- Thought-provoking Kevin Kelly essay arguing that it's not actually obvious that the economic benefits of the third industrial revolution (computers, internet) are less than the second industrial revolution (electricity and internal combustion engines).
- I didn't know this: it's possible to uprate existing nuclear power plants by modifying them to produce more power. In the US we've done about 6
MWGW worth of this since the early nineties.
- Off topic, but what an extraordinary story: it just goes to show that sometimes life hands you an opportunity and you just have to drop everything and make the most of it. In seven days' very hard work at the age of 22, this woman had a massive impact on an entire country and did more good than in the entire rest of her life (or most of our lives). No-one could have intentionally planned ahead to achieve what she ended up achieving.
- Also semi-off-topic, but it is absolutely appalling that the President can order targeted execution of American citizens with no transparent legal process. It makes a mockery of our democracy and constitutional tradition. The NYT and the ACLU are absolutely right to demand more detailed disclosures.
- I have to say I am somewhat encouraged that, as limited and problematic as it was, Dems and Repubs in the senate where able to come up with a strongly bipartisan vote on some solution to the fiscal cliff. Almost any agreement is preferable to complete gridlock and dysfunction. I know, I know, very low expectations.
- Awesome Kevin Drum essay on the lead-in-gas/violent-crime hypothesis. If you want to dig into more details this paper is pretty impressive. Is there a risks-to-civilization angle here? Maybe - there are people who think that lead poisoning did in the western Roman empire. This post suggests that levels of lead in Roman skeletons really were higher than those in previous millenia (and much higher than modern standards). However, late medieval skeletons showed even higher levels of lead than the Romans, so at a minimum this can only be a contributing threat to civilization. Little doubt it can greatly reduce quality of life, however.