Quote of the day

"An ethicist is someone who sees something wrong with whatever you have in mind"
Marvin Minsky

Living With A Computer

The 1982 iteration of James Fallows explains how to use one of these computer things. “When I sit down to write a letter or start the first draft of an article, I simply type on the keyboard and the words appear on the screen … How I wish my employers would install computers in their headquarters, so I could submit articles over the telephone, one computer to another, instead of fighting the crowds at the Express Mail window” (7,100 words)

The Podemos Revolution

Podemos tops the polls in Spain and may form the next government on a manifesto of radical socialism, echoing Syriza in Greece. The party was founded a mere 15 months ago. It relies heavily for its popularity on a single charismatic leader, Pablo Iglesias. Rival parties may learn from its methods and rally effectively against it. But even if it goes no further, Podemos has shown that power in Spain is up for grabs (6,270 words)

Stuck In Seattle

A facepalm in every paragraph of this sad and highly entertaining account of Seattle’s disastrous plan to replace an elevated waterfront highway with a huge traffic tunnel deep underground. The tunnelling machine got stuck after 1,000 feet. The $4bn project is years behind schedule. Taxpayers risk an unholy bill. But big tunnels almost always go badly wrong. There’s a literature on the subject. What was Seattle smoking? (3,200 words)

The Fate Of Greece

Even if Greece avoids an accidental exit from the eurozone in the next few weeks, Europe’s powers will still have to decide whether they want to work to keep Greece inside the eurozone, at some cost, or help it to leave in an orderly fashion. The first is the better option. If Greece crashes out unaided and seeks help from Europe’s rivals, that will be a strategic disaster not only for the euro but for the European Union (980 words)

Overdose Of Technology

The shift to computerised information systems has simplified hospital management and reduced the quantity of errors in health records, but it also creates opportunities for new and more spectacular mistakes. Here is how a child in a San Francisco hospital received 38½-times the intended dose of a routine antibiotic. “This is a huge dose. Oh my God, did you give this dose?” “Oh my God. I did.” (2,400 words)

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