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Links June 2010

Seth Berkley gave an interesting TED talk about developing vaccines against the HIV and Influenza viruses [1]. The part I found most interesting was the description of how vaccines against viruses are currently developed using eggs and how they plan to use bacteria instead for faster and cheaper production. One of the problems with using eggs is that if the chickens catch the disease and die then you can’t make a vaccine.

Aigars Mahinovs wrote a really good review of Microsoft Azure and compared it to Amazon EC2 [2]. It didn’t surprise me that Azure compared poorly to the competition.

Johanna Blakley gave an insightful TED talk about IP lessons from the fashion industry [3]. She explained how an entire lack of IP protection other than trademark law was an essential part of the success of the fashion industry. She also compared the profits in various industries and showed that industries with little or no IP protection involve vastly larger amounts of money than industries with strong IP protection.

Lisa D wrote an insightful post about whether Autism Spectrum Disorders (such as Asperger Syndrome) should be considered to be disabilities [4]. I don’t entirely agree with her, but she makes some really good points.

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy gave an interesting TED talk about the way the Taliban train young children to become suicide bombers [5]. Apparently the Taliban prey on large poor families, sometimes paying the parents for taking children away to “school”. At the Taliban schools the children are beaten, treated poorly, and taught theology by liars who will say whatever it takes to get a result. Then after being brain-washed they are sent out to die.

Wired has an interesting article about Charles Komanoff’s research into New York traffic problems [6]. He aims to track all the economic externalities of traffic patterns and determine incentives to encourage people to do things that impose less costs on the general economy. His suggestions include making all bus travel free as the externality of the time spent collecting fares is greater than the fare revenue. It’s a really interesting article, his research methods should be implemented when analysing traffic in all large cities, and many of his solutions can be implemented right now without further analysis – such as free buses and variable ticket pricing according to the time of day.

William Li gave an interesting TED talk about starving cancer by preventing new blood vessels from growing to feed it [7]. Drugs to do this have been shown to increase the life expectancy of cancer patients by more than 100% on average. Also autopsies of people who died in car accidents show that half the women in their 40’s had breast cancer and half the men in their 50’s prostate cancer but those cancers didn’t grow due to a natural lack of blood supply, so the aim here is to merely promote what naturally happens in terms of regulating cancers and preventing them from growing larger than 0.5mm^3. There are a number of foods that prevent blood vessels growing to cancers which includes dark chocolate! ;) Also drugs which prevent blood vessel growth also prevent obesity, I always thought that eating chocolate all the time prevented me from getting fat due to the central nervous system stimulants that kept me active…

Graham Hill gave an inspiring TED talk about becoming a weekday vegetarian [8]. Instead of making a commitment to being always vegetarian he’s just mostly vegetarian (only eating meat on Sundays). He saves most of the environmental cost and doesn’t feel guilty if he ever misses a day. It’s an interesting concept.

Cory Doctorow wrote an insightful article for the Guardian about the phrase “Information Wants To Be Free [9]. He points out that really it’s people who want to be free from the tyranny that is being imposed on us in the name of anti-piracy measures. He also points out that it’s a useful straw-man for the MAFIAA to use when claiming that we are all pirates.

The Atlantic has an interesting article about the way that Google is working to save journalistic news [10].

Adam Sadowsky gave an interesting TED talk about creating a Rube Goldberg machine for the OK Go video “This Too Shall Pass” [11]. At the end of the talk they include a 640*480 resolution copy of the music video.

Brian Cox gave an interesting TED talk advocating increased government spending on scientific research [12]. Among other things he pointed out that the best research indicates that the amount of money the US government invested in the Apollo program was returned 14* to the US economy due to exports of new American products that were based on that research. It’s surprising that any justification other than the return on investment for the Apollo program is needed!

Moot gave an interesting TED talk about Anonymity [13]. I don’t think that he made a good case for anonymity, he cited one person being identified and arrested for animal cruelty due to the efforts of 4chan people and also the campaign against the Cult of Scientology (which has not been very successful so far).

Rory Sutherland gave an intriguing TED talk titled “Sweat the Small Stuff” [14]. He describes how small cheap changes can often provide greater benefits than huge expensive changes and advocates corporations having a Chief Detail Officer to take charge of identifying and implementing such changes.

TED Hosted an interesting debate between pro and anti nuclear campaigners [15]. They agreed that global warming is a significant imminent problem but disagree on what methods should be implemented to solve it.

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