For Your Consideration: Creative Block, Testosterone Fix, No Unvaccinated Enrollment, and Info-Doughnuts

1. It’s That Creative Block Again

When we say “I can’t come up with anything,” the truth is that’s not really accurate. What we mean to say is, “I can’t come up with anything good.” And that’s the problem right there. Because we’re designers who want to do amazing work, and because we perceive ourselves as professionals, we’re already busy filtering our own ideas and deciding they’re bad in advance.

That’s how we get stuck.

If, on the other hand, we would say to ourselves: “let’s do something crappy,” our lives would be that much easier. Anyone can do a shit job. Want a bad logo? Give me two minutes. Want a bad name for your brand? 20 seconds will suffice.

When we do crappy work, two great things happen:

  1. We already have something to build on. Worst case scenario – we can’t find anything good – at least we can bring something bad to the table, which is a thousand times better than bringing nothing.
  2. Once we pencil down the idea, we can start analyzing why it’s no good. As soon as we explain to ourselves and even make notes of why the current idea is bad, we can pick one problem at a time and try and solve it. That, in turn, will bring up a slightly less awful idea, which we can then analyze too, and so on until we get a good one.

It’s only a stupid myth that all these geniuses we keep reading about came up with their brilliant ideas on their first try. The truth is they came up with them after a handful of crappy ideas – we just didn’t get to see those.

2. Why Testosterone Is The Drug Of The Future

The emerging popularity of testosterone has opened up whole new business models for entrepreneurial doctors. Chains of shops that provide the hormone have exploded all over the United States, especially across the South. How many millions more men might be willing to try testosterone if it was easy to acquire, and a clinic happened to implant itself in an adjacent office building or a local strip mall, next to an abandoned video store and the Starbucks?

We don’t need to look ahead at human genetic engineering, brain implants, or crazy designer drugs to see the real future of our relationship with our bodies. The rise of testosterone use isn’t a drill for future body hacking—it is body hacking playing out right now across the American heartland, with a substance that was first synthesized in 1935. And in the coming years, the battles over T’s use are going to be repeated for future drugs that give people—anyone with money, at least—the power to transform the body beyond its innate abilities and configurations.

The crux of the medical ethics issue is this: are people taking testosterone to cure a disease, or are they taking it to transcend the limitations normally imposed on an aging human body?

These are not merely abstract, philosophical questions. What’s at stake is not only the ethical future of the medical community, but the boundaries of a human life.

3. How Schools Are Dealing With Anti-Vaccine Parents
What’s interesting to me is that a lack of comprehension about basic science has become passable as legitimate skepticism. Just because you don’t understand how something works does not exempt you or your loved ones from its consequences.

By revising its admissions policy and refusing to accept new students whose parents opt them out for personal beliefs, The Children’s House illustrates how schools are becoming ground zero for the anti-vaccine dispute. It also serves as an example of how educators—not state legislators or health officials—may be the ones who ultimately resolve the public controversy over immunization requirements.

“When enough people are vaccinated, viruses have trouble moving from host to host and cease to spread, sparing both the unvaccinated and those in whom the vaccination has not produced immunity.”

Vaccines only work if enough people in a community are vaccinated—what Vollbrecht referred to as herd immunity. As Biss writes in her book, vaccines are a kind of immunity banking, something an individual may need at a future point in their life: “When enough people are vaccinated, viruses have trouble moving from host to host and cease to spread, sparing both the unvaccinated and those in whom the vaccination has not produced immunity.” Researchers have found that, for vaccines to work, 92 percent or more of a population must be immunized against the disease. For highly contagious viruses, it takes 95 percent to protect the entire community.

By either measure, both Grand Traverse County and The Children’s House appeared to have dangerously high exemption rates. At the school in particular, the risk of losing herd immunity was disconcerting because it enrolls babies as young as 3 months old—infants who still aren’t fully vaccinated and rely on the rest of the school to shield them from outbreaks that can be life threatening for young children. In fact, earlier this week, the Los Angeles Times reported that a months-old baby who was too young for vaccinations contracted measles at daycare, forcing the subsequent quarantine of 14 infants enrolled at the same center, which is located on Santa Monica High School’s campus.

4. Facebook again, Trying to make the News Feed less useless.

The problem for Facebook is that user metrics have become a feedback loop for useless diversions. Though Facebook has gotten very good at the gold standard of stories — delivering important news about marriage, childbirth and exotic vacations of close friends — people’s news feeds (well, mine) have been overpopulated with listicles (50 Most Bizarre Prom Pictures!), animal videos (I Put A Go-Pro On My Dog And Left the House!), and political red-or-blue meat (Sarah Palin, Sarah Palin, Sarah Palin).

You could call this the Dozen Doughnuts problem. Many people conscious of their weight know it’s not a good idea to eat a doughnut every day, and if given a choice would not prefer that someone come into the workplace every morning with twelve Krispy Kremes. But if a misguidedly generous worker did just that, the temptation to pluck one of those jelly-filled delights might overrule discretion. It’s not that you want the doughnut—you aren’t clamoring for one, and you won’t miss that sugar bomb if it’s not in front of your face. But once that delicacy is in front of you…oh, what the hell!

For lots of us, the Facebook News Feed is a never ending delivery of info-doughnuts — empty calories of celebrity misdeeds, snuggling animals of different species, and quizzes that guess where you’re from (what, you don’t know? But we take the tests!). And when we do click on them, we send a strong signal to Facebook’s algorithms that we want to see those things. We clicked, didn’t we? And, as Facebook’s engineers and managers constantly explain, the company is nonjudgmental about what’s in anyone’s News Feed — as long as it makes the user happy.

“By denying scientific principals, one may maintain any paradox” – Galileo Galilei

I hope that you’ll read these articles if they catch your eye and that you’ll learn as much as I did. Please email me questions, feedback or raise issues for discussion. Better yet, if you know of something on a related topic, or of interest, please pass it along. And as always, if one of these links comes to mean something to you, recommend it to someone else.



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