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May 9, 2005



It's a game for two people.

You try to control a ball (above) with your brain waves and the player who's most relaxed wins.

Mindball® was created by Sweden's Interactive Institute (hope your Swedish is pretty good) and launched in the spring of 2003.

Price: 140,000 SEK ($19,500).

Order here.

[via AW]

May 9, 2005 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Personalized Desk Accessory


Very nicely done are these ceramic cups, which come in red, blue or white and are advertised as being kitchen utensil holders.

The nice touch is the free personalization offered: you get two lines, each with up to 12 characters.

Get one for everybody you like.

Don't forget yourself, no matter how you happen to be viewing the state of your personal art today; tomorrow's another day. But I digress.

If you want a red or blue holder then the writing, done in quite nicely executed script (above), comes in white only.

If you choose a white mug the possiblities abound: select from black, blue, green or red.

Of course white is also a de facto choice, guaranteeing unlimited space for your inscription.

6"H x 5.75" Diameter.

$18.99 here.


Addendum added May 19

I just happened on another website offering a better deal on a similar product, with some differences.

Two sizes — 1 or 2 Quarts (below) are available.


You can have up to 16 characters in each of two lines.

Black on ivory is the only color combination offered, though.

The small size is $12.99 and the large $14.99 here.

May 9, 2005 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: Depression after Ecstasy use is genetically–linked


Dr. Jonathan Roiser and his colleagues at Cambridge University this past March published the results of their work on the relationship between Ecstasy use and subsequent depression.

It's long been known that there is a link, but beyond that not much could be stated with any certainty — until now.

Long version short: if a person has the short version of the serotonin–transporter protein (it comes in "long" and "short" versions) then they are significantly more likely to become depressed after using Ecstasy.

The two versions of the protein are produced by two versions of the serotonin–transporter gene, likewise known as "long" and "short."

Since everyone has two transporter genes, one inherited from each parent, a brain may have only long transporters, only short ones, or a mixture of the two.

Here's an excellent story from the March 12, 2005 Economist about the study.

    The Agony and the Ecstasy

    The link between Ecstasy, depression and genetics

    One of the most fashionable fields of medical science these days is pharmacogenomics.

    This is the study of how people with different genetic make-ups respond differently to particular drugs.

    The hope is that it will lead to high-precision prescription, with fewer side effects and better outcomes.

    But what is sauce for the medical goose, is sauce for the recreational gander.

    "Street" pharmaceuticals, too, might be expected to have pharmacogenomic interactions.

    And so it turns out.

    In a study carried out on users of Ecstasy (MDMA as it is known to doctors, and "E" to its consumers), Jonathan Roiser and his colleagues at Cambridge University have shown that someone's risk of developing long-term depression as a result of taking Ecstasy depends critically on his genes.

    Their results are published this month in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

    Ecstasy works its magic by affecting the concentration in the brain of a substance called serotonin.

    This molecule is a neurotransmitter (a chemical messenger that carries signals from one nerve cell to another) that modulates mood and emotion.

    Once it has done its job, it is sucked back into the cell that made it by a protein called a serotonin transporter.

    This process both modulates the signal and conserves supplies of the chemical.

    Ecstasy works by disabling the transporter protein, and at the same time opening the floodgates so that all the brain's serotonin is released in one glorious gush.

    Serotonin transporters, however, come in two varieties—the result of there being two versions of the gene that encodes them.

    These varieties are known as "long" and "short", and since everyone has two serotonin-transporter genes, one inherited from each parent, a brain may have only long transporters, only short ones, or a mixture of the two.

    Previous research has shown that having even one copy of the short gene makes a person more likely to suffer depression after a stressful event, such as losing a job.

    It is also known that those with the short version respond less well to a class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), the best known of which is Prozac.

    It was in this context that Dr Roiser wondered if Ecstasy users who had inherited the short form were at heightened risk of depression, too.

    Dr Roiser and his colleagues invited 66 heavy users—people who had taken the drug at least 30 times—to participate in their study.

    These volunteers agreed to abstain from their pleasure in the three weeks prior to the tests being carried out, so that the effect of the drug itself, or its immediate aftermath, were not accidentally measured.

    For comparison, they asked 28 people who had never taken illegal drugs to join in and, for good measure, they had 30 regular cannabis users as well.

    The team employed two well-known indicators of depression to evaluate their subjects.

    One was a standard questionnaire, known as the Beck Depression Inventory, that taps into depressive thinking.

    The other was the Affective Go/No-Go test, which is done on a computer. This measures how much influence happy or sad words have on how quickly or accurately a person performs a task.

    Typically, healthy people respond faster following happy words, while depressed people respond faster after sad words.

    The researchers also took blood samples to determine what kinds of serotonin-transporter genes their volunteers had inherited.

    Using the depression inventory, the team found that people who employ Ecstasy regularly, and who have two short versions of the gene, are significantly more likely to suffer from mild or serious depression than the others.

    Importantly, the double-shorted folks who did not use Ecstasy were not more likely to have depression, and neither were double-shorted cannabis users.

    The Go/No-Go task also indicated depression in Ecstasy users with short versions of the gene—and in this case, just one short gene was enough to confer increased risk.

    Again, people with short genes who had not used the drug were unaffected, even if they used cannabis.

    The researchers therefore think that those with the short variant are especially vulnerable to the effects of the drug.

    Conversely, those who are long on serotonin transporters seem to be at no added risk of depression from their drug use.

    That leads to two conclusions.

    One is that prescribing SSRIs for Ecstasy-induced depression probably won't work, for pharmacogenomic reasons.

    The second is that if Ecstasy were a legal drug, the knowledge Dr Roiser has revealed would surely lead to testing kits, so that users could check their vulnerability.

    Perhaps it ought to anyway.


Here's the abstract of the original article, from the March issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

    Association of a Functional Polymorphism in the Serotonin Transporter Gene With Abnormal Emotional Processing in Ecstasy Users

    OBJECTIVE: The long-term effects of the use of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, or Ecstasy) in humans are controversial and unclear.

    The authors’ goal was to assess the contribution of a functional polymorphism in the gene encoding serotonin transporter to changes in emotional processing following chronic Ecstasy use.

    METHOD: They investigated Beck Depression Inventory scores and performance on the Affective Go/No-Go test, a computerized neuropsychological test sensitive to emotional processing, in Ecstasy users and comparison subjects, stratifying the results by serotonin transporter genotype.

    RESULTS: Ecstasy use was associated with higher Beck Depression Inventory score and abnormalities in the Affective Go/No-Go test in individuals with the ss and ls genotype but not those with the ll genotype.

    CONCLUSIONS: Ecstasy users carrying the s allele, but not comparison subjects carrying the s allele, showed abnormal emotional processing.

    On the basis of a comparison with acute tryptophan depletion, the authors hypothesize that chronic Ecstasy use may cause long-term changes to the serotonin system, and that Ecstasy users carrying the s allele may be at particular risk for emotional dysfunction.

May 9, 2005 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

GlowBuoy® Wireless Pool Light


"Simply turn it on and toss it in the water."

Rechargeable light operates cordlessly, without installation and illuminates a 20' x 40' pool from edge to edge with "a warm, ambient glow."

Rapid recharge feature provides up to 4 hours of light.

13.5" diameter; 10.5" high.


$225 here.


"We come in peace for all mankind."

May 9, 2005 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Philadelphia is the most depressed city in the United States


Yes, the City of Brotherly Love beat out Detroit, St. Petersburg and St. Louis for the title.

Men's Health magazine conducted the poll, which considered information on antidepressant sales, suicide rates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and data from the CDC's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

The least depressed city in the U.S. was... Laredo, Texas.

Below is the entire list of 101 cities, from the chosen (up top, with grades of A+ and gold stars on their report cards) to the "hosen" down in the sub–basement, licking their wounds about their grades of F.

And even that doesn't work out very well for these sad folks — wound healing has been demonstrated to be impaired in depressed people.

There is truly no justice in this world.

The results were published on March 15 of this year and appeared in the April issue of the magazine.

The list:

    1. Laredo, TX -- A+

    2. El Paso, TX -- A+

    3. Jersey City, NJ -- A+

    4. Corpus Christi, TX -- A+

    5. Baton Rouge, LA -- A

    6. Honolulu, HI -- A-

    7. Fresno, CA -- A-

    8. San Jose, CA -- A-

    9. Lincoln, NE -- B+

    10. Bakersfield, CA -- B+

    11. Buffalo, NY -- B+

    12. Anchorage, AK -- B+

    13. Stockton, CA -- B+

    14. Shreveport, LA -- B+

    15. (tie) Madison, WI -- B

    15. (tie) Montgomery, AL -- B

    15. (tie) Des Moines, IA -- B

    18. Wichita, KS -- B

    19. (tie) Sacramento, CA -- B

    19. (tie) Omaha, NE -- B

    21. Memphis, TN -- B

    22. New Orleans, LA -- B

    23. (tie) Raleigh, NC -- B-

    23. (tie) Fort Wayne, IN -- B-

    25. (tie) Fremont, CA -- B-

    25. (tie) Oakland, CA -- B-

    27. Modesto, CA -- B-

    28. Tacoma, WA -- B-

    29. Toledo, OH -- B-

    30. Boise, ID -- B-

    31. Lubbock, TX -- C+

    32. Little Rock, AR -- C+

    33. Spokane, WA -- C+

    34. Grand Rapids, MI -- C+

    35. San Antonio, TX -- C+

    36. (tie) Newark, NJ -- C+

    36. (tie) Akron, OH -- C+

    36. (tie) Austin, TX -- C+

    39. Miami, FL -- C+

    40. Richmond, VA -- C+

    41. Lexington, KY -- C+

    42. Jacksonville, FL -- C+

    43. Rochester, NY -- C+

    44. San Diego, CA -- C

    45. Durham, NC -- C

    46. Albuquerque, NM -- C

    47. Charlotte, NC -- C

    48. Tulsa, OK -- C

    49. Providence, RI -- C

    50. Greensboro, NC -- C

    51. Colorado Springs, CO -- C

    52. Chesapeake, VA -- C

    53. (tie) Tucson, AZ -- C

    53. (tie) Birmingham, AL -- C

    53. (tie) Oklahoma City, OK -- C

    53. (tie) Columbus, OH -- C

    57. Norfolk, VA -- C-

    58. (tie) Arlington, TX -- C-

    58. (tie) Fort Worth, TX -- C-

    58. (tie) Riverside, CA -- C-

    61. Plano, TX -- C-

    62. (tie) Baltimore, MD -- C-

    62. (tie) San Francisco, CA -- C-

    62. (tie) Louisville, KY -- C-

    65. Virginia Beach, VA -- C-

    66. Orlando, FL -- D+

    67. Las Vegas, NV -- D+

    68. Washington, D.C. -- D+

    69. Cincinnati, OH -- D+

    70. Denver, CO -- D+

    71. (tie) Boston, MA -- D

    71. (tie) St. Paul, MN -- D

    71. (tie) Seattle, WA -- D

    74. Chicago, IL -- D

    75. Aurora, CO -- D

    76. Milwaukee, WI -- D

    77. Houston, TX -- D

    78. Minneapolis, MN -- D

    79. (tie) Dallas, TX -- D

    79. (tie) Garland, TX -- D

    81. Anaheim, CA -- D

    82. Portland, OR -- D

    83. (tie) Long Beach, CA -- D

    83. (tie) Los Angeles, CA -- D

    83. (tie) Nashville, TN -- D

    86. (tie) Yonkers, NY -- D

    86. (tie) Pittsburgh, PA -- D

    86. (tie) Kansas City, MO -- D

    89. Atlanta, GA -- D

    90. Salt Lake City, UT -- D-

    91. New York, NY -- D-

    92. Cleveland, OH -- F

    93. (tie) Mesa, AZ -- F

    93. (tie) Phoenix, AZ -- F

    93. (tie) Scottsdale, AZ -- F

    96. Indianapolis, IN -- F

    97. Tampa, FL -- F

    98. St. Louis, MO -- F

    99. St. Petersburg, FL -- F

    100. Detroit, MI -- F

    101. Philadelphia, PA -- F

May 9, 2005 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Radio Controlled Pool Shark


No — it's not Minnesota Fats, Version 2.0.

Rather, it's just like the website says: a one–foot long "fiercely friendly" lifelife swimming shark (above) which turns left or right at your command via wireless radio remote control.

40–foot range, so you'll be able to use it in the bathtub too.

Oh, your name's not Hadrian?

Sorry. Where was I?

Ah, yes — sharky.

"Arrives assembled and ready for fun."

Requires 4 AA batteries and one 9–volt battery (not included).

$29 here.

May 9, 2005 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: Early ear piercing prevents keloid formation


A keloid (above) is a lump of firm, flesh–colored skin made of fibrous tissue, more common in African–Americans than those of other races.

Keloids develop in response to trauma and are considered to be a kind of "overshoot" by the body's healing mechanisms.

A report in the May 2 issue of the journal Pediatrics indicates that keloids are nearly four times as likely to form after ear piercing when the piercing was done after age 11 (80%) than in those who had piercings before 11 (23.5%).

The authors, from the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, concluded that "piercing during early childhood, rather than later, may be advisable."

Now that's interesting.

Considering the hue and cry about kids growing up to fast and all, it might be prudent to make an exception when it comes to ear piercing.

Just a thought.

Here's the abstract of the article.

    Relationship Between Age of Ear Piercing and Keloid Formation

    Objective. Keloids occur commonly after trauma to the skin, with ear piercing being a well-known inciting event.

    We surveyed 32 patients with keloids resulting from ear piercing, to examine a potential relationship between age of piercing and keloid formation.

    Methods. A total of 32 consecutive patients completed a survey about ear-piercing and keloid formation.

    Fisher's exact test was used for data analysis.

    Results. Fifty percent (n = 16) of surveyed patients developed a keloid after their first piercing.

    Twenty surveyed patients developed keloids with subsequent piercings.

    Those who had piercings at 11 years of age were more likely to develop keloids (80%) than were those who had piercings at <11 years of age (23.5%).

    Conclusions. Keloids are more likely to develop when ears are pierced after age 11 than before age 11.

    This observation holds true for patients with a family history of keloids.

    Given the difficulty and cost of treating keloids, prevention remains the best approach.

    Patients with a family history of keloids should consider not having their ears pierced.

    If this is not an option, then piercing during early childhood, rather than later childhood, may be advisable.

    Primary care physicians and pediatricians should educate children and their parents about the risk of keloid formation.

May 9, 2005 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (41) | TrackBack

Wallet Spanner


Metric sizes M6 to M14.

Engineered from 1.2mm stainless steel.

85mm x 54mm.

£7.95 ($15) here.


00 prefix not included.

May 9, 2005 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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