The Takeaways: Week 50 of 2021

This week: mental models and decision-making from a number of angles; ways of working and getting work; a few examples of sneaky/shady internet shenanigans. Plus more thinking about where virtual care will settle in the medical/consumer toolkit.


Chas Roades and Lisa Bielamowicz, MD, The Weekly Gist. December 17, 2021

Although the pandemic has driven higher telemedicine usage, and a flood of investment in new virtual health startups, consumers seem to be largely set in their ways when it comes to seeking in-person care. When out-of-pocket costs are equal, a slight majority of consumers prefer to see a provider in person for nonemergency visits, according to a recent RAND survey.

On the other hand, nearly two thirds of consumers who indicated they’d prefer a video visit said they’d switch to in-person if it was cheaper, suggesting that consumers who favor virtual care are more price sensitive. These findings will vary depending on what kind of care a patient is seeking.

According to a recent Rock Health report, consumers prefer virtual care for low-acuity needs, like colds or prescription refills. Surprisingly, although virtual care for behavioral health has skyrocketed during the pandemic, three-quarters of those surveyed said they’d prefer to access mental healthcare in person. But with the widespread lack of access to mental health professionals, virtual behavioral health solutions clearly fill a critical gap


Martin Anderson, Job Applicant Resumes Are Effectively Impossible to De-Gender, AI Researchers Find (December 17, 2021)

The authors imply that there is no legitimate AI-based solution for ‘de-gendering’ resumes in a practicable hiring pipeline, and that machine learning techniques that actively enforce fair treatment are a better approach to the problem of gender bias in the work marketplace.

Biden Administration, FACT SHEET: Putting the Public First: Improving Customer Experience and Service Delivery for the American People (December 13, 2021)

The President will sign an Executive Order, Transforming Federal Customer Experience and Service Delivery to Rebuild Trust in Government, directing that Government leaders account for the experiences of the public in seeking Government services.

Julian Borger, The Guardian. ‘15 minutes to save the world’: a terrifying VR journey into the nuclear bunker (December 14, 2021)

The pressure to take one of the options presented by the Pentagon felt almost overwhelming. At one point an aide asked how I would be able to face my country if I failed to respond. The simulation raises the question of who chooses those options in the first place. In the 15 minutes available, it would be impossible to put all feasible alternatives in front of a president, so whoever whittles them down holds a huge amount of power. All we know is that it is someone from the US military. Diplomats, politicians or ethicists are not part of the process.

Josh Cunningham, Josh Can Help. We need your beginniners mind (December 12, 2021)

  • You are naturally free from views and opinions that make it hard to learn more.
  • Your stumbling and experiments makes it easier for others to stumble and experiment.
  • Your role as the student means someone else gets to play the teacher.
  • The answer to the question you're scared to ask will help others.

Monica Chin, The Verge. File Not Found: A generation that grew up with Google is forcing professors to rethink their lesson plans (September 22, 2021)

Aubrey Vogel, a journalism major at Texas A&M, has had similar experiences to Drossman. She’s encountered directory structure before; she shared a computer with her grandfather, who showed her how to save items in folders, as a child. But as she’s grown up, she’s moved away from that system — she now keeps one massive directory for schoolwork and one for her job. Documents she’s not sure about go in a third folder called “Sort.”

But it may also be that in an age where every conceivable user interface includes a search function, young people have never needed folders or directories for the tasks they do. The first internet search engines were used around 1990, but features like Windows Search and Spotlight on macOS are both products of the early 2000s. Most of 2017’s college freshmen were born in the very late ‘90s. They were in elementary school when the iPhone debuted; they’re around the same age as Google. While many of today’s professors grew up without search functions on their phones and computers, today’s students increasingly don’t remember a world without them.

Christine Dodrill, (December 17, 2021)

This [email actually from the Princeton-Radboud Study on Privacy Law Implementation] scared the shit out of me. My blog is a passion project that I do as a way to get better at writing. I almost contacted a lawyer. This should probably have stood out as suspect to me, however I am a believer that people have a right to privacy and that they should be able to be forgotten.

Erez Druk, Occasionally Useful Startup Ideas. Sustainable decision making (November 24, 2021)

We are all daunted by decisions that deplete our brain energy. Sustainable decision making is the idea of investing less of your brain energy in these decisions by both deciding less and deciding more efficiently.

Brian Krebs, Krebs on Security. Microsoft Patch Tuesday, December 2021 Edition (December 14, 2021)

Log4Shell is the name picked for a critical flaw disclosed Dec. 9 in the popular logging library for Java called “log4j,” which is included in a huge number of Java applications. Publicly released exploit code allows an attacker to force a server running a vulnerable log4j library to execute commands, such as downloading malicious software or opening a backdoor connection to the server.

Emily Langer, The Washington Post. Robert Farris Thompson, scholar of Black art across continents, dies at 88 (December 14, 2021)

“How dare people patronize Africa?” Dr. Thompson told Rolling Stone in a 1984 interview. “There is a moral voice imbedded in the Afro-Atlantic aesthetic that the West can’t grasp. They don’t see the monuments, just barefoot philosophy coming from village elders. But the monument is a grand reconciling art form that tries to morally reconstruct a person without humiliating him.”

David Lazarus, The Los Angeles Times. Column: Leaked SoCal hospital records reveal huge, automated markups for healthcare (December 10, 2021)

The system helpfully included a formula for reaching this amount: "$149.58 = $19.30 + ($19.30 x 675%).”

Heather Long and Maggie Penman, The Washington Post. Life after quitting: What happened next to the workers who left their jobs (December 16, 2021)

The clientele had also changed. WunderHaus was located in a town with three colleges. Before the pandemic, the restaurant was often filled with professors. Now classes were online and customers who came in often said they didn’t believe the coronavirus was real or thought the threat was overblown.

Harrison Smith, The Washington Post. Trailblazing Black feminist and social critic bell hooks dies at 69 (December 15, 2021)

“I want my work to be about healing,” [hooks] once said. “I am a fortunate writer because every day of my life practically I get a letter, a phone call from someone who tells me how my work has transformed their life.”

Cassandra Xia. I was stuck on a side project for 5 years. Here’s how I finished it. (c. December 16, 2021)

shed := a project that has eaten a big chunk of your life, that you no longer enjoy, and that won’t amount to much.

Sheds are never finished. You just decide you are done.