The Takeaways: Week 16 of 2022


Martin Fowler. Strangler Fig Application (June 29, 2004)

This metaphor [of the strangler figs, which seed in the upper branches of a tree and work their way down] struck me as a way of describing a way of doing a rewrite of an important system. Much of my career has involved rewrites of critical systems. You would think such a thing as easy - just make the new one do what the old one did. Yet they are always much more complex than they seem, and overflowing with risk. The big cut-over date looms, the pressure is on. While new features (there are always new features) are liked, old stuff has to remain. Even old bugs often need to be added to the rewritten system.

An alternative route is to gradually create a new system around the edges of the old, letting it grow slowly over several years until the old system is strangled. Doing this sounds hard, but increasingly I think it's one of those things that isn't tried enough. In particular I've noticed a couple of basic strategies that work well. The fundamental strategy is EventInterception, which can be used to gradually move functionality to the strangler fig and to enable AssetCapture.

Susan Kelly, Healthcare Dive. End of Medicaid continuous coverage may leave millions of children uninsured, analysis finds (April 19, 2022)

Patients in the 12 states that have yet to expand Medicaid are expected to be especially hard-hit when the public health emergency expires, potentially losing benefits or facing higher healthcare costs, the National Association of Community Health Centers has reported.

Texas, Florida and Georgia have uninsured child rates higher than the national average with Texas and Florida alone accounting for 41% of the country's uninsured children in 2019, according to the Georgetown researchers. All three states have policies and structures in place that put children at higher risk of losing coverage once the public health emergency is over, they said.

Ximena Smith, New Zealand Herald. Statistics legend Ross Ihaka reflects on his revolutionary software (April 12, 2022)

Another interesting position Ihaka has found himself in is being a Māori scientist working in the hard mathematical sciences, particularly when it comes to the relationship between mātauranga Māori and science.

More than a decade ago, he was involved in a project led by Waikato University's Linda Tuhiwai Smith, which brought together mātauranga Māori experts and Māori scientists through a series of wānanga.

"The project really was to try to bring mātauranga Māori and science together and to see where that was practical and where it was difficult," Ihaka says.

"I don't think you can view knowledge as competitive. Well, within a particular discipline you may have competing theories, but the disciplines themselves shouldn't be regarded as competitive," he says.

"The important thing is that people avail themselves of the knowledge - make use of it."

Darius Tahir, KHN. Heartbeat-Tracking Technology Raises Patients’ and Doctors’ Worries (April 20, 2022)

“The technology has outpaced us,” said Rod Passman, a cardiologist at Northwestern University who’s assisting with a study examining the Apple Watch’s ability to screen for the heart rhythm condition. “Industry came out with these things because they could. Now we’re playing catch-up and trying to figure out what to do with this information.”

Dave Zirin, The Nation. Jackie Robinson’s Last Fight (April 15, 2022)

It was through his experience in the movements that Robinson wrestled with something that tortured him for the remainder of his life: The fact that his story of breaking the baseball color line was already being told as a triumph of Robinson overcoming prejudice through his own singular greatness, a bootstrap tale that sold a myth of a color-blind America where anyone Black or white could make it in this country if only they were only willing to work as hard and be as exceptional as Jackie Robinson. It followed that the inability to meet that standard was a personal failing. As an aspirational figure, a sort of Horatio Alger on spikes, Robinson could have coasted. But he believed they had turned his story into a fable, and so he spent the last years of his life in a relentless battle against his own legend.