Today’s Links: October 20, 2011


ROBERT LAWSON: “Medical Ethics Dilemma
“Let’s suppose it is unambiguously true that a swine flu outbreak would save net lives (or net years of life), would public health advocates support intentionally releasing the swine flu into the public? I’m serious. Public health advocates appear to have no problem using force to ‘save lives’ so why wouldn’t they support such a plan? I suspect most people’s ethical intuitions would recoil at the thought of the government releasing a potentially deadly virus only because it innoculated people from an even deadlier virus. But, but, but…we do this sort of thing all the time now. To take just one example, CAFE standards on cars have killed people merely to save a few (ok a lot) gallons of gasoline. Yet there is no uproar about this.”

ROBIN HANSON: “The Future of Cities
“What sets city size? That is, what determines how many people all cluster together in an urban area? On the one hand, city size increases with feasible building height and with the gains to people and businesses from interacting closely with many others. On the other hand, city size decreases with how much space folks want, and with costs to transport people and goods within a city and from outlying regions. City size increases with more and cheaper nearby non-city economic activity.”

DEBORAH COHEN: “Entrepreneurial Hotbeds: A Mix of Science and Luck
“[T]here are common underlying factors that seem to help cities such as Austin and Boulder spawn tech successes while other metro areas languish. High on the list: strong research universities to produce talent, favorable tax environments, access to transportation and at least one or two noteworthy startup stars that serve as a magnet for investors and other entrepreneurs.”


TRANSPORTATION – The Right to Drive a New York Taxi Now Costs $1 Million
“Maybe gold is the more appropriate color for New York’s famous yellow cabs. Two of the city’s taxi medallions–the tiny tin plates posted on top of every yellow cab, giving them license to pick up and drop off customers–sold for $1 million each on Wednesday, the first time the price hit the seven-figure mark, The New York Times reports.”

TSA – Tennessee Becomes First State to Fight Terrorism Statewide
“You’re probably use to seeing TSA’s signature blue uniforms at the airport, but now agents are hitting the interstates to fight terrorism with Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR). […]  Tuesday Tennessee was first to deploy VIPR simultaneously at five weigh stations and two bus stations across the state.”