August 16, 2018

BehindTheMedspeak: Black licorice OD


Above: my licorice assortment as of 8:08 a.m. ET today.

Yesterday's 10:01 a.m. post elicited a most interesting comment


from reader Michael, to wit.:


I had my Crack Research Team©® look into this issue and they came back with the following caution issued last Halloween by the FDA:



Below, the video that accompanied the FDA warning.

I then had them take a deep dive into the medical literature on licorice abuse alluded to in the FDA warning; read exemplars herehere, and here.

Turns out the sequelae of licorice OD have been known for a long time, what with one of the reports cited above having been published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1968 — 50 years ago; it's just that the knowledge hasn't been evenly distributed. (See what I did there?)

One swallow doesn't make a summer, but on the other hand, where there's smoke, there's fire.

Life can be confusing.

I can say the following:

• I most certainly have been enjoying a lot more than two ounces a day of superb black licorice for at least the past month; I'd guess around four ounces on average, divided among different brands and styles of licorice from Australia, New Zealand, Finland, and the Netherlands:


• I haven't noticed anything unusual or untoward when it comes to my heart or blood pressure or running 5Ks in 90° heat.

Your experience may differ.

I don't recall learning anything about the hazards of black licorice back in med school, but maybe I did and forgot.

I mean, I matriculated at UCLA School of Medicine in 1970, so that wouldn't be out of the question.

Finally, this licorice ring:


Made of black silicone, for those who just.can't.get.enough.

$55 CAD (Jewelry page 1).

August 16, 2018 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Experts' Experts: Google Cache

Screen Shot 2018-08-12 at 8.14.57 AM

Google Cache refers to copies of web pages cached by Google.

Google crawls the web and takes snapshots of each page as a backup in case the current page is not available.

These pages become part of Google's cache.

These cached pages can be extremely useful if a site is temporarily down; you can always access them by visiting Google’s cached version.

August 16, 2018 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Skinny Jar Spatula


From the website:


Perfect for any baking or cooking job, it's long and narrow for tall jars and bottles.

Won't stain, lose shape, or retain odor.

Soft silicone.





August 16, 2018 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 15, 2018

Dragon O' Personal Problems


August 15, 2018 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

bookofjoe's Favorite Thing: RJ's Batch-Made Soft New Zealand Licorice from Licorice International

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For the past couple months, for no reason that's apparent, I've been on a licorice kick, discovering and trying new brands from around the world.

My current favorite: RJ's.

This is not the Good & Plenty or black twists from that tall jar of your childhood; rather, this is sui generis.

Try it, you'll like it (if you like licorice).

If not, the bookofjoe Guarantee©® will stop your loss: I'll cheerfully refund every penny you paid for it.

$4.50 for a 7.05 oz. bag from Licorice International.

And yes, it does matter where you buy your licorice: Amazon's has been spotty in terms of its freshness whereas that from Licorice International is always perfect.

August 15, 2018 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)

Flexible Phone Stand/Charger


That's different.

Perfect for when you use your phone as a wireless hotspot.

From the website:



Trunk is a short, posable charging cable for your iPhone or iPod.


Unlike the short, flaccid charging cables on the market, you can bend Trunk vertical to charge on the wall, bend it the other way and use GPS in the car, or straighten it out and put it in a pocket when you're on the move.


Why do you need all that cord?

With Trunk, there is no wrapping, no tangling — no mess.




August 15, 2018 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 14, 2018

The photography of Pentti Sammallahti


From the Economist :


Under a low sun, a frog with a thuggish expression swims alone in a pond, its black reflection a crisply outlined mirror image on the still water. It stares straight ahead; an eye-to-eye confrontation seems imminent.


This sinister yet amusing picture was taken by Pentti Sammallahti, a 68-year-old Finnish photographer with an unusual status: he is at once feted and deliberately low-profile.

His modest prices — prints start at €600 ($702) — are part of the explanation.

Peter Fetterman, who exhibited Mr. Sammallahti’s work at the Masterpiece fair in London this month, says he "is the best photographer whose work you can afford."

But price tags that make his work accessible put off some collectors and galleries, who see price as a measure of quality. "Peter keeps telling me to charge more," says Mr. Sammallahti.

He chooses not to raise prices, nor to limit editions of his prints. "I have the negative," he says, "why not print from it?"

For him, making prints is part of his art. The frog peers from a silver-gelatine image taken from a black-and-white negative, one of his preferred techniques, but he experiments ceaselessly.

Mr. Sammallahti is not a recluse, nor lacking in ambition.

He travels the world taking photographs; a book"Here Far Away," was published in 2012; another, of bird pictures, comes out later this year.

But he shuns the art scene, believing that commercial pressures undermine quality. He does not lecture and rarely gives interviews.

In 1991 he received an unprecedented 20-year grant from the Finnish government. Its sole condition was that he should concentrate on photography, so he gave up teaching. "I want to work in peace," he explains, "to be free to fail."

Failure has eluded him. In 2003 Henri Cartier-Bresson chose a photo by Mr. Sammallahti (top) — one of 100 images that the French master found most "stimulating, joyful and moving" — for his foundation's inaugural exhibition in Paris.

A big dog sits high up on a Russian snowmobile, its ears pricked, king of all it surveys.

August 14, 2018 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Where the inventors are

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Above, a map showing patent rates in the U.S. by area where the inventors grew up.

The five cities that produce the most inventors per capita in America are highlighted.

A lot of agile minds in NFC North territory.

Back story here.

August 14, 2018 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Self-Balancing Electric Unicycle



From the website:


This briefcase-sized electric unicycle keeps a rider perfectly balanced at all times with gyroscopic sensors.

Equally suited for urban commuting and suburban recreation, the unicycle requires a rider to merely stand on its two folding feet pads; gyroscopic sensors detect a rider's feet movements while accounting for a shoulder-slung backpack or bag for its center-of-mass calculations.

Gripping the handlebar and leaning forward results in steady acceleration without jolting, while leaning backward brings the unicycle to a slow, steady stop.

A rider controls side-to-side balance and turning with subtle leaning.

The unicycle's 500-watt electric motor propels a 160-pound rider for up to two hours at 13 mph after a three-hour charge of its built-in lithium-ion battery.

Housed within a sturdy ABS case, the motor spins the cycle's single 16"-diameter wheel that extends just 4" from the case, so pant legs won't snag.

Its knobby tire grips surfaces while providing minimal rolling resistance for smooth rides.

Features and Details:

• Supports up to 250 pounds

• Includes AC adapter

• 25"L x 12"W x 23"H

• Weight: 57 pounds




August 14, 2018 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

August 13, 2018

BehindTheMedspeak: Augmented reality in neurosurgery


Photo caption: The surface of a patient's brain as seen through a surgeon's microscope. Augmented-reality overlays outline projected locations of a tumor in purple and of a vein that needs to be avoided in bright blue.

From the Wall Street Journal:


Brain surgery is never going to be easy.

When a surgeon is removing a tumor, even a slight miscalculation in the angle of entry can interfere with important functions of the brain.

But augmented reality — blending digital imagery with the physical world — may help surgeons keep their focus at critical moments during the task.

Neurosurgeon Joshua Bederson recently used augmented-reality technology to remove a three-centimeter-wide brain tumor in a 76-year-old man’s parietal lobe, a part of the brain that handles such information as touch and spatial orientation.

Combining software that builds 3D models of the head and brain, a tracking camera that matches the patient’s facial features to those on the model, and a powerful surgical microscope, Dr. Bederson was able to project a virtual image of the tumor and nearby structures directly onto the microscope’s field of view.

Before using augmented reality, Dr. Bederson could see only the structures directly in front of him through the microscope.

Now, using this technology, he can see farther — below the surface of the brain where his instruments are.

Getting the necessary information during a surgery used to be a slower, more tedious task with many steps.

Dr. Bederson would need to stop what he was doing, look up at the 2D and 3D images on various remote screens, memorize the information there, look back down at the patient's brain and his instruments, and approximate the positions of underlying important structures based on that information.

With augmented reality, he doesn't have to make that switch — known as "attention shift" — nearly as often, reducing the risk of making an error.

Think of it as similar to Pokémon Go, except with much more complex imagery and considerably higher stakes.

Augmented reality is different from virtual reality, explains Timothy Witham, the director of the Johns Hopkins Neurosurgery Spinal Fusion Laboratory.

Virtual-reality systems shut out the outside world, giving users a complete immersive experience.

In contrast, augmented-reality systems allow users to see and interact with their surroundings, but with additional data superimposed onto their visual field.

Virtual reality is useful in the planning process, but using it during a surgery would be impractical — and dangerous.

Augmented reality, however, holds great potential in the operating room, according to researchers and a growing number of surgeons.

However, as with many nascent technologies, there is little solid evidence that the use of augmented-reality technology in neurosurgery improves patient outcomes.

"At the moment, there are no outcomes-targeted studies," says Antonio Meola, a neurosurgeon at Stanford University Medical Center, who has studied augmented reality in neurosurgery extensively.

There are still no prospective studies or randomized control trials, the gold standard for establishing the efficacy of new surgical techniques, he says.

Medical centers have been using augmented reality in a limited capacity in endoscopic surgeries for at least a decade, according to Mehdi Miremadi, a partner at McKinsey & Co. who has worked with several companies developing augmented-reality applications.

However, large medical centers started using it in neurosurgery only in the past four to five years, he says, after advances in software that allow for greater precision.

Even now, there is a margin of error of one to two millimeters in where the information overlay gets placed, Mount Sinai's Dr. Bederson says.

So neurosurgeons have to remain vigilant — even a millimeter's miscalculation could mean the difference between retaining one's eyesight and lifelong double vision, he says.

But, Dr. Bederson says, making use of the information that augmented reality technology offers is an easy choice.

"I've already reached the point now in my own practice where it is so useful that I would not do certain cases without it if I had a choice," he says.

August 13, 2018 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Leaning Mailboxes of Taipei


From Atlas Obscura:


In 2015, Typhoon Soudelor hit Southeast Asia, drenching it with intense rain and battering the land with fierce winds.

A total of 59 people perished, with damage estimated at $3.72 billion.


In Taiwan, the typhoon created not only havoc, but also a new roadside attraction.

There, two ordinary red and green mailboxes were hit by a wind-blown billboard during the storm.

They managed to survive the attack, though they now lean at a wonky angle.

After the two resilient mailboxes were featured on national and international news, locals began queueing up to take pictures with the  structures.

Locals even named the beloved mailboxes "Little Red" and "Little Green."

After realizing how popular they were with the public, the Taiwanese National Mail decided not to replace them and instead left them as is.

Incredibly, the mailboxes still accept letters.


Anything that goes through these unusual mailboxes even gets marked with a special stamp.

Visitors heading to Taipei can find the two twisted mailboxes near the intersection of Nanjing East Road and Longjiang Road.

The popular mailboxes have become a social media attraction, so it is advised to go earlier in the day to avoid crowds.

August 13, 2018 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)



From the website:



Aqueduct is a concrete cable keeper and coaster, combined into one.

It does what coasters do, while also solving the supremely annoying problem of constantly crawling under your desk to retrieve your cables.

We wanted a simple solution using something that already lives on a desk, rather than making something extra just to hold cables.


We worked with a factory in the U.S. that spent decades perfecting the right blend and sealer for a clean, smooth, white concrete.

Aqueduct is 1/4" tall, so you hardly even notice the grooves keeping everything above ground.




August 13, 2018 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

August 12, 2018

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Test







August 12, 2018 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Welcome to my world


August 12, 2018 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

What is it?


Answer here this time tomorrow.

Hint: smaller than a bread box.

Another: in position of function.

A third: concrete.

View from a different angle:


August 12, 2018 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

« August 13, 2018