Friday, July 13, 2012

A Tab or Two or Three

In case you missed it, Peter Orszag recently presented an interesting case for making voting mandatory. Did you know that Australia, which is clearly a democracy, has mandatory voting? I didn't.

As Orszag writes:

Beyond simply raising participation, compulsory voting could alter the role of money in elections. Turn-out-the-vote efforts, often bankrolled by big-money groups, would become largely irrelevant. Negative advertising could be less effective, because a central aim of such ads is to discourage participation in the opponent’s camp.

A recent Star Tribune story reminded me how much I appreciate Caring Bridge, and also informed me that the site was founded by a woman, Sona Mehring. Before Facebook, MySpace, or Twitter, Mehring used the idea of social networking to help people with dire medical problems keep in touch with their families and friends. It's a great example of solving a problem no one quite knew existed: How to handle the one to many communication imbalance.

Caring Bridge -- which is completely free and much better about not "sharing" your info than Facebook -- lets close family members post updates. Friends can subscribe to updates by email, or just check the site. And Caring Bridge recently rolled out a scheduling feature that helps friends sign up to cook meals or run errands without anyone having to spend hours coordinating.

An idea for full employment from economist Dean Baker.


Minnesota scientists have found a way to diagnose post-traumatic stress disorder with a brain scan. Up until now, PTSD could only be identified by a cluster of symptoms and circumstances. Aside from speeding diagnosis, the new method will likely help people overcome the fear that their problems are "all in their heads."

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