"Dubai wants to drag icebergs from Antarctica for fresh water"

For years and years I used to tell my microeconomics students that one response to the water shortage in California caused by price controls was a proposal to use icebergs for fresh water. But unlike the company described in the this article as believing "they would not melt significantly during the voyage" the information I had indicated that melting was a big worry. But the engineers--practical, as always--proposed to wrap the icebergs in plastic, on site in the Antarctic.

And I told the students if you think that will be cheap, guess again. Such are the potential costs of tampering with the price system.


"The Hitchhiker's Guide to Ebola"

Don't panic is the message.

Ebola is a scary disease, made much more scary by some wildly exaggerated claims in some books and movies. So, before we talk about Ebola, let's talk about another scary disease called "rabies."

It's a virus, serum transmitted -- meaning contact with blood, saliva, or other bodily fluids from an infected individual is needed to transmit the disease. Thousands of people die of it worldwide, every year. Once you've sickened with it, become symptomatic, the symptoms are pretty horrible, and there's really no effective treatment. People who develop the symptoms are very likely to die.

In fact, the number of people who have survived active rabies can be counted on one hand with fingers left over.


"The Hidden Realities of U.S. Incarceration"

Some information here I did not know.

The truth, by contrast, is that about half of prisoners were convicted of violent offenses, and that some of the others committed violence but pleaded guilty to lesser offenses. Even the fifth of prisoners who are locked up for drugs tend to be mid-level dealers, not users or low-level distributors. And, while decades-long sentences make the news, most prisoners who committed crimes not involving the most serious violence are out within a year or two. In other words, while incarceration has undoubtedly soared—even relative to crime, which has dropped substantially since the early 1990s—our propensity to throw people in prison has simply not reached the heights of ridiculousness that many assume.