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Showing posts from February, 2012

Statin Drugs, and the Congestive Failure of Pharma-centric Medicine

Disclaimer: Don't take medical advice from engineers.

The New York Times has an article out today about the side effects of statin drugs: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/29/health/fda-warns-of-cholesterol-drugs-side-effects.html. Seems that the more time that goes by, the less clear it is that statins are actually worth taking. I'm not going to claim that statins don't help - if you're interested in that line of thought, read this, for example. But I do think the massive over-prescription of statins endemic in Western medicine is illustrative of the problem of treating symptoms rather than causes.

The line of thinking goes something like this: People with heart disease have been found to have elevated levels of bad cholesterol (LDLs - which incidentally aren't even cholesterol, but instead transport cholesterol). Statins lower LDLs. Thus people should take statins in order to reduce risk of heart disease. The goal, of course, is to go from this logically fallacious …

Instagram for Hamburgers

Had an interesting conversation with a friend last night about innovation. I tend to align pretty squarely with the Peter Thiel school of thought, i.e., that innovation has stagnated massively in relative terms over the past 50 years, and we're generally not solving hard problems anymore. My friend thinks innovation is flourishing because "tools" and "frameworks" have gotten significantly better over the past 10 years or so, allowing people to go from  idea to prototype (or company) in record time. While that's true, I'd argue that this has actually led to a decrease in innovation rather than an increase, because it's so easy to build something silly and turn it into a play company.

For instance, most of you have probably seen the parody of stuff that Silicon Valley people say. But I actually hear about companies like this all the time. So today, I'd like to officially announce the pre-alpha release of BurgerFlux™, a.k.a Instagram for Hamburgers…

Christopher Hitchens, and Secret Superpowers of Stammerers

I'm a bit ashamed to say that prior to Christopher Hitchens' death, I don't think I had seen any of his interviews. I started YouTubing around the other day, and I was amazed at the videos I found. Regardless of whether you agree with his beliefs, it's clear that he was an amazingly vibrant intellectual mind and an incredibly skilled debater.

So I was also surprised to discover shortly into the first video that Christopher Hitchens was a stutterer!

As a stutterer myself, I possess the strange ability to spot other stutterers that non-stutterers usually can't. I remember once during university, a very prominent politician came to give a talk, and it was clear in her opening remarks that she was a "covert stammerer" (i.e., pauses and substitutes words, but doesn't repeat syllables). I asked my friends afterwards if they noticed anything strange about her speech, and no one did. I told them she was a stutterer, and they were quite surprised.

In any case,…