Interesting Things

A couple more items worth noting from this week’s news:

Winners or near winners of the prestigious Intel Science Talent Search have, as this article says,

…gone on to win seven Nobel Prizes in physics or chemistry, two Fields Medals in mathematics, a half-dozen National Medals in science and technology, a long string of MacArthur Foundation “genius” grants — and now, an Academy Award for best actress in a leading role.

Natalie Portman is, it seems, a pretty smart gal in spite of the fact that she fell for Anakin Skywalker.

+ + + + +

To the rest of us, the political uprisings in the Middle East seem sudden and mysterious. But Thomas Friedman had some interesting observations on what lay behind these uprisings, other than the contribution of the 83 year old former Harvard professor whose booklet on toppling dictators seems to have been influential.

Among his suggestions are geeky things like Google Earth:

On Nov. 27, 2006, on the eve of parliamentary elections in Bahrain, The Washington Post ran this report from there: “Mahmood, who lives in a house with his parents, four siblings and their children, said he became even more frustrated when he looked up Bahrain on Google Earth and saw vast tracts of empty land, while tens of thousands of mainly poor Shiites were squashed together in small, dense areas. ‘We are 17 people crowded in one small house, like many people in the southern district,’ he said. ‘And you see on Google how many palaces there are and how the al-Khalifas [the Sunni ruling family] have the rest of the country to themselves.’

Read the whole. Like I said, interesting.