If using your brain to navigate makes it bigger and better, than what does using satnav and other technologies do for it?
As Non-Resident Indians (or NRIs) we are among the most educated and highest earning ethnic minorities in our countries of domicile – making the term NRI a metaphor for success everywhere. By any measure, we have reached a critical mass and a critical achievement level but, alas, there has been no global media platform to talk about our achievements, aspirations, our culture or multitudes of cultures, and even our idiosyncracies. We believe it is time for a magazine which does just that.
discussion on software piracy. The problem of free: it creates a free culture.
I can’t find the original article on the IHT website, but there’s a great piece in today’s edition on how pharmaceutical companies push their drugs by funding — I would say bribing — doctors. It’s written by Daniel Carlat, who writes a blog and publishes the Carlat Psychiatry Report.
The most interesting part of the piece is on something called prescription data-mining, where data from pharmacists on prescriptions — what patients are given what medicines — are linked to the doctors prescribing said medicines. This allows pharmaceutical companies to target doctors and get them to push their drugs by paying them to make presentations to other doctors.
Carlat himself made $30,000 in a year doing this before he saw the light. He is now a major critic of the practice, and challenges in a recent blog post the absurd industry defense of the practice of prescription data-mining that it’s all about transparency:
Today, however (on a tip from PharmaGossip), I read the most absurd argument in its defense yet, reported in yesterday’s Philadelphia Inquirer. The reporter, Karl Stark, quoted Jody Fisher, Verispan’s vice president of product management, as saying: “Doctors are trying to create a special right of privacy. I can certainly appreciate where they’re coming from. But the way the world is going is toward increased transparency of information.”
“Transparency of information”! What a wonderful Web 2.0 buzz phrase!
Of course, I’m interested because you can see in it the power of data-mining. The original pharmacist data doesn’t include the doctors’ names, only their Drug Enforcement Agency registration numbers. It’s the American Medical Association that effectively reveals the doctors’ names to Big Pharma by licensing its file of U.S. physicians, allowing data-mining companies like IMS Health and Verispan to match the numbers with the names, Carlat writes in today’s IHT piece. The AMA makes millions of dollars in this process, by the way.
Are similar things being done with our Internet-based data? Is the anonymous becoming less anonymous? If it’s not being done now, assume it will be in the future. It’s a great example of how data aren’t always valuable until they’re linked to other data, and then they’re extremely valuable.
Maybe other countries are different, but where I live doctors don’t just put any old picture on the wall. They seem to prefer to scare the bejesus out of you with graphic cross sections of your innards, usually in a state of advanced decay. This one had a nice picture clock on the wall, featuring a charming young lady. Only upon closer inspection the blurb read “I beat Hep C” or something. Great. Good pickup line, lady.
Update: Popular request, here’s the clock:
apparently it comes from a Schering-Plough campaign of the same name.
Football (OK, soccer) is pushing to the forefront of adopting interesting technologies. Here’s one I hadn’t heard from Bolton Wanderers, where players enter a chamber at minus 120 degrees Celsius to enhance muscle recovery after training. It’s called cryotherapy, according to the Daily Mail:
The technique was originated in Japan in 1978 to help arthritis sufferers and patients with joint conditions. In time, athletes claimed it enhanced muscle recovery and reduced muscle pain. [Bolton’s new head of sports science and medicine Richard] Freeman said: “It’s made from liquid nitrogen and liquid oxygen mixed to the right proportion to become liquid synthetic air. It’s quite safe despite the temperatures.
“It’s still in its infancy but players benefit. It’s like stretching before a game. There’s little scientific evidence why it works but it clearly does. The players like it and feel they benefit. After a heavy training session, a weights session or an intense game, they feel better quicker and it has been shown to improve muscle structure and muscle function.
The chamber is cooled, typically with liquid nitrogen, to a temperature of –110 C. The patient is protected from acute frostbite with socks, gloves and mouth and ear protection, but in addition to that, wears nothing but a bathing suit. The patients spends a few minutes in the chamber. During treatment the average skin temperature drops 12 C, while the coldest skin temperature can be 5 C. The core body temperature remains unchanged during the treatment, while after it, it may drop slightly. Curiously enough, some patients compare the feeling to sauna at +110 C. Release of endorphins occurs, resulting in analgesia (immediate pain relief).
Want one of your own? Buy the CryoCabin CYRODOC from the Zwolle-based company of the same name:
Treatment in the CRYODOC CryoCabin takes only 3 minutes at a temperature of -130 Cº to -150 Cº , producing several important salutary effects throughout the body: energy boost, skin regeneration and rejuvenation, protection against fading skin, strengthening of the immune system, fighting stress and chronic fatigue, increased metabolic rate, weight reduction, fighting cellulite, pain reduction, and generally improving the overall state of health.
I’ll spare you some of the more graphic pictures on their website (think cellulite and elbow rash. But I like the way this lady’s earrings twinkle in her CryoCabin:
Those who got excited about the idea of a washable keyboard (which I wrote about in a WSJ.com column a few weeks back — sorry, subscription only; a version appeared on the BBC World Service, and is available as a podcast) can now get excited about Washable Computer Mice, from Unotron:
Unotron’s pioneering mice design configurations and materials allow these patented products to be easily washed, immersed and disinfected by commercial-grade detergents and anti-bacterial agents while providing users with comfort, control and reliability. SpillSeal washable mice are manufactured and assembled to support restrictive cleaning/disinfection procedures without any detrimental effect to the exterior or the products’ internal components.
Makes sense, actually. As I realised when I was doing the keyboard column, we spend an inordinate amount of time with our fingers on these things, and while we may not spend quite as much time using the mouse, there’s still enough gunky activity going on for us to pay the same attention to keeping the little rodents clean. Sadly no pictures or details of mice having a bath are available on Unotron’s website yet, so here’s a picture of a keyboard getting washed instead: