August 01, 2007
BehindTheMedspeak: The price of lice
The photo up top shows a louse crawling out of hair onto a comb.
Here's De Avila's story.
- A Head Scratcher: How to Get Rid Of a Pesky Parasite
Lice are getting tougher.
In recent years in the U.S., head lice have been developing resistance to the insecticides in over-the-counter treatments such as Nix and RID. And while the most common prescription treatment, Ovide, remains effective in the U.S., medical studies in the United Kingdom show that bugs there have developed a resistance to the insecticide malathion, an active ingredient in Ovide.
A number of new treatments are in the pipeline, but are still a ways off from approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In the meantime, many people are searching for new ways to kill these pests — which affect six million to 12 million people each year in the U.S., occurring in all areas of the country and across socioeconomic strata.
Resistant and susceptible lice are indistinguishable to the eye. But even in areas where resistant lice have been found, many experts say that over-the-counter treatments are good first options. They are inexpensive, at usually under $10 a package, and don't require a trip to the physician.
Bayer HealthCare, the maker of RID, says its product is effective when used as directed — including combing out the hair between two applications of the shampoo. The company says it believes any problems with efficacy and reinfestation are linked to incorrect application.
So-called nit-picking services, where someone manually combs out the lice and their eggs, are another alternative that has been growing in popularity. New salon-style providers have been popping up around the country — and some make house calls. But such services can be expensive, costing hundreds of dollars. Hair Fairies, with salons in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York, charges $300 a person, according to Maria Botham, Hair Fairies founder. Other such services include Lousey Nitpickers, which operates in Southern California and charges $100 and hour, and Lice Fighters, which makes trips throughout New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, for $200 a head.
It is difficult to say how widespread resistant lice have become, say public-health experts, but reports began appearing in medical journals in the late 1990s. Bugs that are resistant to permethrin and pyrethrins — the agents in over-the-counter treatments — have been found in many places, including parts of Florida, Massachusetts, Texas and California, according to John Clark, a professor of environmental toxicology and chemistry at the department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
The development isn't surprising, since all insects exposed to pesticides will develop resistance over time. For example, mosquitoes developed a resistance to the pesticide DDT after years of sprayings. Richard Pollack, a research associate at the department of immunology and infectious diseases at Harvard University's School of Public Health, says that some lice have a natural ability to eliminate toxins from their bodies, which they pass on to a new generation.
Besides over-the-counter treatments and combing services, you can purchase a special lice-and-egg-removal comb at most drugstores and try combing out the pests at home. But experts warn that any combing treatment can be time-consuming. It can entail several hours of daily combing for about two weeks, says Craig Burkhart, a clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Toledo's College of Medicine, in Ohio.
A physician could also prescribe Ovide lotion, which contains malathion and costs about $100-$140. Health insurance may cover part of the costs. The other prescription option is the insecticide Lindane, though it remains controversial. Lindane shampoo and lotion, distributed by Alliant Pharmaceuticals, isn't available in California and carries a so-called black-box warning on its label regarding possible links to rare seizures and deaths.
There are also herbal remedies on the market with ingredients like tea tree oil, rosemary and lavender. But "there's a real absence of data showing that they work," says William Brogdon, a research entomologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And "If they are not effective, you are wasting your money."
Am I the only one here who's suddenly developed an itch?
Didn't think so.
Pet Cabana — Who says a dog's life can't be 'la vida loca?'
From the website:
- Pet Cabana
This pet bed has a cabana that provides instant shade for your dog or cat, ensuring optimal comfort at the beach, by the pool or in a park.
The cabana is sealed with a SPF 50 coating, providing 50 times more protection against ultraviolet rays than your pet's coat.
The bed's exterior is made from a durable outdoor canvas that is mildew-resistant and can withstand years of rugged use, while the interior is filled with memory foam that conforms to the contours of you pet's body, relieving stress on joints and muscles.
Includes a storage bag for ease of portability.
Bed cover is machine washable/line dry.
Cabana removes easily via zipper.
For pets up to 50 lbs.
How do you say piña colada in dogspeak?
'In Italy, a priest writing in the religious journal La Civilta Cattolica urged missionaries to consider Second Life a new place to save souls'
The headline above is the final sentence of today's Washington Post Business section front page article by Mike Musgrove about the news that Second Life has decided to close down its gambling operations.
As constant readers may recall, I do have a representative in Second Life but he (she? it?) doesn't do a whole lot more than stand there in one spot, looking stupid.
Hey, joe — you sure that's an avatar?
Never mind the peanut gallery — where was I?
Oh, yeah, your soul.
Here's a Reuters report about how the Roman Catholic church is spearheading the advance of organized religion into virtual space.
- Jesuits say take the word of God to Second Life
Catholic missionaries have always trekked to dangerous parts of the Earth to spread the word of God — now they are being encouraged to go into the virtual realm of Second Life to save virtual souls.
In an article in Rome-based Jesuit journal La Civilta Cattolica, academic Antonio Spadaro urged fellow Catholics not to be scared of entering the virtual world which may be fertile ground for new converts wishing to better themselves.
"It's not possible to close our eyes to this phenomenon or rush to judge it," Spadaro said. "Instead it needs to be understood... the best way to understand it is to enter it."
Second Life is a simulation game where players can create a virtual version of themselves — an avatar — and interact with other people in the three-dimensional world.
According to its Web site, it has a population of more than 8 million residents and millions of dollars change hands there every month.
"Is there (cyber) space for God?" Spadaro asks in his article which says there are already virtual churches and temples serving countless religions. He quotes a Swedish Muslim who says his avatar prays regularly as he prays in real life.
Spadaro warns the uninitiated that "the erotic dimension is very present" in Second Life, that people can buy genitalia for their avatars in a world that is "open to any form of erotic stimulation from prostitution to paedophilia".
While the virtual world might be a refuge for some people seeking to flee the real one, it is also full of people seeking something more from life, including, possibly, religious enlightenment, he said.
"Deep down, the digital world can be considered, in its way, mission territory," he said. "Second Life is somewhere where the opportunity to meet people and to grow should not be missed, therefore, any initiative that can inspire the residents in a positive way should be considered opportune."
Is Antonio Spadaro the St. Peter of Second Life?
I wonder if Jewel's great song might not become the 21st century equivalent of "Amazing Grace" in the virtual world.
Tell you what — her wonderful version up top came close to converting me in this one.
Smart Funnel — 'Won't allow overflow'
From the website:
- Smart Funnel
• Unique lever slides to close funnel opening when finished
• Can be used with liquids or powders
• Helps to avoid messes and waste
• Easy to use and easy to clean
• Patent pending
Dimensions: 6.10"L x 5.12"W x 5.71"H (15.5cm L x 13.0cm W x 14.5cm H)
The Vanity of Compassion — by E. M. Cioran
How can one still have ideals when there are so many blind, deaf, and mad people in the world? How can I remorselessly enjoy the light another cannot see or the sound another cannot hear? I feel like a thief of light. Have we not stolen light from the blind and sound from the deaf? Isn't our very lucidity responsible for the madman's darkness? When I think about such things, I lose all courage and will, thoughts seem useless, and compassion, vain. For I do not feel mediocre enough to feel compassion for anyone. Compassion is a sign of superficiality: broken destinies and relenting misery either make you scream or turn you to stone. Pity is not only inefficient; it is also insulting. And besides, how can you pity another when you yourself suffer ignominiously? Compassion is as common as it is because it does not bind you to anything! Nobody in this world has yet died from another's suffering. And the one who said that he died for us did not die; he was killed.
Wobble Light Self-Righting Worklight
From the website:
Wobble Light Jr. Self-Righting Worklight 85 Watt Fluorescent
Bright, durable and virtually indestructible, the Wobble Light Jr. is a tough, self-righting worklight that withstands severe abuse from workers, vehicles, debris and from being dropped.
Great for remodeling, craftsmen and do-it-yourselfers who need lightweight portable lighting.
Internal ventilation system keeps light cool enough to touch.
Shock absorber protects bulb from strikes and jarring.
Can be used individually or strung in series.
No setup — just plug it in.
Naoto Fukasawa Limited-Edition Chairs
The great designer first created a size and shape, then chose nine different materials in which to execute his vision.
- Design: Limited editions, without the usual limits
All of the chairs are identical in size and shape, but there's one important difference between them. Each chair is made from a different material. One's marble. Another's redwood. The others are in concrete, acrylic, wickerwork, attaché-case metal, polyurethane foam, felt and even hay.
The result is intriguing. Each material transforms the appearance of the chair, creating what seems like an optical illusion. The transparent acrylic chair seems to melt away to nothingness. The marble one looks chunkier, and the redwood chair chunkier still. That's exactly what their designer, Naoto Fukasawa, wanted to happen when he hit upon the idea of creating a series of chairs to illustrate the impact of a single design decision — the choice of material.
Fukasawa's nine chairs are part of Vitra Editions, a collection of 15 limited edition objects commissioned by Vitra, the Swiss furniture company, from a gilded group of architects, including Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid; and designers, such as Jasper Morrison, Hella Jongerius, and the French brothers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec. All of the Editions are being exhibited, until July 22, inside a geodesic dome, one of the emergency shelters designed by R. Buckminster Fuller, the American humanitarian designer, at Vitra's production complex in Weil-am-Rhein on the border of Germany and Switzerland. Some of them will be sold later this year for between €5,000 and €100,000 each.
Perhaps predictably, the Vitra Editions are a mixed bag, yet together they present a compelling picture of contemporary design. Few companies have more clout in the design world than Vitra, which has been one of Europe's most important design patrons since the late 1950s, when it started to manufacture furniture by the American designers Charles and Ray Eames. Vitra now works with designers on furniture and objects, and commissions architects to contribute to its architectural treasure chest at Weil-am-Rhein, which already has a conference center by the Japanese architect Tadao Ando, a design museum by Gehry and a fire station by Hadid. Many of them have been persuaded to join the Editions project, which also includes designers new to the company, like Jurgen Bey, Konstantin Grcic and Jerszy Seymour.
Vitra gave them carte blanche to do whatever they wished, the only stipulation being that it had to be something they couldn't do within the constraints of price, volume and durability imposed on mass-manufactured objects. So what did they do?
Some of the Editions are formal exercises, like Naoto Fukasawa's beautifully nuanced Chairs, and variations on familiar themes for their designers. Jasper Morrison continued his work with cork — and scored sustainability points — by carving a chair from a single block of recycled wine corks. Zaha Hadid created another of her extreme digital shapes for the Mesa Table, and Ron Arad produced a sleekly engineered version of the Rover Chair, an early 1980s piece made from an abandoned car seat and scaffolding.
Other designers used the project as a chance to experiment with the changing role that furniture plays in our lives, a theme that some have also explored in MyHome, the latest exhibition at the neighboring Vitra Design Museum.
The most radical of the Editions is Slow Car, a mobile shelter devised by the Dutch designer Jurgen Bey as a compact space where you can work or rest. The hut-shaped Slow Car can be driven around at up to 40 kilometers per hour, or 25 miles per hour, to be used as a mobile workspace in different locations, or as a private space for use by various people in crowded places like airports and offices.
The Bouroullecs have used their Edition to develop a versatile way of breaking up open-plan living and working spaces. Made from cardboard covered in bookbinding linen, their craggy Roc screen is substantial enough to divide a room, but light enough to be carried easily from place to place. The Dutch designer Hella Jongerius's mobile Office Pets could fulfill a similar function, but only in a pinch. They are really intended to be wheeled around the office to personalize it — like a plant — rather than to serve a practical purpose.
Equally experimental is Landen, a rugged jungle gym-style bench conceived by the German designer Konstantin Grcic to encourage people to communicate in public spaces. Virtually indestructible, Landen is as wide as a Hummer and so heavy that it has to be moved by crane, but feels surprisingly intimate once you've clambered up inside the circular bench, which is sheltered from its surroundings by the forbidding steel structure.
The brutality of Grcic's piece and the playfulness of Jongerius's could be interpreted as poking fun at the concept of limited edition furniture, which has become increasingly fashionable — and contentious — in the last year or so. The original limited editions were pieces by avant-garde early-20th-century designers, like Le Corbusier and Marcel Breuer, which were deemed too radical to be made in large quantities. Their rarity was accidental. Designers continued to produce them coincidentally in order to work flexibly, free from constraints of mass production — just as Vitra wanted them to in these Editions.
As the value of limited editions have soared — a late 1980s cabinet by the Australian designer Marc Newson sold at Christie's for a record $1.05 million in May — they are increasingly being produced specifically for sale to collectors. Design purists complain that these pieces are mere commodities, and that the news media coverage of them fuels the popular (mis)perception of design as being dominated by expensive, uncomfortable furniture.
Vitra's industrial pedigree is so strong that it can easily rebuff such criticism, and one of its Editions, the New Order chair by the Berlin-based designer Jerszy Seymour, does so rather eloquently. New Order is a customized monobloc, one of those ubiquitous white plastic chairs made in the millions. Cheap and efficient, the monobloc is the polar opposite of an expensively impractical limited edition. Yet there it stands in Buckminster Fuller's geodesic dome - the white plastic literally erupting with polyurethane foam.
Signed and numbered limited editions of the chairs will become available later this year.
Needle Puller — Episode 2: Price Break
My crack research team, doing what it does best, today brings the welcome news that the very same marketer is currently offering the very same needle puller for half last year's price — a mere $1.99 for 3.
Considering they were cheap at twice that price last year, it ill behooves you to sit there like a bump on a pickle waiting for another drop — carpe needle, as they [don't — but might] say.
From the website:
- Needle Puller
This mighty helper grips and pulls needles out of any fabric — with ease!
Its textured surface grips needles tightly, easily pulling them from heavy denim and layers of fabric.
Great for crafting, too.
Set of 3.