Hand Drying: The New Frontier

According to the Center for Disease Control, if you do not practice proper hand drying, you might as well not wash your hands:
Wet hands have been know to transfer pathogens much more readily than dry hands or hands not washed at all. The residual moisture determines the level of
bacterial and viral transfer following hand washing. Careful hand drying
is a critical factor for bacterial transfer to skin, food and environmental

However, while hand drying seems like a simple task, drying with a towel or paper wipes never seems to do the trick. In addition, paper wipes are extremely wasteful and easily add up to mess in public bathrooms. Drying is the Achilles Heel of hand hygiene and I don't think people realize the importance of it. To improve hygiene, the key will be to take the work and time out of it. But, I think we're winning the war on hand drying.

That's why I flipping out about the revolution in drying technology. The first major leap forward that I came in contact with is the Xlerator, which packs air speeds which make your skin ripple and is a vast improvement over the slow and tedious hand dryer. I've encountered these in a few places, but you may find one at a Target store.

The Xlerator has been eclipsed though. During a weekend trip to the movies, I came in contact with the perfect hand dryer: The Dyson Airblade. The unique, simple, and fascinating design features the high air speeds, but also dries both sides of you hand at once. It is simply an amazing and so utterly simple a concept. But, if these catch on, the Airblade could save lives.

Wired goes Nuclear

Wired highlights the upside of Nuclear Power. Check out the link to the map showing carbon emissions. I wish Michigan was brighter. Also, this book by Gwyneth Cravens appears to a very intriguing survey of the subject. Cravens is a former nuclear opponent who was convinced that it is a better option than global warming. Cravens tells her story at this Long Now seminar.

Free Speech Alert: Don't Throw "Cult" Around Loosely

Great Britain has taken an aggressive approach to limiting speech critical of religion. The Instapundit provides a fresh example. Freedom of religion is fine, but not at the expense of freedom of speech. Let's pray that this sort of thing does not happen here.

An Amazing Album

In Rainbows: I've listened to it probably ten times in the last few days. A very different vibe for them, but a very rewarding listen. From Nude until the end of the album every song is amazing. Currently, my favorite song is House of Cards, a sparse but spacious song that has a ghostly keyboard refrain near the end of the song that makes it feel likes an 80's song. Also, check out this All Songs Considered episode with Thom Yorke, who was very humble and had an intriguing playlist.

Crisis in China and Myanmar

I think the prayers of the junta in Myanmar were answered when the earthquake in China occurred. It has taken an immense amount of pressure off the foul leadership in Burma, especially from the Western media. Today, I think Myanmar fell off the news cycle. On NBC Nightly News, the lead story was China, but the second story was... West Virginia? Also, China got five minutes. Five minutes, while seconds were wasted on Clinton and Obama running into each other on the Senate floor This is pathetic. Hurricane Katrina was an undeniable and unfortunate tragedy. However, it was covered as if it were a catastrophe which exceeded the scale of either China and Myanmar. Much of the coverage involved negative attacks on the government response and over-reports of deaths and unrest.

In Myanmar, one of the major impediments to better coverage may be the refusal of the government to allow reporters. It seems that major television news is unable to figure a way to attack the story from the outside.

The reporting in China would also probably be significantly less impactful without the serendipity of National Public Radio's Robert Siegal and Melissa Block already being in China for a planned series of stories on the country next week. They have filed harrowing reports of the destruction and provided perspective for many other news agencies. Tuesday afternoon's All Things Considered included far and away the most comprehensive coverage of the story.

One thing I have been wondering about is how serious China has been about building codes. This article from NPR claims that China has building codes in place to protect against such a disaster. A structural engineer anticipates that most of the buildings that suffered catastrophic damage were older buildings. More coverage on NPR's Chengdu Diary.

Creme de la Commentary

I'm a podcasting fiend. Good ones are hard to find and easy to exhaust. I love a good conference podcast, a speakers series, or the Sports Guy's seminal BS Report. Lately, I've received immense enjoyment for Ronald D. Moore's Battlestar Galactica Podcasts. For him, recording the podcasts seems to be a labor of love rather than a chore. I especially enjoy the podcasts accompanied by his wife as well as the inside the business tangents they sometimes veer off into.

The ultimate podcast from the series is a three-hour with his wife and some of the cast members recorded during season three. The back-and-forth is engrossing. Its a conversation I could have listened to for another three hours and I think they could gone for much longer also (although the Scotch may have eventually caught up with them.)

Another Space Item

Rand Simberg provides a lengthy and frisky post about government space policy. Glenn Reynolds and Simberg have altered my view on the role of NASA in space affairs. Simberg sees the government's role as providing an infrastructure for reaching space rather flying a few astronauts to space. This is a sound concept, but not really floated in the mainstream. Alas, serious discussion of space is not really mainstream.

Space Property Rights

Wired takes a look at a SMU Journal of Air Law and Commerce (also linked to by Instapundit) article by Dave Wasser and Douglas Jobes about property rights in space and draws parallels to the (not-always-succesful) colonization of America. The Wired piece is a little bit skeptical about the matter, but its well past time to rely on the current model of relying on NASA to get there. According to Wired, Wasser and Jobes propose selling off the property rights. As I've said previously, I think we should go a step further. If you get there first, the land is yours and you don't pay taxes on the land or for any business done at that location.

Real Estate Top Ten

I live in a new development near Grand Haven. It is ultimately designed for around 500 homes, but so far has only filled less than 10 percent of the lots. Obviously, things have been slow here, but the good news is that they have not ground to a complete halt. We continue to welcome new neighbors at a regular pace and the activity in the neighborhood has picked up. The developer, Eastbrook Homes, is committed to the neighborhood and has begun construction on a clubhouse and pool.

While the nation is mired in a real estate slump, Grand Rapids is apparently on the better end of things. It is listed as one of the 10 fastest growing real estate markets in the country on CNN.com. Maybe that's why Eastbrook Homes is bullish about our neighborhood.

Wii News: Boom Blox Debuts

Wired provides full-press coverage of Boom Blox, the new Wii game which Steven Spielberg helped design. The review is very positive. We may have to move this ahead of Mario Kart on our list of Wii games to get. My only question is why these blockbuster titles come out in the summer (Grand Theft Auto, Mario Kart, Boom Blox, Wii Fit). I guess its when kids have free time, but these things would be much more useful in the dead of winter.

Depopulation Alert

While food and energy crunches have many concerned about overpopulation, the specter of depopulation looms in the background for the developed world. The Instapundit points to more evidence here.