Thursday, March 30, 2006

Does Pollution Affect Our Health? You Betcha!

A paper published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine found a very strong correlation between deaths from lung cancer, etc. and the pollution levels in cities. They surveyed cities in Massachusetts, Ohio, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Kansas and found that air cleanup played a big part in reducing deaths.

Here's the article, as reported in the Indianapolis Star (original story from the New York Times).

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Hydrogen Successfully Produced from 100% Biodiesel

Somebody has figured out how to produce hydrogen (for hydrogen fuel cells) from only biodiesel, which itself comes from vegetables.

Is this a start to creating effective, cheap hydrogen fuel? Hope so!

An e-Book on Cold Fusion

Here's a free e-Book on Cold Fusion. It is surprisingly thorough! I think cold fusion is the right kind of topic where the people who actually understand it and know it works are so frustrated that no one "gets it" that they're willing to put out good, free information like this.

It's written for a lay audience, although it is still a tough read for the average person. Thank you to Jed Rothwell for putting the effort into this project and allowing us to increase our knowledge about this important topic.

Here's the e-Book.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

FDA Resurrects an MS Drug Known to Kill

The FDA has decided to bring back a drug that it took off the market last year. The drug, marketed as Tysabri, is meant to help with symptoms of multiple sclerosis. However, in a large scale test, there was one confirmed fatality of a rare brain disease called progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) and one additional case (non-fatal). I don't know how rare this PML is, but two cases in a sample of 3,000 seems like a lot.

But the FDA brought it back again anyway. It seems like they have a very high tolerance for the "side effects" of drugs. This columnist is outraged (as he always is).

Read the FDA's reasoning for bringing it back here. I was especially interested to read "No additional cases of PML were found." How many do we need to find??

Friday, March 24, 2006

Podcast 9 - What the Bleep?

The latest podcast is up on Holistic Health Nation. This time I have a great conversation with Jody Dzuranin, a life coach from Harmony House, about the movie "What the Bleep?"

Join us!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Cool Podcast Episode Coming Up! (#9)

I just finished editing this week's podcast. I'm so excited! It's my first shot at having a co-host, and I decided to ask Jody Dzuranin, a life coach here in Columbus, to join me for the experiment.

It went great!

We talk about the movie "What the Bleep Do We Know?" which deals with the intersection of physics and faith.

This movie had a big impact on me, and, it seems that Jody got a lot from it as well.

Unfortunately, I haven't uploaded the podcast yet, so you'll have to wait until Wednesday morning to download it.

If you're reading this after Wednesday, March 22, you can get the new podcast episode here.

Comedy Central and West Wing

Comedy Central is having problems because a recent episode of "South Park" taunted Scientology, and one of the cast members of South Park quit over it. As a result, Comedy Central has refused to air reruns of that episode.

In a similar story, the West Wing, a long running show that I've always loved, has just been canceled.

Slate magazine proposes a unique twist. What if the West Wing was reborn on iTunes? What if they just kept making the show, but put the episodes on iTunes for sale at $1.99? Would they be able to make enough money to keep going?

And what if South Park gets canceled from Comedy Central (a division of Viacom)? Could they be continued in iTunes pay-per-downloads?

This is so interesting. I think video blogs and podcasts would see a huge upswing in popularity if something like this happened? Suddenly, all the South Park or West Wing fans would be running for the iTunes software and frantically downloading their shows. Meanwhile, they'd notice that there was other cool stuff there too!

This is worth watching. Here's the link to the Slate story.

Don't Sue "Big Food"

It seems that parents have taken to suing the big food companies for "brainwashing" their children into wanting bad food.

But doesn't the parent have to actually buy the food before the child can eat it? This seems like another example of parents trying to find other people to blame for their poor parenting skills.

But then, I've never had to be a parent, so what do I know?

Here's the link.

I Couldn't Find the Prejudice

Mohammed A.R. Galadari recently wrote an article in the Khaleej Times in the United Arab Emirates called "New York is New York."

In it, he says how he went to New York City to write an article on the prejudice against Muslims there. But he couldn't find any.

The 800,000 plus Muslims in New York City were not encountering prejudice, as far as he could tell.

"The city has a big heart, and treats all as equal. That's the greatness about it."

What a great message.

Here's the link.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

I'm Out of the Loop

I feel bad when someone from Columbus starts talking to me about some local news item. I have to look back at them blankly because I just don't follow the local Columbus, Ohio news at all.

Until today, I didn't really know why this was. I mean, I knew that I felt that the Columbus Dispatch, our daily newspaper, was amateurish and totally disconnected from our community (like me!). I knew that our local newscasters have had so many face lifts and chin tucks that they have begun to look like aliens, making the news completely unwatchable. Nevermind the ridiculous stories they masquerade as news.

But was that enough to cause this pathological aversion to local news?

However, the answer to my nonchalance to local news hit me in the face today when I found out that Yahoo now has a "local news" feature. Maybe I only like to get my news from the Web??

Nope. I jumped into the Local News section of Yahoo and was aghast at the news items.

  • Three sixth-graders were suspended Thursday from Galloway Ridge Intermediate School for either handling or looking at a toy handgun.

  • Many Roman Catholics in Ohio are being told to go ahead and eat corned beef on St. Patrick's Day.

  • Anyone looking for a new place to shop may want to check out Legacy Crossings on Ohio 95 East where preparation for the arrival of Kohl's Department Store has begun.

How did this become the news? The rest was a series of trials, crimes, car accidents, scandals and fires.

I'm sorry for the people who were robbed, hit, victimized and burned, but is this news? It is not news to me.

I am interested in:

  • politics

  • accomplishments of people

  • cool ideas about how to improve the world or my life

  • trends

  • stories about people's lives

  • advances in science

These, except for politics, were totally absent on the Yahoo page, and, of course, in our newspapers and newscasts.

Basically, I want news to be something that makes my life better after I've watched it.

Here's an example. The History International channel (Hint) had a show on a few weeks ago about the Normans and how they took over England, under William the Conqueror. I feel I am better off now that I have that historical lesson under my belt.

What "historical lessons" are happening right now in Columbus, Ohio that would make me a better, more knowledgeable person?

Radio, TV, newspapers --- Don't you know what I want? Doesn't anyone else want this besides me??

Maybe not.

P.S. I have to admit, I don't watch national news on TV either. Unless you count Jon Stewart and the Daily Show (and Bill Maher).

Oh, yes, and Google News that I can customize to leave out the junk.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Podcast 8 - Your Network of Practitioners

Podcast 8 is available at Holistic Health Nation.

It's about creating a network of practitioners for yourself and your family. Finding the right "first line of defense" then linking up to other modalities in body, mind and energy practices.

Next week, I hope to have a co-host, Jody Dzuranin, who will chat with me about the movie "What the Bleep Do We Know" and I'm also asking her to pick the music. Should be fun!

In future podcasts, I hope to have an interview with the lead investigator of the Ohio Dietetics Board, as well as other interesting guests!

Monday, March 13, 2006

GIMP and OpenOffice Not Written by Hobbyists

I had the good fortune to get a comment from Maurits on yesterday's post about GIMP and OpenOffice.

I was wrong. GIMP and OpenOffice are not really written by "hobbyist" programmers.

Instead, there is a core team of just a few programmers who contribute a large amount of the work. Then, a large number of hobbyists around the world contribute to that body of work.

I had the impression that the work was much more spread out.

Here is Maurits' comment:

GIMP and OpenOffice aren't written by hobbyists. There's a small core team of developers that are paid for and do probably 80 - 90 % of the work. The remaining 10 - 20 % is done by a large group of hobbyists like me who try to free up a few hours in the evenings.

Look for example at the ChangeLog file for the GIMP. You will see that most work is done by 3 or 4 developers.

Thanks Maurits!

Sunday, March 12, 2006


I'm currently reading a book called "The Support Economy" written by Shoshana Zuboff and James Maxmin.

I'm only about half way through the book, and it's a bit slow going. However, I'm starting to get the premise. It's all about individualism. Over the past thirty years, people have become more and more compelled to find their own uniqueness, to express it and be heard.

This is the major force in consumerism today. People respond more to products and services that allow them to express their uniqueness than just stuff that we need for everyday life.

This is the idea of the book.

When I combine this idea with something I heard from Adam Curry, it really gets interesting.

Adam Curry said that he predicted years ago that everyone would have their own radio station, TV station and newspaper.

He couldn't have seen the exact unfolding, but it is interesting now that we have podcasts (radio), video podcasts (TV) and blogs (newspapers).

Now we have all these ways that people can a) find their uniqueness, b) express it and c) be heard.

But how will this huge pile of podcasts, video and blogs be accessed practically?

Just search engines doesn't seem to be the answer.

There will need to be ways to aggregate the content. Maybe directories, lists or feeds.

Ways to quickly, seamlessly aggregate the content for the listeners/viewers/readers.

Right now, it is a big accomplishment for a blog, etc. to be featured in the big media (CBS, USA Today, etc.). But I wonder if that will continue to be viewed as such? Will the aggregation of our own media become more interesting than the big media features?

That's probably idealistic.

But what if our own individual stories, told by ourselves, got to be more popular than the latest war, Tom Cruise sighting or white woman missing in the Caribbean Islands.

Who knows? It's possible. Maybe.

How will these blogs be themed? Will they follow the stream of consciousness of the blogger/podcaster? Will they be as exact a match to the blogger's personality? Or will the blogger try to find an audience, and then stay true to that audience?

I'm finding this dichotomy in my own work. My blog (here) tends to be a stream of consciousness thing. I put whatever I want into this. It is always exactly in tune with ME, but I do not have an audience in mind. Basically, people seem to be coming here through the search engines. When they find something they like, they read it and, if they really like it, they read a few other posts.

But the podcast is audience-driven. It's about holistic healthcare and that's it. Everything is meant to fit the person who is looking for natural solutions to health problems.

I wouldn't dream of going on some rant like this in my podcast. I have no clue why that is.

Maybe because it takes more effort to put a podcast together than a blog entry.

I've also noticed that what is fairly uninteresting as a single blog could be interesting when aggregated. For instance, the fact that Ed ate tofu for breakfast this morning is not that interesting.

But when you find out that 8% of all people eat tofu for breakfast, that is kind of interesting.

So, how will this work economically? Will this be a chance for people to make money with their hobbies?

Blogs, podcasts and video podcasts could be a great way for a person who is enthusiastic about a hobby to make some cash:

  • history of U.S. presidents

  • model trains

  • stamp collecting

  • embroidery

  • home improvement

  • computer programming / open source

I would be so interested to find out how an open source developer fits his "hobby" of open source programming into his daily life. It must be so much work to build software like Gimp and OpenOffice. How do they do it, and still hold down a day job?

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Corporate Growth

Please understand, I'm a capitalist. I enjoy seeing a good company grow and prosper.

However, I read somewhere (I can't remember where) that there are only two things in our lives that start up and can be expected to grow and grow and never stop.

One is the corporation. Every quarter, we expect the corporation will grow. No matter how large the corporate becomes, it is expected to grow further. Not to grow is to stagnate.

There is one other thing that can be expected to grow indefinitely. That's cancer.

A cancerous tumor begins as a few cells, and grows cell by cell and inch by inch. You've seen pictures of massive tumors growing on a person's face or back. The tumor just never stops.

In a way, I hate to bring this up in my blog, because it is a simplistic comparisons and invites further analogies that may or may not apply.

But I also feel like I need to make this parallel. I think it's unhealthy for corporations that are already large to feel that they have to become bigger. I think some corporate leaders might agree with me. Once you're large, it is very difficult to grow. It's very unnatural. The only two reasons to grow are a) the stock market is demanding growth if stock prices are to rise and b) a CEO of a $5B is usually paid more than a CEO of a $1B company.

What is the alternative? I don't know. Obviously, I love the fact that my stock portfolio grows each year. And if I was a CEO, I'd have a hard time saying "Let's not grow this year."

But the comparison to a cancerous tumor sticks in my mind. I can't get rid of it.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Hugo Spowers and the Open Source Car (OSCar) Project

OSCar = Open Source Car

I met Hugo Spowers at a conference in Virginia several years ago. I was absolutely fascinated by his ideas and apparently, he has been very busy making them happen. He is definitely one of the most interesting people I've ever talked to.

Hugo is closely connected with the Morgan car company in Britain, a manufacturer of independent sports cars. Hugo's idea is to create fuel cell cars that are composed of "reusable parts" that he leases from the parts manufacturers. Essentially, he sees a manufacturing company that leases the parts from the parts makers, then they in turn lease the cars to us. We use the cars for a while then we turn them back in, and the company takes them apart and throws out the worn parts, keeping the rest and recycling them into new cars.

Hugo's car design features hydrogen fuel cells, brake-by-wire (digital), and every other new technology you can imagine. All done responsibly and cheaply.

You can read all about Hugo's ideas and action here in this article: