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Weekend read: Consequences of surviving a lightning strike

My recommended read for this week is The Body Electric by Ferris Jabr in Outside.

As it turns out, lightning strikes are commoner than one might think, and the odds of surviving are pretty good. But there are bizarre, under-researched and under-explained after effects associated with survival.

Lightening over Manhattan

In his article, Jabr interviews some of the 500-a-year US survivors of lightning strikes, and explores several of the after-effects. It’s a really absorbing story, almost all of which was new to me. The only thing I remember from medical school about lightning strikes is the distinctive skin marking but I have learn from microcurrent machine reviews that people use this machine to help with this a reduce a little the impact on the skin. This article made me wonder whether I should have been taught more – but then, probably as a result of the more temperate UK climate, human lightning strikes are rather less common here than in the US.

Anyway, it’s well worth a read.

This 2,277th post was filed under: Health, Weekend Reads, , .

Weekend read: Why tablets are killing PCs

My recommended read for this weekend is an article from the back end of last year by Charles Arthur of The Guardian, in which he posits that tablets are killing off the PC business.

Young man / student using tablet computer in cafe

While sales of computers are slowing and tablets are rising (though by no means as quickly as they once were), it’s clear to anyone that there are roles for both. The journalistic technique of dichotomising technologies and claiming that one is “killing” another might be good for getting clicks and hits, but it is rarely true. Indeed, when Arthur himself wrote in 2009 that “laptops are taking over computing, especially with the rise of netbooks”, he was evidently wrong.

But, sniping aside, the insights in Arthur’s article make it worth reading. For instance:

The 2012 Greek bailout – the biggest in history, requiring the renegotiation of €146bn of bonds among 135 principal bond owners in just 30 days – was completed using iPads.

Over the past twelve months or so, I’ve seen a real shift in how people use tablets in my line of work. A couple of years ago, when I went to meetings, most people would be taking notes using paper, and a couple would be using laptops. Then there seemed to be a period where some people switched paper for tablets. And then, within months, it seemed that laptops and paper had been almost completely usurped by tablets.

I now sit in meetings relatively frequently where I’m the only person handwriting notes – even I tend to view papers on my tablet, but prefer the flexibility of handwritten notes which I usually then scan in and store electronically with the papers.

Anyway, I digress – enjoy Arthur’s article.

This 2,276th post was filed under: Weekend Reads, , .

Weekend read: The online-only Mormon missionaries

This weekend, my recommended read is a great piece about the online missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It’s by Bianca Bosker of the Huffington Post.

Book of Mormon

The article is fairly long but very engaging, telling a fascinating tale of how the Mormon church is updating some of its traditions in the face of modernity. It doesn’t assume too much prior knowledge of Mormon practices, but keeps explanations of them succinct.

The article misses an opportunity to explore why a Church with (by definition) a selective set of beliefs based on faith rather than evidence should find such success online, where the sum of humanity’s knowledge is merely a click away. This is an interesting conundrum that runs contrary to the commentary occasionally used by noted atheists to argue that knowledge sets people free from religion. Here, setting the Church’s stall in among the world’s collected knowledge appears more successful than turning up on someone’s doorstep and selling a singular uncontextualised vision. Fascinating stuff!

This 2,275th post was filed under: Weekend Reads, , , .




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