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orphan ideas

UPDATE: In a post on evidence-based diets, I wrote about the potential benefits to be gained if private chef, meal replacement, or even frozen dinner companies would structure their meals around evidence of benefits from particular dietary combinations, which could in turn be tailored to customer demographics: Garanimals for your tummy.

This WSJ article on nutrients in your diet describes some of the connections between diet, mainly of vitamins and trace minerals, and health from an immune response perspective. One more reason to look at all the studies and dietary pieces as a consolidated whole rather than “take two fish oil caplets a day.”


Project: I Vote Autism

October 29, 2009 · 0 comments

In this earlier post on single-issue voting, I described the genesis of my new political strategy/philosophy. So what? My goal is to create a framework for very specific, detailed information about politicians and voting records at all levels of government: federal, state, and local. We need to track not just voting on new laws but also funding decisions and program support and *efficacy* down to the school board level. Here’s an example, from a different context, of the level of detail I’d like to see.

With detailed information from a variety of sources on the actions taken, not the words spoken or empathy expressed, we parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, and especially self-advocates can become vastly better informed about how to cast our votes. Americans have spread out across the states and towns of our nation throughout the last 50 years; few of us live with our whole families in towns where we can influence political processes to the same extent as those who recognize more clearly defined common interests. But our children our everywhere, and there’s no reason my parents in upstate NY shouldn’t be voting to support ASD issues there just like my friends in California or Massachusetts. The problems of those children ARE my son’s problems. This entire class of children and adults, and perhaps an entire burgeoning ASD generation, needs our protection, assistance, and support so we can build in them the power to speak for themselves.

“…to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men….”

From a technical perspective, I imagine this project as being built in layers as tools rather than documents. What this means is that it starts with a straightforward national layer, since there are a number of good sources to get information about Congress and votes/actions on bills/amendments. It’s also relatively easy to look at something like Autism Votes for a list of important bills to track. Similar tools could be built at the state and then county/local levels to track both legislators and legislation. Then, the system could be expanded to track the executive branch and even judges. A user should be able to designate an organization that maintains a list of the public policy issues that group is tracking (like Autism Votes does here).

So what makes this different than Autism Votes? First off, I see this as a very direct, reductionist verdict, a thumbs-up/thumbs-down on every person tracked. Remember, the premise is that ASD issues are more important to most people in our community than just about anything else. I don’t know at which point this idea crosses over into lobbying and the political influence categories that trigger different regulatory requirements, but it’s not a problem at this nascent stage.

The key to this project is the combination of some straightforward web 2.0 tools with a definite crowdsourced component (only locals will put school board names on a list after each election) and the ability to share judgments OPENLY, so people can advocate for their own views. For example, I would imagine that the science-heavy crowd among parents would diverge greatly from the “warrior mom” contingent on how they would rate people who support/oppose particular vaccine research funding. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. Politics is how we deal with allocations of scarce resources in a democracy. It might as well work!

(As an aside, if this project were built with an open and extensible design plan, such as using references to open-source/public wiki-style definitions files, it could be expanded into a grass-roots political action tool for people with any particular concern.)


Cause of action website worth copying

14 October 2009

This site, COA.TX, has an incredibly straightforward tagline: Quick Reference for Causes of Action and Affirmative Defenses in Texas. — Caselaw Snippets from Recent Texas Appellate Opinions. Lawyers with a national practice (often driven by national clients) can spend a surprising amount of time pulling specific quotes from the relevant jurisdiction to either get complaints […]

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How to use venture capital “check the box” forms

12 August 2009

Writing about Ted Wang’s “simple series A” reminded me of this idea I came up with years ago. One alternative to drafting that I’ve always liked: “check the box” forms.” During any moderately stable period in Silicon Valley, certain terms become “market,” meaning that there’s little real dispute about them in substance and only some […]

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Cutting starting salaries will hurt young lawyers

17 February 2009

The WSJ Law Blog recently noted a suggestion by — that law firms reduce starting salaries for their lawyers in exchange for some sort of (read: unenforceable) promise to keep things together for some period of time. There are a range of problems that I see with this proposal, and here are some suggestions as […]

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Law firms as Ponzi/MLM schemes?

24 August 2008

I spent some time on Thursday morning in a courtroom full of very expensive lawyers. The associates were few and far between, as were the women (but that’s a different story). Later that afternoon, I spoke with a former officemate of mine from when we were both second-years at a large NYC law firm. These […]

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