Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Best of New York Times

Investors Buy U.S. Debt at Zero Yield ;
In the market equivalent of shoveling cash under the mattress, hordes of buyers were so eager on Tuesday to park money in the world’s safest investment, United States government debt, that they agreed to accept a zero percent rate of return.

Weak Oversight Lets Bad Hospitals Stay Open;
Mistakes happen even at good hospitals, of course. But evidence shows that University, which is owned by the State University of New York system, is not a good hospital. In fact, in late 2006 a state commission recommended that it be scaled back and merged with another hospital.

$73 an Hour: Adding It Up

The Pain May Be Real, but the Scan Is Deceiving

Primal, Acute and Easily Duped: Our Sense of Touch;
Touch also turns out to be easy to fool. Among the sensory tricks now being investigated is something called the Pinocchio illusion. Researchers have found that if they vibrate the tendon of the biceps, many people report feeling that their forearm is getting longer, their hand drifting ever further from their elbow. And if they are told to touch the forefinger of the vibrated arm to the tip of their nose, they feel as though their nose was lengthening, too.

Some tactile illusions require the collusion of other senses. People who watch a rubber hand being stroked while the same treatment is applied to one of their own hands kept out of view quickly come to believe that the rubber prosthesis is the real thing, and will wince with pain at the sight of a hammer slamming into it. Other researchers have reported what they call the parchment-skin illusion. Subjects who rubbed their hands together while listening to high-frequency sounds described their palms as feeling exceptionally dry and papery, as though their hands must be responsible for the rasping noise they heard. Look up, little Pinocchio! Somebody’s pulling your strings.

In Defense of Teasing

Scorpios Get More Asthma, but Astrology Isn’t to Blame

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