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May 2, 2005

BehindTheMedspeak: Curry May Prevent Alzheimer's Disease

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Animal studies over the past few years have offered tantalizing evidence that curcumin, the yellow pigment in the curry spice turmeric, may prevent the accumulation of the plaques characteristic of Alzheimer's disease.

The latest paper, published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry in February of this year, offered the strongest suggestion yet of a link.

An ongoing prospective study in humans is underway at the UCLA Alzheimer's Disease Research Center: you can sign up here.

Driving this work is the fact that India has among the world's lowest rates of Alzheimer's; the prevalence among the country's adults ages 70–79 is less than one–fourth the rate among the same age group in the U.S.

Dr. Gregory Cole, professor of medicine and neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, who headed the February study, noted that "extracts of turmeric have been used in higher doses in Indian traditional medicine as their version of aspirin — a general anti–inflammatory compound that treats multiple conditions."

May 2, 2005 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Inflatable Outdoor Giant Screen Home Theater

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How does 16 feet wide sound?

That's the size of the centerpiece of the SuperScreen™ outdoor home entertainment system.

• Solid, seamless 16' x 13' screen inflates in under 5 minutes with the turn of a dial using a built–in fan

• "Secures quickly with tie–down straps" [I'd be real diligent about this step, especially if it were at all breezy...]

• Made from rugged, puncture–resistant 7.5–ounce coated nylon

• Includes a DVD player, high–output DLP projector and stand, dual 15" speakers with stands, microphone, all cables and a storage case

• Measures 16'W x 13H x 5'D inflated

• Requires a 20' x 20' set–up area

$9,999 here.

Rain cancels.

May 2, 2005 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Dawn of Internet TV — But Who's Watching?

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Leslie Walker, the excellent Tech columnist of the Washington Post, addressed the subject of Internet TV in her column of last Thursday, April 28.

As you know, I have said repeatedly that bookofjoe — the blog — is a placeholder for bookofjoe TV.

I'm like all the Eastern European countries in a sense, as they go direct to wireless without bothering to go through wired telephony.

I'm skipping bookofjoe Podcasting and the whole radio thing and going straight to video.

Now, having said that, I have no idea of how that will happen in terms of means: I can only say that it will be the result.

I do know that none of the start–ups mentioned below in Walker's column will be around when I go live, because no one now has a clue what Internet TV will be like.

That's why her piece is so good: it doesn't pretend to tell us what will happen, but proceeds from the premise that no one has a clue right now.

As famed screenwriter William Goldman said of Hollywood, and the whole movie–making machinery, "Nobody knows anything."

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True, truer, truest.

Here's the Post column.

    Internet TV Age Is Dawning, but Who Will Watch?

    Now that television has dumbed us down, will Internet TV weird us out?

    One might get that impression based on Tuesday's launch of Open Media Network, which aims to be the online version of public television with a nonprofit Internet channel anyone can use to distribute video.

    This is one weird corner of the Web, a place touting a film called "Gun Shy," about a man afraid to use public restrooms, alongside a 1960s radio broadcast by Eleanor Roosevelt.

    It features a Napster-like peer-to-peer system for distributing multimedia files and an electronic program guide to help users find and download shows to watch on computers.

    "We wanted to reinvent public television," said OMN founder Mike Homer, who ran Netscape's Web site in the 1990s.

    OMN is one example of a mini-stampede underway as entrepreneurs rush to exploit what they see as the dawning of the Internet TV age.

    Trouble is, no one is sure yet what Internet TV should be, whether it will have much worth watching or what people might be willing to pay to see that isn't already on television.

    Homer's network is owned by a nonprofit foundation and offers mostly free content.

    It is designed to eventually be self-sustaining by taking a small commission on fees that video producers charge for premium content.

    An audience rating system is in the works to help users discover shows that other people have liked -- and to help filter offensive content such as porn and pirated material.

    Homer said the system runs through central computers that will allow managers to track and take down unauthorized copyrighted material.

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    At its launch this week, OMN (http://www.omn.org/) featured a mishmash of archived shows from several dozen public TV and radio stations; daily news video from the Associated Press; 300 independent films from the Cinequest Film Festival and nonprofit Undergroundfilm.org; plus a ton of amateur video blogs and audio shows.

    One premise behind Internet TV start-ups is that the cost of distributing video over the Internet to those wanting to watch a particular program is much lower than broadcasting shows to millions of homes simultaneously, regardless of who actually sees them.

    The theory is that many special-interest shows might prove economical for the first time, while others already recorded might find fresh audiences.

    "We are tracking about 14 different revenue streams we might get from Internet distribution, including traditional underwriting," said Dennis Haarsager, who runs Northwest Public Radio, a group of 13 radio and two TV stations based at Washington State University.

    His group offered 13 episodes of a TV series on the art of making flies for fishing.

    Haarsager said he is particularly interested in the audience-rating tools OMN is developing and software it has planned to let video producers offer subscriptions and pay-per-viewing.

    Producers will be able to limit the number of times users can watch a show or copy it to portable devices, using Microsoft Corp.'s digital-rights-management software.

    Haarsager said he leads a consortium of public broadcasters eager to use the Internet to extend the viewing life of their shows.

    "Right now broadcasting is a pretty ephemeral thing," he said. "You put it on the air and nobody ever sees it again."

    OMN is not alone in trying to attract and distribute Internet videos from independent filmmakers and home hobbyists.

    Brightcove Inc., founded by former Macromedia Inc. executive Jeremy Allaire, is planning to launch a commercial Internet TV network this year that will invite participation from both traditional cable programmers and independent filmmakers, potentially offering a way to bypass Hollywood's big studios.

    Another start-up is Denver-based ManiaTV (http://www.maniatv.com/), which sees itself as the MTV of the Internet. ManiaTV has been offering live streaming video on the Web for several months and plans to launch an on-demand download service next month.

    Other start-ups let people watch video downloaded from the Internet on television sets using special set-top boxes.

    Akimbo Systems launched an Internet TV subscription service last fall requiring purchase of a just such a setup.

    A Huntington, N.Y., outfit called VCinema Inc. plans in September to offer something similar, which it calls a "downloadable home video store and digital video recording service."

    Traditional broadcasters and even telephone companies are tiptoeing in, too, developing their own systems for delivering TV shows over the Internet.

    MTV this week launched a channel of streaming video at its MTV.com Web site called MTV Overdrive, featuring video segments shorter than the usual half-hour MTV cable shows, from 2 to 15 minutes long.

    Former vice president Al Gore chairs a new company that hopes to launch a cable channel called Current ( http://www.current.tv/) on Aug. 1 with a heavy Internet emphasis.

    Current is already inviting audience participation by letting Internet users submit videos that viewers will eventually be able to watch and rate.

    In addition to professionally produced videos aimed at young people, Current plans to air many user-created videos and will display data from Google about what people are searching for online.

    The big challenges facing Internet TV ventures, of course, will be how to attract quality content and find the right audience.

    Who wants to watch a TV show about a man afraid to use public restrooms?

    How about a video blog of your neighbors eating breakfast?

    If there are audiences for such shows, how will the producers of such fare find them?

    "It is a classic chicken-and-egg thing," said Josh Bernoff, a Forrester analyst.

    "If they get the content, people will come and use it. And if people come and use it, then folks will want to make their content available on the system."

    Already, Google and Yahoo, the Web's top search engines, are trying to match Internet videos with viewers.

    Both recently rolled out trial video search engines that attempt to index the millions of video files published across the Web and show still images from them.

    This month Google went further, announcing plans to host video files on its computers, potentially laying the groundwork for its own Internet TV network.

    Maybe I can become a star on Google TV and retire one day, watched by billions who share, say, my acute fear of going to work.

May 2, 2005 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

'Noah's Ark Being Rebuilt Here!'

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Timothy Beal, a religion professor at Case Western Reserve University, happened to be driving along Interstate 68 between Washington and Cleveland when he noticed a big blue sign with the headine of this post in front of a huge assemblage of reddish girders four stories high (above).

Intrigued, he decided to spend a summer touring the U.S. in a rented motor home with his wife and kids, exploring the Frostburg, Maryland ark and other spiritual attractions.

The result: his new book, "Roadside Religion: In Search of the Sacred, the Strange, and the Substance of Faith."

In it, Beal examines 10 sites in nine states, including the world's largest Ten Commandments, on display at Fields of the Wood east of Murphy, North Carolina.

The site, operated by the Church of God of Prophecy, also features the world's largest altar and the world's largest New Testament, both in concrete.

May 2, 2005 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Bubble Clock

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Time goes 3–D.

A desk clock in the form of a clear bubble.

It wobbles but won't fall over, thanks to glass beads inside.

Dial face is etched stainless steel with bright metal hands.

100 mm diameter (about 4").

£24.95 ($48) here.

May 2, 2005 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

See the ivory–billed woodpecker with your very own eyes

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No one dreamed it was possible but it is a fact: the ivory–billed woodpecker (in an artist's rendering above), thought extinct since 1944, lives.

There's a link here to video footage which ornithology experts say conclusively demonstrates that at least one of the great birds is alive and well, deep in the swampy forests of Eastern Arkansas.

In a report which appears in the current issue of Science magazine, the bird's return from the dead is noted after a series of sightings over the past year.

John James Audubon described the bird as "this great chieftain of the woodpecker tribe."

The largest of American woodpeckers, the ivory–bill is about 20 inches in height with a 30–inch wingspan, formidable bill and sharp black–and–white coloring, the male sporting a striking, unmistakable blood-red crest.

A description of the bird in a 1917 book noted that "at the foot of ancient trees, huge piles of bark and slabs of wood are found which give convincing evidence of its power as a feathered axman."

The ivory–bill was called "The Lord God Bird" by Teddy Roosevelt because that's what people said when they saw it.

May 2, 2005 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Fiber Optic Pansy Doormat

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Technology at your feet.

"The moment someone steps on one of these mats, a dazzling display of tiny fiber optic lights in multiple colors blinks for 90 seconds."

The lights are inserted directly into the pattern.

"Weatherproof activator."

Runs on one camera battery (included).

Made of polyester with a skid–resistant polyurethane backing.

26.75"W x 17.5"L.

$34.95 here.

May 2, 2005 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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