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Day One-Related Links

Posted by: Kate Torgovnick May

For me, a
good gage of how intriguing a day at a conference has been is the number of
times it sends me off to the Internet to dig up more information on the
subjects it covered.  Day One of TED has definitely
set a new high water mark in this regard, so I thought I’d share a few
interesting links connected to some of today’s talks. 

First, if you want to
see Robert Wright’s Op-Ed piece that earned him Ann Coulter’s ire, it’s here.  Wright gets it rolling by arguing that “The
Muslim uproar over those Danish cartoons isn’t as alien to American culture as
we like to think. Once you see this, a benign and quintessentially American
response comes into view.  Even many
Americans who condemn the cartoon’s publication accept the premise that the
now-famous Danish newspaper editor set out to demonstrate: in the West we don’t
generally let interest groups intimidate us into what he called ‘self-censorship.’ What nonsense. Editors at mainstream American
media outlets delete lots of words, sentences and images to avoid offending
interest groups, especially ethnic and religious ones. It’s hard to cite
examples since, by definition, they don’t appear. But use your imagination.”

Speaking of Op-Ed
pieces, Bill Joy mentioned a piece that he and Ray Kurzweil penned for the New
York Times about the US Department of Health & Human Services’ decision to
publish the genome for the 1918 avian flu virus.  It can be found here (the op-ed piece, not the
avian flu genome!).  It’s a well-argued and
persuasive condemnation of this galactically stupid move, as well as a call for
“a new Manhattan Project to develop specific defenses against new biological
viral threats, natural or human made.”

The day’s first
standing ovation went to Hans Rosling, and his brilliant statistical
visualization work.  For your very own
copy of most of the elements that went into this presentation (as well as several
other gems), go to the Web site of his whimsically-named organization,
Gapminder.