Wednesday, August 31, 2011

NY hospital staff stayed with patients too ill to move during Irene

By Elizabeth Cohen, CNN Senior Medical Correspondent
August 29, 2011 -- Updated 2155 GMT (0555 HKT)
  • As Irene approached, 6 patients were too sick to evacuate from NYU-Langone Medical Center
  • The hospital is just 100 yards from the East River
  • Nurses kept flashlights by each bedside, and a 3-day medicine supply for each patient
  • "We train for these disasters," says nurse manager Elaine Rowinski

(CNN) -- When New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg instructed five hospitals to evacuate their patients from Hurricane Irene's path, one replied it couldn't follow his order.

Administrators from New York University-Langone Medical Center explained that six patients in the intensive care unit were so sick that moving them might kill them, and so the mayor's office gave permission to keep them in the hospital throughout the storm.

It then fell to Elaine Rowinski, nurse manager of the intensive care unit, to find seven nurses willing to stay at the hospital, right in the hurricane's predicted path and just 100 yards from the East River, which many feared would overflow. It turned out she had nothing to worry about.

"I could have had 20 nurses if I'd needed them," she said. "That's how many called me up to volunteer."

Rowinski stayed at the hospital all weekend as the doctors and nurses who also stayed listened to the wind and the rain through the boarded-up windows.

"I had no qualms about staying, no fears at all," she said. "We train for these disasters."

Brainstorming with her staff, Rowinski came up with a list of what they might need during the storm. The nurses kept flashlights by each bedside and plugged machines into the red outlets on the wall, which connect to the generators on top of the building, in case they lost power from Con Edison. They also kept a three-day supply of medicine next to each patient's bed in the event they needed to evacuate quickly.

About 200 staff members stayed at NYU, including engineers, security guards, housekeepers, blood bank staff, and two doctors.

Four family members stayed all weekend with the patients. Some of the patients had neurological diseases, while others had respiratory problems or infectious diseases. Many were on life support, but those that were conscious were told Friday they might have to be evacuated.

"They were so relieved when they found out they could stay," Rowinski said.

As for Rowinski, she finally went home Monday afternoon after nearly three days straight at the hospital. While she was working, her husband had to evacuate their house in Oceanside, on Long Island.

"He told me he kept a picture of me by the dog so he'd remember me," she said with a laugh.

CNN's John Bonifield contributed to this report.


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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Gaypon Is The Gay Groupon

gaypon-headerA new daily deals site catering to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LBGT) and allied communities has just launched, and it's called Gaypon. The site provides its subscribers with daily offers from local and regional businesses �- but only those businesses known to be gay-friendly. In addition, Gaypon says a portion of its proceeds will be donated to local and national LGBT organizations and charities.


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Monday, August 29, 2011

What Kills Startups? Blackbox Releases Report/App To Help Founders Avoid The Deadpool

Screen shot 2011-08-29 at 12.01.59 PMIt's not easy being green -- or an entrepreneur. The inherent risk in becoming an entrepreneur or founding a startup is high. Sleepless nights, sweat equity, bribing new users to come to your product -- it's all part of the nerve-racking, code-spinning, and teeth grinding process. That's why most of these swashbucklers are pirates by nature. But the truth of the matter is that few startups ever make it far enough to find the buried treasure or piggyback on Facebook all the way to glory; in fact, the cold, hard reality is that more than 90 percent of all startups fail. That's why four young international entrepreneurs (Bjoern Herrmann, Max Marmer, Fadi Bishara, Aleksandra Markova) created the so-called Startup Genome Report, because they wanted to a deep dive into what makes a startup successful -- and what causes so many to drink from the cup of FAIL.


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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Staying on the job with early Alzheimer's

There is no typical job scenario for people with early-onset Alzheimer's, like Coach Pat Summitt's. Some patients, with support from colleagues, can continue working.


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Gillmor Gang 8.27.11 (TCTV)

Gillmore Gang test patternThe Gillmor Gang ? Doc Searls, Robert Scoble, John Taschek, Kevin Marks, and Steve Gillmor ? explored the legacy and impact of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. @dsearls called him the Beethoven of Business, and we spent the hour and 15 minutes matching that to what I called Jobs' ability to listen to the future. In recent years, Jobs has turned his focus on perfecting the microcomputing experience toward inventing a mobile platform that will last for decades to come. For those of us who saw the tech revolution as a child of the space program and the music of the '60s, living in the time of Steve Jobs has been the same kind of rare gift, swimming in real time with the giants of our history books. It's hard to predict what will come next, for Apple or any of us, but something tells us Jobs will be there in spirit as we build on his vision. Imagine...


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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Pioneering Ants Challenge Self-Organization Assumptions

Some worker ants are more equal than others.

As with other social insects, it was once thought that workers were essentially equivalent in ant colony hierarchies. But it appears that a few well-informed individuals shape group decisions by leading nestmates to new homes.

The findings could add a new dimension to ant-derived models of self-organization.

?Although self-organized systems appear very effective under the assumption that all individuals follow the same simple set of rules, the presence of key, well-informed individuals altering their behavior according to their prior experience might generally enhance performance even further,? wrote biologists from the University of Bristol and the University of Toulouse in an Aug. 24 Journal of Experimental Biology paper.

To study nest-hunting, Nathalie Stroeymeyt and colleagues Nigel Franks and Martin Giurfa collected ?house-hunting? ants, or Temnothorax albipennis, from the southern coast of the United Kingdom. These small, light-brown ants make simple sand-enclosed nests in the cracks of rocks.

The 'house hunting' ant, Temnothorax albipennis. Image:

Moving the ants into the lab, Stroeymeyt gave them a well-supplied artificial nest. She then placed an identical empty nest site at the opposite end of the ants? territory. Each ant?s back was painted with individually-identifiable colored spots. Webcams and motion-detection software allowed the researchers to keep track of the movements of specific ants.

One week later Stroeymeyt placed a second unfamiliar nest site in the territory and destroyed their original home. Though some ants began to run around randomly in all directions, a few ants who had already explored the alternate nest site headed directly to it.

Those ants then quickly returned to the destroyed nest to recruit followers. They repeated the process until enough had gathered at the new nest site to relocate the entire colony.

Most studies of how ants find new nest sites use colonies unfamiliar with a new territory, and assume that all workers follow the same rules. But that?s not realistic, and as a model for self-organization and distributed decision-making ? ants have inspired various forms of traffic coordination, from cars to data ? it might not be optimally efficient.

?This begins to change how we think about self-organization,? said Nicola Plowes, a behavioral ecologist and ant specialist at Arizona State University, who was not involved in the research. ?Informed individuals making those decisions actually result in a process that is more efficient than a simple homogeneous self-organized system.?

The findings will be exciting for technologists and mathematicians who use insect-based algorithms, Plowes believes.

?Sky Harbor International Airport, for example, uses ant-based algorithms for its baggage carriers,? she said. ?Knowing that we can incorporate informed individuals, you can actually make it work better and faster.?

Image: 1) s.alt/Flickr. 2)

Citation: ?Knowledgeable individuals lead collective decisions in ants.? By Nathalie Stroeymeyt, Nigel R. Franks and Martin Giurfa. Journal of Experimental Biology. August 24, 2011.

Danielle Venton is a science writer who fosters a special love for bugs, plants, mountains, books and gorgeous space photos. She likes writing with a fountain pen and hopes to walk across the Himalayas one day. Follow @DanielleVenton on Twitter.


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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Bloody Thursday: Google Deadpools All Slide Products Except One

google-slide-zurich-copyBecause we needed more big tech news this week. Yes, it's true that Google has just brought the hammer down on Slide, as Liz Gannes of�AllThingsD first reported earlier this evening. Yes, it's also true that Max Levchin is leaving. Now we also know the fate of all of the Slide products. And it's not pretty. All of them are being discontinued ? except one, we've learned. This means both the Slide products before Google's�acquisition�of the company a year ago, and the newer ones that the Slide team has been building within Google for the past year. Yes, it includes the newer products like Disco, Pool Party, Video Inbox, and the just-launched-last-week Photovine. They're all dead.


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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Moody?s Cuts Japan?s Rating One Notch, Citing Its Giant Debt

Moody?s Cuts Japan?s Rating One Notch, Citing Its Giant Debt

Published: August 23, 2011

TOKYO ? Moody?s, the credit ratings agency, lowered Japan?s credit rating by one notch on Wednesday, warning that frequent changes in administration, weak prospects for economic growth and its recent natural and nuclear disasters made it difficult for the government to pare down its huge debt.

Hours after the downgrade, the government announced a $100 billion credit facility to help the Japanese economy ride out a spike in the yen in recent weeks amid the global market turmoil, which has battered Japan?s export-led economy.

?Taking into account that there is a lopsided rise in the yen, I felt that swift measures were needed,? Yoshihiko Noda, the finance minister, told reporters.

Moody?s Investors Service lowered Japan?s grade by one step to Aa3, the fourth-highest rating, the company said in a statement.

The downgrade brings Moody?s rating for Japan in line with Standard & Poor?s, which lowered the country?s grade by one notch to AA in January, the fourth highest on its scale. Moody?s had put Japan on review for a downgrade in May.

The action comes after a round of downgrades by major ratings agencies of sovereign debt, and amid concern that the debt crisis in Europe could escalate. On Aug. 5, S.& P. cut the sovereign debt rating of the United States for the first time in the country?s history.

Markets in Tokyo largely shrugged off the downgrade, the latest in a line of many.

Trust in Japanese government debt ?remains unwavering,? Japan?s finance minister, Yoshihiko Noda, told reporters after the downgrade.

Still, the move, a week before the country?s ruling party is to select a new prime minister, could put additional pressure on the incoming administration to balance budgets. The government financing of the recovery from the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear crisis is expected to reach as high as 10 trillion yen ($130 billion).

Even before the disasters, Japan?s debt was expected to soar to almost 220 percent of its gross domestic product next year, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which would rank it as the largest debt-to-G.D.P. ratio in the world. Japan, however, has long been able to borrow at low nominal rates because of unwavering appetite by domestic investors for government debt.

Moody?s said that it was worried by �large budget deficits and the buildup of �government debt. Frequent change in �leadership had prevented the government from pursuing long-term fiscal reform, the agency said, while the recent �disasters had delayed recovery. Meanwhile, weak prospects for economic �growth were also hampering efforts to �curb the country?s debt burden, the �agency said.

Deflation and sluggish growth has �long weighed on Japan?s economy, eroding the country?s tax base and forcing �the government to issue debt to finance �its budget. Meanwhile, spending on �pensions and social welfare has soared �as the country?s population ages.

The global economic crisis further �darkened Japan?s economic outlook, as �has the recent tsunami and nuclear accident. Global market turmoil in recent �weeks has also wreaked havoc with the �Japanese economy, driving up the value �of the yen and hurting its export-led �economy.

The credit facility unveiled on Wednesday aims to spur Japanese spending on corporate acquisitions and resources overseas, according to a statement released by the Finance Ministry.

By spending yen for dollars and other currencies, the ministry hopes that the currency will weaken somewhat. A strong yen hurts Japanese exporters because it makes their goods less competitive and erodes the value of their overseas earnings when repatriated into yen.

The ministry also said it would step up monitoring of currency markets by asking financial institutions to report on positions held by their currency dealers.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan, meanwhile, is expected to step down by the end of the month amid criticism of his �handling of the response to the disasters, making way for Japan?s fifth �prime minister in six years.

Mr. Noda, the finance minister, is �among a field of candidates to replace �Mr. Kan. He has supported more aggressive steps, including raising taxes, �to tackle the country?s debt. Debate �over Japan?s finances has been sidelined by the country?s recovery and reconstruction needs, however.


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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

MakerBot Takes $10 Million In Funding From Foundry Group, Angels

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMakerBot Industries, creator of home 3D printers, has announced a total of $10 million in funding from a number of investors, the bulk coming from Foundry Group. Also included in the round were Bezos Expeditions, True Ventures, and RRE, along with a dozen or so angel investors. The company started in 2009 with around $75,000 in seed money, and since then has put together and sold some 5200 of their compact fabrication machines. We saw them in action at the very first TechCrunch Disrupt NYC, and since then they've been a regular feature on this blog. MakerBot also just added Brad Feld to their board, and are now hiring.


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Fighting rages in Libya as Gadhafi son emerges, quashes rebel claims

What appeared to be a climactic showdown between rebel and government forces in Libya a day earlier devolved into confusion and uncertainty Tuesday about whether ruler Moammar Gadhafi's regime would fall anytime soon.


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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Gillmor Gang 8.20.11 (TCTV)

Gillmore Gang test patternThe Gillmor Gang ? Robert Scoble, Seth Goldstein, John Taschek, Kevin Marks, and Steve Gillmor ? sat in awe of Apple's massive hammerlock on the tablet market. What the New York Times called 97% of the purchased category became crystal clear as HP folded its cards and went home to an uncertain future. @seth, founder of the viral music startup, seemed as thrilled with Spotify as he was with his own service. A complementary handoff from discovery to living in the new groove, with a tablet product on the way to supplement third party placeholders. The session had a soft rhythm of exploration and dumbfounded amazement at what HP and RIM and Nokia were thinking when they jumped in with tablets for the remaining 3%. Did they have to try at least once before abandoning the PC, or play off the remaining 3 or 4 years on enterprise contracts, or believe in Windows Phone and Android activations? It would be laughable if real money weren't involved, but instead these companies will have to turn to the record companies of all people for clues about how to finally make a transition into the Cloud. Or as @scobleizer pronounced it, iCloud.


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Egypt says Israeli apology insufficient

Hundreds of Egyptians gathered peacefully outside the Israeli Embassy on Sunday, demanding that their government expel Israel's ambassador in Cairo, state TV showed.


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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Cane 2.0: The Tacit Is Hand-Mounted Sonar For The Vision Impaired

haptic_glove_smEvery once in a while you see an invention that seems a long time coming. The Tacit, a hand-mounted system that pings surroundings and transmits distance information to the user, is one of those. While the reliable white cane and occasional accommodations for the blind and vision impaired ameliorate the difficulty of navigating the world sans sight, technological advances that are both useful and ready for deployment are few and far between. We've seen a lot of research into artificial vision systems, and there are often hacked-together projects by people personally concerned with issues like vision or mobility — we've seen a Kinect-powered navigation system, the Eyewriter, and Ken Yankelvitz's paraplegic-accessible controllers. This project is an amazing example of what one guy can do with a soldering iron, some off-the-shelf parts, and an inventive mind. Did I mention it's open source, and only costs around $100 to make?


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Brain-eating amoebas blamed in 3 deaths

It's eerie but it's true: Three people have died this summer after suffering rare infections from a waterborne amoeba that destroys the brain.


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Egypt recalls envoy to Israel in protest over slayings

Egyptian officials want Israel to conduct an investigation into "indiscriminate shelling" that led to the deaths of three Egyptian security members near their shared southern border.


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