Sunday, July 31, 2005

A Pamphlet on Blog Depression

A (true) parody from the Nonist:
There is a growing epidemic in the cyberworld. A scourge which causes more suffering with each passing day. As blogging has exploded and, under the stewardship of the veterans, the form has matured more and more bloggers are finding themselves disillusioned, dissatisfied, taking long breaks, and in many cases simply closing up shop. This debilitating scourge ebbs and flows but there is hardly a blogger among us who has not felt it’s dark touch. We’re speaking, of course, about blog depression...
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The Best (and Longest) Title I've Seen Recently: "I Pigged 17 Mars Bars a Day..."

From Red Nova:
I PIGGED 17 MARS BARS A DAY ; I Was 27 Stone and Killing Myself With Chocs & Junk Food.. I Ate No Fruit and Veg for 20 Years ..Sex Gave Me Cramp.. And a 'Tumour' Turned Out to Be a Big Lump of Fat.. But Look at Me Now
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Interview by Cory Doctorow on the World Intellectual Property Organization

Warning: High Density. From WorldChanging:

Copyfight is the broad banner to describe people who are fighting for reforms to intellectual property -- trademarks, patents, copyrights and what are called "related rights" (broadcast rights and so on)...

Every successfully developed country made use of free information goods. More accurately, they all went through a stage when they were a pirate nation. America spent a century as a pirate nation, ripping off the intellectual property of every country around it, and in particular, of Britain, because when you're a net importer of intellectual property, signing on to multilateral copyright and patent agreements is signing on to exporting your wealth off-shore. When you're a net exporter of intellectual property, it makes economic sense...

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Serenity and Mood Disorders

Bipolar disorder has hijacked my Google ads, which is puzzling, since I haven't written anything about depression or bipolar disorder. I finally figured it out: I previously wrote about Serenity, a highly-anticipated film by Joss Whedon. Serenity also happens to be the trade name for lithium orotate, a nonprescription form of lithium, which is being marketed for depression and mood disorders. (A Google Scholar search is here.) According to one web site, it is "100% natural & safe, effective, does not require a prescription, is non-addictive & non-toxic, has absolutely NO side effects, and is 100% money back guaranteed." Of course, the fine print notes that "The statements on this web site have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease."

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News from New York: Tickets to the Daily Show

Tickets to the Daily Show are available here.

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Weekend Photos: Dhara Dhevi

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Saturday, July 30, 2005

Planet Xena

From the New York Times:

Astronomers announced yesterday that they had found a lump of rock and ice that was larger than Pluto and the farthest known object in the solar system. The discovery will probably rekindle debate over the definition of "planet" and whether Pluto still merits the designation.

The new object - as yet unnamed, but temporarily known as 2003 UB313 - is now 9 billion miles away from the Sun, or 97 times as far away as Earth and about three times Pluto's current distance from the Sun. Its 560-year elliptical orbit brings it as close as 3.3 billion miles. Pluto's orbit ranges from 2.7 billion miles to 4.6 billion...

Informally, the astronomers have been calling it Xena after the television series about a Greek warrior princess, which was popular when the astronomers began their systematic sweep of the sky in 2000. "Because we always wanted to name something Xena," Dr. Brown said...

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New England Journal of Medicine Audio Feed

Until the New England Journal of Medicine creates an audio feed to keep track of their excellent MP3 interviews, I've created my own at The latest interview is "Making antimalarial agents available in Africa."

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Weekend Photos: Dhara Dhevi

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Friday, July 29, 2005

West Nile Virus in New York

From the New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene:
  • First probable human cases of West Nile (WN) virus infection identified in New York City residents during the 2005 mosquito season – both males, age 50 and 54 – with recent travel history outside New York City.
  • Five mosquito pools from the Eastchester, Woodlawn, Van Nest, and Baychester neighborhoods of the Bronx have tested positive for WN virus.
  • WN viral activity also reported in areas surrounding New York City, with a positive human case in Putnam County, a positive bird in Albany, and positive mosquito pools in Nassau and Erie Counties, and Connecticut.
  • The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) reminds providers to report promptly any suspect case of the following syndromes during the adult mosquito season (July 1 - October 31, 2005): all suspected cases of viral encephalitis and viral meningitis and all patients with acute flaccid paralysis or other motor disorders consistent with West Nile virus infection.
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Killer Hamsters and Organ Transplant Recipients

From ABC News:
Four more hamsters from an Ohio pet distribution center have tested positive for a virus [Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis] blamed in the deaths of three New England organ recipients, the state agriculture department said Thursday. The results mean that the center's 4,000 small pets that include hamsters, mice and gerbils will be killed to prevent the virus from spreading...
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Enviga: a Beverage that Burns Calories?

From Yahoo News:
Coca-Cola is planning to launch Enviga, a soda that is said to burn 50 to 100 calories just by drinking a 12-oz. serving, next year, per one executive. Enviga, a green tea-based, caffeinated, carbonated drink, is in clinical testing and is said to speed up the user's metabolism. The beverage will target active lifestyle consumers. A Coke rep said, "Some [of our projects] may find their way to market and some may not." Studies have shown that drinking green tea may promote weight loss by stimulating the body to burn calories.
In the spirit of Coke Zero, a better name would be "Coke Negative 100."

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Thursday, July 28, 2005

Podcasts on Odeo

I previously used IPodder to download podcasts but recently switched to Odeo. I prefer Odeo's web-based interface and tagging makes searching for podcasts simple. My list of subscriptions is here. A list of podcasts tagged "medicine" is here.

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The ICE ("In Case of Emergency") Meme

From The Register:
The idea is that you store the word "ICE" in your mobile phone address book, and against it enter the number of the person you would want to be contacted "In Case of Emergency". In an emergency situation, ambulance and hospital staff will then be able to quickly find out who your next of kin are and be able to contact them. It's as simple as that, and for more than one contact name you can use ICE1, ICE2, ICE3, etc.
(A side effect, which might actually prevent this from being widely adopted, is that when this person calls, the caller ID displays "ICE.")

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Brain Tumor Removal on Flickr

A photolog of a brain tumor (meningioma) removal on Flickr is here.

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The Monty Hall Problem

From Wikipedia:
The Monty Hall problem is a puzzle in probability that is loosely based on the American game show Let's Make a Deal. The name comes from the show's host, Monty Hall. In this puzzle a player is shown three closed doors; behind one is a car, and behind each of the other two is a goat. The player is allowed to open one door, and will win whatever is behind the door. However, after the player selects a door but before opening it, the game host (who knows what's behind the doors) must open another door, revealing a goat. The host then must offer the player an option to switch to the other closed door. Does switching improve the player's chance of winning the car? With the assumptions explicitly stated below, the answer is yes — switching results in the chances of winning the car improving from 1/3 to 2/3...
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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Increased Shuttle Surveillance a Mixed Blessing

From the New York Times:

There were cameras on the launching pad, cameras aloft on planes monitoring the ascent, cameras on the shuttle checking for missing foam on the external fuel tank, and a camera on the tank itself. One camera caught a mysterious object falling from the shuttle at liftoff; radar detected another, about two minutes into the flight. Cameras aboard the shuttle and the International Space Station will monitor the Discovery until the end of its mission.

But all this inspection may be a mixed blessing. The more NASA looks for damage, engineers and other experts say, the more it will find. And the risks of overreaction to signs of damage while the shuttle is in orbit may be just as great as the risks of playing them down...

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Wednesday Recommendations: Warren Ellis

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The Doctors Don't Know How to Spell It

From Overheard in New York:
Little girl: That's how you spell it? Why is there a "p"?
Mom: The doctors didn't know how to spell it, so they just put a "p" at the beginning to make it look medical.
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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Cory Doctorow Summarizes "Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town"

Cory Doctorow: Hmm-- it's not an easy book to summarize. Alan is a serial entrepreneur who moved to Toronto to get away from his family. His father is a mountain and his mother is a washing machine. He has several brothers, including one who is an island, three who nest like Russian dolls, a precognitive, and a demonic savage. When he was a teenager, he murdered the latter brother, with his other brothers cooperating. And now that brother is back form the dead, stalking them all. Alan has fallen in with a gang of anarcho-info-hippies who are using dumpster-dived hardware to build meshing WiFi repeaters in a mad bid to unwire all of Toronto, or at least the bohemian Kensington Market streets. Meanwhile, his neighbors-- a student household-- contain a girl with wings and a mean-spirited guitar player/bartender, who, it appears, may be in league with the demonic brother.

So that's it in a nutshell. A very large and n-dimensional nutshell.

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Virtual Earth and the World Trade Center

Has anyone else noted that in Microsoft's Virtual Earth the World Trade Center is still standing?

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Hilarious Journal Articles Part 12: Circumcision Provided 65% Protective Effect Against HIV in Randomized Trial

From Medscape (registration required):

Adult male circumcision has been found to provide a 65% protective effect against infection with HIV in a randomized trial of more than 3,035 sexually active, heterosexual men in South Africa, according to findings presented here at the 3rd International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis and Treatment...

The researchers conducted the trial by first identifying heterosexual men between the ages of 18 and 24 years, who were healthy and sexually active, and who said they were willing to be circumcised if it could be proven to reduce their risk of HIV infection. These men were living in Orange Farm, a neighborhood near Johannesburg, South Africa, with high rates of HIV transmission and an existing male circumcision rate of approximately 20%. Prior to this study, the researchers had conducted a feasibility pilot study that found that 70% of men would consider circumcision if it were beneficial and safe...

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Grand Rounds 44

Grand Rounds 44, this week's best posts of the medical blogosphere, is up at Pharyngula.

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New Sleep Drug: Rozerem

Rozerem is chemically related to melatonin. From the Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America Website:

ROZEREM is the first and only prescription sleep medication that has shown no evidence of abuse and dependence and, as a result, has not been designated as a controlled substance by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). With the exception of ROZEREM, all other prescription medications indicated for insomnia are classified as Schedule IV controlled substances by the DEA. Additionally, ROZEREM is the first prescription insomnia medication with a new therapeutic mechanism of action in 35 years, and will be available for patients by late September...

ROZEREM (ramelteon) has a unique therapeutic mechanism of action that selectively targets two receptors located in the brain’s suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). The SCN is known as the body’s “master clock” because it regulates 24-hour, or circadian, rhythms including the sleep-wake cycle...

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Monday, July 25, 2005

Physiology: Your Kidneys and How They Work

From the National Institutes of Health:
Your kidneys are bean-shaped organs, each about the size of your fist. They are located near the middle of your back, just below the rib cage. The kidneys are sophisticated reprocessing machines. Every day, your kidneys process about 200 quarts of blood to sift out about 2 quarts of waste products and extra water. The waste and extra water become urine, which flows to your bladder through tubes called ureters...
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Sunday, July 24, 2005

MSN Virtual Earth

Microsoft's MSN Virtual Earth is up, though it hasn't yet been formally announced. The maps are still slightly outdated. For example, the World Trade Center is still standing.

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Weekend Photos: Cleopatra's Needle

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Saturday, July 23, 2005

Technorati Tags

I'm obviously a fan of Technorati Tags, but I've noticed that for reasons unknown they aren't always indexed. This post is a test.

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Google Maps Hybrid

Google Maps just added a hybrid feature which is a useful but eerie combination of map and satellite image.

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Weekend Photos: Store Window

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Friday, July 22, 2005

Instructions for Seeing Global Frequency, the Most Popular TV Show Never Aired

Courtesy of Warren Ellis. I do not suggest that you do this, but if you're interested for theoretical reasons:
  1. Download bittorrent.
  2. Go to, a bittorrent search engine.
  3. Search for Global Frequency.
Again, this is purely theoretical. Do not do this.

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Hilarious Journal Articles Part 11

Hallucinated voices are most often male. From the BBC:

Psychiatrists believe that these auditory hallucinations are caused when the brain spontaneously activates, creating a false perception of a voice," says Professor Hunter of the university's psychiatry department.

"The reason these voices are usually male could be explained by the fact that the female voice is so much more complex that the brain would find it much harder to create a false female voice accurately than a false male voice," he says...

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Thursday, July 21, 2005

The New Trailer for Serenity

The new trailer for Serenity, a movie by Joss Whedon based on the TV series Firefly, is here.

And it impresses.

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Medical Podcasts

Updated from Odeo. Thanks to Clinical Cases and Images.

(A description of podcasts is here. IPodder, software for downloading podcasts, can be found here.)

I've been looking for medical podcasts. So far, I've found:Suggestions are welcome.

Updated 10/6/05

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News from New York: Pantoeae Agglomerans Sepsis

From the New York City Bureau of Communicable Disease:
The Bureau of Communicable Disease was notified on July 17, 2005 of a 36-year old woman who was admitted to a New York City hospital with sepsis following the home administration of an intravenous dextrose solution labeled as containing vitamins. The person who performed the procedure is not known to be a licensed medical practitioner and the intravenous solution was not manufactured in the United States. A culture from the intravenous solution is growing Pantoeae agglomerans (formerly Enterobacter agglomerans). The woman remains hospitalized in improved condition. The solution was produced in Quito, Ecuador under the product name of “BDEX” and company name of “Life...”
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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Wednesday Recommendations: Television

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Google Moon

In honor of the first manned Moon landing, which took place on July 20, 1969, we’ve added some NASA imagery to the Google Maps interface to help you pay your own visit to our celestial neighbor. Happy lunar surfing.
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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Laser Tattooed Fruit

From the New York Times:

A pear is just a pear, except when it is also a laser-coded information delivery system with advanced security clearance.

And that is what pears - not to mention organic apples, waxy cucumbers and delicate peaches - are becoming in some supermarkets around the country. A new technology being used by produce distributors employs lasers to tattoo fruits and vegetables with their names, identifying numbers, countries of origin and other information that helps speed distribution. The marks are burned onto the outer layer of the skin and are visible to discerning consumers and befuddled cashiers alike...

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Grand Rounds Volume 1, Number 43

Grand Rounds 43, this week's best posts of the medical blogosphere, is up at Aggravated Docsurg.

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Monday, July 18, 2005

Instead of DNR ("Do Not Resuscitate") -- AND ("Allow Natural Death")

Via Kevin, MD, from Medical Economics:
I recently heard a commentator on National Public Radio suggest that we abandon the DNR designation. It's too negative. We're denying something -- —resuscitation -- —to the patient. We're asking patients and their families to give up something. We're asking nurses and doctors and paramedics to refrain from doing something that all their training compels them to do...
The NPR story is here.

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Cheney's Annual Physical

Kevin, MD's discussion of a Washington Post story on Dick Cheney's annual physical is here.

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Sunday, July 17, 2005

News from New York: Documentary on Health Problems of 9/11 Rescuers

From the Daily News:
A new documentary is shining a light on the treatment of thousands of rescuers, workers and volunteers who rushed to help at Ground Zero but feel cast aside now that they have medical problems.
The documentary, Never the Same, is here.

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Weekend Photos: Views of New York City by Google Earth

Coffee Shops.

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Saturday, July 16, 2005

Editorial on Potential for Flu Pandemic in NYT

From the New York Times:
If a much-feared pandemic of avian influenza starts sweeping through the world's population anytime soon, neither the United States nor international health authorities will be prepared to cope with it. There is not enough vaccine or antiviral medicine available to protect more than a handful of people, and no industrial capacity to produce a lot more of these medicines quickly...
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Today's Dilbert

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Another Legionnaires' Disease Outbreak

I previously wrote about Legionnaires' Disease at Columbia University Medical Center. From the New York Times:
Westchester County health officials said on Friday that the number of patients who had contracted Legionnaires' disease at Sound Shore Medical Center had climbed to 12, and they urged anyone with strong flulike symptoms who had been in the vicinity of the hospital to have a medical examination...
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Weekend Photos: Views of New York City by Google Earth

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Friday, July 15, 2005

Hilarious Journal Articles Part 10

From the Associated Press:

When people over 60 walked on smooth, rounded cobblestones for just a half-hour a day over four months, they significantly lowered their blood pressure and improved their balance, a study showed.

Behavioral researchers from the Oregon Research Institute investigated the health effects of cobblestones after observing people exercising and walking back and forth over traditional stone paths in China.

"We noticed in several cities we visited that people were walking on cobblestone paths, and people were standing on them, and sometimes dancing on them, doing weight-shifting," said John Fisher, who led the study at the institute in Eugene.

"We thought if we could scientifically measure it, we could see if there were health benefits," he said...

The original study is here.

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Thursday, July 14, 2005

Student Cloner

From Slate:
"It's not like you're flooring a car!" says Vicki Huntress, the friendly, thumb-ring-wearing lab instructor who is giving today's cloning lesson. But it's too late. The student at the microscope has pushed her foot pedal a split second longer than she should have, causing a tiny drill to penetrate too far into the mouse egg whose chromosomes she is trying to remove. The egg's cytoplasm—its vital inner contents—begins to flood out into the Petri dish, blub blub blub, a tragic scene the rest of us can see on a video screen connected to her microscope. "OK, this egg is SO going to be damaged," says the student, whose experience proved what we have already been warned: If you want to learn to clone, you are going to need a lot of patience. And a lot of eggs...
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Wednesday, July 13, 2005

NicoShot: Beer with Nicotine

From NACS Online, via Gizmodo:

A new beer has been launched by German company Nautilus that claims to help smokers kick the habit by infusing nicotine into the brew.

According to a press release, NicoShot is not necessarily a cure for smoking, but it can help smokers make lifestyle changes "without having to walk out of the bar for a quick smoke to deal with sudden withdrawal symptoms..."

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Firefox Update

Firefox has been updated to version 1.0.5, which includes many security fixes and improvements to stability.

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Wednesday Recommendations: Cory Doctorow

Cory Doctorow's novels are also available as a free download here (under a Creative Commons license).

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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Google by Phone

This site allows you to demo Google SMS (Short Message Service).

Send "help" from your phone to the number "46645" (GOOGL) for more details.

For example:
  • 32 degrees celsius in fahrenheit: 32 degrees Celsius = 89.6 degrees Fahrenheit
  • population of india: India Population:1,080,264,388
  • weather new york ny: 72F,Overcast Wind:N 5mph Hum:60% Tu:68-85F,Mostly Sunny...
  • columbia university new york ny: 2960 Broadway New York, NY 10027 212-854-1754
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Grand Rounds 42

Grand Rounds 42, this week's best posts of the medical blogosphere, is up at Shrinkette.

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Monday, July 11, 2005

News from New York: Homicide by Street Sign

From the New York Daily News:
The death of a Bronx father killed by a street sign -- which fell after it was a hit by a car driven by a man who had been shot in the head -- has been ruled a homicide, police said yesterday...
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Sunday, July 10, 2005

New England Journal of Medicine Audio Feed

While writing a list of medical podcasts, I noted the free audio files offered on the New England Journal of Medicine web site. Unfortunately, these excellent interviews are not podcasts, because they aren't part of the NEJM feed. They are also difficult to find.

So until the NEJM offers its own audio feed, I've created the following feed (using MSN Search and Feedburner) for audio files offered by the NEJM:

This is not a podcast, but it is an easy way to keep track of the downloadable audio files on the site.

A list of feeds currently offered by the NEJM is here.

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Weekend Photos: Hong Kong Harbor

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Saturday, July 9, 2005

Mobile Phones Top Land Lines

From the Arizona Republic:
A federal study released Friday shows that for the first time ever the number of cellphone users has surpassed the number of standard wired phone lines in the United States...
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Weekend Photos: Dogs in Hong Kong Harbor

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Friday, July 8, 2005

Flickr Photos

I've added a link to my Flickr photostream in the sidebar. It includes selections from a recent trip to Thailand and Hong Kong, older photos, and other photos I've found online.

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Thursday, July 7, 2005

London Bombings Coverage on BoingBoing

BoingBoing has an extensive post linking to photographs and other coverage of the London Bombings.

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Design for the New Freedom Tower

Slate has an article on the design for the new freedom tower.
The 77-story Freedom Tower has benefited greatly from its most recent redesign. Gone are the Libeskind signature elements: the off-center spire—a clumsy visual echo of the Statue of Liberty—the trapezoidal plan, the crystalline form. The tower now has a square footprint (set well back from the street), and a graceful, tapering shape. The gimmicky open-air structure at the top of the tower (which was to have housed wind turbines, of all things) is gone, too. What Childs has produced instead is a simple obelisk, an appropriate shape for a building that is, at least in part, a memorial.
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Wednesday, July 6, 2005

Tuesday, July 5, 2005

Grand Rounds 41

Grand Rounds 41, this week's best posts of the medical blogosphere, is up at Medical Connectivity Consulting.

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Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs

Consumer Reports has released their report on calcium channel blockers. They have previously released reports on nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs, ACE inhibitors, beta blockers, antidepressants, statins, and proton pump inhibitors.

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Monday, July 4, 2005

The Scientific Flash Behind the Fireworks

As you ooh and aah at the dazzling explosions of a fireworks display, there are three things going on that you probably wouldn’t guess: The chemists who made those pyrotechnics designed most of them so they wouldn’t explode, you’re actually seeing nature conserving energy, and most peculiar of all, when things are at their flashiest, you’re actually seeing the fireworks as they’re cooling down...
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High and Rising Health Care Costs

Thomas Bodenheimer has a very readable, balanced discussion of rising health care costs, "by a non-economist for non-economists," in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The United States has the most expensive health care system in the world, with per capita health expenditures far above those of any other nation. For many years, U.S. health care expenditures have been growing above the overall rate of inflation in the economy. A few experts have argued that high and rising costs are not such a serious problem. Most observers disagree with this view, pointing to the negative impact of employee health care costs on employers, the government budgetary problems caused by rising health care expenditures, and an association between high health care costs and reduced access for individuals needing health services.

Several explanations have been offered for high and rising health care costs. These include the perspectives that high and rising costs are created by forces external to the health system, by the weakness of a competitive free market within the health system, by the rapid diffusion of new technologies, by excessive costs of administering the health system, by the absence of strong cost-containment measures, and by undue market power of health care providers...

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Sunday, July 3, 2005

Weekend Photos: Thermal Scan for SARS

Thermal scan for SARS in Hong Kong Airport.

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Friday, July 1, 2005

Hilarious Journal Articles Part 9

The use of the kidneys in secular and ritual practices according to ancient Greek and Byzantine texts

Kidney International 68 (1), 399-404.
The use of kidneys in secular and spiritual practices was very common for centuries. In this article we present some references on their employment as sacrificial offers, as plain food or as a source for medicaments. Our material derives from Greek texts of the Classical, Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine eras. Relevant extracts from the Old Testament are also included, as they have become part of a common cultural heritage in that period of syncretism, when Jews were Hellenized and Greeks orientized. From the fragments cited in this article, it is obvious that the practical use of kidneys by priests, doctors, and lay persons in the periods under discussion was widespread. The sacrificial offering was based on the religious significance of the organ. The dietary consumption of the kidneys was limited by their function as urine producers. Their medicinal use was dictated first, by the abundance of the adipose tissue surrounding them, which was an ideal warming and binding substance. Second, it may be explained by the deeply rooted conviction that eating a particular organ led to the incorporation of its strength, thus protecting the corresponding eater's organs. Those practices should not surprise us in view of their corresponding modern use. Currently, kidney donors offer their organs in a sacrificial gesture, kidneys are consumed as a delicacy worldwide, and renal tissue is therapeutically used in transplantations and, until very recently, as a source for hormonal substances.
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