Friday, December 29, 2006
Couldn't we use purchasing power to improve our living standards, and our neighbors by buying responsibly, so that consumerism might achieve a greater good? If we consume thoughtfully wouldn't that create a ripple effect throughout the global economy allowing scarce resources to be used responsibly with less exploitation of third world countries? Should we care about these issues? Does responsible consumerism have to be at odds with free enterprise and entrepreneurship? If we promote ethical consumer decisions can we help protect the environment, stop labor abuses, alleviate animal suffering, and push corporations to be more responsible? The making of every consumable product involves ethical decisions that impact human health and the environment, so our purchase choices have the same implications.
I marvel at my own hypocrisy as a consumer, since most of my purchases are made on a whim, out of habit, and without serious regard to their consequences. I haven't been able to divorce myself from our mass media culture that worships at the altar of material gain. Perhaps this post is a step in the right direction. Do you have a consumer philosophy that you live by?
Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. ~Mohandas K. Gandhi, quoted in E.F. Schumacher, Small Is Beautiful
Consumerism, Materialism, Ethical Consumer
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Edmonton, Alberta is a great Canadian City with much to offer its citizens and tourists alike. A few of the great attractions to see in the city are listed below. If anyone would like more information on sights, attractions, and upcoming events in the Edmonton region please leave a comment with your query, and I will do my best to post an answer or respond by e-mail promptly.
Edmonton, Edmonton Oilers, Edmonton Festivals, Stanley Cup
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Few would argue that the science of climate change is complex, but despite potential flaws in scientific methodology the evidence seems convincing that we are in a period of dangerous global warming - possibly exacerbated or even caused by human activity. We have receding glaciers, rapid melting of Greenland's ice sheets, new vast expanses of the Arctic ocean without ice, disappearing permafrost, ocean acidification, dying coral reefs, more extreme weather, and documented rises in global temperatures and atmospheric carbon dioxide etc. This doomsday scenario could result in loss of water supplies from glacial melt, species extinction, and unprecedented coastal flooding with submerged cities from rising sea levels, etc.
Al Gore presents a compelling case for the facts and consequences of global warming in the movie An Inconvenient Truth even though some of the scientific evidence he describes may be taken out of context (e.g. despite his case for new, documented, profound glacial melt on the Antarctic Peninsula, the British Antarctic Survey has determined from climate modeling that for at least the next 50 years; snowfall on the continent of Antarctica should continue to exceed glacial losses from global warming).
As in many issues there are also compelling arguments against the hypothesis of global warming. An article entitled Myths of Global Warming authored by the NCPA in 1997 attempts to debunk various global warming scenarios. Of course scientific evidenced gathered since that time could also debunk claims made by the NCPA. It is up to each one of us to educate ourselves on the issue, and decide our course of action.
We can effect change, but is it too late?
The movie doesn't delve into that issue. There are some potentially devastating positive feedback loops that come into play with global warming that might thwart our best efforts to reduce the trend. Methane is a much more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Huge tracts of newly melting permafrost in Western Siberia and other regions will release many tonnes of methane, more forest fires will release more stored carbon, and the water that replaces melted sea ice will absorb more sunlight. All of these effects and others will likely increase the rapidity of global warming possibly beyond our ability to contain it. On the other hand, there may be other science yet to be discovered that debunks the worst case global warming scenarios.
Mr. Gore I am nearly convinced (despite all of the controversy). I will attempt to reduce carbon emissions. I will exert political influence where possible. The stakes are extremely high and we have to try regardless of the final outcome. Better late than never as they say. We can only hope that human efforts and political will can change the tide - Mars won't likely be fit for human habitation until the next century.
David Friedman of San Jose, California presents an interesting discussion on the various, confusing practical and philosophical arguments relating to the debate on global warming entitled "Global Warming: Confusing Moral and Practical Arguments".
For the naysayers who say that global warming is a myth, and that proposals to limit greenhouse gases might actually harm the environment or the welfare of mankind please see the Petition Project signed by more than 17,100 applied scientists who agree with that sentiment.
Global Warming, Climate Change, Doomsday, An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore, Environment
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Since the original publication of this post, some scientific consensus has developed regarding the link between Vitamin D deficiency, brain chemistry and mood disorders. A combination of adequate Vitamin D intake and blue light box therapy may be the most effective means of combatting SAD in addition to other general health maintenance measures.
It's no surprise that many people who live in Northern climes suffer from sunlight deprivation in the Winter. If you happen to work day shifts you may only catch glimpses of the sun rising and setting, or never see the sun at all depending on your latitude. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is essentially unheard of in those who live near the equator indicating its strong link to lack of daylight exposure. Unfortunately normal indoor lighting is simply not intense enough to have the desired positive physiological effects that sunlight does.
Depression has stalked me off and on for years - negatively impacting relationships, productivity and peace of mind, but I know it has taken a much greater toll in others. I have a close friend with a severe affective disorder dominated by depression who is unable to work, relies on a subsidized income, and has become alienated from family and friends. At his worst he has suffered hospitalization, and bouts of electroconvulsive (shock) therapy to regain some grip on reality and his moods. Obviously, severe depression or SAD can have terrible consequences including suicide, and so we should take every measure to adequately treat milder forms and prevent their progression.
It took many years to realize that my worst bouts of depression were usually in the winter, and more specifically the month of November. Of course SAD explains this pattern nicely. The onset of this SAD is so rapid that within a few days I can go from highly functional to a fairly depressed state as though the shrinking daylight in the fall suddenly triggers a switch in my brain. Fortunately my sister convinced me to start taking antidepressants during one severe November episode a few years ago, and after a few weeks I felt better than I had in years. After being on the drugs for a year or so I decided to stop them because of the side effects, and decided to try other measures to combat depression. Having said that I wouldn't hesitate to use antidepressants again if an episode of depression became too severe, or didn't respond to other measures. My depressive episodes have also been linked to a mild obsessive compulsive disorder, and that also improved with the medication, but again I sought other methods to deal with that. Through better understanding of these conditions, I can now effectively fight off the blues and OCD by getting proper rest, using cognitive behavior therapy, staying active, seeking good nutrition, and more recently by employing blue light therapy to combat SAD. If I am disciplined enough to use my light box regularly at the first signs of SAD I will experience a definite improvement in mood.
Of course like most treatments there can be side effects to light therapy as well(Saeed and Bruce):
Photophobia (eye sensitivity to light)
Hypomania (a mental state characterized by excessive excitability, optimism, hyperactivity, talkativeness, heightened sexual interest, quick anger and irritability and a decreased need for sleep)
Insomnia (if light therapy is used too late in the day)
Possible retinal damage (though this side effect has not been proven)
Despite these considerations I prefer to use light therapy rather than travel the road back down to taking antidepressants again. If you have free time during the day, then going for a walk of reasonable duration is a good alternative to using a light box. If you experience significant "winter blues" that might be related to SAD you should seek a medical opinion. If you are diagnosed with SAD, then your purchase of a light box to treat it might be one of the best investments you ever make. Not all light boxes are created equal though, and you should consider blue spectrum 470 nanometer LED lights as they are probably more effective while using much less light intensity than full spectrum boxes (easier on the eyes with less side effects).
Seasonal Affective Disorder, Depression, Light Therapy, Antidepressants, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Captain Kirk, William Shatner, Game Shows
Sunday, October 08, 2006
I recall playing golf one time during a frustrating round, and after chunking a ball off the tee into a water hazard I hurled my errant golf iron into said water hazard. My iron would never have reached the hazard under normal circumstances, but the extra anger adrenaline resulted in a mighty heave. After fishing around for the iron a while, and not finding it, I proceeded down the fairway. Later, I happened to look back toward the hazard to see some young hooligans pulling my iron out of the hazard, and running gleefully into the woods with it. At least that silly episode only cost me embarrassment, and the cost of replacing a golf club.
On one occasion in an airport after returning from vacation my wife and I were confronted with a rude customs officer. I made a sarcastic, angry remark after one of his questions rubbed me the wrong way. He then proceeded to make us open all of our luggage, and go through each of our vacation purchases in painstaking detail ultimately deciding to charge us duty because by his estimation we had exceeded our exemption. My wife gave me a look that would have frightened a jedi knight as once again my anger had created an avoidable situation.
These situations were minor compared to other life changing events that may have been compromised by my foolish anger. I am sure others can recount similar experiences in their lives, and perhaps some that resulted in dire consequences. Of course knowing this doesn't make it any easier to control rage, but who would disagree that we could all live longer, happier, and healthier lives by keeping our anger in check, and learning how to release it in a measured fashion? There is significant research evidence that being an angry or hostile person puts your heart at risk.
There is an excellent web site that discusses anger, anger management, and strategies to keep anger at bay called Controlling Anger.
Anger Management, Anger, Golf, Rage, Self Improvement
Monday, September 11, 2006
This video shows you what happens when a television screen is shot, and tells you how a TV works all at the same time. Is it legal to shoot a television?
Television, Media, Big Brother
Sunday, August 27, 2006
Pluto, Planets, Mars, Nuke
Sunday, August 20, 2006
Tiger Woods is the best athlete so far in the Twenty First Century. As everyone in the golf world knows he won his twelfth major golf championship today after dominating the field through eighteen holes of the PGA tournament. His combination of mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual focus along with immense innate talent give him a unique stature in the world of sports and golf - the most difficult, pressure packed sport to master ever devised. His late father Earl seemed to have precognition of this talent, and his future accomplishments soon after Tiger was born. Even if you know little of golf you must take the time to watch this phenom in his prime as he closes in on the supreme golf record of Jack Nicklaus who holds the most professional major victories of any golfer. My prediction is that Tiger will surpass Jack's record by the year 2011 or by Tiger's Thirty fifth birthday. After that this prodigal ambassador of sport with his multicultural background, and native intelligence could look towards becoming a dominating political figure - maybe President of the United Nations? Let there be no doubt - Tiger is above all a humanitarian, something his father Earl taught him well. He is a reluctant hero, but that is his mantle nonetheless. We will watch in awe as you shoot for the stars Tiger. Go get em.
Tiger Woods, Golf, Sports, Champions, Heroes
Monday, August 14, 2006
It's difficult to speculate what kind of negative or positive spin off effects watching the Sopranos might have on viewers and society in general, but there is one influence of the show that I do suspect. Has anyone else noticed the number of F-Bombs that bombard many conversations these days? Yuppies, professionals, blue collar, white collar, men, and women all peppering their talk with the F-Word. Yes, I too am guilty of this to some extent, and I blame it on the Sopranos. For those who happen to watch it, the show gives the F-word a kind of cachet, and celebrity status - like you really mean business, and people should damn well listen to what you're saying if you sprinkle a few *ucks into the conversation. This can't be a good thing for the English language or your spirit, so from now on I am going to do my damnedest never to use an F-bomb again! Wish me luck - I don't think it'll be easy, at least not until that last Sopranos episode has aired.
Sopranos, Swearing, F-bomb
Sunday, August 06, 2006
What we are speaking of here is the iceberg effect - a large pool of undiagnosed patients who remain that way because their symptoms are less severe, atypical, or nonspecific, and subsequently the appropriate investigations are not done, or current diagnostic methods are not sensitive, or accurate enough to detect early, mild, or atypical disease even if the person decides to seek out medical care. Even a very astute, thorough Physician will have difficulty reaching a diagnosis when someone presents with an early, or less pronounced form of many diseases. Of course as medical science progresses, and diagnostic tests improve more of these diagnostic dilemmas will be solved just as the history of medicine tells us. Full Story
An example of this would be diagnostic advances in the diagnosis of Celiac disease - a potentially debilitating gastrointestinal disorder caused by immune sensitivity to gluten, a protein that is found in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye. The mucosal cells (villi or lining of the small bowel) become inflamed, damaged and dysfunctional usually causing some degree of malabsorption along with symptoms of fatigue, pain, bloating, and often diarrhea. In the middle of the last century the only definitive way to diagnose Celiac disease was a small bowel biopsy - an uncomfortable invasive procedure. In the last decade or two highly specific blood tests have been developed that can diagnose the condition - possibly followed by biopsy for confirmation. Despite a simple, ready method to make the diagnosis, Celiac disease demonstrates the classic iceberg phenomenon. Most people who have the condition remain undiagnosed because they do not present in a textbook fashion with signs of advanced celiac pathology, and the patients physician sees no reason to order the necessary blood test. Fortunately, in recent years the tide is changing as more Physicians understand this iceberg effect, and increase their vigilance while lowering their threshold for investigation of Celiac disease.
The implications of this are enormous as there can be tremendous long term physical and psychological health improvements for a newly diagnosed Celiac patient who adopts a gluten free diet. These patients may experience significant improvements in their health within weeks or months of going gluten free. Many other undiagnosed conditions could have a similar iceberg profile, and your symptoms may be related to a pathologic state that is submerged below the surface as well.
If you happen to fall into this category what are some options?
Diagnosis, Celiac Disease, Health,
Gluten, Iceberg Effect
Monday, July 17, 2006
The publishing coma is starting to reverse, and the prognosis is improving with new articles and posts to come. For those of you who have supported this site through your blog rolls, subscriptions and various links I thank you wholeheartedly. The legions of honest, helpful, and inspiring bloggers far out number the few trollers and flamers that I have encountered on this journey. At the peak of interest in this site, Seasons achieved a Technorati ranking of better than 200,000 within a few months of inception. For those of you struggling to improve your ranking, or who even care about such things, I would be happy to outline the steps I took to achieve this minor success. On the flip side, I also have some recent insight as to how you can fade away quickly as a blogger, and watch your ranking drop like a stone (i.e. don't post, don't leave comments, don't submit articles etc.). None of this speaks to the fact that blogging can be a rewarding, exciting, educational, humbling, and inspirational endeavor regardless of any preconceived notions of success. Just blog to the best of your abilities, and you will be pleasantly surprised.
Bloggers, Technorati, Blogs, Blogging, Success
Saturday, June 17, 2006
Brain Drain, Intelligence, I.Q., Neurons
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
"Todd's 1960 film Scent of Mystery (1960) delivered scents to the audience throughout the film using a more advanced process called "Smell-o-vision". Problems propagating scents in synch with the film and flushing the scents out between each showing led to Smell-o-vision's early demise." -via Wikipedia
In view of that historic failure I wouldn't be rushing out to buy shares in Smell-O-Vision companies quite yet even if the technology has improved. Full Story
I'm going to go out on a limb here, and predict the early second demise of Smell-O-Vision for this decade at least.
Smell-O-Vision, Cinema, Scents, Movies, Virtual Reality, Humor
Saturday, April 15, 2006
Easter, Easter eggs, Pysanka, Rubber eggs, Easter Rabbit, Harvey, Humor
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
My friend became a cyborg recently, and it happened rather quickly - he now sports an artificial hip joint made out of titanium - a kind of bullet proof replacement. My mother has been a cyborg for a few years now, ever since she had ocular lens implants after cataract removal. This procedure left her with 20/20 vision in one eye at the age of eighty. I have a few metallic tooth fillings, but I'm not sure if that qualifies me as a cyborg. Thwarting tooth decay doesn't seem to have the same cachet as replacing a joint or correcting near blindness in terms of functional utility to the human organism. In that sense I admit to some cyborg envy, but am fortunate to have my original parts for now. By definition you can become a cyborg without implants or replacing various organs. For example visual devices such as the EyeTap form a wearable computer that allows real time electronic interactions with your environment and the internet as you go about your daily activities. Thus you have both endogenous and exogenous cyborgs, and their hybrid counterparts. This century will likely witness the rise of the cyborg in ever more sophisticated forms beyond replacement of dysfunctional body parts or visual accessories. It's not difficult to foresee some future apocalyptic battlefield where genetically enhanced soldiers run amok. They might wear an exoskeleton that amplifies their strength dramatically and protects them from injury. Their nervous systems might be directly wired to weaponry for instant response and direct control of multiple weapons. There are military scientists working on this technology right now at DARPA (Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency). Hopefully these super cyborgs won't rebel and form their own military elite under a new flag.
At the moment, since most cyborgs are still essentially like the rest of us they probably aren't banding together in secret societies or plotting to take over the world. Then again, my friend with the new hip did give me an odd look the other day when I asked him if he felt like a "new man" - has the hip replacement triggered his cyborg initiation? The present disjointed, heterogeneous cyborg population may not be compelled to form alliances with others based on diverse technological enhancements many of which will not be externally visible. Will this new cyborg society require modified political, legal and ethical constructs? If the technology is expensive this could create a wealthy elite cyborg class with only a few citizens able to afford the best implants and devices. An organization called the World Transhumanist Association with members from across the globe is already formally dealing with these issues. Of course, no discussion on cyborg technology would be complete without mentioning the ingenious, eccentric inventor/engineer Steve Mann. He may be the first exogenous cyborg pop star by virtue of his wearable computer visual accessory called the EyeTap that has gained him some notoriety in public places. This device allows the user to interact with the web, receive e-mail, record video, and perform other computer functions that raise the question why life as a cyborg is better.
cyborg, organ implants, artificial limbs, Steve Mann, EyeTap, titanium
Monday, March 27, 2006
Primal therapy, Tourette's syndrome, straitjacket, humor
Monday, March 20, 2006
There have been many movies made that include chess scenes, but there are two Chess movies that can be enjoyed by all. One is called Searching for Bobby Fisher released in 1993 that chronicles the real life struggles of chess champion Joss Waitzkin, and the Luzhin Defence released in 2000 that stars John Tuturro as an eccentric Russian chess master.
"The oldest recovered chess piece was found in Persia, and is dated to 790 A.D." This and other odd bits relating to the Oldest in Chess can be found on this page by Bill Wall.
Chess, stress, strategy, games
Saturday, March 11, 2006
In the midst of gang violence, drugs, and oppression you will see groups of young people searching for a higher meaning to their lives - dancing their hearts out in a spirited, aggressive, frenetic, athletic and passionate way that makes commercial hip hop look bland. Through their commitment to the dance group and each other they stay away from the pervasive drugs and violence. The "Clowns" and the "Krumps" are the colorful, energetic dance groups portrayed in the film, who paint their faces, and almost innately express their African American roots and heritage in the high paced dance routines. The film culminates in competitive dance scenes watched by a live audience at the Great Western Forum called "Battle Zone V" where the Clowns face off against the Krumps for dance supremacy. During the dance spectacle a contestant who founded the Clowns has his home broken into and trashed - a stark reminder of his neighborhood.
David Lachapelle has crafted a brilliant, gritty and timeless work that will inspire and challenge those who view it. These young adults and kids are a testament to those who can find community and creativity while in the throes of adversity.
Rize, David Lachapelle, dance, documentary, inspirational
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
The blade companies probably have armies of research scientists, engineers, and other geniuses trying to create the perfect blades - using all types of space age metals or alloys, and techniques to make the business end of a blade sharp and smooth at an extreme microscopic level - also using battery powered, vibrating blades (a hybrid electric?) - yet the blood letting goes on - Why? Well, one reason is that razor blades get dull, and lose that perfect edge - this fits nicely into ongoing revenues from blade production and sales, but is it unavoidable or could the companies create an indestructible blade? There must be some combination of iridium, gold, titanium, stainless steel, neptuno-urani-satur-jupitanium etc. that could be forged to make a blade that would last for life - wouldn't be good for razor blade sales though right? Of course you can buy two, three, four, or even five bladed razors (new from Gillette), and they might shave you a little closer, but still the bleeding continues. I've got it! They should put a thin layer of coagulant (blood clotting factor) along the edge of the blade(s), so it's right there waiting to go to work on any fresh nick. Probably too expensive - OK it's a dumb idea - they can keep using their aloe lubricating strips. It could be that nanotechnology (see recent Nanotechnology Revolution post) innovation will finally create the perfect cutting razor edge, but again that might not be in the best interest of shaving companies. Unfortunately it's not just blade quality that determines the risk of cuts. Your propensity to bleed also depends on skin thickness and smoothness, hair thickness and distribution, and so on. In addition to using relatively fresh or sharp blades shaving technique is also important. This includes wetting the hair thoroughly to decrease its tensile strength, stroking the razor along the lay of the hair, and frequent rinsing of the razor to decrease debris near the blade surface. If you would like a thorough scientific discussion of optimal shaving technique presented in the context of prep shaving for operations - the Derma-Safe company describes this in detail.
This all raises the question, as to why most men continue to shave despite the expense, time, and hazards involved. Of course, there are alternatives besides growing a beard if we borrow examples from ancient times - the following excerpt is from the Quik Shave site shaving timeline:
"In ROME, many men are following the grooming example of JULIUS CAESAR (101-44 B.C.), who has his facial hairs individually plucked out with tweezers every day. He also writes this same year that "the Britons shave every part of their body except their head and upper lip." In early Rome, POPPAEA, wife of the notorious EMPEROR NERO, uses depilatory creams to remove unwanted body hair on a daily basis. Depilatories are used as an alternative to the bloody mess that results from shaving with a blade. The latest available creams include some pretty wild ingredients, like resin, pitch, white vine or ivy gum extract, ass's fat, she-goat's gall, bat's blood, and powdered viper."
Maybe shaving with a modern razor blade isn't so bad after all.
razor blades, Gillette, shaving, Fusion razor
Saturday, March 04, 2006
Saturday, February 25, 2006
Here are some definitions quoted from two sources:
"The development and use of devices that have a size of only a few nanometers. Research has been carried out into very small components, many of which depend on quantum effects and may involve movement of a very small number of electrons in their action. Such devices would act faster than larger components. Considerable interest has been shown in the production of structures on a molecular level by suitable sequences of chemical reactions or lithographic techniques. It is also possible to manipulate individual atoms on surfaces using a variant of the atomic force microscope to make, for example, high density data storage devices."
- About Now Physics
"Nanotechnologies are the body of theories and techniques that allow the production and manipulation of minute objects that measure as little as one billionth of a meter (the nanometer). These technologies require tools of very high precision to maneuver atoms one by one and visualize what is occurring at such a small scale."
"Courtesy Sandia National Laboratories, SUMMiTTM Technologies, www.mems.sandia.gov"
Although I do have a science background, I am not an expert in nanotechnology. Nevertheless, after dwelling on the subject for a while I managed to come up with a few scenarios where nanotechnology could have a pivotal role. I thought they might capture the imagination of some readers, and stimulate them to come up with even better ideas. In the end, it might be better for nanotechnology product ideas to arise from the grassroots consumer first rather than be purely laboratory inventions.
These are my own concepts for nanotechnology devices conceived from the basic concept without reference to any research studies. I don't claim them to be original (although some of them may be), and I'm sure that others with superior credentials have come up with similar ideas. One would think that the uses of nanotechnology will be virtually unlimited in the not too distant future, and so it's not much of a stretch to imagine many uses for these devices.
- Nanorobots that remain on the enamel surface of teeth and also near the gum line designed to act as intelligent cleaning and dental health agents. This probably would require some sort of enamel and gum affinity or recognition etc. The potential for nanotechnology in the medical field is enormous and I believe the old 1966 science fiction movie "Fantastic Voyage" has been one inspiration for micro devices that could patrol the blood stream, clean blood vessels, destroy aberrant cells, enhance immune function, and perform other maintenance tasks.
- Intelligent nanosensors in engineered load bearing structures such as bridges or skyscrapers that can act as warning devices by detecting the early microscopic features of stresses and strains that ultimately lead to structural failure. A bridge could then be repaired or reinforced long before there are any visible signs of wear or failure.
- Nanotechnology hearing aids that won't be visible to the human eye. These devices might connect directly to the mechanical and neural anatomy of the auditory structures after a minor microscopic implantation procedure.
- Nanocrystal arrays used in projection systems and nanoparticles used in projection screens for super high resolution video display in 2D or even 3D immersive environments. You might envision high definition visual systems that surpass reality.
- Liquid metal that can form virtually any solid shape all controlled by programmed nanobots (like the Terminator). This one conjures up more sinister potential applications.
- Nanomood changers with no side effects. These will be devised as the genetic receptors controlling various mood states become better understood. These mood modifiers might reside permanently in neurons, and then taking pills for mood disorders will no longer be necessary.
- Nanomeditative state inducers that can trigger the gamma wave brain activity seen in those who are skilled in meditation techniques.
- Near indestructible nanovehicles. Various nanotubules of various composition will be combined to create new materials that can withstand and absorb incredible impacts. Combined with nanoairbags you could survive a major MVA with no more than a few scratches and bruises.
- Nanofuels will be invented that have incredible energy efficiency allowing machines to operate at prolonged times and speeds before refeuling.
- Nanocleaning agents that will continually roam and scour various surfaces breaking down stains, dust and other particles - no more vacuuming etc.
- Painless Nanoneedles - the needle tip size and injection shape could be molecularly adjusted for painless injections (temporarily create a tiny caliber tip to traverse the skin surface and then increase the needle lumen for an injection).
I wasn't under the influence of any intoxicants, stimulants, depressants, or other mind altering substances when this list was composed, so there are no excuses if it doesn't meet exacting scientific descriptions. Again, I would emphasize that this amounts to a layman's list for nanotechnology innovations. Luddites and technophobes might create a less optimistic list with some negative scenarios. Please leave your comments and suggestions below, especially those regarding any available, present day working uses of nanotechnology that you may be aware of.
nanotechnology, nanotech, nano, science, technology
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
The poll allows for multiple answers, and when enough data is collected I will publish the results. The digg and reddit site operators might be interested in this opinion poll as well. You can also weigh in with a specific comment or remark below.
Both digg and reddit are busy, prominent sites where members can submit links to news stories and other articles. The linked articles are read, reviewed and voted on by member readers rather than an editorial board. If you submit a good article link that gets promoted by readers it can generate more than a few visits to the host web site for that article. One site is called digg and the other is called reddit. They both allow links to blogs, and that may be of interest to some of you wanting to get wider exposure for published articles or stories. However you may not find a welcome committee for your submitted blog links at either site, especially digg, as some members have a bias against blog content. On the other hand, a good article posted by a blog can still do well in the rankings on either site... Full Story
What is Digg?
"Digg is a technology news website that combines social bookmarking, blogging, RSS, and non-hierarchical editorial control. With digg, users submit stories for review, but rather than allow an editor to decide which stories go on the homepage, the users do."
-Quoted from the sites frequently asked questions page.
Readers select or vote on story/article links they like and these "Diggs" promote them to higher prominence on the site. A popular article link can generate many hits to the site hosting that article. Although Digg has expanded its categories of links it still has a strong bias for technology related stories, and there is a tendency for blog links to be flamed by nasty comments, or not get "Dugg".
What is Reddit?
Reddit is a similar service, but perhaps more democratic because they don't specify categories for submitted links.
"A source for what's new and popular on the web -- personalized for you. We want to democratize the traditional model by giving editorial control to the people who use the site, not those who run it. Your votes train a filter, so let reddit know what you liked and disliked, because you'll begin to be recommended links filtered to your tastes."
-Quoted from the sites frequently asked questions page.
digg, reddit, social bookmarks, polls
Saturday, February 18, 2006
David Anderson who publishes the fine web site "Italian's Insight to Travel Italy" submitted this compelling article about the recent ten million U.S. dollar fine of ChoicePoint Inc. The fine was levied by the FTC for a data security breach that compromised the financial records of more than 163,000 consumers, over 800 of whom became the victims of identity theft. While some have praised the efforts of the FTC to extract "significant" penalties in this case, David doesn't believe that the fine, and other imposed penalties on ChoicePoint go nearly far enough. Those who are concerned about the privacy of their personal information and individual civil rights should take heed... Full Story
Choice Point fined 10 million USD
by David Anderson
Recently, ChoicePoint Inc., a publicly traded Credit Rating company, was fined 10 million USD. Touted by the FTC as something important I propose this fine is a joke, simply a move engineered to avoid taking on the very serious problem of rampant corporate greed sacrificing the right to privacy of individuals and politician’s compliance with corporate America for personal gain.Tags:
Some time ago I would have suggested that a credit report has nothing to do with the qualifications of an individual for a job. I have come to understand that, while the practice is abused, most jobs have nothing to do with credit worthiness, there are some instances where credit history can signal future problems. Additionally, as our society becomes more and more superficial credit reports are an important part of our lending industry and therefore, necessary to the current economic structure.
The indiscriminate amassment of information regarding individuals is inappropriate. No corporation should be allowed to maintain or gather information that is not strictly pertinent to a financial operation requested by an individual. Our politicians allow corporations to gather information and data mine in order to market goods and services.
Corporations sell this information to others who perform the same operation. Then, when this information is used inappropriately and the individual concerned has no idea that this information even exists, it is the individual’s responsibility to fix the problem. Again, the individual did nothing to create this problem and most likely did not even know that the information had been gathered by some corporation.
To further exasperate the problem, corporations do not employ sufficient security measures to guarantee the confidentiality of the information. The corporations claim that it would be too costly to continually stay ahead of the technology used to crack their systems. This argument is absurd, it is a cost of doing business and should the business model not support proper security they should not be involved with this product.
In most European countries, where we consider them to be socialist and less of a free society, strict privacy laws exist. If information is stolen because of negligence or the company sells the information it is a criminal offense. They go to jail. Needless to say they are very conscious regarding the type of information they acquire and hold on their systems.
We consider ourselves the bearers of freedom. We say that we protect individual rights. We want the world to have our freedom. A 10 million dollar fine for negligence where the company made 100s of millions of dollars with this information and where the cost to the individuals damaged will be significantly higher, is this a joke?
Politicians, make yourselves useful, stop yelling at each other and do your job. Protect our individual freedoms! The free market is a marvelous thing but I grew up with the notion that “my right to swing my fist ends where your nose begins.
ChoicePoint Inc., FTC, Privacy, Data Security, Credit Rating
Monday, February 13, 2006
" A closed mind is a good thing to lose "
Everybody online has their own opinions about being anonymous, or leaving anonymous comments. At Seasons Under The Sun the anonymous commenting option is always left on - and while that policy could encourage trolls or flamers there have been surprisingly few negative or nasty comments posted in the seven month life of this site. In fact some interesting, and down right inspiring anonymous comments have been left on some of the posts here. So far, no anonymous comments have been deleted with the exception of comment spam before word verification was instituted.
This post is an open invitation for readers to voice a strong opinion, vent some anger, or otherwise fire off a pointed rant about current news or a pet peeve by leaving an anonymous comment here.
Please fire off a shot or critique at Seasons Under The Sun as well if something about this site ticks you off. My only request is that your opinion is sincere, and not just a vindictive blast. Please do not leave comments that are racially motivated, or otherwise hateful of any particular group. Other than those provisos, let the barbs fly! Of course, you may prefer not to be anonymous and that's fine. The comments (remarks below post) could generate more subject interest, and lead to some interesting links or cross chat at other sites too. It's your forum Mr. and Mrs. Anonymous!
Anonymous, Flame, Rant
Saturday, February 11, 2006
There are still storm clouds gathering for the company, since there may be thousands more pending and potential lawsuits out there relating to Vioxx, and in recent news a former FDA official testified that Merck had plenty of time to warn about Vioxx. On the other hand, they are a giant in the pharmaceutical industry with deep pockets, and probably have new potential block buster drugs in the research pipeline. In all likelihood Merck will remain a power house in the pharmaceutical industry once the near term turmoil has subsided, and it could be that their present, somewhat depressed share price is a value buy assuming it discounts the Vioxx bad news... Full Story
Do we know for sure that Vioxx is linked to the serious cardiovascular health risks it is accused of exacerbating such as heart attack and stroke? The answer to that question may be a statistical research nightmare. Surely there must be other drugs out there in the market that may have potentially devastating side effects, or might be linked to adverse events? There are billions of dollars at stake plus significant health implications, and so the answers to such questions have huge implications to the consumer, and the companies involved. Even with impeccable research protocols and data significant drug side effects may not show up in study results. As well, there have been accusations that pharmaceutical companies will play down or ignore valid study results that suggest adverse drug effects to sanitize their marketing and advertising campaigns because of the huge revenue implications. There is an understanding that the FDA follows fairly stringent guidelines in the drug approval process. In fact, it has been accused of being too stringent in the past (i.e. approving experimental AIDS cocktails). When Merck voluntarily withdrew Vioxx from the market in September, 2004 the FDA issued a detailed question and answer discussion about it to address concerns.
Perhaps our society is simply over medicated, and Physicians need to scrutinize their drug prescribing habits.
"Studies show that many simply don't heed even the sternest warnings issued by the FDA. When patients taking the diabetes drug Rezulin from the former Warner-Lambert Co. (now Pfizer (PFE )) started dying from liver failure in the late 1990s, the FDA repeatedly warned doctors to carefully test patients' liver enzyme levels to spot early signs of trouble. Yet fewer than 5% of patients got the tests, and more people died." - Lessons From The Vioxx FiascoIt may well be impossible to screen out every possible potential adverse event that a drug might be implicated in no matter how many expensive research studies are funded. In the real world as opposed to the laboratory other variables come into play including interactions with other medications taken, and unfortunately those variables might play around with the next pill you take. So consumers beware, and do your homework when it comes to medications prescribed or otherwise - and be just as wary and diligent when it comes to alternative, or herbal treatments as well.
Vioxx, Merck, FDA, Pharmaceuticals, Medication, Heart Attack, Stroke
Friday, February 10, 2006
on the eve of the Winter Olympics? Isn't it a cynical and transparent ploy to release wire tap documents, and other innuendo for the media feeding frenzy in a vague effort to link the Great One to an organized crime gambling ring? Could it be an attempt to create enough distraction and emotional turmoil in Gretzky's life such that his upcoming Olympic efforts as Executive director for team Canada are undermined? In that event, player morale could be sabotaged to the point of losing the gold medal or not even reaching the podium. Why couldn't the authorities have waited until soon after the Olympics to release these damaging allegations, especially those that might concern Gretzky or his wife if he likely had no direct involvement or liability as compared to his associate coach Tocchet? Perhaps there is another sinister side to the timing of these news releases that the general public will never know...
News commentary by your paranoid Canuck hack reporter on the spot in Hockeyville Canada,
Hockey News, Gretzky, Olympics, Illegal Gambling
Friday, February 03, 2006
"In August 1967, David Margetts played second violin in the Roth String Quartet at UCLA. He had been entrusted with the care of a valuable, vintage Stradivarius that was owned by the department of music. One day Margetts put the violin on his car's roof and drove off without removing it. UCLA made massive efforts to recover the instrument, but nonetheless it went missing for 27 years before resurfacing in 1994 when the Stradivarius was brought in for repair and a dealer recognized the instrument. After a lengthy court battle, the violin was returned to UCLA in 1998."
-Daniel L. Schacter Ph.D.
The Seven Sins of Memory: How the Mind Forgets and Remembers
Everyone wishes they could improve their memory. You can be the sharpest tool in the shed, and yet be completely befuddled by forgetting an important fact, or action at the wrong time. Youth gives you some protection against the vagaries of a poor memory assuming you are generally healthy, but absent minded deeds afflict all ages. Unfortunately, lapses in memory have also resulted in injury or death. Businesses have been ransacked because someone forgot to "lock up". Nuclear reactors have failed because someone forgot to close a valve (Three Mile Island). Examinations have been failed because because someone didn't remember the right test date. Marriages have been threatened because someone forgot an anniversary, or birthday. Sound familiar?... Full Story
This concern with our memory has created quite a market for people in the memory aid business, but you can help your memory a lot without signing up for an expensive program or gimmick. There are good books out there on the subject, and I would recommend one by Kenneth L. Higbee, Ph.D. called YOUR MEMORY, How It Works & How To Improve it. He has an academic background, but discusses many practical exercises, and techniques to improve memory. I was blown away when I used the Loci Mnemonic system described in the book to memorize any long list of items. It dates back to 500 B.C., and was used by famous Roman orators to remember long speeches. There are two steps: First memorize a series of familiar locations in a logical order (rooms in a building etc.) You will use this set of locations each time you need to remember a series or list. Secondly, associate a visual image that identifies each list item with a location in the series as you take an imaginary walk past the locations. Use fanciful images for each item. I tried this once with a very long grocery list, and easily remembered twenty items after taking a few minutes to mentally place each item at a memorized house location (bread in the oven, cherries in a basket etc.) Try this and I guarantee you will amaze yourself with how many objects you can remember! The book discusses this in greater detail along with many other excellent methods.
Jessica Rowlands recently reported in Medical News Today a PET imaging study that indicated improved brain efficiency after subjects under went a memory improvement plan.
"New research released at the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology's
Annual Meeting found that older Americans may improve their memory by making
simple lifestyle changes - including memory exercises, physical fitness, healthy
eating and stress reduction. The study was conducted at the University of
California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and funded by the Fran and Ray Stark Foundation
Fund for Alzheimer's Disease Research, the Judith Olenick Elgart Fund for
Research on Brain Aging, and the Parlow-Solomon Professorship on Aging."
Here is the memory improvement plan that could help improve memory function at any age:
* Memory Training - Brainteasers, crossword puzzles and memory exercises, which emphasized verbal skills, were conducted throughout the day to stimulate the brain.
* Healthy Diet - Participants ate five meals daily, which included a balanced diet rich in omega-3 fats, low-glycemic index carbohydrates (e.g., whole grains) and antioxidants. Eating five small meals throughout the day prevents dips in blood glucose levels and glucose is the primary energy source for the brain.
* Physical Fitness - Brisk daily walks and stretching were done daily to promote physical fitness, which has been found to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's Disease.
* Stress Reduction - Participants used stretching and relaxation exercises to manage stress. Stress causes the body to release cortisol, which plays an important role in memory preservation. Cortisol can impair memory and has been found to shrink the memory centers in the brain.
Now where did I leave those damn car keys?
Memory, Mnemonics, Memory Improvement
Monday, January 30, 2006
"Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.
Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.
Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity.
Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage.
Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money."
You could make an argument that Journalists should be well paid, so they might be less susceptible to bribes, but for those who would be corrupted there is usually never enough of the green stuff to deter them from taking more. If an organization, or commercial entity said they would be willing to pay for the privilege of posting content to your web site or blog on the condition that they had complete editorial control how would you respond? Would you sign the contract whether or not you agreed with their view point or philosophy? How do you protect a journalist or blogger from threats and extortion, as these actions may be more effective and more widely used than the use of favors or bribes? How many publishers would be willing to admit that they were intimidated into retracting or altering a story? For these reasons we shouldn't pass negative judgement on sites simply because they function under some degree of anonymity unless they are publishing obscene or illegal material. Anonymity can serve the important purpose of whistle blowing when the consequences of exposing an injustice within a corporation or government can be severe. Of course if you prefer anonymity, then you shouldn't abuse the right by posting silly rants and flames simply because you have no fear of repercussion. This raises the question whether anyone is truly anonymous on the web? Judging by the information collected by various search engines, and government attempts to obtain it, the answer would seem to be no unless you use one of the many services that will enable anonymous surfing through proxy servers. Web site publishers would not have similar anonymity, especially if they use registered domains, so they should be willing to stand by their content.
Journalism, Ethics, Anonymous Sites, Publishing, Blogging
Thursday, January 12, 2006
Now, I could recite a whole lot of factoids and amazing information about the wonderful world of socks, but Dr. Joyce Smith Ph.D. and Norma Pitts have already put together an amazing fact sheet called Selecting Socks that is very professional, thorough, and chock-full of information. They discuss fiber content, construction, finishes, new technology and performance fabrics, types, and sock care. You would be hard pressed to improve upon the information provided in that article, and it would seem that the simple sock is yet another marvel of modern technology. You can even buy socks with anti-static and anti-bacterial finishes. Apparently the durable anti-bacterial agents in the fiber reduce bacterial growth and resulting odor, while withstanding repeated launderings (might be handy for sports enthusiasts). Next time we'll talk about some creative uses for old socks including the good old "Sock Puppet".
By the way, the origin for the expression "Put a sock in it" is said to come from the early Gramophones that had no volume control, and to play them more quietly you would put a sock into the trumpet. Who knows?
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
There are probably thousands if not millions of sites, and blogs devoted to poker in all its forms. God forbid we need any more discussions, web sites or spam related to poker, but in terms of the consumer we are witnessing a revolutionary change in the gaming market place. Internet gambling is now generating revenues in the billions, and yet the owners operate in geographical anonymity and limbo since their operations are deemed illegal in the United States... Full Story
I doubt that there has ever been such a dynamic shift in the history of gambling enterprises. The impact of this is being felt now at every level of society. Why does your co-worker want to skip lunch and sit at his PC? Could he or she be betting a full house, or bluffing for the pot at their favorite poker site? The implications for gambling addiction, and treatment are staggering as well. Stay tuned folks. The World Trade Organization has already sided with Antigua against the U.S. on fair trade policies as they pertain to the legality of Internet gaming. See how many different TV programs you can find relating to poker as you surf through your cable listings. The biggest names in Poker are having a field day while most other poker players will be sheared and fleeced. It's a national obsession at the moment, and the celebrity factor is huge as well with prominent movie stars like Ben Affleck and Toby Maguire playing high stakes games. It may be just a matter of time before we have legalized Virtual Vegas accessible at any computer station. Will the games be honest then, and are they honest now? Of greater concern will be the money, and time wasted by those who might spend too many hours gambling online thereby creating heart break for themselves and their families. What do you think of this tremendous, and growing appetite for online gambling? Are criminal elements involved in these enterprises? Will gambling addiction spread like wildfire especially among internet savvy youth? No matter what the answers are to these questions it is very likely that within a few years there will be legal online gaming for both the operators and the players. See the Congressional testimony on Internet gambling by Tom W. Bell. Let Seasons Under The Sun hear your opinions on this subject.
Poker, Internet Gambling, gambling, texas holdem