back. New discoveries in the 19th century kicked off a quest for a “smokeless powder,” which would give any army a crucial advantage in a conflict. In 1888, the British government set up a group called the Explosives Committee to ensure the British led the field. Its head was Sir Frederick Abel, chemist at the Royal Arsenal. Its chief investigator was James Dewar.”

From Nautil.us, The Explosive Chemist Who Invented Smokeless Gunpowder


“Our book focused on three “great untruths” that seemed to be widely believed by the students who were trying to shut down speech and prosecute dissent:

  1. What doesn’t kill you makes you weaker
  2. Always trust your feelings
  3. Life is a battle between good people and evil people.”

Jonathan Haidt looks at the possible causes of the rising angst in our teenagers. Why the Mental Health of Liberal Girls Sank First and Fastest


“The right-to-repair movement has become the leading edge of a pushback against growing corporate power. Intellectual property protections, whether patents on farm equipment, crops, computers or cellphones, have become more intense in recent decades and cover more territory, giving companies more control over what farmers and other consumers can do with the products they buy.

For farmers, few examples of those corporate constraints are more frustrating than repair restrictions and patent rights that prevent them from saving seeds from their own crops for future planting.”

Repairing a broken item is becoming harder and more complex, not just around the house but in general. The rise of silicon chips in our appliances makes the ability to repair more difficult. Not even allowing a right to repair is certainly a hurdle too far. Repair is far better than replace, except for those providing the replacement. From The Conversation, In rural America, right-to-repair laws are the leading edge of a pushback against growing corporate power


Finally, EconLife answers a question you hadn’t asked, but it is nonetheless interesting.

“Many of us have been told to drink eight 8-ounce cups of water a day. Known as the conventional wisdom, 8 x 8 feeds healthy skin, is good for the kidneys, and prevents constipation. Its origins were reputedly in the 1945 Dietary Guidelines from the National Academy of Sciences.”

What We Are Drinking