Daily Digest

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Daily Digest 5/3 - Graveyards Of Trash In Ocean, The Power Of Fat

Saturday, May 3, 2014, 11:30 AM

Economy

A Vision of the Future From Those Likely to Invent It (jdargis)

“Hundreds or thousands of drones flying to and fro for all kinds of reasons. Getting a top-end college education without going to a physical campus. Cars driven by computers instead of humans.”

The Power Of Fat (jdargis)

Stem cells can be tapped as engines of regeneration because they have not yet committed to a specific cell fate. They are so pliable that they can be converted into a variety of prized cell types, such as neurons or beating heart cells, if exposed to the proper chemical and environmental cues in the lab. That makes them ideally suited to repair or regenerate diseased organs and tissues. For example, if the heart is damaged and scarred by a severe heart attack, stem cells could be used to replace the scar tissue with beating heart muscle cells (cardiomyocytes).

Jobless In Seattle (jdargis)

The research literature on whether minimum wage increases kill jobs is decidedly mixed. Some economists have found that hikes lead to small job losses among teens and in industries like fast food. Others have found that losses are nonexistent, or at least negligible. In the end, I tend to argue that even if you assume reasonable job losses, middle-class and poor families come out ahead in the bargain. Though some workers end up unemployed, enough get raises to make the tradeoff worthwhile.

Stealth U.S. Austerity: Spending After the Budget Wars (jdargis)

It’s the price of peace. Republicans took control of the House in 2011, elected on a promise to cut the budget. Democrats wanted to keep spending to drive the economic recovery. Republican demands that an increase in the debt ceiling be tied to deep cuts brought the government to the brink of default. After a grand bargain of cuts and tax increases fell through, the parties were forced to resort to a backup plan — 10 years of automatic annual spending cuts created more as a threat than a policy. Two years of brinksmanship followed, capped with a government shutdown in October. Fed up with the endless showdown cycle, lawmakers in December passed what amounts to legislative detente. The deal between Ryan and Murray basically took shutdowns off the table for almost two years.

The Man Who Would Make Food Obsolete (jdargis)

I mean, imagine if you were spending more on food than rent. Right now, Soylent provides about three calories per penny. Hopefully in time we can get the cost down even more. I think in the near future we may be able to get it down to five dollars a day. That would cover someone on food stamps. Ultimately, I would like it to be produced almost ephemerally. If food was just taken care of. If food was just a utility, like water coming out of the tap. If it was just there.

Accident Leads to Scrutiny of Oil Sand Production (jdargis)

The Primrose well uses high-pressure steam to free the oil from the sands deep underground, allowing it to rise to the top. The technique — known as “huff and puff” — is vaguely similar to fracking, which instead of steam uses a high-pressure mix of water, sand and chemicals to unlock the trapped oil and has led to a surge in oil production in the United States.

World Health Organization warns of “post-antibiotic” era (jdargis)

With a better picture of the situation in hand, the WHO intends to start developing a global campaign to limit the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria. But even before that's developed, there are obvious things we can do to limit the scope of the problem. Foremost on this list is simply to limit infections to start with. Public health campaigns to improve sanitary practices and improve access to clean water, along with vaccinations where appropriate, should all cut down on antibiotic use. When drugs are prescribed, the treatment needs to be followed to completion.

Graveyards Of Trash (jdargis)

A new study involving 32 sites in the Atlantic Ocean, Arctic Ocean, and Mediterranean Sea found our trash has made it to many of the ocean’s greatest depths.

Gold & Silver

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