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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Storing everything around you in electronic form

Have you ever thought about how much you see around you, all the experiences you undergo, the people you meet, and so on ? All of these are memories that we junk (after all, how many of us remember the persons who were in the elevator with us a week back) ? If you started remembering all that, you would be a person with a superb memory (many of us have problems with remembering the name of people we went to school with, or even those who were very close friends sometime back). Well, consider the case of a person (as part of an experiment) who saves all information, including the people he meets, the meals he has, the conversation he has, and so on (link to article):

But Bell, who is 75 years old, takes the idea of digital memory to a sci-fi-esque extreme. He carries around video equipment, cameras and audio recorders to capture his conversations, commutes, trips and experiences. Microsoft is working on a SenseCam that would hang around a person's neck and automatically capture every detail of life in photo form. Bell has given that a whirl. He also saves everything -- from restaurant receipts (he take pictures of them) to correspondence, bills and medical records. He makes PDF files out of every Web page he views.

Can you visualize recording your entire life, ready for you to play back whenever you need something. However, if there is something called 'information overload', then such a scene is a perfect example.

Woman impregnated with wrong embryos, gives birth

Medical science has promised a lot of people in need of help; for childless couples, the prospect of being able to have children through in-vitro fertilization or through the help of a surrogate mother is a huge deal. However, once in a while, there are errors that happen. In this case, a couple was implanted with their embryo by a fertility clinic through in vitro fertilization, and was then informed that they had been implanted with the wrong embryo (a news that would have been horrifying to the couple, who were hoping to get a child through this technique). The couple finally decided that they would give the baby after birth to the natural parents, and, now the woman has finally given birth, and they are going to carry out this promise (link to article):

The couple said a fertility clinic implanted another couple's embryo into Carolyn Savage's uterus -- in essence, she became an unwitting surrogate for another family. Ten days after the procedure in February, they received a call from the clinic's doctor: "Carolyn is pregnant, but we transferred the wrong embryos."
They met with the baby's genetic parents and the DNA-related mother of the child came along for one doctor's appointment. In their statement after the birth, the Savage family congratulated the biological parents of the baby.

Such a decision requires a huge deal of courage and selflessness, and it is great to see that the couple have decided to go ahead with this decision.

Massive baby born in Indonesia

Typically new born babies are around 3 Kg in weight (and many of them are much smaller than that, but are healthy enough with a lower weight). Even with a weight of 3 Kg, it takes time and effort for the mother to produce the baby from her body. However, there have been cases in the past when babies with much larger weight have been born, such as happened in Indonesia recently where a baby was born that was atleast 3 times bigger than the normal weight of a new born baby (link to an article, and you can also see a photo):

Muhammad Akbar Risuddin, born Monday, is thought to be the heaviest baby born to date in Indonesia. "I was very surprised. I thought it was twins," said Binsar Sitanggang, the lead doctor in the cesarean-section delivery at Abdul Manan Hospital in North Sumatra.
"We can compare this giant baby with a 9- to 10-month-old baby," Sitanggang said. "Both his parents are tall and big, so there might be a genetic cause for this." Sitanggang said the baby has already developed a robust appetite, requiring instant milk as well as breast milk.

If you see the photo in the linked article, you can see how big the baby actually is.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Weird: To-be-bride bride wants to reduce weight, but then dies of crash dieting

In a tragic story that underlines the problems with going on crash diets without regard to the innate health of a person, a bride-to-be wanted to quickly reduce weight before marriage so that she felt that she would get more respect. However, even a weight loss program that was said to be medically monitored did not help, and she eventually dies of a probable heart stoppage due to her low daily calorific consumption. Learn more at this article (link):

It was revealed at an inquest that Samantha Clowe, 34, was “fit and well” when she started the diet, but passed away 11 weeks later, after losing three stone from her original 17st 6lb. Clowe, a metal researcher, had got her GP’s approval before she started the LighterLife diet of special soup, bars and shakes.
Pathologist Dr Alfredo Walker said a post-mortem failed to establish a cause of death. “It may be related to her low calorie diet and weight loss,” he said. Coroner David Hinchliff, who recorded a narrative verdict, said Clowe probably died from cardiac arrhythmia, when the heart stops.

This is also a warning that being obese is also a major reason for a enhanced chance of higher health problems, including the very serious ones.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Superbug kills man at an extremely fast speed

Once in a while you hear about bacteria or viruses that can kill a person inspite of the best efforts of doctors, and you wonder about how there can be diseases that can kill people like this; and then you remember about hearing of some diseases such as Ebola where the rate of death is more than 80% of those infected, where the disease actually ends because it has killed too many people before the disease could spread to more people. But how many times have you heard of a bug that could kill people in an incredibly short period of time ? Well, read on (link to article):

A flesh-eating superbug claimed the life of a British father just four hours after he was hospitalised with leg pains. The Daily Mail reports Richard Johnson, 54, died from a rare infection known as necrotising fasciitis in November last year.
The infection moved through Mr Johnson's body so quickly that doctors could actually see it spreading up from his leg to his abdomen as they operated, an inquest into his death was told. The rare infection occurs in the deeper layers of skin and is typically caused by many types of bacteria entering an open wound, especially after major surgery. While commonly known as a flesh-eating bug, the bacteria don't actually eat tissue, instead destroying skin and muscle by releasing toxins.

How horrific it must be to know that you have a condition that will not allow you to last through the day, and how horrible it must be for doctors and for family members to know that you are going down, and there is nothing that they can do.

Man held in Brazil for kissing daughter

It seemed pretty weird when I read the story for the first time. In Brazil, strangers on a beach found a person kissing a young girl, and with all the stories about child molestation, particularly when the skin color of the man and the girl were different, and it was not immediately apparent that the 2 were related. However, as a result of a complaint, the man was put in prison and faces a long jail term if convicted. The mother of the child, the man's wife, denies that anything improper happened, but the man has already spent a week in jail for this charge (link to article):

There is growing controversy in Brazil over the arrest of an Italian tourist held after kissing his eight-year-old daughter in public. Witnesses told police the man allegedly touched the girl in an intimate way. Under a strict new law partly designed to combat child sex abuse in South America's largest country, he faces eight to 15 years in jail if convicted.
However the wife of the arrested tourist says it was all a misunderstanding by witnesses who had misinterpreted seeing a foreign white man with a young darker-skinned girl. She told the Brazilian state news agency if there was any suggestion the claim was true she would not hesitate to take her daughter's side, and recalled that she had been present the whole time.

Man charged with unlicensed driving car twice, hits police

When people are charged with a driving offence, they normally obey all the rules and laws, and desist from whatever activity for which they are were charged, since they do not want to suffer further problems (further driving problems could mean points on the license, or problems in getting insurance, and so on). However, once in a while there will be a person who will not care too much about the offence, and is even willing to take offensive action if charged with something (link to article):

A north Queensland man who was allegedly caught driving unlicensed twice in one day and became irate and has been charged with assaulting police. The 19-year-old was given a notice to appear in court for unlicensed driving about 10am (AEST) on Monday, and about 30 minutes later, the same officer saw him allegedly driving the same car, police said.
The officer was questioning the man when he allegedly became aggressive and punched his car's window, smashing it. He then allegedly kicked the side mirror of the police car and punched the police officer. While struggling with the man the officer was allegedly assaulted by a 15-year-old male youth who was in the man's car.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Foolhardy: Getting mauled by a lion after climbing into its cage

Wild animals are called wild for a certain reason. Their behavior is unpredictable, they can be aggressive if they feel that they or their young ones are threatened, or if their territory is being encroached upon. Further, for many of them, their nature is such that they can be aggressive; but that does not deter people from trying out some crazy and wild stunts. What would you call a person who gets into a lion cage in a zoo and is then saved from serious damage by the keeper of the cage ? Such a person was inviting trouble, and it is only prompt action that saved him (link to article):

A travel writer was lucky to escape with minor injuries after his venture into a lion's den turned ugly. British journalist Charles Starmer Smith visited the South African wildlife park to "play" with one-year-old lion Mapimpan — whose name translates to "little baby".
Finally the handler was able to corner the cat in the pen's corner, allowing the journalist to calmly make his escape. He could be seen bleeding from his leg through his shredded torn pants and required stitches for his relatively minor injuries.

A country changing direction of driving (from right to left)

For people in the United States, Europe, and many other countries, drivers drive on the right side of the road, and are totally used to that way of driving. When they arrive in countries that were earlier part of the British Empire such as India, Australia, New Zealand, and of course, Great Britain, they are not used to suddenly seeing vehicles driving on the wrong side of the road (in these countries, people drive on the left side of the road). It can be very unsettling, and for people moving from one type of country to another, it can be very difficult to drive on the road; it takes time to get used to the traffic coming from an unexpected side. So, what happens when a country (even if it is a small country) decides to move from one side to another, and that too, the reason being that importing cars are cheaper (link to article):

Samoa will switch its driving from the right side to the left side of the road on Monday in a move opponents have called ill-conceived and said will lead to dozens of wrecks and fatalities. Proponents tout the change, which no other country has attempted since the 1970s, as making economic sense.
The nation has declared Monday and Tuesday holidays for people to adjust to the change and banned alcohol sales for the next three days. Until now, most of the cars in the Pacific island nation have been imported from the United States, where drivers travel on the right side, and Samoa's neighbor, American Samoa. The change will allow the thousands of expatriate Samoans who live in their nation's biggest neighbors, New Zealand and Australia, to send used -- and therefore, cheaper -- cars to their families back home. In both those countries, drivers travel on the left side of the road.

Friday, September 4, 2009

A stranger slaps a toddler in a shop, arrested

Suppose you are the mother of a bonny toddler, and life is hectic for you. You need to handle the child as well as make sure that your house is running fine. So you may need to run around, do shopping while carrying your baby. However, children do not follow the rules that adults have; they can cry whenever something is disturbing, they can seem like an inconvenience to other people and so on. However, nothing can justify what this apparent stranger did when he got irritated by the behavior of this child (link to article):

A Georgia man allegedly slapped a toddler at a Walmart store because she wouldn't stop crying, authorities said. Roger Stephens, 61, was arrested Monday and charged with first-degree cruelty to children. An incident report obtained from police in Gwinnett County indicated Stephens did not know the 2-year-old girl he stands accused of hitting.
The mother said a stranger later identified as Stephens approached them and said, "If you don't shut the baby up, I will shut her up for you." A few moments later, while the mother and the crying child were in another aisle, Stephens allegedly grabbed the girl and slapped her across the face.

Now, he has been charged with cruelty to children, and one would think that it is perfectly justified that he has been charged with such a crime.

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