The Takeaways: Week 1 of 2022

A couple takes on some of the primitive components of digital experience, what "sensitive" and "specific" mean in the context of Covid testing, and a few other snippets.


Gordon Brander, Subconscious. What if links weren't meant to be prose? (December 15, 2021)

The split between identifier and front-facing text also tends to create visual noise in markup. [Markdown links](, [[ | Wikilinks]], and <a href=””>link text</a> confuse the visual flow of prose. You have to develop “eyeball parsers” for them. You can hide this complexity behind WYSIWYG, but if you want a plain-text markup approach, the complexity is something you’ll have to accept.

Eyeball parsers: great term.

Ernie Smith, Tedium. Down Is Up, Up Is Down (December 29, 2021)

On Apple's 2011 invention of "natural scrolling":

In many ways, I think that Apple chose to add this unnecessary complexity to the way we scroll because it saw an opportunity to push users into a use case that would become more important for later generations of users, rather than only catering to those who came before them. Essentially, this default isn’t for you; it’s for your kids, who presumably will use a touchscreen long before they ever touch a trackpad.

Noah Smith, Noahpinion. Interview: Ryan Petersen, founder and CEO of Flexport January 2, 2021

Petersen: In my opinion, what’s caused all the supply chain bottlenecks is modern finance’s obsession with Return on Equity (ROE). To show great ROE, almost every CEO stripped their company of all but the bare minimum of assets. “Just-in-time” everything with no excess capacity, no strategic reserves, no cash on the balance sheet and minimal investment in R&D. We stripped the shock absorbers out of the economy in pursuit of better short-term metrics. Large businesses are supposed to be more stable and resilient than small ones, and an economy built around giant corporations like America's should be more resilient to shocks. However, the obsession with ROE means that no company was prepared for the inevitable hundred-year storms. Now as we're facing a hundred-year storm of demand, our infrastructure simply can't keep up.


Matthew Herper, STAT. Scientists try to pinpoint why rapid Covid tests are missing some cases (January 6, 2022)

The Food and Drug Administration has authorized antigen tests so long as they are 80% sensitive — meaning they return a false negative 20% or less of the time — and they are at least 98% specific, meaning that false positives are rare. That means that it is expected that false negatives will happen, and the test’s packaging recommends using two tests 24 to 36 hours apart, and getting a PCR test if there is any doubt.

Matthew Holt, The Health Care Blog. Simple Bills are Not So Simple (Jan 5, 2022)

The poor chiropractor billed $120 and got a measly $57 for his efforts (which of course I paid, as it was under the deductible). Somehow BCBS is discounting that at 50% while One Medical is getting 90% of its billing. So my chiro has to see 10 times the number of patients in an hour that One Medical’s PCPs do to bring in the same amount of cash.

Then there’s the lab tests themselves–also apparently not covered under the ACA even though they are arguably the most important part of “preventative” care. I haven’t got the bill from Labcorp but now I know what is coming. Their bill was somehow broken up into 4 different tests. Again I can’t tell which was which, but I actually had CBC, lipid, A1C, uric acid and also Fecal Occult Blood (although that was a take home test which I delivered later so may not have been on this bill). But the most amazing part was that they billed $270 and only got $43. So while One Medical got about 90% of its demands and the chiro got 50%, the poor teeny lab corporation (OK, not teeny) only got about 15%. And yes I’ll have to pay them their $43 when they get round to billing me.