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Archive for the ‘advocacy’ Category

FDA Tells Google-Backed 23andMe to Halt DNA Test Service

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FDA Tells Google-Backed 23andMe to Halt DNA Test Service – Bloomberg:

“FDA is concerned about the public health consequences of inaccurate results from the PGS device,” the agency said today. “The main purpose of compliance with FDA’s regulatory requirements is to ensure that the tests work.”

The FDA used candid language in the letter to outline the work the agency has done with 23andMe since 2009 to no avail, including more than 14 face-to-face and teleconference meetings and had hundreds of e-mail exchanges. The FDA said it has given the company feedback on study protocols, discussed regulatory pathways and provided statistical advice.

[Here's the thing... genetic testing can’t tell you whether or not you will develop a disease, only whether you carry a gene mutation that *statistically* puts you at a higher risk. Meaning they've found a correlation, but as far as I can tell, no one knows whether an individual gene by itself affects anything. It seems quite the opposite from what I've read... changing one gene seems to cause other genes to change as well and explain why in part all this is such slippery stuff... why there are no "cures" being batted about. (Yes, I know people are working on all kinds of stuff, but it all runs counter my experience that this form of "reductionism" applies well in complex systems.) Negative tests for a given gene mutation also don’t mean that you’re in the clear: For example it seems that only ~5% of breast cancers and maybe as much as 15% of ovarian cancers are caused by hereditary mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 the genes made somewhat famous by Ms. Jolie. As always, I'm not telling anyone what to do, and certainly if you're not relying it diagnostically have at it. But between the margin of errors in the tests themselves, the limited number of markers that a service like the above checks, etc... seems like a really low grade indicator of anything. I know it appears high tech and shiny, but that doesn't mean it's accurate or reliable, or that we have any idea what it means when we see it.]

Written by Daniel

November 27, 2013 at 8:09 am

Posted in advocacy, health

Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule

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Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule:

When you’re operating on the manager’s schedule you can do something you’d never want to do on the maker’s: you can have speculative meetings. You can meet someone just to get to know one another. If you have an empty slot in your schedule, why not? Maybe it will turn out you can help one another in some way.

Business people in Silicon Valley (and the whole world, for that matter) have speculative meetings all the time. They’re effectively free if you’re on the manager’s schedule. They’re so common that there’s distinctive language for proposing them: saying that you want to “grab coffee,” for example.

Speculative meetings are terribly costly if you’re on the maker’s schedule, though. Which puts us in something of a bind. Everyone assumes that, like other investors, we run on the manager’s schedule. So they introduce us to someone they think we ought to meet, or send us an email proposing we grab coffee. At this point we have two options, neither of them good: we can meet with them, and lose half a day’s work; or we can try to avoid meeting them, and probably offend them.

Till recently we weren’t clear in our own minds about the source of the problem. We just took it for granted that we had to either blow our schedules or offend people. But now that I’ve realized what’s going on, perhaps there’s a third option: to write something explaining the two types of schedule. Maybe eventually, if the conflict between the manager’s schedule and the maker’s schedule starts to be more widely understood, it will become less of a problem.

Those of us on the maker’s schedule are willing to compromise. We know we have to have some number of meetings. All we ask from those on the manager’s schedule is that they understand the cost.

[Well explained. I try and line up meetings in a given day. When they can't be aligned that way I use the middle of the day, reserving the morning and end of the day for "maker" time. Allez! ]

Written by Daniel

November 5, 2013 at 3:10 pm

The Decline of Wikipedia: Even As More People Than Ever Rely on It, Fewer People Create It

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The Decline of Wikipedia: Even As More People Than Ever Rely on It, Fewer People Create It:

Yet it may be unable to get much closer to its lofty goal of compiling all human knowledge. Wikipedia’s community built a system and resource unique in the history of civilization. It proved a worthy, perhaps fatal, match for conventional ways of building encyclopedias. But that community also constructed barriers that deter the newcomers needed to finish the job. Perhaps it was too much to expect that a crowd of Internet strangers would truly democratize knowledge. Today’s Wikipedia, even with its middling quality and poor representation of the world’s diversity, could be the best encyclopedia we will get.

[I've experienced the pain. It drove me away. I had stuff to contribute, but I don't care to contribute my way past their walls.]

Written by Daniel

October 28, 2013 at 10:05 am

Posted in advocacy, tech

Continuations : Twitter: Life is Unfair?

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Continuations : Twitter: Life is Unfair?:

So why does the Twitter story remind me of Prof. Hausman’s admonition? Because it demonstrates the relative importance of hitting upon the right thing at the right time over early execution. This goes a bit against one of the historic ideas held dear in venture capital that execution matters more than ideas. And yes it remains true that an idea alone is worthless, you have to build something. But beyond that it turns out that building the right thing at the right time will let you get away with all sorts of mistakes. Conversely, hypothetically perfect execution but too early or too late or on the wrong variant will not get you very far. For everyone working really hard on a startup that’s not going gangbuster this seems, well, unfair.

So there you have it. Prof. Hausman was right all along. Actually not quite. I used to think that but more recently I have changed my outlook to: Life just is. Unfair implies some kind of moral standard. Somewhere somebody right now is building the next big thing and most likely it is not you. Just accept that and you’ll be happier.

[Raise your hand if you think it's you?]

Written by Daniel

October 14, 2013 at 8:05 am

Posted in advocacy, education, ethics

The noise of stuff

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The noise of stuff — What I Learned Today — Medium:

You might be holding on to that book you bought a year ago that you swear you’ll read or those killer pair of shoes that you’ll bring out for just the right occasion.

But the reality is, you probably made a mistake in buying those things and it literally hurts your brain to come to terms with that fact.

Researchers at Yale recently identified that two areas in your brain associated with pain, the anterior cingulate cortex and insula, light up in response to letting go of items you own

[A work in progress to be sure, on so many levels.]

Written by Daniel

October 7, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Posted in advocacy, health, personal

Sowing a Change in Kitchens

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Sowing a Change in Kitchens:

The soil-tilling food experts happen to be every bit as expressive, and iconoclastic, as their knife-wielding counterparts in the kitchen. These days, many in the culinary world tend to view produce in a black-and-white way: You have either your delightfully lumpy, bumpy farmers’ market treasures, or your scarily uniform corporate Frankenfood. As Mr. Barber said, it’s “heirlooms over here, Monsanto maniacs over there.”

But Monday’s convocation, overseen by the Basque Culinary Center, suggested a third way: Independent breeders are ready to help make our breads and salads richer with deep flavor, bold color and plenty of nutrients. They just need someone to ask them.

What they do may also be seen as an old-school alternative to the spread of genetically modified plants, which have not been shown to be harmful but still frighten and concern many people.

“We’re making crosses within the same species, and we’re doing it the way it’s been done for 300 years,” said Dr. Stephen Jones, a wheat breeder from Washington State whose accessibly folksy lecture had the room transfixed. “There’s no forcing here. We put these plants together and we let them mate.”

[Since this ultimately will be driven by business and not love, it cares me a bit. But I'm curious to see where it goes.]

Written by Daniel

October 3, 2013 at 8:02 am

What if surfing was your job?

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What if surfing was your job?:

Your drudgery is another person’s delight. It’s only a job if you treat it that way. The privilege to do our work, to be in control of the promises we make and the things we build, is something worth cherishing.

[I long ago recognized this when I went to play weddings and the other musicians were doing everything but paying attention to the music. Mostly the woman frankly. Anyway… I've often thought throughout the years as I worked on various things whether what I was doing was something I could do every day, for years, or whether I enjoyed it because it was a change from what was currently doing. It was and is a key question.]

Source: Seth’s Blog

Written by Daniel

September 17, 2013 at 7:20 am

Posted in advocacy, personal

Worse is human

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Worse is human:

My pocket psychology take is that we love anachronisms because they’re imperfect. Like humans are imperfect. We form relationships with people who are flawed all the time. Flaws, imperfection, and worse are all part of the human condition. Tools that embody them resonate.
It’s hard to engineer this, though, but it’s worth cherishing when you have it. Don’t be so eager to iron out all the flaws. Maybe those flaws are exactly why people love your product.

[I'd go a step further and say it can't be engineered. Like an antique, the passage of time combined with use (and sometimes abuse) tells a story. Adding a distressed finish is a thin veneer that only says "we like things that tells stories", but has no story of its own. I think trying to engineer imperfection would go the same way. I do think you can measure and engineer some aspects of wear into items, and that can be valuable addition in many cases. But that's not the same as trying to create something that looks but is not authentically old. In case you can't tell, I'm not a fan of "restoration" when it's defined as making something look (and maybe act) as if it were brand new despite it's age. I find the endeavor and skills fascinating. I love when people resurrect something that was otherwise on the verge of not existing. But only from afar, as a testament to the skills of the restorer. I'd much rather have something that is wonderful and new and through use, and love, and time build my own stories into it. There's nothing like it.]

Written by Daniel

September 13, 2013 at 10:16 am

Posted in advocacy, personal, tech

Nothing is ours, except time

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Nothing is ours, except time:

Furthermore, if you will pay close heed to the problem, you will find that the largest portion of our life passes while we are doing ill, a goodly share while we are doing nothing, and the whole while we are doing that which is not to the purpose. What man can you show me who places any value on his time, who reckons the worth of each day, who understands that he is dying daily? For we are mistaken when we look forward to death; the major portion of death has already passed. Whatever years lie behind us are in death’s hands.

Therefore, Lucilius, do as you write me that you are doing: hold every hour in your grasp. Lay hold of today’s task, and you will not need to depend so much upon tomorrow’s. While we are postponing, life speeds by. Nothing, Lucilius, is ours, except time. We were entrusted by nature with the ownership of this single thing, so fleeting and slippery that anyone who will can oust us from possession. What fools these mortals be! They allow the cheapest and most useless things, which can easily be replaced, to be charged in the reckoning, after they have acquired them; but they never regard themselves as in debt when they have received some of that precious commodity—time! And yet time is the one loan which even a grateful recipient cannot repay.

[So beyond well said… and wonderfully apropos of the upcoming Yom Kippur.]

Source: Letters of Note

Written by Daniel

September 13, 2013 at 10:02 am

Posted in advocacy, personal

On not collaborating

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On not collaborating:

Ignore. Ridicule. Fight. Lose. That’s what happens to the institutions that seek to preserve the problems for which they were created.

So it is with collaboration. We’ve heard the word many times. And we’ve seen it paid lip service many times. But so long as it was not centre-stage, the immune system didn’t care.

[I often mention that the first field I really studied was music, with a clear concentration on group playing. Collaboration was a way of life. Solo efforts are often still collaborations with "launch" points. Hard for me to understand the ego and thinking that leads elsewhere.]

Source: Via Doc Searls

Written by Daniel

September 13, 2013 at 7:42 am

Posted in advocacy, personal

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