HOWTO kill/block an RFID
Instructables have just published their latest installment in their series of HOWTOs inspired by my forthcoming novel Little Brother, a young adult book about kids who use technology to wrest liberty from the Department of Homeland Security. This week, it’s HOWTO block or kill an RFID chip.
-The easiest way to kill an RFID, and be sure that it is dead, is to throw it in the microwave for 5 seconds. Doing this will literally melt the chip and antenna making it impossible for the chip to ever be read again. Unfortunately this method has a certain fire risk associated with it. Killing an RFID chip this way will also leave visible evidence that it has been tampered with, making it an unsuitable method for killing the RFID tag in passports. Doing this to a credit card will probably also screw with the magnetic strip on the back making it un-swipeable.
-The second, slightly more convert and less damaging, way to kill an RFID tag is by piercing the chip with a knife or other sharp object. This can only be done if you know exactly where the chip is located within the tag. This method also leaves visible evidence of intentional damage done to the chip, so it is unsuitable for passports.
-The third method is cutting the antenna very close to the chip. By doing this the chip will have no way of receiving electricity, or transmitting its signal back to the reader. This technique also leaves minimal signs of damage, so it would probably not be a good idea to use this on a passport.
-The last (and most covert) method for destroying a RFID tag is to hit it with a hammer. Just pick up any ordinary hammer and give the chip a few swift hard whacks. This will destroy the chip, and leave no evidence that the tag has been tampered with. This method is suitable for destroying the tags in passports, because there will be no proof that you intentionally destroyed the chip.
Posted by bobodod on 3 May, 2008
HOWTO kill/block an RFID
Posted by bobodod on 2 May, 2008
Paul Joseph Watson, Prison Planet Thursday, May 1, 2008
Click here to listen to Palfrey clearly state that she would not commit suicide.
DC Madam Deborah Jeane Palfrey predicted she would be “suicided” on several occasions both recently and as far back as 17 years ago – comments that now appear ominous in light of the announcement that the former head of a Washington escort service allegedly killed herself today.
“If taken into custody, my physical safety and most probably my very life would be jeopardized,” she wrote in August 1991 following an attempt to bring her to trial, “Rape, beating, maiming, disfigurement and more than likely murder disguised in the form of just another jailhouse accident or suicide would await me,” said Palfrey in a handwritten letter to the judge accusing the San Diego police vice squad of having a vendetta against her.
During several recent appearances on The Alex Jones Show, Palfrey also said that she was at risk of being killed and that authorities would make it look like suicide. She made it clear that she was not suicidal and if she was found dead it would be murder.
Palfrey had threatened to release the names of well-known clients of her upscale call girl ring in the nation’s capitol, and had indicated that Dick Cheney may be one of them.
“We now know it goes at least as high as a United States Senator,” Palfrey told The Alex Jones Show, “I’m hearing rumors now from other people that there are other possibilities in that stratosphere so to speak, on that level.”
“No I’m not planning to commit suicide,” Palfrey told The Alex Jones Show on her last appearance in July, “I’m planning on going into court and defending myself vigorously and exposing the government,” she said.
“Blanche Palfrey had no sign that her daughter was suicidal, and there was no immediate indication that alcohol or drugs were involved, police Capt. Jeffrey Young said,” according to an AP report.
Click here to listen to Palfrey clearly state that she would not commit suicide.
Click here to listen to the entirety of the last interview with Palfrey.
UPDATE: In an almost uncanny development, as soon as this article started to go viral on the Internet, Time Magazine released a story claiming that Palfrey told author Dan Moldea that she would rather commit suicide than go to jail. What a funny coincidence!
Posted by bobodod on 2 May, 2008
Posted by Jennifer Granick [on the EFF Deeplinks blog]
The Ninth Circuit’s recent ruling (pdf) in United States v. Arnold allows border patrol agents to search your laptop or other digital device without limitation when you are entering the country. EFF and many civil liberties, travelers’ rights, immigration advocacy and professional organizations are concerned that unfettered laptop searches endanger trade secrets, attorney-client communications, and other private information. These groups have signed a letter asking Congress to hold hearings to find out what protocol, if any, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) follows in searching digital devices and copying, storing and using travelers’ data. The letter also asks Congress to pass legislation protecting travelers’ laptops and smart phones from unlimited government scrutiny.
If privacy at the border is important to you, contact Congress now and ask them to take action!
In the meantime, how can international travelers protect themselves at the U.S. border, short of leaving their laptops and iPhones at home?
Many travelers practice security through obscurity. They simply hope that no border agent will rummage through their private data. Too many people enter the country each day for agents to thoroughly search every device that crosses the border, and there is too much information stored on most devices for agents to find the most revealing and confidential tidbits. But for travelers who may be targeted based on their celebrity, race or other distinguishing factor, obscurity is not an option. As last week’s news that Microsoft is giving away forensic tools that can quickly search an entire hard drive on a USB “thumb drive” shows, it won’t be long before customs agents can efficiently perform a thorough search on every machine. So long as there are no protocols or oversight for these searches, every traveler’s personal information is at risk.
Encryption is one (imperfect) answer.
If you encrypt your hard drive with strong crypto, it will be prohibitively expensive for CBP to access your confidential information. This answer is imperfect for two reasons—one is practical, the other is technological.
Practically, the government has not disclosed CBP’s laptop search practices, despite our Freedom of Information Act lawsuit for these documents. We don’t know what a border patrol agent will do when confronted with an encrypted machine. One possibility is that the agent will simply give up and let the traveler pass with her belongings. Other possibilities are that the agent will turn the traveler and her machine away at the border, or that he will seize the laptop and allow the traveler to continue on. I suspect that on most occasions, CBP agents confronted with encrypted or password-protected data tell the owner to enter the password or get turned away, and the owner, eager to continue her voyage or to return home, simply complies.
If you don’t want to comply, CBP cannot force you to decrypt your data or give over your password. Only a judge can force you to answer questions, and then only if the Fifth Amendment does not apply. While no Fifth Amendment right protects the data on your laptop or phone, one federal court has held that even a judge cannot force you to divulge your password when the act of revealing the password shows that you are the person with access to or control over potentially incriminating files. See In re Boucher, 2007 WL 4246473 (D. Vt. November 29, 2007).
If, however, you don’t respond to CBP’s demands, the agency does have the authority to search, detain, and even prohibit you from entering the county. CBP has more authority to turn non-citizens away than it does to exclude U.S. persons from entering the country, but we don’t know how the agents are allowed to use this authority to execute searches or get access to password protected information. CBP also has the authority to seize your property at the border. Agents cannot seize anything they like (for example, your wedding ring), but we do not know what standards agents are told to follow to determine whether they can and should take your laptop but let you by.
Technologically, encryption is imperfect because even strong crypto can be cracked when someone obtains the keys. Border agents can demand the keys from travelers unwilling to face seizure or detention. Agents may also be able to extract and use keys that are stored on the machine itself. Generally, if you keep your keys with the laptop, in your head or on your disk, then the encryption is easier to socially engineer or break than if you keep the keys elsewhere. (Discussion of what encryption techniques to use or avoid is beyond the scope of this post.)
Encryption aside, there may be other ways you can show CBP that your laptop is indeed a normal computer and that you mean no harm while keeping confidential information from prying eyes. Most operating systems let users to create multiple accounts on a single machine. A traveler could allow CBP to examine his own account, while storing client data or trade secrets in a separate account “owned” by his law firm or corporation. Under typical border search circumstances, this might satisfy CBP concerns. However, simply storing information in a different account—even one protected by a password—is not the same as encrypting it. If CBP is interested, the most commonly used forensic search tools can access and search non-encrypted data in every account on the machine.
Law firms, corporations and other entities that routinely deal with confidential information are handing their business travelers forensically clean laptops loaded with only what the traveler needs for that particular business trip. Leaving unnecessary data, like five years of email, behind may be the best thing. Of course, if trade secrets or client information are the reason for the trip, this plan will not help.
Another option is to bring a clean laptop and get the information you need over the internet once you arrive at your destination, send your work product back, and then delete the data before returning to the United States. Historically, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) generally prohibited warrantless interception of this information exchange. However, the Protect America Act amended FISA so that surveillance of people reasonably believed to be located outside the United States no longer requires a warrant. Your email or telnet session can now be intercepted without a warrant. If all you are concerned about is keeping border agents from rummaging through your revealing vacation photos, you may not care. If you are dealing with trade secrets or confidential client data, an encrypted VPN is a better solution.
Finally, however useful these techniques might be to protect laptops, travelers do not have this array of options for protecting data stored on less configurable smart phones. Of course, many phones do have a lock or password protection option, which travelers might consider enabling before heading to the airport.
In sum, while you must submit yourself and your electronic devices to warrantless and suspicionless searches at the border, you are not legally obligated to decrypt information or reveal passwords. However, if you fail to do so, the border agents may detain or search you, or even seize the device. There are no options that provide perfect privacy protection, but there are some options that reduce the likelihood that a legitimate international traveler’s confidential information will be subjected to arbitrary and capricious examination.
Example Security Precaution
Attorney Alice needs to have confidential attorney-client privileged information overseas. Before departure, she removes unnecessary information, encrypts her hard drive with strong crypto and sets up a login for a protected account and a travel account on her computer. To access the confidential data, one would need to first login to the protected account, and then open the encrypted files. Only Alice’s employer (The Law Offices of Bob) knows the passwords to the account and encrypted data, and keeps them secret until Alice arrives at her destination. Bob then sends the passwords to Alice in an encrypted email message.
Related Cases: US v. Arnold
Posted by bobodod on 6 April, 2008
From Publishers Weekly:
This provocative and frightening look at the synthetic chemicals used by the processed foods, pharmaceutical and chemical industries delivers an excellent, up-to-date summary of “what is really in our food, water, vitamins, prescription drugs, childhood vaccines, cosmetics, and in our homes.” Former Wall Street Journal investigative journalist Fitzgerald (Mugged by the State) takes aim at the belief that “lab-created synthetics are as benign as—and more effective than—naturally occurring foods and medicines.” The “hundred-year lie” dates from 1906, the year Congress enacted the Pure Food and Drug Act. Utilizing a range of articles from science journals and government reports, along with interviews with scientists and environmentalists, Fitzgerald looks at synthetic chemicals—from artificial sweeteners to antidepressants—that are diminishing our health. Throughout, Fitzgerald explodes various myths such as that one right dose of a particular drug works for everyone and that all food additives have been tested for safety. Still, Fitzgerald’s faith in Eastern and other natural healing processes will not convince everyone. The author concludes with practical steps for “choosing a diet of pure foods and a lifestyle free of synthetics.”
Posted by bobodod on 4 April, 2008
A fantastic story from Jay Thomas’ youth:
Posted by bobodod on 2 April, 2008
James Gustave Speth appeared on The Diane Rehm Show, Thursday March 27th. He is the dean of the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University and co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Mr. Speth and Mrs. Rehm discuss environmental issues, State policies and the way things are. From the interview link: “A leading environmentalist explains how American-style consumer capitalism harms the planet and what must be done to save the earth for future generations.”
Listen to the interview or read the transcript here.
His recently published book on these subjects is entitled “The Bridge at the Edge of the World” (Yale Univ. Press) (Amazon.com).
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: 2008, activism, books, capitalism, climate change, consumer issues, consumerism, Earth, environment, health, interview, National Resources Defense Council, NPR, sustainability, The Diane Rehm Show | Leave a Comment »
Big Health Benefits Attributed To Raw Diet: Six Diabetics In Documentary Are Able To Reverse Their Disease
Posted by bobodod on 2 April, 2008
Source: LEF Daily News
Big Health Benefits Attributed To Raw Diet: Six Diabetics In Documentary Are Able To Reverse Their Disease
The Hartford Courant, Connecticut
Mar. 31–In his 2004 film “Super Size Me,” director Morgan Spurlock humorously documents the dramatic health consequences of eating all the wrong things for 30 days. Subsisting on a McDonald’s-only menu, he gains 25 pounds and a host of ailments, among them the decidedly unfunny side effects of liver damage and sexual dysfunction.
So what might happen, then, after 30 days of eating all the right things?
That question was the seed that evolved into “Raw for 30 Days,” an independent documentary film that chronicles the experience of six diabetics who sign up for a radical diet change. The participants, most diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, move into an Arizona retreat center where they are medically supervised during a challenge to stay off dairy, meat, sugar, alcohol and processed foods. Keeping to a vegan, raw-foods diet of only uncooked, organic plant-based foods, the filmmakers claim participants were able to naturally reverse their diabetes, losing significant weight and coming off their insulin.
Set to be distributed online before a summer release at smaller film festivals, the documentary is by no means poised to be a cinematic blockbuster. But buzz has been building for more than a year in raw- and health-food circles. Proponents are wondering if the information can resonate with a mainstream American public plagued with an obesity epidemic and chronic diseases.
“I think it’s going to take people to the level of believing, truly believing, that you are what you eat,” says Glen Colello, a holistic health counselor and owner of the newly opened West Haven raw- and health-foods cafe Catch a Healthy Habit. “Maybe people will see this movie and realize medication isn’t their only option.”
Such was the intent of the team behind the film, led by creator and executive producer Mark Perlmutter, a longtime vegetarian who himself shifted to a largely raw, or living-foods, lifestyle. He said he witnessed the health benefits in eating fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds in their natural state. The philosophy is that uncooked foods are more nutrient-rich and have their enzymes intact and take less energy to digest, thereby freeing the body to heal itself.
Perlmutter learned more after moving to Arizona, where he became familiar with the work of raw-food pioneer Gabriel Cousens, a medical doctor who runs the Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center in Patagonia. The center became the setting for the documentary, filmed in 2006 with six diabetics picked from a pool of more than 100 candidates.
Audiences will see those who stick with the program go through dramatic transformations. One participant initially diagnosed with type 2 diabetes later learns he actually had type 1 diabetes, considered incurable without a pancreas transplant.
“So, how do we get people to do this for themselves? They can’t all go to Arizona,” says Perlmutter. “It’s great to get a couple of miracle stories about these people having major breakthroughs, but the question is how do you get [the medical establishment] to embrace something that obviously works for some people?”
But traditional medicine has embraced alternative therapies over the last decade, with many doctors now weaving holistic and naturopathic approaches into conventional treatments. There is, however, skepticism about the long-term benefits and loftier claims of extreme approaches such as raw foods, which dietitians caution can be difficult to sustain and may add up to an unbalanced diet that leaves out too many important foods. Most doctors advise patients to seek their physician’s opinion before starting any such diets.
Scientific studies do show clearly the relationship between dietary choices and health. The World Health Organization determined that 70 percent of chronic diseases worldwide could be prevented entirely with changes to diet and lifestyle. In the United States, that figure jumps to 80 percent.
“Absolutely. Yes. Diet has a tremendous impact on disease progression and disease manifestation,” says Dr. Mitch Kennedy of the University of Connecticut Health Center, the facility’s first certified naturopathic physician. “And the fact is that most people don’t eat well. All you have to do is look around at what’s available — the fast-food chains and packaged foods and what’s in the food labels.”
Kennedy says there are merits to a raw-foods lifestyle. The nutrient content in foods is best preserved in its raw state. And considering the average American doesn’t get the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, most would do well to introduce more into their diets. Yet, he rarely recommends an entirely raw plan. It can be a drastic change, hard on the digestive system and lead to deficiencies in vitamin B12 without consumption of meat or dairy products.
When asked for comment, the American Diabetic Association declined to address the film directly, saying only that “weight loss through any means can lower glucose levels in those with type 2 diabetes, sometimes even to normal.” It cautioned against any “one-size-fits-all diabetic diet” and encouraged healthful eating and exercise habits.
Kirt Tyson, the misdiagnosed type 1 diabetic, and the most successful of the film’s six participants, says he knows the raw-food plan cured him of his disease. A Baltimore native, he says he went from his worst — a four-day hospitalization with his blood sugar at 1,200 — down today to normal levels. He remains on a raw diet, no longer on insulin.
“When you get diagnosed with this disease, you’re always told … there’s no cure. So from that moment, you feel so defeated,” says Tyson, 26, now a graduate student studying naturopathic medicine at Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences in Arizona. “What this film does is give hope back to people. It’s not a one-shot thing. You have to work for it. I have to work at it every day.”
He doesn’t advocate ignoring traditional medication, but says patients need to be better informed about all options available to them.
“Hopefully in the future, I’ll be able to do some research to show how this diet is actually working,” he says. “I don’t know the chemistry behind it. But you can’t look at a guy who was once taking insulin, and now is not and say there’s not something to it. Clearly, it’s working for me.”
For more information about the film, visit http://www.RawFor30Days.com
Contact Joann Klimkiewicz at .
Copyright (c) 2008, The Hartford Courant, Conn.
Posted by bobodod on 1 April, 2008
Experts Now Recommend Hands-Only CPR
By STEPHANIE NANO
Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — You can skip the mouth-to-mouth breathing and just press on the chest to save a life. In a major change, the American Heart Association said Monday that hands-only CPR – rapid, deep presses on the victim’s chest until help arrives – works just as well as standard CPR for sudden cardiac arrest in adults.
Experts hope bystanders will now be more willing to jump in and help if they see someone suddenly collapse. Hands-only CPR is simpler and easier to remember and removes a big barrier for people skittish about the mouth-to-mouth breathing.
“You only have to do two things. Call 911 and push hard and fast on the middle of the person’s chest,” said Dr. Michael Sayre, an emergency medicine professor at Ohio State University who headed the committee that made the recommendation.
Hands-only CPR calls for uninterrupted chest presses – 100 a minute – until paramedics take over or an automated external defibrillator is available to restore a normal heart rhythm.
This action should be taken only for adults who unexpectedly collapse, stop breathing and are unresponsive. The odds are that the person is having cardiac arrest – the heart suddenly stops – which can occur after a heart attack or be caused by other heart problems. In such a case, the victim still has ample air in the lungs and blood and compressions keep blood flowing to the brain, heart and other organs.
A child who collapses is more likely to primarily have breathing problems – and in that case, mouth-to-mouth breathing should be used. That also applies to adults who suffer lack of oxygen from a near-drowning, drug overdose, or carbon monoxide poisoning. In these cases, people need mouth-to-mouth to get air into their lungs and bloodstream.
But in either case, “Something is better than nothing,” Sayre said.
The CPR guidelines had been inching toward compression-only. The last update, in 2005, put more emphasis on chest pushes by alternating 30 presses with two quick breaths; those “unable or unwilling” to do the breaths could do presses alone.
Now the heart association has given equal standing to hands-only CPR. Those who have been trained in traditional cardiopulmonary resuscitation can still opt to use it.
Sayre said the association took the unusual step of making the changes now – the next update wasn’t due until 2010 – because three studies last year showed hands-only was as good as traditional CPR. Hands-only will be added to CPR training.
An estimated 310,000 Americans die each year of cardiac arrest outside hospitals or in emergency rooms. Only about 6 percent of those who are stricken outside a hospital survive, although rates vary by location. People who quickly get CPR while awaiting medical treatment have double or triple the chance of surviving. But less than a third of victims get this essential help.
Dr. Gordon Ewy, who’s been pushing for hands-only CPR for 15 years, said he was “dancing in the streets” over the heart association’s change even though he doesn’t think it goes far enough. Ewy (pronounced AY-vee) is director of the University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center in Tucson, where the compression-only technique was pioneered.
Ewy said there’s no point to giving early breaths in the case of sudden cardiac arrest, and it takes too long to stop compressions to give two breaths – 16 seconds for the average person. He noted that victims often gasp periodically anyway, drawing in a little air on their own.
Anonymous surveys show that people are reluctant to do mouth-to-mouth, Ewy said, partly because of fear of infections.
“When people are honest, they’re not going to do it,” he said. “It’s not only the yuck factor.”
In recent years, emergency service dispatchers have been coaching callers in hands-only CPR rather than telling them how to alternate breaths and compressions.
“They love it. It’s less complicated and the outcomes are better,” said Dallas emergency medical services chief Dr. Paul Pepe, who also chairs emergency medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
One person who’s been spreading the word about hands-only CPR is Temecula, Calif., chiropractor Jared Hjelmstad, who helped save the life of a fellow health club member in Southern California
Hjelmstad, 40, had read about it in a medical journal and used it on Garth Goodall, who collapsed while working out at their gym in February. Hjelmstad’s 15-year-old son Josh called 911 in the meantime.
Hjelmstad said he pumped on Goodall’s chest for more than 12 minutes – encouraged by Goodall’s intermittent gasps – until paramedics arrived. He was thrilled to find out the next day that Goodall had survived.
On Sunday, he visited Goodall in the hospital where he is recovering from triple bypass surgery.
“After this whole thing happened, I was on cloud nine,” said Hjelmstad. “I was just fortunate enough to be there.”
Goodall, a 49-year-old construction contractor, said he had been healthy and fit before the collapse, and there’d been no hint that he had clogged heart arteries.
“I was lucky,” he said. Had the situation been reversed, “I wouldn’t have known what to do.”
“It’s a second lease on life,” he added.
On the Net:
Heart Association: http://www.americanheart.org/handsonlycpr
Sarver Heart Center: http://www.heart.arizona.edu/
Posted by bobodod on 29 March, 2008
Should You Ditch Your Chemical Mattress?
Commentary: Good night, sleep tight—don’t let the volatile organic compounds bite.
By Hannah Wallace
Susan Greenfield and her girlfriend Llina Kempner couldn’t wait for their new memory-foam mattress top to arrive. For months, they’d heard friends rave about how the high-tech material molds itself to your body. But when they unwrapped the three-inch-thick pad in their Manhattan apartment, they noticed a strong, acrid odor. “My nose and my lungs were miserable,” recalls Greenfield. For the two nights Kempner slept on the mattress top, she felt nauseated. After Greenfield, who is chemically sensitive, had an asthma attack in the middle of the night, the couple returned the mattress pad. But its stench lingered in the apartment for weeks.
Reactions like Greenfield’s are relatively rare, but you, too, might lose some sleep when you find out what’s really inside your mattress-memory foam or not. The place where you spend one-third of your life is chock-full of synthetic materials, some potentially toxic. Since the mid- to late ’60s, most mattresses have been made of polyurethane foam, a petroleum-based material that emits volatile organic compounds that can cause respiratory problems and skin irritation. Formaldehyde, which is used to make one of the adhesives that hold mattresses together, has been linked to asthma, allergies, and lung, nose, and throat cancers. And then there are cotton pesticides and flame-retardant chemicals, which can cause cancer and nervous-system disorders. In 2005, Walter Bader, owner of the “green mattress” company Lifekind and author of the book Toxic Bedrooms, sent several mattresses to an Atlanta-based lab. A memory-foam model was found to emit 61 chemicals, including the carcinogens benzene and naphthalene.
There is no proven health risk from the substances in mattresses, however, mostly because tracking their long-term effects is virtually impossible. Heather Stapleton, an environmental chemist at Duke University, says there’s simply not enough data to determine whether low levels of these chemicals will eventually make people sick. “It’s the dose that makes the poison,” she says. “If they’re not getting out, maybe it’s not a problem-but we don’t know. There are plenty of lab studies that show that these compounds are harmful. It’s just a question of what levels people are exposed to.”
Still, more and more consumers are seeking out mattresses made of natural latex, organic cotton batting, and organic wool. Sales of California-based Vivètique’s latex mattresses have increased by 40 percent annually for the past five years-they now comprise 45 percent of the company’s total sales. And they are even sold by discounter 1-800-Mattress.
It’s hard to say whether you should ditch your conventional bed in favor of a green one, since you’ll likely have a tough time figuring out exactly which toxins are lurking under your covers. Take, for example, fireproofing chemicals: Pentabde, a member of the polybrominated diphenyl ether (pbde) family of flame retardants, was used in some mattresses before 2004, when it was phased out. (Pentabde is now known to be toxic to the liver, thyroid, and nervous system.) So let’s say that just to be on the safe side you toss your pre-2004 mattress and buy a new one. Problem solved? Maybe not. Last July, the Consumer Product Safety Commission began to require that all mattresses sold in the United States be able to withstand 30 minutes of exposure to an open flame.
Mattress makers aren’t using Pentabde anymore-but it’s not clear exactly what they are using to meet the new standard. Major manufacturers such as Simmons, Sealy, and Tempur-Pedic won’t divulge their flame-retardant formulas, which are considered trade secrets. A Simmons press release touts a “proprietary blend of char-forming, intumescing, flame-resistant components.” Tempur-Pedic vaguely states that its products “consistently meet all safety standards.” A best guess at what’s in today’s mattresses comes from Ryan Trainer, executive vice president of the International Sleep Products Association, an industry group. He says most companies use “various types of barrier fabrics” such as cotton treated with boric acid or rayon treated with silica-both relatively benign chemicals-as well as fire-resistant materials such as modacrylic fiber (which contains antimony oxide, a carcinogen) and melamine resin (which contains formaldehyde).
With a doctor’s prescription, people who are chemically sensitive and have allergies can order a mattress that doesn’t pass a flammability test. But organic-mattress companies have found a simple way to fireproof: wrapping their bedding in a layer of wool. Their prices aren’t so warm and cozy-a queen-size latex model from Virginia-based Savvy Rest starts at $1,599. But if you’re having nightmares about your mattress, and it’s time to trade in your well-worn Posturepedic anyway, it might be worth it.
Susan Greenfield was a fan of organic mattresses even before the smelly memory-foam pad showed up-she’s slept on one for 15 years, says she “loves” it, and describes it as “very comfortable but very hard.” Hey, whatever helps you sleep at night.
Posted by bobodod on 28 March, 2008
For this installment of Species of the Week I have reprinted a portion of the newsletter from my local chapter of the Native Plant Society:
South Carolina Native Plant Society
Pause for Plants, March 2007
Patches of Purple
Blooming now in lawns, fields, and along roadsides are the “Henbits,” two species of the mint family which have pinkish purple flowers, square stems and opposite leaves. Their common name comes from the notion (maybe fact) that free-range chickens find them tasty. One species is called “purple henbit” or “purple dead nettle.” Its scientific name is Lamium purpureum, “Lamium” from Greek for “thread” referring to the flowers tubular shape, and “purpureum” for purple flower petals and purple young leaves. The other henbit is Lamium amplexicaule with a species name describing its green leaves that “clasp the stem.” This henbit is also known as, “Giraffe head.” With a little stretch of the imagination, the fully mature flowers can be said to look like liliputian purple giraffe heads! Many online search references tell you how to eradicate these really attractive Eurasian transplants, and they are described as aggressive annual weeds! Both henbits have wide distributions over North America. They grow well in light shade to full sun.
Below is a vigorous patch of henbit:
[Image from Texas A&M University http://uvalde.tamu.edu/herbarium/laam.htm]
Folks sometimes have a hard time distinguishing between these “cousins” of the same genus. Their flowers are similar pink/purple tubular with two-lobed spotted lips. But their leaves are more distinctive, and a closer look reveals that the stem-clasping leaves of Lamium amplexicaule are round shaped with rounded teeth along their edge, and only the lower most leaves have stalks (petioles). Lamium purpureum leaves are more triangular shaped, less deeply lobed, and youngest leaves are often purple.
For more information and some great images check out
Henbits are edible and healthful. Young fresh leaves can be used as pot herbs or in salads. Perhaps some of you would like to gather up henbit and other wild edible weeds to try the following recipe!
Wild Weed Salad*
1/2 cup young henbit leaves
1/2 cup young dandelion leaves
1 cup lamb’s quarter new leaves
1 small head of butter lettuce, torn (optional)
1/2 cup tender nasturtium and violet leaves, torn
1/4 cup chive blossoms
1/4 cup rose or tulip petals
1/2 cup nasturtium and violet flowers
2 tsp. fresh mint chopped fine and bruised
2 Tablespoons chopped basal
2 cloves minced garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon honey
3 ounces apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup salad oil
*This recipe can be changed to suit what is in season at the time. Carefully wash all the flowers and greens, let dry on paper towels. Mix gently in a salad bowl. Combine honey and apple cider vinegar, whisk in oil. Season to taste with salt and white pepper. Add dressing to salad and toss gently to coat all ingredients. Sprinkle with chopped almonds and serve.
Medicinal uses are also reported for henbits, and some examples are:
Whole plants of purple deadnettle, (Lamium purpureum) are soaked in hot water producing an decoction to check bleeding ( astringent ), and whole plant teas are used as a diaphoretic to induce sweating.
Decoctions and teas of henbit (Lamium amplexicaule) are used to relieve rheumatism, as a laxitive, a stimulant and also to induce sweating.
“Let us save at least part of our lives for enjoyment of this wonderful world which still exists. Leave your dens, abandon your cars, and walk out into the mountains, the deserts, the forests, the seashores.”
– – Edward Abbey