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How much booze is too much booze?

At Forbes, Katie Kelly Bell has an interesting look at the extremely subjective measurements happening behind the seemingly objective instruction to drink only "in moderation". Maggie 28

Poison oak and poison ivy skin barrier: Invisible Glove

I am horrifically allergic to poison oak. I am also an avid mountain biker in northern California. This not a good combination. I have tried all the soaps and wipes, but none of them really help, especially if you are out all day and can’t get to a shower soon after exposure.

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Are you dead yet? Letter sent to pensioners to confirm existence

From the BBC: "A letter sent to about 4,000 retired people in Jersey asking if they still exist has been described as offensive by some of those who received it. ... The department said it wanted to make sure money was not paid into the accounts of people who had died." [via Arbroath] Rob 16

A moving account of how hospitals negotiate complicated cases of patient rights

Yesterday, a story about human experimentation spurred an interesting discussion in the comments about patient rights — can somebody who is dying make the informed decision to accept a treatment that could lead to them dying sooner? At Scientific American today, an HIV doctor has written a moving account of dealing with a very similar question, as one of his patients made the choice to refuse food, and her family and doctors were faced with the task of deciding whether or not to feed her through a stomach tube. Maggie 4

HOWTO synthesize poop for turd-transplants with a robotgut


University of Guelph researcher Emma Allen-Vercoe and her team have devised a method for creating artificial poop for use in fecal transplants, a promising therapy for people whose intestinal flora have been damaged by illness, antibiotics, or other therapies. The recipe involves a combination of indigestible cellulose and a starter culture of fecal bacteria. These are mixed in an airtight chamber and passed through a "robogut" -- a mechanical analog of the human digestive system that produces the finished turd.

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Circumcision training kit, fake gangrenous feet, fake blood, artificial fat, aged torsos & artificial earwax: the wonderful world of Life/Form trainers


Life/Form's $186 circumcision trainers "include the foreskin, glans penis, frenulum, meatus, and coronal groove" and are "made with our soft, lifelike material, which is pliable, delicate, and realistic to the touch."

More seriously, Life/Form sells a pretty amazing range of anatomical models for training and education, including a 1lb lump of fat (also sold by the ounce and the five-weight); artificial blood by the quart; gangrenous, ulcerated feet; lifelike bedsores; obese, geriatric head/torso mixes; jars of artificial earwax, and much, much more.

Infant Circumcision Trainer, White (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

Vogue editor on the grotesque starvation of size-zero models


Kirstie Clements, a former Vogue editor, has written an horrific column for the Guardian detailing the physical privation experienced by the size-zero models used by couture designers. She tells of models who were so weak from starvation that they literally couldn't stand for an entire photo-shoot, so that some of final photos had to be contrived with the models lying down. She writes about a model's roommate who was mostly on her own, because her "flatmate is a 'fit model', so she's in hospital on a drip a lot of the time." That is, her roommate, a reference model for designers, was so starved that she was frequently hospitalized.

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Crowdfunded mosquito-confusing patch to be sent to Uganda


The Kite Patch is the subject of a very successful Indiegogo fundraiser, and holds the promise of a lasting peace between mosquitoes and humans. It bears a compound designed by UC Riverside entomologist Anandasankar Ray that confuses mosquitoes' ability to track and follow concentration gradients of CO2, which is how they locate humans. However, the product couldn't be marketed in the USA without further testing, hence the crowdfunding campaign, which will send thousands of patches to Uganda, where they will be used as part of a wider trial in fighting malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases. The actual nature of the compound is confusing: the Wired article describes it as both "toxic" and "nontoxic" and the crowdfunding FAQ calls it "nontoxic."

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Life in a toxic country

New York Times China correspondent Edward Wong describes his life in heavily polluted Beijing, where he no longer feels safe running outside and, in order to bike around town, dons a black air filter face mask that makes him "look like an Asian Darth Vader". Maggie 9

Dentist sued over "I own your criticism" agreement vanishes


Dr. Stacy Makhnevich was a NYC dentist (billing herself as the "Classical Singer Dentist of New York") who made use of a bizarre form provided by a company called "Medical Justice." Her patients were expected to sign this form, through which they assigned copyright in all their reviews of the dental practice and the doctor to the doctor herself, enabling her to use copyright notices to censor any criticism of her that appeared online. Robert Lee was an unhappy patient who posted a one-star Yelp review in 2010, and subsequently ended up embroiled in litigation against Makhnevich -- a lawsuit that would have likely settled the question of the legality of Medical Justice's adhesion contracts.

But Medical Justice left Makhnevich to fight the claim on her own, and she has subsequently disappeared. It seems she is no longer practicing dentistry, and her lawyers can't locate her and have asked to shut down the case.

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From the front lines in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria

Bacteria are becoming resistant to one of the last classes of antibiotics available to treat them, writes Maryn McKenna at Nature. Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae are a family of lung, blood, and bladder infections that can turn horribly deadly. Meanwhile, at Scientific American, Charles Q. Choi writes about other scientists looking for ways to turn bacteria against one another, unleashing predatory microbes that can destroy drug-resistant bacteria. Maggie 2

Woo with a body-count: measles epidemic follows anti-vax scare

Wales is in the grip of a measles epidemic, thanks to the anti-vaccine scare more than a decade ago. Once the critical mass of herd immunity dropped below a certain threshold, in came the old, deadly -- and utterly preventable -- disease.

Death toll from the American anti-vaccine movement

The Anti-Vaccine Body Count site reminds us that since celebrities like Jenny McCarthy took the cause of scaring parents into avoiding life-saving vaccines, thousands of preventable illnesses and deaths have struck. Since 2007 alone, more than 110,000 preventable illnesses and 1,170 deaths have occurred. In that same timeframe, the number of autism diagnoses linked through scientific evidence and review to vaccination is zero. (via Making Light) Cory 119

A gynecologist on how abortion restrictions lead to dangerous abortions

Maggie Koerth-Baker interviews OB/GYN Dr. Jen Gunter, who has personal experience of treating patients forced to seek out distant or questionable abortion providers, and the complications they suffer as a result.

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HPV cancers a mystery in men

Human papillomavirus is a well-known and widely researched threat to womens’ health. But men are at risk too, writes Maggie Koerth-Baker,—and the scientific outlook is much more uncertain.

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