27 January 2009

Reese Labs finds chemical connection between Crack and Consumer Products

The following consumer products have been shown to have the same chemical effects on the brain as crack:

-Vitamin Water
-Peanut M&M's
-The Apple Store
-Tonight:Franz Ferdinand

21 January 2009

My Webclips

This is a short list of News RSS feeds from online plublications, Newspapers, Magazines, and News Networks that I have on my webclips in my GMail Account. It's an easy way to keep track of the headlines while you're doing other things. Add some or all to your webclips, and share your links with me!

Add the J Reese's Blog (Beta 2.1) Feed to your Webclips - http://www.jreese.net/atom.xml

ABC News: Home Page - http://feeds2.feedburner.com/AbcNews_TopStories?format=xml

BBC News Americas World Edition - http://newsrss.bbc.co.uk/rss/newsonline_world_edition/americas/rss.xml
BBC News Business World Edition - http://newsrss.bbc.co.uk/rss/newsonline_world_edition/business/rss.xml
BBC News Science & Environment World Edition - http://newsrss.bbc.co.uk/rss/newsonline_world_edition/science/nature/rss.xml
BBC News Technology World Edition - http://newsrss.bbc.co.uk/rss/newsonline_world_edition/technology/rss.xml

BusinessWeek.com -- - http://www.businessweek.com/rss/bwdaily.rss

CNN.com - Science & Space - http://rss.cnn.com/rss/cnn_space.rss
CNN.com - Technology - http://rss.cnn.com/rss/cnn_tech.rss

msnbc.com: Top msnbc.com headlines - http://rss.msnbc.msn.com/id/3032091/device/rss/rss.xml
msnbc.com: U.S. news - http://rss.msnbc.msn.com/id/3032524/device/rss/rss.xml

NYT Business - http://www.nytimes.com/services/xml/rss/nyt/Business.xml
NYT Home Page - http://www.nytimes.com/services/xml/rss/nyt/HomePage.xml
NYT Technology - http://www.nytimes.com/services/xml/rss/nyt/Technology.xml

Reuters: U.S. - http://feeds.reuters.com/Reuters/domesticNews?format=xml

Scientific American - News - http://rss.sciam.com/ScientificAmerican-News

TIME.com: Top Nation and US stories - http://feeds2.feedburner.com/time/nation?format=xml
TIME.com: Top Stories - http://feeds2.feedburner.com/time/topstories?format=xml

washingtonpost.com - Editorials - http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/rss/linkset/2005/05/30/LI2005053000331.xml
washingtonpost.com - National News and Headlines - http://feeds.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/rss/nation/index_xml

WSJ.com: Page One - http://online.wsj.com/xml/rss/3_7205.xml
WSJ.com: Personal Technology - http://online.wsj.com/xml/rss/3_7454.xml
WSJ.com: US Business - http://online.wsj.com/xml/rss/3_7014.xml

Why is one earbud longer than the other?

I can't seem to figure out why one of my earbuds is longer than the other. Can you help me? When I was in the market for a new pair of earbuds, I knew I wanted a pair that were noise isolating, comfortable, and durable. This put me in the $30-$40 range. But the only thing I wanted which I couldn't find, was a pair of earbuds that had the same length of wire on each ear.

Before I complain further, let me just say that I ended up going with the $29.99 Phillips Ear Buds for a couple of reasons. The most important of which is that I had a Best Buy Rewards Certificate, and I wanted to use it. They also came with 3 different size ear cushions, and are extremely comfortable. The frequency response on this model if very respectable, and to top it off, the noise isolation if great. I sometimes put them in my ears on the subway without music playing, just to block out all the New York loudness.

But after all that is said in done, I'm walking by Julliard on my way to work, and every single day, my scarf, or my jacket, or a construction worker acidentally pulls an ear bud out. Because the right cord is longer than the left. Now I know there are 4 or 5 people total nerds out there that use headphones and put the cord around the back of their neck. But aren't there enough of us to justify making the same model, or at least another model with a cord in the front with equal length? Its like the most frustrating thing in the world when I get to that one track that is just the best on my ipod, I start rocking out, and all of a sudden, WHAM, the old bag lady accidentally pulls out the cord with her cane. It's impossible for it not to happen 3 times every day.

I guess I wouldn't be so upset about it if I had options of earbuds for the same quality with the equal length cords. But all of my options were crappy earbuds. Why do these companies think its so cool? Did anybody at Phillips try these earbuds for 2 weeks? Does anyone else have this problem?

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19 January 2009

Who cares about Cable?

When I decided to move to Manhattan, there was one thing I knew for sure. I did not want a random craigslist roommate. Unfortunately, this meant that my budget was going to get stretched a bit. I was OK with that. Most New Yorkers split their Utilities bill in half, or in thirds, but I pay that myself. Another hidden expense is that you have to fully furnish your apartment yourself. For me this simply meant my place wasn't "done" for about 2 months, but once it was, I was happy. The only thing I made me slightly trepidatious was the thought of living without cable. And with the lowest package at 90 bucks a month, I didn't have much choice. But I have to say, I don't miss it that much.

Here's the first and most important question. What actual programs on Cable do I miss? I honestly can't think of any. In fact, when I was home for Christmas, my mom had AT&T U-Verse installed. And we had hundreds of channels to choose from. But I found myself turning to channels that were either running movies I've already seen, or re-runs of my favorite shows... that I've already seen. 

For most people in my demographic, the primary worry would be sports events (for which I have no taste) but just for arguments sake, lets say I need my sports. Well, most of the big games I get on broadcast television in clear HD. For college sports, if I really needed to, I could go to one of the 500 sports bars in this city with my friends, and kill two birds with one stone. But what about that game I can't watch in this region? Well, its actually quite easy to watch many Pro games online for free, or for a season subscription fee. Many NFL games were broadcast this year. The NHL currently provides a subscription service to watch up to 40 games online per week. The MLB is testing some out of region online broadcasting, with some limited availability for your home team games, but most local teams are blacked out. On ESPN360 you can watch live sports and replays, provided that your ISP is affiliated with the service. And unless you're like my co-pledge educator in college, thats plenty of online sports to get you through the year.

What about all those great TV shows? These days, good TV shows are like movies. Unless you have no life at all, there is no dying need to see a show the night it is broadcast. I've gotten accustomed to getting shows delivered through Netflix. I'm an instant gratification kind of guy anyway, and I prefer to watch seasons straight through as opposed to over months and months. Netflix is already buddy buddy with Showtime and NBC, and shows like The Office, Dexter, Californication, and 30 Rock you can watch streaming online in HD. Showtime even offers some content online days after, or even before it airs. I just viewed the premiere of The United States of Tara online for free yesterday. The only problem you'll run into is watching HBO shows mid-season. And everyone knows there are ways to circumvent that for free, that I don't condone (although its relatively easy). Or, you could just wait 6 months, and get the DVDs on Netflix.

You can find even more TV shows on pretty much any network site. My favorite is ABC, which streams a handful of shows, most importantly Lost, online in HD, anytime. Hulu is a secret that is not so secret anymore. Though I found it out of utility, most people now know that you can hop online and watch recent episodes of dozens of shows, and some full length movies online. Its essentially a cable network online. You watch a few commercials in exchange for viewing free content. Both of these work great with a TV if you have a computer with a DV or RCA out. The Hulu interface is especially impressive.

For movies Netflix is nice, but XBOX Live has become my goto place when I want to watch a movie. One new addition to XBOX is the ability to stream any Netflix feature that is available online, straight to your TV. One thing they haven't publicized (because they are still trying to work the bugs out) is that some shows shot in HD will actually stream in HD over XBOX Live, making it just as easy, if not cooler, than On Demand. In addition, for about 480 Microsoft points (ie $6) you can rent a movie instantly in HD. This is only slightly higher than you'll pay to pay for an On Demand movie through a Cable service. If you can't drop the 6 bones, there are about 1000 movies you can watch in regular quality for just 4 bucks. You can also find a ton of TV shows on XBOX Live, but many of the same shows you can find for free on the network's site or Hulu, like I mentioned above. Although, I do love the National Geographic, and Discovery Channel shows available here.

As if that weren't enough, I got a Blu-Ray player for Christmas, which may or may not be obsolete in 3 years. But while I have it, I can pay an extra 1 dollar a month on my $14 monthly Netflix plan, and get Blu-ray discs in the mail. No need to drop the ridiculous $24.99 per disc at the local Best Buy. So, while if I had 2 roomates, and I was paying the same 15-20 bucks to split the cable. I can pay about the same, not have cable, and still manage to have enough TV Shows, Sports, Movies, and HD content to fill the little time I have in my apartment anyway.

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15 January 2009

Axe the FDA and save me money

Someone very close to got very sick not too long ago, lets call him... Yewles. But, because he recognized all the symptoms, he knew exactly what was wrong with him. Yewles had a sinus infection. Not that big of a deal right? Wrong. He needs to go on anti-biotics. But guess what? Despite the fact that he's a mature adult, has a college degree, can get drafted to go to war, knows exactly what's wrong with him and what he needs to take, the only way for him to get the anti-biotics is to pay a doctor (who probably won't be able to schedule an appointment for 2 weeks) to write him the prescription.

But it gets better, because Yewles doesn't have health insurance. Assuming he has the money to pay for the drugs themselves, he probably doesn't have the $100-$1000 dollars for the visit to the doctor. Let's assume Yewles has health insurance, but that it's a plan most working Americans have, like a typical HMO. He's going to call a Doctor that he finds on his insurance company's website, and the Office Manager there is going to say "Oh, I'm so sorry you poor bastard, we're not accepting any more patients from your insurance company". Don't scoff at me and claim I don't know what I'm talking about, I used to work in medical billing, I know all too well.

Luckily, my friend wasn't in the overpopulated metropolis of New York at the time, so he was able to find a clinic not crowded enough to see him the same day and get his prescription. But even still, why is this step necessary? All of my med school prison friends who read this will say "its necessary to ensure that a knowledgable physician gives an accurate diagnosis for a patient's illness" or "all things being equal, when you think there's something wrong with you, wait 10 days, and it will probably fix itself". But what about the case of my friend? If the doctor has already asked him to describe these symptoms once before and given a diagnosis, it stands to reason that the second time around, with the same symptoms, its gonna be the same damn diagnosis. No offense to my friends, but in this case, the doctor is serving no other purpose than a middleman.

According to FDA.gov, The Food and Drug Administration as we know it today was created in 1906 to combat misleading marketing, and hazardous food products. Yes, at the time, this was a necessary and important service provided to Americans. There will always be products that need to be regulated by FDA. Prescription Drugs however, are a different animal. According to Forbes, the Proposed 2009 budget for the FDA is 2.4 $Billion. You know, in the grand scheme of how much money our government wastes, that's actually not that much money. But, at the same time, there are so many recalls on Drugs that the FDA approves, that they have a fucking RSS feed of the recalls! Really.

Anyone who's been to Europe knows that for many minor ailments, you can just walk into a pharmacy and get exactly what you need. Pharmacists there are accustomed to helping people recognize or diagnose minor infections and sicknesses. This saves an unneccessary trip to the doctor. Why can't we do this here? Despite my provacative title, I don't think the FDA in its entirety should be abolished, merely the power to wholly deny access to a well tested, long used drug to treat a simple problem. In this model, we would definately have to depend on pharmacists to only dispense anti-biotics when they were needed, and use discretion with drugs that can be abused for recreational purposes. But I mean, come on, there are handfuls of Doctors out there who aren't even doing this. If you want a Pseudophedrine, many places will already require that you show an ID, and will only allow you to purchase a certain amount. Why can't this done for some other drugs? Why must we be so stringent with drugs that are so commonplace?

People want to talk about healthcare for all americans. In effect, this strict policy on drug prescriptions is unfair to poorer families who can't afford to go to their family doctor every other week. By requiring a doctor to prescribe a prescription, you are requiring a patient to pay more money. There is no way around this. So, instead of requiring me to spend money, require me to describe my symptom to a well trained pharmacist, who can make a copy of my ID, and give me the damn drugs.

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13 January 2009

Have you ever spent more than 5 minutes on Craigslist?

The infinite variety of useful and disgusting posts on craigslist really amazes me. Everyone knows you can look for a job or a place to live. I've had to spend a good amount of time there in recent weeks on the Apartment hunt. But after staring at housing posts for an hour or two, I always get distracted by the unexplored sections that only Craigslist regulars go to.

For example, do you ever read the missed connections? For those of you not in the know, the missed connections section is where people write these usually brief but sometimes eloquent messages to people they've fallen in love with on a subway or on a sidewalk. Now, I just wonder why if the person had such a profound effect on you, why you didn't just ask for their name and number. I mean, if you can describe what the girl was wearing, what she was reading, what her bag looked like, and what kind of gum she was chewing, why not just holler at the girl?

Want a free TV? Why not check out the free category of the For Sale Section. Because we are such a wasteful society, there are always lazy Americans who would much rather you come take away their shit than them have to move it by car to their next apartment. Ok, so sometimes people just get new stuff. In any event, who wouldn't want a free cabinet, TV, computer monitor, Dog, Horsehead statue, a full bag of paintballs, or an entire case of Canned Organic Pumpkin? (Yes all these items were actually listed)

Did you even know that Craigslist had a forum for everything from vegans to people who like kinky sex (if you really need to visit this forum, find the URL yourself). There's a forum for people who just want to tell jokes. Were you raised in the wild? Check out the forum on etiquette. My personal favorite of the forums? The haiku hotel.

Probably the best section is the community section. As with everywhere on Craigslist, you have to filter out the posts from douchebags who want your money, so they overpost and post in the wrong categories. But, if you are like someone I know who can't spend more than 2 hours indoors without going crazy, its a great place to find an activity like a sport, or workout partner, or a place to volunteer your time. If you're not too cyber shy, you can use the rideshare to find a ride up and down the coast, or rarely, cross country.

Because I'm such a positive person (if you know me, ignore the previous comment) I'm not going to mention all the things and people I hate on craigslist. Like any online site, you must use caution, especially when doing business or meeting people. If you use common sense, you can get really lucky. Oh and by the way, the job I've had for the past 18 months... found it on Craigslist.


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12 January 2009

Announcing Blog 2.0

Hello everyone!

This is the inaugural post of my blog version 2.0. Here I will try to dilligently keep you updated with my life, career, and other extra curricular activities and thought experiments. Please feel free to subscribe to my atom feed, and share this with your friends!


08 January 2009

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