Furthermore, HIV is quite fragile. It can’t sustain itself outside the human body very well and dies as soon as any blood containing it dries. So condoms laced with HIV would have to be sealed quickly and completely. This is doable if it is done in a factory setting. Achieving a good seal with a new wrapper would be difficult but possible with around $5000 in used sealing equipment.
Assuming you had some HIV+ individuals whose blood you could milk for virus, you could likely fill about 9000 condoms per pint of blood and withdraw one pint a month. Culturing it outside the body would be quite difficult and probably not worth the hassle since the lifecycle of HIV requires human blood of some sort anyway. Maybe if you kept a vat of human blood at room temperature, you could mix in uninfected blood as feedstock and continue culturing blood without needing to milk only infected individuals, but keeping the blood fresh enough over time and preventing it from drying out could be difficult.
However, the main problem would probably be temperature. Although HIV can survive in needles for up to 42 days when refrigerated around +4 degrees C, needles whose temperature rises even a little above room temperature (or to the common room temperature in much of Africa) can’t survive even a week. So even if someone wanted to, it looks like it would be quite difficult to successfully plant HIV in condoms… at least any condoms destined to be distributed in Africa.
If you’ve ever twisted your ankle or bruised your knee, you’ve probably heard the advice:
RICE = Rest + Ice + Compression + Elevation.
It’s one of the most central dogmas of sports medicine. And now the same doctor who coined the term “RICE” in 1978 has reviewed the scientific evidence and reversed his decision. Specifically, Rest and Ice are *NOT* advisable for injuries that are over 6 hours old. It turns out Ice, Rest, and Anti-Inflammatories all delay healing, rather than speed it up. Oops!
I recently got one and it makes my morning routine way more bearable. It seems ridiculous that avoiding handling a few bottles could matter, but it’s a big subjective difference to eliminate even 2-3 trivial inconveniences from the early part of my day when my brain isn’t actually functioning yet. Makes my bathroom less cluttered too.
Molly Fitzpatrick recently suggested that perhaps 23andMe has a future as a dating service. While her proposal probably involves a bit too much incest for the average single, there's another proposal I recently dreamed up that may be even more promising.
Here's the 3 steps that could turn 23andMe into a turn-key OkCupid:
3. Either 23andMe or an enterprising 3rd party developer could create a lightweight app that compares the HLA data from 23andMe and mines it for anti-correlation. You can at least check people on a case by case basis and see if for instance, you and your current partner have the genes for robust, magnetic compatibility.
I fully expect that this kind of screen would reject close relatives as "subjectively unappealing to you" and would also find most people who found each other attractive could be identified correctly too.
The real question is whether the incomplete HLA data available via 23andMe and the currently limited knowledge of HLA/oder data has enough power to discriminate and reject most of the people who you're only so-so matches with. If someone starts working on this, let me know. Online dating is a wasteland of pho-innovation but this kind of "OkCupid meets 23andMe" idea is the kind of startup idea revolutionary enough that even I would invest in it.
My friend Jed McCaleb is launching a new cryptocurrency startup. I expect it has unusually high expected value and recommend you interview for a job with him now while you still can.
Cycorp is hiring full-time Artificial Intelligence Programmers in Austin, TX to work on accelerating theorem proving algorithms.
From the ad: "Cyc is the world’s largest AI program, with millions of rules written in full first order logic and beyond (meta- and meta-meta- reasoning, reflection, modals, contexts, etc.). Our inference engine programmers are continually experimenting with novel, clever ways to chip away at the exponents plaguing conventional theorem proving algorithms. Do you have what it takes to join this effort?"
The $1500 WSOP "Millionaire Maker" tournament (May 31 in Las Vegas) will be huge this year. I predict it will be the single largest $1500 buyin tournament ever played. Probably the single best value of any tournament for US poker players in 2014.
Automatically produced content written by robots is apparently now viewed as more credible, trustworthy, informative, and objective by the average reader. That's according to a new study recently published in the scholarly journal of "Journalism Practice".
The advent of services for automated news stories raises many questions, e.g. what are the implications for journalism and journalistic practice, can journalists be taken out of the equation of journalism, how is this type of content regarded (in terms of credibility, overall quality, overall liking, to mention a few aspects) by the readers?
Journalists interviewed about the study admitted that automated content may be a threat to some journalists as it “may put journalists doing routine tasks out of work”. They even believe that it “can be applied beyond sports reporting and also challenge the jobs of journalists in finance or real estate”. But the journalists emphasize a couple of strengths of human journalists as creativity, flexibility, and analytical skills, indicating that the more advanced journalism is not threatened by automated content.
There is still some validity to this view. Study participants who rated content from unknown sources did still rate much of the content written by humans as something they call "more pleasant to read".
However, readers were sadly unable to distinguish automatically generated content from human produced content at rates much better than chance. "As far as this study is concerned, the readers are not able to discern automated content from content written by a human."
A year ago, my MacBook was so slow that it often couldn’t take in text as fast as I could type it. I was going to buy a whole new computer, but then I eliminated the sluggishness just by replacing the hard drive with an SSD.
From her website: “I’m a computer science junkie, animal lover, and psychology student. I volunteer at a wildlife rehabilitation center and paint with my boobs in my free time. I like to pretend my feet are raptors. RAWR!”
Roman Yampolskiy recently published a new article in the Journal of Experimental & Theoretical Artificial Intelligence, that touches on themes from FAI research, including “counterfeit utility”, literalness, and wireheading.
From the abstract: “The notion of ‘wireheading’, or direct reward centre stimulation of the brain, is a well known concept in neuroscience. In this paper, we examine the corresponding issue of reward (utility) function integrity in artificially intelligent machines. We survey the relevant literature and propose a number of potential solutions to ensure the integrity of our artificial assistants.”
“Overall, we conclude that wireheading in rational self improving optimisers above a certain capacity remains an unsolved problem despite opinion of many that such machines will choose not to wirehead. A relevant issue of literalness in goal setting also remains largely unsolved and we suggest that the development of a non-ambiguous knowledge transfer language might be a step in the right direction.”
In 2010, the primary provider of lipids used in American hospitals noticed that they weren't very profitable... so they stopped producing them. I guess they're allowed to do that. The main problem though was that the FDA took almost 4 years from that point to agree that US hospitals were allowed to import European lipids (fats) for feeding patients who could only eat via IV feeding solutions (otherwise called Total Parenteral Nutrition or TPN).
In the intervening years, hospitals simply fed patients pure dextrose, vitamins, and amino acids with no fats to buffer the insulin shocks these incomplete formulas caused. Most patients in this situation quickly lost skin elasticity, had their hair weaken / fall out, or in the most extreme cases, patients could begin suffering macular degeneration or accelerated diabetes symptoms.
Fortunately for hospital administrators, patients on TPN have such poor outcomes already that individual families probably couldn't reliably connect their loved ones' more rapid declines in health directly to the incomplete feeding formulas hospitals were supplying them. And even though it sounds absurd that there could be FDA-induced drug shortages for basic medical supplies in the US, unfortunately, this has only become more common over time.
In 2010 there were 178 drug shortages reported to the FDA of which 132 were sterile injectable drugs. The number of reported shortages increased to 251 in 2011, 183 of which involved sterile injectable drugs. As of February 28, 2013 there were 324 medications in short supply and of these 228 (70%) are sterile injectables. All PN products except dextrose and water have been in short supply at some point since spring of 2010.
Translation: US healthcare regulators aren't even trying. Basic products like saline and lipids have gone into shortages due to the FDA setting up a system that can never self-correct with market forces. Instead, problems can only be fixed in a reactionary manner, months or years after disaster strikes via emergency FDA action to temporarily allow imports after shortages become intolerable. This gives the FDA several opportunities a year to announce that they have heroically ended drug shortages... while ignoring that their policies insured the shortages would be created in the first place.
And of course, no other first world country suffers these types of shortages because no other country prohibits importation of basic medical supplies. If this was happening anywhere else in the world, we'd be airlifting supplies and dropping them directly to the people as a humanitarian response. But because it's America, we all just shrug and say something about how our healthcare system is "broken".
Even though it's just salt water, somehow US manufacturers of saline dropped the ball and can no longer produce enough for domestic use.
Fortunately, Norway had excess and was willing to sell to US markets during the emergency. So the FDA sprang into action... by sitting on their hands for 2 months before approving the overseas delivery (from the exact same company who sells in the US already).
Seriously... why can't I live in a functioning civilization?
Even though most Americans still believe that 25 is the ideal age for women to have children, new research suggests that mother nature disagrees. A mounting stream of epidemiological evidence is pointing towards a much lower biological optimum... as low as 15 years old!
Why 15? Because most data from research studies shows better and better outcomes the younger mothers get. Taken to it's logical conclusion, this implies that having children as soon as the physical development of puberty has completed (between 15 - 17 for most girls) is likely when evolution geared human bodies to produce the best offspring.
So despite the myth that 25 is the ideal age, here are the top 10 real reasons why teenage pregnancy is the actual best biological ideal:
Older mothers who wait till their 20's or 30's to have children are much more likely to never lose all the weight they gain during pregnancy -- and therefore suffer from higher rates of diabetes and heart disease later in life.
Median statistics show that having children younger lowers a woman's lifetime earnings. But this can be deceptive. The distribution has many bad outcomes but two distinct poles. Although having children early in life (when poor and underprivileged) can trap a young woman in poverty, the most successful women have also pointed out many times, that having children when you're so old that you're already out of college is actually the kiss of death for career advancement. Although it's completely outside the societal norm these days, having a child at 15 leaves a woman free to immediately start her career after finishing college because her child will be entering school right as she leaves it. Assuming the mother enrolls in an elite online high school program, she could take one summer off to deliver and never miss a beat in her academic (and real) career.
On a societal level, adding even a small "extra" generation could prevent demographic collapse of the United States. So it's literally true that Uncle Sam wants you to do the patriotic thing and have a teen pregnancy for America.
This year, over 14,000 patients will request a bone marrow transplant that will never arrive.
Part of the problem is undoubtedly the fact that only 3% of Americans are signed up as marrow donors. But what else prevents patients in need of bone marrow transplants from receiving them?
I sat down and interviewed Michael Boo, J.D.from "Be The Match" to learn more about the ins and outs of bone marrow transplants. Why do only 35% of patients requesting a transplant receive one? How important is the speed with which bone and blood cancers are treated? What can we do to help?
What are the barriers to bone marrow transplants?
Michael: Historically, finding a match was the main barrier. However, today access is more likely to be limited by lack of insurance coverage or inadequate insurance coverage. Additional barriers to transplant include lack of access to a transplant center, lack of timely referral for transplant, and decline in health status. Be The Match is addressing these barriers by working with medical professionals and insurance companies to assure timely referrals and adequate coverage and continues to grow and diversify the Be The Match Registry, to ensure that all patients have access to this therapy.
What are the typical or average costs associated with blood stem cell transplants, what is included in those costs and how are these costs covered?
Michael: An unrelated transplant is an expensive procedure. The average billed charges can run $500,000 and up, and includes a number of costs from hospital stays to post-transplant drug regimens. Insurance companies do not pay Be The Match directly – they pay for these services through the transplant centers as part of their contracted rates for a transplant procedure. The cost for finding a donor and getting the cells varies based on patient and where the cells are coming from, but average costs can be found in a series of documents we have on our payor website.
The costs that may not be covered by insurance are 1) testing potential donors or family members to find a match, 2) travel and lodging while undergoing transplant and recovery – many patients need to be away from home for up to 100 days and their transplant centers are often located far from home, 3) prescription medications for post-transplant care, and 4) other miscellaneous costs specific to creating a home environment that’s safe after transplant – carpet cleaning, etc. Be The Match has a Patient Assistance Program, which grants an average of $2.5 million per year, funded by Be the Match Foundation to help with these additional costs.
What methodology was used to determine a 1 in 540 chance of being called on to donate?
Michael: The likelihood of being called as a potential match is based on the number of searches or transplants over a five year period and the size of the registry – X number of searches or donations per Y number of people on the registry. It is not an annual number (i.e. the likelihood of being called in a given year.) This represents a general likelihood of being called or donating at this point in time. Likelihood changes over time with increases to the number of registry members and number of transplants using domestic donors. This does not account for other factors that influence likelihood of donating including HLA type, sex, age, race, donor center, time on the registry, etc.