Saturday, September 28, 2013

Concussions & Football: Is the risk for your child really worth it?

     Good Day World!

Friday means high school football.

Saturday means college football.

Sunday means professional football.

Football is only rivaled by baseball in popularity. It’s entwined into the very fabric of our society. Children begin playing at ridiculously young ages.

Last year, 3 million kids from the ages of 6 to 14  played organized youth tackle football, according to USA Football. Even some 5-year-olds are in helmets playing in the Tiny Mite division of Pop Warner (which insists that its gladiators weigh at least 35 lb.)

Tomorrow I’m going to watch my 12-year old grandson play football. He’s a defensive end. Because I’m aware of the dangers involved I’m going to be nervous throughout the game – praying nothing happens to him. He wanted to play football. His parents didn’t push him into it.

I use to be a football fan, only recently losing interest in following college and the pro games. I admit it has a lot to do with the research I’ve done on football-related concussion injuries. They scare the hell out of me! I’ve had two serious concussions in my life, and feel lucky to be typing this piece right now.

The following articles illustrates what I’m talking about. It’s sad. And it really makes you think:

 It was a question with no right answer that tugged heavy at the hearts of Damon Janes' teammates when the 16-year-old died after a hit in a high school football game: Should the season go on?

Should the players rally and play every game for their star running back, whose motto was "Giving up is simply not an option"? Or should the teenagers forget about football and take time to mourn their friend?

The Westfield-Brocton Wolverines' varsity players took a paper-ballot vote and decided that the pain was too great, that their season would end after just two games.

"I wanted to play, I love the game," said teammate Stevie Wisecarver III, a 16-year-old quarterback who has played football since third grade. "But it just wouldn't feel right without him. The team just didn't feel right." Damon took what hospital officials would later describe as a "helmet-to-helmet" hit during the third quarter of Westfield-Brocton's Sept. 13 game against Portville, a 32-6 loss. He was able to get on his feet but lost consciousness on the sidelines. He died three days later at Women & Children's Hospital in Buffalo.

Concern about increasingly hard hits among the 1 million boys who play high school football has brought renewed attention to concussion management and a national initiative to teach the "Heads Up" tackling technique. An average of 12 high school and college players die annually, according to a recent study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine.

Damon's was at least the fifth high school football death this season, but his was the only team to cancel the season because of it. Read whole story here


* Last month, in one single Pop Warner football game, five preadolescent players on a team from Tantasqua, Mass., suffered serious head injuries.

* The Problem with Football: How to Make It Safer

* Concussions and Our Kids

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Friday, September 27, 2013

I’m not being snotty, but what’s with growing noses on foreheads?

A new nose, grown by surgeons on Xiaolian's forehead, is pictured before being transplanted to replace the original nose, which is infected and deform...

          Good Day World!

Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s like cutting off your nose to spite your face?” For some bizarre reason it came to mind when I read about noses grown on foreheads yesterday!

It never entered my wildest thoughts. Noses that were destroyed by various means could be reconstructed and grown on one’s forehead. Whoever heard of such a thing?

Apparently, according to the following article, it’s not that uncommon. Where have I been then? Have you ever seen anyone walking around with a nose on their forehead? I sure haven’t. Maybe people wear floppy hats to hide the misplaced proboscis while it’s growing. Will wonders ever cease?

Despite his perhaps bizarre appearance, a man in China who is growing a new nose on his forehead is the beneficiary of a rather common nose reconstruction technique.

The man suffered damage to his nose and an infection after a traffic accident, and the infection had eaten away at the cartilage in his nose, making it impossible to for doctors to fix his original nose. There was no alternative but for doctors to grow the man an entirely new nose on his forehead, according to Reuters.

But despite its extreme appearance, this method is not that different from plastic surgery techniques used all the time, said Dr. David Cangello, an attending plastic surgeon at Lenox Hill Hospital and Manhattan, Eye Ear and Throat Hospital in New York. read the whole story here

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Playground Terrors! Some real creepy places where kids play

           Good Day World!

 Like most children worldwide, I had an active imagination when I was young.

 I use to watch scary movies on television and spend the rest of the night with the light on in my room and wondering what kind of monster might be lurking in the closet!

 The little girl in the photo (left) doesn’t look too concerned that she’s sitting on a lap of a hideous H.P. Lovecraft-like gargoyle. Probably because she doesn’t know what a gargoyle is and the sculpture doesn’t move.

I may be wrong, but I think it takes a lot more to scare kids nowadays. They’re flooded with images in our society of monsters and the like via television, games, and movies.

The following creepy masterpieces of sculpture and landscaping can be found in playgrounds not only in Russia (even though this is where the majority of photos come from) but also in China, East European Countries, and even in the US - anywhere the grass-roots creativity goes bad and the bad taste gets promoted, often unintentionally.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for the bizarre stuff for kids, and some of the sculptures here are downright fascinating; but others are... well, ugly as hell.

Not only kids, but some more impressionable adults are in danger to become psychologically scarred from thinking too much about these monsters and letting them into their dreams.

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Finger-Print Scan Hacked within 72 hours – what took so long?

  Good Day World!

It took three days. 72 hours.

On Sunday, after the iPhone 5S went on sale, a German hacker collective became the first to claim victory over the gadget's much-buzzed-about Touch ID fingerprint security system.

And they did it pretty much the same way Bane's flunkies breached the biometric passcode on Bruce Wayne's stock exchange account in "The Dark Knight Rises," — using a copy of Batman's fingerprints (created by Catwoman after she did some light dusting around Wayne Manor).

Even before the Chaos Computer Club, one of the largest and well-known hacker collectives, crowed victory via the tried-and-true "fake finger" method, Apple's first foray into biometric security wasn't getting a lot of respect. Amid concerns over privacy — Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., asked if Apple might share stored fingerprintswith third parties or the government, the way tech companies do with other customer info — and hacking, the jokes kicked in.

A cat's paw, a nipple and a crowd-sourced bounty to the first person to hack Touch ID are likely just the beginning of a running gag at Apple's expense. In this day and age no gaffe gets by social media.

When I first heard about the fingerprint idea I knew that it was stupid idea, and it would only be a matter of time before being exposed. Who would want to voluntarily give up such a personal ID marker for “convenience and supposed security?” Well I guess there were some na├»ve consumers out there and they’re probably feeling kinda sheepish today!

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

OUCH! The Financial Pain of Childbirth in 2013

  Good Day World!

It’s just capitalism at work the financial experts explain.

But when I look at the rising cost of childbirth in America I have to wonder why we lead the world in this category?

With Congress battling over defunding Obamacare, the future looks bleak for a resolution to this problem. There’s thousands of Americans without insurance and unless we do something about it healthcare costs will continue to cripple families in this struggling economy.

My wife and I had three children from 1975 to 1980. During that time, my job provided healthcare insurance and we had one less financial challenge to contend with as young parents. Parents today are faced with sky high medical costs and many are not insured because they’re self-employed. The result can be a cash catastrophe to a family’s finances. 

Over the last 15 years, the cost of vaginal deliveries has practically doubled in the United States, shooting up from $4,918 to $9,294, while the cost of C-sections has increased 70 percent from an average of $8,268 to $14,055, according to Truven Health Analytics.

By contrast, the average cost for an uncomplicated vaginal delivery last year in Switzerland was $4,039 and the average cost in France was $3,541, according to the International Federation of Health Plans (IFHP). That's nearly half to a third of what it cost in the U.S.

In fact, the United States is the most expensive place in the world to give birth, according to the IFHP. The reason, experts say, has to do with the way hospitals calculate our bills.Worse yet, there was a huge variation in costs for the same services from hospital to hospital. Estimates for the cost of a C-section, for example, ranged from $6,000 to $28,000.

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Monday, September 23, 2013

Human Pixel Art - Monumental Camera Shots Before WWI

                                                Good Day World!

I’ve got some photos for you this Monday that are really impressive. You may have seen some modern versions of people art by artists like Spencer Tunick who makes his artistic formations from thousands of naked people. But the vast scale of these early group photos is really awesome. And just think how crude the cameras were back then! They used a 11x 14” camera. No special lens or settings like we have now. Enjoy…

"The Human American Eagle, 1918" -12,500 officers, nurses and men; Camp Gordon, Atlanta, Ga.

Just before the World War One the country needed patriotic images, aiming to recover national identity with the help of the rising art of photography. Arthur Mole (1889-1983) together with John Thomas used their 11 x 14-inch view camera to create the so-called "living photographs", done on a monumental scale.

By arranging thousands of soldiers (reservists, or nurses) in various patriotic symbols and photographing them from above, they were able to use lines of perspective to transform meaningless masses into artistic shapes and even portraits.

(Left) Living Emblem of the United States Marines, 1919"

(Right) "A Living Flag, 1917" (Mayhart Studio, Chicago)

Based in Zion, Illinois, Arthur Mole visited many army, marine and navy camps across the country, carrying out his inspired & monumental work.

He was clearly influenced by the patriotic spirit of his fellow Americans during a "life during wartime", as well as driven by his personal spiritual convictions. In the end, Mole and Thomas donated the entire income from their endeavors to the families of the returning soldiers and the government's efforts to re-build their lives.

(Right)"The Zion Shield, 1920".
All images courtesy Chicago Historical Society.

(See more images at the Library of Congress gallery, not copyrighted)

One of the most notable photographers of "living people groups" was Eugene Omar Goldbeck.

Along with the large scale work, he also took photographic portraits of important personalities, such as Albert Einstein.

A detail of larger group, made as late as 1947:

Photo-Indoctrination Division, Air Training Command, Lackland

Air Base San Antonio, TX, 1947

 Time for me to walk on down the road…

Sunday, September 22, 2013

There’s No Such Thing as ‘Black Dog’ Syndrome !


    Good Day World!

 See the adorable little pug on the left? Her name is Molly, and she makes my wife and I very happy. She’s only one-year old and we look forward to having her company for many years to come.

Just look at this little scamp. She’s always ready to play. Yet if you listen to some people, if she were in a shelter her chances of being adopted wouldn’t be as good because she’s black!

That’s right. Some call it puppy prejudice because black dogs are supposedly more likely to be the last picked in an adoption situation. I never heard this before. So I did a little reading.

It’s myth busting time! Don’t believe those sad shelter stories. The ones about black dogs being the first to go isn’t true:

It’s a common story animal welfare workers will share: Black pets are often the last left on the shelter floor and the first to be euthanized. The idea is so pervasive there’s even a name for it — black dog syndrome.

“It’s not news to people who have been in animal welfare for a while that black cats and dogs are a little harder to place,” Brenda Barnette of Los Angeles Animal Services told

“I think it’s for the very simple reason that they’re harder to photograph.”

Nonprofits have been founded specifically to find homes for black animals, and several shelters across the country have made special efforts to promote the adoption of black animals, from providing them with better lighting to running special promotions.

But despite much media attention and anecdotal evidence from shelter staff, recent research suggests that coat color, be it black, white or brown, has little impact on an adopter’s decision.

“New pieces of research have found that there is no indication that they are less likely to be adopted,” ASPCA Vice President of Shelter Research Dr. Emily Weiss told “We just conducted a piece of research looking at various traits that drive people to adopt and color did not play a role at all. It busts this myth completely.”

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Blog Break Until Presidential Election is Over

I finally hit the wall today. I can't think of what to say about all of the madness going on in this country right now. I'm a writer...