30 August 2009

let. to ed. re. "Driven to Distraction: Drivers and Legislators Dismiss Cellphone Risks" -- NY Times

I would like to respond to the recent article on the relationship between cellphone and other portable device usage and driver safety. I full agree with the premise of this article that this is a dangerous new phenomenon. However there are a number of connections that could have been probed a bit further. In particular, are there any instances when one is using a cell phone when driving that are actually safer than driving without one? That is, one could imagine that a drowsy driver on a dark street might have a easier time keeping alert and concentrating if he was carrying on a conversation over a cellphone rather than driving alone? Also, the implication of the article was that talking to someone on the cellphone is more dangerous than talking to a fellow passenger in the car. I do not know if this is always the case -- as anyone who has experienced a bunch of rambunctious young children in the car might attest to.

Above text is an unpublished letter in response to:
July 19, 2009
Driven to Distraction: Drivers and Legislators Dismiss Cellphone Risks

let. to ed. re. "Baseball’s Use of DNA Raises Questions" -- NY Times

Schmidt & Schwarz’s article raises serious concerns regarding the use of DNA testing in baseball. It is likely, however, that these concerns represent only the tip of the iceberg. Teams invest millions in their players; given this, would an owner pass up the opportunity to learn more about a player’s long-term potential through a relatively cheap genome analysis? Further, baseball, like many professional sports, sustains a strong statistics subculture that will likely see genetic testing as an integral component of a player’s dossier (along with height, weight and say ERA). In a worst case scenario, this testing would ignore the significant privacy concerns -- both to the individual and their family that share’s much of the same genes -- resulting from the disclosure of a person’s genetic predispositions. It could be even done surreptitiously by a fan or rival based on trace DNA remains lifted off of personal items.

Dov Greenbaum JD MPhil PhD
Mark Gerstein, PhD

Above text is an unpublished letter in response to:
Baseball’s Use of DNA Raises Questions
Published: July 21, 2009

let. to ed. re. recent article in NY Times -- "Why We Need Health Care Reform"

I read with great interest the recent editorial advocating health care reform by the government. It is certainly impressive to see is the President writing in the Times. One thing in that was especially notable was that in one paragraph the President calls for insurance companies to pay for mammography and colonoscopy and the following sentence points how this will reduce the incidence of breast and prostate cancer. I wonder exactly how these two things are connected and to what degree these sentences show about the type of health and medical advice that the President is getting.

Above is an unpublished letter in response to:
Why We Need Health Care Reform
Published: August 15, 2009

let. to ed. re. recent article in NY Times -- "Senator Moves to Block Medical Ghostwriting"

I read with great interest the recent article describing the issue where medical school professors have articles ghost written for them by writers commissioned by drug companies. The article pointed to the obvious conflict of interest -- and the way that drug companies were using this to unfairly market their products. It also pointed a finger at granting agencies and universities to somehow crack down on this behavior. While I agree that this is certainly a problem, I wonder whether it might make more sense to focus on journalists and publishers. Should it not be the case that an article can only be accepted into a reputable scientific journal if all the authors have been declared (i.e. no ghostwriters) and that the roles of each of these individuals and their conflicts are described somewhere in the text? I think this simple step would do a lot to clean up this problem and many other problems in scientific publishing.

Above is an unpublished letter in response to:
Senator Moves to Block Medical Ghostwriting
Minh Uong/The New York Times
Published: August 18, 2009

23 August 2009

Biking in Fairfield County

Routes (Overview image)

BikeNFairfield [28-Jun-08]
BikeWestport [12-Jul-08]
BikeNWestport [14-Jun-09] (27 miles)
BikeGreensFarms [31-Jul-09] (~20 miles, cut short by rain) (Route is Google-Map KML ; also, route directly in Google Map)
BikeDarien [8-Aug-09] (~20 miles)
BikeNewCanaan [16-Aug-09] (21 miles)

General Flickr and Picasa collections (with map). Closeup on New Canaan .


See also earlier post on this subject.

A Question that I had on using Picasa

Just posted this in
Google Help > Picasa > Discussions > Picasa for Mac (Labs) > PC / Mac Compatibility
(http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/Picasa/thread?tid=0e2e942a3e7212d6&hl=en ):

I'm using a mac with OS X and running vmware fusion with windows XP. Despite what's being said above, I want, recklessly, to try and go back and forth between both windows and mac picasa. Each has some advantages -- i.e. the mac version is faster but the windows one handles geotagging. I find if I go back and forth with the current versions of the program (as of Aug. 2009), things actually kind of work. (This wasn't true with earlier versions.) However, after a bit of edits on the mac, the OS X version of picasa often will create two copies of each picture in a folder, one where my edits are not properly applied. This does not seem to happen to the PC copy. Refreshing the folder doesn't fix things. Moreover, checking the "hidden" picasa files (.picasa.ini file and .picasaoriginals on the mac) reveals that these are not duplicated in any way and don't seem corrupted. What's happening? One workaround that I discovered is that if I carefully do "Folder Menu: Remove from Picasa..." on the whole folder and then "File Menu: Add Folder to Picasa..." things are usually fixed. But I'd like a cleaner solution.

22 August 2009

Trips to the West Coast in Spring '09 [TripSF + SeattleTrip]

Visiting Bay Area (+ Tucson)

Photos: Picasa, Flickr (including some shots of rows of grapes)
Google Maps: Running, Cycling
Lectures: 1, 2, 3, 4

Visiting Seattle

Photos: Picasa, Flickr (including some shots of famous artworks juxtaposed on a map with analogous ones from the East Coast)
Google Maps: Cycling