What I'm Reading (Nov. 30)

By Chuck Dinerstein, MD, MBA — Nov 30, 2023
A new internal organ! Why is TV news wildly profitable? A Holiday Warning - making consumption easy Cash is King!
Image by AJS1 from Pixabay

“In 2018, scientists discovered a new organ (?) in the human body. You’d think after centuries of cutting ourselves open, we’d know the intimate details of the structures within us by now. Strangely, this body part wasn’t missed because it was invisible; it was overlooked because of what our belief systems wouldn’t let us perceive.”

Perhaps organ is too definitive, but it is a structure nonetheless. It is the interstitium, which occupies a place between all the named bodily structures. It is not new; after all, even my medical school class was aware of interstitial fluid, and if there is fluid, the interstitium must be its container. This is a two-fer. Radiolab presents an audio version of the discovery and “meaning” of the interstitium. Orion has the readable version, Invisible Landscapes.


Last week marked the 60th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy. It was a more muted affair than in the past; perhaps our current trials and tribulations are of greater concern. Several articles examined what the physicians encountered or how Clint Hill, the agent protecting Jacqueline, looks back on that time. But then I ran across this.

“The assassination of John F. Kennedy 60 years ago offers a case study. After a gunman killed the president, television news offered wall-to-wall, nonstop coverage at considerable cost to the networks. This earned TV news a reputation for public-spiritedness that lasted decades.

This reputation – which may seem surprising now but was widely accepted at the time – obscured the fact that TV news would soon become enormously profitable. Those profits are due in part because awful news attracts big audiences – which remains the case today.”

Ah, the unintended consequence. From The Conversation, Good profits from bad news: How the Kennedy assassination helped make network TV news wealthy


Marketers speak about friction points when the momentum to purchase an item encounters some hurdle, small or large. Removing those friction points greases the skids for our consumption. Easy Pass is a good example. You mindlessly pay your tolls. Little do you know that the trip from Long Island to mid-Pennsylvania involves $67 in tolls. But no one removes friction points better than online algorithms.

“The order took maybe 15 seconds. I selected my size and put the shoes in my cart, and my phone automatically filled in my login credentials and added my new credit-card number. You can always return them, I thought to myself as I tapped the “Buy” button. Almost as soon as I’d paid, I snapped out of the mania that had briefly overtaken me, $190 (Jesus Christ) poorer but with one pair of Jetsons-looking shoes on their way to my apartment. It’s always a little horrifying to realize that advertising has worked on you, but this felt more like I had just watched the velociraptor in Jurassic Park learn to use the doorknob. I had completed some version of the online checkout process a million times before, but never could I remember it being quite so spontaneous and thoughtless.”

From The Atlantic, It’s Too Easy to Buy Stuff You Don’t Want


The phrase, “Cash is king,” was drummed into us in MBA school, and indeed it is true. As we move towards a more cashless society, with problematic changes in our behavior, as the previous read mentioned, some have the specter of conspiracy.

“Four centuries ago, a woman named Else Knutsdatter was executed in Vardø, a small coastal town in Norway. She was accused of having used witchcraft to raise an ocean storm that claimed the lives of 40 men. She wasn’t the only one to fall victim to 17th-century folk who – in the absence of other explanations – could be convinced that disasters were conjured by malevolent sorcerers. Ninety others were executed for conspiring to produce the same storm.

Today, we know that physics and atmospheric pressures produced those storms. So, in the realm of weather, we’ve moved to systemic thinking, where bad things don’t need to be explained with reference to bad actors. When it comes to descriptions of politics and economics, the progress is not so unequivocal. Do bad things like climate change, conflict and corporate greed happen because powerful politicians and CEOs construct it like that, or do they emerge in the vacuum of human agency, in the fact that nobody’s actually in control? This is a question that confronts me in the campaign to protect the physical cash system against the digital takeover by Big Finance and Big Tech.”

From Aeon, Going Cashless

Chuck Dinerstein, MD, MBA

Director of Medicine

Dr. Charles Dinerstein, M.D., MBA, FACS is Director of Medicine at the American Council on Science and Health. He has over 25 years of experience as a vascular surgeon.

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