Home Again Pet ID System? You call this appropriate technology?

Is it just me or is this due for the idiot invention of the year award?

HomeAgain® is an advanced pet identification and retrieval system. A microchip the size of a grain of rice with a unique identification code that is implanted between the shoulder blades of your pet. Then your pet needs to be enrolled with the HomeAgain® Pet Recovery Service. HomeAgain® maintains a national database that is available 24-hours daily, 365 days a year. If your pet is ever lost, they can be scanned at animal shelters or veterinary clinics. Your pet’s identification number is called in to HomeAgain® (1-866-PET-ID24), and you are notified immediately.

… For those interested I have a simpler solution. 1) Get your OWN phone number etched onto a $2-5 dog tag 2) Hang it on your pet 3) Send me $10 for saving you from the HomeAgain database fees for life.

OK, so if the pet loses his collar my system doesn’t work but how many people finding a lost pet with no collar are going to SCAN them?

UPDATE: Based on the rather overwhelming support for chips I’m admitting I must be wrong about this.

Thank you for Smoking

This excellent film humorously examines the character and foibles of a likeable yet morally vacuous tobacco company spokesperson.   Rather than wrestling with the contradictions he faces raising a young son while strategizing for increased tobacco use, this character rationalizes his every move as he unapologetically lobbies for more smoking and less clarity. 

The movie pokes fun at both the pro and anti tobacco lobby using clever sarcasm and good performances.  Aaron Eckhart is simply excellent as the smooth talking lobbyist.

People and/or/for/non Profit?

Time Magazine:

Last month Gates-funded scientists announced that they had created the technology to manufacture artemisinic acid synthetically. Within five years, the cost of a lifesaving supply is expected to drop from $2.40 to 25 cents. Lead researcher Jay Keasling says it would not have been possible without a $43 million Gates grant. "I had companies call me and say, 'This is great, but we can't give you any money. We can't make a profit on this,'" he says.

I tend to be in the crowd that says profit is a great motivator to get companies to do bigger and better things, in turn raising the standards for most people and societies that intersect with those businesses.    At first glance the quote above indicates that in this case profit was getting in the way of optimizing development of new drugs where it will do the most good – in the developing world fighting easy-to-cure diseases or conditions like dehydration that kill millions every year.   But why didn't the Govts of those nations pony up for this effort?    Since the pharmaceutical industry was NOT the beneficiary of this was it reasonable to expect them to bear the entire financial burden?

Since the $43 million from the Gates foundation basically started out as profits distributed from Microsoft to Bill Gates, who in turn funded this life saving effort, we need to be cautious about saying profits are the problem here since they were the solution here as well.   Thus one could argue, and I think I would, that without a capitalistic infrastructure to create this wealth it's unlikely we'd see this development at all.

But most important is this question – how do we find the MOST effective mechanisms to create innovations on this scale?   I think the new breed of corporate foundations are part of the answer because they apply many of the successful principles of business to development projects.  Combine this growing force with tax and other incentives for companies that use their brainpower and expertise innovating for the broad social good.

And as for us everyday folks?  What can we do?  We can stop looking so narrowly at our own little niches, and instead look to the low hanging fruit solutions such as increased support for global health care.  We can broaden our perspective to a global one and recognize that we have to make small sacrifices in an effort to save entire generations who are threatened with disease and starvation but for the lack of simple remedies.   Even the most selfish person should realize that the satisfaction that comes from helping those in need is generally a much more profound experience than almost any other.

Darfur and the media

George Clooney deserves a lot of credit for bringing the media back on track about developments in what is arguably the world's most newsworthy and troubled place – Darfur, Sudan.    Unlike Rwanda the media has not ignored Darfur, but as with Rwanda the dangers, complexities, and lack of interest in USA have led to under-reporting which in turn sends politicians a signal that they don't have to act.

However it does not reflect well on the media or on us as media consumers that all it took was a bit of Clooney star power to snap this tragic story back to the top of the news where it should be.

Today's development is encouraging.  The Government of Sudan has accepted the peace agreement that could bring an end to horrible violence between Government sponsored militias and rebel forces.    As with many conflicts there are millions of regular people trapped in violence between bad Governments and groups of fighters with questionable agendas.

Darfur Conflict at Wikipedia

News about Darfur