« June 13, 2008 | Main | June 15, 2008 »

June 14, 2008

Vanity Fair Blogopticon


Two days ago it appeared on the Vanity Fair website where Matt Pressman and Keenan Mayo wrote, "Navigating the blogosphere can be trying, what with everyone from Al Roker to your Wiccan cousin out in New Mexico vying for the attention of the world’s billion-plus Web surfers. In an effort to make some sense of it all, Vanity Fair has charted the most influential or amusing blogs about politics, gossip, Hollywood, media, and miscellany, and located them on two basic continuums: tone and content."

The photo illustration is by Hamish Robertson.

June 14, 2008 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Tick Grabber


It's the season.

From websites:

    Tick Grabber

    Removes ticks from people and pets

    Simply put the tick's body through the largest part of the opening in the key, slide it down so the smallest part of the opening is around the tick, and give it a pull.

    Safely and easily removes the tick body and embedded head.

    Your best defense against Lyme disease-carrying deer ticks.

    Attaches to a keychain or dog collar for easy access.

    Protect your family and furry friends.

    Easy to use, store and carry.

    Anodized aluminum.


June 14, 2008 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Museum of the Moving Image — 'Gateway to the best online resources in film, television and digital media'

Apply within.

June 14, 2008 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Talking Grill Thermometer


Why is it that everything seems to be talking these days but nothing listens?

I want to dictate bookofjoe and voice dial my phone and that's just for starters —€” but here we are in mid-2008 and it might as well be 1988 when it comes to useful stuff like that.

Meanwhile, there's this:

    Talking Grill Thermometer

    Wireless digital indicator monitors your meal's progress and lets you know when it's time to eat

    Take the guesswork out of grilling with this ingenious talking thermometer.

    Program your choice of entrée and desired level of doneness —€” the wireless digital indicator monitors your meal's progress and lets you know when food is done to perfection.

    Wirelessly transmits exact temperature readings and audible alerts from the probe to an untethered handset from up to 330 feet away, allowing confident remote tracking of cooking progress.

    Handset requires two AA batteries and sensor requires two AAA batteries (all included).

    Detachable stainless-steel probe for easy cleaning.

    2.25"L x 1.5"W x 5.5"H.


    • Levels of doneness and their corresponding target temperatures are shown, ensuring meats are cooked to preference

    • Speaks in five languages with corresponding display (English, Spanish, German, French, Danish)

    • Once a program is selected, handset verbally signals "Almost ready," "Ready" and "Out of range"

    • LCD screen shows four levels of doneness — rare, medium rare, medium, and well done

    • Handset has 8 programs — beef, lamb, veal, hamburger, pork, turkey, chicken, and fish

    • Stainless steel probe detaches from sensor for easy cleaning

    • Handset and sensor bodies wipe clean with damp cloth

    • Alarm sounds when the target temperature is reached

    • Senses exact temperatures between 32°F and 572°F


    • Handset with digital LCD screen and table stand

    • 7" stainless steel probe with 3.5' cord

    • 2 AA handset batteries

    • 2 AAA sensor batteries

    • Wireless sensor

    • Belt clip



Might be a way to learn a new language on the cheap.


June 14, 2008 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

'Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior'


In the tradition of "Battling the Inner Dummy: The Craziness of Apparently Normal People," this book gets filed under "Books whose titles are irresistible to Kool-Aid lovers like me."

So I dropped $14.93 on it and read it this morning after the papers.

The 15-page-long first chapter, which analyzes the factors that led to the worst airplane crash in history (584 dead at Tenerife, Canary Islands on March 27, 1977, resulting from the brain-dead behavior of KLM Captain Jacob van Zanten — head of the airline's safety program and "... one of the most experienced and accomplished pilots in the world") is worth the price of the book.

The rest is basically a riff on that first chapter, the first 10 of whose 15 pages are here.

If, having read those 10 pages, you don't feel an irresistible need to read the next five pages probing van Zanten's actions that led to the crash, we probably wouldn't do very well sharing a cockpit.

    Excerpts from the book:

    These hidden currents and forces include loss aversion (our tendency to go to great lengths to avoid possible losses), value attribution (our inclination to imbue a person or thing with certain qualities based on initial perceived value), and the diagnosis bias (our blindness to all evidence that contradicts our initial assessment of a person or situation).

    The more there is on the line, the easier it is to get swept into an irrational decision.

    Once you get a label in mind, you don't notice things that don't fit within the categories that do make a difference.

    The challenge takes the form of three steps that all Southwest pilots know by heart. The first step is to state the facts — for example, "Our approach speed is off." If that's ineffective, the next step is to challenge. Generally, the best way to challenge someone is to use their first name and add a quantifier to the fact. "Mike, are you going to make it on this approach? Check your altitude." That will get the captain's attention and bring him or her out of the tunnel vision he or she may be experiencing. It's important to state the fact without being condescending. If these two procedures fail, the third step is to take action. If someone were flying an unstable approach... we would want them to go around. The action [advised] would be to get on the radio and say, for example, "Southwest 1 going around, we're too high." Once you say something on the radio, the tower controller will cancel your landing clearance. And that way the action takes place without physically fighting over equipment in the airplane, which might aggravate the person flying.

    A dissenting voice — even an incompetent one — can often act as the dam that holds back a flood of irrational behavior.


I've long since lost count (must be in the hundreds, maybe thousands of times) someone other than a fellow anesthesiologist has pointed something out to me during a surgical procedure that I'd missed or hadn't noticed, thus helping me avoid problems potentially great as well as small.

Though I'm initially annoyed (who the heck are you to be telling me something? is oftimes my irritated initial reaction) I always take them seriously.

You should too — even if you're not an anesthesiologist.

Like I said, next time you're in a bookstore or library, take a few minutes and read the last five pages of the first chapter of "Sway" — it'll more than repay the time spent.



a computer graphic rendering of the two aircraft involved in the crash just before impact. Van Zanten's KLM jet is on the right.

June 14, 2008 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Underwater Pogo Stick


That looks like a lot of fun.

Where can I get one?


From the website:

    Underwater Pogo Stick

    This pogo stick designed for use in swimming pools allows you to perform a variety of waterborne stunts as you bounce off walls or the bottom.

    A rigid ball filled with water fits into the non-slip footrest, providing responsive push-off when compressed against a pool's floor with your body weight and enabling you to splash effortlessly in shallower water and bound powerfully through deeper water.

    The stick is made from heavy-duty ABS plastic with two rubber handlebars for a firm grip.

    For use in in-ground pools with solid surfaces.

    Ages 9 and up.





June 14, 2008 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Better than roadside crosses


Above, the top half of Allstate's full page ad in the latest issue (July/August 2008) of the Atlantic magazine.

June 14, 2008 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Silicone Basting Brush Bottle Topper



From the website:

    Silicone Basting Brush Topper

    Add sauces to grilled foods simply with this silicone bottle topper.

    Slides easily onto most bottles.

    Resists temperatures to 600˚F.

    Dishwasher safe.

    4¼"L x 1½"Ø.


June 14, 2008 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

« June 13, 2008 | Main | June 15, 2008 »