Eideard

Archive for August 2010

Bollywood to make Baby Jesus film

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Bollywood is to make its first film about the childhood of Jesus.

Director Singeetham Srinivasa Rao said his production will be narrated in four languages and feature an all-Indian cast of child actors and seven devotional songs.

Producer Konda Krishnam Raju said that the film focuses on the childhood of Jesus, a contrast with other movies that depict the later years. “This is the first presentation of this type in Bollywood history,” he said.

While the movie has special significance for Christians, it is “intended for a global audience,” Rao said.

Christians in India number 24 million, or about 2.3 per cent of the country’s population.

Religious Indian films have traditionally used child actors to highlight the “innocence, sanctity and divinity” of religious figures, the director said. Rao’s film will follow that tradition, using the child actors to depict adult characters as well as children.

American makeup artist Christien Tinsley, who earned an Academy Award nomination for his work on The Passion of the Christ, will also be involved in the film.

Aditya Productions plans to release the movie next year in English and three Indian languages – Telugu, Hindi and Malayalam. South Indian star Pawan Kalyan will narrate the Telugu and Malayalam versions, while other well known actors will narrate the English and Hindi versions, the filmmakers said.

You can be assured that questions of youth and sex will be handled with the same innocence and gentleness as any Hindu film. And that won’t make the least little bit of difference to American fundamentalist hypocrites.

Har!

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Written by Ed Campbell

August 31, 2010 at 10:00 pm

Hikers find dead body of climber lost since 1989

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The corpse of an American mountaineer who fell to his death in the Canadian Rockies more than two decades ago has been found.

Hikers in Jasper National Park, Alberta found the body of William Holland, 38, last month. He tumbled down a mountain in 1989 when a snow outcrop collapsed.

The climber’s body had been preserved by glacial ice, said Garth Lemke, public safety expert with Parks Canada.

He was basically in a deep freeze for the last 21 years,” Mr Lemke said.

Holland of Gorham, Maine, had reached the summit of an ice climb on Snow Mountain. An outcropping of snow he was standing on gave way and he plunged 1,000ft…

Mr Lemke said at least two other climbers since the 1970s who went missing in Jasper National Park have never been found.

Sooner or later, someone would have invented frozen food. Clarence Birdseye just happened to be first on the street with a satisfactory product.

Hey – it makes as much sense as some of the comments we get. :)

Written by Ed Campbell

August 31, 2010 at 6:00 pm

Just in case you feel secure while flying…

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To prevent attacks like the Lockerbie bombing, caused by a suitcase containing a bomb loaded onto a plane without the passenger who checked it also on being on board, airlines are supposed to remove the bags of any passengers who check luggage onto flights they do not board.

In an era of suicide attacks, that precaution no longer seems as reassuring as it once did, but it is still observed carefully enough to trigger alarms like the one on Monday [about 2 Yemeni-Americans].

But, while all passengers — and their carry-on bags and checked luggage — are screened before they board flights, passenger jets flying into the United States from abroad still routinely carry unscreened cargo, a loophole The Lede pointed out in January.

Asked about the cargo shipped on passenger jets, Nicholas Kimball, a spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration, drew our attention to the fact that 100 percent of the cargo loaded into the holds of passenger jets alongside luggage in the United States is now screened at some stage. In January that figure was said to be “at least 50 percent.”

But in a statement earlier this month announcing that accomplishment, the agency acknowledged that one part of the loophole had yet to be closed: cargo loaded onto jets flying passengers into the country from abroad does not have to be screened…

The agency’s administrator, John Pistole, said in the statement, “International air cargo is more secure than it has ever been.” He added, “T.S.A. continues to work closely with our international partners and is making substantial progress toward meeting the 100 percent mark in the next few years.”

Or – real soon now.

Written by Ed Campbell

August 31, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Once-in-a-century salmon run hits Canada’s West Coast

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After years of declining sockeye numbers and a struggling fishing industry, the Pacific Salmon Commission last week said it now expects 25 million sockeye will return to the Fraser River this year — more than double its earlier forecast and the best run since 1913.

Last year, slightly more than a measly 1 million sockeye made their way back to their spawning grounds, prompting the Canadian government to close the river to commercial and recreational sockeye fishing for the third straight year…

Twenty years of declining sockeye in the Fraser River led the Canadian government to launch an investigation last year into the disappearance of the fish at a time when numerous theories abound.

These include that climate change may be reducing food supply for salmon in the ocean, and that rising temperatures in the river may have weakened the fish.

Commercial fish farms that the young Fraser River salmon pass en route to the ocean have also been blamed for infecting them with damaging sea lice, a marine parasite.

Yes, I know a few folks truly enamored of that explanation.

While consumers are enjoying cheap salmon for the first time in years — prices for fresh sockeye are down about 30 percent from a year ago — the fishing industry is struggling to cope with the sudden bounty.

“It is an amazing thing but the problem is that this has come along when the market has been lost. Now we have all this fish and we can’t do a lot with it,” said Bob Fraumeni, owner of FAS Seafood Producers, which operates a West Coast commercial fishing fleet and retail outlets.

Enjoy it when and while you can, folks.

Salmon rules! We will be watching for fresh, affordable supplies making into our neck of the prairie.

Written by Ed Campbell

August 31, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Hospital denies liability for stents unnecessarily implanted

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St. Joseph Medical Center has repeatedly said it wants to do right by its coronary stent patients.

After a complaint last year that star cardiologist Mark Midei was placing stents in the arteries of patients who didn’t need them, the Towson hospital removed him from duty, reviewed thousands of medical records and sent letters to nearly 600 people whose stents appeared unnecessary, telling them to go see a doctor.

When asked if the hospital bore any legal liability, CEO Jeffrey K. Norman replied: “I suppose we do.”

But now that the lawyers have arrived, bearing the threat of hundreds of lawsuits, some say the message has changed. Even as some St. Joseph employees continue to suggest wrongdoing — including its chief of cardiology, who has told at least two patients that his former colleague falsified their records — the hospital’s attorneys appear to be girding for a fight.

In its legal filings, the hospital said it “generally denies all allegations of liability.” And medical malpractice attorneys preparing cases against St. Joseph say hospital lawyers are gathering experts to argue that Midei did nothing improper, despite the hospital having revoked his practice privileges…

“If they’re going to [now] stand by [Midei's] care and say what he did is not negligent and what he did is justified,” Bedigian said in an interview, Midei should “be looking for an employment lawyer.”

RTFA for the thrilling details.

Should I ask whatever happened to nonmaleficence? First, do no harm?

Written by Ed Campbell

August 31, 2010 at 9:00 am

They crawl, they bite, they’re baffling!

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Don’t be too quick to dismiss the common bedbug as merely a pestiferous six-legged blood-sucker. Think of it, rather, as Cimex lectularius, international arthropod of mystery.

In comparison to other insects that bite man, or even only walk across man’s food, nibble man’s crops or bite man’s farm animals, very little is known about the creature whose Latin name means — go figure — “bug of the bed.” Only a handful of entomologists specialize in it, and until recently it has been low on the government’s research agenda because it does not transmit disease. Most study grants come from the pesticide industry and ask only one question: What kills it?

But now that it’s The Bug That Ate New York, Not to Mention Other Shocked American Cities, that may change.

This month, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a joint statement on bedbug control. It was not, however, a declaration of war nor a plan of action. It was an acknowledgment that the problem is big, a reminder that federal agencies mostly give advice, plus some advice: try a mix of vacuuming, crevice-sealing, heat and chemicals to kill the things…

Ask any expert why the bugs disappeared for 40 years, why they came roaring back in the late 1990s, even why they do not spread disease, and you hear one answer: “Good question.”

“The first time I saw one that wasn’t dated 1957 and mounted on a microscope slide was in 2001,” said Dini M. Miller, a Virginia Tech cockroach expert who has added bedbugs to her repertoire.

The bugs have probably been biting our ancestors since they moved from trees to caves. The bugs are “nest parasites” that fed on bats and cave birds like swallows before man moved in.

That makes their disease-free status even more baffling

Bedbugs, despite the ick factor, are clean.

RTFA and learn a lot more. Including the sad fact that we don’t really know a lot about these critters – including dealing with their presence.

Written by Ed Campbell

August 31, 2010 at 6:00 am

iPhone starting to replace the stethoscope

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Peter Bentley – creator of the iPhone stethoscope app
Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian

The stethoscope – medical icon, lifesaver and doctor’s best friend – is disappearing from hospitals across the world as physicians increasingly use their smartphones to monitor patients’ heartbeats.

More than 3 million doctors have downloaded a 59p application – invented by Peter Bentley, a researcher from University College London – which turns an Apple iPhone into a stethoscope.

Last week, Bentley introduced a free version of the app, which is being downloaded by more than 500 users a day. Experts say the software, a major advance in medical technology, has saved lives and enabled doctors in remote areas to access specialist expertise.

“Everybody is very excited about the potential of the adoption of mobile phone technology into the medical workplace, and rightly so,” said Bentley, who initially developed the app “as a fun toy”.

“Smartphones are incredibly powerful devices packed full of sensors, cameras, high-quality microphones with amazing displays,” he said. “They are capable of saving lives, saving money and improving healthcare in a dramatic fashion – and we carry these massively powerful computers in our pockets.”

Bentley’s iStethoscope application is not the only mobile phone programme lightening doctors’ bags and transforming their practices: there are nearly 6,000 applications related to health in the Apple App Store. The uptake has been rapid. In late 2009, two-thirds of doctors and 42% of the public were using smartphones – in effect inexpensive handheld computers – for personal and professional reasons. More than 80% of doctors said they expected to own a smartphone by 2012.

The trend looks likely to gain pace as younger doctors enter the workplace. Some medical schools issue students with smartphones. In America, Georgetown University, the University of Louisville and Ohio State University are among those requiring undergraduates to use one.

However, experts say they are being prevented from exploiting the technology’s opportunities. Bentley says that he is unable to launch a new range of applications because of out-of-date regulations.

It’s much easier to develop technology than it is to get permission to use it,” he said. “I could create a mobile ultrasound scanner and an application to measure the oxygen content in blood, but the regulations stop me. We’re not allowed to turn the phone itself into a medical device, and what that precisely means is currently a grey area in terms of regulation. That’s the only reason we’re not seeing a flood of these devices yet.”

Bravo. Maybe it’s time for non-medical geeks to join the medical types in their efforts to nudge the Hippocratic Establishment into the digital age?

It ain’t ever easy. Progress in and of itself isn’t any more a good reason for medical infrastructure to update than it appears to be for most governments, politicians and pundits. Saving lives, easing costs, aiding the pursuit of a healthful life are all suspicious motives.

To some.

Written by Ed Campbell

August 30, 2010 at 10:00 pm

Don’t miss your chance at serious delicacies!

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Visitors to the festival enjoying a meal
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

In a remote Serbian mountain village, they’re cooking up delicacies to make your mouth water – or your stomach churn.

At the seventh annual World Testicle Cooking Championship, visitors watch – and sometimes taste – as teams of chefs cook up bull, boar, camel, ostrich and even kangaroo testicles.

This festival is all about fun, food and bravery,” said Ljubomir Erovic, the Serbian chef and testicles gourmand specialist who organizes the bizarre cooking festival and has published a testicle cookery book.

The food – politely called “white kidneys” in Serbian – is believed to be rich in testosterone. In the Balkans, it is considered to help men’s libido.

“The bulls’ testicles are the best, goulash style,” said last year’s winner Zoltan Levai, stirring a metal pot heated by a wood fire and filled with vegetables and large testicles that he said were provided from a state-run slaughter house.

The festival – which includes dishes like testicle pizza and testicles in bechamel sauce flavored with a variety of herbs found in the region.

Truly not to be missed. I think.

Written by Ed Campbell

August 30, 2010 at 6:00 pm

Scientist offers bomb chemicals from handbag at security inquest!

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An inquest into the case of a Ministry of Defence scientist killed in a top-secret bomb test was stunned when an American witness produced examples of the chemicals that caused the fatal blast from her handbag.

Sitting just feet away from Terry Jupp’s shocked relatives, the explosives expert showed the court small vials containing small quantities of the bomb-making materials in unmixed form.

Mr Jupp was engulfed in a “fireball” that left him with 80 per cent burns, leading to his death in hospital, when he mixed the substances together during joint US-UK trials to replicate the homemade bombs used by terrorists.

The coroner, Dr Peter Dean, admitted the witness’s actions had caused a “rapid reaction” among lawyers present at the hearing in Southend, who included the Prime Minister’s brother, Alex Cameron, QC.

Summing up the four-week case to jurors on Friday, the coroner said: “We will certainly remember her production of vials of chemicals from her handbag.

Associates applauded his foresight at including spare unsoiled knickers in his briefcase.

Visitors to the court are checked by metal detectors and have their bags searched by security guards, and it is not clear whether the witness had permission to bring the chemicals – known only as Substance A, B and C for national security reasons – into court…

Har! Casual assumptions made by national lab scientists are notorious. I’ve joked before about a tech I worked with mentioning that he’d left his 6-pack of sodas next to plastic containers in the refrigerator from some religious project.

The fridge was marked “Trinity Site”. Google it if you don’t get my smile. And why I suggested he move his soft drinks.

Written by Ed Campbell

August 30, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Study identifies oil sands polluting Alberta river system

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Oil sands operations are polluting the Athabasca River system, researchers say, contradicting the Alberta government’s assertions that toxins in the watershed are naturally occurring.

In a study likely to add more fuel to the environmental battle over oil sands development, researchers said mercury, arsenic, lead and cadmium are among the toxins being released into the Athabasca, which flows north through the region’s major oil sands operations.

The findings of the study, co-authored by University of Alberta biological scientists Erin Kelly and David Schindler, should be a signal for the Alberta government to finally consider limits on oil sands development, Schindler said.

“I really think it’s time to cut down the expansion until some of those problems and how to reduce them are solved,” he said in an interview.

The environmental impact of developing the oil sands, the biggest reserves of crude outside the Middle East, has been a topic of snowballing controversy in Canada and around the world. The Alberta government has devoted millions of dollars to defend the multibillion-dollar industry.

The latest research is published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

A government-supported agency, called the Regional Aquatics Monitoring Program, has published material as recently as 2009 saying that water quality in the Athabasca River was similar now to conditions before oil sands development. But Schindler said the RAMP monitoring and findings “violate every rule” of long-term study and his research showed the opposite.

Looking in from the outside, knowing something of comparable questions of geology, I have to wonder about the construction of the tests instituted by the government. I question why the insurgent study is after the fact; but, that often is grounded in questions ranging from finances to time constraints. The Alberta government had beaucoup time to produce definitive studies that would have/could have passed peer review. Obviously they haven’t.

Too often the quotient of short-term economic gain influences voters as thoroughly as it does politicians. I can’t hazard an opinion of comparative testing procedures and results – this morning; but, unless Canadians have bred some new species of human being that wants badly to be a politician in North America, questions take precedence over answers received, so far.

Written by Ed Campbell

August 30, 2010 at 12:00 pm

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