old patents

Thank you, Frederick

It’s World Diabetes Day, the anniversary of Frederick Banting’s birth. Banting discovered insulin, and without his discovery, I’d have died at the age of twelve. In the wake of the election my diabetes and chronic illness advocacy has been neglected to the point where I am only addressing Diabetes Day now, at ten at night. A weird part of me – the part that has normalized an existence wherein I am always one tiny miscalculation, one computer error, one missed test, or forgotten alarm clock setting away from death – has felt like this wasn’t as important anymore. In the face of Trump’s election, I felt compelled to tackle every social injustice I could find. Suddenly it was as if all I’d done for education, science literacy, women’s rights, and diabetes awareness weren’t enough. Why had I not also been more involved in politics? In racial justice? In environmental protection? I felt ineffectual. Flaccid.

But I’m not a super woman, and I don’t know how to fight every injustice (at least not yet!), and I can’t give up fighting the battles I’ve been fighting so long. And after all, my diabetes advocacy does intersect: for with Trump and his team’s threats to the ACA and the heath care social safety net in general, people like me are at very real risk. 

Advocacy requires education, but don’t worry, if you don’t know the story of Banting’s discovery of insulin, it is anything but dull!

You must first imagine a time when diabetes wasn’t a punchline about fat, lazy Americans. Before it was a hashtag accompanying photos of greasy and sugar-filled treats. Before it was something anyone laughed about. It was 1920, and diabetes was a universally feared death sentence that almost always befell children. 

Type 1 diabetes, the type I have, is an autoimmune disease. There is no prevention and there is no cure. It is not caused by diet or “lifestyle”, and it does not discriminate; it can emerge in anyone, from infancy through adulthood, of any level of physical fitness. A full understanding of the disease has not yet been reached, but what is known is that it is at least in part genetic, and is likely triggered by environmental factors such as viral infection. A person develops type 1 when their immune system starts attacking their body’s own insulin-producing beta cells. Without insulin, energy from food consumed cannot enter cells. Before the discovery of insulin, this meant certain death.

In the early 20th century, large hospitals would have entire diabetes death wards, usually filled with children, all slowly succumbing to the disease while their grieving families sat by, waiting for them to die. I can imagine what it would have been like to be a child in such a ward. I can tell you exactly what it feels like to die from diabetes, because I almost did. Twice. 

The first time was when I was twelve. It started as malaise. I was a bit more tired than usual. I was somewhat nauseated a lot of the time. I started to become emotionally depressed. As the month preceding my diagnosis progressed, I became weaker. I did not know that my body was cannibalizing my fat and muscles for energy, that my blood was slowly turning acidic, and that my organs were beginning to fail. My weight dropped rapidly. I was winded walking up a flight of stairs. My vision got a bit blurry and my thinking muddled. And I was so, so, so thirsty. Like, unless you’ve spent three days in the Sahara with absolutely no water, you cannot imagine how thirsty.

Had I not been diagnosed I would have starved to death. The inability of my body to convert food into energy causing me to waste away, and eventually to die from heart attack, stroke, or systemic organ failure as a result of Diabetic Ketoacidocis (acidic blood), slipping mercifully into a coma first…maybe lingering for a few days. And so was the fate of every child before a young Canadian doctor, Frederick Banting, discovered insulin. 

Now picture this in your head: the year is 1922. In a diabetes death ward in a children’s hospital in Toronto, a couple hundred children lie in metal-framed hospital beds. Their bodies are emaciated, some are in comas, all suffered as I suffered. The air is sweet with the smell of their breath and urine, for a diabetic’s breath is like fruit and their urine like honey. Their Gibson Girl mothers weeping, their besuited fathers trying to uphold the emotionless masculinity of their age, their siblings in petticoats and newsboy caps kneeling at their sides. Then a dashing young doctor, Banting, and his partner, Best, enter the ward, insulin syringes in hand. One by one, they begin injecting the children, and by the time they get to the last child, the first have already begun reviving from their comas. 

Suddenly, diabetes is no longer a death sentence. It is a disease that could be managed. Children who were skeletal and comatose become plump and active once more. It is the epitome of the inspirational tale. But this is not a story of hope, because that is not where the story ends.

Managing type 1 is both difficult and expensive. Although insulin is nearly 100 years old, patent-loopholes allow drug companies to keep tight proprietary control over the most effective formulae. A lack of regulation of the pharmaceutical industry in the United States means that US patients often pay more than ten times the price for a bottle of insulin than our fellow diabetics in other countries. The insulin that keeps me alive, Apidra, costs between $280-$480 a vial depending on which US state you buy it in – and bear in mind, depending on the patient one month’s supply can be anywhere from 2 to 10 vials. In Canada, the country of insulin’s discovery, the same vial is about $30. Further, effective type1 management means testing one’s blood sugar 8-20 times daily (each of my test strips costs $2, so that’s up to $40 a day), delivering insulin via syringe or pump (a pump runs between three and seven thousand dollars), using a few other medical odds and ends like sterilization alcohol, medical adhesives, etc., and regular doctor visits. The total annual cost of my diabetes medication and supplies, without which I will die, is about $26,000 before insurance.

That cost is not prohibitive, it is impossible. And because of that, I almost died of diabetes a second time.

Before the ACA, I was uninsurable. My type 1 considered a pre-existing condition. After I was dropped from my dad’s insurance, I had to pay for everything out of pocket because of my uninsurable status. Even re-using single-use only insulin syringes to the point where each injection left a massive bruise on my abdomen, even reusing finger-prick lancets until they were literally too blunt to work anymore, even fasting every other day to take less insulin, I couldn’t afford the cost of my disease. In my mid-twenties I began insulin rationing. I would test my sugar only once a day and take the bare minimum of insulin to keep me alive, keep me working my three jobs.

Then one morning when I was 26, it caught up with me. I’d lost 20 pounds in a month – I woke up vomiting that morning: the Diabetic Ketoacidosis from not getting enough insulin was so extreme that I lost seven more pounds in one day. My roommate drove me to the emergency room where I had five IV lines put in, was put on oxygen, intravenous potassium, and spent three days in Intensive Care. 

President-elect Trump is already waffling on his stance on the ACA, but that doesn’t stave off the real fear of me, other diabetics, and others who have pre-existing conditions for our lives. Literally, we fear for our lives because we know that people like us were left to die before the ACA. We are hoarding our medications and supplies and taking every step we can to hedge against loss of insurance.

I said this was not a story of hope, but neither is it a story of despair. For, like I said, there is a part of me that has normalized fighting for my life. I have done it, in a very literal sense, every minute of every day since I was twelve and a half years old. And so too have other type 1s fought. And so too have type2s fought. And so too have all those with chronic illness and disability fought. We fight because our lives are worth fighting for. Because an enlightened society recognizes our intrinsic value as human beings, despite the flukes in our physiology. We fight because we know that, despite the misconceptions and stereotypes society has about us, we have something to offer humanity: something immense, something those who’ve never had to fight for there lives cannot understand.

Our bodies may be damaged and weak, but we are strong. And we will take our fight to the steps of the White House, to the feet of the men who want to strip us of our means of survival. Who want to strip us of our Right to Life. We will use our damaged, sick, and broken bodies as blockade. We will use our clever and quick thinking minds. For if anyone knows how to fight, it is us. 

Type 1 children, before and after insulin treatment: 

Dr. Frederick Banting, Nobel Laureate for the discovery of insulin: 

Banting and Best, with one of the diabetic dogs they successfully treated:

Thank you, Frederick. 

Mental Hospital! Michael

Pairing: Y/N and Michael

Warning: hEART BURSTING BC SUPER FLUFF and Smut

Words: 3K

Summary: Michael is a new patient at the mental hospital which Y/N works at. Y/N looks after many patients but Michael is her new favourite.

Sorry if this offends anyone x

Originally posted by ashirtwit

Another day at the mental hospital. No I’m not crazy. I’m a nurse at the hospital, I got my nurse diploma and I look after the people in the home. It’s actually a fun job, you get to see so many people with all different things. This one time we had a man who couldn’t help but keep getting naked and run around. It was a pain as you had to hold him down and shove his pills down his throat but in the end he overcame it and I heard he’s living in LA with a beautiful wife. The mental hospital was quite a large home, we took up to 500 people and had around 95 nurses which worked different shift. My shift was all day and some night. I don’t know what it is but I love working here. I love meeting people and finding ways to entertain people and make them smile. I sometimes think I’m the only nurse that actually give a shit. The other nurse are just to strict and treat the patients like they’re un-human. I think that’s wrong, no matter what is wrong with you, you should be treated equally.

Today I was doing a one hour shift in the medic centre. Which is where all the medicine is stored. Luckily during my hour nothing usually happens as the patients have had there pills after lunch and currently it was 2pm. As nothing happens during the hour it gives me a chance to catch up on ‘Perks of being a wallflower’. It such a beautiful book. It has such a commitment to the ugly side of the truth, it ride’s with honesty and has a lot of captivating drama along the way. So far I’ve gotten half way through the book and it’s one of my favourite books. I don’t usually read but ever since I read The Fault in our stars I’ve been addicted to these sort of books. I’ve also started reading because the shift in the medical centre is usually quite boring. Luckily in the medical centre they have a window with a small window perch. Which you can sit at and the window shines in, in all different shades of orange and yellow. Usually I bring a pillow but today I forgot it. 

I went and sat on the window perch and removed my bookmark. I looked down out the window and all the patients were dressed in all white or blue and white nighties. They were all sitting on the grass outside with plenty of nurses. Even though it looked beautiful, I know that there’s still a massive spiky grey fence surrounding the area and that all of them are only aloud out for a hour a day. As the hospital management are scared that the patents will manage to escape. Which is bullshit because they’re mentally ill and can’t even count to ten let alone figure out how to escape.

I was sitting peacefully until I heard the bell for the desk ding.
I jumped and dropped my book to the floor.

“Crap I lost my page”I picked up my book and walked towards the desk whilst trying to find my page.

“Hi can I help?” I looked up to be met with the most beautiful green eyes I’ve ever seen. There was a boy at the desk, skin as white as snow, his lips were a beautiful rose colour and he had wild blue hair and a eyebrow piercing.
He was the most beautiful man I’ve ever laid eyes on. He started laughing and I shook my head.

“S-Sorry” I apologised. That’s so embarrassing he caught me staring.
“It not a problem, could I have my medicine I have the prescription here”
I looked at his clothes, of course he’s a patient and not a nurse. But there didn’t seem like there was anything wrong with the beautiful man. Shit. I can’t think he’s beautiful when he’s a patient.

“W-well you’re not actually a loud to collect your pills, your nurse has too”

“Oh…I don’t have a nurse”

“Ok hang on, I’ll look in the database and see what nurse is supposed to be assigned to you, what’s your name?”

“Michael Clifford”

As he said his name I couldn’t help but smile, it was said so smoothly and ran perfectly off the top of his tongue. I searched the name on the computer and it came up. He checked into the hospital two days ago, I looked at the nurse. Y/N. I was his nurse, that’s strange I never got a email or text saying I had gotten a new patient. 

“Well Michael it seems like I’m your nurse" 

"Oh, What’s your name?”

“Y/N”

He smiled at me and I grabbed his medication. Since it was 3pm, Amber was here for her shift in the medic centre so I left with Michael and we walked to his room.

“So you’re new here?’

“Yeah”

“What are you in for?”

“Depression, anger and attempt”

“I’m so sorry”

“Nothing to be worried about I’m alive aren’t I?”

“Barley in this place” he sighed and hummed along with me. We got to his room and he sat on his bed. I opened up his medication and poured him a glass of water. I passed him his pills and he tilted them back. 

“So Michael what do you do?”

“I write..songs, but its hard to get inspired in this place”

“Not even writing about being beside someone? Girlfirend? friend? family?”

“My family sent me here, my friends are in a band and yeah I miss them but they’re just friends and I don’t have a girlfriend”

“A beautiful boy like you doesn’t have a girlfriend?”

“What about you? shouldn’t you be getting home to your boyfriend?”

“No boyfriend I’m by myself”

“What? A beautiful girl like you doesn’t have a boyfriend?” he said mocking my words from earlier. I laughed at him and sat crossed legged on his bed.

“You want to hear part of a song I wrote?”

“Yes!” he passed me over his book

“Everybody’s got their demons 

Even wide awake or dreaming

I’m the one who ends up leaving

Make it okay

See a war I wanna fight it

See a match I wanna strike it

Every fire I’ve ignited

Faded to grey

But now that I’m broken

Now that you know it

Caught up in a moment

Can you see inside?'Cause I’ve got a jet black heart” 

I looked up at him and he was smiling at me

“Wow Michael, you have a amazing talent! Keep it up”

“T-thank you”


It had been 4 months since Michael had checked into the hospital and he was by far the best patient ever, he was kind, beautiful and amazing at singing. At first he was shy to sing to me but after I had sang a awful version of Michael Jacksons the way you make me feel. I had also managed to bring in my unplayed guitar to him so he could string the cords to ‘Jet Black Heart’. 

I never felt, that being around someone like Michael I could laugh so much, that I could adore one person for there many insecurities and there in perfections. Maybe I was falling for him, but theres nothing I could do about it. Yes he could get out, yes we spend most of the time here together, but being so close but so far away hurt..there was a reason he was in here although I don’t like seeing the world in that way. Even if I do love him its not like his head is in the right state of mind to feel what love is or decided what he wants. 

“Y/N! Damien wants to speak to you!”

I looked up from my book and looked at Amber she was chewing her gum and leaning on the counter top. 

“Ok look after the medicine” I said letting her into the centre 

“Will do” she yawned

I made my way to Damien’s office. Damien was the man in charge of the hospital and he are sure that everything was in check. His attitude towards the home was the same as mine. His wife was checked in here a long time ago and he spent every moment with her before she passed away. He doesn’t necessary come into the patient part of the home he stays in his office and checks on things.

I knocked on the door to his office and I heard a faint come in.

“Ah Y/N, just the gal”

“Hello Sir”

“Please call me Damien”

I walked in and took a seat.

“Now I’ve noticed a lot of things over the past 6 months, I’ve noticed how your attitude is one of the bests in the hospital and as you can see I’m getting old, I don’t have any children or and siblings so its my duty to pick someone to look after the hospital when I’m gone. So Y/N what I’m asking is would you like to become joint manager with me?”

I couldn’t say a word. I was so shocked, I didn’t realise that my work had gone noticed, I always thought he was flirting with the older nurses. 

“I can see you’re shocked”

No shit.

“I would love to Sir thank you so much”

“Great! You can start today, Your office is over there and you’ll be working on the paperwork and you can go into the canteen and garden anytime you want”

“A-And what about my patients?’

“They’ll be passed onto Amber”

My heart exploded, will I not be able to see Michael? But looking after Michael was the only part of my day I enjoyed now, I was his escape from the hospital and not going to see him could harm him. Leaving him with Amber also, its not that she’s not nice she just doesn’t care.


My promotion in the hospital could not have been better I was in charge and I made sure that the nurses treated the patents like humans. Even though I missed a few of my old patents…especially Michael.

It had been a week since I had gotten to see him, Amber had put restrictions on his door because apparently he lashed out, but knowing the Michael I knew he would never do that. I hadn’t heard any updates with him within the week and I was so worried. So tonight I had the late night shift so I could go check him and make sure he’s ok as Amber doesn’t like to speak to me about him.


I said goodbye to Amber and I walked to Michaels room. I got the key and unlocked the door. I walked on in and he wasn’t in there, he must have been in the toilet (in the room but in a blocked off bit) I walked over to his bed and his journal was lying there. I know I shouldn’t but I want to make sure he’s ok, so I opened it. I skipped to around a week ago and read what he had written.
“today has been the worst day. she’s left me. I’ve never felt like this, she makes me feel human like I mean something to the world and not some depressed kid. she’s so beautiful and I’ve lost her. it’s great she got the promotion and I know I’m being selfish but I love her. I love Y/N” I read the last line over again. He loved me. I heard the toilet door unlock and I placed his journal on the bed. I stood up and sorted out my skirt.

“Hey” Michael whispered as he walked over to me

“How have you been Michael?”

He looked at me with glossy eyes and blinked away the tears 

“I’ve never felt so empty, Ambers not the same as you, she treats me like I’m a dog” I walked over to him and hugged him

“She shoves the pills down and leaves, she doesn’t read me stories, she doesn’t help me write songs and she never talks to me” he sobbed into my shirt.

“She’s not you” he said whilst leaning his head on mine.

I wiped away his tears and left my hands on his cheeks. He looked so sad and I couldn’t help it, I hated seeing him sad. I leant forward and attached his lips to mine. I heard his breath hitch as he responded to the kiss. His lips felt like heaven and he was the Angel that in no way should be in this hell hold. He detached his lips from mine and looked me in the eyes. 

“Y/N”

“Yeah” I whispered

“I-I love you, you make me feel real”

“This is against all the rules but I couldn’t help it, I love you too”

“I promise I’ll get out of here and I can take you on a date" 

I laughed at him and reached my arms around his neck.
I kissed his cheek and slowly edged towards his lips. He crashed his lips onto mine once again. He swiped his tongue against my lips and I moaned as his tongue entered my mouth. He picked me up and placed me on the bed as he crawled over me.

I nipped on his lip and reached under his shirt and caressed his sides. He groaned and started to suck purple love bites into my neck. He sat up and removed his white shirt. He leant down and grinded into me, I wined and grabbed hold of his shoulders. His hands came under my shirt and grabbed hold of my boobs.

“Aw baby you’re boobs are so perky” I shot my eyes open and looked at him, he had a small blush on his cheeks as he removed my top. He leant down and kissed above where my bra meet’s my breasts. He squeezed them upwards and licked in between them and sucked hickeys onto them. I reached around my back and undid the clasp. I ripped it away from his grasp and he went straight into tugging on my nipples with his hands. 

“Mikey it feels so good”

I sat up in the bed and he stroked up my chest and he grasped my cheeks and kissed me hard. I reached down and pulled his sweats down revealing his white underwear. I stroked over his bulge as he pulled down my skirt. He leant back and I climbed onto of him. I ran my hands over his tattoos and his pale white arms as I grinded over his bulge. 

“Shit Y/N” he stuttered, I felt his dick twitch as I leant down and kissed his nipples. I made my way to his neck and felt where his pulse was and sucked hard. I felt him whine underneath me and he held my hips still.

“I haven’t done this in so long Im not going to last please just remove the dam boxers” he pleaded

“But Mikey” I pouted whilst grinding down on him

“Y/N I mean it, just make love to me” my heart fluttered in my stomach and he gave me a goofy smile. I removed his boxers and my panties and lined up his dick with my entrance. I sank down on him and we both let out animalistic groans. I rested the palm of my hands on his chest and bounced on his dick. It hit all the right places and I could feel it rubbing up against my walls. 

“God you look so beautiful” he moaned

He reached up and cupped my breasts the pleasure was so good I couldn’t bounce so I grinded down on him. I could feel my orgasm approaching and i grabbed hold of Michael, He brought me down to his face and kissed me. He held onto my hips and thrusted up, he hit my g-spot multiple times and I moaned into his neck.

“Mikey I’m going to cum” 

“Wait I’m nearly there” he moaned, I sat upright and bounced on top of him once again and he let out a strangled moan

“I love you so much, cum for me” I came around him as I collapsed on him. I let my breathing get back to normal and I rolled next to him and placed my hand on his chest and I nuzzled my head in his neck.

“The first moment I saw you I knew I was going to fall hard. I never thought you’d love me back, I’ve never been loved and hearing you say that…I believe you, and I’m unworthy of love so believing you is like believing pigs can fly” he whispered 

“You’re not unworthy of love because I love you more than anything”

“and I love you Y/N” we laid on the hospital bed with Michael stroking through my hair, I knew this moment wouldn’t last but for the moment this was heaven.

3

The wireless television remote control, invented by Eugene Polley for Zenith in Chicago, 1955

There had been previous remote control devices; however, Polley’s was the first to be wireless. The large, bulky Flash-Matic would emit signals to the console’s photo-cells, turning the set on or off, change channels and even mute the sound! 

Why Dems lost the white vote

So media and Washington and the interwebs are giving their own hottakes on why Democrats lost the working class/middle class vote. 

The common ground is: Democrats lost the middle class vote because we failed to talk to the white working class and we focused too much on the cultural war.

As a WOC, here’s how I hear that: giving space and a seat to minorities was the wrong move. Treating the middle and working class as not just white people but also black and hispanic and asian and native american people was the wrong strategy. 

Did Hillary lose because she said “Black Lives Matter” not “All Lives Matter’?

Was it because she said we all have implicit bias and we need to do a better job in listening to minorities, white people took that as she’s calling them racist?

Was it because she told the hard truth that coal mining jobs aren’t coming back anymore but Donald Trump lied and said he can bring coal mining jobs back?

Was it because she was strongly pro-choice and white evangelical pro-lifers simply can’t compromise that “Christian value”?

Was it because she refused to say radical Islam even though she has a record and plan to beat terrorists like ISIS?

Was it when she called the fringe element in Donald Trump’s campaign (who is now getting a high level appointment in his administration) a basket of deplorables and the average white evangelical voter thought she was talking about them instead? 

Was it because when in 2008 Obama worked to convince America his blackness is non threatening, Hillary in 2016 embraced Obama too tightly together with minorities, and never let go?

Saying that we lost the white working class because we failed to speak to their economic anxiety fails to to take into account how Donald Trump actually rose into power. That he is not a normal candidate and this wasn’t a normal election. It also fails into account the actual results of the election.

Donald Trump won because he won the electoral college, but even then, he didn’t win it by a landslide. This election was razor thin close. This election was tipped to his favor from a few thousand votes in WI, Michigan, PA, normally reliable blue states. While we don’t decide our president from popular votes, his votes received is even lower than Mitt Romney’s and Hillary has the highest number of popular votes of any presidential nominee except for Obama. So while Donald Trump won the elections by the rules, it’s disingenuous to say he has a political mandate.

I’m not saying ignore how or why we lost the traditionally reliable blue states and why we lost the white vote. But let’s take a look at the facts and not quickly fall back to old arguments that are patently false and not the reason why we lost the white vote. 

Data shows Democrats lost the white vote across the board: in all age brackets, income brackets, genders, college educated, not college educated. We also won with minorities across the board. We also lost the Rust Belt with only 127,000 votes. To simply narrow it to “we lost the elections because we lost the white working class” is simplistic and only harmful for Democrats moving forward. 

For me specifically, I am more interested on why we lost the white women vote, coz that’s where the anomaly is. We’ve always lost the white male vote but still won the White House. But why did we also lose college-educated women, we lost white millennials that previously went for Obama. Why? 

Was it because white millennials initially went for Bernie and Hillary failed to win their support? But why did majority of them go to Trump? Or them voting third party is what really did it? 

Is it because that for white women, ethnicity trumps gender? Is the solidarity (or lack there of) between white women and women of color has a wider divide and gap than we initially thought? 

Were we overconfident that Republicans for Hillary was a sure thing, and missed that they would come home to GOP on election day? Were we wrong about there’s a secret women vote for Hillary, when we thought they were voting for Hillary even though their husbands were voting for Trump, they were actually voting for Trump too?

I’ve seen interviews of white rural and suburban middle-aged women now publicly coming out on why they voted for Trump, they say because they weren’t voting for a sunday school teacher and it’s about the economy for them. But Trump doesn’t have real economic plans, he only spoke to their baser instincts. People argue Hillary didn’t do enough or failed to communicate her policies to them, but I’ve seen how many times she traveled to the rust belt even on the last day of elections, people were criticizing her for spending too much time there and now they’re saying she spent too little. So to me, what they’re saying is if we want to win, lie to Americans instead, coz the truth doesn’t matter.  

But what about the urban young white women? Why did they go for Trump? Is it simply a generational divide that having the first female president don’t mean as much to them?

These are the questions I believe we should be asking when it comes to the white vote, and not rush to the old and tired and false conclusion that Democrats is no longer the party of working people. We have labor unions behind us, we won minority voters, most of whom belong in the working class. 

The conclusion from this elections can’t be let’s turn our backs on minorities once more and go back to catering to white men again. Not only that is not a winning strategy in an America that’s getting browner not whiter, that’s an American tragedy. 

We are then saying Donald Trump is right about America: of white people, by the white people, and for white people only.

BUT We are America, too, and I’m not going to give that up, neither should you. 

nytimes.com
Welcome to the Failure Age!

By: Adam Davidson
NY Times, Nov 12, 2014

Industries that once seemed resistant to change are only now entering the early stages of major disruption. A large percentage of the health-care industry, for example, includes the rote work of recording, storing and accessing medical records. But many companies are currently devising ways to digitize our medical documents more efficiently. Many economists believe that peer-to-peer lending, Bitcoin and other financial innovations will soon strike at the core of banking by making it easier to receive loans or seed money outside a traditional institution. Education is facing the threat of computer-based learning posed by Khan Academy, Coursera and other upstart companies. Government is changing, too. India recently introduced a site that allows anybody to see which government workers are showing up for their jobs on time (or at all) and which are shirking. Similarly, Houston recently developed a complex database that helps managers put an end to runaway overtime costs. These changes are still new, in part because so many large businesses benefit from the old system and use their capital to impede innovation. But the changes will inevitably become greater, and the results will be drastic. Those four industries — health care, finance, education and government — represent well more than half of the U.S. economy. The lives of tens of millions of people will change.

Some professions, however, are already demonstrating ways to embrace failure. For example, there’s an uncharacteristic explosion of creativity among accountants. Yes, accountants: Groups like the Thriveal C.P.A. Network and the VeraSage Institute are leading that profession from its roots in near-total risk aversion to something approaching the opposite. Computing may have commoditized much of the industry’s everyday work, but some enterprising accountants are learning how to use some of their biggest assets — the trust of their clients and access to financial data — to provide deep insights into a company’s business. They’re identifying which activities are most profitable, which ones are wasteful and when the former become the latter. Accounting once was entirely backward-looking and, because no one would pay for an audit for fun, dependent on government regulation. It was a cost. Now real-time networked software can make it forward-looking and a source of profit. It’s worth remembering, though, that this process never ends: As soon as accountants discover a new sort of service to provide their customers, some software innovator will be seeking ways to automate it, which means those accountants will work to constantly come up with even newer ideas. The failure loop will continue to close.

Lawyers, too, are trying to transform computers from a threat into a value-adding tool. For centuries the legal profession has made a great deal of money from drawing up contracts or patent applications that inevitably sit in drawers, unexamined. Software can insert boilerplate language more cheaply now. But some computer-minded lawyers have found real value in those cabinets filled with old contracts and patent filings. They use data-sniffing programs and their own legal expertise to cull through millions of patent applications or contracts to build never-before-seen complex models of the business landscape and sell it to their clients.

The manufacturing industry is going through the early stages of its own change. Until quite recently, it cost tens of millions of dollars to build a manufacturing plant. Today, 3-D printing and cloud manufacturing, a process in which entrepreneurs pay relatively little to access other companies’ machines during downtime, have drastically lowered the barrier to entry for new companies. Many imagine this will revitalize the business of making things in America. Successful factories, like accounting firms, need to focus on special new products that no one in Asia has yet figured out how to mass produce. Something similar is happening in agriculture, where commodity grains are tended by computer-run tractors as farming entrepreneurs seek more value in heritage, organic, local and other specialty crops. This has been manifested in the stunning proliferation of apple varieties in our stores over the past couple of years.

Every other major shift in economic order has made an enormous impact on the nature of personal and family life, and this one probably will, too. Rather than undertake one career for our entire working lives, with minimal failure allowed, many of us will be forced to experiment with several careers, frequently changing course as the market demands — and not always succeeding in our new efforts. In the corporate era, most people borrowed their reputations from the large institutions they affiliated themselves with: their employers, perhaps, or their universities. Our own personal reputations will now matter more, and they will be far more self-made. As career trajectories and earnings become increasingly volatile, gender roles will fragment further, and many families will spend some time in which the mother is a primary breadwinner and the father is underemployed and at home with the children. It will be harder to explain what you do for a living to acquaintances. The advice of mentors, whose wisdom is ascribed to a passing age, will mean less and less.

To succeed in the innovation era, says Daron Acemoglu, a prominent M.I.T. economist, we will need, above all, to build a new set of institutions, something like the societal equivalent of those office parks in Sunnyvale, that help us stay flexible in the midst of turbulent lives. We’ll need modern insurance and financial products that encourage us to pursue entrepreneurial ideas or the education needed for a career change. And we’ll need incentives that encourage us to take these risks; we won’t take them if we fear paying the full cost of failure. Acemoglu says we will need a far stronger safety net, because a society that encourages risk will intrinsically be wealthier over all.

History is filled with examples of societal innovation, like the United States Constitution and the eight-hour workday, that have made many people better off. These beneficial changes tend to come, Acemoglu told me, when large swaths of the population rally together to demand them. He says it’s too early to fully understand exactly what sorts of governing innovations we need today, because the new economic system is still emerging and questions about it remain: How many people will be displaced by robots and mobile apps? How many new jobs will be created? We can’t build the right social institutions until we know the precise problem we’re solving. “I don’t think we are quite there yet,” he told me.

Generally, those with power and wealth resist any significant shift in the existing institutions. Robber barons fought many of the changes of the Progressive Era, and Wall Street fought the reforms of the 1930s. Today, the political system seems incapable of wholesale reinvention. But Acemoglu said that could change in an instant if enough people demand it. In 1900, after all, it was impossible to predict the rise of the modern corporation, labor unions, Social Security and other transformative institutions that shifted gains from the wealthy to workers.

We are a strange species, at once risk-averse and thrill-seeking, terrified of failure but eager for new adventure. If we discover ways to share those risks and those rewards, then we could conceivably arrive somewhere better. The pre-modern era was all risk and no reward. The corporate era had modest rewards and minimal risks. If we conquer our fear of failure, we can, just maybe, have both.

Salvage (For driftingfromshore)

An unusual bounty, this was. Not a criminal to be tracked, nor a victim to be rescued. It was more akin to treasure hunting than anything, although most artifact hunters had little interest in robotics. Regardless, a robot was what Douglas had been tasked by a special interest group from Oceania – more popularly known as the resort planet Big Blue – to find. Apparently, they needed help on building better-equipped undersea androids, and most of the designs they were looking at were patented already. As a result, they required something old enough for the patents to be expired to reverse-engineer.

Something from the Light Era would do. That was a breakthrough time in human engineering, and archaeological finds from those years were still being studied for advances in tech that were so far ahead of their time that they were still cutting-edge over 300 years later.

After some fairly strenuous data-gathering and research, Doug found a suitable robot from the period – one Splash Woman, designed by an Albert Wily as an underwater guard dog unit. Problem was, no schematics still existed, so the Captain would have to find the original unit and turn it over for study.

He found her on a junkyard planet with no sun, about half a lightyear from Earth. One arm, partially rusted over, tail reduced to skeletal parts as the semi-organic tissue that originally formed it had long since rotted away. She was deactivated, of course, so it was no trouble getting her onboard the Falcon Flyer and set up on a table. He didn’t strap her down or anything, since…well, after three centuries of disuse, what were the odds of her solar panels still working, let alone being able to draw enough power from the artificial-sunlight lighting in the Flyer?

3

AND HERE’S WHAT I’M WEARING NYE 

New Year’s Eve is a time for glamour, embellishments, sequins, sparkles… (hello, sequin leggings)! Here is your chance to go a little cray! However, this doesn’t mean you have to break the bank, especially right after Christmas! I for one am ringing in the New Year with a little something old, actually. I shopped my own closet for this NYE look! 

So, whether you dig through your closets for looks from New Year’s past or don a shiny new piece… the point is to be cute as we send off 2013!

  • Turban: Your local ratchet beauty supply
  • Rhinestone Earrings: Burlington
  • Fur Vest: Urban Outfitters - Old
  • Sequin Leggings: ASOS - Old 
  • Patent Booties: Steve Madden - Old 
  • Clutch: LV 

Baking

Day 8 of 25 Days of Fic-mas


He thought they were being careful, the three of them together, but one afternoon, not long after Mary and John had left, Mrs. Hudson caught Sherlock lounging about wearing nothing but his dressing gown. Which shouldn’t have been any sort of tip-off, but the look she gave him said otherwise.

“It’s Wednesday, isn’t it?” she said. “You’re looking refreshed. Already had your visit with John and Mary then?”

Refreshed. What was she on about? Sherlock felt like he could sleep for weeks. He mumbled something at her and waited for her to leave.

“Every Wednesday, isn’t it?”

He sat up a little on the sofa and narrowed his eyes at her. How could she know? They used John’s old bedroom upstairs. She was eighty years old; there was no way she could hear them.

“It’s only that I hear them come in every time, and it’s always when their little one is off at school, and you never go out on cases on Wednesday mornings….”

This was unbearable; it was like being questioned by his mum. Worse than his mum; Mrs. Hudson acted more like a grandmother, with her tea and her biscuits and her apron…. “Baking!” he shouted.

“I’m sorry?”

“Mary likes to bake bread. They come over for baking.” It wasn’t a very convincing tale, but his mind was still mostly offline after this morning.

“Baking?” Mrs. Hudson giggled. “Is that what you kids call it now?”

“What happened to live and let live, Mrs. Hudson?” He pulled his dressing gown tighter across his chest, made sure it was belted securely.

“Oh, I’m not judging you, dear. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear the gossip about it. All three of you like to bake—together?”

“Yes, we all bake together. Is that really so hard to believe?”

“Oh, no. I just thought. Well. I know you and John used to bake together in the old days.”

“That is patently untrue.”

“Oh, come now, Sherlock. It’s okay.”

“Mrs. Hudson, I assure you, without Mary to act as a…leavening agent, John and I would never have baked together.”

“Oh.” She furrowed her brow for a moment, then frowned. “Oh, Sherlock, I’m so sorry.”

He waved a hand at her. “Don’t be. I was never very interested in…culinary matters until the two of them offered to show me how to bake.”

“Really? A handsome man like you? Must have had plenty of offers to go into the kitchen.”

This conversation had officially gone too far. “Don’t you have some baking of your own to do?”

“No, Mr. Chatterjee is—”

“Baking,” Sherlock cut in. He flopped back down onto the sofa. “Biscuits. We need biscuits. Chocolate, I think.” For some reason he was hungry now. He closed his eyes and waited for her to leave.

–read all of the ficlets here: Imagine the Christmas Dinners