Friday Links

  • The most fascinating thing I read this week: Antibiotics = Gut Grenades according to the great science writer Carl Zimmer: indiscriminate and unsparing to collateral damage. I’ve learned an unnecessary amount about antibiotics/gut bacteria, mostly from Zimmer. Don’t get me wrong – during my time in Uganda I’ll definitely be on some form of antibiotic (probably cipro…), but it’s worth remembering that there will be negative side effects, too
  • As the news comes out of targeted killings of polio vaccinators in Pakistan, it’s worth revisiting this piece by Laurie Garrett. Pakistan is one of only three countries still scourged by polio (the other two are Nigeria and Afghanistan), and the CIA caused irreprable harm to eradication efforts by using a vaccine campaign as a front to get DNA from the children in the suspected compound that held Osama Bin Laden. Whatever the psychic benefit of killing Bin Laden was, it’s inarguable that there was a significant cost
  • Great overview by Dana Goldstein on GiveDirectly, an NGO dedicated to providing unconditional cash transfers to poor Kenyans (which I’ve previously mentioned). As Goldstein notes, this type of giving is anathema to many people who view some poor as “undeserving” of help, but it also may be the most economically efficient way to give. Will be interesting to see if/how it takes off
  • The most surprising statistic from this Pocket infograph is that only 28% of their traffic comes from computers. Pocket’s users are definitely more tech-savvy than the average browser, but this is just another example of how the future of content on the web is mobile 
  • While I find a lot to disagree with in Megan McArdle’s post about the (relative) futility of gun-control measures, I think it’s thoughtful and well worth a read

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