A tactless intervention. In politics timing can be everything, and with New South Wales in flames this timing was wrong from the Greens MP:

A safe haven. Just a little reminder of the nonsense Joe Hockey spouted about Australia’s government debt when he was in opposition. Here’s the index from the major money manager BlackRock measuring sovereign risk:

A worthwhile indicator. The Washington Post has put its “Daily Default Dashboard” away for a few months after it proved a more reliable indicator of what would happen in Congress than much of the so-called expert commentary.

Why we sleep. The reason for sleep is the subject of a new study published this week in the journal Science. Using mice, researchers showed for the first time that the space between brain cells may increase during sleep, allowing the brain to flush out toxins that build up during waking hours.

“Sleep changes the cellular structure of the brain. It appears to be a completely different state,” said Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., D.M.Sc., co-director of the Center for Translational Neuromedicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, and a leader of the study. For centuries, scientists and philosophers have wondered why people sleep and how it affects the brain. Only recently have scientists shown that sleep is important for storing memories. In this study, Dr Nedergaard and her colleagues unexpectedly found that sleep may be also be the period when the brain cleanses itself of toxic molecules.

News and views noted along the way.

  • Farewell, welfare state! — “The deterioration in the public accounts of Europe’s countries is putting at risk the survival of the welfare state. The search is now on for a new model, which could be built upon participatory democracy.”
  • Restoring F. P. Ramsey — “Why Wittgenstein’s one-time friend and nemesis might now be remembered as the greatest philosopher of the twentieth century.”
  • Google’s new terms of service are harder to read than ‘Beowulf‘ — Using a plugin called Literatin, they can assess terms of service from any company for readability. Each is given a SMOG score, short for Simple Measure of Gobbledygook … Richard Mortier, a lecturer in computer science at Nottingham, ran Google’s latest revision through the plugin and   according to Literatin, 43% of the adult English population would not be able to read the terms.”
  • Female doctors are better than male doctors — “According to a University of Montreal research team, the quality of care provided by female doctors is higher than that of their male counterparts while the productivity of males is greater.”

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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