Killing Dr. Tourette


1893 was not Gilles de la Tourette’s year.


Not only was he devastated by the death of his son Jean to meningitis but also by the loss of his mentor, the prominent neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot, to a lung disease shortly afterward. Sadly, there was even more to come for the internationally recognized neurologist.

On December 6, a young woman, dressed in black, rang the doorbell at the Rue de l’Universite apartment building where Dr. Tourette lived. His valet told her that the doctor was out but she insisted on waiting for him. After about fifteen minutes, Tourette returned from seeing a patient at a local hospital and she immediately confronted him in his consulting room. The woman, Rose Kamper, had been one of his patients at the Pitie-Salpetriere Hospitaland demanded money from him for “ruining her life”. He recognized that she was emotionally disturbed and offered to have her readmitted to hospital under his care. After she failed to reply, Tourette got up to leave the room when the woman took out a revolver and shot him in the back of the neck.

Rose Kamper made no attempt at escape after the shooting and simply sat in the hall until the police came. She reportedly muttered, “I know, that what I just have done was wrong, but it was necessary and now I am satisfied. At least one of them has now paid for the others (the other doctors who had treated her).”  While her victim’s injury wasn’t life-threatening, an attempt made on the life of one of the most prominent physicians in Paris certainly made news.

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The Best Defense is a Good Offense: Why Public Health Officials Need to Get Tough on Vaccination


Measles are preventable with vaccines so why are vaccination rates going down?/Dave Haygarth via Flickr

It’s a scary time for many parents and their children in Washington, Oregon, and New York, which are currently experiencing measles outbreaks. The vaunted herd immunity that has kept Americans safe for the past few decades is being eroded—via lower child vaccination coverage in communities throughout the US due to an increase in vaccination exemptions.

For years, fingers have been pointed at discredited doctor Andrew Wakefield for starting the spread of the now-debunked link between autism and the measles vaccine. Likewise, social media misinformation campaigns from so-called mommy blogs and anti-vaccination (often termed “anti-vaxxer”) activist groups have been effective in propagandizing pseudo-science ignorance among parents and politicians alike through websites, online ads, phony-expert panel talks, celebrity allies, online and in-person “word-of-mouth,” and aggressive political lobbying.

Deductible Guide: Alexa, I think I Have a Problem

The Numi 2.0 Intelligent Toilet, Source:

When future civilizations look back at the year 2019, it is likely they will point to devices like Kohler’s Numi 2.0 Intelligent Toilet as examples of just how crazy things got in the later stages of Silicon Valley’s Golden Age of Disruption. “What were they thinking?” they will ask. And they will be right to ask. The answer is not obvious.

Retailing for roughly $8,000, the Numi 2.0 features WIFI, Amazon Alexa voice capability, mood-lighting, personalization features and an impressive array of sensors. Do consumers really want or need any of these features? We’re not sure.

It’s possible that in the year 2050, all toilets will be intelligent and features like WIFI, voice recognition and mood lighting will be commonplace and widely accepted but call us slightly skeptical.

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The Disruption Distraction



        Clayton Christensen/World Economic Forum via Wikimedia Commons

Clayton Christiansen’s  1997 classic Innovators Dilemma explored how established businesses are blindsided by lower cost competitors that undermine their core products, and eventually destroy their businesses.   Classic examples of disruption are the displacement of film-based cameras by digital cameras and, now, cell phones, the destruction of retail shopping by Amazon and of video rental outlets by streaming video services. 

Because of the anxiety it generated, Christiansen’s disruption thesis has dominated corporate strategy ever since. However,  I believe this notion of “disruptive innovation, twenty years on,   has reached its “sell-by” date, at least in healthcare,  and is now doing more harm than good.  

The healthcare version of the disruption thesis was found in Christiansen’s “Innovator’s Prescription”, written with health industry maverick Dr. Jerome Grossman, in 2009.  Christiansen and Grossman forecast that innovations such as point-of-care testing, retail clinics and special purpose surgical hospitals threatened to take down healthcare incumbents- physicians and hospitals.  

This book gave rise to a swarm of breathless healthcare disruption forecasts.  Eric Topol predicted that the cell phone and a swarm of diagnostic apps would shortly replace the physician as the patient’s principal source of diagnostic wisdom.  Vinod Khosla said that 80% of physicians would be replaced by AI.  

Weedonomics: What Canada Can Teach Us About the Business of Getting High


MedMen, Venice, CA/John Irvine

On October 16, 2018, Canada officially legalized recreational marijuana across the country. From coast-to-coast, friendly Canadians waited in line to become among the first to legally purchase and consume cannabis for entirely recreational purposes.

Months later, with the high of legalization waning, many Canadian consumers are facing up to the harsh realities of government-sanctioned and controlled vices. According to Statistics Canada, prices are now 17.4% higher than prior to legalization, scarce legal supply has driven some Canadians to unlicensed dispensaries and a combination of new taxes and disparate provincial administrative laws are adding a layer of complexity to a previously black market industry.

Despite this, the Democratic governments of New York and New Jersey have recently announced plans to legalize marijuana in a seemingly similar fashion.  For instance, New York governor Andrew Cuomo has announced a plan that appears positively Canuckian in nature with highlights including:

  • Establishing separate licensing programs for marijuana growers, distributors and retailers, with a ban on growers also opening retail shops;
  • Imposing a 20 percent state tax and 2 percent local tax on the sale of the drug from wholesalers to retailers, plus a per-gram tax on growers;
  • Allowing counties and large cities to ban marijuana sales within their boundaries; and
  • Banning marijuana sales to anyone under the age of 21.