Friday Links

  • One of the coolest – and most important – innovations I’ve seen this year. The device itself – called Twine – isn’t necessarily revolutionary, but it brings the “Internet of Things” to the masses in a way that is visually appealing and simple to use. This is only the start though – when my age group is in our 30s, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect that all of our major appliances will be connected to the cloud, ranging from the relatively mundane but cool (“control your coffee maker from your iPhone!”) to the just-plain-cool (syncing your refrigerator to an online grocery store and automate your basic purchases whenever something is running out/spoiling)
  • Speaking of cool technology: how will driverless cars respond to ethical dilemmas such as: “Your car is speeding along a bridge at fifty miles per hour when errant school bus carrying forty innocent children crosses its path. Should your car swerve, possibly risking the life of its owner (you), in order to save the children, or keep going, putting all forty kids at risk?” I’ve actually read a (uncomfortable-to-admit) fair amount about driverless cars, but this is one question I hadn’t considered or read much about previously
  • Another excellent (but simplified) overview of the Democratic Republic of Congo, M23, and the shadow players of Rwanda and Uganda. It seems like this situation is going to get a lot worse before it gets better
  • Interesting article on calculating GDP and why it’s hard to take GDP numbers in data-poor locales (like Ghana). These figures have a huge effect on aid, bond markets, etc., so there can be a huge effect if the data is off
  • If you’re up for a long article on C-sections, this is the article for you – it’s a pretty decent encapsulation of the way “technology” (be it basic surgery or the latest, greatest MRI machine) is extremely enticing in healthcare, even if it isn’t (strictly-speaking) “necessary.” For whatever reason, I’ve read a good amount lately on bacteria and the way our bodies pick it up – and co-exist – with it, so it was interesting to read (not for the first time) about how researchers are beginning to link C-sections with an increased risk of obesity and asthma. One possible root cause may be related to the way our bodies pick up microbes in a natural birth vs. the relative paucity of what’s picked up through a C-section
  • It seems like the eight-day Gaza fight is now being used as justification for continuing Israeli settlements in now-Palestinian land. Bad news for the prospect of a two-state solution, which seems to be less and less likely. Incidentally, when I was in Israel I took a wrong turn and almost ended up in Maale Adumim on the way back to Jerusalem from the Dead Sea…
  • Speaking of Israel: Foreign Policy is pretty bullish on Netanyahu winning in the January elections. It kind of sounds like Ehud Olmert’s only chance (if he decides to take it and run) would be to unite centrist parties with a few far-right ones, which seems both difficult to control and remarkably unlikely, but we’ll see
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