Archive for December, 2008

Report Shows Long Term Use of Cell Phones Linked to Brain Tumors

December 29, 2008

Report Shows Long Term Use of Cell Phones Linked to Brain Tumors

A report by Toronto Public Health advises children to limit their use of cell phones as much as possible, citing studies that have linked long-term mobile phone exposure to an increased risk of brain tumors.

“We think it’s responsible to limit children’s exposure,” the researchers wrote.

“While scientists were pretty dismissive of any risk years ago, with the accumulation of studies, it appears people who have been using their phones for a long period of time are at greater risk of certain kinds of brain tumors.” said report co-author Loren Vanderlinden.

Toronto Public Health recommends that children use land lines whenever possible, using mobile phones only for “essential purposes.” When cell phones are used, the report urges children to keep calls shorter than 10 minutes and to use headsets or other hands-free devices as much as possible. Limiting cellular phone use is especially important for pre-adolescents, the authors said.

“Teach [children] the ways to use a cell phone responsibly,” Vanderlinden advised parents. “To make shorter calls, to use other modes of communication; if it’s possible, use a landline.”

Researchers suspect that the thinner skulls and smaller heads of children place them at greater risk than adults from the same degree of mobile phone radiation. Indeed, some studies have confirmed that cell phone radiation penetrates deeper into the brains of children than adults.

The use of cellular phones has dramatically increased in Canada over the last 10 years, particularly among children. Approximately 61 percent of children between the ages of 12 in 19 now use mobile phones. The numbers for children under the age of 12 are not known.

The Toronto warning is the first warning against cellular phone use in Canada, and is similar to warnings that have been issued in Belgium, England, France, Germany and Russia. Health Canada, the country’s public health agency, said it had no plans to follow Toronto’s lead.

Source

Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone is happy and safe!

’08 stock picks: How low can they go?

December 23, 2008

’08 stock picks: How low can they go?

A look back
A look back
We were overdue.

For three consecutive years, the top stock picks in the Fortune Investor’s Guide had trounced the Standard & Poor’s 500, and we felt good about our chances for a four-peat heading into 2008

It was not to be. Through December 17th, our 10 “Best stocks for 2008” recorded an average total return of -36% versus -37% for the S&P 500. Not only did we underestimate the depth of the financial crisis but we were blindsided by the collapse in oil prices.

Here’s a complete rundown on all 10 of picks from the 2008 Investor’s Guide and whether we think they’re still keepers for 2009.


CNN Money

Growing Use of Antibiotics Concerns Health Officials

December 22, 2008

Growing Use of Antibiotics Concerns Health Officials

Doctors in the United Kingdom need to drastically scale back on prescribing antibiotics for respiratory tract infections, according to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

NICE, the agency responsible for deciding which treatments are most cost-effective for the United Kingdom’s public health system, expressed concern that overuse of antibiotics could not only expose patients to unnecessary and risky side effects, but could also encourage the development of dangerous antibiotic-resistant strains of common pathogens.

“Management of respiratory tract infections in the past concentrated on advising prompt antibiotic treatment,” said Paul Little of NICE. “However, as rates of major complications are much less common in modern developed countries, so the evidence of symptomatic benefit should be strong to justify prescribing antibiotics so that we are not needlessly exposing patients to side effects.”

The majority of colds, sore throats and other respiratory infections are caused by viruses, and as such cannot be treated effectively by antibiotics, NICE said. It encouraged doctors to reassure patients that the drugs will not help them, or at least to wait before prescribing them. The use of antibiotics might still be justified in certain elderly patients or those showing symptoms of serious illnesses, however.

Respiratory tract infections account for 60 percent of the general practice antibiotic prescriptions in the United Kingdom, and approximately 25 percent of doctor’s visits in England and Wales.

NICE’s warning comes amidst rising global concern over the emergence of antibiotic resistant bacterial strains such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Because antibiotics kill normal bacteria but leave the drug-resistant strains unharmed, overuse of the drugs tends to create the perfect environment for drug-resistant bacteria to reproduce and spread without competition. Already, MRSA has become the most common organism responsible for skinned, soft tissue and surgical-site infections in the United States.

MRSA has a mortality rate three times higher than conventional S. aureus infections.

Sources for this story include: www.reuters.com.

Airliner careens off runway at Denver airport

December 21, 2008

Airliner careens off runway at Denver airport

Continental flight 1404 bound for Houston; at least 38 injuries reported

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updated 8:39 p.m. PT, Sat., Dec. 20, 2008

DENVER – A Continental Airlines jet taking off from Denver veered off the runway into a ravine and caught fire Saturday night, forcing passengers to evacuate on emergency slides and injuring nearly 40 people, officials said.

No deaths were reported, but 38 people were taken to hospitals, said Kim Day, Denver International Airport manager of aviation. No one was reported in critical condition.

The cause of the accident was not immediately known. The weather in Denver was cold but not snowy when Continental Flight 1404 took off from Denver International Airport for Houston around 6:20 p.m. MST.
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The plane veered off course about 2,000 feet from the end of the runway and did not appear to be airborne, Day said.

It was not known when the plane caught fire, but ground crews put out the flames quickly, said airport spokesman Jeff Green.

The plane was carrying 107 passengers and five crew members, said Continental spokeswoman Mary Clark. All evacuated the plane safely on the Boeing 737’s emergency slides, officials said.

According to Julie King, a spokeswoman with Continental Airlines, the airliner was trying to take off but “exited” the runway. There were conflicting reports on whether the passenger jet slid or crashed.

Denver Health spokeswoman Kalena Wilkinson said seven people were taken to her hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening. Seven people were at the University of Colorado hospital, but no one had life-threatening injuries, a spokeswoman said.

The accident closed the airport’s west airfield and caused delays of 40 minutes, Day said.

NBC News reports that the National Transportation Safety Board will send a team to Denver to investigate the accident.

Continental Airlines is based in Houston.

MSNBC NEWS

Use Hydrogen Peroxide to Heal and Stay Healthy

December 20, 2008

Use Hydrogen Peroxide to Heal and Stay Healthy

Hydrogen peroxide has helped many people fight off flu and colds and when drops are placed in the ear it seems to be effective four out of five times used. This is especially true if this is done promptly upon onset of symptoms.

The belief is that colds and flu viruses typically enter the body through the ear canal. This is contrary to popular belief that viruses are usually caught through the eyes, mouth, or nose. One way to greatly reduce the chance of becoming ill with colds and flu is to keep fingers out of ears. Even when we are mindful of this, these microscopic airborne germs often land in the ears anyway. Once the germs enter the inner ear, they breed and then have access to the entire body and can travel and make one sick.

But, when Hydrogen Peroxide is placed in the ears as early as possible when symptoms appear, within 12-24 hours healing results will usually become apparent. The Hydrogen Peroxide starts working almost immediately to kill the viruses. Bubbling will be noticed and there may even be some mild stinging as well. It should not be described as painful, though. After the bubbling subsides within a few minutes, drain one side and repeat with the other side.

This is also safe to administer to infants and children; however they may not like the bubbling and mild stinging. Be careful not to get Hydrogen Peroxide in the eyes and if this happens, flush immediately with water.

Hydrogen Peroxide also can help loosen impacted wax from ears. Soak the impacted ears with olive oil for several minutes first and then place the Hydrogen Peroxide in the ear(s).

Other Uses For Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen Peroxide has many other beneficial uses as well. Make a clean, safe kitchen without exposing family members to harmful toxins by using a simple disinfecting spray. This will create an effective spray that will successfully kill bacteria and is also very cost effective.

Place 3% Hydrogen Peroxide (in the brown bottle) in a clean spray bottle and place either plain white vinegar or apple cider vinegar in another clean spray bottle.

These two sprays can be used to clean residues off of fruits and vegetables. Either spray first with the Hydrogen Peroxide and then the vinegar or the other way around. It does not matter which is first and neither is more or less beneficial. There will not be any lingering taste of either product and neither is toxic.

These sprays of Hydrogen Peroxide and vinegar also clean and sanitize counters very effectively. Any food preparation surface – including wooden cutting boards – will be sanitized by using these sprays.

By using these two products in sprays it is possible to virtually eliminate all Salmonella, E. Coli bacteria, and Shigella on even heavily contaminated foods and surfaces. This means that these sprays when used together are more effective at neutralizing these harmful bacteria than commercial cleaners and even chlorine bleach.

For best results, use one spray immediately followed by the other. This method is much more effective than using either spray alone and is also more effective than when the two products are combined together in one spray bottle.

Natural News

Cell phones and health risk

December 19, 2008

Cell phones and health risk
I’ve said it before: (WiFi, Cancer, and Legal Liability), and I’ll say it again: the evidence linking RF exposure to health risks is becoming more compelling every day – but the conclusions pointed to are neither definitive nor widely accepted.

This, for example, is the introductory paragraph from a December 5th Science Daily story: Mobile Phones Affect Memory In Laboratory Animals, Swedish Study Finds:

Can radiation from cell phones affect the memory? Yes — at least it appears to do so in rat experiments conducted at the Division of Neurosurgery, Lund University, in Sweden. Henrietta Nittby studied rats that were exposed to mobile phone radiation for two hours a week for more than a year. These rats had poorer results on a memory test than rats that had not been exposed to radiation.

There’s a lot of work like this – people skating the edges of the problem because it’s politically impractical to take on the issue directly.

So if the science is scary but unsettled how should you respond? By looking for things you can do now that will prove valuable if the problem turns out to be real, but won’t expose you to ridicule now or leave you looking like an idiot if the science eventually settles on harmless.

Don’t, in other words, go public with the concern – and don’t break out the tin foil hats – but do look carefully at what you can do now to reduce both health risks to your colleagues and legal risks to your employer in the event that the problem turns out to be real.

In doing this bear in mind that any written material refering to the problem might be found and used against your employer in some future civil action – so ensure that any action you take is entirely justified on normal business or professional practices.

For example, you can improve data security and network reliability by removing as many wireless devices as you can from employee working environments.

Similarly, you can look at making better use of VoIP technologies to reduce both traditional and cell calling costs, particularly for inter-office communication – and, in doing that, slip a line or two into employee procedure (and new employee briefing) manuals saying that they’re encouraged to use land lines where ever possible for both security and cost reasons.

The bottom line on this is simple: the science on this isn’t settled, but the risks look increasingly real -so finding sound business or technical reasons for actions whose side effect is to reduce everyone’s RF exposure is a bet on which you can win, but not lose.

Source

Fake gadgets put the ‘Gotcha!’ in giving

December 17, 2008

Fake gadgets put the ‘Gotcha!’ in giving
At first glance, it looks like an actual product: A “USB Toaster” that plugs into a laptop to toast a single slice of bread.
Graphic designer Arik Nordby with some of his GotchaBoxes, which look like they contain real products.

Graphic designer Arik Nordby with some of his GotchaBoxes, which look like they contain real products.

“Don’t be tethered to the kitchen! Take your toast … to go!” reads the ad copy on the slickly designed box, which sports images of a pop-up toaster and a busy-looking guy in a motel room biting into a piece of toast.

You can just imagine some poor sap struggling to look excited on Christmas morning after unwrapping the oddly useless gadget. Once he or she opens the box, however, an inside flap reveals the joke. “Gotcha!” it taunts. “There is no USB Toaster in this box. Even the concept of such a toaster is silly and unrealistic. In reality, you, the gift recipient, have been duped.”

That’s the punch line of the GotchaBox, a series of decoy gift boxes sold through the online store of The Onion, the satirical fake-news outfit. Other GotchaBoxes have featured such nonexistent products as a 28-piece “professional” whisk set and a build-your-own-umbrella kit.

Pranksters are encouraged to put their real gifts inside the gag boxes, then keep a straight face — or better yet, ask sweetly, “How do you like it?” — as the recipient squirms with discomfort.

The boxes are the brainchild of Arik Nordby, a graphic designer from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, who got the idea in 2004 after a birthday party for a friend’s young son. The boy was visibly dismayed when a toy came wrapped in a box for a coffee pot.
Don’t Miss

* Real gadget gifts for under $500
* http://www.GotchaBox.com

“A few days later, it sort of hit me,” said Nordby, who has designed boxes for bike accessories, exercise equipment and other real products. “I love doing Photoshop. I love doing package design. I love to play jokes on people. Why not play around with it?”

Nordby immediately set his sights on The Onion — whose products include a fake atlas, Our Dumb World — as a potential partner. Through persistent e-mails, he finagled a meeting with Sean Mills, The Onion’s president, and brought him a prototype box for a “home dentistry kit.”

In 2006, when The Onion launched its online store, Nordby’s GotchaBoxes were among the first products sold.

“There’s a lot of people who have ideas for goofy T-shirts and things. And they’re not always that funny. But he got The Onion’s sensibility. He just charmed us,” said Glenn Severance, The Onion’s marketing manager. “It makes for great business. Who wouldn’t want to sell empty boxes for a profit?”

The Onion sells the boxes for $7.99 apiece, or $19.99 for a set of four. Other GotchaBox “products” include:

• The Visor-ganizer, a storage pouch that “holds up to 7 lbs.” and attaches to the brim of a hat. The box reads, “Finally, an alternative to the embarrassing Fanny Pack!”

• iFeast, a combined pet-feeding and iPod-docking station. “Produces earsplitting beep when the water dish is empty!”

• The Kleen-Stride personal debris removal system — small push brooms that attach to the front of the wearer’s shoes.

• The Peaceful Progression Smoke Alarm, featuring sounds of the rain forest. “Awake to your next fire calm and refreshed!”

Nordby meets occasionally with The Onion’s writers to brainstorm ideas for boxes and promotional text. His are the only Onion-sanctioned products that didn’t originate with the humor site’s writing staff, Severance said.

The Onion has so far sold more than 50,000 of the boxes. Those involved said the key to a successful GotchaBox is striking the right balance between plausibility and stupidity.

“We don’t want the products to look over-the-top ridiculous,” said Nordby, 41, who also designs Bogey Pro, a popular line of irreverent golf gear. “We want them to look awkwardly strange.”

After witnessing several unsuspecting people open GotchaBoxes, Severance has noted a familiar pattern: baffled silence or feigned enthusiasm, followed, eventually, by laughter and relief.

“They open the box and get their sweater or whatever,” he said, “and then they spend more time reading the box than they do playing with the gift.”

By now, Nordby’s family and friends are on to his GotchaBox tricks, so he can’t fool them anymore. But he still chuckles at the memories. A few people were disappointed, he said, when their boxes didn’t contain a USB Toaster.

Source

Blue-Ribbon Companies

December 15, 2008

Blue-Ribbon Companies
Which companies were on the most Fortune lists – including the FORTUNE 500, Fastest-Growing and Best Companies to Work For – this year? Here are the top firms.
Apple
Apple
No. of list appearances: 6

Ranked:
103 on Fortune 500
337 on Global 500
1 in Computers on America’s Most Admired Companies
2 in Computers on Global Most Admired Companies
31 on 100 Fastest-Growing Companies
4 on 100 Top MBA Employe
Check out the complete list here:

Lack of Vitamin D Ups Heart Risk

December 13, 2008

Lack of Vitamin D Ups Heart Risk

Vitamin D deficiency has long been linked with weak muscles and bones. Now research shows a lack of the “sunshine” vitamin may also increase the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). In fact, evidence is mounting from numerous studies that low vitamin D levels could play a role in a host of CVD risk factors such as high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. What’s more, a lack of the vitamin may be a direct factor in cardiovascular events, including stroke and congestive heart failure.

In a review article just published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC), James H. O’Keefe, M.D., cardiologist and director of Preventive Cardiology at the Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City, Missouri, and his co-authors list practical recommendations to screen for and treat low vitamin D levels, especially in patients with risk factors for CVD and diabetes. The article points out that recent data from the Framingham Heart Study suggests people with vitamin D levels below 15 ng/ml were twice as likely to experience a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular event within the next five years compared to those with higher levels of vitamin D. This elevated risk remained even when researchers adjusted for other well-known cardiovascular risk factors.

“Restoring vitamin D levels to normal is important in maintaining good musculoskeletal health, and it may also improve heart health and prognosis. Vitamin D deficiency is an unrecognized, emerging cardiovascular risk factor, which should be screened for and treated,” Dr. O’Keefe, M.D., said in a media release. “Vitamin D is easy to assess, and supplementation is simple, safe and inexpensive.”

The Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC) review points out that about half of U.S. adults and 30 percent of children and teenagers are estimated to have vitamin D deficiency. Low vitamin D levels are believed to raise the risk of hypertension and a stiffening and thickening of the heart and blood vessels. By altering hormone levels and immune system function, vitamin D deficiency can also increase the risk of diabetes, a major contributor to CVD.

According to Dr. O’Keefe’s statement to the press, vitamin D deficiency is far more prevalent than once thought. This may be due to the fact most of the body’s vitamin D usually comes from exposure to the sun – but indoor lifestyles and use of sunscreen, which eliminates 99 percent of vitamin D synthesis by the skin, means many people are not getting enough of the essential vitamin. “We are outside less than we used to be, and older adults and people who are overweight or obese are less efficient at making vitamin D in response to sunlight,” said Dr. O’Keefe.

To increase levels of vitamin D, Dr. O’Keefe suggests exposing yourself to sunlight for 10 minutes between the hours of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., if you are Caucasian. If you have increased or dark skin pigmentation, you may need to spend more time in the sunshine. Other sources of vitamin D include salmon, vitamin D-fortified foods, some cereals and supplements.

Nature news