So today at TED we had cosmologists and philosophers speculating on why the universe exists . . . a conversation between Charlie Rose and Google co-founder Larry Page . . . a talk on virtual and augmented reality by NFL Punter Chris Kluwe . . . a hot fashion New York model tell about her start as a beauty pageant winner in the Philippines (and coming out on stage for the first time as transgender) . . . Bjorn Lomborg endorsing a carbon tax . . . a progress report from the founder of Khan Academy (which has now touched 140 million students) . . . and — among much else — an MIT researcher in short pants (so we could see his prosthetic legs), talking about his goal of an end to disability, mentioning the exo-skeletons that may become available to the rest of us (finally, I will be able to run a 4-minute mile), and concluding his talk with a photo of a ballroom dancer who lost her leg in the recent Boston Marathon bombing. He and his team were able to fashion a new one — and out she and a partner came to dance for us on that leg, beautifully, with tears in her eyes and ours.
What a world we live in, if we don’t screw it up. (Larry Paige talked of leaving all his money to someone like Elon Musk, whose plan for manned space flight to Mars would effectively make that planet “humanity’s backup.” You know: In case we ever destroy this one.)
John Seiffer: “In regards to last week’s posts on Crazy Drug Prices, there’s a great book by TR Reid which I may have recommended to you before: The Healing of America. He took his shoulder with a long-term injury to every industrialized country plus India and reported on A) what they recommended and B) how the healthcare system works in that country. No surprise, all but India have universal health coverage; and all have better health outcomes and lower cost per capita than the US. Big surprise (to me anyway), they all had different systems, different mixes of private/government/insurance that are involved. But one thing all the ones with private insurance had in place was a limit on the profit that insurance companies could make providing basic health insurance. I think that is at the root of our problem in the US. As much as I like Obamacare (despite my own premiums almost doubling) I don’t believe it will even address the problems of the insurance companies’ contribution to the mess. Another surprise — India was the only place that made his shoulder feel better.”