Kevin C Pyle and Scott Cunningham's non-fiction, book-length comic Bad for You: Exposing the War on Fun! is a marvellous and infuriating history of censorship, zero-tolerance, helicopter parenting, and the war on kids.
The comics form turns out to be just perfect for presenting this material. The book opens with a history of the fight over comics publishing in America, where the liar Frederic Wertham and his Seduction of the Innocents hoax led to a harsh regime of comics censorship, book banning, book burning, and decades of pseudoscientific vilification and dismissal of artists and the young people who loved their work. Presenting this story in a comics form only drives home how wrong Wertham and the Comics Code Authority were.
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Ben Goldacre and David Spiegelhalter have published a paper in the British Medical Journal called "
Bicycle helmets and the law", exploring the complex epidemiological conundrum presented by research on safety and bike helmets. As Goldacre pointed out, this is a perfect teaching case about the difficulty of evaluating risk and its relationship to law and the behavior. The paper is short and very clearly written, and makes a great companion to Goldacre's excellent books, Bad Science and Bad Pharma.
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Two days ago, a truck carrying a container of radioactive cobalt-60 (enough to make a dirty bomb) was stolen by carjackers off a highway near Tijuana. Today, authorities found the truck. The thieves probably aren't terrorists
, just some guys who wanted a truck with a crane attached to it. But, at some point, they opened the container of cobalt-60 and will now almost certainly die from radiation exposure. — Maggie
Every year, more than 2000 Americans experience a serious negative effect (either death or illness) from taking over-the-counter dietary supplements. Since 1994, it's been legal to sell supplements without prior safety testing. Even when someone gets sick, the burden of proof is on the FDA to prove the supplement caused it, rather than on the supplement company to prove it didn't. The Dallas Morning News
reports on the lack of oversight and what it costs us. — Maggie
Below is GE_Pretzel's review of the 1963 film "Special Delivery," from Safety Enterprises Corporation. The film stars John Butler, then-police chief of Mansfield, Ohio, as the bus driver.
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We've written often about Carl Malamud, the rogue archivist who has devoted his life to making the world's laws, standards, and publicly owned information into free, accessible, beautiful online documents. Now, I'm pleased to help him launch an ambitious, vital Kickstarter project aimed at raising at least $100,000 to turn the world's public safety codes into thoroughly linked, high-quality HTML documents (presently, many of the 28,040 public safety codes that Carl and public.resource.org have put online exist as scanned bitmaps that can't be searched or linked). The project involves a careful re-typing of all that scanned material and re-tracing of images and formatting them as vector-based SVG files.
Carl and his colleagues have fought in the courts for their right to publish the law that we, the people, are expected to follow. They have passed on lucrative careers in the private sector to devote themselves to public interest, public spirited work that makes the sourcecode for the world's governments available at our fingertips. The work they are doing unlocks untold billions in value -- from being able to ensure that your weekend DIY rewiring project meets code and won't burn down your house, all the way up to giving workers in deadly factories in Bangladesh access to the laws that are supposed to be honored in their workplaces.
$115 gets you a copy of their giant, amazing book of global safety standards, but there are interesting and awesome premiums at price-ranges from $10 (public acknowledgement on the Wall of Safety) to $475 (the Big Box of Propaganda!). I've put in my $115 -- not for the book, but as a way to thank Carl and co for the amazing work they do, and as a means of funding more of it. I hope you'll give, too.
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If a Saturn V rocket had ever exploded on the launchpad, it would have been a catastrophic event. NASA engineers once calculated that the resulting fireball would have been 1048 feet wide and would have hit temperatures as high as 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit. In the hopes of not losing astronauts or launch crew to the inferno, NASA tricked out the Apollo launchpad with some safety systems that still exist today, including an underground, rubber-lined bunker that was accessible from the launch platform via a 200-foot twisty slide. (Which almost sounds like fun, until you consider the context.)
Amy Shira Teitel is one of the few people who have been inside the rubber room recently. In the video above, and she shares photos and stories about it in the video above, at her blog, and on Discovery.com.
A faster meat safety program, with fewer government inspectors and more inspectors employed directly by the meat companies themselves, is associated with higher levels of contaminated meat. So why is the USDA planning to expand this program nationwide? — Maggie
This year, the Burning Man Organization has set out rules for drone operation on the playa, developed in concert with drone-hobbyist/burners who attended a summit at BMOHQ on July 17. The rules include a common-sense safety code, parameters on where/when/who can be videoed; fire safety rules; spectrum management procedures; and guidance on elevation and wind.
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Experts from the Danish National History Museum have warned that pacus -- a relative of the piranha -- have been spotted in the Danish/Swedish Øresund channel. The pacu has been known to bite swimmers, and have been known to attack men's testicles, because "testicles sit nicely in their mouth." So men are being cautioned to avoid nude swimming in the channel, though the museum's Henrik Carl stresses that the risk is not very high, in the grand scheme of things: "You're more likely to drown than get your nuts bitten off."
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On a Russian highway, a truck filled with propane cylinders explodes 39 times
, boom, boom, boom, each explosion more spectacular than the last.
Взрыв газели с балонами на МКАДе
Your chances of being killed by a shark are 1 in 3.8 million. But, you know, just in case
, here's what you do to survive a shark attack
. — Maggie
Mentalist and conjurer Derren Brown got a hell of a shock during his Saturday night show: a woman pushed her husband off a 45' balcony "for a joke," sending him over the edge. He caught hold of a light-rig about halfway down and was pulled to safety.
Derren Brown describes man's 'terrifying' fall from theatre balcony [Press Association/The Guardian]
(via Dan Hon)
An Asiana Airlines 777 from Seoul, Korea crash-landed at San Francisco International Airport last night. Two were killed, ten were critically injured, 181 others were taken to hospital.
David Eun, whose Twitter biography includes "frequent flier," was aboard the plane and tweeted a photo of the wreck as he was evacuated.
This Reddit thread contains a lot of great, breaking information, including audio from the SFO air traffic control during and after the crash, and eyewitness accounts from SFO and from diverted fliers who were landed elsewhere (SFO is closed until further notice).
It's not clear what caused the crash. Forbes has some early analysis of the debris field based on aerial photos. A prominent theory cited in several news reports is that the tail of the 777 caught the seawall and ripped free (
this also suggests that the two fatalities were flight attendants in the rear jumpseats). Update: An Asiana Airlines rep has confirmed that the two dead were passengers; specifically, teenagers from China.
Drowning, in real life, doesn't look or sound the way it does on TV. It's not loud. It's not thrashy. And it can happen just a few feet away from you without you even noticing. At Slate, Mario Vittone explains the Instinctive Drowning Response
— a physiological knee-jerk reaction that pretty much prevents all the signs and signals most of us look for in order to identify a person in the water who needs help. — Maggie