What I Am Reading January 19th

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Planned obsolescence
Bee vaccination
Are At-Home Diagnostic Tests A 1st Amendment right?
Alaska may have a better way to vote

So many things today are more easily replaced than repaired. That seems to run against the idea that reuse is better than recycling, but replacement feeds a ravenous corporate bottom line. Tied into all this is the right-to-repair, the ability to fix your device yourself. That was just a court case involving John Deere; the DIYs won. In any event, consider this.

“Consumers need to be able to identify quality, learn to take care of what they own, and advocate for regulations and legislation wherever right-to-repair doesn’t yet exist. Buy less or secondhand….”

From Vox, Your stuff is actually worse now

 

“Hearing that scientists just got conditional approval for their honeybee vaccine, I wondered how you vaccinate a bee.”

A bit of science and a gentle reminder of our dependency on bees. From EconLife, Why and How a Bee Will Get a Vaccine

 

“What Americans don’t want is to be told they can’t handle the truth. Yet when it came to at-home tests such as pregnancy tests, HIV tests and genetic tests, that’s exactly the reasoning the FDA used—and continues to use—to suppress information.”

As a physician, I am torn. Clearly, we should not suppress providing test results to our patients, even test results based on at-home testing. But some test results can create significant anxiety, say a positive HIV test or a diagnosis of cancer; anxiety that can only be relieved by additional information, providing context. Most often, that context comes from a physician. This problem of explaining test results is front and center in the medical world today because of a decision to release all medical testing to patients as soon as they are available, not requiring their release to be based upon the physician having seen the results. This means that physicians are getting calls “off-hours” to explain results – I certainly wouldn’t want to wait over a weekend to discuss a cancer diagnosis. There is already physician pushback, a movement to charge for email conversations over patient portals. That said, here is the first amendment argument from Discourse Magazine by way of the always informative Marginal Revolution, Testing Freedom

 

“The nation is seeing in Alaska “a road map for political parties and political discourse across the country. ... A key element in making this Alaska way possible is a different way of voting. Last year, Alaska put into practice a first-in-the-nation voting system of completely open primaries and ranked choice voting. It resulted in this red state sending two moderates to Congress.”

Open primaries can give incumbents real competition and simultaneously reduce the influence of a vocal voting minority. Ranked choice voting, for all its seeming complexity, means your vote can count even when your candidate loses. It takes the winner take all off the table. From the Christian Science Monitor, ‘We’re all on the same team’: Inside the Alaska model for US politics