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November 20, 2004

Bowflex Recall


I see their commercials every time the TV's on, but I've still yet to meet someone who owns a Bowflex.

But apparently a lot of people do, 'cause the company's just recalled 680,000 Power Pro units and 102,000 Ultimate Fitness Machines because of a spate of accidents.

It seems the machines' "Lat Tower" can suddenly and unexpectedly break, with 46 reports of head injuries, two requiring stitches.

Another failure involves the Power Pro's backboard bench unexpectedly collapsing when in the incline position. So far 42 such events have occurred, resulting in head, neck, and back injuries.

This is the second major recall this year for Bowflex, a division of the Nautilus Group.

In January 420,000 machines were recalled after more than 70 injuries to users' backs, shoulders, and heads due to backboard bench failure and problems with the Lat Tower.

I'm sticking to running.

November 20, 2004 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Garfield MP3 Player


For that Garfield-lover friend of yours who thinks she's got everything Garfield.

Ha. Will she be surprised this Christmas when she finds this puppy under the tree.

128 MB (about 30 songs), runs on 1 AAA battery for 8 hours.

Hang it on your purse or backpack, take it everywhere.

Friends will want to touch its plushness, but don't let them steal it.

Also useful as a secret storage device for files: just throw it in with your other plush toys and no one will ever know.

Since it's a flash player, even if the battery dies your data and stuff will be safe forever.

Limited quantity, so hurry while supplies last, says the website.

Player comes with earphones, USB cable, installation CD (only required for Windows 98SE and older), and 1-page user's manual.

PC or MAC.


[via geektoys.org]

November 20, 2004 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: The empire strikes back - UNOS to patients: get in line even if you die waiting


You may have noted recent pieces both here and in the news on the sudden threat of Internet organ donations to UNOS, the nation's dysfunctional, near-useless organ transplant central registry.

Yesterday's death rattle from the beleaguered group was its most desperate yet: they now ask that hospitals refuse to transplant organs located outside their system.

Who do they think they are?

They would prefer a patient to quietly wait in line and ultimately die rather than go out to locate a suitable donor on their own.


I look for Senate hearings on this subject in the very near future, undoubtedly leading off with Robert Hickey (on the left below),


the world's first recipient of an organ located via the Internet.


UNOS and its self-serving executives should be ashamed of themselves, putting their cushy jobs and fat salaries ahead of the patients whose best interests they purport to represent.

Here's A.J. Hostetler's story from today's Richmond Times-Dispatch:

    UNOS opposes transplant appeals

    Board says it's not fair when patients solicit organs for themselves

    The organization running the nation's transplant network said yesterday that patients who solicit organs for themselves from unfamiliar donor families undermine the system and the public's trust.

    At a meeting in Reston, the board of directors for the Richmond-based United Network for Organ Sharing said it was upholding the country's long-standing tradition of sharing scarce donor organs based on equity and medical benefit.

    "Most deceased organ donation takes place anonymously through the national organ-distribution system. At times, donors or donor families want to donate to a specific person they know, and we support that," said UNOS President Dr. Robert Metzger.

    "But we strongly oppose public or private appeals that effectively put the needs of one candidate above all others and pose concerns of fairness. Transplant candidates rely on the public's trust in the fairness of the allo- cation system and support of that system through donation. Public appeals may jeopardize that trust."

    UNOS decided in June to formally address the issue as the nonprofit outfit noticed an increase in public, controversial transplant appeals it says subvert the 20-year-old system that is based on medical criteria and "sickest first."

    Len Geiger, a Gainesville, Ga., man who waited eight years for his double-lung transplant and just recently ran the Richmond Marathon, said he understood that some who are awaiting a transplant may feel that "desperate times call for desperate measures."

    But would-be recipients must trust in the transplant system and their doctors, he said.

    "If people start playing outside the system, equity goes out the window," he said.

    Kidney recipient Linda Cheatham of Alexandria agrees that equity is essential, but said she was "totally torn" and understood the fear some patients may feel.

    "There's no happy answer," she said.

    UNOS' system may not be perfect, "but it works."

    While not law, UNOS' statement carries weight with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and physicians and hospitals that participate in the transplant network.

    It applies to organs from dead donors "where no personal bond exists between the patient and the donor or donor family."

    The organization is still considering a formal position regarding living donors with no such bonds.

    Those donations are typically managed by local organ-procurement groups, not UNOS.

    Recent public appeals include the summertime campaign by a Houston man who successfully advertised on billboards and the Internet for a new liver.

    In October, a man who paid $295 a month to an Internet site got a living kidney transplant in a controversial operation in Denver.

    However well-intentioned, such appeals ignore the greater good and divert organs from patients whose medical need may be greater, said Arthur Caplan, a University of Pennsylvania bioethicist.

    "It really is just unfair to try to jump ahead in line, and it risks killing people," he said.

    The lines are long.

    Yesterday, 87,247 people around the country were waiting for a heart, liver, kidney, pancreas, lung or intestine, most of them for kidneys.

    Only about 25,000 people get the life-sustaining organ, and nearly 6,000 people a year die after failing to get a transplant.

    Those needing kidneys are increasingly turning to family, friends, co-workers and even strangers willing to give one of theirs.

    Last year, 6,471 kidney transplants came from living donors, while only 5,754 came from deceased donors.

    This widening gap between need and supply raises concerns that people will turn to buying and selling organs, an illegal practice in the United States where body parts - organs, blood, tissue, sperm and eggs - are considered by law a gift.

    Elsewhere, however, advertising the sale of organs is increasingly common.

    University of Virginia bioethicist Paul Lombardo just returned from Pakistan, where he said there are "tons of advertising" and a growing industry of "transplantation tourism" for those with money who are willing to travel and pay for organs and operations.

    "It's difficult for UNOS to maintain this position, a laudable position, when all of the commercial energy is going in the opposite direction," Lombardo said.

    "UNOS is facing an uphill battle."

    If a hospital or physician has a patient who turns to such public appeals, UNOS says the system's equity should be ensured, with consideration given to medical facts, ethical guidelines, laws and allocation policies.

    UNOS operates the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network under federal contract.

November 20, 2004 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Rollover ratings at SaferCar.gov


What with all the excitement about SUV rollovers and all, I thought I'd have a look at which were the most dangerous.

Not easily done, it turns out.

When you put "rollover ratings SUV" into Google, you get a ton of sites offering to be your lawyer and get money from your accident.

But I don't want money, a lawyer, or an accident: I just want the ratings.

Well, I told my crack research team to cut through the dross and bring back the goods.

They're right here, at SaferCar.gov.

Very nicely done: just put in the class of vehicle, year, make and model and bingo, back comes a nice page with ratings in stars (five is best, one is very bad, make sure you have a will before you take another trip in it) of the risk of rollover and injury to both front and back seat passengers from frontal or side collisions.

Wonderful use of my tax dollars, I'm impressed.

Even though Dr. Jeffrey Runge, director of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA, has been muzzled ever since he said, in a speech in Detroit in 2002, that he wouldn't let his teenager drive a vehicle rated two stars for rollover protection "if it was the last one on earth," he's still running a first-class ship.

The NHTSA website has tons of useful information that'll improve your chances of staying alive on the road.

Your risk of dying is higher there than almost anywhere else you can be on our blue planet.

November 20, 2004 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Chernobyl - The Road Trip


Elena is a 20-something Russian woman with a big Kawasaki cycle who has chronicled her solitary road trips through the Chernobyl dead zone.

She notes in her unique, utterly fascinating journal that the 130 km (78 miles) trip north from Kiev to Chernobyl is her favorite ride of all because


"one can take long rides there on empty roads."

I'll bet.

She continues:

    The people there all left and nature is blooming. There are beautiful woods and lakes.

    In places where roads have not been traveled by trucks or army vehicles, they are in the same condition they were 20 years ago - except for an occasional blade of grass that discovered a crack to spring through.

    Time does not ruin roads, so they may stay this way until they can be opened to normal traffic again... a few centuries from now.

Elena has much to show and tell and teach us, about radiation - how she measures it with her radiation meter, and decides where she will and will not go as a result - and much else.

I find it hard to believe that no one's offered her a book contract yet, and even more difficult to understand why National Geographic or PBS or the New York Times hasn't given her a portable satellite TV broadcasting antenna and video camera to chronicle her travels for the greater world.

After this post, shouldn't be too long....


Addendum posted at 4:51 p.m. this same day: a joehead just emailed me to advise that Elena is "pseudofraudulent"; he states that she and her ex-husband did visit the places noted on her travelog, but with a touring company rather than her alone on her bike.

He further states that the biking shots were later interspersed with the tour pictures.

November 20, 2004 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Google Scholar


What's this?

Still in beta, and very interesting, especially to those joeheads whose noggins are especially egg-shaped - yeah, EM and GRO and the rest, I'm talkin' about you.

"Google Scholar enables you to search specifically for scholarly literature, including peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, preprints, abstracts, and technical reports from a wide variety of academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories and universities, as well as scholarly articles available across the web."

Check it out and tell me Google isn't still the cat's pajamas, head and shoulders above Microsoft, Yahoo, and all the other search wanna-be's.

Like the homepage says:

"Stand on the shoulders of giants"

November 20, 2004 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

World's best TV football analyst - Phil Simms


Phil Simms, CBS Sports' top pro football analyst, has a new book out (above).

I just ordered it ($16.97 at amazon).

Simms, who works with play-by-play announcer Jim Nantz, has become my favorite NFL commentator.

He's insightful, smart, funny as heck, and has a really pleasant voice, which he improved in the off-season by losing some of his native Kentucky (he attended Morehead State) twang.

My next favorite broadcast team is Joe Buck, Cris Collinsworth, and Troy Aikman on Fox.

They're followed by Joe Theisman, Paul McGuire, and Mike Patrick on ESPN.

John Madden and Al Michaels on ABC?

Fourth place.

Madden's gotten kind of annoying, his folksy manner no longer wearing so well, over the years.

November 20, 2004 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack



Says the website:

Website URLs are long and difficult to remember.

SnipURL allows you to "snip" your long URLs into small, friendly, and persistent links for sharing and remembering.


Wonder what you'll snip me into.

Lots of little bits, probably.

Ah, well.

November 20, 2004 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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