The Notebook: Issue 04

Hi there,
This is October edition my monthly email.
The email is a list of books, movies, blog posts, interviews, video clips and other stuff I found interesting and feel worth sharing.
I hope you’ll like some of the stuff I am sharing.
Please don’t hesitate to give me your feedback.
Here it goes…
A Book Worth Sharing –
I have just finished the book “The Checklist Manifesto” by Atul Gawande.
Atul Gawande is an acclaimed surgeon. And in this book he shows how a simple thing like ‘checklist’ could save millions of lives.
Here’s a short excerpt…
“In 2001, though, a critical-care specialist at Johns Hopkins Hospital named Peter Pronovost decided to give a doctor checklist a try.
He didn’t attempt to make the checklist cover everything; he designed it to tackle just one problem, the one that nearly killed Anthony DeFilippo: line infections.
On a sheet of plain paper, he plotted out the steps to take in order to avoid infections when putting a line in.
Doctors are supposed to (1) wash their hands with soap, (2) clean the patient’s skin with chlorhexidine antiseptic, (3) put sterile drapes over the entire patient, (4) wear a sterile mask, hat, gown, and gloves, and (5) put a sterile dressing over the catheter site once the line is in.
Check, check, check, check, check.
These steps are no-brainers; they have been known and taught for years. So it seemed silly to make a checklist just for them. Still, Pronovost asked the nurses in his I.C.U. to observe the doctors for a month as they put lines into patients, and record how often they completed each step.
In more than a third of patients, they skipped at least one.
Pronovost and his colleagues monitored what happened for a year afterward.
The results were so dramatic that they weren’t sure whether to believe them: the ten-day line-infection rate went from eleven per cent to zero.
So they followed patients for fifteen more months. Only two line infections occurred during the entire period.
They calculated that, in this one hospital, the checklist had prevented forty-three infections and eight deaths, and saved two million dollars in costs.”
Atul Gawande also points out why it’s so difficult for us to accept this thing called ‘checklist’.
Here what he says about it…
“It somehow feels beneath us to use checklist, an embarrassment. It runs counter to deeply held beliefs about how the truly great among us – those we aspire to be – handle situations of high stakes and complexity. The truly great are daring. They improvise. They do not have protocols and checklists.
Maybe our idea of heroism needs updating.”
Read the book. You’ll love it.
A Movie Worth Sharing –
Michael Mann‘s 1995 crime thriller “Heat“.
I have watched the film many many times.
Every time I watch it, I wonder, “how did he pull this off?”
A virtuoso filmmaker Michael Mann, knows his craft inside out.
You will find some amazing behind the scene photographs, interview with the director and detailed discussion here
It will remain a classic film for years to come.
An Idea Worth Sharing – 
What struck me most is the realization that our entire life is nothing but a fiction created by our brain.
Here are some of the key points…
“For thousands of years, billions of people have found meaning in playing virtual reality games. In the past, we have called these virtual reality games “religions”.
What is a religion if not a big virtual reality game played by millions of people together? Religions such as Islam and Christianity invent imaginary laws, such as “don’t eat pork”, “repeat the same prayers a set number of times each day”, “don’t have sex with somebody from your own gender” and so forth. These laws exist only in the human imagination. No natural law requires the repetition of magical formulas, and no natural law forbids homosexuality or eating pork. Muslims and Christians go through life trying to gain points in their favorite virtual reality game. If you pray every day, you get points. If you forget to pray, you lose points. If by the end of your life you gain enough points, then after you die you go to the next level of the game (aka heaven).
Some time ago I went with my six-year-old nephew Matan to hunt for Pokémon. As we walked down the street, Matan kept looking at his smartphone, which enabled him to spot Pokémon all around us. I didn’t see any Pokémon at all, because I didn’t carry a smartphone. Then we saw two others kids on the street who were hunting the same Pokémon, and we almost got into a fight with them. It struck me how similar the situation was to the conflict between Jews and Muslims about the holy city of Jerusalem. When you look at the objective reality of Jerusalem, all you see are stones and buildings. There is no holiness anywhere. But when you look through the medium of smartbooks (such as the Bible and the Qur’an), you see holy places and angels everywhere.
In the end, the real action always takes place inside the human brain. Does it matter whether the neurons are stimulated by observing pixels on a computer screen, by looking outside the windows of a Caribbean resort, or by seeing heaven in our mind’s eyes? In all cases, the meaning we ascribe to what we see is generated by our own minds. It is not really “out there”. To the best of our scientific knowledge, human life has no meaning. The meaning of life is always a fictional story created by us humans.
The end of work will not necessarily mean the end of meaning, because meaning is generated by imagining rather than by working.
But what about truth? What about reality? Do we really want to live in a world in which billions of people are immersed in fantasies, pursuing make-believe goals and obeying imaginary laws? Well, like it or not, that’s the world we have been living in for thousands of years already.”
Read the complete article here
A Quote Worth Sharing –
“Technology doesn’t change what people want in the world, it just removes the use of violence to get there.” – Naval Ravikant
Random Stuff –
I came across this TED talk through a Wired article – “TED Day Three: The Mind-Scrambling TED Talk I Won’t Stop Sharing“.
Here Anil Seth says that the ‘consciousness has less to do with pure intelligence and more to do with our nature as living and breathing organisms.’ That means AI may never be a conscious being!
Brilliant stuff.
Don’t miss it…
Thanks for reading.
Krishnendu

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