The Weekender: how women move about town, soybeans in Tennessee + transcribing words before you verbalize it

What is this? ‘The Weekender’ is a weekly round-up to spotlight what you might have missed on BirdDog and why a few headlines from elsewhere matter for Tennessee.

From BirdDog


New: Nashville’s health care scene wrestles with where (and when) disruption will emerge

What you’ll read about: Change and innovation, however, run skin deep in some corners where the status quo of in-patient admissions and fee for service reign.

Is change really going to come from the shiny pixels of apps and software that are supposed to streamline the complex annals of behind-the-scenes care?

For 24 hours, a pair of health care tech leaders from Boston and Denver traveled around Nashville, reminding the city’s hospital-centric industry that change will — eventually — upend the way healthcare is delivered, thus changing Nashville itself.

Nashville health department board gears up to search for new chief



From Elsewhere


1. Women use public transit differently than men because their days are more varied with trips to schools, daycares, errands, jobs, and visits to check on relatives — or at least women do in Vienna, Austria.

Vienna studied the usage and took steps to increase access to transit options and pedestrian mobility as part of an orchestrated initiative to make the city more friendly to women.

Excerpt from CityLab: “The majority of men reported using either a car or public transit twice a day — to go to work in the morning and come home at night. Women, on the other hand, used the city’s network of sidewalks, bus routes, subway lines and streetcars more frequently and for a myriad reasons.”

It’s interesting because transit and transportation in many cities around the world shape people’s plan for the day. Not everyone uses it the same.

I only mention this because Nashville is hurtling toward a referendum on transit plan on May 1. Here are some pieces to help develop a viewpoint.

Meg Garner compiled all of the Nashville Business Journal’s coverage into a single page, including “whether there is a ‘Plan B’”: Everything you need to know about Nashville’s $5.4 billion mass-transit vote

Tony Gonzalez at WPLN fact-checked an inaccurate anti-transit ad from No Tax For Tracks that was retracted: Fact-Checking Nashville’s Transit Debate: A False Ad Retracted, And Other Math Battles

Jamie McGee in The Tennessean digs into alternatives from opponents to the plan ranging fromvan ride-sharing, subsidized ride-sharing for low-income residents and focusing on self-driving cars: Nashville transit referendum: Where do Uber, Lyft, autonomous vehicles fit in?

Amanda Haggard at the Nashville Scene talked to People’s Alliance for Transit, Housing and Employment, and whether they think the city’s plan benefits low-income Nashvillians.


2. Soybean farmers are at the center of an escalating tariff dispute between President Donald Trump and China.

Soybeans account for more than 35 percent of the U.S. exports to China that could be impacted by the newly proposed tariffs, according to S&P Global Ratings.

Soybeans are farmed in Tennessee, but have not been shipped to China since 2016, according to the Global Agricultural Trade System database run by the United States Department of Agriculture.

In 2016, $1.7 million of soybeans were exported to China from Tennessee — up from $865,867 in 2015.

But those exports fell to nothing in 2017 and for January-February of this year, according to the USDA.

A spokesman for the Tennessee Department of Agriculture pointed BirdDog towards  the USDA data, but could not immediately comment on why the exports fell 2016 to 2017. The state’s soybean exports to Japan did increase by more than $800,000 for the same time period, he noted.

Axios’ map of soybean production

Excerpt from S&P Global: “The impact of China’s tariffs on U.S. exports would be greater than that of U.S. tariffs on China’s exports. That’s because $50 billion represent 38% of U.S. exports to China, but only 10% of China’s exports to the U.S.”


3. Computer system transcribes words users “speak silently”

Did you say that? Researchers at MIT developed a system that uses electrodes to pick up neuromuscular signals to transcribe words that the person said internally — but not out-loud.

The system is called AlterEgo. It’s fascinating and points to exciting new uses of technology as well as questions about privacy

Settle in with a beverage and read this from MIT Technology review in November:

The Surgeon Who Wants to Connect You to the Internet with a Brain Implant


Photo by  Kyle Glenn

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