July 10, 2007
BehindTheMedspeak: 'At least 14 children have died of hyperthermia... in overheated vehicles so far in 2007'
I was blown away by the graphic above, which appears on the weather page of today's USA Today.
Here's the accompanying story by Bob Swanson, one of USA Today's "Weather Guys."
- How your car can become an oven
It's that time of the year when extra care must be taken when driving around with children or pets in the car. Jan Null of Golden Gate Weather Services has done extensive research on the subject of hyperthermia cases in enclosed vehicles. It amazes me how many of the cases occurred when caregivers "forgot" about their pint-sized passengers strapped in the back seat.
Another danger that I didn't really consider was children playing in hot cars and being overcome by the heat. It's good advice to make sure your car is locked when parked in the driveway, no matter how crime-free your neighborhood.
[Graphic by Bob Swanson and Marcy E. Mullins for USA Today]
MorphWorld: Al Gore into Brian Wilson
Glancing at a screen grab of Gore (above) from the televised Live Earth concert at Giants Stadium this past weekend, I wasn't sure which of the two it was until I read the photo caption in yesterday's New York Times.
To complete his transformation into the Beach Boys' legend (below),
as he was during his (thankfully past) bad times in the psychological wilds, all Gore needs is a caftan.
The rats are abandoning the Wall Street Journal ship although it hasn't even hit the iceberg (yet)
The iceberg being, in this case, the bracing impact and its sequelae guaranteed to follow Rupert Murdoch's imminent purchase of the Wall Street Journal.
Yesterday's New York Times story by Richard Pérez-Peña about the resignation of top Wall Street Journal editor and reporter Ellen J. Pollock caught my eye.
The second paragraph of the Times story began, "For five years, Ms. Pollock has worked on The Journal's front page, most recently as deputy Page 1 editor, often handling the distinctive long-form articles that are a signature of The Journal."
Why do I believe her departure next Sunday, July 15, to join BusinessWeek is a result of Murdoch's coming takeover?
Read the following, from an interview with Murdoch which appeared in the New York Times on May 4, 2007: "'I'm sometimes frustrated by the long stories,' he said, adding that he rarely gets around to finishing some articles."
Ms. Pollock is a smart cookie and read the handwriting on the Wall (as it were).
I wonder how many others of the Journal's 760-strong newsroom staff — an all-time high, in the face of rapidly dwindling advertising revenues —
are packing their parachutes in preparation for a voluntary exit — as opposed to a defenestration?
Here's the Times article.
- Journal Editor to Join a Magazine
Ellen J. Pollock, a longtime top editor and writer for The Wall Street Journal, will leave after 18 years to become executive editor of BusinessWeek, the magazine will announce today.
For five years, Ms. Pollock has worked on The Journal’s front page, most recently as deputy Page 1 editor, often handling the distinctive long-form articles that are a signature of The Journal. In that time, she has worked on two Pulitzer Prize-winning series — one in 2003 on corporate scandals and another in 2005 on people living with cancer.
Ms. Pollock, 52, started at The Journal in 1989 as an editor for legal affairs, and then spent years as a senior writer covering, among other things, the Whitewater real estate scandal. Before joining The Journal, she was the editor of Manhattan Lawyer magazine, and a writer at The American Lawyer magazine.
On July 16, she will become the second-ranking editor at BusinessWeek, a leader in the crowded business magazine field. It is a weekly with domestic circulation of more than 900,000, similar to its competitors, Forbes and Fortune, which publish about half as often, and well ahead of The Economist. BusinessWeek is planning a redesign this fall.
This will be Ms. Pollock’s third stint working with Stephen J. Adler, BusinessWeek’s editor in chief, who was also a colleague years ago at The Journal, and in the 1980s at The American Lawyer.
“I always thought I’d go back to magazines, and I was interested in working with Steve again,” Ms. Pollock said.
She is the author of two books, “The Pretender: How Martin Frankel Fooled the Financial World and Led the Feds on One of the Most Publicized Manhunts in History,” and “Turks and Brahmins: Upheaval at Milbank, Tweed: Wall Street’s Gentlemen Take Off Their Gloves.”
On May 25, 2007 I noted the departure from the Journal this past spring of award-winning science writer Sharon Begley to take a post at Newsweek.
From that post:
- Ms. Begley is a very smart cookie.
And she has good ears.
I wonder if a little birdie landed on her shoulder one day last winter and sang two words — "Rupert Murdoch."
Ear Scope TV — Fiber Optic Earwax Cleaner
Invite your friends over to watch something on your new big screen TV — then, once everyone's gathered round with popcorn and all ready for the show, trot out your Ear Scope TV and proceed to narrate your own ear wax extraction, live and in living color.
Put it up on YouTube and before you know it Rupert Murdoch will be knocking on your door with a fat check.
From the website:
- Ear Scope TV — Fiber Optic Earwax Cleaner!
The Ear Scope TV is a completely self-contained endoscope used to easily see inside your ear as you clean it!
Using high quality fiber optics, the Earscope TV easily connects to the video input for any television or monitor with a single cable.
Simply attach a ear spoon, turn on the bright (dimmable) LED light, and put the tip anywhere you want to see.
Ear Scope TV can be used inside ears, on scalps, in noses, to check teeth, or anywhere else that needs a clear viewing.
Ear Scope TV is also useful for looking inside ANY dark and tight space, such as behind a refrigerator or in cracks.
Being battery powered, Ear Scope TV is portable and compact, and the LEDs are long-life requiring little power.
Ear Scope TV includes:
• 1 Japanese-style ear spoon
• 1 multi-use light guide
• 20 ear cleaning picks
• Ear Scope TV
• Uses 4 AA batteries (included)
• 1 meter fiber optic cable
• Weight: 300g
• 1.5mm lens
• 7400 pixels
Not sure if you're ready to take this giant step?
Watch the informative 3 minute long video on the product website.
White or Black.
'A video on YouTube explaining how to use Google's search engine to download music and video games for free'
More: "... Music files could be downloaded this way far more quickly than from peer-to-peer file-sharing networks.... Mr. Ruska's search method not only finds MP3 format recordings but also the MP4 format predominantly used by the iTunes music player...."
And: "The YouTube video has been viewed by more than 430,000 internet users since it was posted in April."
The YouTube video is above, and I'd advise you to watch it now because I guarantee Google's gonna disable it any yoctosecond — that is, if it's not already been taken down.
How is it that this is the first I'm hearing about this sensational hack?
It's been out for three months and not a peep in the U.S. media?
What're all their high-priced tech reporters doing?
The Financial Times story cites its sister paper, Les Echos, as the source for its story, which follows.
- Hacker's YouTube Video Hits Google
A 21-year-old American has posted a video on YouTube explaining how to use Google's search engine to download music and video games for free, Les Echos, sister paper of the Financial Times, has found.
The simple search formula uses Google's powerful algorithms to track down music or other files on unprotected computer systems, including US university systems. "A lot of students use the web-space given to them by their university to share music with their friends," said Jimmy Ruska.
Mr Ruska, who posted the video "to educate internet users", said music files could be downloaded this way far more quickly than from peer-to-peer file-sharing networks, which are illegal in many countries because they contravene the copyright of artists and recording companies.
The posting is potentially embarrassing for Google, which owns the YouTube video-sharing website. The world's leading search engine has long sincedisabled functions that were previously used to search for MP3 music files. However, Mr Ruska's search method not only finds MP3 format recordings but also the MP4 format predominantly used by the iTunes music player developed by US technology group Apple.
Matt Cutts, the engineer in charge of the quality of search results at Google, played down the effectiveness of the system. "The formula shown on YouTube is an attempt to find web pages containing a list of files including the word MP3," he said.
"Nothing guarantees that such a search will find music files, for many web pages can contain the word MP3 without giving access to [music] content."
But the YouTube video has been viewed by more than 430,000 internet users since it was posted in April and many have saved the address to their "favourites" file.
Searches by Les Echos located many web pages containing music files that could be downloaded very quickly. It was also possible to access recordings of television programmes, films and video games.
The same search formula worked on some other search engines, including Yahoo! and Exalead, although with fewer results. "Google explores many more internet sites than Yahoo! or MSN [the search portal of US software manufacturer Microsoft] ever will," said Mr Ruska.
To make locating and downloading music files even easier, Mr Ruska offers on his own website a search engine programmed with the formula that works on Google. The web user has only to type in the name of a song or an artist to see a list of available recordings.
The London-based International Federation of the Phonographic Industry identified this use of search engines to make illegal file downloads early last year.
"We systematically send many warning letters and we do not hesitate to take legal action when necessary," the Federation said. "But we do not comment in advance on action that we will or will not take."
Last week a Belgian court made Europe's first ruling that an internet service provider must block illegal peer-to-peer file-sharing by its subscribers when copyright is breached, according to the IFPI. Other European countries are expected to pass laws that will make ISPs responsible for stamping out exchanges of copyright material.
Google's share price rose 5.09 per cent to $544.49 by midday yesterday.
Landen — Seating for 4 by Konstantin Grcic
Created for Vitra Edition 2007.
Price not yet set.
Museum of Funeral Customs — 'Death is only the beginning'
Located in Springfield, Illinois, the museum's mission is to get people to think and talk about the rituals of death.
FunFact: Until the 1920s, wakes were commonly held in homes, and the embalmer worked in the kitchen in part because there was a sink and also because it didn't have an expensive carpet.
These facts, and many others, are contained in an interesting March 28, 2007 New York Times article by Dirk Johnson about the museum (top); it follows.
- Death on Display: Coffins, Hearses and Other End-Time Curios
Warily eyeing a closed coffin as he stood near a display case of embalming tools, Jeremy Carrell confessed to some queasiness about touring the Museum of Funeral Customs.
''Let's face it,'' said Mr. Carrell, 31. ''You can't come through here and not see yourself in the casket.''
To the museum's executive director, Jon N. Austin, a historian trained at New York University, getting people to think and talk about the rituals of death — and disposal — is the mission at hand.
''Death is a universally shared experience,'' Mr. Austin said, speaking just above a whisper. ''It's a subject that we don't like to talk about, but which needs to be discussed.''
The museum, with a fake-stone exterior, is on Monument Avenue near President Lincoln's tomb in Springfield. Started in 1999 by the state's association of funeral directors, the museum emphasizes the art and science of embalming; the rise of the funeral profession; the funeral service itself; and the customs of grief and mourning.
The museum includes a horse-drawn hearse from nearly a century ago and a 1972 Cadillac version that doubled as an ambulance. There is also some ''post-mortem photography'' of the dead in repose.
But Mr. Austin makes plain that this is ''no Halloween creep show.'' He described the museum as a serious study of how the end of life is handled in America. The museum was visited by nearly 8,000 people last year, usually couples in their late 50s or older, schoolchildren on field trips, scholars doing research and novelists who want the macabre scenes in their books to ring true.
There is graveyard humor in the lobby, where you can buy a miniature chocolate coffin with a mummy inside or a T-shirt that reads: Everybody's Gotta Go Sometime.
Visitors often bring ''emotional baggage'' to the museum, Mr. Austin said, but they feel free to ask questions — especially when it comes to the grittier details — that they have never asked before. On view is a cast-iron embalming table with a porcelain top and a wicker ''removal basket'' to transport the remains. Visitors learn that embalming, the technique of slowing the body's decomposition, dates to the Egyptians (about 3200 B.C.) but was not introduced to the United States until about 1840.
''That ominous-looking black box with the suitcase grips,'' Mr. Austin explained, pointing to an embalmer's portable travel bag, ''holds the tools of the trade.''
The technique today involves injecting a chemical, usually formaldehyde, into an artery near the jugular vein. As chronicled in the museum's tribute to ''The Pioneers of Embalming,'' the practice became widespread during the Civil War, when soldiers' bodies were preserved so they could be shipped home for services.
The museum explores the differences among religions and cultures in marking death. Jewish funerals typically forbid embalming or cremation, but call for burial within 24 hours and a seven-day period of mournful prayer, known as sitting shiva. There is no viewing of the body, Mr. Austin said, in the belief that it is inappropriate ''to look at someone who can no longer look back at you.''
Many blacks, drawing on African customs, often call funerals ''home-goings'' and treat them more as celebrations of life and passages to a better place. During slavery, funerals were often held at night, since the mourners had to work during the day.
Until the 1920s, wakes — also called visitations — were commonly held in homes, and some exhibits here replicate a wake in a Victorian-style living room. A mirror is covered with fabric, to block the glare of reflections and keep the room dimly lighted.
In these wakes, the embalmer worked in the kitchen, partly to have a sink, ''and because it didn't have an expensive carpet,'' Mr. Austin said.
Mr. Austin said some visitors who recall such wakes from their childhoods kneel before the coffin and become teary-eyed.
The museum has a collection of burial clothes, which were usually provided by the undertaker — a term, like mortician, that has given way to funeral director. These clothes include a black cotton dress for women and a tuxedo-like black suit for men, with a white shirt and a bow tie. A 19th-century advertisement for such clothes shows a man and a woman modeling the burial outfits, looking dapper, very much alive and even smiling.
In a section devoted to the changing customs of grieving, the museum displays the clothing deemed proper for loved ones during the Victorian era. The style was popularized by Queen Victoria, who was widowed in 1861, and dressed in black until her own death in 1901. Women then were expected to wear plain black wool or dull black silk dresses. As the museum literature underscores, protocol was strict for the period of mourning. When a man died, his widow was expected to wear black for two years or more. But when a woman died, a man wore mourning clothes, usually a black armband, for just six months. Even that time could be shortened if he had young children. The notion, Mr. Austin said, was that a man had to find a new wife to care for his family. If he remarried within the mourning period, the new wife was expected to wear black in memory of the previous wife.
At the funerals of a century ago, men were supposed to show little emotion, but women could weep copiously. Indeed, some families hired professional criers to keen, or wail loudly.
While mourning clothes and other rituals have faded, some customs have endured, like carrying the coffin feet-first into the hearse and to the grave. ''People didn't want the dead to be able to look at the home they were leaving, or they might want to return,'' Mr. Austin said. That could mean that spirits would return to dwell among the living, which nobody wanted.
The museum also has a replica of Lincoln's coffin: a black walnut outer box covered with black woolen fabric, marked with studs arranged in a shamrock pattern. Legend has it that the coffin maker was from Ireland and put the shamrocks on as a tribute to his homeland and the president.
Feeling Egg — Chromatherapy Japanese-Style
From the website:
- Feeling Egg — LED Lifestyle Lighting
Feeling Egg is a home lifestyle light from Japan that is the exact size and shape of a real egg, and emits relaxing LED lighting in four different colors.
Feeling Egg is waterproof, making it perfect for a bath, shower, sink, hot tub or anywhere else you want to add brilliant color.
Use a blue egg next to the bed before sleep or a red egg in your car's cupholder to add some ambiance.
The bright LED light is powerful and fades in and out to create a relaxing effect.
• 4 Feeling Eggs (one each in orange, red, green and blue)
• 3 LR44 button batteries for each egg (included)
• Comes in plastic egg carton packaging
Gives a whole new meaning to the Moody Blues.