Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Lazyweb request: wristwatch phone ringer/buzzer

I wish I had a device that I could wear as a wristwatch that would have a silent buzzer to alert me when my phone rings. There are buzzing watches for deaf and hard of hearing people. It would solve a couple of problems: 1) even if you put your phone on vibrate, it has to be on the right kind of surface to be silent. Even in my backpack it sometimes makes a racket. 2) If i silence my phone for a particular event, I usually forget to return it to its alerting settings. 3) At every group event, someone has forgets to turn off their cell phone. We all do it. With this device, it wouldn't be necessary to ever have the ringer on. With a wrist buzzing device, i could be alerted silently, without anyone else knowing; i could shut it off easily (if a repeated notification was even necessary); and it could be part of my daily outfit. In my perfect world, I imagine it as a kind of patch that I can attach to the back of any watch.

Philip Morris conducted and hid 800 studies on second hand smoke

this makes me mad too. i must be in a cranky mood.

The Philip Morris tobacco company quietly conducted extensive animal research in the 1980s that documented the toxicity of secondhand smoke while arguing publicly that it was safe, according to an analysis, published online last week by The Lancet, of thousands of industry and court documents. In a related move, the University of Geneva (UG) has raised doubts about more than 3 decades of tobacco-smoke studies authored by a retired UG environmental-medicine professor who coordinated research for Philip Morris. His failure to disclose that he was a "secret employee of the tobacco industry," according to a UG faculty commission, tainted his research...

[The] authors...reported finding more than 800 unpublished studies on secondhand smoke completed between 1981 and 1989 at a Philip Morris facility called the Institut für Industrielle und Biologische Forschung (INBIFO) in Cologne, Germany. In one key 1982 study in rats, INBIFO researchers showed that sidestream smoke, which drifts from lit cigarettes, caused severe damage to the nasal epithelium and abnormal cellular alterations called metaplasia sometimes associated with cancer and was up to four times more toxic than the direct smoke sucked from a cigarette. The data were not published.

The Lancet authors maintain that Philip Morris created INBIFO from the start to learn about the effects of tobacco smoke but concealed the work to reduce liability. For example, the authors say, the company situated the lab in Germany instead of the United States, funded it through a Swiss subsidiary, and told few employees about the tobacco-smoke research. The company contracted with Rylander [the UG prof] to serve as an intermediary between INBIFO and Thomas Osdene, a Philip Morris executive responsible for research and development.

Dan Ferber. TOBACCO WARS: Research on Secondhand Smoke Questioned. Science, Vol 306, Issue 5700, 1274 , 19 November 2004

Monday, November 22, 2004

sad/angry/annoyed: shooting hunters

I just read about the 5 hunters who were killed and the three who were injured Sunday in Michigan. Whatever the shooter's motivations were, I can't see how anyone could justify the end of the assault weapons ban. Still, the gun the shooter used, an SKS, would not be covered by the assault weapons ban; it was legally available even when the ban was in effect. It has a fixed 10 bullet magazine, and the speed and force of the trajectory can penetrate the soft armor most police wear (cite, pdf). If hunting is a sport, why does one need a gun with a large clip (that can shoot many bullets without manual reloading)? If one needs a large clip, why not also hand grenades?

Friday, November 19, 2004

Bridge over the Middle fork Snoqualmie

Wow do I love bridges. I saw this picture on flickr. I'm thinking about getting a higher resolution camera. Maybe I should learn to take better pictures first. Any reading suggestions?

Bridge over the Middle fork Snoqualmie
Originally uploaded by Abu.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

My dreams don't mess around with subtlety

I had a dream last night that some friends and I had pulled off a mountain road through a national forest. I had pulled the horse trailer in a small track that looped back to the road so I wouldn't have to turn the trailer around. We were walking around enjoying the cold and the nature. A bunch of Forest Service trucks started pulling up. There were many of them, and they blocked the road so we couldn't get out, so we hung around to see what they were up to. There was a huge electrical power line running nearby, with massive steel power line poles. The Forest Service guys (all men) were erecting a monument to the success the Forest Service had running electricity. The monument was a concrete power line pole, shaped just like the nearby real ones, but made out of concrete and so generally bulkier.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

yeah, i'm last minute like that

i worked on my fellowship application until the deadline today. i've been working steadily on it since friday; before that i already had rough drafts of the essays. the rest of the application was a reasonable amount of online forms to fill out. filling them out was a useful form of procrastination when i was too worn out to work on essays any more. the topics of the essays: proposed research plan, previous research experience, personal statement, and societal benefit. the personal statement was to let them know how you ended up being a scientist, and probably also a way for them to screen applicants who they might be especially excited about, like underrepresented people of color, and in certain fields, women. biology is not a field they feel they need to increase the presence of women in. sorry about these miserable sentences, but i'm not going back to try to clean them up because it feels like torture to do that.

in any case, i started this entry to share part of the receipt they emailed me to confirm my application submission.
Application Received On: Wed Nov 17 20:00:29 EST 2004
for those of you playing along at home, that means my application was 29 seconds late. i'm not remotely worried that it will be a problem. i'm even a little proud.

this is a phenomenally nice fellowship. for three years, they pay your fees plus a $30k annual stipend, and it's a great resume item. last year i was an honorable mention, so i think i'm a strong applicant. there are a few parts of the application i can think of improving, but not many. basically, i think at this point it's a matter of luck. writing the application was very helpful for clarifying my thought process though, and mary gave me a lot of feedback on the essay and my planned dissertation project, so it certainly wasn't time wasted. holly put in a heroic effort to help me. it was really helpful.

ok, now i'm going to do some laundry. clean the house. pay bills. you know the scene.

Friday, November 12, 2004

More from the fair

After being overwhelmed with hick-fabulous schwag, we decided that we had to see some actual animals. Here was our first victim.

From there, Holly and I joined the crowd that was filling the bleachers in front of the upcoming milking machine demonstration. A group of kids in front of us apparently decided it wasn't worth staying and started to file out. One of them, about twelve years old, was resistant and said "I want to watch the frigging cow being milked." He ended up leaving with his friends. It was a kind of urban wholesomeness. This dairy display was near the milking machine demonstration.

On our way out we found out what day it was.

Unfortunately, there were no donkeys in sight. Maybe on donkey day, the donkeys get the day off.

Friday, November 05, 2004

4 more years

inspired by sarah's trip to pennsylvania to rouse voters, i sponsored an event on election day at which people brought cell phones and we all made calls to likely democratic voters. i'm disappointed by the outcome of the election. partly i'm swayed by people's exhortations to work harder for a better outcome, partly i want to move new zealand.

holly's been reminding me to post some pictures of our trip to the LA county fair. that was fun! here are some pix.

Corn good

Corn very good

Did you notice that he's barefoot?

Special hat