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September 27, 2006

Should Second Life Be Illegal?


I've always believed that the criminalization of drugs and drug use is driven by the fear that their easy pleasures may become preferable to grinding out daily life.

For many who use drugs that does in fact happen; far more people continue to partake and yet go about their daily business with much, little or no interference from their (legally proscribed) recreational activities.

Certainly an enormous industry of intertwined law enforcement, crime and punishment is fueled by the current prohibition of controlled substances.

A look back at alcohol prohibition and its associated circus is instructive.

Regardless of your position on drug legalization, there's no question that keeping them illegal does in fact keep many people from using them.

All this is a prelude to a question that's been intriguing me for years, but only just now is making its way into a fully-formed thought: how can the advance of computers and increasingly realistic and more engrossing virtual worlds do anything but lead to the ultimate abandonment of the "real" world by more and more people whose everyday existence is mundane and pleasureless?

What occasioned this post was my introduction to Second Life in a superb "Travel Guide" which appears in the new (October 2006) issue of Wired magazine.

I was utterly fascinated by the explanation of all that lies within there — so much so that I signed up immediately upon finishing it.

How is it that such a place is legal?

It's certainly as absorbing as drugs — and as capable of causing people to abandon their "First Life" in favor of the computer world.


Wait and see if people don't completely vanish into future versions as the compelling hyperrealism screenside becomes irresistible.

September 27, 2006 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Turntable iBag — Throwback Mashup Extraordinaire


From the website:

    Turntable iBag

    The most versatile bag in the world?

    To say this bag is versatile is an understatement.

    In fact, to say that that’s an understatement is an understatement.

    • It holds your iPod.

    • It plays your iPod.

    • It’s got an FM radio.

    • It’s got fantastic retro style.

    • It has carry handles and a detachable shoulder strap.

    • It’s got amplified stereo speakers on the outside to blast the radio or the tunes on your iPod.

    • It has an inside pouch to hold your iPod, cell phone or MP3 player.

    • It’s got convenient volume controls on the outside of the bag.

    And it holds lots of other stuff in a durable, compact place.

    So whether you’re going on a picnic or just taking a stroll — you’re all ready to go.

    Takes four AA batteries.



$60 (AA batteries and iPod not included).

September 27, 2006 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Treadmill Office Hits MSM Big-Time — Angela Leitner takes it to the next level


That would be onto the front page of the Daily Life section of yesterday's St. Paul Pioneer Press.

In living color above the fold, no less.

Dr. James Levine at the Mayo Clinic, Tom Niccum (grand panjandrum of the world's best online treadmill-workspace-related resource — Walking While Working) and I could've beaten our bandwagon drums till we were brain-dead but it took 29-year-old Angela Leitner (above, hard at work while striding along on her spiffy new office treadmill) of Mendota Heights, Minnesota to light this firecracker.

Rhoda Fukushima's Pioneer Press article follows.

Full disclosure: Ms. Fukushima interviewed me via telephone as part of her research.


No animals were harmed while we chatted.

But I digress.

    Work That Moves Them

    Some employees find walk-working, which includes a treadmill at the work station, energizes them

    Over the years, Angela Leitner's lower-back pain got so bad she could sit for only 30 minutes at a time. She had tried everything from steroid injections to physical therapy, but nothing worked. Her doctor told her she could have spinal fusion, but it would mean the end of an active lifestyle that once included running.

    Leitner, 29, had another idea. She went for a walk.

    Leitner, a clinical researcher from Mendota Heights, persuaded her employer to let her put a treadmill in her office, outfit it with a computer and walk while she works. She has joined a growing group of like-minded people who've learned the little movements do add up — even at the office.

    "It's buzzing, interest is unbelievable," says James Levine, the Mayo Clinic endocrinologist who is a force behind the walk-working effort.

    No wonder. Walk-working and other movements tied to daily activities have been shown to be physically beneficial and have even been given a formal name — nonexercise activity thermogenesis, or NEAT for short.

    In a 2005 study published in Science, Levine and his colleagues found NEAT activities are more effective at achieving a healthy body weight than organized exercise. In the study, he found thin people move 150 minutes more each day than couch potatoes, which adds up to another 350 calories burned.

    Virginia anesthesiologist Joseph Stirt studies the research, bought a $900 treadmill and set about creating a functional desk. His desk is decidedly low-rent; he spent $26 for the setup, which consists of empty boxes, bungee cords, Styrofoam and four tubs. He says he's on the treadmill eight to 10 hours daily, at 0.7 miles per hour, and has lost about 10 pounds.

    "It's addictive. It's so pleasant," Stirt says. "Moving at this very slow speed is such a relaxing pace that when you're forced to sit at your desk, you feel at a loss and bored."

    For his part, Levine also overhauled his office. Cubicles are gone. He and his staff work at standing computer desks with treadmills (The treadmill stations average $1,100 compared with a $2,300 average cost for a standard cubicle set-up.) Employees also conduct meetings on a two-lane walking track that circles most of the 5,000-square-foot floor.

    Unlike their health-club cousins, the walk-workers don't sweat buckets or turn beet-red on the treadmill. They set the pace around one mile per hour, which burns about 100 calories per hour. If they spend eight hours on it, that's an extra 800 calories burned per day. They're also supposed to walk backwards for a few minutes per hour to stave off muscle imbalance.

    Walk-working could have appeal beyond the weight-loss aspect for some corporations, Levine says. As firms try to attract and retain the next generation of workers, they're realizing young people are used to fluidity, connectivity 24 hours a day and multitasking, he says.

    "There will be a major competition for the youth of America...," he says. "The No. 1 fear of the young person is the cubicle."

    In January, Tom Niccum installed a treadmill desk at his Burnsville software firm. Niccum was having trouble losing weight, despite working out three to four times a week.

    Niccum learned about Levine's work on a blog and began to investigate. He bought a high-quality, hands-free headset. He purchased a 24-inch monitor for his laptop. He mounted the equipment on a four-shelf unit in front of his treadmill. He uses a wireless keyboard and mouse.

    "I understand the value of exercise, but it feels like wasted time in a sense," he says. "This takes that whole objection away."

    He does acknowledge that it's hard to walk and write or take notes by hand, but the benefits outweigh the difficulties. He still goes to the gym to lift weights but says the walk-working has helped him lose 12 pounds, all without dieting.

    For her part, Leitner has noticed she's more productive while walk-working. Even though she's walking only 1.7 miles per hour, she does not waste steps.

    "I don't diddle-daddle," she says. "I don't do anything I don't have to be doing. I'm very efficient."

    When Leitner gets home to her family after a day at work, she's hardly exhausted. Rather, she's more active and energized to play with her 9-month-old daughter.

    "I'm like, 'Let's go, let's move,' " she says.

September 27, 2006 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Magnetic Windshield Cover


I find myself fascinated by this item.

I don't know why.

I believe that somewhere out there, among joeheads scattered all over the world, is one individual who will look at this and find it precisely what she or he needed for a purpose light-years away from that intended.

This post's for you.

From the website:

    Magnetic Windshield Cover

    Heavy-duty plastic windshield cover holds securely to car with built-in magnets.

    Keeps windshield free from snow, frost, bugs, bird droppings, tree sap.

    Keeps interior cooler in summer, too!

    7' x 3' cover folds to fit in glove compartment.


Recommended for use when vehicle is parked.


September 27, 2006 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

'As Seen On TV!'


You know how those commercials come on where they're talking a mile a minute and flashing phone numbers and websites on the screen for this and that?

Well, guess what?

asontv.com gathers all those products — I'm talking about 700 or 800, in that range— and lists them alphabetically, then lets you read about them at your leisure without the need to try and remember a phone number while you're semi-comatose on your chair or couch.

From the Ab Energizer to the Zip Wrench — they're all here.

There are some strange and amazing things in this world, not a few of them for sale on this site.

September 27, 2006 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack



From the website:


    Lighted tweezers save your eyes!

    These stainless steel precision tweezers have a comfortable, ergonomic grip and a built-in LED that shines a micro-beam of light where it's needed most.

    Takes three button batteries.

    Comes with nine batteries and a carrying case.

    3½" x ¾" x ¾"



What I find interesting is that the Tweezlight website itself sells it for $14.95.

Wouldn't you expect to find it cheaper on the company's site than anywhere else, seeing as they keep all the proceeds as opposed to having to sell the product wholesale to the end marketer?

All this business, I don't understand....

No wonder I pass gas for a living.

September 27, 2006 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Expert's Expert: How IBM erases top secret data from a hard drive


Hint: It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "drilling down."

IBM's Global Asset Recovery Services (GARS) facility in Mainz, Germany specializes in "reverse logistics."

Long story short: Instead of making computers, the factory breaks them down into components or refurbishes them to be resold.

Some companies don't want their machines resold, so IBM dismantles them instead.

When companies are absolutely adament about data security, wrote Stephen Pritchard in the September 20 Financial Times, GARS removes the hard drives from their computers and dispatches them to "a group of workers stationed along a workbench equipped with electric drills. These workers... drill a strategically positioned hole through them. This, management stresses, renders the drive useless and makes it impossible to recover data."

Seems a heckuva lot quicker and more secure than the usual palaver about "wiping" a hard drive, where somehow even though it's been erased, specialized companies are still able to recover "unrecoverable" data.

September 27, 2006 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Spaghetti Ice Cream Maker


Say what?

From the website:

Spaghetti Ice Cream Maker™

Create unbelievable treats with a few scoops of your favorite ice cream or gelato and this Spaghetti Ice Cream Maker!


Add your own strawberry sauce and grated white chocolate (not included) to top off the "spaghetti look!"

Includes 3 attachments to create Spaghetti Ice Cream™, Lasagna Ice Cream™


and Asparagus Ice Cream™!

It's great for kids, dinner parties — anytime!

Constructed of sturdy plastic with stainless steel inserts.

14"L x 3.5"W x 4.5"H.



September 27, 2006 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

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