Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I disobeyed a Presidential Order and survived the Swine Flu

IN 1976, President Gerald Ford ordered a nationwide vaccination program to prevent a swine flu epidemic.

Ford was acting on the advice of medical experts, who believed they were dealing with a virus potentially as deadly as the one that caused the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic. The virus surfaced in February at Fort Dix, New Jersey, where 19-year-old Pvt. David Lewis told his drill instructor that he felt tired and weak, although not sick enough to skip a training hike. Lewis was dead within 24 hours.
The autopsy revealed that Lewis had been killed by "swine flu," an influenza virus originating in pigs. By then several other soldiers had been hospitalized with symptoms. Government doctors became alarmed when they discovered that at least 500 soldiers on the base were infected without becoming ill.

My wife got the vaccination and immediately got sick. I was too busy building a GaAs development lab to get sick "on purpose". Turns out I was right. Within weeks reports started coming in of people developing Guillain-Barré syndrome, a paralyzing nerve disease, right after taking the shot. Within two months, 500 people were affected, and more than 30 died of the nerve disease, but only Private Lewis died from the Swine Flu.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Tell me what your plans are, and I'll tell how your are going to Fail.

Who hasn't heard that? Second-guessing is a skill honed in every office place in the world. In politics it is second nature to second guess. Because it so easy to find potential flaws, it is almost human nature to do so. In today's Internet-connected world we are all second guessers. What used to be reserved for the Editorial and Opinion page is now "news" on TV, radio and every blog on the net.

This is good, you say. This makes us think. Well placed criticism does make us think. Feedback is part of any successful planning process. But most of what is labeled critique is actually "throwing stones to draw attention to the stone thrower". If some talking head on CNBC says Timmothy Geittner's plan will fail, he isn't trying to help the Treasury Secretary solve the world's problems. He is trying to sell his own name, his blog, his book, i.e. his "brand". In a few months, when the dust settles on the Financial crisis will errant opinions be called out and graded? Nah. We live in a short-term world. Yesterday's news is buried in a heap of Tweets no one can keep up with. Good stone throwers know that if you keep throwing stones at new targets, old "misses" are soon forgotten.

There is a greater implication. The loss of long-term thinking in a world that only measures short-term results. Our world is increasingly complex but our news is remarkably simplistic - a child murderer in California, toxic assets, a few cases of swine flu. Did you know that 1000 children die every day from contaminated water? Or that more firefighters die from Heart Disease than fire and smoke? The result is a total lack of perspective and context, which creates the ideal environment for throwing stones.

Tell me what your plans are and I'll tell you how I can help - maybe.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Facebook Press Releases from the not-so-distant Future

Facebook changes company name to WWW.
Facebook signed up the last connected human today, reaching the 2B user mark. CEO, Mark Z was quoted as saying "We have the whole wide world right where we want them".

Facebook proves to be Fad

Mass user exodus attributed to Woody Allen affect - "I wouldn't want to be a member of a club that would have me".

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

What a Tweet Thought.

From All Things Digital, "University of Wisconsin-Madison biomedical engineering doctoral student Adam Wilson has successfully tested a “brain wave monitor” to the Twitter publishing interface, allowing him to compose a message merely by thinking and publish it to the arguably too-popular microblogging service."

Do you see where this is going? No I don't mean the end of text messaging with fingers.
Go a bit further and imagine all of our thoughts collected, stored and searched by (The Google). Cool, uh?

Friday, April 3, 2009

Resist Twitter?

Twitter is a lottery with a key difference. The winning ticket was drawn "before" the tickets went on sale. Biz Stone, founder of Twitter, has the winning ticket, but we still feel compelled to buy tickets. We don't want to be "left out", "un-cool" or out of sync with the Obama generation. Everyone talks about Twitter although the old line about "how are they gonna make money" is starting to wane. We all know the answer. After a billion tickets (or Tweets) the winning number will be drawn (sort of) and the winning ticket holder (Biz Stone) will come forward to collect his One Billion Dollars. Yep, that's what this is all about.

Text messaging across the celluar-internet boundary at 140 characters (vs. 160 for SMS), and a clever name. The guys at YouTube got $1.6B for little more than that. Chad and Steve didn't invent "user generated video", they just had a clever name, and a venture backer who happened to be on the board of directors at Google.

Biz Stone is a former Google employee. He made Blogger (the application hosting this blog) a success for Google.

And if you are still wondering why anyone would care if you are eating a bagel or picking your nose, you're right - they don't. Twitter will persist as yet another electronic message conduit - a mechanism to influence while informing you, like Google, Yahoo, CNN, etc., and those who profit from providing the conduit like Verizon and TMobile.
"Psst, there's a bagel crumb stuck to your cheek".

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