Archive for March 9th, 2004

Insane Evil Radio


Andrew Grumet points to a very weird piece of internet errata. It
is the kind of brilliant sounding idea which in practice makes you sit
and think – don’t very smart people have anything better to do with their
time than to make other people crazy? The brilliant idea is brilliantly
summed up on the site, Radio Vox Populi, and if you still don’t get it
check out the accompanying diagram:

Radio Vox Populi is a realization of the people’s voice, taking the content of
the weblogs and broadcasting it back to the world. As weblog authors update their
sites their writing is collected, synthesized into speech, and streamed to listeners
as an Internet radio station. Live from the commons 24 hours a day, 365 days
a year.

that make it sound exciting, hip and righteously refreshing? In
reality, the effect is, well, interesting at first.  Of course,
the computerized voices of text-to-speech applications inhabit a space
somewhere between comical and annoying in their ineptness and unnatural
inflections. But combined with the facts that the Robot Harvester only
harvests about two sentences of each blog, and that interspersed with
the barely comprehensible English prose are garbled and twisted
attempts by the computer to pronounce things like ##### and

It’s like the Burroughs-Kerouac cut-up
composition method, where they cut phrases and sentences from each others
work and mixed them up at random, were applied to a bunch of less-than-mediocre
prose and recited by a cast of hypnotized, lobotomized zombies on cough syrup.
If listened to closely over extended periods we are convinced this stuff
could drive
a person
at least
temporarily. We can only speculate what kind of chemicals the people
who can tolerate listening to this stuff have access to, but they are
way stronger than anything WE have seen in quite a while.

So check it out – its amusing at first.  But don’t get hooked,
because the Dowbrigade takes no responsibility for damage resulting from

from radio vox populi

If Rover Ruled the World



from Worth1000

I Can’t Be Obese – I Only Eat Salads



LONDON (Reuters) – Global hamburger giant McDonald’s latest line in healthy
looking salads may contain more fat than its hamburgers, according
to the company’s Web Site.

McDonald’s, plagued by health critics and flattening sales, has launched
the biggest change to its menu in 30 years with its plans to get into
the multi-million
pound prepared salad market.

"You can choose your salad, topping and dressing. You can mix and match
to suit your diet and lifestyle," said a McDonald’s spokeswoman.

However, consumers hoping to lose weight by switching from burgers to salads
may be disappointed, according to the Interactive Nutrition Counter on the McDonald’s
Web site.

For example, on the new menu to be launched at the end of this month, a "Caesar
salad with Chicken Premiere" contains 18.4 grams of fat compared with 11.5
grams of fat in a standard cheeseburger.

from Reuters

Did I Take My Medicine or Not?



persistent problem in the medical community is that many patients fail
to follow the instructions on their prescriptions. They often miss
dosages, or forget they have taken their medicine and double dose. Sometimes
patients stop taking their medicine after they start to feel better or
because it has unpleasant side effects.

This often happens to the Dowbrigade,
particularly with pharmaceutical narcotics,
which always seem to be gone a few hours after we fill the script.
Obviously, we are forgetting taking them, over and over again.

Apparently, the problem is most acute with elderly patients, who not
only get the best medicines, but get more of them than anyone else. Why
don’t patients take the medicine their doctors give them, even though
they know their life might depend on it?

To answer that questions, scientists at the University of Michigan set
up a study of heart attack and angina patients to find out
the most common reasons they don’t take their medicine. Guess what it
was. They forgot.

The study involved 154 patients who had suffered acute coronary syndromes
(heart attack or unstable angina episode) and were hospitalized at
the U-M Health System. The vast majority of them were taking some
or all of the "Fab Four" classes of drugs for heart patients:
anti-platelet medications such as aspirin, ACE inhibitors, beta blockers
and lipid-lowering, cholesterol-fighting statin drugs.

In all, 50.4 percent of the patients reported some level of non-adherence to
their medication regimen. More than 48 percent said they hadn’t stuck to their
statins, while 40 percent had trouble keeping up with their ACE inhibitors. Aspirin
and beta blocker non-adherence rates were also in the 40 percent range.

When asked why they didn’t keep up with their medication schedule, the patients’
top reason was that they had forgotten. Carelessness was second, followed by
a few patients who said they didn’t take some of their drugs when they felt
better – or
when they felt worse.

This is a big part of the reason scientists are so excited with the
new drug-dispensing chips which can be implanted inside a person’s body
and either pre-programed to release precise dosages at prescribed times,
or activated when needed by signals from outside.

Our only problem with this whole idea is that, at least in the case
of the Dowbrigade it would have to be a VERY BIG CHIP to contain a significant
portion of the pharmaceuticals we anticipate needing as we ease into
our senior years. Why, the threshold dosage of organic mescaline alone
is half a gram. We can foresee some serious implantation problems which
may eventually involve growing or implanting extra body parts just to
house the needed drug implants.

However we are confident that science will eventually solve these delivery
system problems. After all, if we can put two dune buggies on the surface
of Mars, we can certainly figure out how to shrink 128 different drugs
to fit on a microchip and then implant it in the Dowbrigade. Another miracle
of modern medicine.

from Eureka Alert

California Proposes Giving the Vote to Kids


had to happen. Legislators in California, America’s Fountain of Youth
Worship, have proposed lowering
the voting age for state elections
14! The idea seems to be that by empowering teenagers at an earlier age,
we will expand diversity and democracy.  We will also probably end
up with Keanu Reeves as Governor and the Olsen twins as co-Attorney’s

And why stop at 14? Why not let pre-teens vote? How about giving two
votes to pregnant women? After all, the unborn life in their wombs will
have to abide by the decisions and policies of the winners of the elections.
Fair is fair.

A proposed amendment to California’s constitution would give 16-year-olds
a half-vote and 14-year-olds a quarter-vote in state elections.

State Sen. John Vasconcellos, among four lawmakers to propose the idea on Monday,
said the Internet, cellular phones, multichannel television and a diverse society
makes today’s teens better informed than their predecessors.

The idea requires two-thirds approval by the Legislature to appear on the November

"When we gave the vote to those who didn’t own property, then to women,
then to persons of all colors, we added to the richness of our democratic dialogue
and our own nation’s integrity and its model for the world," Vasconcellos
said, calling it time to further extend the vote.