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October 12, 2005

bookofjoeTV is history

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That's the bad news — although to some it may be the good news.

But I digress.

The good news is that joeTV is now in play.

Shawn Zehnder Lea emailed me earlier this afternoon that she's creating my logo and that for a number of (excellent, by the way) reasons bookofjoeTV is DOA as opposed to the more snappy joeTV.

Like NexTel, we don't fool around here: DONE!

This is a particularly timely renaming, what with Apple's just–announced Video iPod (below).

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Ever closer, the rough beast.

[via Shawn Zehnder Lea and everythingandnothing]

October 12, 2005 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Twirling Spaghetti Fork

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Put a whole new spin on your pasta.

I'll take mine with a twist.

From the website:

    Automatically twirls pasta with a press of a button.

    Great fun for kids of all ages who have not yet mastered the fine art of twirling.

Plastic and stainless–steel construction.

Requires two AA batteries (not included).

8"H x 1.25"D.

$9.98 here.

Note: Not recommended for nose hair removal.

October 12, 2005 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Who's connected? Companies that have their own website

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Every day the last page of the Financial Times features Lex, a sort of quick–hitting briefing on various topics of interest related to the world of business.

Lex, in turn, has a feature called "Number in the News," which offers a graphic illustration of a trend or tendency indicative of underlying strengths and/or weaknesses in various countries.

Yesterday's was a bar graph (above) of European countries noting the percentage of companies (with 10 or more employees ) with their own website.

Here's the Financial Times legend for the graph:

    Given the ubiquity of the internet, it is striking that a majority of large and medium-sized companies in some countries still do not have their own website.

    OECD data, published today, shows that it is generally the Mediterranean and eastern European countries that lag behind their northern counterparts.

    French and Portuguese companies in particular trail the European average.

Of particular note is the case of France, bringing up the rear.

Back in the day the French were at the leading edge of computerization and networking with their Minitel system.

It became obsolete with the rise of personal computers but the French, stuck with their huge investment, continued to pour money and resources into their legacy system until it began hemorrhaging so much money the plug finally had to be pulled.

As a result, France fell far behind and has simply never been able to catch up.

This bodes very poorly for its future in an all too interconnected world.

Argentina fell from its position as one of the wealthiest nations in the world at the dawn of the twentieth century to its current status as a Third–World economic basket case because of internal mismanagement and ill–starred leadership.

France also may find itself collapsing under the weight of, among other things, an ageing population and a lack of foresight.

October 12, 2005 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Stealth Christmas Tree Watering System — 'Keeps you off your knees'

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w00t!

Hey, that's not me, gang — it's a direct quote from this innovative product's website.

But I digress.

Is it that time of year already?

I'm still sweeping up pine needles.

There's such a thing as too much information, Joe — focus on the post.

OK, OK.

Look at the photo above.

What do you see?

That's why I call it the Stealth Watering System.

From the website:

    Christmas Tree Auto-Water System

    Keeps You off Your Knees

    We always mean to fill the Christmas tree base with water daily but let’s face it, trying to get to the reservoir is a hassle.

    You’re on your hands and knees, fighting the tree to fill the reservoir in the base, which isn’t big enough.

    Disguised as a wrapped present, the Christmas Tree Auto-Water System holds up to 2 gallons, and its siphoning system automatically keeps your tree watered — no batteries or power needed.

This is such a joehead product: I predict the company sells out way before Christmas once engadget and its ilk get wind of it and spread the word.

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$19.95 here (tree, base and water not included — what do you expect for your lousy $19.95, anyway? Sheesh. Some people...).

[w00t assistance from Matt Penning]

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

Banned Books Week — 'Of Mice and Men' ranked #10

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Last week marked the American Library Association's (ALA) annual Banned Books Week.

Each year the ALA draws attention to books chosen for children to read that have been criticized as unsuitable and inappropriate.

Last year the ALA received 547 challenges — formal, written complaints filed with a school or library requesting that materials be removed because of content.

A year earlier (2003) 458 such challenges were made.

Most books were not removed from shelves following such actions.

Here are last year's ALA "Greatest Hits" — the 10 most frequently challenged books in 2004:

    1. "The Chocolate War," by Robert Cormier, for sexual content, offensive language, religious viewpoint, being unsuited to age group and violence.

    2. "Fallen Angels," by Walter Dean Myers, for racism, offensive language and violence.

    3. "Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture," by Michael A. Bellesiles, for inaccuracy and political viewpoint.

    4. Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey, for offensive language and modeling bad behavior.

    5. "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," by Stephen Chbosky, for homosexuality, sexual content and offensive language.

    6. "What My Mother Doesn't Know," by Sonya Sones, for sexual content and offensive language.

    7. "In the Night Kitchen," by Maurice Sendak, for nudity and offensive language.

    8. "King & King," by Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland, for homosexuality.

    9. "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," by Maya Angelou, for racism, homosexuality, sexual content, offensive language and unsuitability to age group.

    10. "Of Mice and Men," by John Steinbeck, for racism, offensive language and violence.

Valerie Straus of the Washington Post interviewed Michael Gorman, ALA president and dean of library services at California State University at Fresno, on the topic of libraries and censorship.

Here's the interview, from yesterday's Washington Post.

    How do you account for a rise in the number of challenges in recent years?

    We have noticed more challenges to gay-themed books in school and public libraries. I wonder if that has to do with the prominence of issues such as same-sex marriage [and] civil unions and a consequent backlash.

    Who is trying to remove books from library shelves?

    Parents who think that your children should not read books of which they disapprove; organized groups with particular religious, moral or social opinions; and individuals or groups who recognize the power of books and reading and are afraid of it.

    Clearly there are books that children are not mature enough to read. Is there a standard for school libraries?

    School library books and other materials are selected by professional librarians skilled in selection of age-appropriate materials, sometimes within guidelines drawn up by boards.

    Where is the line?

    A good and complex question and one that is very much dependent on the context. Children should be encouraged to inquire and to seek knowledge, not deterred.

In this context, I am reminded of an interview with Jeanette Winterson I once read.

She remarked that when she was a girl her mother was extremely unhappy with Winterson's love of books and reading.

Her main complaint?

"You just can't tell by looking at them what's in them."

Precisely.

Just like computer code, actually: is it an unsuitable picture or a meditation of Marcus Aurelius?

Who knows?

October 12, 2005 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Virtual Wallpaper

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Why bother with sticking stuff up and then taking it down or painting it over when you can simply flip a switch and create an infinitely variable wall tableau?

The quick–and–dirty approach to wall decor.

Mathmos has created Surreal Wallpaper.

You put a disc into a projector "and watch the continually shifting patterns as it spins," wrote Ernest Beck in an October 6 New York Times story.

The images are up to three feet in diameter and appear in changing combinations of red, blue and green.

A projector with a disc is $135 at Fellissimo Design House (10 West 56th Street in Manhattan; 800-565-6785).

Additional discs cost $33.

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Note that the discs are made in limited editions of 900 so don't think about it too long or you'll be playing — as we used to say on the sandlot baseball field — left out.

October 12, 2005 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: Walk — Don't Run

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On Monday of this week the October issue of the journal Chest published a provocative paper which concluded that walking may provide as good a workout as running — under certain circumstances.

Let's have a look.

Long story short: Walking 12 miles a week provides as much cardiovascular benefit as jogging 12 miles a week — but not as much as jogging 20 miles a week.

Hey, my walking–while–reading treadmill (above and below) appears to have been an auspicious purchase.

Now if only I could figure out a way to get a computer desk attached, I'd be in fitness heaven.

Rita Jenkins wrote a very good distillation of the new study, performed by Brian Duscha and colleagues from the Duke University Medical Center's division of cardiology.

Jenkins's story, which appeared online yesterday in the Health section of the online publication Daily News Central, follows.

    Cardio Fitness Doesn't Require Intense Workouts

    You only need to walk briskly for 12 miles per week or for approximately 125 to 200 minutes per week to improve your health.

    Quantity may beat quality when it comes to exercise and heart health.

    Adults who engage in mild exercise -- such as walking briskly for 12 miles or exercising moderately for 125-200 minutes over the course of a week -- can improve their aerobic fitness significantly and reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease, according to a study published in Chest.

    "The classic exercise regimen has a component of intensity up to 80 percent of someone's maximum for health benefits," says lead author Brian D. Duscha of Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina.

    "Our study demonstrates that you can exercise at an intensity much less than that and still achieve fitness benefits," he notes.

    "People find exercise 'hard' and few people want to exercise at an intensity higher than they have to. Walking briskly for 12 miles a week per week is realistic and does not require anyone to incorporate a hardcore training regimen. Increasing your mileage or intensity will give you even greater health benefits," Duscha says.

    A Duke Medical Center research team examined the effects of different exercise training regimens on 133 patients aged 40 to 65 years.

    All were sedentary, overweight nonsmokers who had abnormal levels of fat in their blood.

    The participants were divided into four exercise groups:

    • High-amount/high-intensity (HAHI), the equivalent of jogging 20 miles per week at 65 to 80 percent peak Vo2;

    • Low-amount/high-intensity (LAHI), the equivalent of jogging/walking up an inclined treadmill approximately 12 miles per week at 65 to 80 percent peak Vo2;

    • Low-amount/moderate intensity (LAMI), the equivalent of walking approximately 12 miles per week at 40 to 55 percent peak Vo2; and

    • A control group of nonexercising patients.

    All patients underwent cardiopulmonary exercise testing twice at baseline and after seven to nine months of exercise training.

    All exercise groups significantly improved their absolute and relative peak oxygen consumption and time to exhaustion (TTE) compared to baselines scores.

    Although the HAHI group showed the greatest improvements in peak Vo2 overall, increasing exercise intensity from 40 to 55 percent to 65 to 80 percent (at a controlled amount of 12 miles/week) did not significantly improve peak oxygen consumption.

    However, increasing the amount of exercise did produce improvements.

    An increase in exercise amount also demonstrated a graded increase in TTE between groups, although data were not statistically significant.

    "Although our results did point toward amount being more important, it is very likely fitness levels can be improved by increasing either amount or intensity," says Duscha.

    "This is illustrated by the tiered effect the exercise dose had on fitness improvements across our groups. We believe with more people in the study, increasing intensity would also have been significant," he explains.

    Body mass index (BMI) was reduced in the LAHI and HAHI, groups but remained unchanged in the LAMI group.

    All exercise groups lost an average of 2.87 pounds after exercise.

    Baseline characteristics of age, BMI, weight, peak and relative Vo2, and TTE were not different between the groups.

    "A second very important message is that subjects enjoyed fitness benefits in the absence of weight loss. Many people exercise with the purpose of losing weight. When they do not lose weight, they do not think the exercise is benefiting them and they stop exercising," notes Duscha.

    "The truth is, you can improve your cardiovascular fitness and reduce your risk for heart disease by exercising without losing weight.

    Even if individuals do not lose weight, it is likely that they will lose body fat and increase lean muscle mass while reducing other risk factors," he points out.

    Adherence to exercise requires motivation and making exercise a priority, the researchers stress.

    They advise those who are beginning an exercise regimen to start slowly, choose an enjoyable activity, and make exercise a social activity.

    Individuals with medical problems should consult a physician before starting an exercise program.

    "If you distill our results down, the public health message is: You only need to walk briskly for 12 miles per week or for approximately 125 to 200 minutes per week to improve your health. This sheds more light on the question, 'What is the minimum amount of exercise I need to do to get a health benefit?'" says Duscha.

    "Regular exercise is an important part of a well-balanced lifestyle," adds Paul A. Kvale, MD, FCCP, President of the American College of Chest Physicians.

    "Physicians and other healthcare providers should encourage their patients to engage in regular exercise in order to obtain pulmonary and cardiovascular benefits."

Want more?

Here's a link to a press release from Duke about the study.

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Here's a link to WebMD's coverage.

October 12, 2005 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

OddzBallz — We get email: from artist Elsa Kawai

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At 4:46:54 p.m. ET yesterday afternoon the following arrived:

    Hi there...

    I know you always blog about interesting things, therefore I would like to introduce my very first character design and very first product, which is a cell phone charm — OddzBallz — now available as a special limited first edition (200 of each character) with an introductory price of $6.

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    These handcrafted special edition collectibles come with my signature on the packaging and a marking on the charm itself.

    So... turn up your speaker... and enjoy... www.oddzballz.com

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    Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoy this.

    Elsa

Well, I'll be: first Steve Wozniak, then Arianne Cohen and now Elsa Kawai.

Seems like the neighborhood's improving, what with all these cool people stopping by....

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FunFact: The Japanese word for "cute" is kawaii.

October 12, 2005 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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