The Anti-Vaccination Epidemic
Almost 8,000 cases of pertussis, better known as whooping cough, have been reported to California’s Public Health Department so far this year. More than 250 patients have been hospitalized, nearly all of them infants and young children, and 58 have required intensive care. Why is this preventable respiratory infection making a comeback? In no small part thanks to low vaccination rates, as a story earlier this month in the Hollywood Reporter pointed out.
The conversation about vaccination has changed. In the 1990s, when new vaccines were introduced, the news media were obsessed with the notion that vaccines might be doing more harm than good. The measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine might cause autism, we were told. Thimerosal, an ethyl-mercury containing preservative in some vaccines, might cause developmental delays. Too many vaccines given too soon, the stories went, might overwhelm a child’s immune system.
Then those stories disappeared. One reason was that study after study showed that these concerns were ill-founded. Another was that the famous 1998 report claiming to show a link between vaccinations and autism was retracted by The Lancet, the medical journal that had published it. The study was not only spectacularly wrong, as more than a dozen studies have shown, but also fraudulent. The author, British surgeon Andrew Wakefield, has since been stripped of his medical license.
But the damage was done. Countless parents became afraid of vaccines. As a consequence, many parents now choose to delay, withhold, separate or space out vaccines. Some don’t vaccinate their children at all. A 2006 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that between 1991 and 2004, the percentage of children whose parents had chosen to opt out of vaccines increased by 6% a year, resulting in a more than twofold increase.
How people can be so misguided baffles me, but I continue to hold out hope that any meaningful rise in the occurrences of these preventable diseases will drive people back to vaccines. After all, it’s easy to think they can be delayed or skipped when no one you know is sick. Once you’re friends with parents who didn’t vaccinate their kid, and that kid ends up hospitalized with whooping cough, maybe you’ll think twice about vaccinations when you have kids of your own, even if you are suspicious of them.
Why Scrum Should Basically Just Die In A Fire
In addition to defying logic and available evidence, both these Agile Manifesto principles encourage a kind of babysitting mentality. I’ve never seen Scrum-like frameworks for transmuting the work of designers, marketers, or accountants into cartoonish oversimplifications like story points. People are happy to treat these workers as adults and trust them to do their jobs.
I don’t know why this same trust does not prevail in the culture of managing programmers. That’s a question for another blog post. I suspect that the reasons are historical, and fundamentally irrelevant, because it really doesn’t matter. If you’re not doing well at hiring engineers, the answer is not a deeply flawed methodology which collapses under the weight of its own contradictions on a regular basis. The answer is to get better at hiring engineers, and ultimately to get great at it.
One of the best articles on software process I’ve read in a long time.
U2 and Apple collaborate on non-piratable ‘interactive format for music’
If true, this is a bad sign. There are large paradigm shifts going on in music that gimmicks like this aren’t going to stop or even meaningfully slow down. Apple is known for recognizing those shifts and getting in front of them, but this kind of initiative looks like they’re trying to find way to cling to the past.
Does Anyone Want a Smartwatch?
Reading this an hour before Apple’s extremely hyped event, the answers provided to the questions asked in this article are the ones to look for:
What’s notable is the percentage of people who don’t see what makes a smartwatch particularly useful. While MP3 players could be marketed as a replacement for CD players, and smartphones could be sold as better cell phones, smartwatches have nothing to displace. Companies have to persuade people to add a device to their lives. And given that, people aren’t going to buy smartwatches unless they do something that existing devices, like smartphones or fitness trackers, don’t do—or, in any case, unless they do it better.
So far, no smartwatch has accomplished this. Sure, you can put your Galaxy Gear to your ear and make a call, or hold it in the air and take a photo, but you can do all that—and without all the calisthenics—with a smartphone. Pop-up notifications about e-mails, appointments, and missed calls can be useful, but they can also be overwhelming, and many of the existing smartwatches are worse than smartphones at letting you customize the alerts. Fitness features like heart-rate trackers are nice, but specialized fitness devices like the Fitbit already do all that.
The question is whether Apple can introduce a watch that does more.
The Jennifer Lawrence Leak: Who Is at Risk Now?
The larger security problem, it seems, comes from a general misunderstanding about how a smartphone differs from, say, a large online forum. Most discreet people know not to upload nude photos onto the Internet but are unaware that a photograph shared privately, through a text message or e-mail, is hardly private at all. “Storing data on a phone carries an inherent risk,” Felten wrote. “The complexity of the software on our phones, and the network and cloud infrastructure to which they connect, makes it difficult to identify, let alone secure, all of the points of vulnerability. It’s prudent to assume that anything on your phone is potentially at risk.”
I wonder how much of this was caused by the simple fact that iCloud Photo Streams have always had a messy and confusing mental model. If you send a photo to someone directly from the Messages app, for example, by default it saves that image to the photo album. If it’s saved to the photo album, by default it uploads to your Photo Stream. Just like that, the image you meant to send to someone is also both in your camera roll and in iCloud. If you notice that private photo in your photo album and delete it, it’s not deleted from your Photo Stream, too. You have to switch over to that set of photos and also delete it there. It’s a mess.
Of course it’s possible some of these photos were meant to be kept, but I’m sure some, and maybe most, were meant to be ephemeral. I’ve never met a non-techie that understands what Photo Streams are, and it wouldn’t surprise me if that same confusion is why some of these photos were hackable in the first place.