July 22nd, 2011

LVAD story from Plano, TX

A friend pointed me at this because of a family connection:


If, like me, you went, "what's an LVAD"? My husband's answer was partly what is captured here:


and partly, "That's what Dick Cheney got." R. also said, this is sort of sneaking up to an artificial heart.

It's a nice little story connecting medical technology with its origins in the engineering problems of space flight.

Thanks, M.!

Headlines on Repurposed Press Releases

The University of Montreal recently put out a press release:


Its headline was:

"Genetic research confirms that non-Africans are part Neanderthal"

Discovery News picked up this press release, slapped a byline and photo on it ("Analysis by Jennifer Viegas") and modified the headline in an aggressive manner:


"All Non-Africans Part Neanderthal, Genetics Confirm"

This headline made me suspicious, leading to this post.

Science Daily picked up the article, refrained from putting anyone's name on it, and modified the headline as well:

"Non-Africans Are Part Neanderthal, Genetic Research Shows"

If you are interested in the actual research, you can get 1 day access to the underlying journal article for $32.


I understand that a lot of what is out there is written by people with some degree of interest in what is being described, issued to the press, which then adapts it to its own purposes. This is more of the same; I just wish the press outlets hadn't felt compelled to destroy the original headline. It was a _good_ headline. The Discovery News headline comes under the heading "not shown" and is _really_ aggressive. The Science Daily and the Discovery News headlines share a really obnoxious structure.

Parenting Conversations

Me: "If you had a kid who you knew was a thrill seeker, would you buy him a beemer?"

R.: "No, I'd buy him an old Volvo."

I wanted to know why not just buy the kid a Honda Fit or similar, but R. pointed out that the old Volvo had the virtue of a very low horsepower and had a terrific safety record in terms of preserving the integrity of the passenger compartment.

This makes sense to me. An SUV would clearly be a terrible choice for a thrill seeker kid; they'd roll it.

Attacks in Norway, Texas Board of Education, Canada infections in the News

Several things caught my eyes in the news today.

First, a big explosion (persistently not being confirmed yet as a bomb) in government buildings in Oslo, Norway. The Prime Minister's office was damaged badly but he was not in it at the time. Nevertheless, this report is saying that seven are confirmed dead and more injured. The target may have been the oil ministry. The city center was less busy than it might have been because of summer vacations.


Meanwhile, a summer camp run by the Labour Party in Norway was attacked by a gunman possibly dressed as a policeman, who has been arrested. Not a lot of detail yet on casualties. This article is the first one I've seen to describe fora in which people are praising the attacks and possibly taking credit for them (credibly or otherwise). [ETA July 26 NOT Credibly. This was done by a native Norwegian and included a manifesto, polypharmacy, and the delusional hope he was about to spark a revolution. It's a pity we retired the word "megalomania". Total deaths 76, as near as I can tell.]

In completely unrelated news, the Texas Board of Education "voted unanimously" to approve "mainstream" science curricular materials (not textbooks: "supplemental materials" and reject others that advocated intelligent design/questioned the validity of evolution.


Even more unrelated, Canadian press bemoaning the rate of "health-care associated infection" in Canada, with both Europe and the US doing better.


ETA: I've had over a dozen, anonymous, totally unrelated spam comments on this entry. Goddess knows why, but I'm locking it now.

hey, that's R.'s master's thesis!

I was over at peekyou trying to figure out how good it would be at violating my privacy, since it has paid off repeatedly at a task I've otherwise had trouble with (connecting someone who is in their late teens/early 20s in public records to their profiles in social networking sites). Peekyou was medium-poor at finding me (too common a name). But my husband's name is not as common -- and it _found his master's thesis_!

Pretty cool.