Tortillas, Picnics, and Earth-Destroying Asteroids

Weekend Reads: July 12, 2019

Amazon’s Alexa Will Deliver NHS Medical Advice in the UK

James Vincent | The Verge | Tweeted by Jennifer Huddleston

A new partnership between the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) and Amazon’s Alexa will allow the smart device to offer health advice vetted by the NHS for basic questions like, “How do I treat a migraine?”

Taco Bell Struck by Tortilla Shortage: 'We Are Working Diligently to Replenish Our Supply'

Michael Hollan | Fox News | Tweeted by Robert Graboyes

If you’re craving a burrito or quesadilla, you might want to call your local Taco Bell first. Locations across the country are facing a tortilla shortage as the chain works to replenish its supply.

Hotel Guests in Wuhan Can Soon Scan Linens to Check Hygiene

Fan Yiying | Sixth Tone | Shared by Tyler Cowen

Two washing companies in the central Chinese city of Wuhan announced that guests at some hotels will soon be able to scan QR codes stitched into bedding and other linens to see if they are clean.

Surging Air Traffic Prompts Rethink of Airport Gate Rights

Doug Cameron | The Wall Street Journal | Tweeted by Brent Skorup

Across the globe, airports and runways are becoming more crowded with increasing air travel. This has led some airports to consider changes to the way they dole out gates to airlines and could allow new entrants into the market.

What’s Really Driving Our Productivity Slump?

Sam Dumitriu | CapX | Tweeted by James Broughel

While the blame for the UK’s productivity slump has mostly landed with underperforming firms, regulatory barriers preventing start-ups from competing with incumbents could be the heavier burden.

The Social History of the Picnic

Alexandra Hudson | American Institute for Economic Research | Shared by Donald Boudreaux

Once reserved for aristocrats, the picnic has become common through the years in part thanks to the rise of prosperity and commercial society.

Americans Shouldn’t Have to Drive, but the Law Insists on It

Gregory H. Shill | The Atlantic | Retweeted by Emily Hamilton

Regulations, cultural norms, and judicial rulings assert the dominance of automobiles in the United States, and some argue this has led to unnecessary deaths and injuries.

The Asteroid Peril Isn’t Science Fiction

Gordon L. Dillow | The Wall Street Journal | Retweeted by Alex Tabarrok

A “hypothetical asteroid impact scenario” shows that the dangers of asteroids are very real. Even if authorities managed to spot an asteroid heading for Earth, there’s currently no way to stop it.