Photo of the day

Finally starting to get some nice Fall colors here in central NC (though still not near peak).  The Big Picture has a nice Autumn-themed set:

Two Adirondack chairs sit vacant on a dock along the misty shore of the Androscoggin River in Turner, Maine, Oct. 3, 2012, as the fall foliage nears peak color. (Amber Waterman/Sun Journal)  

Is your touchscreen device making you sick

Interesting piece in the WSJ about how your smartphone or Ipad harbors tons of harmful bacteria, yet there’s no approved method of actually cleaning and disinfecting the thing.  I discovered this after an extensive internet search a few months back when Alex had a stomach bug and vomited on his Ipad (fortunately, it was unharmed).  I was hoping that this article would say that there’s no some consensus on how to safely disinfect the devices.  But, sadly, no.  This is absolutely ridiculous:

“People are just as likely to get sick from their phones as from handles of the bathroom,” says Dr. Cain of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

“These are the unintended consequences of new technology that we haven’t seen before so we don’t know all the risks yet,” he says.

Phone companies caution against using most household cleaners—which can leave phone owners like Ms. Evitt in a bind.

“It’s really problematic because a lot of manufacturers don’t tell you what coating is on the phone,” says Dr. Schmidt. “It’s hard to tell if an alcohol wipe will strip the oil-repellant coating and damage the phone screen.” Screenmaker Gorilla Glass, a provider to more than a dozen smartphone brands, says one of its screens has an easy-to-clean coating that will “survive repeated wiping.”

An Apple spokeswoman directed a reporter to the customer manual, which explicitly forbids the use of “window cleaners, household cleaners, aerosol sprays, solvents, alcohol, ammonia or abrasives.” …

Derek Meister, a tech support agent from retailer Best Buy’s Geek Squad, suggests a UV disinfectant wand as the best cleaning solution because its light rays kill germs without touching the phone. Creators of a new product called PhoneSoap say it uses UV-C light to clean the phone while charging it, and that the device will begin shipping to consumers in January 2013.

Seriously?  There’s not a single chemical that actually kills germs but is safe for a touch-screen?  Is this some sort of crazy conspiracy?

Against “common sense”

Love this Ezra post attacking the “common sense” ideas of Libertarian Presidential candidate, Gary Johnson.  Going my the standards of most mainstream economists, Johnson’s ideas would be absolutely disastrous for the economy.  Since I just finished reading a book on quantum physics– nature is a mad, mad, mad scientist (could someone please explain how in the world quantum entanglement exists)– I especially liked this bit:

When politicians begin telling me that their policies are just “common sense,” I begin getting nervous. A “common-sense” approach to how the world works would rule out quantum physics. A “common-sense” approach to how medicine works would rule out chemotherapy. A “common-sense” approach to transportation would rule out getting on a heavy metal tube that some lady in a blue uniform assures you can fly.

No one ever promised that the way the world works would accord with our intuitions. And the same goes for economic policy. Almost all of the worst economic ideas out there are sold on the basis that they’re just “common sense.” Some of them, in fact, are just common sense. That’s what makes them so dangerous. Life would be a lot easier if bad ideas never appealed to anybody, but that’s not how it works.


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