Weekend Reads: July 27, 2018

Straws, Rural China, and Deadly Cashew Nut Oil

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The Last Straw

Alice Wong | Eater | Shared by Tyler Cowen

Who are the forgotten victims of the recent anti-straw trend? Alice Wong discusses her experience in San Francisco and why plastic straws are vital to her health.


The Essay That Helped Bring down the Soviet Union

Natan Sharansky | New York Times | Retweeted by Peter Boettke

An essay written fifty years ago by Soviet physicist Andrei Sakharov argues that freedom of thought is vital to preserving a free society. Writing for New York Times, Sakhavo’s former spokesman argues that American leaders need to remember this.


How E-Commerce is Transforming Rural China

Jiayang Fan | The New Yorker | Tweeted by Brent Skorup

Jiayang Fan explores business at the intersection of culture, ruralism, and access to information in The New Yorker.


Human Intelligence: What I Learned from Interviewing with the CIA

Michael Gibson | Medium | Shared by Tyler Cowen 

Information gathering differs across fields, from market analysis to venture capital to spying for the CIA. But how would the term “intelligence” be defined? Michael Gibson explores in his piece for Medium.


The Outrage Epidemic: How the New Information Landscape Fuels Tribalism

Russ Roberts | Medium | Shared by Donald Boudreaux

Russ Roberts explains why he believes the “virtuous tribe” that exists across the world is dangerous for human collaboration and open discussion. Read his piece in Medium to learn more.


Why is Google Translate Spitting out Sinister Religious Prophecies?

Jon Christian | VICE Motherboard | Shared by Andrea O’Sullivan

Have you ever wondered what pops out of Google Translate when you type the word “dog” into it nineteen times? Is it ghosts, demons, or simply an algorithm gone wrong that’s translating garbled prophecies?


Tech’s Innovators Are Starting to Ask Permission, Rather Than Forgiveness

Christopher Mims | The Wall Street Journal | Retweeted by Brian Knight

Tech giants such as Uber used to disrupt first and ask questions later. Now, new disruptors like Bird are flipping the approach.


How to Understand Blockchains with Scrabble

Farnia Fekri | VICE Motherboard | Tweeted by Jennifer Huddleston Skees

A Scrabble-like game helps explain the concept of blockchains and how strangers can trust one another with no central authority.


Deadly Cashew Nut Oil is Poised to Take on Antibiotic-Resistant Superbugs

Neel V. Patel | The Daily Beast | Tweeted by Veronique de Rugy

To revolutionize antibiotics and potentially save lives, researchers are turning to a beloved snack that actually produces a harsh toxin similar to poison ivy.


Epistocracy: A Political Theorist’s Case for Letting Only the Informed Vote

Sean Illing | Vox | Shared by Alex Tabarrok

Jason Brennan, author of the controversial book Against Democracy, explains to Vox writer Sean Illing why he believes an epistocracy is more beneficial for society then a democratic form of governing.


Rome's Subway Expansion Reveals Artifacts from the Ancient Past

Christopher Livesay | NPR | Shared by Andrea O’Sullivan

As Rome seeks to develop its transportation system, archaeologists are digging deeper than ever before to create an underground time capsule on commuters’ travels to work.