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rebecca's pocket


.: 2005 --> october

october

@ This is Pandemic Flu Awareness Week. I'm going to start the week by linking you to a few news stories to help you understand the situation, move to the resources explaining how you can prepare (some people are positing 90-day quarantines once a pandemic arrives), and end the week with information on how to keep up-to-date on the topic. [more...]

I'll start you with these scary-sounding stories: Bird flu may kill 150m, warns U.N.: WHO expert urges world to prepare for anticipated outbreak.

"We expect the next influenza pandemic to come at any time now, and it's likely to be caused by a mutant of the virus that is currently causing bird flu in Asia," Nabarro said in a report from The Associated Press.

Bird flu 'resistant to main drug'.

"There are now resistant H5N1 strains appearing, and we can't totally rely on one drug (Tamiflu)," William Chui, honorary associate professor with the department of pharmacology at the Queen Mary Hospital in Hong Kong, told Reuters.

Remember, there are concrete steps you can take once you understand the situation, so stay tuned here and elsewhere[ 10/03/05 ]

@ A Leonardo drawing has inspired a heart surgeon to significantly change his mitral valve surgery technique. [ 10/03/05 ]

@ A structural approach to linguistics may allow scientists to trace the development of languages more than 10,000 years old. (via dangerousmeta) [ 10/03/05 ]

@ The Reading Cure: How to Organize a Book Group With a Social Conscience.

In the past thirty years, mass-marketing and advertising techniques have created an entirely new moral climate in America. The superficiality, the alienation, the escapism, and the hollowness are a result of a steady bombardment of confusing and deadening messages designed to reduce us to passive consumers. And we have paid a heavy price: a sharp decline in both civic participation and meaningful public discourse. We have become serious about frivolous issues and frivolous about serious ones. [...]
With the attention span of viewers decreasing with each generation, and with the networks and cables competing for a large audience, what counts is who can make the fastest and the most enjoyable images. Faster images may tickle the pleasure centers of viewers and achieve higher ratings and more money for media owners, but they make America stupid. TV news turns democracy into "duh-mocracy."

Professor Blaustein is not entirely on track: he neglects to consider the rise of participatory media and smart-making television, although I fully concur with his ideas about contemporary "political discourse", even as — especially as — it applies to most political blogs. He includes an extraordinary reading list at the end of his piece. [ 10/03/05 ]

@ The Salon-Keeper's Companion: An Utne Reader Guide to Conducting Salons, Council and Study Circles. [ 10/03/05 ]



@ Influenza Pandemic Awareness Week continues with three backgrounders. I know you don't want to think about this, but it really is worth your time to educate yourself about this now, before an emergency strikes. At the very least, read the first link listed here, which will take 5 minutes.

[ 10/04/05 ]

@ CSM: Cultural myths behind Katrina whispers examines the cultural (read: racial) beliefs that informed the rumors that swelled in the immediate aftermath of Katrina. [ 10/04/05 ]

@ A map of the New Orleans diaspora (via np) [ 10/04/05 ]

@ Frontline's 20-year-old account of a small-town teacher who altered her lesson plan the morning after Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed is now available online. (via np[ 10/04/05 ]

@ In 1972, the king of Bhutan developed the G.N.H., or gross national happiness, to "ensure that prosperity was shared across society and that it was balanced against preserving cultural traditions, protecting the environment and maintaining a responsive government." Now, economists and corporate leaders are investigating ways to follow his example. [ 10/04/05 ]

@ Business travellers secretly decry the elimination of their last sacred space. I told you so. (via dm) [ 10/04/05 ]

@ Brief CSM backgrounder on Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers. [ 10/04/05 ]



@ It's Influenza Pandemic Awareness Week! Today we're focused on disaster preparedness. [more...]

Face it: we won't know until 5 years from now whether the Avian Flu Scare is real or just another Y2K. But if the last 5 years have taught us nothing else, it is that disaster can strike anywhere, anytime. Wherever you are, you need at least 3 days of supplies in reserve. So, if you do nothing else this week, assess your preparedness, and — what the heck — lay in supplies for a whole week.

Read through the The Red Cross Disaster Supplies Kit list right now. Print out the PDF of this list and attach it to your refrigerator. And then make supply run on Saturday to pick up the items you don't already have on hand, and spend part of Sunday assembling a kit for your home and one for your car. While you're at it, print off a copy of the Red Cross Personal Workplace Disaster Supplies Kit and take it to work tomorrow. Put it up in the break room.

I plan to purchase the following items in place of those listed:

But not before I read the Wall Street Journal review of crank radios and disposable chargers.

This is one of those "non-urgent" tasks with a huge payoff. The cost in time and money is relatively low, and the benefit, should you ever need it, will be enormous. [ 10/05/05 ]

@ Researchers hope to better understand the current strain of Avian flu by studying the newly reconstructed 1918 influenza virus, which also mutated from birds. [ 10/05/05 ]

@ A new study in the American Journal of Epidemiology shows that preschoolers are harbingers of the flu season. The question remains whether they are vectors for the disease. [ 10/05/05 ]

@ I am astonished to learn that drinking lots of plain water while flying is not a good idea, as it can lead to thicker blood viscosity. Google Staff Doctor Dr. Taraneh Razavi has put together an extensive set of recommendations for frequent flyers (referenced in part from AirHealth.org). [ 10/05/05 ]

@ Watch out, Google Print! Here comes the Open Content Alliance. [ 10/05/05 ]

@ Whole lotta lit: Penguin's complete set of 1,082 classics will set you back nearly 8 grand. [ 10/05/05 ]

@ Neato: The National Geographic Live Cam of Pete's Pond in Botswana (requires RealPlayer). So far, I've seen an elephant and what might have been a hyena. And the sounds! It's my new distraction machine. (via np) [ 10/05/05 ]

@ About time, and obviously still not enough. But why on earth are we feeding cows cattle blood and chicken manure in the first place? Another argument for spending the extra money on grass-fed. [ 10/05/05 ]



@ Just a few links today for Pandemic Flu Awareness Week: [more...]

One easy thing is to keep your gas tank filled with at least half a tank of gas; filling it up when you get down a quarter seems even more prudent, with no impact at all on your pocketbook. [ 10/06/05 ]

@ Thank you, Senator McCain.

"The image of the United States was very badly harmed by the pictures of prisoner abuse. We have to send a message to the world that we will not ever allow such kind of treatment to be repeated," he said. [...]
"The enemy we fight has no respect for human life or human rights. They don't deserve our sympathy," he said. "But this isn't about who they are. This is about who we are. These are the values that distinguish us from our enemies."

[ 10/06/05 ]

@ The hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church has published a teaching document instructing the faithful that some parts of the Bible are not actually true. (via dm) [ 10/06/05 ]

@ Organized groups raft through the Grand Canyon to demonstrate evidence for their theories of evolution and creationism. [ 10/06/05 ]

@ Saudi women line up for their first shot at elected post: Chamber of Commerce. Abdullah the Reformer sounds like Abdullah the very savvy ruler, to me. [ 10/06/05 ]



@ Why on earth isn't this front page news all across the United States? Guantanamo has always been an example of the United States' contempt for the ideals it espouses. But if even one of these prisoners dies, it will be yet another bit of evidence for anti-American extremists to use in their recruitment efforts. [ 10/07/05 ]

@ It's the final day of Pandemic Flu Awareness Week, and I have just a few more links for you: [more...]

Finally, stay informed by following the news, and checking periodically with the Flu Wiki. The Center for Disease Control will begin posting weekly flu updates October 14 (next Friday). Set up a Google News alert for "flu influenza avian-flu pandemic", and every week can be Flu Pandemic Awareness Week! Now that's what I call great news.

In addition, these blogs are following the story:

Stay rested, stay hydrated, wash your hands early and often, and spend a little time this weekend making sure you have some basic supplies on hand. [ 10/06/05 ]

@ When game-makers introduced a contagious disease to the massively multiplayer online roleplaying game, World of Warcraft, "griefers" deliberately infected themselves and teleported into city centers, causing an online epidemic. Doesn't it seem like epidemiologists would benefit from a massively multiplayer online roleplaying game of their own (or even modded versions of the Sims) to study the spread of diseases? [ 10/07/05 ]

@ New York City dog owners are nervous about an outbreak of canine flu. [ 10/07/05 ]

@ AOL co-founder Steve Case and his ex-CEO business partners are financing mini-clinics in retail stores (including Wal-Mart) and designing a website that will allow consumers to manage their healthcare online. Some innovative ideas in here, actually, including putting the patient in charge of their own health records. How will doctors react to the commodification of their services? (via isemmelweis) [ 10/07/05 ]

@ Across the US, prosecutors increasingly are using anti-terror laws to prosecute environmental activists and to stifle rights organizations by demonizing dissent. [ 10/07/05 ]

@ Participant Productions is a film company whose mission it is to deliver compelling entertainment that will raise awareness about important social issues, educate audiences and inspire them to take action. To coincide with the release of Good Night and Good Luck, they've launched their new site, Participate.net. I wonder why it doesn't have a blog? [ 10/07/05 ]

@ Jorn calls this a VanGogh-looking b&w closeup of sunspot and he's absolutely right. Here's the article that accompanies the photo. [ 10/07/05 ]



@ Nadia Niaz has created a South Asia Earthquake Relief site, filled with pointers to agencies that can use your help in lifting the survivors out of devastation. I don't know of a similar site for Hurricane Stan Relief, but I know that Catholic Relief Services has an initiative to help. It's been some year. Please, even a small donation will help. [ 10/10/05 ]

@ It's nice to know that when disaster is striking all around you, people still have a heart[ 10/10/05 ]

@ NYT: Storm's Evacuees Caught in a Clash of Cultures. This is a beautifully written account of one set of New Orleans evacuees' journey away from the disaster and into another culture — Oklahoma.

They were among the tens of thousands of people forced out of the Gulf Coast and into unaccustomed holding places where no one knew quite what to make of them. They had suddenly become nomads in their own country - pitied, gawked at and shuffled from place to place, stuck in the middle of a long journey that would take them through several states merely to get to this way station from which to plot the rest of their lives.
In time, they found themselves caught in a web of red tape and cultural miscues, clashing with locals over the tiniest of things, like how to cook grits or season meat, or over the life-and-death question of why they did not get out of harm's way in time.

[ 10/10/05 ]

@ In an attempt to construct a more racially balanced jury pool, Boston judge presiding over a gang slaying trial ordered court administrators to send additional summonses to certain ZIP codes when mailings are returned as undeliverable. [ 10/10/05 ]

@ E&P: Reporters: Lost in the 'Fog' is an instructive comparison of two news stories: the Lake George boating accident and Sen. Bill Frist's SEC problems. If you click no other link today, click this one. (via rw[ 10/10/05 ]

@ It's that time of year, and as good a time as any to compose your Christmas list. This year's Booker Prize is one of the most hotly contested in years. I'm anxious to read the new Ishiguro[ 10/10/05 ]

@ A needlepointed version of the 'tracert' DOS command, used to trace the specific network points that join one computer with another computer on the Internet network. (via rw[ 10/10/05 ]



@ FEMA rules specifies a 60 day deadline for filing in order to qualify for assistance. Extend the Deadline.org will enable you to email FEMA asking that they grant victims of Katrina an additional 60 days. Or, send an email directly to FEMA in support of an extension. (via rc3) [ 10/11/05 ]

@ Three ways of looking at a fuel crisis:  [more...]

[ 10/11/05 ]

@ Do and Don't Rechargeable Battery Table (via gordon mclean) [ 10/11/05 ]

@ Apparently diaperfreebaby.org has just hired a wonderfully effective new PR group: [more...]

[ 10/11/05 ]



@ Africans are showing themselves to be more progressive than their brethren in the United States, increasingly electing women to powerful political roles.  [more...]

Polls put Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf neck and neck with her main rival, former soccer star George Weah. At a rally the other day, roughly 100,000 people in a country of 3.4 million showed up to cheer for her. Campaign buttons proclaimed, "Ellen, she's our man."

If I ever run for office, that is totally going to be my campaign slogan. And it looks like (Harvard-trained economist) Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf is a front-runner in her race[ 10/13/05 ]

@ Break out the Mrs. Pauls! A new study suggests that one meal of fish a week slows age-related mental decline by 10%. [ 10/13/05 ]

@ Poor urban planning has exacerbated the gap between the well-to-do and the poor by trapping disadvantaged households in concentrated pockets of poverty. "Concentrating poverty compounds the effects of just plain poverty," says Alan Berube. [ 10/13/05 ]

@ Students using GPS receivers, digital cameras, and tablet PCs have completed a first-of-its-kind survey in San Jose, California to transform some of the city's most neglected neighborhoods. [ 10/13/05 ]

@ Fascinating: The Noguchi Filing System arranges files by frequency of use. [ 10/13/05 ]

@ Jorn inaugurates blogger "I'm an Idiot Day" his own question about user-customizable style sheets. Jorn: you're not an idiot. To my knowledge, it was just a bill of goods. [ 10/13/05 ]



@ Northern European readers: Tickets are now available for Corporate Blogging med Rebecca Blood (presented in English) in Copenhagen on November 10. [ 10/14/05 ]

@ Keep this on file for the next disaster and/or tax season: Charity Navigator rates charities to show you how much of your donation will be spent on administrative costs vs charitable programs. [ 10/14/05 ]

@ The health effects of too little sleep (via dm) [ 10/14/05 ]

@ Miss Manners on cancer patients. Read it, learn it, live it.

People who have disabilities have put a lot of work and emotion into getting across the idea that they despise being identified by the disability and admired for being heroic for coping with a situation about which they were given no choice. Not unreasonably, they ask to be assessed in terms of what they can do, rather than what they can't help.
Yet the principle has not been applied to disease.

(thanks, Ben!) [ 10/14/05 ]

@ Frybrid: the best biodiesel conversion kit. [ 10/14/05 ]

@ An Annotated History of Character Codes, from Morse to ASCII.

This document is about character codes, specifically a history of ASCII(1), the American Standard Code for Information Interchange, and its immediate ancestors; FIELDATA, ITA2, Murray's telegraphy code, Baudot's telegraphy code, and Morse's telegraphy code, and involves some forensic bitology.

 [ 10/14/05 ]

@ Do women perceive color better than men? (via rw) [ 10/14/05 ]

@ OH DEAR HEAVEN. (thanks, Ivana!) [ 10/14/05 ]



@ London Architect Alex Michaelis has built his family an underground home of the future, complete with a biometrically-controlled swimming pool and an environmentally friendly design. [ 10/21/05 ]

@ Strathclyde University is now offering a new postgraduate degree: a masters in human ecology.

Call it what you like though, political activism is exactly what it is, insists David Miller, sociology lecturer and co-director of the masters degree. "We're not talking about violence, or any of the stereotypical images associated with activism," he says. "What we look at is how to engage with the system in order to change things. This can, more often than not, mean working within - or in partnership with - existing organisations to exert influence, rather than operating on the outside. It's not about shouting from the margins, it's about being a role model for others and being effective."

[ 10/21/05 ]

@ A little weekend reading: Meet the Lifehackers explores the ways in which computers have introduced complexity into our lives, and describes the state of current interruption science. It hits on many of the themes I write about here, down to the reason for my preference for paper. [ 10/21/05 ]

@ Big fun: Time Magazine has published its list of the 100 Best English-language Novels published since 1923. The list includes the graphic novel Watchmen, and comes with a second list of the ten All Time Great Graphic Novels[ 10/21/05 ]



@ Danish bloggers and information architects: Please join us for dinner in Copenhagen November 1st[ 10/24/05 ]

@ I'm very pleased to present this month's Blogger on Blogging: Rashmi Sinha, talking about writing to provoke, foot fetishes, and the differences between blogging and academia.

The more I read blogs, the more fascinated I was by the writing style the informal, honest writing in the first person voice. In academia, you get used to reading and writing a certain way. Its more formal, jargony, mostly not in the first person voice. I had never really got the hang of academic writing. In fact, that was one of things I did not like about academia. The personal voice on blogs appealed to me so much more. It allowed the story to come through.

[ 10/24/05 ]

@ An accidental invention may lead to the demise of light bulbs in favor of LEDs coated with quantum dots.

Quantum dots contain anywhere from 100 to 1,000 electrons. They're easily excited bundles of energy.

Me, too. [ 10/24/05 ]

@ Remember when advanced technology was supposed to bring us into a world of expanded leisure? Instead, the wireless world has created the ubiquitous office[more...]

I'm pretty sure the work/play divide is an artifact of the Industrial Age. Farmers don't have days (or nights) off. Servants were on call at all hours. Craftsmen used to work in their homes. Tradesmen lived above their shops. The rise of factories transformed independent workers into employees, and set our expectations regarding the separation of work and leisure for the last 150 years. However, until recently, most people did participate in some religious observance. Whatever your spiritual beliefs, it might be time to reinstate the Sabbath. [ 10/24/05 ]

@ Circa 1980 CIA Sabotage Manual. Really. Also: Japanese fruit-shaped bus stops. (via the everlovin' cardhouse) [ 10/24/05 ]



@ I'm setting off on a long, multi-country trip. Between fly days, unpredictable Internet connections, and sightseeing, I expect updates here to be pretty sparse. Not to despair! The Internet is filled with interesting people. Hie thee to my portal and click your day away. [ 10/27/05 ]

@ Hilarious: If Chaucer had written blaxploitation theme songs. (via rw) [ 10/27/05 ]

@ Experts rate Wikipedia for articles in their field. (via sew) [ 10/27/05 ]

@ Warren Buffett on a flat income tax:

I wouldn't support it. We have, in my view, a taxation system that's much too flat already. If you look at the payroll tax — which is over 12% now, and that applies on the first $80,000 or $90,000 of income — Bill [Gates] and I pay practically none of that in relation to our income. For the people that work for us, their tax rate in many cases is the same or even higher than my own, since the rate on capital gains and dividends was cut to 15%.

(via odub[ 10/27/05 ]







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