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Alexander Wait Zaranek
Works at Curoverse
Attended Harvard Medical School
Lives in Boston, Mass.
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Alexander Wait Zaranek

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This crap needs to stop. I hope the supremes will do the right thing very soon!
 
The Department of Veterans Affairs has frozen the disabled veteran’s benefits until she pays back the full amount the VA mistakenly awarded for her wife and child.
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<Sigh>
 
Bad news for the tech industry and society, and worse if this isn't addressed. https://digiphile.wordpress.com/2010/04/18/why-including-women-matters-for-the-future-of-technology-and-society/
Ana Redmond launched into a technology career for an exciting challenge and a chance to change the world. She was well-equipped to succeed too: An ambitious math and science wiz, she could code faster, with fewer errors, than anyone she knew.
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Alexander Wait Zaranek

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A serious subject with Yonatan's usual humor.
 
As a measles outbreak spreads across the US, with 14 states now affected, the advocates of letting deadly epidemics run wild are finding themselves suddenly unpopular:

Members of the anti-vaccine movement said the public backlash had terrified many parents. “People are now afraid they’re going to be jailed,” said Barbara Loe Fisher, the president of the National Vaccine Information Center, a clearinghouse for resisters. “I can’t believe what I’m seeing. It’s gotten so out of hand, and it’s gotten so vicious.”

This is not, to be honest, an unreasonable fear: it turns out that when you recklessly engage in conduct which places another person (or the general public) in danger of death or serious bodily injury, you may well have a reason to fear that people might want you to go to jail. The technical term is "reckless endangerment." And when people -- especially children -- start actually dying because of your actions, you may well have reason to fear that your neighbors may suggest that you find some other neighbors, starting right away.

The reaction to this outbreak has, however, offered me some real hope. I suspect that as soon as people remember just why people were so terrified of these diseases, the popularity of the "anti-vaccine" movement is likely to plummet, largely at the hands of people who don't feel like being put in mortal danger by their neighbors' fears. Hopefully, this movement will be gone and forgotten before too many people die. (But I want to be honest here: people are going to die. Mostly kids.)

Very interestingly, I recently learned (thanks to +James Salsman) that the rate of failure to vaccinate in the US is actually overwhelmingly dominated by financial and logistical reasons, not ideology. According to this report (http://goo.gl/BYp3iF) from the Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, 92% of failures to vaccinate come from parents not being able to afford the required medical care (the vaccines themselves are paid for by the government, but not the doctors), or not being able to afford the time to go on the visit. There are a number of simple and effective things we could do to improve this, from standing orders that let nurses administer overdue vaccinations to mobile "vaccination stations" of the sort which were so helpful in ending the polio epidemic. 

Given what I've learned from this, my own position on vaccination has changed: I had not realized that the US was still so far from being able to deliver basic medicine to the public. (More fool I) I now believe that we need to do three very important things:

(1) Make sure that the CDC-approved vaccine schedule is available to every person. Task an agency with achieving as close to 100% coverage as possible; the only people who shouldn't be getting these are people for whom there is a medical reason not to.

(2) Educate the public about what's going on and why. Don't be afraid to pull out the old videos and show people of just why measles is not a "thing you just get over." 

(3) Starting in areas where vaccination is already reliably available, and ultimately spreading to all areas of the country, impose criminal liability for the deliberate failure to vaccinate without medical reason, under existing laws for reckless endangerment and/or child endangerment. 

It turns out that you can do this quite well, and you may be surprised about who's doing the best job in the US: Mississippi. (http://wpo.st/QKT20) A combination of a strong public health program and not messing around with their laws has gotten them up to 99.7% vaccination for MMR, well above the threshold needed to prevent outbreaks!

So let's applaud a state that's Doing It Right and ask ourselves: can we do this everywhere? 

My parents and their generation got to watch their families and their friends die from these diseases. I don't want to do the same.
As officials in 14 states grapple with a measles outbreak, the parents at the heart of America’s anti-vaccine movement are being blamed for a public-health crisis.
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When I was a child in the US, the doctors and nurses came to our schools and administered measles, polio and TB vaccines....no charge. Whatever happened to that?
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Vaguely reasonable summary of Wikipedia "gamergate" fiasco. For the blissfully unaware see this: https://eudaimonaiaclaughter.wordpress.com/2014/12/12/gators-gonna-gate-gate-gate-gate

Fixing gender imbalance on Wikipedia and the systematic bias that creates is really hard. Anyone that wants to try is free to fork the Wikipedia content and start from scratch.

So far though, I have not seen anything that suggests an organization that is led by a woman (and was previously led by a woman) should be abandoned because society as a whole is full of sexist idiots. 
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Alexander Wait Zaranek

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Amazing.
 
Lindy West had one troll who created a fake Twitter account in the name of her dead father to harass her. When she wrote about how much it hurt, something kind of amazing happened: the troll regretted his actions and apologized to her. And they ended up having a very real, honest exchange about the motivations behind trolling in the first place.

"If what my troll said is true, that he just needed to find meaning in his life, then what a heartbreaking diagnosis to everyone else still at it," West concluded, as if to speak both to current victims of Internet harassment and hate speech and to those who perpetuate it. "I can remember not to lose sight of humanity the way they lost sight of mine. Humans can be reached. I have proof. Empathy, boldness, kindness—things I learned from my dad."
This American Life called a troll, got him to apologize, admit to misogyny.
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I don't want to downplay how important it is for bullies and abusers to come to terms with the harm they cause others. 

But in this case, it seems like the troll in question was aiming to get someone's attention (the victim's, maybe, or anyone's, really) and was handsomely rewarded in a substantial personal connection. 

Is the lesson to draw that if you're feeling lonely and isolated, keep hurting people until you succeed, then apologize? 
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Alexander Wait Zaranek

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Seriously, don't be evil? I'm probably missing something here.
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Alexander Wait Zaranek

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Putin has partitioned Ukraine into a buffer zone reminiscent of the partition of Berlin after the second world war.   The next step in that partition is the port city of Mariupol. And who is defending Mariupol you might ask?  Nice democratic freedom fighters?  Right?  Right?

 "Were Mariupol to become a battleground, the city presents several complicating factors. Its primary garrison is the Azov Battalion, a private militia that fights for Kiev but has attracted intense notoriety for its use of the Nazi wolfsangel as its symbol and the outspoken neo-fascist views of many of the volunteers who fill out its ranks."

Yay - so - for the foreseeable arming Ukraine involves arming a neo-nazi militia.    Yay - world politics.   Or something.   
Kiev claims the Ukrainian port is next on the list of targets for Russia-backed rebels, who argue they have no plans to attack the city. Mariupol's fate could determine whether the country's tenuous cease-fire holds.
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I see. The reporting I've seen echoes the wording I quoted from the csmonitor: "its primary garrison is the Azov Battalion". I don't get the sense that this is wrong and it suggests to me that all the territory and cities in the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces may fall to the separatists.

It is unclear to me that Putin will settle for less (via the proxy war) and that the west has a deep enough understanding of the situation or the will to do anything about it. 
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These are great for getting started with bioinformatics.
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Another helpful post about Kubernetes. 

"Imagine individual Docker containers as packing boxes. The boxes that need to stay together because they need to go to the same location or have an affinity to each other are loaded into shipping containers. In this analogy, the packing boxes are Docker containers, and the shipping containers are Kubernetes pods.

Ultimately, all these pods make up your application. 

You don’t want this ship adrift on the stormy seas of the Internet. Kubernetes acts as ship captain – adeptly steering the ship along a smooth path, and insuring that the applications under its supervision are effectively managed and stay healthy."
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Wont you, please, think of the coffee makers?
 
You people on the East coast think you have it bad, with snow-storms and whatever.

That's nothing. My coffee maker broke, and calling the service hotline says "we're not open today due to inclement weather".

You guys get a little snow, and suddenly civilization breaks down.

My coffee maker is broken and nobody is answering the phone.

And CNN just keeps talking about snow. What about my coffee? Priorities, people, priorities.

What am I going to do without my coffee maker? I'm going to sit here in a corner, crying, that's what.
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One Emacs to Rule Them All!
 
Nice setup :)
Emacs is My New Window Manager. Most companies that employ me, hand me a “work laptop” as I enter the building. Of course, I do not install personal software and keep a clear division between my “work like” and my “real life.” However, I also don't like to carry two computers just to jot down ...
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Alexander Wait Zaranek

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Education needs to get better. The EdX platform and growing ecosystem is a great step in the right direction!
 
edX CEO Anant Agarwal spoke with +NPR's Here & Now last week. Listen online: http://ow.ly/HSsMx
Anant Agarwal believes MOOCs — massive online courses — can be a disruptive force for good in higher education.
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  • Curoverse
    Chief Scientist, 2014 - present
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Berkeley, California - Montreal, Quebec - San Diego, California - Toronto, Ontario - Ottawa, Ontario - Sydney, Nova Scotia - Rome, Italy - Kiev, Ukraine
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Harvard Personal Genome Project
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I am a founder and the Director of Informatics at the Harvard Personal Genome Project which provides a transparent and public resource of integrated genomes, phenomes, cell-lines and other biological samples. I work on open technologies that are part of the revolution that reduced human DNA sequencing costs by a million-fold since the completion of the Human Genome Project.  A current research focus is the development of clinical-quality applications for processing massive data sets spanning millions of individuals across collaborating organizations, eventually encompassing exabytes of data.  My contributions have led to highly cited publications in Science, Nature, the Lancet and other leading scientific journals. I am also a founder and shareholder of Curoverse, an early stage company focused on the clinical utilization of whole genomes.

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  • Harvard Medical School
    Biophysics, 2009
  • University of Toronto
    Computer Science, 1998
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Sasha