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December 4, 2006

An open letter from Sister Teresita Capurihan to Paris Hilton




Paris — can you help?

December 4, 2006 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack



From the website:

    Tail's End Hat

    Heads or tails... this hat covers both!

    Ever tried to jam your ponytail under a knit hat?

    It's kinda like putting socks on over your shoes.

    Now, through the miracle of (duh) common sense, this fleece hat features a hole in back to pull your ponytail through — while wrapping your bean in cozy softness.

    Polartec® Thermal Pro® offers superb warmth, fit and wind-resistance.

    One size fits all.

    100% polyester.

    Dries quickly.



You tell me: whose name is better — theirs or mine?


December 4, 2006 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: Is the electronic medical record DOA?


We've been hearing about the paperless medical office for decades now.

It's always just around the corner — you might say "real soon now."

Cameron W. Barr's front-page story in this past Friday's (December 1, 2006) Washington Post about the unreliability of electronic voting machines — according to a federal agency advising the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, they "cannot be made secure" — leads me to wonder which is more important to people: their vote or their health?

Me, I'll keep my medical chart, thank you very much.

Here's the Post article.

    Security Of Electronic Voting Is Condemned

    Paper Systems Should Be Included, Agency Says

    Paperless electronic voting machines used throughout the Washington region and much of the country "cannot be made secure," according to draft recommendations issued this week by a federal agency that advises the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

    The assessment by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, one of the government's premier research centers, is the most sweeping condemnation of such voting systems by a federal agency.

    In a report hailed by critics of electronic voting, NIST said that voting systems should allow election officials to recount ballots independently from a voting machine's software. The recommendations endorse "optical-scan" systems in which voters mark paper ballots that are read by a computer and electronic systems that print a paper summary of each ballot, which voters review and elections officials save for recounts.

    Voters in Maryland cast ballots on electronic machines that produce no paper record of each vote; in the District and Loudoun County, voters can choose between using such machines and optical-scan systems. Other Northern Virginia jurisdictions, and many counties across the state, use electronic voting systems exclusively.

    NIST's recommendations are to be debated next week before the Technical Guidelines Development Committee, charged by Congress to develop standards for voting systems. To become effective, NIST's recommendations must then be adopted by the Election Assistance Commission, which was created by Congress to promote changes in election systems after the 2000 debacle in Florida.

    If the commission agrees with NIST, the practical impact may not be felt until 2009 or 2010, the soonest that new standards would be implemented. The standards that the Election Assistance Commission will adopt are voluntary, but most states require election officials to deploy voting systems that meet national or federal criteria.

    State election officials in Maryland and Virginia declined to comment yesterday on the NIST report, which they were reviewing.

    Alice P. Miller, executive director of the District's Board of Elections and Ethics, said through a spokesman that she would not comment because she is a member of the Technical Guidelines Development Committee.

    NIST says in its report that the lack of a paper trail for each vote "is one of the main reasons behind continued questions about voting system security and diminished public confidence in elections." The report repeats the contention of the computer security community that "a single programmer could 'rig' a major election."

    Fears about rigging have animated critics for years, but there has been no conclusive evidence that such fraud has occurred. Electronic voting systems have had technical problems — including unpredictable screen freezes — leaving voters wondering whether their ballots were properly recorded.

    Computer scientists and others have said that the security of electronic voting systems cannot be guaranteed and that election officials should adopt systems that produce a paper record of each vote in case of a recount. The NIST report embraces that critique, introducing the concept of "software independence" in voting systems.

    NIST says that voting systems should not rely on a machine's software to provide a record of the votes cast. Some electronic voting system manufacturers have introduced models that include printers to produce a separate record of each vote — and that can be verified by a voter before leaving the machine — but such paper trails have had their own problems.

    Printers have jammed or otherwise failed, causing some election directors to question whether a paper trail is an improvement. Maryland state elections administrator Linda Lamone, in an undated video snippet that her critics have circulated on the Internet, says that voter verification is unnecessary. "I'm not going to put this paper on my machines — it'll be over my dead body, because I just don't think it works. It really is a false sense of security," she said.

    For critics of paperless electronic voting, the report is vindication. "I think I got it right," said Aviel Rubin, a Johns Hopkins University computer scientist who has long questioned the security and reliability of some electronic voting systems.

    Linda Schade, a founder of TrueVoteMD, which has pressed for a system that provides a verifiable paper record of each vote, said, "These strong statements from a credible institution such as NIST add yet another voice to the consensus that paper electronic voting as used in states like MD is not secure. We hope that the [Election Assistance Commission] formally adopts these improved standards."

    Even critics of paperless electronic voting have grown disenchanted with the practical problems of adding printers to electronic "touch-screen" voting machines.

    "Why are we doing this at all? is the question people are asking," said Warren Stewart, policy director of VoteTrustUSA, a group critical of electronic voting systems. "We have a perfectly good system — the paper-ballot optical-scan system."

December 4, 2006 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Stealth Knife

7791729jpijk I wonder what this puppy looks like on radar.... First time I've ever seen a black ceramic knife blade. From the website:Kyocera Ceramic Knife

    Professional chefs have long known the advantages of a ceramic knife. Not only does the blade hold its sharp edge for years without a single sharpening, the high-density material prevents bacteria from breeding, which is important when cutting meats and poultry. Lightweight and perfectly balanced, this knife is rust-free, non-staining and dishwasher-safe. Measures 11"L overall.

.................... The assertion above that "professional chefs have long known the advantages of a ceramic knife" comes as a bit of a surprise to me: I've never read about a chef who raved about his ceramic blades but I've seen many who are powerfully attached to their steel versions. But I digress. If you've always wondered about what it might be like to use a ceramic blade but been put off by their inordinate expense, consider my experience, for what it's worth. I sprang for a Kyocera ceramic-bladed paring knife some years ago and haven't been impressed. The blade has chipped and doesn't cut nearly as well as my Henckels (steel) paring knife. And no — I didn't use the knife to try and open bottles, etc. I don't plan to ever buy another knife with a ceramic blade. But I sure do like that black. $89.99.

December 4, 2006 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Google Image Labeler


"A new feature of Google Image Search that allows you to label random images to help improve the quality of Google's image search results."

Have fun.

December 4, 2006 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Carabiner Pen


From the website:

    Field Pen

    Here's a switch: a pen that hangs on to you!

    We took the rugged clipability of a carabiner and applied it to the elusive world of pens to create a travel writing instrument you can always find!

    Clip one to everything from your pack D-ring to a belt loop to your compass and keychain.

    Smooth, rugged anodized aluminum barrel with a twist open/close ballpoint pen.

    Not intended for climbing, naturally.

    Approximately 4-5/8" long.



Red, Blue or Black.


December 4, 2006 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack



It's where lost classical recordings go to retire.

Long story short: ArkivMusic is a four-year-old company based in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania that maintains a database of 70,000 classical CDs, DVDs and SACDs, all sold through its web site.

Now it's custom-burning CDs of otherwise unavailable recordings, packaged in standard jewel boxes with facsimiles of the original cover and tray card (no liner notes, so far).

Steve Smith wrote about the company in a November 25, 2006 New York Times story, which follows.

    Where Collectors Can Get Lost Classical Recordings

    Long before the closing of Tower Records was announced, the notion that a music store should offer a comprehensive selection of classical recordings had been abandoned. Older discs, which typically sold too slowly to help bricks-and-mortar stores meet their costs, were deleted from record labels’ catalogs. But they remained desirable to collectors, and the Internet music retailer ArkivMusic (arkivmusic.com) has recently introduced the ArkivCD program as a way to keep these recordings available.

    ArkivMusic, a four-year-old company based in Bryn Mawr, Pa., maintains a database of more than 70,000 classical CDs, DVDs and SACDs (super audio compact discs), all sold through its Web site. Over the last two months, the company has added more than 1,600 ArkivCDs to its site: custom-burned CD-Rs of otherwise unavailable recordings, packaged in standard jewel boxes with facsimiles of the original cover and tray card. So far, liner notes are not included.

    The concept of offering deleted recordings on CD-R is not new. A gray market has long existed for vintage LPs transferred to disc by private collectors, and in 2003, when New World Records (newworldrecords.org) absorbed the assets of the failed label Composers Recordings Inc., the company announced that the CRI catalog would be digitized for on-demand sales.

    Eric Feidner, the president of ArkivMusic, said that offering out-of-print recordings had always been the company’s goal. “It was in the original business plan as the big idea,” he said. “But in order to get to the point where we could actually sell the big idea, we had to build a big customer base selling everything else.”

    ArkivMusic began to license out-of-print recordings from independent labels two and a half years ago, storing the recordings as uncompressed digital files on its servers. The company did not publicize the series until last month, when a large influx of titles licensed from Sony BMG and Universal Classics was made available. The new additions included recordings by Eugene Ormandy, Martha Argerich, Jessye Norman and others.

    Mr. Feidner said many of the initial offerings in the ArkivCD program were chosen using data culled from his company’s partnerships with classical radio stations, including WQXR-FM, which is owned by The New York Times Company. ArkivMusic links the playlists posted on these stations’ Web sites to its own site, enabling click-through purchasing.

    “About 50 percent of what gets played on most classical stations on any given day is an out-of-print recording,” Mr. Feidner said. “That’s our wish list, because stations play these things all the time. People are looking for them.”

December 4, 2006 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Blackout Christmas Lights


That's different.

Reminds me of those great Halloween looks of years gone by.

You know the ones:


But I digress.

From the website:

    Blackout Caps

    Stringing Christmas lights on bushes, eaves or around windows?

    Blackout Caps cover bulbs between the features you're decorating, so lights only shine where you want them to.

    Use them to cover extra lights between your tree and electrical outlet.

    Caps easily slip over most bulbs and are reusable year after year.


A perfectly matched set of 30 is $2.95.

A 1.5 ounce bottle of Liquid Tooth Blackout™ is $3.50.

December 4, 2006 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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