bookofjoe: Bumper Dumper Travel Toilet — “You can use a bag or a bucket”

At first, this seems like a good idea because there have been a bunch of times on a highway it would seem to solve a problem in-between rest stops. On the other hand… Wouldn’t everyone on the highway be watching?? Then again maybe it’s for camping… but why would you need it when you could go pretty much anywhere? And if it’s attached while you’re parked, what if there’s some random dude pooping in your Bumper Dumper when you get back?

Whether you are a hunter, fisherman, camper, or off- roader, the Bumper Dumper is a great item for all outdoor enthusiasts.

It’s great to have on construction sites, traveling with kids,or at the beach.

Anywhere you may need to go while on the go, the Bumper Dumper is a must-have item.

Just a trailer hitch receiver on the back of your vehicle with a Bumper Dumper, and no more squatting in a bush, no more unstable, flimsy, rickety, undersized porta-potty, and no more smelly unsanitary outhouses.

Just plug the Bumper Dumper into your hitch receiver and the comfort of home is there when nature calls.

via bookofjoe: Bumper Dumper Travel Toilet — “You can use a bag or a bucket”.


The Plan to Bring the Iconic Passenger Pigeon Back From Extinction | Wired Science |

Passenger pigeons are remembered romantically. It sounds like the reality was that they were kind of annoying. We don’t need deforestation and inch thick puddles of shit around every tree. Maybe they want to do this because the post office is going under… They should be resurrecting the dodo. The dodo was a much better bird in my opinion and I’ve always wondered what one would taste like.

Twelve birds lie belly-up in a wooden drawer at the Berkeley Museum of Vertebrate Zoology. Bloated with stuffing, their ruddy brown chests resemble a row of sweet potatoes. Slate-blue heads and thin white tails protrude in perfect alignment, except for one bird that cranes its neck to face its neighbor. A pea-sized bulge of white cotton sits where its eye should be. A slip of paper tied to its foot reads, “Ectopistes migratorius. Manitoba. 1884.” This is the passenger pigeon, once the most abundant bird in North America. When Europeans first landed on the continent, they encountered billions of the birds. By 1914 they were extinct.

That may be about to change. Today scientists are meeting in Washington, D.C. to discuss a plan to bring the passenger pigeon back from extinction. The technical challenges are immense, and the ethical questions are slippery. But as genetic technology races ahead, a scenario that’s hard to imagine is becoming harder to dismiss out of hand.

About 1,500 passenger pigeons inhabit museum collections. They are all that’s left of a species once perceived as a limitless resource. The birds were shipped in boxcars by the tons, sold as meat for 31 cents per dozen, and plucked for mattress feathers. But in a mere 25 years, the population shrank from billions to thousands as commercial hunters decimated nesting flocks. Martha, the last living bird, took her place under museum glass in 1914.

Ben Novak doesn’t believe the story should end there. The 26-year-old genetics student is convinced that new technology can bring the passenger pigeon back to life. “This whole idea that extinction is forever is just nonsense,” he says. Novak spent the last five years working to decipher the bird’s genes, and now he has put his graduate studies on hold to pursue a goal he’d once described in a junior high school fair presentation: de-extinction.

Novak is not alone in his mission. An organization called Revive and Restore is enlisting the support of preeminent scientists—and even the National Geographic Society, which is hosting the TEDx meeting on the topic today, to investigate putting the passenger pigeon back in the sky. The group has chosen Novak to spearhead the project.

When the bird from the Berkeley drawer flew over Manitoba in 1884, it didn’t travel alone. Passenger pigeons were named for their passage up and down eastern North America in flocks several hundred million strong. To sustain long, strenuous flights, the birds devoured forests and left destruction in their wake. Ornithologist J.M. Wheaton described one flock as a rolling cylinder filled with leaves and grass. “The noise was deafening and the sight confusing to the mind,” he wrote in 1882. It was easy to tell where the pigeons had roosted: The trees were crippled, their branches cracked off and picked clean of nuts and acorns. For miles, the ground was coated with a layer of feces more than an inch thick.

Even before Europeans arrived, hunters shot nests with arrows or knocked them down with poles. But in the mid 19th century, the railroad and the telegraph turned the pigeon into a national commodity. Professional trackers followed the flocks and descended on nest sites. Their tactics were brutal and effective: Firing into the trees brought down thousands of birds in one afternoon. Setting a match to the combustible birch bark forced terrified chicks to fling themselves from their nests. By the late 1850s, flocks were shrinking. By 1889, the population was in the thousands.

The Manitoban pigeon lying in its drawer at Berkeley holds a vast library in its feet. Every cell in its fleshy toe pads contains the 1.5 billion base pairs of DNA that spell out the bird’s identity, from the color of its eggs to the sound of its voice. But this DNA has seen better days. It has been broken apart by enzymes and oxygen, zapped with ultraviolet radiation and contaminated by other organisms. “Whenever you touch it, your DNA gets in the sample,” said evolutionary biologist Beth Shapiro of the University of California, Santa Cruz. “If it sits next to other birds, their DNA gets in the sample.”

But in the last decade, a set of techniques known as next-generation sequencing has offered a better way to work with less-than-perfect DNA. New machines can analyze hundreds of thousands of short fragments at the same time, speeding up the tedious sequencing process and bringing down its cost. “In the past 10 years, sequencing has gotten approximately 500,000 times more efficient,” said biostatistician Steven Salzberg of Johns Hopkins University. “Nothing in the history of civilization or technology has ever gotten that much more efficient that fast.”

Surmounting such technical challenges is only phase one of Revive and Restore’s plan. Novak hopes to set up a sanctuary of lab-generated pigeon chicks in the bird’s original breeding territory. He would then train homing pigeons to pass over the nest site, showing the chicks their ancestral migration route. Novak says passenger pigeons would restore balance to forest ecosystems, clearing brush and fertilizing soil.

This strategy doesn’t make sense to Blockstein, who says “quote-unquote” before every mention of de-extinction. He doubts that any small population could survive long enough to reach its original numbers. If it did, he fears the bird would become a pest to farmers, consuming commercial berries and grain. Stanford University bioethicist Hank Greely shares this concern. “You’re re-introducing to the same geographic region,” he said. “But not to the same environment.”

No governing body exists to make decisions about re-introducing an extinct species. Once the science is within reach, Novak says he will work with wildlife management authorities to set up a legal framework.

Beyond the ecological risks, Revive and Restore has a bigger “why” question to answer. The argument that extinction is forever underlies important protections like the Endangered Species Act, Greely says. Why try to rewrite the passenger pigeon’s iconic cautionary tale?

One possible answer: to do it responsibly before someone does it recklessly. The genomic tools of de-extinction may soon be cheap enough for students and DIY types to try on their own, Brand told an audience at the 2012 Aspen Environmental Forum. “I would like to see some kind of framework of how we think about that, before it goes totally amateur.” If an organized effort like Revive and Restore tackles a high-profile and tightly controlled project, it might bring scientists and the public into an important conversation, he argued.

via The Plan to Bring the Iconic Passenger Pigeon Back From Extinction | Wired Science |

Online Music Piracy Doesn’t Hurt Sales, European Commission Finds | TorrentFreak

P2P sharing has been blamed for the drops in sales for the music industry. The real cause is the lack of new media options. When people needed to replace their 8-tracks with tapes, the industry boomed. When they did the same thing to embrace cd’s, even bigger boom. The same thing did not happen with MP3 because you didn’t have to re-buy anything as you could just suck your cd’s into mp3s. The falling sales were just the result of the slow death of the tape. I don’t think it helped that much of the music produced during this sales drop off period was terrible.

File sharing is good for the industry. Obviously, the industry needs to send these people to jail and fine them millions of dollars.

New research published by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre shows that online piracy doesn’t hurt digital music revenues. The researchers examined browsing habits from 16,000 Europeans and found that there’s a positive link between online piracy and visits to legal music stores, irrespective of people’s interest in music. The study concludes that the music industry should not see piracy as a growing concern.

Research into online piracy comes in all shapes and sizes, often with equally mixed results. The main question often is whether piracy is hurting sales.

A new study by The Institute for Prospective Technological Studies, which is part of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, tackled this question in a unique way. With data from more than 16,000 European Internet users they determined what the effect was of people’s access to pirate sites on visits to online music stores.

The results are now published in a paper titled “Digital Music Consumption on the Internet: Evidence from Clickstream Data,” and the researchers found that overall, piracy has a positive effect on music sales.

“It seems that the majority of the music that is consumed illegally by the individuals in our sample would not have been purchased if illegal downloading websites were not available to them,” they write.

In addition, the researchers are also the first to find that free and legal streaming websites don’t cannibalize legal music purchases.

“The complementary effect of online streaming is found to be somewhat larger, suggesting a stimulating effect of this activity on the sales of digital music,” they comment.

Most of the effects were found by comparing people’s visits to “pirate” websites and legal music stores. After controlling for interest in music, the researchers found that visits to pirate websites are positively linked to visits to legal music stores.

“If this estimate is given a causal interpretation, it means that clicks on legal purchase websites would have been 2 percent lower in the absence of illegal downloading websites,” the researchers write.


via Online Music Piracy Doesn’t Hurt Sales, European Commission Finds | TorrentFreak.

CISPA is back.

Tell Congress right now: “Violating our privacy is not an option.”

CISPA is back..

Selling Sexual Certainty? Advertising Lysol as a Contraceptive in the United States and Canada, 1919–1939

I saw the Lysol Douche advertisements a few years back (more of which can be found here). This article is a fascinating look at the rise of the selling of Lysol being used as a feminine hygiene product despite the known risks. This sales pitch continued from the 1920’s to the 1960’s. It shamed women for not having sex with their husbands enough and that if they Lysol’d themselves it would fix their marital difficulty. It is really amazing that Lysol is still around and that this campaign went on for as long as it did. There were no legal recourses to protect consumers from these abuses at the time. The arguments remind me of similar ones being used against the need to regulate GMO’s today.

Lysol Ad #4

Women’s desire for contraceptives and the challenges they faced in acquiring them constituted an ideal situation for companies such as Lehn & Fink, who stepped in to offer a commercial solution. In her 2001 work Devices and Desires, Andrea Tone demonstrated that the medical community’s failure to provide birth control led to an “over-the-counter revolution” in which the marketplace offered women a multitude of contraceptive wares.26 By the interwar period, Lehn & Fink could readily join this revolution because it had a ready-made product that could be repositioned to be sold as a contraceptive. Additionally, by the late 1910s, the company was seeking a new market for Lysol.

To understand this, we must examine Lysol’s history. From 1889 until the 1910s, Lysol was primarily sold to the medical community as a disinfectant.27 Prior to its creation, hospitals used disinfectants containing carbolic acid, which was highly poisonous. Lysol’s main ingredient was cresol, a chemical less poisonous and more effective at killing germs than carbolic acid. Lehn & Fink informed doctors that Lysol was also safe enough to use on the human body and many physicians began to use the product in procedures ranging from simple wound disinfection to uterine irrigation.28 By 1909, however, physicians began to report instances in which patients experienced adverse physical effects, such as burning, after being treated with Lysol. Because of these reports, in 1912 the American Medical Association (AMA) Council on Pharmacy and Chemistry undertook an official inquiry into Lysol to determine whether or not the AMA should discontinue endorsing Lysol in its influential publication, New and Non-Official Remedies. The Council concluded that the product was far too dangerous to be recommended for further use among physicians. This decision led doctors to discontinue using Lysol in offices and hospitals.29 Lehn & Fink gradually lost its primary market for Lysol during the 1910s, but by the 1920s the company had repositioned Lysol for mass market sale as a household cleaner and contraceptive douche.

Repositioning Lysol as a household disinfectant was not difficult for advertisers given the fact that cleaning products were legal, but they did face a challenge in selling the product as a contraceptive. The company launched two mutually exclusive advertising campaigns for Lysol—one promoting it as a household cleaner and the other for contraceptive purposes. On the contraception front, the firm first faced the task of conveying to consumers that the product was intended for birth control. Advertisers attempted to articulate this message through the euphemistic term “feminine hygiene,” coined in the 1920s to describe contraceptive products for women (in other words, contraceptives that were not condoms).30 Contemporary medical experts, journalists, and birth control advocates criticized companies who used the term, arguing that legitimate forms of birth control could not be sold legally while, “by a judicious use of language, contraceptive wares could be advertised and distributed as freely as any other class of goods.”31 By the late 1930s, Morris Fishbein, editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association, disgustedly argued that the term feminine hygiene had facilitated the rise of an industry selling ineffective, dangerous, products. Fishbein observed:

The feminine side of the birth control business is appalling. Women spend $200,000,000 yearly for millions of devices, instruments, jellies, powders and liquids. . . sold largely under the deceptive advertising term ‘Feminine Hygiene.’ Not one of them has proved to be entirely effective when used alone, and some of them are potentially dangerous.32

In 1932, Lysol created a series of advertisements entitled “A Series of Frank Talks by Eminent Women Physicians,” capitalizing upon modern faith in science and medical expertise by featured (supposed) female European gynecologists.58 Fabricated credentials were provided so that women would feel assured that the advice came from medical authorities,59 as if she were sitting in a doctor’s office receiving guidance. Each advertisement included the image of a concerned-looking female physician who was providing a female patient with her scientific opinion on Lysol, always a glowing recommendation of the product. For instance, from Paris, a Dr. Lion insisted that “‘Lysol’ is absolutely dependable. In my own work I have seen its long record of proven effectiveness both in laboratory analysis and clinical use. . .I specify Lysol for my patients.”60

Yet to retain market dominance, Lehn & Fink not only advertised heavily; the company also diversified its advertising strategy for Lysol. The company continued to publish advertisements that capitalized upon maintaining one’s sexual attractiveness to safeguard marriages throughout the period, however, Lysol advertisers recognized that while their target consumer base was comprised of middle-class married women, not all women within this group were sexually active out of fear of becoming pregnant. Women who chose abstinence clearly did not need Lysol to protect them from pregnancy. Lysol advertisers therefore developed advertisements directed at abstinent married women. Here, copywriters advanced the argument that women were seriously harming their marriages by refraining from having sex with their husbands.83

Through this scheme, Lysol advertisers presented situations involving marital strife in which a abstinent wife has neglected her husband, instead of seeking contraception so that the couple could engage in sexual activity. The November 1928 “Whose Fault?” exemplifies how this was done. A woman, hunched over, is crying on a bed while her stern looking, seemingly frustrated husband sits by her side. The text suggests that the couple has had a fight, but that it was “[n]ot a real quarrel, but one of those baffling misunderstandings for which neither can assign any reason.”88 The text goes reveals that the “wife’s neglect” of feminine hygiene has led to this situation. Choosing abstinence instead of feminine hygiene has led to marital unhappiness.

The theme of marital discord caused by female abstinence became increasingly popular by the late 1930s, especially in the Canadian context. An advertisement entitled “She was a ‘Perfect Wife’. . .except for ONE NEGLECT,” from April 1939 emphasized that the type of women Lysol targeted were “lovely” and took care of their “looks.”89 A similar ad was published in the March 1939 Chatelaine. It was entitled “A Test for ‘Model Wives’” and was designed as a quiz for married women. The advertisement displays six boxes and inside the first five there are images of women performing tasks such as cleaning and cooking. Beneath each image, there were corresponding questions for women to ask themselves, such as “Are you a good housekeeper? Do you take care of your looks? Are your meals appetizing? Do you avoid nagging? Are you economical?”90 While it was assumed that most women would have answered “yes” to these questions, the final box, which does not contain any imagery, asked women, “Are you always careful about Feminine Hygiene?” To frighten women into using Lysol (as opposed to being abstinent), the advertisement emphasized that women who could not truthfully answer “yes” to this question would automatically “flunk” the test.91

Indeed some North American women did become pregnant using Lysol, while others experienced adverse side effects, including poisoning, vaginal burning, scarring, inflammation, and death.102 Unfortunately, these women had no legal recourse. In 1935, a Rochester man sued Lehn & Fink when his wife suffered vaginal burning,103 charging falsity in advertising. According to the plaintiff, Lysol advertisements claimed the product was safe, however, his wife’s injuries demonstrated that it was anything but. The company insisted that the injured woman was simply allergic to Lysol, and the court sided with Lehn & Fink.104 Significantly, both during and after the trial the courts did not question the intended usage of the product based on the company’s advertisements (beyond claims that Lysol was safe for use on human skin), or why the plaintiff’s wife applied the product vaginally.105

These unwanted pregnancies, injuries, and deaths speak to the slow course of consumer protection in Canada and the United States. Though medical authorities did not have the right to regulate the feminine hygiene industry, the federal governments of both counties did have official bodies and laws in place to protect consumers from dangerous products. In the United States, organizations including the Food and Drug Association (FDA henceforth) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC henceforth) played this role. Nevertheless, these organizations failed to safeguard consumers from the dangers of Lysol. As Tone shows in the US context, insofar as advertising was concerned, the Food and Drug Administration only had powers to prosecute instances of product mislabeling. Given Lysol’s use of euphemistic language, the FDA did not have sufficient grounds to prosecute. With regards to protecting consumer health, as a consumer product, Lysol technically did not fall under the jurisdiction of the Food and Drug Act. According to the FDA, a drug was used to cure or prevent disease, and since pregnancy was not a disease, products such as Lysol were beyond the Administration’s control.106 As for the FTC, during the interwar years, its primary focus was prosecuting unfair competition between businesses. While this included deceptive advertising, until 1938 the FTC only had the power to prevent an advertiser from making false claims if such claims created an unfair competitive environment, not if a claim was potentially injurious to a consumer.107

Due to weak consumer protection regulations in North American and feeble professional ethics among advertisers, Lehn & Fink promoted Lysol as an illegal contraceptive product throughout the interwar years, continuing this practice until the 1960s. By then, consumer protection laws had been greatly strengthened throughout North America as stringent regulations were put in place to establish consumers’ rights in the marketplace. Advertising regulation was also undergoing significant shifts; North American advertisers were beginning to establish internal standards and codes, which set out official criteria for industry self-regulation with regard to truthful and fair advertising practices.111 Yet these developments were not direct factors in bringing the advertisement of Lysol as a contraceptive to an end. Instead, it was oral contraceptives, or the pill, available in the United States from 1959 and in Canada by 1961, that eclipsed the use of over-the-counter contraceptives.112

via Selling Sexual Certainty? Advertising Lysol as a Contraceptive in the United States and Canada, 1919–1939.

Medical Imagery of the 15th Century | The Public Domain Review

I posted Japanese Edo period medical illustrations a couple weeks ago. These are also interesting.

The following images are all taken from Tradition und Naturbeobachtung in den Illustrationen Medizinischer Handschriften und Frühdrucke vornehmlich des 15. Jahrhunderts (1907) by Karl Sudhoff – a book on the topic of medical illustrations in manuscripts and early printed books (primarily) of the 15th century. Included amongst the depictions are a few of the Zodiac Man (or homo signorum), a common figure in late medieval depictions of the body who had every part of his body linked with an astrological sign. See the book to learn from where each image has been sourced by Sudhoff, and if you speak German, to learn more about them.

via Medical Imagery of the 15th Century | The Public Domain Review.

Envelopes That Claim to be Important | Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories

This is a collection of official looking mail which actually contains junk. What’s really ironic is that while these envelopes might get people to open them, they are not as effective as sending out a mailer that has straightforward information. People get annoyed that the content did not match the promise of official mail and not only do they throw it away, they do so with vitriol. Who in their right mind would do business with a company whose first correspondence with you screams “not legit?”

A conspicuous contemporary trend in “traditional” dead-tree junk mail (the snail-mail equivalent of online spam) is to follow the basic format of phishing e-mail: it comes in disguise as legitimate “important” mail, to trick you into clicking on opening it.

And so for a while now, we’ve been amassing a collection of what we call “Envelopes That Claim to be Important.”   Here are a few prime examples of what to watch out for.

via Envelopes That Claim to be Important | Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories.

Previous Older Entries