Saturday, November 28, 2009

Good Boy, Roomba

From boingboing:

What's that Roomba, you say Timmy is stuck in a well? A Roomba vacuuming robot did more than clean the floor for one family in Israel, killing a venomous Vipera palaestinae by, apparently, running over the snake and wrapping the creature around one of its rotating brushes. The family credits the robot for sparing their children and pets from possible snakebite. Good boy.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Friviality Friday: Cat Circus!

The Publisher Answers To The Editor? WTF?

Andrew Sullivan finds an item that should be of immense interest to the news industry. But it probably won't notice.
I figure anything that lionizes Josh Marshall and Talking Points Memo is incredibly insightful and cutting edge. TPM has been my first stop daily since I gave myself over to this addiction.
Oddly, the newspaper where I worked for 20 years had an organizational structure that included no publisher until about ten years ago. We peons never really saw much difference because direct interference, when there was any — and there was some at least — only fell indirectly on us. If the business side was dictating editorial policy, nobody actually said it out loud in our presence.
But there was intermittent evidence on occasion.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Back To The Banks

or rather, The Bank.
Taplin's people have a fascinating — and entirely cynical and likely accurate — conversation going about the Fed, of which Taplin notes:
The average citizen has no idea that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is a private corporation owned by JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. They think it’s some kind of government agency.

I wanted to quote everybody on this thread, but must content myself with:
Imagine if Hitler hadn’t died, and we decided to put him in charge of the Marshall Plan because after all, no one knew the landscape better.

Learn Something New Every Day

That's my motto.
Here's today's best find. I think it is not unique to Israeli culture, but is enlightening nonetheless.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Louisiana Purchase

LA Sen. Mary Landreau took a hit from various media quarters for caving at the last minute and supporting the effort of fellow Democrats to get the health care reform bill to the floor for debate.
The immediate reports were that she was bought off with a Medicaid increase for her state worth between $100 million and $300 million.
But remember that lone House Republican who voted for the bill? Turns out that may have been his price, too.
In fact, it looks like everybody from the governor on down wanted that item in there, and Landrieu helped get it done.
And God knows, Louisiana needs it.
The straight skinny from a Daily Kos diarist. It's short and worth a read just to see how politics really works, contrasted with the daily sketches we get.

Man Survives 47-Minutes of Death

I'd like to know more about this part:
A specific procedure helped save Tiralosi's life. Special cooling pads, not available in all emergency rooms, lowered his body temperature to 91 degrees, essential in preventing long-term neurological damage and preserving brain function. Placed in a medically induced coma, incredibly, he began to wake up three days later -- without brain damage.
The story isn't clear about whether they put him into a coma during or after they spent 47 minutes on compressions.

Shift Happens

Huffpo has an interesting article on the iconic "Did You Know" video, the somewhat scary response from American educators, and the implications and permutations by industries trying to keep up.
I already know I can't.

Oh, Wait

a chart even Sarah Palin can understand. Republicans get 193 % of the vote in 2012, probably because we imposed sanctions on Iran.

Quote O' Teh Day

"I can't write about heroes seven feet tall and invincible. I write about people five feet eight and nervous."

Western writer Elmer Kelton died in August at age 83.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Basketball Man!

Comment O' Teh Day Dept.
The Magical Sky Father at The Moderate Voice:
Two things I learned about our President in the last election. #1 the man has more lives than a basket full of kittens so when you think he is down you best look right behind you. #2 he plays long ball...well and he has the patience to do so and make it work. If the republican party would learn the two above rules they would likely be able to throw him off his game, right now they continue to play his game.

Another Reason I'm Glad I'm Not The President

I hate the word endgame. It sounds so, you know, final.
(You thought this would be another health care post?)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Boob News II

I am an unabashed fan of Gina Kolata's health reporting, despite some criticism I've read in the past. Her book on the 1918 flu pandemic was a cliffhanger.
And I am grateful she's dug in on the mammogram issue, because I've been keeping my powder dry until I found a source with some context. That's been hard to do (meaning more than a few minutes with Teh Google.)
So this is recommended.
...It has been hard for many people, even scientists, to believe that some cancers start then stop or even regress. But researchers all over the world have been finding overdiagnosis in studies of all sorts of cancers.
Dr. Barnett Kramer of the National Institutes of Health, who was not part of the panel, described overdiagnosis as “pure harm” because it means that women are treated with measures like chemotherapy, radiation and surgery for tumors that do not need treating.
...Their analyses concluded that mammograms every two years give the nearly the same benefit as annual ones but confer half the risk of harms.

Is that what you want for your sister, just so you can feel safer? Assuming that you aren't a false positive yourself, of course, in which case you are willing to risk being one of the 1,000 false positives or maybe even all of the above to avoid being one of the  1.5 in 1,000 who needs treatment.
It isn't about  controlling costs with closer scrutiny of screening protocols,  and it certainly isn't about a giant government plot to ration health care to women.
It's about tradeoffs. And it's up to us as medical consumers to recognize our role in the decision making, the supply-and-demand side of it all.
None of us wants to die, but too many of us believe we can avoid death by defying science, the very thing that helps keep us alive. Go figure.

Quote O' Teh Day

We need to start thinking like the Chinese.
          Glenn Beck

Everybody into the communes now. Oh, not those Chinese.
Everybody into the countryside now. Oh, not those Chinese.
Hey, let's jiggle the currency now. Those Chinese?
No, apparently just the Chinese who devised a 100-year Plan. Like, erm, Mao.

I Stay Up Late

so you don't have to.
You're welcome.

Boob News

For every life saved, 1,000 false positives.
I'm not going to embed this 12-minute piece from (choke, gasp) David Gregory because it's so long, but it's the best thing around I've seen.
Call it the Tale of Two Nancys.

As Long As I Was There, Another Fun Headline

from the Scientific American.

Secrets of the Phallus: Why Is the Penis Shaped Like That (because it can is not an answer)

Tidbit (bwahahaha):
Having spent the first five years of my academic life studying great ape social cognition, I’ve seen more simian penises than I care to mention. I once spent a summer with a 450-pound silverback gorilla that was hung like a wasp (great guy, though) and baby-sat a lascivious young orangutan that liked to insert his penis in just about anything with a hole, which unfortunately one day included my ear.

The excellently amusing and informative writer, Jesse Bering, may be friended on Facebook (of course!) so you'll never miss another of his enlightening explorations of evolutionary biology research. Sadly, not always, or even usually, about penises.
One question: Does he tweet?

Down at the end he explains how it is theoretically possible for a woman to become pregnant by a man she has not had sex with. And may not even know. I think I smell a Law & Order episode.

Did God Intend You To Read?

Your Brain On Blogs Books

Anything with written language, apparently, is a sort of repurposed cortex. Or whatever.

I love anything about the brain, as long as it doesn't have Freud in it.

Does this mean Joseph Campbell was wrong?
Does this mean Joseph Campbell was right?

Foodie Alert: Rethink Thanksgiving

The food, that is. It's not too late and Bittman at the NYT has my mouth watering and my creative juices flowing.
Oh, wait. I'm not cooking this year. Well, maybe I will anyway.
Onion and pumpkin seed relish. I want some!

Would You Like To Live Another 100 Years?

Someone at Time Magazine did a profile of Cormac McCarthy without ever being able to interview him. It was a striking piece of work. Probably came out after All The Pretty Horses.

This time, he's talking.
If you think about some of the things that are being talked about by thoughtful, intelligent scientists, you realize that in 100 years the human race won't even be recognizable. We may indeed be part machine and we may have computers implanted. It's more than theoretically possible to implant a chip in the brain that would contain all the information in all the libraries in the world. As people who have talked about this say, it's just a matter of figuring out the wiring.