March 9, 2008
From PST, the Photoshop Talent blog comes an excellent set of tutorials that focus on what we do most often: enhance or improve the people in our images. Well worth checking out.
March 8, 2008
. . . from a brain linked to what is “out there” by a few million fragile sensory nerve fibers, [these are] our only information channels, our lifelines to reality. They provide what is essential for life itself: an afferent excitation that maintains the conscious state, the awareness of self. Sensations are set by the encoding functions of sensory nerve endings, and by the integrating neural mechanics of the central nervous system. Afferent nerve fibers are not high-fidelity recorders, for they accentuate certain stimulus features, neglect others. The central neuron is a story-teller with regard to the nerve fibers, and it is never completely trustworthy, allowing distortions of quality and measure. . . sensation is an abstraction, not a replication of the real world.
–Vernon Mountcastle, as quoted in Eric R. Kandel’s, In Search of Memory
Enzyte male ‘enhancer’ president guilty of fraud; faces 20 years in prison, purchasers bilked out of $100 million
March 7, 2008
“So all this is a fiction?” Judge S. Arthur Spiegel asked about some of the claims.
“That’s correct, your honor,” Teegarden said.
March 7, 2008
I just love it when practitioners of medical fraud get nailed, details below. Here’s a link to an excellent commentary on the whole sad affair from the Respectful Insolence blog.
The makers of Airborne–a multivitamin and herbal supplement whose labels and ads falsely claimed that the product cures and prevents colds–will refund money to consumers who bought the product, as part of a $23.3 million class action settlement agreement. The company will pay for ads in Better Homes & Gardens, Parade, People, Newsweek, and many other magazines and newspapers instructing consumers how to get refunds.
Concocted by second-grade teacher Victoria Knight McDowell and her screenwriter husband Thomas Rider McDowell, Airborne promised to “boost your immune system to help your body combat germs” and instructed users to “take it at the first sign of a cold symptom or before entering crowded, potentially germ-infested environments.” The company’s folksy “created by a school teacher!” slogan and insistence that the product be stocked with real cold, cough, and flu medicines instead of with dietary supplements, helped turn the company into an overnight success, as did an appearance by Victoria Knight McDowell on the Oprah Winfrey Show.
March 7, 2008
I’m a huge fan of science and technology, the only two things that have consistently improved the quality of life for everyone on our pale, blue dot.
Some find refuge in religion or New Age beliefs, complimentary and alternative medicine or fantasies of being abducted by aliens with an bizarre interest in human genitalia. But when they have a toothache they go to a modern dentist, not a Reiki healer or an aromatherapist. Even if someone swears by acupuncture and believes that being practiced for two thousand years lends it some credibility, no one I know is willing to go back to the dental practices of 2,000 years ago.
Here’s a question to ponder: MDs, Ph.Ds, astronomers, chemists, economists, physicists and academic researchers are well represented among the ranks of those who have won Nobel Prizes in their fields. Why hasn’t an acupuncturist or a naturopath or a homeopathic doctor or an herbalist ever won a Nobel Prize for their ‘contributions’ to science or medicine?
A friend who is heavily into astrology and a therapist I know who does alleged “past life regressions” both claim my skeptic, science-oriented world view devalues the mystery and beauty of life. Nonsense. There is real mystery and beauty enough in the universe without having to resort to the manufactured mysteries of frauds, con artists and miracle-mongers.
In support of this I present the following: a link to a stunning image of an ice crater on the north pole of Mars, from the the website of the University of Virginia Department of Astronomy.
I submit this is beautiful and mysterious and only science and technology could bring this view to us.
March 5, 2008
There’s a relatively new product on the market for dealing with one the commonplaces of dog ownership – shedding hair. Of course, most people don’t brush their dogs as often as they should which would help tremendously with the problem.
The FURminator is really not a “new” concept to anyone who’s familiar with the traditional curved shedding blade. But it is an effective and ergonomic variation on the previous styles of blades and coat combs. Of course, it is hideously over-priced at $60 for the large FURminator.
However, it does work very well and if you’re only going to brush your dog once a month or so, this is the tool to use. It doesn’t cut your dog’s hair but works by pulling out the undercoat. I have to admit that it does this better than any of the shedding blades I’ve used in the past.
They claim it will reduce shedding by up to 90% (I’ll report later on my own long term experience with it). That’s like the dishwasher soap that leaves your dishes ‘virtually spotless.’ Another way of expressing the same thought is, this soap leaves some spots on your dishes.
The FURminator folks also sell shampoos and lotions that they claim work with their tool to even further reduce the amount of shedding your dogs does. I’m very skeptical of this claim. If you believe that any lotion or potion or soap or shampoo by itself will reduce shedding in a breed prone to it, you probably click on those emails for breast and penis enlargement, too.
Bottom line: it works. I got an incredible amount of hair off my two Labradors, similar to the examples shown on their website, www.furminator.com. But I think the price should be one-half of what it’s currently selling for.
You can, I believe, achieve the same results by using a $10 shedding blade once a week, as you can by using the FURminator once a month. I gotta admit they came up with a great name and a handle that looks very high-tech and is comfortable to use, too. But $60? C’mon, guys give us a break.
March 4, 2008
I think most people would be shocked when they add up the expenses and the time involved in dog ownership. I find myself actively discouraging people from adopting dogs without first getting a real sense of how much time and money is involved.
Potential owners who underestimate the cost and time inevitably wind up with under-exercised, under-trained dogs who, naturally enough, exhibit behavioral problems (excessive barking, destructive chewing, inappropriate elimination habits) and then wind up abandoned or in shelters.
A recent posting on the Fosters & Smith Pet Education site details the expenses involved over the life of a 50 pound dog over 14 years in the Midwest. The low number? $4,242.00. The middle number, which I consider to be closest to the true average cost? $12,468.00. The high end number? $38,905.00.
Surprised? Then you should read the entire article, here.
These totals are pretty shocking aren’t they? And remember, this is the cost for a 50-pound dog that lives in the Midwest. It is not uncommon to see some of these numbers double or triple in places like New York, Los Angeles, Miami, and Dallas. Now granted most people do not end up spending $40,000 on their dog, but some spend a whole lot more. A dog with hip dysplasia or severe allergies can have significantly higher veterinary expenses and I routinely see people who spend over $2,000 on a single veterinary problem. Chances are your costs will be similar to those I incur, but even with the minimum required care, it is still over $13,000.00.
March 3, 2008
The Abduzeedo.com blog shows you how to create very convincing smoke effects in Photoshop. It’s a 7 step process and one that has many potential applications. It’s one of the best ‘smoke’ tutorials I’ve found on the web. Check it out and try it yourself!