Friday, December 24, 2010
Here's Ben "Bad Science" Goldacre presenting on how non-evidence-based medicine can kill you and thousands of your friends.
Ben's book, titled Bad Science, is great as well, and it comes highly recommended.
He had to take out a chapter to avoid litigation by Mathias Rath, who travelled to South Africa and widely publicised claims that vitamins can cure AIDS. This fell into line with the South African AIDS denialists.
Ben posted that chapter on his website, and it may be one of the most important things ever written in the area of critical thinking. Lack of responsible treatment for AIDS kills hundreds of thousands of people in Africa alone.
When people like Ben win, lives are saved. The more people who know about him, the better. He's a true hero of skepticism.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Researchers from the University of Birmingham in England collected health data for 1,300 people over a 14-year period. They also gave them each a stress test, which determines how a person's blood pressure and heart rate respond to stressful situations.
The more a person's vital signs remained unchanged during the stress test, the more likely they were to develop depression and obesity over the next five years -- and the more likely they were to report they were in poor overall health.
So, the saying shouldn't be "serenity now, insanity later"; rather, it's more like "serenity now, total physiological malfunction later."
Take some time to develop acceptable ways to release your emotions on a regular basis and stop carrying this added burden of emotional baggage.
Let it go! But don't aim it at anyone!
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Thursday, December 16, 2010
More information here at www.google.com/postini
Online attacks can be multimodal, in the sense of targeting multiple systems for maximum impact, such as the financial system (the stock exchange), physical plant (the control systems of a chemical, nuclear or electric plant), or mobile communications (mobile-phone message routers).
The trend toward supporting corporate applications on employee-owned notebooks and smartphones is already under way in many organisations and will become commonplace within four years.
The Apple iPad is the first of what promises to be a huge wave of media tablets focused largely on content consumption, and to some extent communications, rather than content creation, with fewer features and less processing power than traditional PCs and notebooks or pen-centric tablet PCs.
Friday, December 10, 2010
..With the continual emphasis on freemium business models and the ’give it away’ culture, Journalist and Broadcaster Guy Clapperton delivers a digitial reality check in which he asks us the famous phrase: show me the money!
He has been a freelance journalist in the technology and business arenas since 1989. You might have seen him on the BBC, read him in the Guardian, the Times, the Sunday Telegraph or most of the broadsheet national newspapers.
He has been freelance since 1993 and this has taught him, no matter what the superficial appeal of a business or technology idea, to sanity-check it for potential profits every time. Read more on his Alumni profile.
Watch Guy’s Insight in HD, along with other videos and speaker bio. His Twitter account
Thursday, December 9, 2010
In the latest edition of the Lab Matters video series, Ryan Naraine talks with Eugene Kaspersky about the state of the malicious Web and the evolution of malware from:-
- intrusion; viruses and worms, through
- Cyber crime; botnets to
- Cyber Warfare; Stuxnet and beyond.
Ernst & Young figures that something like two-thirds of major global enterprise businesses (the so-called Fortune 500) are now publishing a corporate sustainability or corporate responsibility report of some type. But what information should be included or excluded from these disclosures? How often should they published? Who should contribute information? Should financial analysts be explicitly briefed, especially since more of them apparently include these considerations in company valuations?
Those are among the broader questions explored in an Ernst & Young report called “7 Questions CEOs and Boards Should Ask About ‘Triple Bottom Line’ Reporting.”
The thing is, even though the Securities and Exchange Commissions is asking public companies to be more forthcoming about environmental-related risks and the Federal Trade Commission is cracking down on greenwashing, most of these reports are released voluntarily.
According to the report, here’s the risk of keeping triple bottom line reporting — information about a company’s environmental and social activities impact the planet, people and profits — to yourself:
“Companies that do not release sustainability information may appear less transparent than competitors that do, coming across as laggards even if they aren’t. And those that report incompletely, or which insufficient rigor may find that if reporting becomes mandatory and standards are tightened, glaring discrepancies may appear between past reports and newer ones. All of these factors have created momentum in the direction of more openness and more reporting.”
After reading the report and the questions it poses, I have these seven observations on best practices for crafting corporate sustainability or responsibility reports. I encourage you to download the entire Ernst & Young analysis, though, because it will really help your team start asking the right questions — regardless of whether or not you are already disclosing this information.
- Study your industry sector to understand which of your competitors are doing this.
- Understand the viewpoint of your major shareholders or institutional investors. According to Ernst & Young, there are two big resources to consult: the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment and the Principles for Responsible Investment.
- Probably the most widely used framework for triple bottom line reporting today is the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Reporting Framework, which suggests information that should be included and how it should be presented. The GRI reporting framework is relatively mature: it currently is undergoing its third revision, and some of the latest updates are expected in early 2011.
- Make the collection of information you need for corporate sustainability reporting a part of core processes — and job mandates. Otherwise the data could be cumbersome to gather or it simply will not be a priority for your executive team.
- Consider getting a third party to verify the information you are reporting. Even though this isn’t necessarily required today, it will demonstrate a higher level of transparency plus you may get some valuable feedback on things your company can do better.
- Be careful about how you disclose data from division to division or business unit to business unit. The people reading this report will naturally be inclined to make comparisons and if the information is reported differently, your message could appear disjointed. This also harkens back to the first point on this list: You need to understand how your competitors are talking about similar information — otherwise the wrong conclusions could be drawn.
- Don’t forget to use the information you gather for this reporting exercise as real key performance indicators that can help your company become more efficient overall. Period.
Finally, here are four reports that Ernst & Young suggests consulting for great ideas in corporate sustainability reporting:
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
This "silver tsunami" has received a mixed response in the workplace. On the one hand, many employers have been slow to adapt to the changing needs of older workers and perceive them to be costly and troublesome to maintain and hire.
Data shows that people over the age of 55 find it harder to land jobs than their younger counterparts, even though age discrimination is illegal in many countries.
On the other hand, some enlightened companies are working to recruit, retrain and otherwise engage these 'older' workers.
These workers bring a lifetime of skills to their jobs and can be highly motivated and productive members of the workplace.
Many of the stereotypes that prevent employers from hiring and making good use of older workers are mere myths and bigotry.
Here are some frequent myths:
Myth. Older workers cost more than younger ones and are less productive on the job.
Reality. Both concerns are untrue. While older workers may take longer to recover from injuries, studies show that they use fewer sick days on the whole than their younger counterparts.
Private Health care costs are actually less for older workers because they no longer have small children as dependents.
When it comes to job performance, older workers frequently outdo their younger colleagues. Older workers have less absenteeism, less turnover, superior interpersonal skills and deal better with customers. The evidence is overwhelming, older workers perform better on just about every level.
Myth. People at or near retirement age tend to lose interest in their jobs.
Reality. Studies find the opposite to be true.In a report titled, "Working in Retirement: A 21st Century Phenomenon," the Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College, it reported that those who worked past retirement age became more, rather than less, engaged and satisfied with their jobs.
Au contrire, the belief that older workers resist learning new things, older workers ranked "job challenge and learning" as a top source of satisfaction with their work.
Myth. Older workers in the workforce keep younger ones from getting jobs.
Reality. While it may be "a widespread belief that you have to get older people to retire to open up the career ladder and jobs for young people," the opposite again is true.
Ignorance of this fact caused many French college students to join the massive street protests last fall against raising the retirement age from 60 to 62.
Policies in countries that encourage workers to retire early actually have a damaging impact on youth employment.
This is because the growing number of retirees forces governments to finance their rising pension costs by raising taxes, which causes employers to scale back hiring or pay workers less.
In such cases, employers don't want to hire more young employees. The old notion of a fixed sum of jobs is just absolutely wrong."
Many myths about older workers reflect 20th century views of retirement that have proved to be short-lived.
Historically, the idea of people working full-time and stopping completely is an anomaly of world history.
The notion of retiring at age 65 came in with the Social Security system and employer-based pensions. But full retirement was never what most employees wanted. What they want is to keep working in some fashion. They want to change the way they work, but not stop altogether.
Monday, December 6, 2010
Games like World of Warcraft give players the means to save worlds, and incentive to learn the habits of heroes. What if we could harness this gamer power to solve real-world problems? Jane McGonigal says we can, and explains how.
Reality is broken, says Jane McGonigal, and we need to make it work more like a game. Her work shows us how.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Below are a number of links to several s+b articles which suggest that the pressure on retailers during the next few years, stemming from changes in technology and customer habits, will be even tougher to deal with than the financial pressures of the recent past.
Perhaps the biggest change is the rise of mobile commerce [http://www.strategy-business.com/article/00053?gko=9bcc1]: a world where most shoppers have smartphones and the store boundaries have eroded.
New academic studies [http://www.strategy-business.com/article/re00122?gko=ab138] confirm that online commerce will indeed permanently cannibalize bricks-and-mortar sales.
Big changes are also coming in luxury retail [http://www.strategy-business.com/article/00033?gko=82498] and in a general movement towards minimising the provision range to create simpler, less overwhelming choices [http://www.strategy-business.com/article/00046?gko=13ead].
Consumer habits are going through a "spend shift" [http://www.strategy-business.com/article/00054?gko=340d6] toward value and frugality. How can retailers cope with all this?
Possibly by reinventing themselves with a distinctive edge. There's much guidance on this subject in the new consumer and retail electronic newsletter [http://www.booz.com/global/home/what_we_do/industries/consumer_products/CR-Foresight/crfs_signup] from our parent firm, Booz & Company.
Each reinvention strategy will be different, but every retail enterprise will need one.
Thank you Art Kleiner
Better assessments, taxonomies, decision support systems and integrated research efforts will enable the field to mature and integrate into mainstream care a new generation of digital tools to assess, enhance, and treat cognition.
Currently, there are no magic pills or general solutions to encourage brain health and flexibility, but there is a toolkit of growing value when used appropriately.
We continue to predict that between now and 2015 brain fitness will become a mainstream concept, hopefully supported by a brain-based remedial framework. A concept that consumers and institutions will have access to much enhanced digital toolkits and platforms, and that a growing ecosystem will enable this growth.
Unfortunately, all the groundbreaking research and innovation has been occurring without a parallel growth of quality consumer education and professional development.
Cognition remains an elusive concept in popular culture, which limits the ability of consumers and professionals to make informed decisions. This may well be the major bottleneck limiting the field’s potential to deliver real-world benefits and move up the remedial benefits curve.
Unfortunately, only informed demand will ultimately ensure the development of a rational and structured marketplace.
Innovative partnerships will be required to channel the growing amount of interest, research, tools and, yes, controversy, into a better structured and sustainable marketplace.
It is forecast that the worldwide market will range between $2-8 billion by 2015, depending on how well the important category bottlenecks are addressed.
This presents significant opportunities for innovation, investment, business development and, ultimately, enhanced brain health and fitness of an aging society.
Executive Summary | SharpBrains
A condition which I am reluctant to call a disease until it has been clearly identified as such or better defined.
Terry Pratchett is also determined to write about his experiences with or within the condition, for as long as he can, and as always, he has been very lucid and open about how the condition manifests itself and affects his life.
He is also not alone in raging against the debilitating condition and the difficulty in finding an effective treatment for it or an approach to avoiding the onset of the condition in the first place, if possible.
…it is strange that a disease that attracts so much attention, awe, fear and superstition is so underfunded in treatment and research. We don't know what causes it, and as far as we know the only way to be sure of not developing it is to die young. Regular exercise and eating sensibly are a good idea, but they don't come with any guarantees. There is no cure. Researchers are talking about the possibility of a whole palette of treatments or regimes to help those people with dementia to live active and satisfying lives, with the disease kept in reasonably permanent check in very much the same way as treatments now exist for HIV. Not so much a cure therefore as - we hope - a permanent reprieve. We hope it will come quickly, and be affordable.
When my father was in his terminal year, I discussed death with him. I recall very clearly his relief that the cancer that was taking him was at least allowing him "all his marbles". Dementia in its varied forms is not like cancer. Dad saw the cancer in his pancreas as an invader but Alzheimer's is a slow unwinding of me, losing trust in myself, a butt of my own jokes and on bad days capable of playing hunt the slipper by myself and losing.
Another appropriate quote is taken from Pratchett's Unseen Academicals has Havelock Vetinari speaking terry's own words about natural evil.
I have told this to few people, gentlemen, and I suspect never will again, but one day when I was a young boy on holiday in Uberwald I was walking along the bank of a stream when I saw a mother otter with her cubs. A very endearing sight, I'm sure you will agree, and even as I watched, the mother otter dived into the water and came up with a plump salmon, which she subdued and dragged on to a half-submerged log. As she ate it, while of course it was still alive, the body split and I remember to this day the sweet pinkness of its roes as they spilled out, much to the delight of the baby otters who scrambled over themselves to feed on the delicacy. One of nature's wonders, gentlemen: mother and children dining upon mother and children. And that's when I first learned about evil. It is built in to the very nature of the universe. Every world spins in pain. If there is any kind of supreme being, I told myself, it is up to all of us to become his moral superior.
A call to rise above the casual cruelty of nature. Terry Pratchett has been afflicted with a disease which has, currently no known cause or cure. It is a condition that is slowly destroying his 'mind' and/or his current view of himself.
Perhaps the greatest fear of all, is that we lose the very intimate recollection of who we are because our perception of 'self' is all we have to identify ourselves as individuals and thus, separate ourselves from a collective entity.
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Tom Scott's Ignite London talk "Flash Mob Gone Wrong" is a fictional account of just how badly a flash mob could go.
It's got an eerie ring of plausibility, largely because each of the steps leading up to the disastrous ending actually happened, just not all together. It's a freaky way to spend five minutes.