On the ease of recovering sensitive information

Generally one would not trust the mere blotting out of information to suffice for its nonexistence. If the size of the missing information, the type, the context, the environment can all be used to help in the preservation of that information (like a fingerprint or some distillation of what that information is), then one must obliterate not obfuscate to secure.

Consider the simple, current example in which sensitive government information could be easily “guessed at” (all such guesses are in red, sometimes with accompanying “alignment” text). 


How does involving knights and knaves in digital circuitry help?

You are going to be working with a lot of really talented people. You are going to trust those people and you are going to have to trust those people a lot for a lot of things. Every now and then, they’re going to be wrong or lying to you. You’re going to have to be able to know when that is the case. So, while the stuff we’re dealing with, sure, is meant for digital circuitry and logic and Boolean algebra, I think it will have a larger more useful effect in your life – being able to tell liars from non-liars.

But of course, if you believe that, you believe total bullshit, right? I just made that up on the spot.

Really, it is more, I just think it’s a funner way of teaching [learning] logic than other ways of looking at it. That’s why we have knights and knaves. Otherwise we could have just done boring truth tables.

But again, that could have been a lie as well.




Question asked and answered on April 10th in BIOMEDE 211.

Those night-of-sleep-that-got-away stories

Those night-of-sleep-that-got-away stories are all too common in what it is we do here. We work hard, we fray at nerves, pull out our hair, and try to catch a date or a movie or both every now and then. And because we are looking for this life towards which we aspire and trying to make it happen and have it all and do it all, we cut back on sleep.

Perhaps you have never tried it before now, but you can put a rank to what bodily functions of yours you’d like control over. I encourage you to try it now. My list, so far as I’ve thought it through to any great extent, is as follows:

1. Breathing. We are, by and large, aerobic creatures. While I’m sure there’s some gut bacteria out there who might otherwise be fine, most of who and what we are requires oxygen. The way our collection of cells functions is that each and just about every single one of them spend their entire lives (that trajectory from creation to void, from 1 to 0) specializing to become some itty bitty billionth billionth part of you. From the skin on the inner portion of your pinky toe to that strange smooth muscle that beats with the selective, stochastic influx of ions, they all do just a few things really well, forgoing their own ability to maintain certain functions, such as the production and transportation of metabolic products, instead relying on a larger system to provide it, much as there is a whole apparatus to deal with your waste of which you (and I) are largely ignorant. The number one currency in this specializing exchange program seen from a macrophysiological/organismal perspective: oxygen. We get that from breathing, therefore, breathing is first on my list of bodily functions.

2. Motion. Once I can provide oxygen to all my cells, I want all of those cells to be able to coordinate at least some gross motor functions. Moving limbs, manipulating environment, interacting with environment, all big in my book.

3. Seeing. Being able to identify the world around me is a great tool to have at the ready.

4. Eating food, drinking.

5. Disposal of waste (urination, defecation). We spend most of our first two years mastering these abilities. And we’re still learning. How to dispose of our waste, to recycle. Hell, some of us are still learning to eat (I spill on myself every other day) and from some of the eyes I saw after spring break, some of us are still learning to drink.

6. Autonomy over many functions. (I want to breathe whenever I want, I want to move whenever I want, I want to see, eat, do anything I want. In fact, I note here for the first time, that I suppose my system of greatest injustice also generally follows the same trend: I can’t breathe, I can’t move, I can’t see, I can’t eat, I can’t do…)

7. Taste. I’d like to be subjective about the world every now and then.

8. Clarity of forethought. I’d like to know what I’m going to do in a given situation. I, often, do not want my future to come as any great surprise. Call me old fashioned but I’d rather just work for it if I know it’s what I want. I don’t like betting on the longshot as anything but a laugh. And only then because I know it’s what I’m doing to do.

9. Sleeping whenever I want.

And 10, well, I couldn’t think of ten. I really just got to nine. And even by nine I was thinking I ought to just scale back, I was already grasping at straws for some of them: taste, clarity of forethought? Are these bodily functions? Maybe. I had space to fill and thoughts to fill it with and so I only got a list of nine. And the last one, the very last one, the one I was just saying does not get enough attention from us when we’re in the thick of it – namely, sleeping whenever I want – was number nine.

At this moment

I always love seeing a balloon going up in the air. It’s like some grand achievement of the species: the accidental ascent of some flimsy membrane all puffed up on a special gas. And we made that. If truer there were a statement on the human condition, I have not penned it.

Medical device reprocessing

A bullet point summary of a burgeoning biomedical market.

  • In about the 1980s/1990s, America’s healthcare system transited to a single-use interface between patient and medical system. (You don’t want to use the same needles as the last guy.)
  • The technology/innovation lifecycle seems to just get faster and faster and faster. However, a manufacturer certified refurbished device can look mighty good when compared to the latest and greatest, especially if it costs half as much. Such forces also have the added benefit of helping drive down the costs of new devices (much as other forces may drive them up).
  • There exists, therefore, these two trends in conjunction: the desire to have new/clean/sterile/safe medical devices and the desire to pay as little possible for them. If a single use device could be profitably refurbished, manufacturers would stand to gain a neat sum of money and the consumer/user also pay less for the essentially the same quality of care.
  • Therefore, look for the future development of medical device reprocessors. More of our medical devices (especially long lasting equipment) will find renewed usefulness past their normal expiration.

May we all hope for as much.