.: November 2006 --> November 2006
» In response to a 1999 report claiming that 98,000 American patients die annually from preventable human errors, medical centers around the country are hiring professional pilots to train them on how to apply aviation safety principles to critical care in hospitals. "The culture in the operating room has always been the surgeon as the captain at the controls with a crew of anesthesiologists, nurses and techs hinting at problems and hoping they will be addressed. We need to change the culture so communication is more organized, regimented and collaborative, like what you find now in the cockpit of an airplane." Dr. Stephen B. Smith, chief medical officer at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. [ 11.01.06 ]
» As a followup to yesterday's news that Si Simmons has died, here's an early October obitutuary for Buck O’Neil, another Negro Leagues Pioneer. "Nowadays, whenever us Negro leaguers put on the old uniforms for autograph-signings and such, you can just see the years peel away. I’ve seen men lose 50 years in just a few hours. Baseball is better than sex. It is better than music, although I do believe jazz comes in a close second." Buck O'Neil, writing in his memoir, I Was Right On Time. [ 11.01.06 ]
» Software firm 37Signals on their method for holding daily "standup meetings" with a dispersed online workforce. (Read through the comments for more detail on the kind of information they share in their [IN] and [OUT] communications.) [ 11.02.06 ]
» Europe is killing off hospital infections. Why isn't the United States following suit? "Why are we spending millions if not billions on bird flu, a ghost that might not happen, when you have thousands being colonized by MRSA and dying of it?" Dr. William Jarvis, a top CDC hospital-infection expert until he resigned in 2003. / (1) Comments / [ 11.02.06 ]
» Harvard biologist Marc D. Hauser has a new, big idea: that human beings, no matter what their belief system, all operate from an innate, evolutionarily defined moral grammar. His new book is called Moral Minds and Chapter 1 is available on the Web. / (1) Comments / [ 11.03.06 ]
» Brett Holverstott's house plan based on a traditional quilt pattern. "The overall plan of the house is a nine patch. It is somewhat related to the cruciform designs of the Prairie Houses, and the cruciform-in-square designs of Kahn's commercial structures. The central living space is an introverted, double-height atrium, from which six of the eight service towers, all eight piers, and a massive fireplace are visible up their entire length." [ 11.06.06 ]
» It's so weird. I just received a press release from Time magazine detailing a feature in their magazine that apparently they want me to link. And with that, it seems to me we've crossed a line somewhere. / (4) Comments / [ 11.06.06 ]
» I just love the title of my pal Jessamyn West's latest presentation: Sensible Technology Trends in Libraries: Library 2.0 with a 1.5 library, 1.23 staff, and .98 patrons.. Tasha Saecker's notes on the talk are available on her blog. (via wl) [ 11.07.06 ]
» Hannaford Grocery chain has developed a 3-star system that rates the healthiness of the food they sell, based on the overall profile of the food. Since Hannaford will mark down items for high sodium, trans fats, and low nutrients, even products that make strong health claims may receive low scores. As you might imagine, the food industry isn't particularly happy.
"[V-8] like drinking a vitamin with a lot of salt on it." Hannaford advisory board member Lisa A. Sutherland, assistant professor of pediatrics and a nutrition scientist at Dartmouth Medical School.
"I don’t know what their system is. What are they calling too much salt?" John Faulkner, director of brand communication at the Campbell Soup Company.
"The thing is, a lot of claims we see out there are puffery. But they don’t get to the point where we can call them fake or misleading." Joseph R. Baca, director of the office of compliance at the F.D.A.’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.
/ (3) Comments / [ 11.07.06 ]
» This is a really interesting observation: Ask yourself who the most powerful people in the White House are. They are women who are in love with the president: Laura [Bush], Condi, Harriet Miers, and Karen Hughes. Michael Ledeen, American Enterprise Institute [wikipedia] freedom scholar.
Update: When I say "interesting" I mean "What a strange thing to say". If it's true, what does that say about the Administration? If it's not true, just what is Mr. Ledeen implying? / (1) Comments / [ 11.07.06 ]
» Today's the day: Vote! [ 11.07.06 ]
» Via Q Daily News: "One public service announcement: if you have any problems voting (electronic voting machines that malfunction, officials that wrongly prevent you from casting a ballot, whatever), the National Campaign for Fair Elections has set up a toll-free hotline, 866-OUR-VOTE. The group has monitors and attorneys on-hand to help deal with problems as they arise, so it's probably worth giving them a call with any issues." Please post this on your blog and pass it on. / (1) Comments / [ 11.07.06 ]
Day One: Put new rules in place to "break the link between lobbyists and legislation."
Day Two: Enact all the recommendations made by the commission that investigated the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Time remaining until 100 hours: Raise the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour, maybe in one step. Cut the interest rate on student loans in half. Allow the government to negotiate directly with the pharmaceutical companies for lower drug prices for Medicare patients.
Broaden the types of stem cell research allowed with federal funds &mdash "I hope with a veto-proof majority," she added in an Associated Press interview Thursday.
All the days after that: "Pay as you go," meaning no increasing the deficit, whether the issue is middle class tax relief, health care or some other priority.
To do that, she said, Bush-era tax cuts would have to be rolled back for those above "a certain level." She mentioned annual incomes of $250,000 or $300,000 a year and higher, and said tax rates for those individuals might revert to those of the Clinton era. [...] "We believe in the marketplace," Pelosi said of Democrats, then drew a contrast with Republicans. "They have only rewarded wealth, not work."
I'm all for it. Let's see if she can do it./ (2) Comments / [ 11.08.06 ]
» Neuroscientists say that brain scans show that when people are speaking in tongues, language centers and the part of the brain through which people control what they do are relatively quiet—supporting the description of the experience evangelicals say they are having. / (4) Comments / [ 11.09.06 ]
» Nominations are open for The 2006 Children's and YA Bloggers' Literary Awards. Anyone may make a nomination, the only criteria are that the books were published in 2006, and in English. Categories range from picture books to novels, poetry to graphic novels. Nominations close November 20, and the winners will be decided by a committee of bloggers. (via sp) [ 11.09.06 ]
» In order to fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria, hospitals around the world are turning to an ancient remedy: honey. Laboratory attempts to create a honey-resistant bacteria have so far failed. / (2) Comments / [ 11.13.06 ]
» Chirag Mehta has a created a Presidential Speech tag cloud that allows you to see the frequency of word use in speeches, official documents, declarations, and letters written by the Presidents of the US from George Washington to George W. Bush. Move the slider to watch President Bush's language change from the start of his administration until now. The rise of the word "terrorism" dates - not from the time of the September 11 attacks - but to 2003, the year we invaded Iraq. In his 2002 State of the Union address, the largest word is "freedom" (followed by "afghanistan", "weapons", and "tax"). In 2003, "terrorists" is huge, followed by "weapons" in the second tier ( then "saddam", "hussein", "iraq", and "economy"). / (1) Comments / [ 11.13.06 ]
» Time's Inventions of the Year. Their choice for Best Invention of the Year is YouTube—and the list is filled with many other worthy contenders. A bike-riding robot, a levitating bed (suspended midair using repelling magnets), a device that cleans foods by superoxygenating ordinary tap water, a flower-shaped lamp that monitors household energy usage and rewards low power consumption by opening it's "petals", and something I've wanted for a long time: the home wind turbine, which can generate up to 80% of the average household's electricity. Now, it Time would invent better navigation for their selections next year (what's wrong with a list?), I'll be a confirmed fan. [ 11.14.06 ]
» CSM: Residential 'micro-combined-heat-and-power' units are efficient furnaces that create electricity. "It's like printing money." Bernard Malin, the first person in Massachusetts to own a residential "micro combined-heat-and-power" system, also known as micro-CHP. (via dm) [ 11.15.06 ]
» Steven Soderbergh's new film The Good German wasn't just shot in black and white; it was shot using 40's-era lighting, lenses, and staging techniques no longer in use by modern filmmakers. Bonus fact: Soderbergh works as his own cinematographer (as Peter Andrews) and editor (Mary Ann Bernard). "The reason they no longer work that way is because it means making choices, real choices, and sticking to them. It means shooting things in a way that basically only cut together in one order. That’s not what people do now. They want all the options they can get in the editing room.” Steven Soderbergh, filmmaker. / (1) Comments / [ 11.15.06 ]
70% General American English
10% Upper Midwestern
» Time has an interesting article about the young (and older) women who are entering convents today: Today's Nun Has A Veil—And A Blog. "Religious life itself is a radical choice. In an age where our primary secular values are sex, power and money, for someone to choose chastity, obedience and poverty is a radical statement." Brother Paul Vednarczyk, executive director of the National Religious Vocation Conference in Chicago. / (1) Comments / [ 11.17.06 ]
You could see the businessman behind the philanthropist in the remarks of many participants in the conference. [...] The Gates Foundation dominates the philanthropic market, much as Microsoft leads in software—though it likewise disclaims any suggestion that it has too much power. [...]
Buffett, too, is giving it back the way he made it. Buffet's hallmarks are modesty and self-effacement. His business method is to search out value, empower the most-capable managers he can find, and invest with an eye to "forever." By delegating the dispersal of his fortune to the Gates Foundation, he has done precisely the same thing.
[ 11.17.06 ]
» New studies on mice show that a mother’s diet can change the behaviour of a specific gene for at least two subsequent generations. / (1) Comments / [ 11.17.06 ]
» If your loved ones already have a bookshelf full of still-unread books that mocks them every time they walk by, consider financing a micro-loan charity in their name. Kevin Kelly recently posted a terrific list, including my long-time favorite, Heifer International. He says:
The news now is that it is there are many other outfits that offer individuals (like us) ways to leverage as little as fifty dollars via micro-finance programs online. Unleashing compounding good is only a few clicks away. Make a loan, or outright grant, using your credit card, or even PayPal.
Think of it as Everyman activism. [ 11.28.06 ]
» It's time to start thinking about holiday gift-giving. For the readers on your list, here are some book recommendations.
NYTimes: 100 Notable Books of the Year.
And these are the best books I read this year:
- 1491, . This is the best book I've read in years.... [ my full review]
- The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, . Delightful. I thoroughly enjoyed both the style of the book and the humor. An impressive piece of writing.
- Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, . Clear, readable, and unbelievably interesting.... [ my full review ]
- Plainsong, . Earnest, beautiful, stylized, gorgeous, life-affirming, unforgettable.
- The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, . This is a great book: thoughtful, thought provoking, and well written.... [ my full review ]
- Radio: An Illustrated Guide, . This book does exactly what it says: tell you how to plan, execute and broadcast a radio show. The technology is out of date, but I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in radio documentary or podcasting.
- Don't Think of an Elephant, . This book really does make sense of the current political climate. I now better understand the right and the left.
- To Kill a Mockingbird, . Somehow, I never got around to reading this book before now. It is perfect. I'll read it again. I can't imagine a more compassionate depiction of childhood, small town life, the South, race in the United States, or humanity in general. Oh, and it's beautifully written. My nomination for the Great American Novel.
- Convergence Culture, Henry Jenkins. Smart, interesting, and right on the money. A little academic for most people's taste, but I agree with almost everything Dr. Jenkins has to say. A compelling and non-hyped vision of the future of our culture.
- Fans, Bloggers, and Gamers: Media Consumers in a Digital Age, . Just fantastic. Although it's much more academic, I enjoyed this book even more than Convergence Culture because it took me inside the world of fan communities, a world I've only barely glimpsed before now.... [ my full review]
- And a tentative recommendation for Personal Finance for Dummies, , which I am reading right now and finding surprisingly deep for a Dummies book. I read numerous personal finance books last year, and this one, so far, seems to at least equal the best of that bunch.
Update: Jordon Cooper posts his list of the 11 Best Books he read in 2006. If you post your own list, please ping me via trackback or add the link in comments. Non-blogging readers, please post your lists in comments, too. What were the best books you read this year? / (2) Comments / [ 11.28.06 ]
» I tried to use a new feature on my HMO website: sending an email to my doctor. I just got a return email directing me to pick up a new email on their website - I suppose they do this for security purposes. So I went to their website, logged in, was directed to click on another link, and this is the message that waited for me:
Sorry. The application failed to start because of an error. Please contact your system administrator. Unable to obtain connection to the database server - environment name:PRODGGM.
If you are going to give me, the patient, idiotic and unhelpful messages like that, could you please include a link that will allow me to email said system administrator with the news that your product isn't working? Thanks!
Aha! Dan Lyke has discovered another little problem with the software. / (2) Comments / [ 11.30.06 ]
The relevance of Third Reich Germany to today's America is not that Bush equals Hitler or that the United States government is a death machine. It's that it provides a rather spectacular example of the insidious process by which decent people come to regard the unthinkable as not only thinkable but doable, justifiable. Of the way freethinkers and speakers become compliant and self-censoring. Of the mechanism by which moral or humanistic categories are converted into bureaucratic ones. And finally, of the willingness with which we hand control over to the state and convince ourselves that we are the masters of our destiny.
Then there's this:
The Bush-era fourth estate has come up short not only against the Big Lie of "fair and balanced" news but also against its equally cunning cousin: the Small Inaccuracy used to repudiate the damaging larger truth. CBS crumbled under the administration's mau-mauers over Memogate, while Newsweek managed to withstand the hazing it took for its Koran-in-the-toilet item—which, like the substance of Dan Rather's offending report on Bush's National Guard career, was not only accurate; it was old news. But why didn't the national media go on the offensive and re-educate the government, and the public, about the inevitable if regrettable price of a free press? Mistakes will be made in the proverbial first draft of history, and holding reporters to a standard of perfection would inhibit them from performing the vigilance crucial to our democratic system.
It is the part played by the press in all this that may frustrate and infuriate me the most. I have been dismayed for the last 5 years as they basically have refused to do their job. And I hold them partially responsible for the state we're now in. (Thanks, jjg!) / (3) Comments / [ 11.30.06 ]