All other developed countries have health care for all. But so do some developing nations—Brazil, Thailand, Chile. These countries are mostly middle income. But one country on the list is among the poorest of the poor: Rwanda.

The point is not that Americans should envy Rwanda’s health system — far from it. But Rwanda’s experience illustrates the value of universal health insurance.  “Its health gains in the last decade are among the most dramatic the world has seen in the last 50 years,” said Peter Drobac, the director in Rwanda for the Boston-based Partners in Health, which works extensively with the Rwandan health system.

It couldn’t have happened without health insurance.

My life in iPhone apps…. What happens to us when we have hand-held tools to meticulously track and document all aspects of our lives—sleep, food, weight, moods, spending, water intake, TV watching, “quality time.” Here’s one writer’s defense (and confessional) about tech-aided self-quantification.

And, again from Salon, are Americans working ourselves to death, while people in other countries take holidays and get family leave? Read about “Europe’s Amazing Vacation Laws.”

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    Thanks to Mark Vossler for supporting a sustainable Cascadia.

  • Climate change is already shrinking crop yields. Just ask Monsanto! “Back in 2008, the company announced a commitment to ‘increase global food production in the face of growing demand, limited natural resources, and a changing climate.’” And as Mother Jones reports, “According to Bloomberg News, 71 percent of the Midwest is experiencing “drier-than-normal conditions,” and temperatures are projected to be above 90 degrees in large swaths of key corn/soy-growing states Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana through July 7 if not longer. As a result, Goldman Sachs projects that this year’s corn yields will come in 7.5 percent below the USDA’s projection of 166 bushels an acre.” As Tom Philpott writes, “we can expect more hot, dry weather in key growing regions as the climate warms up.”


    Woo-HOO!  Now that the dam is gone, steelhead are spawning in the Elwha again. It’s like Field of Dreams…As in, build it, and they will come. Or in this case, un-build it.

    I can’t read any of this, but it’s still cool: a 3-D, interactive map of Gothenburg, Sweden, designed to let residents suggest ways to improve their city.

    Eric dP:

    You almost never see popular writing about analytic philosophy, so I was surprised and delighted to discover that Jim Holt’s “Is Philosophy Literature?” was so earnest:

    Stylistically speaking, there is no mistaking Willard Quine (spare, polished, elaborately lucid) for, say, Elizabeth Anscombe (painstaking, imperious). Or David K. Lewis (colloquially natural, effortlessly clever) for John Searle (formidable, patient, sardonic). Or Thomas Nagel (intricately nuanced, rich in negative capability) for Philippa Foot (dry, ironically homely, droll).

    It almost made me nostalgic for grad school.

    Relatedly, I’ve been wasting time at The Stone and I’ve been pleased to see a number of good articles by my former prof Gary Gutting.

    Via Yglasias, I enjoyed reading Tim Kreider’s “The Busy Trap” at the NYT blogs. I thought he got a lot right, including this:

    Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day… I can’t help but wonder whether all this histrionic exhaustion isn’t a way of covering up the fact that most of what we do doesn’t matter.


    Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets. The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.

    And on that note, I’m heading out on vacation. See you back here in a week.


    Can we get a permanent “play street“?