Third Place

“The third place is a concept which identifies places which are not home (first place) or work (second place).

As ‘informal public gathering places’, they are places of refuge, where people can eat, drink, relax, and commune in order to develop a sense of belonging to a place. They are gathering places where community is most alive and people are most themselves.

Third places are important because they act as ‘meditation between individuals and the larger society’ and increase a sense of belonging and community.

-Patricia Mou, “what is the third place (pt.1)” patriciamou.com.

She then talks about characteristics of a third place.

  • Neutral ground or common meeting place
  • Levelers or places that encourage, and are inclusive of, social and cultural diversity
  • Regular patrons
  • Low profile and informal places
  • Places that foster a playful atmosphere
  • A home away from home
  • A place where conversation is the primary activity
  • Places that are easy to access and accommodate various sedentary and active activities

Grok the Modern Vision of Blockchains

“…this course will focus on the fundamental principles of blockchain design and analysis, such as they are in 2021 (it’s still early days. . . ). The goal is to equip you with the tools and concepts to evaluate and compare existing technologies (cutting through the rampant marketing crap), understand fundamental trade-offs between the goals one would want from a protocol or application, and perhaps even create something new and important in the near future (because it’s early days, you can have a tremendous impact on the area’s future trajectory).

It’s worth recognizing that we’re currently in a particular moment in time, witnessing a new area of computer science blossom before our eyes in real time. It draws on well-established parts of computer science (e.g., cryptography and distributed systems) and other fields (e.g., game theory and finance), but is developing into a fundamental and interdisciplinary area of science and engineering its own right. Future generations of computer scientists will be jealous of your opportunity to get in on the ground floor of this new area—analogous to getting into the Internet and the Web in the early 1990s. I cannot overstate the opportunities available to someone who masters the material covered in this course—current demand is much, much bigger than supply.

And perhaps this course will also serve as a partial corrective to the misguided coverage and discussion of blockchains in a typical mainstream media article or water cooler conversation, which seems bizarrely stuck in 2013 (focused almost entirely on Bitcoin, its environmental impact, the use case of payments, Silk Road, etc.). An enormous number of people, including a majority of computer science researchers and academics, have yet to grok the modern vision of blockchains: a new computing paradigm that will enable the next incarnation of the Internet and the Web, along with an entirely new generation of applications.”

-Tim Roughgarden, “Lecture 1.” COMS 6998-006: Foundations of Blockchains. github.com. September 15, 2021.

h/t Alex Taborrak in Marginal Revolution.

The first lesson is fairly easy to understand. Looking forward to reading more.

Chances of Dying From an In-Hospital Medical Error

“Errors in medicine include wrong diagnoses, drug dosage miscalculations, and treatment delays. These errors are likely to be underestimated because studies tend to focus exclusively on hospitals and not on the rest of the healthcare system; because some errors may only have debilitating effects years down the road for a patient and are thus harder to trace; and because reporting these errors may not be encouraged by the medical culture. The patient safety movement is important because errors that can be prevented should be prevented…

…A study from the UK reports that 3.6% of hospital deaths were due to preventable medical error; a similar study out of Norway reports 4.2%; and a meta-analysis of the problem published in the BMJ in 2019 concludes that at least one in 20 patients are affected by preventable patient harm, with 12% of this group suffering from permanent disability or dying because of this harm.”

So, let’s do some back of the envelope math. The American Hospital Association says there were 36,241,815 hospital admissions in 2021. The most recent data (2019) I can find is on Wonder that has in-patient hospital deaths was 813,249, which is close to the what was previously reported for a year. So, roughly 28,000 people die in hospitals due to medical error and 56,000 have some kind of disability as a result. If you look look at mortality by condition for 2019, that can look like a lot, depending on what you want to focus on, such as the same level as flu or twice the level of dying from inhaling food or vomit. But, some of that is due to the categories of cause of death and how Wonder reports them. When those get put into official lists, like the top causes of death, the number of flu deaths doubles and more than twice as many commit suicide as die as in-patients in a hospital due to medical error.

So, I guess the lesson here is that any time you enter a hospital, it is not without some risk. But, let’s put that risk in context. Of those entering a hospital, 2.2%, die. The chances of someone dying as an in-patient due to medical error are 4% of the 2.2%, or ~0.88%. If you want to put that risk in some kind of comparable risk category of preventable deaths, its just a little less than dying from an accidental gun discharge or sunstroke. Presumably the risk is higher the more severe your condition and isn’t uniform.

L.M. Sacasas’s The Questions Concerning Technology

If you find the list below interesting, you could always subscribe to his newsletter, and as with all Substack newsletters, it can be turned into an RSS feed by adding /feed to the main url, like so: https://theconvivialsociety.substack.com/feed. Don’t know what RSS is? There’s a post for that. h/t to Alan Jacobs for the reminder.

  1. What sort of person will the use of this technology make of me?
  2. What habits will the use of this technology instill?
  3. How will the use of this technology affect my experience of time?
  4. How will the use of this technology affect my experience of place?
  5. How will the use of this technology affect how I relate to other people?
  6. How will the use of this technology affect how I relate to the world around me?
  7. What practices will the use of this technology cultivate?
  8. What practices will the use of this technology displace?
  9. What will the use of this technology encourage me to notice?
  10. What will the use of this technology encourage me to ignore?
  11. What was required of other human beings so that I might be able to use this technology?
  12. What was required of other creatures so that I might be able to use this technology?
  13. What was required of the earth so that I might be able to use this technology?
  14. Does the use of this technology bring me joy? [N.B. This was years before I even heard of Marie Kondo!]
  15. Does the use of this technology arouse anxiety?
  16. How does this technology empower me? At whose expense?
  17. What feelings does the use of this technology generate in me toward others?
  18. Can I imagine living without this technology? Why, or why not?
  19. How does this technology encourage me to allocate my time?
  20. Could the resources used to acquire and use this technology be better deployed?
  21. Does this technology automate or outsource labor or responsibilities that are morally essential?
  22. What desires does the use of this technology generate?
  23. What desires does the use of this technology dissipate?
  24. What possibilities for action does this technology present? Is it good that these actions are now possible?
  25. What possibilities for action does this technology foreclose? Is it good that these actions are no longer possible?
  26. How does the use of this technology shape my vision of a good life?
  27. What limits does the use of this technology impose upon me?
  28. What limits does my use of this technology impose upon others?
  29. What does my use of this technology require of others who would (or must) interact with me?
  30. What assumptions about the world does the use of this technology tacitly encourage?
  31. What knowledge has the use of this technology disclosed to me about myself?
  32. What knowledge has the use of this technology disclosed to me about others? Is it good to have this knowledge?
  33. What are the potential harms to myself, others, or the world that might result from my use of this technology?
  34. Upon what systems, technical or human, does my use of this technology depend? Are these systems just?
  35. Does my use of this technology encourage me to view others as a means to an end?
  36. Does using this technology require me to think more or less?
  37. What would the world be like if everyone used this technology exactly as I use it?
  38. What risks will my use of this technology entail for others? Have they consented?
  39. Can the consequences of my use of this technology be undone? Can I live with those consequences?
  40. Does my use of this technology make it easier to live as if I had no responsibilities toward my neighbor?
  41. Can I be held responsible for the actions which this technology empowers? Would I feel better if I couldn’t?

Meditation Without Meditating

“Over the past several decades, studies examining the potential for meditation to curb mental anguish and increase wellbeing have yielded promising, if complicated, results. For patients, complications can arise when meditation is marketed as a ‘happy pill, with no side effects’. This commodification and oversimplification is at the root of a conundrum for Jay Sanguinetti and Shinzen Young, the co-directors of SEMA Lab (Sonication Enhanced Mindful Awareness) at the University of Arizona. In the early stages of developing a technology that they believe could lead to meditative states without the need to meditate – a Silicon Valley-ready concept if there ever was one – the duo now must navigate the intricate ethics of introducing such a powerful product to the world. This short film from The Guardian follows Sanguinetti and Shinzen in their quest to ‘democratise enlightenment’ via ultrasound technology, while also attempting to ensure that, when the time comes, it will be properly implemented as a therapeutic tool.”

Lina Lyte Plioplyte, “‘Meditation without meditating’ might be possible. Can it also be made ethical?Aeon.com via TheGuardian.com. August 16, 2021.

Grayson’s Art Club

“Grayson Perry, one of Britain’s leading artists, brings the nation together through art, making new works and hosting masterclasses set to unleash our collective creativity during lockdown.”

Grayson’s Art Club

Annoying DRM on mobile, but bookmarking for when I’m on a more DRM friendly platform.

Lipid Nanoparticles TED Talk by Kathryn A. Whitehead

“What if you were holding life-saving medicine … but had no way to administer it? Zoom down to the nano level with engineer Kathryn A. Whitehead as she gives a breakdown of the little fatty balls (called lipid nanoparticles) perfectly designed to ferry cutting-edge medicines into your body’s cells. Learn how her work is already powering mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines and forging the path for future therapies that could treat Ebola, HIV and even cancer.”