May 16, 2008
What you won't get for your $10 at the Something Store
Above, page one of a five page alphabetized list of things you shouldn't count on finding when you open your $10 surprise package from the Something Store, an odd venue which started on October 28, 2007 and as of yesterday at this time had sold 7,309 somethings to people like Adam P. Knave (who suggested the site, writing, "I am oddly tempted by it. I wanna know!").
The entire list is here.
Are you in or not?
Swiss Army Peeler
From the website:
- Tri Blade Peeler
One of our favorite gadgets in a while, the Prepara Trio tri blade peeler is 3 blades in one.
The peeler's handle hold a rotating 3 blade system: a regular peeler, serrated peeler and a julienne peeler.
Why take up space with multiple peelers?
Just rotate the bottom of the peeler to select which blade you wish to use, then slide the button to lock the blade into place.
The blade cartridge can be removed for cleaning in the dishwasher.
Another advantage of this peeler is that when not in use, the blades can be recessed inside the body for safe storage.
Who hasn't cut themselves reaching into a kitchen tool drawer?
The standard blade works great with a variety of vegetables.
The serrated blade is excellent for softer fruits, while the julienne peeler works well with carrots, cucumber or potatoes.
Japanese surgical steel blades give maximum performance and durability.
Peeler measures 7.4"H x 1.5"W x 1.6"D.
'If the discipline lends itself to opposing experts, it's not science' — Peter Neufeld, co-director of the Innocence Project
That's the most interesting thing I've read this week — by far.
Consider for a moment the implications if Neufeld is correct: anytime dueling experts appear on the witness stand on behalf of their respective clients, no matter what studies and research they might rely upon to justify their respective diametrically opposite conclusions, in the end the jury's verdict cannot be objective no matter how hard it may try to be.
It all comes down, in the end, to whose narrative is more compelling.
But then, that's something trial lawyers know beyond a shadow of a doubt — it's the rest of us who need to open our eyes and smell the coffee.
It was in yesterday's Associated Press story by Todd Richmond that I discovered Neufeld's remarkable statement.
The article, which follows, is about a new computer program which could lead to a database of bite marks and teeth for use in identifying suspects.
- Scientists are building database of bite marks
It has sent innocent men to death row, given defense attorneys fits and splintered the scientific community.
For a decade now, attorneys and even some forensic experts have ridiculed the use of bite marks to identify criminals as sham science and glorified guesswork.
Now researchers at Marquette University say they have developed a first-of-its kind computer program that can measure bite characteristics. They say their work could lead to a database of bite characteristics that could narrow down suspects and lend more scientific weight to bite-mark testimony.
"The naysayers are saying, `You can throw all this out. It's junk science. It's voodoo. This is a bunch of boobs that are causing a lot of problems and heartaches for people,'" said team leader Dr. L. Thomas Johnson, a forensic dentist who helped identify victims of the cannibalistic Milwaukee serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. "It's a valid science if it's done properly."
Skeptics already are taking shots.
"Scientifically illiterate," Dr. Mike Bowers, a deputy medical examiner in Ventura County, Calif., and a member of the American Board of Forensic Odontology, said of Johnson's work.
Built around the assumption that every person's teeth are unique, forensic dentistry has used bite impressions to identify criminals for 40 years. Bite marks on a young woman helped convict serial killer Ted Bundy of murdering her and another college student.
But critics say human skin changes and distorts imprints until they are nearly unrecognizable. As a result, courtroom experts end up offering competing opinions.
"If the discipline lends itself to opposing experts, it's not science," said Peter Neufeld, co-director of the Innocence Project, which works to free wrongfully convicted inmates.
Since 2000, at least seven people in five states who were convicted largely on bite-mark identification have been exonerated, according to the Innocence Project.
In Arizona, Ray Krone was found guilty in 1992 of killing a Phoenix bartender based largely on expert testimony that his teeth matched bites on the victim. He was sentenced to death, won a new trial on procedural grounds, was convicted again and got life. But DNA testing in 2002 proved he wasn't the killer. Krone was freed and won a spot on the ABC reality show "Extreme Makeover" to remake his teeth.
In Mississippi, forensic odontologist Dr. Michael West has come under fire after he testified in two child rape-murders in the 1990s that bite marks positively identified each killer. Kennedy Brewer was sentenced to death in one case, and Levon Brooks got life in prison in the other.
DNA tests later connected a third man to one of the rapes, and investigators say he confessed to both murders. In Brewer's case, a panel of experts concluded that the bites on the victim probably came from insects. Brewer and Brooks were exonerated earlier this year.
Determined to prove that bite analysis can be done scientifically, Johnson and his team won about $110,000 in grants from the Midwest Forensic Resources Center at Iowa State University and collected 419 bite impressions from Wisconsin soldier volunteers.
They built a computer program to catalog characteristics, including tooth widths, missing teeth and spaces between teeth. The program then calculated how frequently — or infrequently — each characteristic appeared.
He hopes to collect more impressions from dental schools across the country to expand the database into something close to law enforcement's DNA databanks. With enough samples, the software could help forensic dentists answer questions in court about how rarely a dental characteristic appears in the American population. That would help exclude or include defendants as perpetrators, Johnson said.
He acknowledged that his software will probably never turn bite-mark analysis into a surefire identifier like DNA and that he would need tens of thousands of samples before his work would stand up in court.
But "this is the first step toward actually providing science for this type of pattern analysis," Johnson said.
Bowers, who often testifies for the defense in criminal cases, said Johnson should instead study how skin changes can distort bite marks.
Dr. David Sweet, a forensic dentist at the University of British Columbia, said he has been working on a database similar to Johnson's for the past decade. He said he has offered Johnson casts and reproductions of the hundreds of bite impressions he is making.
Dr. Robert Barsley, a Louisiana State University dental professor and vice president of the American Academy of Forensic Science, said he, too, would send Johnson hundreds of bite impressions.
"His work could certainly be a benefit," Barsley said. "I don't think it will solve the problem, but it would be a step in the right direction."
Rolling Razor — 'I'm scared. And scarred'
But don't take his word for it: watch the videos above and below.
For women, in Pink, Reef Girl, Jungle Jane, Sahara Adventure (above, left) or Totally Bronze; for men, in Silver Streak, Jungle Camouflage (above, right) or Desert Camouflage;.
But wait, there's more!
"Order now and we'll send you a free designer base!"
Wall to Wall Bach
"A free 12-1/2-hour music marathon."
At Symphony Space in New York City tomorrow (Saturday, May 17, 2008) beginning at 10:30 a.m. and running until 11 p.m.
Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.
Can't get there?
"This event will be streamed live right here at SymphonySpace.org."
UFO Multi-Outlet Surge Protector
Call it the Area 51 'cause it's got 5+1=6 outlets.
From the website:
- Power Pod Surge Protector
You'll never use a power strip again.
Unlike awkward power strips that won't lay flat when power cords exert their pull, Power Pod's round, stable shape — wider at the base than at the top — can't be pulled over.
Slanted facade lets you use the least amount of space to plug in large, awkward power transformers without blocking adjacent outlets.
Built-in surge protection circuitry puts 420 joules of surge defense between sensitive electronics and damaging power spikes.
Six outlets; 6-foot power cord.
The Doctor's Channel — 'Internet TV for Doctors'
Sandhya George, writing about it in the latest issue (May, 2008) of Anesthesiology News, called it "YouTube for physicians."
I don't know if I'd go that far but it's an interesting site, based on the its two founding physicians' "... experience of learning the most about medicine during quick, spontaneous and informal conversations with other doctors."
We call them "curbside consults" in the trade.
Anyway, though the article says the site is physicians-only, "... where MDs can post and view short videos about myriad medical topics," at least for the time being it appears anyone can watch the videos.
Every specialty is listed.
Find out what "they" don't want you to know.
Whoever "they" are.
For a second there I thought the X-Men were back, this time in a football game.
From the website:
- X-Bowl and X-Plate
Introducing two innovative items for your next meal outdoors: Sea to Summit’s X-Bowl [above] and X-Plate [below] are collapsible hybrids comprised of a rigid, cut-resistant base made of high temperature food-grade nylon and walls made of food-grade flexible silicone — they fold flat for compact packing.
The silicone sides can withstand temperatures of hot foods and nearby hot surfaces up to 300ºF.
When collapsed flat the X-Bowl fits snugly into the X-Plate for extra space savings.
Each is tough enough to withstand chopping on their sturdy nylon bases.
The sides are flexible so pouring liquids from them is easy.
• Lightweight: X-Bowl weighs only 2.8 oz /80 grams and X-Plate weighs only 4.9 oz /140 grams
• X-Bowl capacity and size: 22 fluid oz/650 ml; diameter 6”/15 cm; depth 2¼”/5.5 cm
• X-Plate size: diameter 9"/23 cm; depth 1-1/3” /3.5 cm
• Cut-resistant base for cutlery or chopping
• Stable rigid base with flexible walls
• Spill resistant, versatile shape
• Assorted colors
• BPA free