Monday, October 30, 2006

Sunscreen Causes Skin Cancer 

My friends have laughed at me over the last few years, whenever I have mentioned the statistic that shows that as sunscreen usage has grown, so has incidences of skin cancer. My best guess was that the artificial substances in the sunscreen were absorbed and cancer resulted. Others guessed as much:
Recently, there has been increased attention to the possibility of adverse health effects associated with the synthetic compounds in most sunscreens. A study published in April 1992, entitled "Could sunscreens increase melanoma risk?" reported that the greatest increase in melanoma has occurred in those regions where sunscreen use is most prevalent. Although one might believe that this effect is due to sunscreens being used more in regions where people are more exposed to UV light, this is not what is claimed by this study: Melanome incidence correlates strongly with the use of chemical sunscreens independently of the actual UV exposure.
Seems I was partially correct, according to a recent New Scientist magazine :(
She and her colleagues exposed human skin samples grown in the lab to UV radiation while they were covered with three common UV filters found in sunscreens: benzophenone-3, octocrylene and octylmethoxycinnamate. After just 1 hour, they found each compound had sunk into the skin, meaning its protective effect was greatly reduced. Worse, Hanson's team found that the samples contained more reactive oxygen species (ROS) than skin exposed to UV with no sunscreen on it. ROS are free radicals that can damage skin cells and increase the risk of skin cancer (Free Radical Biology and Medicine DOI: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2006.06.011).
So, sunscreen increases the chances of skin cancer, unless you keep re-applying it all day. Best just cover up or stay in.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Live in HobbitsVille (Oregon) 

With prices starting at $500K to live in the middle of nowhere (Bend, Oregon), with (presumably) a bunch of strange LOTR obsessives, I can see the immediate appeal. If it was an hour out of Melbourne, Australia I'd be signing up today.

The Shire is a development that borrows its basic design concept, styling and features from an era where the sense of community, the beauty of the land and the interaction of the residents with the land had high value. The Shire brings the spirit of a great age to daily living. The Shire has many flavors of eighteenth century English architecture and landscaping chosen because the style of the period was enchanting, evoking good feelings of a simpler lifestyle than the present. The Shire is a place where just the beauty and charm of the grounds and the structures make you relax, smile and be happier. We set out to create a lifestyle rather than a subdivision.

Lovely promtional site for The Shire of Bend

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

This is a snowflake! 

Full size image is here. Makes one wonder if "intelligent design" is the reason we are here. Or at least why snowflakes are here...

Friday, October 20, 2006

Libra Extra 

Gotta love the current TV ad for sanitary pads/liners/whatever in Australia, that proclaims:
"Libra Extra are thicker than Ultra Thins"

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Aussie Broadband: An Embarassment 

In The Age this morning:
Australia remains locked at 17th place among developed countries in broadband usage

...The latest figures from the OECD show Australia ranked in the same spot in the number of broadband users as a proportion of its population for the second consecutive year with a total of 3.5 million subscribers. It ranks behind Denmark, the United Kingdom and the US, but is five places ahead of New Zealand.
Basically Telstra won't improve things unless the government promise them a monopoly, and that won't happen.

Yet again "privatization" is coming back to bite us. A 100% government owned telco could have given us better broadband a long time ago, something that has to be good for the economy.

I'm so jealous of South Koreans!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Medical Mishaps Killing Aussies 

At a rate of 18,000 per year, and 50,000 injured, according to The Bulletin. That's almost 50 people dying in Australian hospitals each day, from things they were not suffering from prior to going in!

This is much bigger than the road toll, but does not get as much attention from the media.

I figue that out of 6.9M hospital admissions each year, 18,000 deaths equals one in 383 admissions will die from medical bungles. Or 0.261%.

Compare this to the road toll... 1600 die each year. 16% of the population are under 20, and perhaps 80% of those older are drivers. From a population of 20 million, this means only one in 8400 drivers die on the roads each year. 0.012%

So, in terms of where is the most likely place to die...

Roads - 1 in 8400
Hospitals - 1 in 383

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Fun'n'games with One Direct Mortgage Co 

The auction is in about 11 days, and I'd like to bid if I get a home loan pre-approved. One Direct are definitely the cheapest, charging only 6.71% and the barest of fees. It will be interesting to see the problems I encounter from using such a service with no face-to-face anything.

Their Full Page Ad
Says to go to Site doesn't work unless you enter OOPS! Someone should be fired!

Their Site
It says:

Step 1 - Apply
Call us on 13 14 01 and your Dedicated Lending Specialist will complete the application form for you.

OOPS! I was told to download their application form and send it to them.

The Form
In the financial part, they ask me how much the repayments on my home loan will be. OOPS - aren't they supposed to be telling me that?

On the phone I was told I could use one direct to get pre-approval. A box to tick on the form indicating that I didn't know which house I was buying would be less confusing.

The Rush
I was told on the phone that to talk to a consultant I would have to wait until Friday. But their site has this timetable explained:

Day 1.
Talk to consultant. "Your Dedicated Lending Specialist will call you to confirm your details and/or provide you with an indication of your approval subject to verification of your financial details. They will also tell you which documents we need to complete the formal assessment of your loan application."

Basically as soon as I get the docs to them, they can give me formal approval. So it's possible to be pre-approved in 1 day, according to their site.

The whole process took several months, with requests for info, then more info that they forgot to ask for, and each email exchange took a week, and their email account couldn't handle large attachments (even though they ask people to scan and send in documents).

If I had relied on One Direct, I would've come close to missing settlement. Fortunately I was also dealing with Mortgage Choice, and they were virtually perfect, and for the extra 0.1% I'm paying, I don't mind.

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Saturday, October 07, 2006

Finally, I Give 

Most of my life I have been desperately poor. When I see beggars in Australia, folk who if they chose to be non-combative, could claim benefits from an excellent welfare system, get angry at me for not throwing them a coin, I feel like letting them know about my first 6 months in Australia - no benefits, couldn't get a job, lived on boiled potato & onions (for flavour). Technically homeless, malnourished & really wanting to work.

While I was poor, and as my bank balance recently grew, every charity that I did not give to, my rationale was:

* I don't trust them
* I get no feedback, no tactile response to my action

"don't trust them" sounds harsh, but in those 6 months I worked for some so-called charities, door-to-door, for 50% of what I could get from folk. And my bosses took 30%. And overheads took 15%. And 5% got through to the designated charity, which in my experience tended to be a sham anyhow.

I've long wished for a charity with few overheads that could give me feedback on where my donation went, and how it helped. And now I've found one! A woman in Ecuador. Hopefully she pays me back, and I am inspired to make many, many more loans!

Investigate fully, and you might find it as hard to resist as I did!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A USB Hub for Reclusive Kiddies 

It's only a USB hub, but made to look like THE BUTTON! (you know, start a nuclear war). Great example of how a twisted mind can profit from a world full of twisted minds. Found at The Register

Monday, October 02, 2006

Only some of the Wiggles? 

The Wiggles are about to stage 3 shows in 1 day at the Rod Laver Arena. That's a massive turnover, and with most seats consisting of mum & child, a huge number of people (15,000 seats, 2 per seat, 3 shows, that's 90,000 people in 1 day, if sold out).

Although I've since ditched the newspaper with the ad in it, and I can't find the same words online, I recall it saying in the small print:

"Individual performers may be substituted."

Could that mean that one or more of the Wiggles are planning to be somewhere else that day? At $25-$30 dollars per seat, that's $2.25 million in one day, if sold out. I'm guessing that the running costs & advertising could be covered by a mere 1/4 million, so that means some potentially absent Wiggle, off doing something he knew he would be doing months before the gig, will earn $500,000 for doing sweet FA.

Maybe they're just covering their arse in case Jeff sleeps in... after all the first gig is at 10am.

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