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March 30, 2008



Long story short: "City of God" in Brooklyn, New York.

Fresh is a 12-year-old kid played by Sean Nelson who's simply trying to stay alive amidst hellish surroundings.

I don't know how this 1994 film eluded me until last week.

It's the only movie I've ever seen in which Samuel L. Jackson (Fresh's father) was relegated to background scenery by the power of another actor's presence.

Superb movie.

March 30, 2008 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Ladder Grabber


Because "as easy as falling off a ladder" isn't just a figure of speech.

From the website:

    Ladder Grabber

    Added safety for your ladder

    The Ladder Grabber’s tough 11-gauge powder-coated steel is designed to “grip” the ground to prevent the ladder from sliding, skidding, or any ladder movement at the base.

    The secret is its thirty 1-1/16”-long teeth that keep ladders from slipping on any soft surface.

    Especially useful on soil surfaces that slope away from a wall.

    Use for added safety on unopened stepladders, older extension ladders or newer ladders with rotating feet.

    Ladder Grabber measures 6” long, 2” tall, and 3-1/8” at the opening.



Two for $17.95.

March 30, 2008 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: 'Brain Map Safeguards Speech During Surgery'


William Gibson memorably remarked, "The future is already here — it is just unevenly distributed."

So it is with medicine.

The sophistication — or lack thereof — of a given medical center is extremely variable, even within the U.S.

There are places where you will receive monitoring and interventions unknown to others practicing in the very same field.

Kevin Kelly elaborated on this subject in a recent essay about choosing a doctor.

Today I focus on an innovative approach to the neurosurgical patient employed at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas by professor of anesthesiology Dr. David Ferson and his team.

It was the subject of a December, 2006 Anesthesiology News article by Rose Fox, and follows.

    Brain Map Safeguards Speech During Surgery

    Preserving a patient’s ability to speak after brain surgery is a critical concern for surgeons. Even the smallest misstep can cause irreversible damage.

    The challenge is even greater when patients speak several languages. Verbal ability in polyglots seems to be more diffusely scattered across the brain. What appears to be safe tissue in someone’s English region may be vital to her French or German zones.

    “Preserving the eloquent areas is very important in patients with tumors near the areas that produce speech or important motor functions,” said David Ferson, MD, Professor of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. “In the case of someone who is multilingual, it’s important to test them in all the languages they speak, because they [eloquent regions] do not necessarily overlap in the brain.”

    Dr. Ferson and colleagues have developed a “triphasic” method of performing brain surgery with the patient awake, allowing surgeons to observe changes in speech function during the procedure.

    The first phase, in which the skin, bone and dura are opened to expose the brain, is performed while the patient is asleep in a lateral position, with ventilation controlled via a laryngeal mask airway. The scalp and dura are injected with local anesthetic, which is sufficient for pain control during and immediately after surgery. Then the patient is awakened for the second phase, which begins with speech center mapping.

    “We show the patient cards with words or pictures, or ask the patient to perform tasks such as counting or talking to us,” Dr. Ferson explained. “At the same time, the surgeon is stimulating the brain with a small amount of electrical current from an Ojemann cortical stimulator (Integra Lifesciences). If the surgeon touches the area associated with eloquent function, the patient would temporarily not be able to name or recognize the picture on the card. That’s how we find whether the area where we will be performing surgery is functional. This is very important for the surgeon to know, because the speech centers are in a different location in every person.”

    Testing continues during the surgery itself. If the patient shows any deterioration of function, the surgeon can immediately adjust to avoid the functional area. Once the procedure is completed, the patient is sedated for the third phase, in which the dura, bone and scalp are reassembled.

    While treating a trilingual patient who had a small lesion on the left superior temporal gyrus, Dr. Ferson noted that the preoperative functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) had been conducted in English, although the patient considered Italian and Spanish to be her primary languages.

    The fMRI had mapped out a language area that appeared to be a safe distance from the surgical site. During the operation, Dr. Ferson, who speaks four languages, tested the patient in Spanish and Italian and found that those were located at an area that was at risk from the procedure. “If we relied only on the fMRI, then this patient’s primary languages could have been injured if we hadn’t mapped them during the surgery,” he said. The intraoperative mapping helped the surgeon to avoid both eloquent areas while safely removing the lesion. Dr. Ferson and his colleagues recently presented a report of this case at the 2006 annual meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists.

    “This is a fascinating demonstration of a phenomenon that we don’t often get to witness,” said Irene Osborn, MD, Director of the Division of Neuroanesthesia at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. “If a patient is bilingual or trilingual, one should arrange to test them intraoperatively in all their respective languages. It would be interesting to repeat the fMRI postoperatively on this patient to demonstrate the locations of Italian and Spanish languages to see if it correlated with the intraoperative testing.”

    Dr. Ferson and his colleagues have performed more than 350 triphasic procedures, he said, and M.D. Anderson surgeons now rely on the technique in any surgery that threatens the eloquent area.

March 30, 2008 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Photo Frame Belt Buckle


Think of the possibilities.

From the website:

    Photo Frame Belt Buckle

    Got a picture you want to show off?

    Put it out there, front and center, giving it the spotlight treatment it deserves with the rhinestone-edged border of this oversized, stylin' belt buckle.

    Black belt of manmade materials comes in S/M(28-32), M/L(32-36) or L/XL(36- 40).

    2¼" x 3" photos fit into the 3"H x 4"W buckle.


$22.98 (photo not included).

March 30, 2008 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack



Welcome to the latest in a series of online news aggregators.

This one, the brainchild of Gal Arav, aims to challenge Google News and Yahoo News based on the frequency with which it updates its headlines.

Its unique feature: The news impact of keywords is conveyed by grouping them by size and color, rendering the most important items easily distinguishable from the rest.

The larger the topic-word, the more popular and the pinker it is, the fresher the feed, reflecting judgments made by hundreds of wire services, broadcasters and high-circulation publications.

There goes the day.

Fair warning.

March 30, 2008 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Electroluminescent Rug


I want one.

Matt Ransford's March 28, 2008 Popular Science article has the details, and follows.

    Glow Rug

    A touch-sensitive electroluminescent carpet could prevent nighttime stumbles

    As someone who has broken the same pinky toe three times and fractured my fifth metatarsal once, I can immediately see the appeal of a rug that lights up when you step on it. (I will conveniently neglect to mention that all my breaks happened during the middle of the day.) Invented by two engineering students [Leona Dean and Zoë Robson, co-founders of Zolo Designs] at London South Bank University, the rug uses electroluminescence to glow under the weight of a footfall.

    Electroluminescence works by passing a current through a material which emits light when electrified. The most commonly used medium for these applications is a powdered phosphor. When excited, it produces an instantly recognizable green-cyan glow — you can see it in LCD wristwatches and thin film nightlights.

    The rug uses the same concept and is powered by a set of rechargeable batteries. In addition to glowing underfoot, it can be set to flash in time with music. So pull out your Hypercolor shirt and get ready to tear up the dancefloor — but don’t get too crazy. You don’t want to break anything.


The brains behind this wonderful invention aren't resting on their laurels: Co-designer Zoë Robson says the next version will respond to music.

Videre est credere: You can walk on the rug yourself at the Daily Mail Ideal Home Show in London, which runs through next Sunday, April 6, 2008.

"FootLume™ will be available to purchase by the end of this year. If you would like to be kept updated on our progress or have any questions, please contact us: info@zolodesigns.com."


[via Jeanna Bryner and livescience.com]

March 30, 2008 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Google Sky — The universe on your screen


Long story short: "Last summer Google integrated an astronomy component into its Google Earth program, and last month made Google Sky accessible straight from the Internet.

March 30, 2008 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What is it?


Answer here this time tomorrow.

March 30, 2008 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

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