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Monday, July 11, 2016

Falling For Sleep, by Rubin Naiman, Aeon

Sleep has been transformed from a deeply personal experience to a physiological process; from the mythical to the medical; and from the romantic to the marketable. Our misconstrued sense of sleep and consequent obsession with managing it are the most critical overlooked factors in the contemporary epidemic of sleep loss.

Something is very wrong. Despite decades of innovative sleep research, escalating numbers of new sleep specialists and clinics, and an explosion of media attention and public health education initiatives, the epidemic of insufficient sleep and insomnia appears to be getting worse.

How Sea Otters Help Save The Planet, by Robin McKie, The Guardian

This view of nature – looking down from the top – contrasts with previous attempts to understand food chains from changes that affect their bottom rungs to see how animals and predators at higher levels are affected. An example of this approach is provided by scientists who study how reductions in Arctic sea ice might reduce levels of algae (which forms on the underside of sea ice) and which might then affect the creatures that consume alga: the plankton, fish and seals further up the food chain.

Top-down forcing – or trophic cascades – looks at the problem in the reverse direction, with a perfect example being provided by the work of James Estes, an American marine biologist who has studied wildlife in the north Pacific Ocean for the past 45 years and has revealed the astonishing manner in which terrestrial and sea predators can change land and marine environments. This top-down picture – with predators influencing the health of plants – is depicted in enthralling detail in his newly published Serendipity: An Ecologist’s Quest to Understand Nature.

Everything We Love To Eat Is A Scam, by Maureen Callahan, New York Post

Among the many things New Yorkers pride ourselves on is food: making it, selling it and consuming only the best, from single-slice pizza to four-star sushi. We have fish markets, Shake Shacks and, as of this year, 74 Michelin-starred restaurants.

Yet most everything we eat is fraudulent.

In his new book, “Real Food Fake Food,” author Larry Olmsted exposes the breadth of counterfeit foods we’re unknowingly eating. After reading it you’ll want to be fed intravenously for the rest of your life.

John Aubrey: My Own Life By Ruth Scurr – Review, by Alexander Larman, The Guardian

Scurr’s great achievement is to bring both Aubrey and his mutable world alive in detail that feels simultaneously otherworldly and a mirror of our own age. Her Aubrey is above all human, flawed and crabbily decent.

Peter Doig Says He Didn’t Paint This. Now He Has To Prove It., by Graham Bowley, New York Times

Art law experts say they can’t recall anything like it, certainly not for a major artist like Mr. Doig.

“To have to disprove that you created a work seems somehow wrong and not fair,” said Amy M. Adler, a professor at New York University Law School.

The stakes are high as well. A Doig painting has sold for more than $25 million. Other works have routinely sold at auction for as much as $10 million. The plaintiffs, who include the correction officer and the art dealer who agreed to help him sell the work, are suing the painter for at least $5 million in damages and seek a court declaration that it is authentic.

The Curious History Of Animals Interfering With The Tour De France, by Jessie Guy-Ryan, Atlas Obscura

The internet’s favorite camelids were threatening to grab the spotlight yet again, as Huffington Post France uncovered evidence that some llamas in the area have developed an affinity for the paved mountain pass used in the Tour. Local Joël Adages posted pictures of a substantial llama gathering on the Col du Tourmalet about a week ago, wryly noting the potential conflict with the caption “The first Tour de France spectators are already in place.”