What do sharks have to do with Tesla (valves)?

from wired.com

https://www.wired.com/story/3d-imaging-shows-shark-guts-work-like-nikola-tesla-water-valve/

I only know Nikola Tesla from his competition with Edison over electrification. However, Tesla, like Edison was an inveterate inventor. In this article, scientists recently deconstructed the gastrointestinal system of sharks, and found that they resemble Tesla valves.

What is that, you say? It has nothing to do with anything you think you know about Tesla. And it is a fascinating read. Here is a taste (video) of a Tesla valve system, illustrated with flames.

CMIO’s take? Super cool! But, what does this have to do with informatics, you say? I leave that for you to puzzle out. 🙂

“The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads.”

https://www.wired.com/story/plaintext-time-to-talk-about-facebook-research/

This article above is a disturbing, quick take on Facebook research and the lack of transparency in what is being done, from a researcher who recently quit working there, and left this quote behind.

Chilling, the use of data by social media titans with a critical lack of oversight. The Cambridge Analytica – Facebook scandal, it seems, has not mitigated the giant’s appetite to turn their data about you, against you.

The other quote that disturbs me about this is: “If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product.” I’m not sure how to attribute this quote, and some dispute the accuracy of its pithy claims, but it does make you stop and think.

And if you are as disturbed as I am, maybe you’ll make some changes in the way you use Facebook. For example, I have:

  • Removed the Facebook app from my phone. It is a power hog, and I am uncertain how much it tracks me and my activity. Instead, I the Safari browser to log in to Facebook when I want to and then quit the page when I’m done (unlike the app that can be on all the time in the background).
  • Cut back my personal posts by 95% or more to Facebook. Instead, I write wordpress.com blogs and cross-post them to various platforms.
  • Spend 95% less time browsing Facebook posts (and ads) by deciding to be more of a content creator than consumer (see above). I’m only browsing about once a week or so.
  • I considered deleting my Facebook account entirely, and I may still take that step, however, the network effects of connecting with so many family and friends, is, as all of you know, very seductive and difficult to sever.
  • Also, I now use DuckDuckGo as my default phone search engine, and as a plug-in to Google Chrome, so that it will purge my search history and so that Google, Facebook and others (when I use their website through DuckDuckGo’s filters and blockers) are prevented from placing and tracking cookies without my knowledge.

CMIO’s take? I’m certain I’m still leaking a data online, but I’m trying hard to throttle my bit-torrent down to a bit-drip. And I’ll keep looking for ways to take control back from the big guys (Facebook, Amazon, Google, Apple). What efforts are you making to protect your current and future privacy?

This video about storytelling will change your life

I have followed Andy Goodman’s work (he teaches storytelling to nonprofit organizations), and have learned so much about how to be effective at my own work.

It is nearly an hour long, and who has an hour? You do, if you know what is good for you.

But, I know you’re busy, so, if nothing else, watch at 10:30 minutes for 7 minutes. It will be the best 7 minutes.

Then, since you’ll be hooked by then, watch the whole thing. You won’t regret it.

No one ever made a decision because of a number. They need a story.

Daniel Kahneman, in Thinking, Fast and Slow

CMIO’s take? Storytelling by masters like this change lives. He did mine.

Oxygen masks, John Hodgman, and a hotdog?

This was a good week. Like many of my medical colleagues who are plowing through our next surge of Covid patients, we have feelings of exhaustion, angst and sadness, or as one of my Twitter colleagues on #medtwitter calls it, a new emotion called ‘emptysad.’ So apt.

So it was great to get out of the house, and learn to occasionally ‘put my own oxygen mask on before assisting others’, as our airline colleagues would say. Today, I’d go for a 35 mile loop around Denver. Come along on my visual travelogue!

There’s lots of construction on the Highline canal, the Sand Creek trail, and the Cherry Creek path. I can’t wait to see what turns out. Meantime, we have detours upon detours. Here’s one near Northfield, an expanse of wild sunflowers illuminating the margins of I-70.

This is a 3.5 hour loop for me. The great thing is: very little bike or foot traffic even on a holiday weekend. The smoke is less noticeable today, the sky is blue, the Colorado zephyr winds still cool through the day.

Then, the Confluence of Sand Creek and Platte River, both the wild fowl that frequent the area, and also the industrial ‘aromas’ of Commerce City and the Purina Puppy Chow plant. Such a juxtaposition.

Then it’s a quick dash upstream along the Platte, to Confluence Park, where Cherry Creek meets the Platte. Here, see the crowds for REI and the splashy mess of shore that is kid and dog and kayak friendly.

The hot dog stand is reliably yummy.

On the way home, I found my informatics and physician colleague Steve Rotholz at his outdoor photography booth at the Cherry Creek Arts Festival. Further surprise: he’s reading our book club book for the month: You Look Like a Thing And I Love You. A great explanation of AI and the weirdness that ensues in the development of these tools.

On the quieter parts of the trail, I listen to my current audio book: Vacationland, by John Hodgman, read by the author. I have loved his previous stories on The Daily Show and on public radio. He doesn’t disappoint in this autobiography.

I hope you’re finding ways to have a restorative summer. Go out and do something you love.

The Boys in the Boat (book review)

From the Everett Herald

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics https://www.amazon.com/dp/0143125478/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_fabc_M81Q4K17N2RTE3JE8RYA

OMG. 6 out of 5 stars. This was intended as a fun summer read. But also, it has catapulted me into the Great Depression, WW2, Leni Riefenstahl and groundbreaking cinematography, the rise of Nazi Germany, collegiate regattas, and the elusive and ephemeral ‘swing’ of rowing. I listened to the audio book. I usually listen at 1.25x or 1.5 or sometimes even 2x: the narrative is usually more important than the writing.

But this. The story, even though the end is known, is riveting. The story of Joe Rantz is the heart and soul of the tale. The author weaves so many threads into a tapestry that envelops and then propels you forward, like the coiled might of 8 undergraduate underdogs, their brilliant coxswain and a cedar-hulled shell, coming from behind as 70,000 voices yell ‘Deutschland! Deutschland!’ to the German boat several lengths in the lead.

This, I listened to at 1.0 and savored every moment.

Go ahead, read the other reviews, but don’t tarry: the Boys in the Boat await you. I am jealous that you will experience this for the first time.

Here’s an 11 minute retrospective, including the granddaughter of Joe Rantz.

All successful projects have a great story. What is yours? (thegoodmancenter.com)

Anyone out there trying to get a project funded?

Maybe, some of you are trying to get the attention of leaders in your organization to try an idea that is important to you?

Perhaps you’re frustrated that colleagues don’t agree with your viewpoint, and no one seems to listen?

Or, some say “your explanations are just so dry, we miss your entire point.”

Yes?

Consider: that in healthcare, and as scientists, we are taught to memorize our facts, build on scientific principle, and be rigorous. We rarely take the time to learn storytelling and communication. In fact the phrase “tell a story” in medical interview implies that you are lying.

Well, time to change all that. As informaticists, as medical professionals, as scientists, we need to be masters of storytelling. It is the ONLY thing that changes minds.

‘Sure, keep doing the great science that we all do, but let’s learn to communicate.

One of my favorite instructors in communication is Andy Goodman. At his website, you can sign up for his newsletter (and read archival issues, here is a good example about SMALL stories, and another one about Powerpoint use). His center is dedicated to improving the communication of all-important non-profit companies.

Here’s an example of his paradigm shifting ideas: “Why are non-profits named after things they are NOT? Why not name them for things they are FOR? Non-profits should be called “Public Interest companies.” Huh. How about that?

And, watch his talk above.

CMIO’s take? We all need to talk gooder.

Dark Rounds – Faith Fitzgerald MD

Dr. Faith Fitzgerald, Master of the American College of Physicians, and one of my mentors

https://www-acpjournals-org.proxy.hsl.ucdenver.edu/doi/pdf/10.7326%2F0003-4819-138-9-200305060-00015

I came across this article again, written by one of my mentors, Dr. Faith Fitzgerald in 2003. I was always astonished that her discussions, and her talks, even at Morning Report, that off-the-cuff discussion of cases the morning after a busy overnight on-call, seemed to come out of her mouth, like fully formed medical textbook chapters.

As interns and residents, we were riveted, and also despaired that we would ever achieve that level of knowledge and mastery of medicine.

In fact, this worked directly against me, when, in my naiveté, I suggested that she use Pubmed, or the online search tool (in 1989!) to find relevant medical articles. As she would regularly devour volumes of medical literature, she could easily cite more relevant articles, and faster, than I could type in MeSH search terms. And, she never agreed that the introduction of electronic health records was a positive influence on healthcare in this country.

Nevertheless, I always looked up to her thoughtfulness, to her skill as a master clinician, and her writings. If you’re inclined, use “scholar.google.com” (to find research articles) and search for “Faith Fitzgerald” and “annals” and you’ll get numerous personal viewpoint articles she wrote for the Annals of Internal Medicine. They’re one page and beautifully written anecdotes.

“Dark Rounds” was a particular favorite (link above), about how a frustrated attending physician, in the too-busy environment of hospitals, teaching rounds, rush-to-discharge to shorten “length of stay” found a way to connect with her patients.

CMIO’s take? Master physicians like Dr. Fitzgerald are rare and precious. How do we grow more like her?

The Premonition – Michael Lewis: not the pandemic story you think it is.

from Amazon.com

When my book club decided to read “The Premonition” and I found out it was about the pandemic, I discovered that I was TIRED OF READING ABOUT THE PANDEMIC.

But, I underestimated Michael Lewis’s skill as a storyteller. I guarantee that you have not heard these stories. Not about Dr. Charity Dean, Santa Barbara County’s Public Health Officer. Not about the Wolverines, a shadow organization comprised of current and former federal government employees connecting resources and brainstorming ideas. Not about the fundamental structural problems and failures with the CDC since 1976.

I was entranced and raced through this book. It was complementary to the things I thought knew about the pandemic, having just lived through it.

The CDC does not come out smelling like roses. Neither do most federal agencies with political appointments. And Lewis dives into it incisively, following these personal tales where they lead.

He ends with a hopeful note, that Dr. Dean has left public service to found a private sector company called “The Public Health Company.” Maybe if the feds, our public health infrastructure, and the CDC cannot act effectively, those who DID act effectively in 2020 can become a consulting firm to private industry (there is immediate demand among large international companies for such services, advice and protection) and eventually support the federal government if we do not fix our pandemic responsiveness, when the next pandemic (and yes, it is coming) arrives.

CMIO’s take? I have new respect for public health officers. I have new respect for the CDC prior to 1976 and hope that this book points us to lessons on how to re-invigorate our federal institutions, and make them effective again. This is very readable, and worth your read.

“The unattainable best is the enemy of all the available betters” @Bill Burnett

You have more than one life in you. Lets ideate THREE 5-year visions. Do this exercise to generate creative possibilities. — Bill Burnett

In my clinical practice this week, I met a patient with whom I discussed this idea: he was a senior administrator in an academic institution, highly accomplished, well respected, and yet quite miserable at work and at home, feeling trapped.

It made me think back to Design Thinking principles, and creative approaches to hard problems.

Having been to the Design Thinking for Social Systems short course at Stanford, I’ve been working to apply this thinking at work and at home. I posted last year on my enthusiasm for design thinking as a process and approach to creativity and innovation. I came across Bill Burnett’s online video which prompted me to dive back into the material again.

A couple of books to recommend.

Designing your life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. More about applying design thinking principles to your life.

Bill also gives an overview in his great Stanford TEDx talk.

Creative Confidence by David and Tom Kelly. A history and principles of design thinking by some of the originators

Designing for Growth by Jeanne Liedtka and Tim Ogilvie. A practical book for application of design thinking. See also the Field Guide.

It made me think of myself, my work, my home, and how “designing your life” might be an exercise we could all apply with immense benefit. Join me?

CMIO’s take: What are you waiting for?