Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A British Approach to Healthcare

Dr Copperfield, a renowned British doctor, writes about healthcare (with a bit if humor thrown in):
Doctors know that if we don’t give our patients a diagnostic label to show friends and family they are liable to storm out of the consulting room like spoilt toddlers who didn’t get a goodie bag at the end of the party.

Besides, patients given a definite diagnosis tend to make better progress than those who are simply told: “It’s probably a virus.” I play my part in this charade by making an educated guess as to what particular virus might be the root cause of whatever symptom they’ve just presented: “And those blisters on your sore throat suggest that you’ve picked up the Coxsackie A strain.”

Pause while patient feigns a working knowledge of virology and contemplates the implications of the diagnosis. “Coxsackie A you reckon?” “Could be worse. As you probably know, Coxsackie B is a bastard.

Got off lightly there.” “Yeah, right. Thanks anyway, Doc.” Game over.

Before the world wide web intruded doctors could offer vague diagnoses such as spastic colon, night starvation and fibrositis, and get away with it. The arrival of Google, Wikipedia and broadband demanded a new lexicon of woolly, all-purpose, one-size-fits-all medical terminology...

Read the rest of the article here.


And another good one:
You know those depressing moments at parties when the gaze of the person you’re talking to wanders as he or she scans for more rewarding company? You don’t? Oh. Maybe that’s because you don’t share my passion for narrow-gauge railways. Whatever. The point is that this syndrome of rudely wavering attention also happens in the doctor-patient interaction: you do it to us, and you ought to be ashamed....
Read the article here.

Monday, September 28, 2009

How real is climate change?

The climate debate continues. These sections are especially interesting:
The world leaders who met at the United Nations to discuss climate change on Tuesday are faced with an intricate challenge: building momentum for an international climate treaty at a time when global temperatures have been relatively stable for a decade and may even drop in the next few years.

The plateau in temperatures has been seized upon by skeptics as evidence that the threat of global warming is overblown. And some climate experts worry that it could hamper treaty negotiations and slow the progress of legislation to curb carbon dioxide emissions in the United States.

Scientists say the pattern of the last decade — after a precipitous rise in average global temperatures in the 1990s — is a result of cyclical variations in ocean conditions and has no bearing on the long-term warming effects of greenhouse gases building up in the atmosphere. But trying to communicate such scientific nuances to the public — and to policy makers — can be frustrating, they say...

...“People understand what I’m saying, but then basically wind up saying, ‘We don’t believe anything,’ ” he [Dr. Latif] said in a telephone interview...
Read the entire article here. You can find a climate change primer here.

Kanye West Vs. Taylor Swift? Try YouTube Users Vs. Viacom

Whose side are you on? Read the article here.

NewSchools Venture Fund

Here is something rare in the finance world: a venture capital firm with a social-focus. Check out their mission:
NewSchools Venture Fund is a venture philanthropy firm working to transform public education by supporting education entrepreneurs and connecting their work to systems change.
Learn more about the NewSchools Venture Fund on their website here.

Peugeot Experiments with Shape-Shifting Cars

"Eco Factor: Concept car designed to run on electric motors.

Designed by Ahmad Moslemi Far, the Peugeot Globule is made up of four separate parts, each with the capacity of one passenger and powered by an electric motor, and these parts are connected together to a centralized battery system. These four parts are contained in a very flexible polymer covering, which holds the parts and their connections together."

Check out the story here. (Thanks Cassie for the find!)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Big Food vs. Big Insurance

Michael Pollan of the NY Times made a debate-inducing observation this past week:
No one disputes that the $2.3 trillion we devote to the health care industry is often spent unwisely, but the fact that the United States spends twice as much per person as most European countries on health care can be substantially explained, as a study released last month says, by our being fatter. Even the most efficient health care system that the administration could hope to devise would still confront a rising tide of chronic disease linked to diet.

That’s why our success in bringing health care costs under control ultimately depends on whether Washington can summon the political will to take on and reform a second, even more powerful industry: the food industry.
Read the NY Times article here.

"How American Health Care Killed My Father"

"After the needless death of his father, the author, a business executive, began a personal exploration of a health-care industry that for years has delivered poor service and irregular quality at astonishingly high cost. It is a system, he argues, that is not worth preserving in anything like its current form. And the health-care reform now being contemplated will not fix it. Here’s a radical solution to an agonizing problem." Read the Atlantic article here.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

How Did Economists Get It So Wrong?

With the recession, the discipline of economics has come under heavy fire. More academics are questioning the role and "truths" of economics. This is a long article, but worth it. Read the NY Times article here.

"Six Fonts That Piss People Off"

"A furor erupts when Ikea changes its official typeface. Here are five other controversial fonts, involving Nazis, incest, and comic books." For all you Typophiles out there, you can read the Fast Company article here.

Googling the future: Internet search data may be useful for forecasters

The Economist released an article following a fascinating question: Can Google searches help us predict the future?
CLAIMS of clairvoyance, particularly when they come from economists, deserve a sceptical reception. Hal Varian, a professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley who also happens to be Google’s chief economist, has no such pretensions, but he does believe that data on internet searches can help predict certain kinds of economic statistics before they become available....
Check out the Economist article about Google here. Check out the Google Forecast site here.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Geek to Live: Take great notes

Lifehacker has come up with an excellent guide to different types of note-taking, useful for everything from university lectures to business meetings. Check out the guide here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

"How Facebook Ruins Friendships"

Here's an excerpt from the WSJ:

"Notice to my friends: I love you all dearly.

But I don't give a hoot that you are "having a busy Monday," your child "took 30 minutes to brush his teeth," your dog "just ate an ant trap" or you want to "save the piglets." And I really, really don't care which Addams Family member you most resemble. (I could have told you the answer before you took the quiz on Facebook.)

Here's where you and I went wrong: We took our friendship online. First we began communicating more by email than by phone. Then we switched to "instant messaging" or "texting." We "friended" each other on Facebook, and began communicating by "tweeting" our thoughts—in 140 characters or less—via Twitter..."

Read the entire article here.


It's a YouTube video with an agenda, but "Home" is worth checking out, regardless of which side you are on of the environmental debate.

Why Women Aren’t C.E.O.s, According to Women Who Almost Were

"It’s not a pipeline problem. It’s about loneliness, competition and deeply rooted barriers." Read more in the NYT .