Tuesday, October 13, 2009

WHERE IS PROGRESS PROGRESSING? In Boston scientists have created a contact lens that can deliver a high concentration of medicine at a constant rate for more than 30 days; and because the drug-containing part of the lens is doughnut-shaped, it won’t interfere with vision. Presently 90% of eye medicine is in the form of eye drops, but doctors estimate that only 1%-7% of the medicine gets absorbed into the eye. The rest runs down the cheeks. Although this lens has only been lab-tested, animal testing is starting; and it’s expected that the lens will make human contact by 2010. In Seattle doctors who are fed up with dealing with insurance companies have set up a non-insurance clinic. Qliance patients pay $99 to join and a flat monthly rate of $39 to $119, depending on age and level of service. No one is rejected for pre-existing conditions, you can quit without notice and patients get 30-minute appointments with 24/7 care. For catastrophic care, patients must medically qualify through outside brokers. For a 30-year-old that could cost $133 a month and for a 60-year-old, $400 a month. More than 50 non-insurance clinics operate in 18 states – and this has improved my state of mind. In Kansas City Aim4Peace sends reformed criminals into the city’s toughest neighborhoods to calm disputes before they become violent. Six Aim4 Peace street intervention workers resolved 22 conflicts in 2008 and 14 conflicts in the early months of 2009. The group also finds mentors for at-risk youth and links residents with community services. Jason Broom was released from prison in 2008 after serving time for participation in 2 killings. Now he reaches out to young men from families like his with a history of violence, hoping to break that cycle and give the cycle of life a chance. In Jerusalem - as of July 2009 - the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest prayer site, has its own address on the Twitter networking service. The “Tweet Your Prayers” Web site says that petitioners can tweet their prayers and they’ll be printed out and put in the wall along with thousands of handwritten notes from visitors who believe that their prayers will go directly to God. There is no charge for this service, but the Web site has 2 sponsored links and visitors to the site are invited to make a credit card donation. Obviously, this service is causing a 21st century twitter of excitement.
IS THERE ANY PLACE THAT'S SAFE? According to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, text messaging while driving isn’t safe. Cameras watched drivers of light vehicles and trucks for more than 6 million miles and found that driving while texting increases collision risk by 23 times. Dialing a cell phone or using an electronic device increased the risk by about 6 times. Right before a crash or near crash drivers spent almost 5 seconds looking at their devices – at 55 mph that’s time to go more than the length of a football field. As a result, the Institute recommended banning text messaging while driving; and 14 states have already gotten that message. According to a report in the “British Medical Journal”, rear-facing car seats are safer for young children. An analysis of U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data was done of 870 children involved in crashes from 1998 to 2003. It found rear-facing car seats provided better protection in all crashes through age 23 months. These seats provide full alignment of head, neck and spine so crash forces aren’t centered on one area. Although infants are usually switched to front-facing car seats at 20 pounds, there’s growing evidence the switch should wait until age 4. Car seat manufacturers should consider this “fourwarning”. According to MSNBC’s review of state hunting laws, Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Vermont and Washington have no minimum age for solo hunting. In Texas the minimum age is 9. In Alaska, Louisiana and Tennessee it is 10. In Missouri it’s 11 and in nine other states it’s 12. The NRA believes parents – not lawmakers – should decide when their children start hunting, but federal law prohibits anyone under 18 from buying a rifle or a shotgun. Maybe a Washington woman wouldn’t have been killed in 2008 if a 14-year-old hadn’t thought she was a bear – “bear” facts. According to Underwriters Laboratories’ testing, autoclaved aerated concrete – AAC – is masonry material that can withstand 2,000 degree fires for 4 hours. Among other features, AAC is energy-efficient, termite–proof, deadens sound and can be shaped with hand tools. It’s a mixture of sand, water, lime, portland cement and aluminum powder, formed into blocks and dried in an industrial pressure cooker – completely non-toxic. The bad news for fire-plagued California is that using it is against building code because it’s supposedly seismically unsound. Considering AAC is used in all other 49 states, that doesn’t sound like sound thinking.

Knight Pierce Hirst

I may be the only writer who has moved to Los Angeles for the weather.

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