Media Mining Digest 19 – Mar 23, 2012: Secular Activists, Atheism 2.0, India Health Care, Nepal Sex Slaves, Health Living Hazards, Startup Success, Girls and Technology, Brain Map, Docs Make Mistakes, Bottle-Grown Food, Electrocuting Cancer, Internet History, Windowpane Energy, Norden Bombsight, Open-source cancer research, India vs China Growth, New Reactors, and Promoting Well-being

Go here or here for a list of all 22 links found in this episode.

Secular Activists 35 mins – A common goal of free thinkers, humanists, skeptics, and atheists is to preserve Thomas Jefferson’s “wall of separation” between church and state. But we haven’t always been successful in this area—help from the courts notwithstanding—or at beating back the steady advances of the religious right. Sean Faircloth,  director of strategy and policy for the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science and author of  Attack of the Theocrats: How the Religious Right Harms Us All and What to Do About It discusses how we can be more active in advocating secular policy.

Atheism 2.0 20 mins – What aspects of religion should atheists (respectfully) adopt? Alain de Botton suggests a “religion for atheists” — call it Atheism 2.0 — that incorporates religious forms and traditions to satisfy our human need for connection, ritual and transcendence.

India Health Care 10 mins –  Only one percent of the country’s GDP is spent on improving healthcare infrastructure, but private subsidies are filling gaps left by the government. Narayana Hrudayalaya heart hospital in Bangalore is the world’s busiest heart hospital and performs over 30 heart operations daily. Sixty percent of the patients are from a poor background and pay almost nothing for heart surgery. That’s because 40 percent of the hospital’s patients who can afford to cover the cost of their treatment do so. The hospital’s founder is Dr Devi Shetty, one of the world’s most successful heart surgeons. “India needs to do 2.5 million heart surgeries a year. We are genetically three times more vulnerable to heart attacks than Europeans. But as of now, only about 90,000-100,000 heart surgeries are done,” Dr Shetty says.

Nepal Sex Slaves 10 mins – Every year 7000 Nepali girls forced by their families to search for a job outside the village are trafficked across the border to India to work in brothels or are sold into household slavery. It’s been called the busiest slave traffic in the world.

Healthy Living Hazards 9 mins  – For a full year A.J.Jacobs followed every piece of health advice he could — from applying sunscreen by the shot glass to wearing a bicycle helmet while shopping. He notes, for example that more people die from drunk walking than drunk driving as an argument for walking helmets. He concludes that noise is a modern hazard we should try to cure, and that finding joy is essential to health.

Startup Success 12 mins – Startups, using a theater analogy, usually centers on Act 1 and Act 3 — the initial creative inspiration and the final reaping of huge profits. But it’s the taxing, daily work of Act 2 that ultimately brings success and sustainable maturity.  Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup, talks about how the essential decisions of an ultimately successful startup are made in the boring, day-to-day grind. How do you measure progress for a project with no precedent?  Eric takes the view that a startup is a scientific experiment designed to test hypotheses, and therefore requires a unique managerial approach. He talks about why this approach is necessary and briefly describes an “Innovation Accounting” method to guide day-to-day decision-making and inform larger course corrections. Referencing his book, he also talks briefly about five major lessons learned from the trenches of his own startups and those he has advised.

Girls and Technology 41 mins – Dr. Moira Gunn talks with Stanford professor, Cliff Nauss about his journey into the female response to the personal technology boom in his new book, The Man who Lied to His Laptop.  He lived in a freshman dorm for six years while researching the book and found the machine allows users to retreat from socialization. It’s a barrier to personal communication which needs to be done face-to-face, but may be less important for boys.

Brain Map 15 mins – In this talk Allan Jones shows how his team is mapping which genes are turned on in each tiny region of the brain and how it all connects up. The project started with mouse brain mapping (50 mins) discussed in 2009.  When the project is completed in 2012, at an expected cost of $55 million, its data sets will list the roughly 20,000 genes that, switched on in the exact right place at the exact right time, give rise to this self-aware tangle of neurons. And because the vast majority of mental illnesses and disorders, from schizophrenia to autism, have a significant genetic component, scientists at the institute hope that the atlas will eventually lead to new methods of diagnosis and more effective medical treatments.

Docs Make Mistakes 20 mins – Every doctor makes mistakes. But, says physician Brian Goldman, medicine’s culture of denial (and shame) keeps doctors from ever talking about those mistakes, or using them to learn and improve. Telling stories from his own long practice, he calls on doctors to start talking about being wrong. He’s an emergency-room physician and host of CBC Radio’s “White Coat, Black Art.”

Bottle-Grown Food 8 mins – Britta Riley wanted to grow her own food (in her tiny apartment). So she and her friends developed a system for growing plants in discarded plastic bottles — researching, testing and tweaking the system using social media, trying many variations at once and quickly arriving at the optimal system discussed here and at Windowfarms.

Electrocuting Cancer 16 mins – Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation are the best-known methods for treating cancer. At TEDMED, Bill Doyle presents a new approach, called Tumor Treating Fields, which uses electric fields to interrupt cancer cell division. The treatment from his company, NovoCure, is in Phase III clinical trials and due to be completed in 2015.

Internet History 6 mins – Imagine it’s late 1990, and you’ve just met a nice young man named Tim Berners-Lee, who starts telling you about his proposed system called the World Wide Web. Ian Ritchie was there. And … he didn’t buy it. A short story about information, connectivity and learning from mistakes.

Windowpane Energy 13 mins – What would happen if we could generate power from our windowpanes? Entrepreneur Justin Hall-Tipping shows the materials that could make that possible, and how questioning our notion of ‘normal’ can lead to extraordinary breakthroughs. His talk generated over 100 comments at the download site about such things as “beaming energy from one window to another”.

Norden Bombsight 15 mins – a groundbreaking piece of World War II technology with a deeply unexpected result. We kept it secret, but it turns out the Germans had similar technology and it wasn’t the solution to many bombing problems. The drones or UAV’s of today pose a similar situation.

Open-source cancer research 13 mins – How does cancer know it’s cancer? At Jay Bradner’s lab, they found a molecule that might hold the answer, JQ1 — and instead of patenting JQ1, they published their findings and mailed samples to 40 other labs to work on. A look at the open-source future of medical research.

India vs China Growth 19 mins – Economist Yasheng Huang compares China to India, and asks how China’s authoritarian rule contributed to its astonishing economic growth — leading to a big question: Is democracy actually holding India back? Does democracy hinder or promote economic growth? Literacy in China is 77% and in India it’s 48%. In China this means you can read/write 1500 characters. In India it only means you can write your name.

New Reactors 12 mins – Federal regulators signed off on the construction and operation of two nuclear reactors at a Georgia plant that will start operating in 2016. It’s the first license to be granted for a new reactor in the U.S. since 1978. Nuclear expert Per Peterson discusses the reactors’ design, safety features and what this means for the future of nuclear power.

Promoting Well-being 16 mins – People want to be treated as individuals but also feel as part of a group. Politicians need to make people feel that they belong to a community. Effective managers don’t act as leaders, but as facilitators. This encourages people to become involved, an approach shown to be very effective even in prison communities. Well-being research is allowing a monetary value to be placed on the trust levels of communities. It measures trust, involvement and engagement. In Sri Lanka a simple chart marked by happy or sad faces help dysfunctional families become functional. In a Singapore prison it reduces recidivism by a third and improves life for guards and prisoners.

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About virginiajim

Retired knowledge nut.
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