December 2011
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Month December 2011

Computerized Pathology

The Economist:

LOOKING for needles in haystacks is boring. But computers do not get bored. Contracting out to machines the tedious business of assessing the dangerousness of cancer cells in histological microscope slides ought thus to be an obvious thing to do. Cervical-cancer smear tests aside, however, such electronic intrusions into the pathology laboratory are limited. Grading cancer cells into “indolent” and “aggressive”, and hazarding an opinion about whether they spell a treatable condition or an untreatable one, has remained the realm of the human expert.



But not for much longer, if Daphne Koller, a computer scientist at Stanford University, and her colleagues have their way. They recently reported in Science Translational Medicine that they have written a program which can distinguish between grades of breast-cancer cell—and in a way that provides a more accurate prognosis than a human pathologist can.

Most print newspapers will be gone in five years, The desktop PC is dead; long live the tablet.

USC Annenberg News:

Over the next three years, according to Cole, the tablet will become the primary tool for personal computing. Use of a desktop PC will dwindle to only 4-6 percent of computer users – writers, gamers, programmers, analysts, scientists, and financial planners – and laptop use will decline as well.



“The tablet is such an inviting gadget,” said Cole. “The desktop PC is a ‘lean forward’ device – a tool that sits on a desk and forces uses to come to it. The tablet has a ‘lean-back’ allure — more convenient and accessible than laptops and much more engaging to use. For the vast majority of Americans, the tablet will be the computer tool of choice by the middle of the decade, while the desktop PC fades away.


“We don’t see a negative consequence in the move to tablets,” said Cole, “but the coming dominance of tablets will create major shifts in how, when, and why Americans go online – changes even more significant than the emergence of the laptop.”

……..

“Circulation of print newspapers continues to plummet, and we believe that the only print newspapers that will survive will be at the extremes of the medium – the largest and the smallest,” said Cole. It’s likely that only four major daily newspapers will continue in print form: The New York Times, USA Today, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal. At the other extreme, local weekly newspapers may still survive.

“The impending death of the American print newspaper continues to raise many questions,” Cole said. “Will media organizations survive and thrive when they move exclusively to online availability? How will the changing delivery of content affect the quality and depth of journalism?”

Father Vincent Capodanno and the Meaning of “Sacrifice”


If you have never visited Semper Fidelis Memorial Chapel on the grounds of the National Museum of the Marine Corps, you have missed visiting a truly inspirational place. It is a breathtakingly beautiful building, an edifice of stone, rich wood and soaring glass that derives much of its beauty from the surrounding landscape. It is also breathtakingly simple. Nestled in the woods, it was designed to pay homage to the improvised chapels found in the field, attended by those who bear the burden of war.



Last Wednesday was nothing short of a glorious spring day in Virginia. The skies were crystal clear, without a cloud, and vibrant blue. A warm breeze stirred the air. Springtime had brought the grounds surrounding the chapel to life. I was struck by how green the trees were, and by the sound of birds singing. And on this glorious spring day, several people had gathered for a private ceremony to dedicate the “Sacrifice” window in memory of Navy chaplain, and Medal of Honor recipient, Father Vincent Capodanno.



As a former theology student, and a Marine Corps historian, I have long had an interest in those chaplains who have chosen to serve with the Fleet Marine Force. Of particular interest to me were those who served in Vietnam. It was many years ago that I first heard of the “Grunt Padre,” Father Capodanno.

Enduring lessons of Stalin’s little sparrow

Simon Sebag-Montefiore:

Svetlana Stalina, who died last week, always said that Stalin, her father, “broke my life”. Her troubled life illustrates how power coarsens, corrupts and corrodes family itself. Even in democracies, the relentless demands of power are wearying, then coarsening then corrupting. In the long reigns of despots, the more absolute, the more corrosive. The gentle ties of family are ground to dust by steel wheels of power. Men of power such as a Stalin or Hitler usually see themselves as selfless, lone knights riding with swords drawn into hostile territory. Even for those such as Colonel Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein or the Assads for whom politics is dynastic, power is paramount.

In the end, as we saw in Gaddafi’s downfall, the sons were expected to sacrifice themselves on the pyre of his narcissistic megalomania. Saddam struggled to hold the balance between the rivalries of his own diabolical princelings – his daughters were squeezed in this filial vice and in the ultimate poisoning of family life, he allowed his sons to murder his sons-in-law. The Assads have been cursed by familial rivalries. Gaddafi groomed several atrocious sons for power, even when they plotted against him – but all were sacrificed in his Bedouin hybrid of Saharan götterdämerung and Arabic King Lear.

Berlin Tech Startups

Der Spiegel:

As Berlin’s tech scene continues to grow, investors are beginning to take notice. Venture capital is flooding into the city and many funds are setting up shop locally. But with German investors still wary of the tech scene following the dot-bomb implosion a decade ago, some wonder if it will be enough.