How an Alzheimer’s ‘cabal’ thwarted progress toward a cure - STAT
This stifling of competing ideas, say a growing number of scholars, is a big reason why there is no treatment for Alzheimer’s.
This is horrifying and disappointing. A story of how dogma and groupthink - even without active malice - can lead to so much harm.
I had never heard about this before - and it’s quite sad to think of the “what-if”s in this situation.
“The brain, Alzheimer’s researchers patiently explain, is hard — harder than the heart, harder even than cancer. While that may be true, it is increasingly apparent that there is another, more disturbing reason for the tragic lack of progress: The most influential researchers have long believed so dogmatically in one theory of Alzheimer’s that they systematically thwarted alternative approaches. Several scientists described those who controlled the Alzheimer’s agenda as “a cabal.””Posted on 2019-12-30T08:10:46+0000
Quiz: Can You Identify These Politicians, Athletes and Celebrities? Most Americans Can’t.
Why recognizability matters, to politicians and celebrities alike.
Not just a survey but a good analysis of name recognition across generations and how it affects polling.
The results reconfirm how bad I am putting faces to names - I recognized a lot of names but not the faces.
Kinda sad looking at how quick the drop in recognition percentages was to some of the more foreign names though.
"You answered 16 of 52 questions correctly, better than 5% of Times readers."Posted on 2019-12-24T07:50:02+0000
Working for a startup makes less sense
Today, there’s an interesting startup dilemma that has become more obvious in the collective consciousness of tech employees than ever before. Put bluntly, it’s that working at most startups (in their current form) in a world full of growing tech giants like Google, Facebook, Apple, Netflix, etc...
This was posted as a counter to an article earlier in the day advocating why one should quit a big company and work for a startup.
While I believe the decision is highly individual - I do agree with the author and folks at large that the market has gotten quite crazy - it’s downright impossible for startups to compete or get some of the skilled engineers they *need*
“To make the situation worse, the very good engineers, the ones who could truly help build a tech company from the ground up from day 1, were getting offers so exorbitant they could not possibly fathom to turn them down. And, to be clear, I’m not saying that one should or should not place money or perks above everything, but that from my experience, money and perks are such a strong driver for most people that it’s already activated an industry-wide transformation due to the expanding resources of big tech companies and the failure of startups to keep up with them.”Posted on 2019-12-24T07:17:08+0000
My semester with the snowflakes~
In May of 2019, at the age of 52, I was accepted to the Eli Whitney student program at Yale University.
Such a good human interest story.
“In my opinion, the real snowflakes are the people who are afraid of that situation. The poor souls who never take the opportunity to discuss ideas in a group of people who will very likely respectfully disagree with them. I challenge any of you hyper-opinionated zealots out there to actually sit down with a group of people who disagree with you and be open to having your mind changed. I’m not talking about submitting your deeply held beliefs to your twitter/facebook/instagram feeds for agreement from those who “follow” you. That unreal “safe space” where the accountability for ones words is essentially null. I have sure had my mind changed here at Yale. To me there is no dishonor in being wrong and learning. There is dishonor in willful ignorance and there is dishonor in disrespect.”Posted on 2019-12-24T01:29:43+0000
Building a new Win 3.1 app in 2019 Part 1: Slack client
In October 2019, my company SP Digital held an internal hackathon. My colleague Subhransu and I worked on a whacky idea of writing a brand-new Windows 3.1 app which was an OS released almost 30 years ago. The idea we chose was a Slack client. After all, Slack clients exist for most platforms but I'm
Uh.... this is some hardcore work. Writing a slack client here.
Bonus points for a resource usage comparison that shows - even with the overhead of running a full VM - that this is more efficient than the official Slack client.
“The stack size of a 16-bit program is typically 4-6 KiB with a similar size for the heap. This is smaller than the size of the HTTP reply + JSON returned by Slack!”Posted on 2019-12-22T00:26:05+0000
Opinion | Twelve Million Phones, One Dataset, Zero Privacy
What we learned from the spy in your pocket.
Really interesting, eye opening, and frightening analysis of location tracking as an industry and all the brokers of said data. Also busts some oft repeated claims that “anonymized” location data is ok to share.
“For many Americans, the only real risk they face from having their information exposed would be embarrassment or inconvenience. But for others, like survivors of abuse, the risks could be substantial. And who can say what practices or relationships any given individual might want to keep private, to withhold from friends, family, employers or the government? We found hundreds of pings in mosques and churches, abortion clinics, queer spaces and other sensitive areas.
In one case, we observed a change in the regular movements of a Microsoft engineer. He made a visit one Tuesday afternoon to the main Seattle campus of a Microsoft competitor, Amazon. The following month, he started a new job at Amazon. It took minutes to identify him as Ben Broili, a manager now for Amazon Prime Air, a drone delivery service.
“I can’t say I’m surprised,” Mr. Broili told us in early December. “But knowing that you all can get ahold of it and comb through and place me to see where I work and live — that’s weird.” That we could so easily discern that Mr. Broili was out on a job interview raises some obvious questions, like: Could the internal location surveillance of executives and employees become standard corporate practice?”Posted on 2019-12-20T03:19:27+0000
I’m a 37-Year-Old Mom & I Spent Seven Days Online as an 11-Year-Old Girl. Here’s What I Learned.
Note: This piece contains sexual content and descriptions of child sex abuse that could be disturbing to some readers. The messages…
Uh.... I don’t know where to even begin commenting on this. This is so absolutely despicable. Harrowing read that everyone should go through.
“Over the course of one week, over 52 men reached out to an 11-year-old girl. We sit with that stat as we soberly shut down the TV and the camcorder.”Posted on 2019-12-18T16:58:16+0000
How Chinese Sci-Fi Conquered America
The translator Ken Liu has done more than anyone to bridge the gap between Chinese science fiction and American readers.
This was such a good human interest story that captures the story of Ken Liu, who’s brought so much amazing science fiction to the English speaking world.
The article also goes into the Chinese sci-fi scene as well as contemporary politics.
If you haven’t heard of Ken Liu, he’s famous for translating the Three Body problem series. If you haven’t heard of that series... well, get off Facebook and read the trilogy like right now. I mean it.
“Now, Liu Cixin says, he recommends that Chinese sci-fi fans who speak English read Ken Liu’s translation of “The Three-Body Problem” rather than the Chinese version. “Usually when Chinese literature gets translated to a foreign language, it tends to lose something,” he says. “I don’t think that happened with ‘The Three-Body Problem.’ I think it gained something.”Posted on 2019-12-17T06:55:47+0000
What Happens After Prisoners Learn to Code?
Slack, one of Silicon Valley’s more diverse companies, has hired three formerly incarcerated coders.
Interesting read on diversity in tech, and mentoring / training new folks.
Also a great read into recidivism and the prison system.
“For formerly incarcerated individuals, the stakes of finding, and keeping, a job are high. Almost two-thirds of those released from California’s prison system return within three years. Full-time employment is one of the most effective levers to reduce recidivism, but it isn’t easy to find work when you have spent much of your adult life behind bars. For various reasons, including discrimination against people with a criminal record, the unemployment rate for people who have been incarcerated is more than six times the national average.”Posted on 2019-12-17T02:22:39+0000
Google Culture War Escalates as Era of Transparency Wanes
Executives say they’re enforcing policies that have always existed. Restive workers see a culture in ‘total collapse.’
This was an interesting story that covered the history and current (internal) affairs at Google.
Lessons to look at when it comes to starting a company, and continuing to grow it while keeping a lot of the culture and transparency that helped it succeed.
“Google’s permissive workplace culture became the prime example of Silicon Valley’s brand of employment. But transparency is hardly universal. Apple Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. demand that workers operate in rigid silos to keep the details of sensitive projects from leaking to competitors. Engineers building a phone’s camera may have no idea what the people building its operating system are doing, and vice versa. Similar restrictions are common at government contractors and other companies working with clients who demand discretion.”Posted on 2019-12-14T21:21:13+0000
Mathematician Proves Huge Result on ‘Dangerous’ Problem
Mathematicians regard the Collatz conjecture as a quagmire and warn each other to stay away. But now Terence Tao has made more progress than anyone in decades.
Excellent combination of a human interest story and a read into math - specifically the Collatz conjecture.
I was quite surprised to learn PDEs and a statistical approach would be useful to helping an arithmetically simple problem like this.
“Tao doesn’t normally spend time on impossible problems. In 2006 he won the Fields Medal, math’s highest honor, and he is widely regarded as one of the top mathematicians of his generation. He’s used to solving problems, not chasing pipe dreams.
“It’s actually an occupational hazard when you’re a mathematician,” he said. “You could get obsessed with these big famous problems that are way beyond anyone’s ability to touch, and you can waste a lot of time.””Posted on 2019-12-14T20:07:16+0000
I feel like this lesson is glaringly obvious - as the author calls out - but only in hindsight when it’s staring you in the face.
I know there has been a general disdain of tests - and rightly so, as they don’t measure actual learning - but this was eye opening for me to understand the long-term downstream effects this can have on people and society at large.
I should probably reread this weekly. Have already gone through it twice.
Would be curious to see if/how this aligns with general education policy at large. There is some place where this approach will fall apart.
“Why did founders tie themselves in knots doing the wrong things when the answer was right in front of them? Because that was what they'd been trained to do. Their education had taught them that the way to win was to hack the test. And without even telling them they were being trained to do this. The younger ones, the recent graduates, had never faced a non-artificial test. They thought this was just how the world worked: that the first thing you did, when facing any kind of challenge, was to figure out what the trick was for hacking the test. That's why the conversation would always start with how to raise money, because that read as the test. It came at the end of YC. It had numbers attached to it, and higher numbers seemed to be better. It must be the test.”Posted on 2019-12-09T00:04:59+0000
The Real Class War - American Affairs Journal
Since at least 2016, the divide between the “working class” and the “elite” has been considered a defining issue in American (and Western) politics. This divide has been defined in occupational terms (“blue collar” versus “information workers”), geographic terms (rural and exurban re...
Such an interesting political/economic commentary focused on recent times.
"This underappreciated reality at least partially explains one of the apparent puzzles of American politics in recent years: namely, that members of the elite often seem far more radical than the working class, both in their candidate choices and overall outlook. Although better off than the working class, lower-level elites appear to be experiencing far more intense status anxiety.
The election of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), to Congress offers a clear demonstration of this. Her strongest support came from comparatively affluent, “gentrifying” neighborhoods.26 Her opponent, the establishment Democrat Joe Crowley, did better in poorer areas."Posted on 2019-12-01T04:42:24+0000
In a Wisconsin village, the doctor makes house calls — and sees the rarest diseases on Earth
When James DeLine became a rural doctor, he had no experience treating the Amish, and no idea he'd be at the cutting edge of genetic medicine.
Interesting human interest story into both a singularly driven doctor and a local community.
Also apparently a lot of the “rare” diseases coming from inbreeding seem to show up in totally unrelated parts of the world. That seems... new. I wonder what the odds are there.
“To date, Baple and Crosby have identified 75 conditions that were new to medical science, of which 30 are found in higher levels in Amish communities. In a few cases, research into these rare diseases has reached the point where scientists are describing potential therapies.”Posted on 2019-12-01T02:36:57+0000
3 kids. 2 paychecks. No home.
"It seemed like we’d failed."
This is such a sad read that goes into housing policy, homelessness, and poverty. Also a window into one family’s life.
“Yet it’s HUD’s definition that determines the allocation of crucial housing assistance. “It’s a crazy logic,” Barbara Duffield, the director of SchoolHouse Connection, a national youth-homelessness organization, told me. “It basically goes: We don’t see homeless families, so we don’t have any here, therefore we don’t have to help them.””Posted on 2019-12-01T01:33:41+0000