Friday Four

Friday, August 22, 2014

1. A woman with a rare genetic disease was both unconvinced by her medical diagnosis and "frustrated by the rampant misinformation" on Internet patient forums -- so she did her own research. In the end, she correctly told her doctors which DNA test to run.

In addition to having to familiarize herself with an unfamiliar scientific literature, she also had to face the understandable skepticism of her own physicians:

"I'm beyond impressed," says Michael Ackerman, a geneticist at the Mayo Clinic. He specializes in inherited heart disorders like ARVC that can cause sudden death at any time. Such diseases make for people who do their homework, but Ackerman describes most as "Google-and-go" patients who check their diagnosis online or read up about treatment options. Kim had written up her research as a white paper--36 pages of research and analysis. "Kim's the only one who handed me her own thesis," he says. "Of all the 1,000-plus patients I've taken care of, none have done extensive detective work and told physicians which genetic test to order."
The article mentions a series of personality traits, like "perseverance and love of isolation" that served Kim Goodsell in good stead as she sought to understand her problem, but underlying her quest was her impressive degree of independence. She would not let a single term she did not understand go unexamined.

2. An American sports fan rebuts one of the more thoughtful anti-soccer editorials I read this World Cup, one by Kareem Adbul-Jabbar. That piece concluded with a prediction to the effect that soccer would "return to its sickbed" after the tournament. But Sheldon Hirsch, who attended his first professional game in nearly four decades, an exhibition after the World Cup, begs to disagree:
The enormous crowd of 109,318 opened my eyes and raised doubts about Kareem's critique. The crowd seemed like a rabid NFL gathering, except almost twice as large, perhaps half as inebriated, and more prone to song. Notably, this was not a World Cup or Olympics competition; or Michigan vs. Michigan State; or an MLS championship game. Over 100,000 people attended an exhibition game; clearly, serious soccer fans.
I think Hirsch supports his contention that Abdul-Jabbar shot an airball on this topic quite well.

3. Is there anything a smartphone can't help solve? There are now apps, called "Dumbphone" and "IgnoreNoMore", that respectively help (1) users fight compulsive smartphone checking and (2) parents get their kids to call them back.

4. Wow! My old post, "Data Storage Then and Now", may soon be made to look quaint after only a few years: New technology that could store about a terabyte of data in a device the size of a postage stamp is a step closer to manufacture.

-- CAV

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