Archive for April, 2009

28
Apr
09

Swine Flu Readiness 101

EMERGENCY HEALTH SERVICES PROFESSOR BRIAN MAGUIRE

I appeared live on WJZ Channel 13 News April 28, 2009, to discuss the threat of pandemic flu and how families and communities can prepare themselves. We all know the basics, but here are a few simple tips to prepare yourself and your community:

– first – don’t panic

– wash hands often with either soap and water or with an alcohol based hand sanitizer

– keep about a week’s supply of food and water in the house

– if you do feel sick, do not go to work or to public places where you may infect others

– become familiar with ways that you could care for your relatives or others in your community should they become ill

– get involved with your community’s volunteer health agencies now so that you can be prepared to assist in the event of a more serious outbreak

– stay as healthy as possible with a balanced diet and regular exercise

– if the situation worsens, be prepared to follow instructions from local public health officials.

BIO/CONTACT

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27
Apr
09

Google flu trends: Web searches as pandemic sensors

COMPUTER SCIENCE PROFESSOR TIM FININ, an expert on deep data-mining of the Web and social networks, blogs at UMBC ebiquity about the swine flu outbreak and how Web searches can predict pandemic patterns ahead of an outbreak:

Google has had a special “flu trends” site up for many months that provides “up-to-date estimates of flu activity in the United States based on aggregated search queries.”

They have found that how many people search for flu-related topics is a leading indicator for reports on how many people actually have flu symptoms. They believe that this metric “may indicate flu activity up to two weeks ahead of traditional flu surveillance systems”….

So, is Google magic? The explanation for why changes in in the level of flu searches precedes changes in the level of flu symptoms is more mundane.

“So why bother with estimates from aggregated search queries? It turns out that traditional flu surveillance systems take 1-2 weeks to collect and release surveillance data, but Google search queries can be automatically counted very quickly. By making our flu estimates available each day, Google Flu Trends may provide an early-warning system for outbreaks of influenza.

BIO/CONTACT

21
Apr
09

Gay Marriage losing its wedge?

Salon.com’s political experts, in a roundtable led by UMBC’s Tom Schaller, discuss whether gay marriage has lost its mojo as an electoral wedge issue for social conservatives:

conversations_logoIn 2004, gay marriage referendums littered state ballots and were used by Republicans to motivate social conservatives to turn out and vote for George W. Bush. A gay marriage referendum may have helped Bush win Ohio and reelection. Four years later, even though Barack Obama won California’s popular vote by landslide numbers, state voters passed Proposition 8, limiting marriage to heterosexual couples. This surprise from a socially liberal state was followed this month by what some think is an even more surprising decision by the Iowa Supreme Court to void the Hawkeye State’s gay marriage ban. Then, four days later, the Vermont Legislature overrode the governor’s veto in order to authorize gay marriage. This past Thursday, New York Gov. David Paterson introduced a same-sex marriage bill; on Friday, John McCain’s campaign manager suggested the GOP should back gay marriage. As both a policy issue and a political hot potato, gay marriage is back in the news. Can opposition to gay marriage still help the Republicans on Election Day, or have we reached a tipping point? Salon asked three guests to helps us weigh what is at stake in the ongoing battle to define marriage in America.

Read the full story here, or listen to the podcast here.

BIO/CONTACT

17
Apr
09

Bowling Alone No More

ERICKSON SCHOOL PROFESSOR JUDAH RONCH

The Nintendo Wii phenomenon has reintroduced virtual bowling as a community-building social activity after decades of declining participation in real bowling. UMBC students recently challenged neighboring Charlestown Retirement Community residents to a Wii bowling tournament, demonstrating how a video game can level the playing field between young and old and knock down the “isolated” gamer stereotype. Check it out:

BIO/CONTACT

10
Apr
09

A Green House for Elders

ERICKSON SCHOOL PROFESSOR DR. BILL THOMAS’
innovative Green House concept to replace institutionalized nursing home care has recently been featured in The Guardian newspaper, on Talk of the Nation on NPR and The Marc Steiner Show on WEAA 88.9 FM. Below, TalkingHeadsTV has a behind-the-scenes look as Thomas discusses the Green House project with Marc Steiner.

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