#health

Eric Kester has a good yet balanced take on the current state of the NFL (not only was Kester a ball boy in the NFL, he played college football) in an op-ed today. His best bit:

A sniff of my salts would revive the player in alertness only, and he would run back onto the field to once again collide with opponents with the force of a high-speed car crash. As fans high-fived and hell-yeahed and checked the progress of their fantasy teams, and as I eagerly scrambled onto the field to pick up shattered fragments from exploded helmets, researchers were discovering the rotting black splotches of brain tissue that indicate chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Known as C.T.E., this degenerative disease is the result of players’ enduring head trauma again and again. Symptoms include dementia and extreme aggression, and C.T.E. is considered at least partly responsible for the string of recent suicides of former and current N.F.L. players, whose anger, sadness and violence eventually collapsed inward.

As with everything, this isn’t as black and white as it may appear to some. But it’s just really hard for me to see how this game exists in its current form in 20 years. We’re basically cheering as giant men destroy themselves before our very eyes — both physically and as a result, mentally.

An insanely detailed leak of Apple’s forthcoming Healthbook software (likely a part of iOS 8) by Mark Gurman:

Each category of functionality is a card in the Healthbook. Cards are distinguished by a color, and the tabs can be arranged to fit user preferences. As can be seen in the above images, Healthbook has sections that can track data pertaining to bloodwork, heart rate, hydration, blood pressure, physical activity, nutrition, blood sugar, sleep, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation, and weight.

The big question, as Gurman notes at the end, is which devices will supply the data to Healthbook? Certainly, the iPhone itself is one (especially the models with an M7 chip). And it sure sounds like some sort of forthcoming “iWatch" would be another. But given the scope of Healthbook, it also seems likely to me that Apple will allow third-party devices to work with the software. This being Apple, you can be sure such a list will be curated, at least at first.

To that end, just remember that Tim Cook remains on Nike’s Board of Directors…

Sam Byford on Nintendo’s announcements last week:

If there’s one thing to learn from Satoru Iwata’s 12 years in charge, it’s that you can always count on Nintendo to surprise. At first glance, the company’s much-hyped strategy announcement today was mostly devoid of revelations — yes, Nintendo will develop smartphone apps that may or may not include small games; no, the company won’t be swayed from its conviction that its future lies in creating software for its own hardware, even when that hardware performs as badly as the Wii U has done. But CEO and president Iwata threw a curveball toward the end of his presentation when he announced plans to “take on the challenge of expanding into a new business area.” What followed was an explanation as equally inscrutable in English as it was in Japanese, but it might just be the first hint of Nintendo’s next big thing.

I read through all the coverage of this event and still cannot parse what the hell Nintendo is doing — or planning to do. It sounds like they’re thinking a lot about the connected health space, which is red hot right now and about to get hotter, but not via a wearable piece of technology but rather a “non-wearable”.

Sounds like vapor… ware? We’ll see.

Bill Gates:

Child mortality went down—again. One of the yearly reports I keep an eye out for is “Levels and Trends in Child Mortality.” The title doesn’t sound especially uplifting, but the 2013 report shows amazing progress—for example, half as many children died in 2012 as in 1990. That’s the biggest decline ever recorded. And hardly anyone knows about it!

Any way you slice it, that’s insanely good news. The poverty rate numbers are pretty striking as well.

The Economist:

Winston Churchill knew it. Ernest Hemingway knew it. Leonardo da Vinci knew it. Every trendy office from Silicon Valley to Scandinavia now knows it too: there is virtue in working standing up. And not merely standing. The trendiest offices of all have treadmill desks, which encourage people to walk while working. It sounds like a fad. But it does have a basis in science.

As someone with a standing desk at both home and the office, I too could not be a bigger believer.

The Economist:

But something titanic is indeed happening. The pink dots are stem cells, and the video shows the development of a liver bud, something which can go on to look and act like a liver. Takanori Takebe and Hideki Taniguchi of Yokohama City University, in Japan, who made the video, have created working human-liver tissue.

Researchers have long dreamed that stem cells might be used to repair or replace damaged tissue, an aspiration known as regenerative medicine. Embryonic stem cells, in particular, are “pluripotent”, meaning they are able to become any other type of cell. And it is now possible to induce pluripotency in cells that have not come from embryos, thus circumventing the ethical minefield previously associated with obtaining them.

I’m not going to pretend to fully comprehend the ramifications of this, but it sounds like massive news.