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How To: Getting Smart During Your Daily Commute

Posted: April 7, 2010 at 8:21 am

"The average American spends a good 100 minutes per day commuting to and from work. That amounts to about 433 hours per year! Now imagine using that time to learn something new — to read a great book, to take a class from a top university, to learn a new language.

We highlight our free audio resources that will maximize your drive time. Before getting started, make sure you have a big mp3 player and a way to listen to your mp3 player over your car speakers."

Getting Smart During Your Daily Commute | Open Culture


Posted at Clinical Cases and Images. Stay updated and subscribe, follow on Twitter and Buzz, and connect on Facebook.

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

How does clinical evidence work?

Posted: April 7, 2010 at 8:21 am

Ben Goldacre's Moment of Genius on BBC4 radio:

"Clinical trials in medicine are designed to be free from bias. They test, as objectively as possible, the effectiveness of a particular intervention.
When you bring the results of all these individual trials together, however, how do you weigh up what evidence is relevant and what is not? In 1993, a method of "systematic review" was introduced that enables us to get the clearest possible view of the evidence."

Posted at Clinical Cases and Images. Stay updated and subscribe, follow on Twitter and Buzz, and connect on Facebook.

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

Flat Surgery

Posted: April 7, 2010 at 8:21 am

Mathieu Lehanneur

Mathieu Lehanneur

Flat Surgery is a collection of anatomical rugs by French designer Mathieu Lehanneur commissioned by the Carpenters Workshop Gallery in London.

Mapping out domestic space using the organs of the human body: Flat Surgery #1 (Digestive System) for eating space, Flat Surgery #2 (brain) for home office, Flat Surgery #3 (genitalia) for bedroom.

I would’ve gone for a heart in the bedroom, but I suppose genitalia will have to do…

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

ONS t-shirts from Zazzle

Posted: April 6, 2010 at 10:18 pm

Inspired by Graham Steel, I just received my t-shirt with an Open Notebook Science Logo and a picture of our crystal on the cover of our ONS Solubility Challenge book.

I was going to set up an ONS store but Zazzle does not permit zero royalties (don't see the logic there). But making up t-shirts on Zazzle is super simple - just grab a logo of your choice from the ONSclaims wiki.

Any other pic is your choice - this is the crystal from UCEXP150C

You can also order all kinds of other personalized things, including coffee cups.

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

"The Secret Museum" Exhibition Opening, Observatory, This Saturday, April 10, 7-10 PM

Posted: April 6, 2010 at 9:37 pm

This Saturday, April 10th, Observatory in Brooklyn, New York will be hosting the opening party for my new exhibition "The Secret Museum." Full details follow. Hope to see you there!

Exhibition: "The Secret Museum"
Opening party: Saturday April 10th, 7-10 PM
On view from April 10th-May 16th
Admission: Free

An exhibition exploring the poetics of hidden, untouched and curious collections from around the world in photographs and artifacts, by Joanna Ebenstein, co-founder of Observatory and creator of Morbid Anatomy.

Photographer and blogger Joanna Ebenstein has traveled the Western world seeking and documenting untouched, hidden, and curious collections, from museum store-rooms to private collections, cabinets of curiosity to dusty natural history museums, obscure medical museums to hidden archives. The exhibition “The Secret Museum” will showcase a collection of photographs from Ebenstein’s explorations–including sites in The Netherlands, Italy, France, Austria, England and the United States–which document these spaces while at the same time investigating the psychology of collecting, the visual language of taxonomies, notions of “The Specimen” and the ordered archive, and the secret life of objects and collections, with an eye towards capturing the poetry, mystery and wonder of these liminal spaces. In tandem with this exhibition, Ebenstein has organized a 2 week “Collector’s Cabinet” at the The Coney Island Museum, which will showcase astounding objects held in private collections, including artifacts featured in her Private Cabinet photo series of 2009.

To download press release, which includes sample images, please click here.

Congress for Curious People at the Coney Island Museum
2-day symposium exploring the idea of collecting curiosities in the 21st century as well as the politics, history, and changing methodology of collecting and collections. Also on view will be “The Collector’s Cabinet,” an installation of astounding artifacts held in private collections. A week of themed lectures at the Coney Island Museum will precede the symposium:

The Saddest Object in the World
An Illustrated Meditation by Evan Michelson, Obscura Antiques and Oddities, Morbid Anatomy Library Scholar in residence
Date: Monday, April 12th
Time: 7:00 PM
LOCATION: * Coney Island Museum, Brooklyn

Taxidermy in the Fine ArtsRobert Marbury of the Minnesota Association of Rogue Taxidermists
Date: Tuesday, April 13th
Time: 7:00 PM
LOCATION: * Coney Island Museum, Brooklyn

A Brief History of Automate
An Illustrated Lecture and Demonstration by Mike Zohn, Obscura Antiques and Oddities
Date: Wednesday, April 14th
Time: 7:00 PM
LOCATION: * Coney Island Museum, Brooklyn

A History of Taxidermy: Art, Science and Bad Taste
An Illustrated Presentation By Dr. Pat Morris, Royal Holloway, University of London
Date: Thursday, April 15th
Time: 7:00 PM
LOCATION: * Coney Island Museum, Brooklyn

Charles Wilson Peale and the Birth of the American Museum
An Illustrated Presentation by Samuel Strong Dunlap, PhD, Descendant of Charles Wilson Peale
Date: Friday, April 16th
Time: 7:00 PM
LOCATION: * Coney Island Museum, Brooklyn

Museums, Monsters and the Moral Imagination
An Illustrated lecture with Professor Stephen Asma, author of Stuffed Animals and Pickled Heads and On Monsters.
Date: Thursday, April 22
Time: 8:00 PM
LOCATION: * Observatory, Brooklyn

Experimenting with Death: An Introduction to Terror Management Theory
An Illustrated Lecture by Michael Johns, Former Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Wyoming
Time: 8:00 PM
Date: Friday, May 7
LOCATION: * Observatory, Brooklyn

You can find out more by clicking here. You can get directions to Observatory by clicking here. You can find out more about the "Congress for Curious People" by clicking here. You can get on our mailing list by clicking here can join Observatory on Facebook by clicking here.

Image credits: Images 1-3: Tim Knox and Todd Longstaffe-Gowan Collection, London. Image 4: Archives 2009-015, Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia. Image 5: Natural History Museum Store-room; Image 6: Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle de Rouen, Store-room; Image 7: "Femme à barbe," Musée Orfila. Courtesy of Paris Descartes University.

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

Ofquack to regulate herbal medicine?

Posted: April 6, 2010 at 8:17 am

The attempted regulation of herbalism looks doomed to failure with a clear difference of opinion between government and practitioners, the latter prefer statutory regulation which has been rejected as an option by government.

Last week the Department of Health (DoH) recommended that the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC/Ofquack)  regulate herbal medicine, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and acupuncture.  Minister for Health, Andy Burnham, said:

“Emerging evidence clearly demonstrates that the public needs better protection, but in a way that is measured and does not place unreasonable extra burdens on practitioners.

“I am therefore minded to legislate to ensure that all practitioners supplying unlicensed herbal medicines to members of the public in England must be registered with the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC).

The CNHC have expressed their pleasure at this announcement:

CNHC is pleased to be asked by The Secretary of State for Health to register practitioners supplying herbal medicines to members of the public in England.

The Council already registers a significant range of practitioners in complementary healthcare who meet its standards and is well positioned to expand its public protection role in this way. Since 2008 CNHC has established its reputation as a regulatory body with robust and effective standards for registration and fitness to practise. It has positive and collaborative links with the statutory healthcare regulators.

This is probably regarded as good news by the CNHC, they have had a well documented struggle for funding and have trouble attracting some of the more popular forms of quackery.   Regardless of this, the CNHC are not fit for purpose, they have recently told sceptical blogger Simon Perry that they will not consider his complaints for the next 6 months:

I began making complaints to the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council about reflexologist members who happily promote their bogus treatments despite the fact that there was not a jot of evidence to support them.

The CNHC has now informed me that for the next six months, they will no longer be processing any complaints that are similar to the ones I’ve submitted. By similar, I take this to mean complaints regarding practitioners who mislead their clients by making unjustifiable or false statements, including practitioners who have already been cautioned by the CNHC for doing it before.

The CNHC was set up under the aegis of Prince Charles’ Foundation for Integrated Health (FIH) to be a self-regulatory body for alternative health, now it is one that is not prepared to regulate.  However this is not unexpected.  Organisations purporting to regulate quackery rarely do so beyond upholding the doctrines and articles of faith of the respective field of quackery, managing risks to consumer health are generally not a priority.

It would be a concern for those with an interest in exposing the practices of alternative medicine if the CNHC were to regulate herbal medicine, traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture.  This, despite the recommendations of Andy Burnham, is unlikely to happen for two reasons.

1) The government is unlikely to exist in its current form within a month or two.  A general election is expected early in May and the Labour party are unlikely to win, if they are to remain in power it will be in a coalition but it is more likely that the next government will be formed from the Conservative party.  None of the major parties have a clearly stated policy on the regulation of alternative medicine, nor is it likely to be a major election issue, so the Department of Health’s current proposals are likely to be mothballed for some considerable time.

2) Herbalists  and TCM practitioners do not want CNHC regulation.

This latter point is the most important.  The European Herbal & Traditional Medicine Practitioners Association (EHTMPA), the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine (RCHM), the Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine (ATCM), and the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (NIMH) amongst others in the alphabetical smorgasbord that represents the various denominations of herbalism, have all campaigned for statutory regulation.  Their intent was to be regulated by the Health Professionals Council (HPC), a more serious organisation than the CNHC, that regulates practitioners in proven fields of health.  This statutory regulation would confer protected status on their profession, restricting the title of Herbalist to those regulated by its rules.

By and large these organisations are disappointed with the DoH’s announcement:

the CNHC (the proposed regulator) was formed to regulate complementary health practitioners on a voluntary basis, and as currently constituted, is not equipped for statutory regulation.

the government seems to have failed to deliver its promise, and has changed its mind from HPC as our regulatory body to CNHC. We would like to demand an explanation from the government on what ground it has changed its mind, as CNHC is only a voluntary body with no statutory power. From the rather short DH press release which lacks details, we doubt whether the government still wants to introduce statutory regulation, or decides to go for an alternative.

Herbalists should be regulated like other statutory regulated healthcare practitioner or, the public will lose access to properly regulated herbalists and a wide range of herbal medicines. The Government must give detailed assurances that the legal and structural basis of statutory regulation is fit for purpose or it will betray the millions of people who regularly consult herbal practitioners. So far the Government has singularly failed to provide these guarantees.

As the CNHC is voluntary these organisations have no need to insist that their members sign up, in fact as they are holding out for statutory regulation it is unlikely that they will be willing to express any support for the CNHC, to do so would undermine their campaign.  This will damage the CNHC’s longterm viability, no new members means no new funding sources, and with the homeopaths mired in infighting the herbalists represent their last decent chance of acquiring new members in the medium term.

This is good news for those that are concerned about poor practice in alternative medicine.  The collapse of the CNHC will further damage the reputation of alternative medicine.  Hopefully a new government will take stock of the intransigence of the herbalists, the infighting of the homeopaths and the inability of the CNHC to regulate and instead apply a more robust external form of regulation for quackery.

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

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