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Reflexology Is A Science? So Says “The Citizen” (Auburn, NY)

Thursday July 23, 2009 81 comments

So I was browsing through “The Citizen,” the online local paper from Auburn, NY and stumbled upon an article about reflexology. You know, the “holistic,” alternative mode of treating basically any disease by rubbing your feet? Yeah, I was caught off guard, too.

According to this article, reflexology is a science. Oooh. Sounds scientific… until you get into what reflexology really is.

Reflexology (zone therapy) is an alternative medicine method involving the practice of massaging or applying pressure to parts of the feet, or sometimes the hands and ears, with the goal of encouraging a beneficial effect on other parts of the body, or to improve general health.

Improve general health? Wait a minute. That sounds pretty vague. I think I’ll need some more information before I buy into something like that.

The article says that…

It is a science because it is based on physiological and neurological studies…

Really? I’d be curious to read about those studies. Where will I find them? The New England Journal Of Medicine? The Journal Of The American Medical Association? A quick search on PubMed doesn’t reveal any studies concerning the efficacy of reflexology, or that even address the claims that reflexology makes. So much for that claim.

What I want to direct your attention to is the following statement from this article

…but the art of reflexology must not be confused with a basic foot massage. It is a pressure technique which works on precise reflex points of the feet. This is based on the premise that reflex areas on the feet correspond with all body parts.

Reflexology

Put simply, this whole “science” of reflexology is based on a false premise. There are no “reflex points” on the feet which correspond to any other body parts. This is simply New Age, woo woo, nonsense.

Dr. Stephen Barrett, M.D. points on in an article on QuackWatch that…

The pathways postulated by reflexologists have not been anatomically demonstrated; and it is safe to assume that they do not exist. Similar rationales are used employed by iridologists (who imagine that eye markings represent disease throughout the body) and auricular acupuncturists who “map” body organs on the ear (a homunculus in the fetal position). The methodology is similar in both of these; and some commentators consider pressing on “acupuncture points” on the ear or elsewhere to be forms of reflexology, but most people refer to that as acupressure (“acupuncture without needles). The Reflexology Research Web site displays charts for foot and hand reflexology. The fees I have seen advertised have ranged from $35 to $100 per session.

Strange. This supposed “science” has not been anatomically demonstrated. Not much of a science, if you ask me.

Now, the author of this article, Diane DelPiano gives a decent, although short, account of the history of reflexology. But, the article is altogether credulous of the claims made. She goes on to say that…

Reflexologist’s believe that granular accumulations of waste matter called uric acid crystals concentrate around reflex points. With training, you can feel these accumulations. The goal is to break these accumulations down to open the energy pathways and improve the blood flow to the reflex organs. It is also intended to open blocked nerve pathways and helps to flush toxins out of the body.

The good ol’ “toxin” gimmick. Nobody wants toxins in their body. But, what toxins? You’ll never hear a reflexology, or any New Age, alternative medicine practitioner mention specific toxins. Just the general term. Even the term “uric acid crystals” is bunk. Here’s some information about uric acid from a Wikipedia article on the subject.

In humans and higher primates, uric acid is the final oxidation (breakdown) product of purine metabolism and is excreted in urine. In most other mammals, the enzyme uricase further oxidizes uric acid to allantoin.[2] The loss of uricase in higher primates parallels the similar loss of the ability to synthesize ascorbic acid.[3] Both uric acid and ascorbic acid are strong reducing agents (electron donors) and potent antioxidants. In humans, over half the antioxidant capacity of blood plasma comes from uric acid.

Don’t alternative medicine practitioners go on and on about how important antioxidants are? This is simply an example of stupid. Or FAIL, if that’s your favorite pejorative term. Not only is uric acid not a toxin, but it’s also necessary for the human body.

The stupid!! It hurts!!

There are no toxins in your feet, or anywhere else in your body. The kidneys, the liver… they’re purpose is to remove those things automatically. And how much more natural can you get than that?

I found an interesting quote from a blogger on the Fighting Spurious Complementary & Alternative Medicine (SCAM) blog that speaks well to the “detox” myth.

Detoxification is a common feature of alternative medicine, but I have yet to find anyone who can name the toxins that need to be removed from the body or explain how each treatment will remove these toxins.

If toxins accumulated in the body as is now suggested by practitioners of “natural medicine” then the human race would have died out centuries ago. There were no detox diets for the knights of the middle ages.

Before this post gets to be too long, I’ll just finish with addressing the final part of this article which deals with the “benefits” of reflexology.

Further benefits of reflexology include: relaxation and stress reduction, improved circulation and oxygenation, improved lymphatic flow and stimulation of the immune system. Additionally, by stimulating the immune system, reflexology helps the body take up more nutrients and helps to revitalize and energize the body.

While these seem to be evidence of an effective modality, a close look reveals something quite different. It’s relaxing. It “improves” circulation and oxygenation, “improved” lymphatic flow, and it “stimulates the immune system.” These claims are so vague and general that you couldn’t even begin to test them. What does “improved lymphatic flow” even mean, in a medical sense? How specifically does it “stimulate” the immune system? Does it inject foreign bodies for it to attack, similar to how immunizations work?

No, there is no mechanism. It’s just New Age, magical energy nonsense. The reason for such vague and non-specific claims is, as I said before, to avoid lawsuits for false medical claims. Reflexology is nothing more than a massage.

But don’t take my word for it. The next time you see your podiatrist, ask him about “energy flow,” “toxins” and “reflex points.” I bet you’ll get a little chuckle before he tells you that alternative medicine is dangerous to your health, simply for the fact that it doesn’t actually do anything.

If you’ve got something seriously wrong with you, and you go see a “naturopath,” or an alternative medicine practitioner before you see a real doctor, you could end up seriously injured, or dead. Just take a look at WhatsTheHarm.net. You can read all about people who have suffered (or died) at the hands of those practicing “alternative medicine.”

It’s not just a “different kind of medicine.” It’s wrong.

Again, here is the link to the article in question.

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Virtual Pool 3 Has Stopped Working [Error 0xc0000005]

Saturday July 11, 2009 6 comments

Before I begin, I should mention that I’m using Windows Vista Home Premium, 32-bit.

So I’ve been dabbling in my old PC games as of late. Namely Virtual Pool 3 – a classic.

I’ve been playing it for a while. But, all of a sudden it stopped working. As soon as I click the game to start playing, I get a message popping up saying “Virtual Pool 3 Has Stopped Working.” After Windows checks for a solution it says…

A problem caused the program to stop working correctly. Windows will close the program and notify you if a solution is available.

With no obvious solution being found on the internet, I’m left with writing this blog entry; a plea for help.

For anyone who’s got some programming chops or has some deep understanding of the inner workings of the Windows Vista operating system, I’ve done a little bit of research on the problem.

Going into the Control Panel under Administrative Tools, looking at the Event Viewer, I’ve found a few logs with details about this error. It says I’ve encountered an “exception code 0xc0000005.” To be more specific, here’s exactly what the log entry says…

Faulting application vp3.exe, version 3.3.1.1, time stamp 0x47e6ca05, faulting module vp3.exe, version 3.3.1.1, time stamp 0x47e6ca05, exception code 0xc0000005, fault offset 0x003ecb0f, process id 0x1350, application start time 0x01ca028518c059e5.

And, for a touch more information, here’s a screen shot of the debugging information involved with this error. I don’t know if it helps or not, but more info is better than less. (Click the picture for a larger image.)

vp3debug

Each time I try to run Virtual Pool 3, I get this error in the Event Viewer. It’s quite frustrating. I’m usually pretty handy at solving computer problems, but this has got me hacked. I’ve tried all different settings in the “Compatibility” tab. I’ve tried all the options on the Virtual Pool 3 Support Page.

I’ve completely uninstalled the program via Vista Manager, with its Smart Uninstaller which removes all registry entries and any leftover files that may be hanging around after the uninstall procedure.

Still nothing.

So, if there’s anyone out there with more information about this error, I’d be greatly appreciative if you could leave a comment with your suggestions as to how to fix this error! I know this is an old game, but it’s the best pool simulator out there… as far as I know. I’d really like to be able to play it again.

Read a book! It’s good for you.

An Open Letter To Google [Push Email For The iPhone]

Tuesday June 30, 2009 4 comments

The Letter

Dear Google, Inc.,

I’ll start this letter off by saying that, overall, I am greatly satisfied with the services and products that you offer. Gmail offers fantastic spam filtering. There are apps for pretty much anything you could ask for. I’m really looking forward to Google Wave.

I just have one bone to pick with you. For a long time I was a Blackberry guy. Had both of my Gmail accounts linked to my Curve. Push email was a given. You could say I took it for granted. I figured it was just a standard feature with Smartphones. When I got an email in my Gmail inbox, it was immediately delivered to my handheld.

I got an iPhone 3Gs last week, and what to my surprise… I’m having to set my handheld to “fetch” my email every 15 minutes. Are you serious? Google? Are you there? What’s going on here? The iPhone has a friggin’ compass on it, for Christ’s sake! And you’re telling me that it’s up to my phone to keep checking my Gmail server for new mail? (Battery life??)

And it’s not like you’re unaware of the situation. You offer Calendar and Contact syncing via the Exchange Server. Gmail was intentionally left out? That’s the impression we’re left with. You couldn’t have spent the extra couple hours putting that code in with the rest of it?

To say the least, I’m greatly disappointed. This has FAIL written all over it.

In conclusion, I would only suggest that you get someone over there at the Googleplex to finish up what you started and implement Push email for the iPhone. Shouldn’t take more than a couple hours, right? You’ve probably got the code already written. Just push “compile” and release the update.

Thank You

David Garrett (Disappointed Gmail User)

Feel free to email me about this issue: godkillzyou@gmail.com (Warning: May take up to 15 minutes for delivery.)

A Temporary Alternative

I’ve found that MSGPush.com works very well for now, until this issue gets resolved. It involves a short setup process, but it does the trick. You have to set up a new Exchange Server account on your iPhone, but everything gets routed through your Gmail account.

This solution isn’t without its drawbacks. Because you have to set this up as an Exchange Server account, you’ll not be able to sync your contacts and calendars with Google. You can only run one Exchange Server account on your iPhone at a time.

Google, do you see what you’ve done? We’re stuck having to patch these things together ourselves. Please fix this.

Categories: All, Internet, iPhone, Rant, Technology

Windows Cannot Open This Program… [Fixed]

Tuesday June 2, 2009 4 comments

Introduction

software restriction

“Windows cannot open this program because it has been prevented by a software restriction policy.” If you’re reading this, you’re more than likely intimately familiar with this message popping up on your screen. I’m also willing to bet that you’re pretty frustrated with trying to figure out what the hell is going on. Well, help has arrived.

I think what surprised me the most about this issue is how simple the fix is. I’d done a lot of searching on the internet, and every solution involved setting up group security policies, using a program called gpupdate.exe, and a slew of other options; none of which resolved the issue.

The Solution

Now on to the simple solution (I’m assuming you’re using Windows Vista Home Premium). In the Start Menu, click “Default Programs.” Next, click “Set Program Access and Computer Defaults.”

Now, scroll down to the “custom” box and check that. It will drop down a menu, giving a list of programs. Look for the heading “Choose a default media player:.” To the right of these programs, you’ll see a list of boxes saying, “Enable access to this program.”

All you have to do is locate Windows Media Center, or whatever program is giving you the headache, and click “Enable access to this program.” That’s it. You now have access!

I hope this helps!

Read a book. It’s good for you.

iTunes Doesn’t Sort By Track Number [Fixed]

Friday April 17, 2009 60 comments

Have you ever had this problem before? You’re browsing your iTunes library, and for some strange reason, some tracks aren’t listed by track number? In other words, some albums are jumbled up in terms of track number. See the image below for an example…

itunes-track-numbers

For some reason, track 8 is sent to the bottom of the list. In some instances, this can happen with multiple tracks in a given album, and the only way to fix it was to click the “Track #” column to sort by track number. But, when switching to view multiple albums, you only see track #1 on all your albums. You get the point. It’s inconvenient.

Well, I’ve found a fix for this, and it’s pretty simple. But, let me set the stage first.

Let’s say, to start out with, you open up iTunes and you have the browser up. You’ve got “All” selected in the Genre, Artist and Album field. You also click the “Album” column so that your library is sorted by album, either ascending or descending. It doesn’t matter. Now you can see your entire library in the track view sorted by album.

From here, select “All” in the “Genre” field. Select the artist you’re having this problem with in the “Artist” field. Select the album that is giving you problems in the “Album” field.

If you’re having this problem, the tracks won’t be listed by track number.

In order to fix this, all you have to do is select all of the songs in the album (highlight one of the songs, then press CTRL + A). All of the songs should be highlighted in blue. Be absolutely sure you only have the songs from the album in question selected. You run the chance of ruining any artist or album titles in your library if not.

Now that you have your songs selected, right-click and select “Get Info.” A window will pop up displaying the information about the tracks you’ve selected. Your next step is to delete the contents of the “Album Artist” (not the “Artist” field) field and make sure there is a check mark in the box next to “Album Artist.” Hit “OK” and you’re all set. You’ll notice that immediately your songs will be sorted by track number!

I’m not sure exactly why iTunes does this in rare circumstances, but that’s it. Problem solved. Hope this helped.

Read a book. It’s good for you.

iTunes Library Naming Standards

Wednesday April 15, 2009 10 comments

Introduction

If you’re at all familiar with my blog, you’ll know that I’m pretty obsessive about my iTunes music library. I’m also a stickler for proper grammar and punctuation. It is also apparent that, across the net, there are people who are as obsessive as I am.

Because it is possible to export your iTunes library into an XML file, it also makes it possible to use your iTunes library information in a database. For example, there are sites like iTunes Registry, which allow you to upload your Library.xml file and see various pieces of information about your music, listening habits, favorite artists, etc.

It is for this reason that I propose a set of Standards for naming and organizing songs in iTunes. I am more than open to suggestions. So, if you’re interested in contributing, leave a comment with your feedback, opinions, or criticisms.

Now, I’m not really sure how to go about drafting a set of Standards, so I’ll just start with the basics and see how it goes from there.

Spelling & Punctuation

Concerning spelling, obviously correct spelling is an issue. It is also important to preserve the spelling that the artist intended to convey. Apart from the original artist’s website, I’ve found that the most accurate information can be found at Gracenote.com. So, if for some strange reason the artist doesn’t have a website, Gracenote is a good place to start.

From here I’ll get into specifics…

Capitalization – As far as capitalization, I prefer to capitalize every word in the title of a song.

Parenthesis () – Parenthesis should be used to indicate actual parts of the title of a song or album in which the content is actually parenthetical, part of the title. For example…

  • Dude (Looks Like A Lady)
  • Try (Just A Little Bit Harder)
  • Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland?)

Wikipedia has this to say about Parenthesis:

Parentheses (singular, parenthesis)—sometimes called round brackets, curved brackets, oval brackets, or just brackets, or, colloquially, parens — contain material that could be omitted without destroying or altering the meaning of a sentence.

Parentheses may be used in formal writing to add supplementary information, such as “Sen. Edward Kennedy (D., Massachusetts) spoke at length.” They can also indicate shorthand for “either singular or plural” for nouns—e.g., “the claim(s)”.

This segues nicely into the next topic…

Brackets [] – Brackets should be used to denote additional information about a song or album. Remix information, disc number, etc. Here are some examples…

  • Album Title – “A-Sides [Best Of],” “Diplomatic Immunity [Disc 1],” Oh Yeah! [Ultimate Aerosmith Hits – Disc 2]”
  • Remix Information – “Prep Gwarlek 3B [Dennis Desantis Remix]”
  • Intro, Outro, Etc. – “The Big Picture [Intro],” “NY Freestyle [Instrumental]”

Essentially, the Brackets are intended to contain additional information about the song or album title.

Acronyms – No periods between letters in acronyms. “LAMC” instead of “L.A.M.C.”

Contractions – Songs with titles like “Do You Remember Rock ‘N Roll Radio?” The first letter in the contraction should be capitalized. There could be some debate as to whether it should be ‘N’, as opposed to ‘N. I suppose the proper form would be ‘N’, as the apostrophe is taking the place of the missing letters.

This should be distinguished from normal contractions in song titles like “What’d Ya Do?,” where “‘d” is part of the word “What,” and you need not capitalize the “d.”

As far as words like “Y’all,” should it be “Y’all” or “Y’All?” I prefer “Y’All.” I suppose it should be no different than “What’d.” But then again, “All” is a word all on it’s own. Input would be appreciated.

Question Marks (?) – Any song titles that take the form of a question should always end in the Question Mark (?). Take the previous example: “Do You Remember Rock ‘N Roll Radio?”

Hyphenated Words – Songs like “International Cover-Up.” Capitalize both (all) words in the hyphenated series.

Featured Artists

Personally, I dislike putting featured or guest artists in song titles. As my library exists right now, I don’t have featured artists listed anywhere. I’ve been debating this issue for a while. Should I use the “Album Artist” field for the artist who released the album, and the “Artist” field to include any featured artists?

Mostly, this is a dilemma concerning time and effort. Do I really want to go through my entire music library (107 GB) and find every song (19,806 of them) with a featured or guest artist and modify the “Artist” field to reflect these changes??? I don’t know.

To take a solid position on this, I feel that featured artists do not belong in the song title.

Track Numbers

iTunes gives you the option of having just the track number (Track #1), or having the track number out of the total number on the album (Track #1 of 15). Personally, I prefer not to use the 1 of 15 convention and simply stick with Track #1. I suppose this could be up for debate, but it looks cleaner with just the track number without the “of 15” part.

Miscellaneous

In some cases, tracks have more than one song on them.

For example, “Love Minus Zero / No Limit.” I think this format is fitting. Using the Slash “/” to designate more than one song in the track. There should also be a space between songs and the Slash. Some songs have a Slash in the punctuation already: “Erase/Replace,” or “AC/DC.”

Classical Music

This is a difficult topic. There is a lot of information in the title of a classical song. Opus number, movements, title, key that the song is in, etc. I’m not exactly sure how this should work. I would greatly appreciate suggestions on this matter.

Conclusion

This document will reflect the current state of the iTunes Naming Standards. Any debate or suggestions will take place in the “Comments” section, and changes will be made in this document to reflect any conclusions reached.

This document was last modified on 5/20/2009 ~ 7:00pm EST.

Categories: All, Internet, iTunes, Music, Technology

I Fixed My iTunes “Choppy Audio” Problem

Monday March 23, 2009 17 comments

Intro

First of all, I want to say that I’m not exactly sure how I fixed this problem. What I do know is that I did fix it. With that being said, let us continue.

Previously, I was unable to use iTunes while browsing the Internet (or using other programs) without the audio output being extremely choppy. As soon as I would click on a link, the audio would immediately begin to get choppy. I was incensed by the fact that there is no reason for this to be happening. I have an AMD  Phenom 64 Quad-Core processor and 3 GB of RAM running Windows Vista Home Premium. iTunes should have no problems.

At this point I should probably clarify that I cannot say that I don’t have any idea, whatsoever, of how I fixed the problem. What I’ll do now is give a list of the things that I did in an attempt to solve it.

Something in this list fixed the problem, though I’m not sure exactly what.

The List

First, I went into Control Panel/Administrative Tools/Services and disabled the following services…

I also made the following modifications to the BIOS. Here’s the list…

Under the “Advanced Chipset Features” menu:

  • Set “PCIe Spread Spectrum” to Disabled.
  • Set “SATA Spread Spectrum” to Disabled.
  • Set “HT Spread Spectrum” to Disabled.

Here’s a link explaining what exactly “Spread Spectrum” means.

I also set the “OS Select For DRAM > 64MB” to “OS/2,” as opposed to “Non-OS/2.”

Conclusion

So if anyone out there reading this has any more technical information as to what, specifically, in this list fixed the problem I was having, I (as well as a great many other people) would greatly appreciate some elaboration. I’d also found that people all over the net have been having this same problem – with no resolution to speak of.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got.

Read a book. It’s good for you.

Update As Of 3/28/2009

I spoke too soon. This worked for a few days, but my iTunes is back to being choppy. This is insanely frustrating. And there’s no help from Apple on this.

Update As Of 4/2/2009

Ok, so I fiddled with some more BIOS settings and the choppy audio is gone again. I set “HD Audio” to “Disabled,” along with a few other things. Turned all the Spread Spectrum settings back on. So apparently they didn’t have anything to do with this problem.

So far, so good. No choppy audio.

I don’t know what’s going on, but this is driving me up a wall. If the audio gets choppy again, I think I’m going to lose it. Maybe the only way to fix this problem is to continually fiddle with BIOS settings?

Another thing that helps is to restart the computer when the audio starts getting choppy. I don’t know if that says anything about what’s wrong?

Update As Of 6/6/2009

Simply restarting the computer when the audio becomes choppy seems to work. Maybe scratch all that other stuff??