Holiday injuries waiting to happen

According to a poll of Pennsylvania adults, about 17 percent of Pennsylvanians experienced an injury or knows someone who was injured while opening gifts during past seasons.

The Patient Poll…asked participants “Have you or someone you know ever been injured (such as receiving a cut that required medical attention) while opening the packaging (not gift wrap) of a holiday or birthday gift?”

Its findings …

Yes, one time = 6.3%
Yes, more than once = 11.0%
No = 82.7%

The following tips may help:

If you must use a knife or another type of sharp object, cut away from your body.

If you must use scissors, use ones with blunt tips.

Wear protective gloves.

Avoid opening tough-to-open packages in a crowded area.

Don’t use your legs to keep the product stable.

Some pretty scary stuff, eh? I keep a pair of truly heavy-duty shear-type scissors on my desk – just for opening office supplies.

Born in Dixie? You have a higher risk of stroke death!

The “stroke belt” has a tight hold. People born in the Southern stroke belt have a higher risk of dying from stroke as adults, even if they later move away, compared to people who were born in other parts of the country…

People who live in the stroke belt in adulthood also had elevated risk of dying from stroke, even if they were not born there…

For the study, researchers examined information from the 1980, 1990 and 2000 US national death records for people age 30 to 80 who were born and lived in 49 US states. Stroke death rates were calculated by linking this information to US census information. The stroke belt was defined as seven states: North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama.

The study looked at four groups of people: those who were born and lived in the stroke belt as adults, people born in the stroke belt but who did not live there as adults, those born outside the stroke belt but who lived there as adults and those who were not born or lived in the stroke belt.

The study found that those who were born in the stroke belt and then moved away had a higher risk of death caused by stroke than those who were born outside the region and still lived outside the region as adults. The same was true with those who were born elsewhere but later moved to the stroke belt. At the highest risk were those who were both born in the stroke belt and lived there as adults…

“Many important behaviors such as diet, physical activity, and smoking are shaped by childhood social conditions. Future long-term national studies with detailed information on when people moved are needed to help show whether those who move may have different patterns of risk factors and also identify more precisely at what point in life stroke risk begins to build. This will help us understand how to reduce stroke for people living in every region of the country,” Dr. M. Maria Glymour said.


Some of Japan’s hotels advertising their RR view

Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

Japanese hotels near stations are trying to attract train spotters with rooms marketed as having a “rail view”.

Most people would prefer a room away from the tracks, fearful the double glazing would not block the rattle of a passing early morning express. But some hotels near stations in Tokyo are turning a potential disadvantage into a business opportunity.

They are trying to broaden their appeal beyond tourists and business travellers by marketing rooms to train spotters…

The Hotel Mets Akabane in the Japanese capital has a scheme guaranteeing rooms with a view of the tracks on the fourth floor or above…

The rival Odakyu Hotel Century Southern Tower overlooks Shinjuku station, one of the busiest in the world. Its “Just like the N-gauge Model, Train View Stay Plan” is named after Japan’s standard size of model railway sets.

The offer includes a gift of a paperweight made of a piece of track, as well as a copy of the latest railway timetable.

Hobbyists run the gamut from antique and old to modern and visionary – regardless of subject.

I recall sitting with mates in the Highlands – properly lubricated by an old single malt – listening to recordings of steam trains leaving station and climbing some famous grade.

I’d probably enjoy the approach of a Japanese bullet train as much – though in different fashion.

Is money tainting the plasma products industry?

When the tips her husband earned as a waiter began dwindling a year ago, Esmeralda Delgado decided to help support her family.

Twice a week, Ms. Delgado, the mother of three young girls, walks across the bridge from Piedras Negras, Mexico, where she lives, to Eagle Pass, Texas, and enters a building just two blocks from the border.

Inside, for about an hour, Ms. Delgado lies hooked to a machine that extracts plasma, the liquid part of the blood, from a vein in her arm. The $60 a week she is paid almost equals her husband’s earnings…

Hundreds, probably thousands, of Mexicans like Ms. Delgado come to the United States to trade their plasma for dollars. Eagle Pass, a town of 27,000 that bills itself as the place “where yee-hah meets olé,” has two such plasma collection centers. There are about 15 others in border cities from Brownsville, Tex., to Yuma, Ariz…

Based on typical industry yields and prevailing prices, it appears that a single plasma donation, for which a donor might be paid $30, results in pharmaceutical products worth at least $300.

Away from the border as well, many plasma collection centers have historically been located in areas of extreme poverty, some with high drug abuse. That troubles some people, who say it might contaminate the plasma supply or the health of people who sell their plasma.

Why in the United States do we have to depend on people who are down and out to donate?” says Dr. Roger Kobayashi, an immunologist in Omaha who uses plasma products to treat many patients. “You are taking advantage of economically disadvantaged individuals, and I don’t think you are that worried about their health.”

Dr. Kobayashi, who also teaches at the University of California, Los Angeles, says the collections on the Mexican border skirt the policy aimed at keeping plasma products safe from pathogens by prohibiting imports of plasma. “If you can’t import the plasma,” he says, “why not import the donor?”

RTFA. Long, detailed account of corporate ghouls profiting from the poor.

The story isn’t really new. Just the dynamic size of the business and a business that’s figured out how to import people lower down the economic scale than the poorest Americans.

A forward-looking plan for electric cars in Denmark

Is saving $40,000 at the showroom enough to get drivers behind the wheel of an electric car? With a program in the works to add easy access to charging stations, Denmark is about to find out.

For all their potential, electric cars have always been the subject of more talk than action, and only a handful are on the road in Denmark. But now the biggest Danish power company is working with a Silicon Valley start-up in a $100 million effort to wire the country with charging poles as well as service stations that can change out batteries in minutes.

The government offers a minimum $40,000 tax break on each new electric car — and free parking in downtown Copenhagen…

The experiment has other implications beyond the borders of this Scandinavian nation of 5.5 million. That is because Denmark is trying to do more than simply move away from the internal combustion engine.

By revamping the power grid, Dong Energy, Better Place’s partner and the biggest utility in Denmark, wants to power the anticipated fleet of electric cars with wind energy, which already supplies nearly 20 percent of the country’s power.

With Better Place and the smart grid working together, cars would charge up as the winds blow at night, when power demand is lowest…

We’re the perfect match for a windmill-based utility,” said Shai Agassi, Better Place’s founder and chief executive. “If you have a bunch of batteries waiting to be charged, it’s like having a lot of buckets waiting for rain.”

“We want to be a test and laboratory country for electric cars, hybrid cars and other new technology,” said Lars Barfoed, the Danish minister of transport.

Agassi makes a point in the article that applies as much to the US and UK – as Denmark. “The one factor that you can’t find on a spreadsheet is the willingness of the people in government to lead change,” Mr. Agassi said. “And in Denmark every single one of them is engaged and willing to do whatever it takes to get Denmark to be a leader in electric vehicles.”

In Congress – and Parliament – we have a lot of people dedicated solely to getting re-elected. Whatever ass-backwards opportunism that may require in their dim little minds – is all they will commit to.

Is cannabis the replacement for Brits’ booze addiction?

Substituting cannabis in place of more harmful drugs may be a winning strategy in the fight against substance misuse. Research published in BioMed Central’ open access Harm Reduction Journal features a poll of 350 cannabis users, finding that 40% used cannabis to control their alcohol cravings, 66% as a replacement for prescription drugs and 26% for other, more potent, illegal drugs.

Amanda Reiman, from the University of California, Berkeley, USA, carried out the study at Berkeley Patient’s Group, a medical cannabis dispensary. She said, “Substituting cannabis for alcohol has been described as a radical alcohol treatment protocol. This approach could be used to address heavy alcohol use in the British Isles — people might substitute cannabis, a potentially safer drug than alcohol with less negative side-effects, if it were socially acceptable and available.”

Reiman found that 65% of people reported using cannabis as a substitute because it has less adverse side effects than alcohol, illicit or prescription drugs, 34% because it has less withdrawal potential and 57.4% because cannabis provides better symptom management. She said, “This brings up two important points. First, self-determination, the right of an individual to decide which treatment or substance is most effective and least harmful for them. Secondly, the recognition that substitution might be a viable alternative to abstinence for those who can’t or won’t completely stop using psychoactive substances.”

Speaking about legalization of cannabis, Reiman added, “The economic hardship of The Great Depression helped bring about the end of alcohol prohibition. Now, as we are again faced with economic struggles, the US is looking to marijuana as a potential revenue generator. Public support is rising for the legalization of recreational use and remains high for the use of marijuana as a medicine.

Rock on, Amanda! I’ve mentioned before – I neither drink or smoke – but, I live in a state that allows me the option for something like hash brownies if a medical condition so requires.

Recreational use of cannabis needn’t require ignition and I believe it’s liable to cause less harm than booze. Anyone following proper football in the UK has a clear view of the ongoing social problems associated with booze. And pies.