Violence or Violets?

Violence in the workplace is a growing concern for American employers and employees. From threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and homicide, some two million American workers are victims each year.

Homicide, the most extreme form of workplace violence, is the third-leading cause of fatal occupational injury in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), there were 639 workplace homicides in 2001 in the United States, out of a total of 8,786 fatal work injuries. Excluding the fatalities related to the events of September 11 (2,886), the overall workplace fatality count for 2001 was 5,900.

Workers at highest risk are those who exchange money with the public, especially those working in public places alone during late-night or early-morning hours. This group includes health-care and social service workers; community workers, such as gas and water utility employees, phone and cable TV installers and letter carriers; retail workers; and taxi drivers.

The OSHA Fact Sheet offers a number of ways employers and employees can minimize their risk of being victims of workplace violence. We have one more: become a professional networker so that you can work from your home while you watch your garden grow, with people you know and enjoy, and at the times of the day that suit you best!

Source: U.S. Dept. of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration


Good-for-You Video Gaming?

Researchers at the University of Rochester (NY) recently suggested that some interactive video games may improve the vision of people who are visually-impaired and could help to train military personnel.

Shawn Green and Daphne Bavelier report their six-plus-month study in "Action video game modifies visual selective attention," Nature, (2003). Their study of male college students playing driving and shooting games several times a week showed that players could track up to five times more objects at a time than non-players, and that reaction time was enhanced. Research-ers surmise that this practice could translate to better driving skills, and to more effectively using complicated video displays such as those found in airplanes and air traffic control stations.

Source: Nature News Service / Macmillan Magazines Ltd 2003



Hoaxes and Scams and Myths, Oh My!

Today (or last month, or last year) you may have received identical "URGENT" emails from a good friend, with the subject line: "Pleasssse read!!!!!," warning you not to eat aspartame because the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation and FDA are suing Monsanto for hiding its toxicity. Or urging you to sign up now to earn hundreds of dollars for each person to whom you e-mail this message to let them know about Microsoft and AOL's joint project. Or encouraging you to write to your Congressmen to stop the U.S. Postal Service from pushing through legislation that will cost you a nickel for every e-mail you send.

Sound familiar? They're all hoaxes.

If what you read (1) is too good to be true, then it probably is; (2) defames a company's character, then ask yourself, "Who could benefit from this if it were false and I passed it on?"; (3) asks you to sign a petition or write to your congressperson without links to web sites from which you can learn more, consider it may be a prankster just trying to keep you from recruiting more people today!

There are numerous web sites that will help you discern the good from the bad and the ugly. Consult one when you get a questionable email--even from your best friend--before sending it on to your network. Here are some to start with:

Or go to your favorite search engine and search on "hoax" for the web site du jour.



Talent: In the Eye of the Beholder

More than 2000 people had a grand time viewing robots from six countries at the second annual Artbots: The Robot Talent Show on July 12­13, as part of EYEBEAM's Summer Robotics Festival. Loosely defined as either "a robot that is a work of art" or "a device that makes art," artbots are a new genre of creative machinery.

The Audience Choice Award went to the League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots for their four innovative, self-playing musical robots. Founded in 2000 by Eric Singer, LEMUR is made up by "artists and technologists with expertise in robotics engineering, instrument design, sculpture, graphic design, performance art, electrical engineering and computer programming." For a look at these fascinating musical robots, go to

The Robots' Choice Award went to micro.adam & micro.eva. Artist/innovator Julias Popp co-created two simple robots in order to "visualize and analyze the complex processes of cognition, communication, and adaptation of living systems." Analogous to the first man and woman, micro.adam & micro.eva are programmed to discover their own bodies and develop a simplistic body-consciousness. For more details on this couple, go to

ArtBots curators and producers Douglas Repetto, Philip Galanter, and Jenny Lee had this to say in the Gallery Guide: "We hope that the 22 works in this year's ArtBots show are as engaging, frustrating, mystifying, entertaining, and affecting for you as they are for us. These works probably ask more questions than they answer, and we think that's a good thing. What is authorship? Can a machine be creative? Who is responsible for the actions of a machine? Can a machine think? Does it matter? Can a non-human be conscious? And what is consciousness, anyway? We think that this mix of intriguing questions, strange ideas, and sheer, shameless fun is what makes a project like ArtBots worth doing. We hope you will agree."

Compiled by MARIAN HEAD.