The Death of Illusions

People are very invested in their stories of how things ought to be. Sometimes they become so wedded to those stories that they would rather see people suffer, than take an action that contradicts their personal worldview. I remember years ago, when I lived in New York, there was a pilot program in which welfare recipients were […]

The Most Secure Computer is No Computer at All

In the best tv show ever made, Battlestar Galactica, humanity is at war against evil robots called the Cylons. The humans have big battleships that use very antiquated technology in order to protect themselves from hacking by the technologically-advanced Cylons. Using old hardware is their best defense. The Navy appears to be thinking something along the […]

Even More Centrifuges

As I mention in another post, the problem of getting functioning centrifuges in the poor world is a big one. While Dr. Oluyombo Awojobi created a centrifuge from old bicycle parts, Stanfor’d Manu Prakash has solved it in a different way — by using an ancient children’s toy called a whirligig:   See more in this […]

Menstrual Man

This man is my hero. He’s like a mad-scientist crossed with MacGyver. I love this story. A choice excerpt: He created a “uterus” from a football bladder by punching a couple of holes in it, and filling it with goat’s blood. A former classmate, a butcher, would ring his bicycle bell outside the house whenever […]

Clear Trauma

Ever had something really traumatic happen? Ever lived through the death of a close relative? Your thoughts become jumbled and disoriented. Large swaths of your mental computer become unavailable for you to use, often for a very long time. For some people who have been through years of crisis and neglect, every day is full […]

Nigerian Doctor MacGyvers his Amazing Clinic

One of the most important tools in medicine is a centrifuge, a tool which spins samples at high speeds to separate out matter. But what do you do when you don’t have electricity, or you can’t afford a traditional centrifuge? Public Radio International has a story about a Nigerian doctor who hacks the tools of […]

Reframing Problems to Create Solutions

  One of the most important principles of problem-solving is that changing the definition of the problem can help you come up with a solution. To illustrate this, I’m going to use a children’s story I read in grade school: A hero goes to steal a valuable treasure from a king. The king is protective of […]

A Simple Mental Health Protocol Whose Time is Long Overdue

“I see you checked depression on your intake form. Because depression can be a symptom of an underlying health problem, I’m going to check your blood levels for B12, B6, and vitamin D. I’m also going to test your thyroid and iron levels. And finally, even if your B-12 levels are normal, I recommend you […]