Featured

Pivot: Let’s talk about a bombing

NOTES FROM A COLD CASE AT THE CLEVELAND MUSEUM OF ART

So I took a short break from the 511, in order to bring you the audio of a Zoom talk I gave for the Cleveland Public Library back in October. Unfortunately, it’s even more relevant today than it was two short weeks ago.

This story is based on an essay I wrote for Harper’s in March 2020: “‘Off the Ruling Class: Notes from a Cold Case at the Cleveland Museum of Art.” It’s about the unsolved case of the March 24, 1970 bombing of Rodin’s “The Thinker,” as well as the museum’s deft damage control that followed. Members of Weather Underground, J. Edgar Hoover, Bob Dylan, and the Rolling Stones have cameos, and this story offers us a cautionary tale about when tempers flair, discourse fails, and incendiary devices fill the void.

The Thinker, behind his pedestal, marred by graffiti: “Off the Ruling Class.” (March 24, 1970)
(Courtesy of Cleveland Memory Project: Cleveland State University, Michael Schwartz)

For my talk with the Cleveland Public Library, we had a fantastic Q&A at the end, but without NDAs for attendees, the recording is safely tucked away, never to be seen (or heard) again. In turn, I present the talk in three downloadable audio files for your listening pleasure. (Please, of course, don’t re-post the audio tracks elsewhere. Thank you.)

In the event you want to follow along with the accompanying visuals, you can find them here. While they’re not an official sponsor, this talk was fueled by Pin High, the tasty pilsner brewed by the fine folks at Market Garden Brewery, in Cleveland, Ohio.

Track 1

Prelude: On the Legacy of J. Edgar Hoover

Track 2

I. The Bombing: Motive, Ability, Opportunity: Are Weatherman Likely Suspects?
II. Point / Counterpoint: CMA’s Masterful Management of the Message

Track 3

III. The Virtue of the Commons: Making Sense of “The Thinker” in Difficult Times
IV. The Wrap


Thank you for tuning in. Our regularly scheduled programming will return next week.

If you like this project, remember: sharing is caring! Or drop me a line @randaldoane.

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Featured

STEM education as equity

The 511 / December 9, 2020

For information in the 20th century, we called 411. The 511 includes: 

  • a handful of paragraphs about health tech or some other science-y thing
  • 1 sentence for reflection (and maybe a laugh), and 
  • 1 track I’ve currently got in heavy rotation.

A different mode of enrollment

Welcome to the 15 people who started following my blog since Thanksgiving.

I’m doing something a bit shorter than usual, as I have an essay on this topic under review. So, here’s the question, the key conditions, and one way to pilot a solution:

The question

With the normalization of online education, can we forge new solutions that simultaneously address:

  • racialized health inequities in the US, and
  • STEM prep for college-bound kids from underrepresented groups?
Key conditions
Ideas for a pilot program
  • Pay promising students from underrepresented groups to enroll in an eight-week hybrid summer course in CHEM after their first year of high school.
  • Apply economies of scale to develop a top-flight online lecture component for the course.
  • Employ graduate students or med students as teaching assistants in well-equipped labs for small groups.
  • Boost retention of the material by periodically priming the students during the school year.
  • Students who pass with a B- or better remain eligible to return for the next summer course in BIOL.
  • The following year, the students have the option to enroll in a college-prep MATH course.

The money is there. Is the will? Let’s see. I hope that, in just a few days, I’ll be posting a link to the essay at the top of this post.

5(1)1 — On leadership and the power of a good story

“Mobilizing others to achieve purpose under conditions of uncertainty — what leaders do — challenges the hands, the head, and the heart.”

marshall ganz, from
Public Narrative, Collective Action, and Power
51(1) — In rotation: The Go-Go’s’ “Club Zero”

Club Zero” is a welcome blast from my past, courtesy of the algorithms of Spotify, with a much punkier feel than anything the Go-Go’s landed in rotation on commercial radio back in the day.

The first single from the Go-Go’s in 19 years. Cool.

Please share this post with someone you know who’s interested in health, leadership, and music.

I’m also on this thing called Twitter (@randaldoane). While it may be a passing fad, let’s connect, just in case it proves enduring.

If you want to talk about a grant proposal you’re working on, or a newsletter that needs more pop, drop me a line over here.

Cheers!

Sources

Today, everything’s hotlinked above. Thanks!

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Product test: Embr Wave

The 511 / December 28, 2020

For information in the 20th century, we called 411. The 511 includes: 

  • a handful of paragraphs about health tech or some other science-y thing
  • 1 sentence for reflection (and maybe a laugh), and 
  • 1 track I’ve currently got in heavy rotation.

Welcome to the 13 people who started following my blog in the past couple of weeks. The holiday threw me off schedule, but I’m back at it today.

Your personal thermostat: Embr Wave

While doing some NSF-related research for a client, I came across Embr Wave, who ran the SBIR-NSF gauntlet successfully, and now there product’s on the market. And it’s doing well. I don’t know how many units they’re moving, but nearly 1000 user reviews give it 4+ stars … or, well, you know what I mean :).

They’re also fundamentally an honest bunch: it’s presently marketed as a device for (menopausal) women, but their origin story is considerably less high-minded.

“When founders Matt, David, and Sam spent a summer needing to put sweatshirts on to stay warm in their over-airconditioned MIT lab, they began to question if the current technology used to combat thermal discomfort was really the best we could do.”

Women now claim the roles of CEO and Head Product. Good on them — and probably good for business.

I had a fortuitous December work-wise, signing a couple decent sized agreements for branding work just ahead of the holiday. To share the joy of the season, I bought a bracelet for a dear friend of mine. Since she’s relying on its benefits at night, I decided to take it for an afternoon spin.

The platform includes the bracelet and, of course, the phone-based app. The bracelet’s comfortable — and surprisingly so. I never, ever wear a watch while I’m typing, and I’m totally fine with this thing on. The preset sessions work fine for my current use: you can roll it up or down by degree of warmth or chill for 10 minutes, and it works at roughly 3 to 5 second intervals to thermoregulate your wrist and, ideally, spread a sense of warmth (or chilled comfort) across your body. The heat is localized, of course, so I don’t see myself cranking this baby up past 6 or so. But so far, so good.

They seem like a small operation, so I’m not expecting some sorta HAL-like AI to lurk inside the app. Still, it seems as if the Embr app could accommodate some custom programming for, say, 8 hours of sleep, with disruptions expected at definable intervals. (My own understanding of menopause is only second hand, of course.)

The company offers a generous return policy, too, and they’re still in holiday sale mode through Thursday. (I have, of course, no affiliation with this company.) Check it out @ https://embrlabs.com/pages/how-it-works.

5(1)1 — On structures for empowerment

““My freedom consists in my moving about within the narrow frame that I have assigned myself for each one of my undertakings. I shall go even farther: my freedom will be so much greater and more meaningful the more narrowly I limit my field of action and the more I surround myself with obstacles.

Whatever diminishes constraint; diminishes strength. The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees oneself of the chains that shackle the spirit.”

igor stravinsky
51(1) — In rotation: Ella Fitzgerald’s “Winter Wonderland”

A perfectly fine song made brilliant by the greatest singer of the 20th century.

Please share this post with someone you know who’s interested in health, leadership, and music.

I’m also on this thing called Twitter (@randaldoane). While it may be a passing fad, let’s connect, just in case it proves enduring.

If you want to talk about branding and marketing in medtech, or a newsletter that needs more pop, drop me a line over here.

Cheers!

Sources

Today, everything’s hotlinked above. Thanks!

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Even algorithms need human consent

The 511 / November 26, 2020

For information in the 20th century, we called 411. The 511 includes: 

  • a handful of paragraphs about health tech or some other science-y thing
  • 1 sentence for reflection (and maybe a laugh), and 
  • 1 track I’ve currently got in heavy rotation.

Contact tracing and the question of trust

Celebrations across the country today will be muted, no doubt, due in large part to the pandemic and its recent surge. While the United States is not alone in this regard, let’s take quick stock of why, from New Mexico to Montana to Ohio and back again, the numbers continue to surge.

In “People proving to be weakest link for apps tracking COVID-19 exposure,” reporter Rae Ellen Bichell explores how, in Ireland and Switzerland, for example, more than 20% of their populations use a contact-tracing app. In the US, with the federal government’s laissez-faire approach to the pandemic, the response falls short of “patchwork”: that analogy suggests a connection of disparate elements. With only 12 states using phone-based, contact-tracing apps, it’s more of a scatter shot.

This uneven effort has all sorts of limitations that even the most crackerjack programmer cannot solve — namely, generalized doubt. People doubt it will matter. They doubt their privacy will be respected. They doubt the efficacy of government at multiple levels. So, either they don’t download the app or, if they do download the app, they don’t use it. In October, in North Dakota, Bichell notes, “about 90 people tested positive and received the codes required to alert their contacts. Only about 30% did so.”

Bloomberg Law, October 13, 2020.

The flipside of doubt is trust, which continues to be eroded in the US by partisan politics and media, and the White House especially. Nearly a year before the pandemic lockdown, Scientific American noted how “the Trump administration’s unprecedented record on science will harm people across the country, especially the most disenfranchised. While the sheer number of attacks on science is shocking, what a lack of science-informed policy means for our country is even more shocking.” Science only takes root in societies with healthy levels of trust. When politicians sow doubt in that soil, our shared sense of belonging, the balance between our freedoms and our responsibilities, wither and perish.

Harvard’s Julia Marcus, in a recent article in the New York Times, says more than she means about the recent surge of infections.

“Somebody says something, and somebody else says it, and then it just becomes truth,” said Julia Marcus, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Harvard University. “I worry about this narrative that doesn’t yet seem to be data-based.”

Small Gatherings Spread the Virus, but Are They Causing the Surge?,” New York Times, November 23, 2020

Enrollment in general, and for contact-tracing apps in particular, depends upon trust. Early adopters can create momentum, even across state lines, and build toward critical mass, “the percolation threshold,” or the tipping point. A favorite analogy for such developments is, of course, a viral pandemic.

Stay safe, and get that turkey to 165 degrees — Fahrenheit, of course. 🙂

5(1)1 — On life from a position of generosity and growth

““If you want to love what you do, abandon the passion mindset (“what can the world offer me?”) and instead adopt the craftsman mindset (“what can I offer the world?”).”

cal newport, from  So Good They Can’t Ignore You
51(1) — In rotation: Sly & and the Family Stone’s “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)”

I hope you, too, have reasons to offer a “Thank You” to your friends, your family, and your collective health today. Things do look grim, but, as Leonard Cohen notes, there’s a crack in everything. It’s how the light gets in. May this song add some sweetness and light to your day. Enjoy!

As you may know, Sly & the Family Stone weighed heavily on the imagination of rock critic Greil Marcus, and took up a sizeable section of his landmark book Mystery Train: Images of America in Rock’n’Roll Music (1975). I’ve written about that book, in an essay on Hamell on Trial, in case you’re interested.

Please share this post with someone you know who’s interested in health, leadership, and music.

I’m also on this thing called Twitter (@randaldoane). While it may be a passing fad, let’s connect, just in case it proves enduring.

If you want to talk about a grant proposal you’re working on, or a newsletter that needs more pop, drop me a line over here.

Cheers!

Sources

People proving to be weakest link for apps tracking COVID-19 exposure,” Rae Ellen Bichell, Kaiser Health News (in Fierce Biotech) | November 20, 2020. https://www.fiercebiotech.com/medtech/people-proving-to-be-weakest-link-for-apps-tracking-covid-exposure .

“The Trump Administration Has Attacked Science 100 Times … and Counting,” Scientific American, May 29, 2019. https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/the-trump-administration-has-attacked-science-100-times-and-counting/ .

“Midwestern States Surge Toward Top of All-Time U.S. Covid Cases,” Bloomberg Law, October 13, 2020. https://news.bloomberglaw.com/coronavirus/midwestern-states-surge-toward-top-of-all-time-u-s-covid-cases.

Apoorva Mandavilli, “Small Gatherings Spread the Virus, but Are They Causing the Surge?,” New York Times, November 23, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/23/health/coronavirus-holiday-gatherings.html?searchResultPosition=1.

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