Friday, July 2, 2010

Headline of the Week

The McChrystal Bull


We want our jobs back!


What Are We? New Experiments Suggest We're Not Purely Physical

But a series of new experiments suggest this may be all wrong, and that part of us exists outside of the physical world. The implications of these experiments have been downplayed because, until recently, quantum behavior was limited to the microscopic world. However, this 'two-world' view (that is, one set of physical laws for small objects, and another set of laws for the rest of the universe, including us) has no basis in reason, and more importantly, is being challenged in labs around the world.

We're trapped in an outdated paradigm. A few more equations, we're told, and we'll know it all -- any day now. There's no adventure left, no lost gardens in far away lands. But we all intuitively know there's more to existence than our science books grant. It's the same nostalgic yearning that gives religion its persistent power over humanity.

It was this search that lured me into science. My life has been a journey that began as a young boy when I persuaded myself to make a trip (by bus and trolley) to Harvard. I hoped the men of science would receive me kindly, but when I got there the guard wouldn't let me in. I felt like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, when the palace guard said "go away." I went around the building and stood by some dumpsters trying to look inconspicuous. A short balding guy came walking up with a bunch of keys -- the janitor, I thought. After I slipped in, he asked me if he could help. "No," I said "I'm looking for a Harvard doctor. I'm trying to induce melanin synthesis in albino chickens." My words met with a stare of surprise. Seeing the impact they were having, I went on, although I was certain he didn't know what DNA was. As we got to talking, I told him I worked in the school cafeteria myself, and was good friends with the janitor up the street. He asked if my father was a doctor. "No," I laughed. "He's a professional gambler. He plays poker."

I didn't know he was Stephen Kuffler, the world-famous neurobiologist who had been nominated for the Nobel Prize. At the time, however, I felt like a schoolmaster lecturing a pupil. I told him about the experiment I had performed in my basement--how I altered the genetic makeup of a white chicken to make it black. "Your parents must be proud," he said. "No, they don't care what I do," I replied. "They think I'm out in my treehouse." He insisted on introducing me to a "Harvard doctor." I hesitated -- I didn't want him to get into trouble. "Don't worry about me," he said with a little grin.

He took me into a room crammed with sophisticated equipment. A "doctor" looking through an instrument was about to insert an electrode into the nerve of a caterpillar [the "doctor," Josh Sanes, was a graduate student, now Director of Harvard's Center for Brain Science]. "I'll stop back later," my new friend said. From that moment on everything was a dream come true. The doctor and I talked all afternoon. And then I looked at the clock. "Oh no!" I said, "I have to go!" I hurried home and went straight to my treehouse. That evening, the call of my mother penetrated the woods: "Rob--by! Time for dinner!"

No one had any idea that evening - including me − that I had met one of the greatest scientists in the world. Kuffler is often referred to as the "Father of Modern Neuroscience." As a medical student I used his From Neurons to Brain as a textbook. Yet it wasn't what I learned from his book that was most relevant to understanding the world. It was startling to realize, after studying neurobiology, that objects, indeed our own bodies, are nothing but representations in our mind -− that we can't see anything through the bone surrounding the brain.

The Lucky One


RCA graduate show features 'Menstruation Machine'

By David Rowan
RCA graduate show features 'Menstruation Machine'

The Royal College of Art's summer graduate show is a pretty reliable source of new talent. Last year's highlights included Min-Kyu Choi's folding 240V mains plug, which Wired featured last August, and Dominic Hargreaves' fold-up bicycle -- two radically different but equally smart takes on space-saving foldable product designs.

Last week I had a sneak preview of the graduate show for the design interactions course, in the company of department head Anthony Dunne. There's a definite playful vibe this year -- the show is less about tech-driven products designed to be marketed as it is about provoking thoughts, debates and (very often) smiles. And oh boy, there's material here to smile at.

Some examples:

Hiromi Ozaki has designed a "Menstruation machine" -- a wearable metal suit that allows a boy "to experience the painful bleeding of menstruation" (video embedded below). Yep, the suit is designed to release blood stored in its reservoir over the course of the cycle. Hiromi lives her musical life as Sputniko! – and if you hear her Google Song once, it's a certainty that you'll be humming it a week later.

Then there's the Floppy Legs Portable Hard Drive, by James Chambers -- a portable disk drive that stands up if it detects liquids nearby (it uses an Arduino microcontroller with servo motors). It's part of Chambers's project to conceptualise how technology would evolve if in the natural world. So he's created The Attenborough Design Group (named after Sir David) to develop a bunch of imagined products that would adapt to changing circumstances. These include the Gesundheit Radio, which sneezes occasionally to expel potentially damaging dust; and the AntiTouch Lamp, which sways away if you get too close to its delicate halogen bulb.

You may also enjoy the "Genetically Engineered Sound Garden", part of a project on "acoustic botany" by David Benqué, in which plants are engineered to make music.

There's also Nuclear is Good, by Oliver Goodhall, a persuasion-based exercise designed to convince the public that nuclear-power stations offer a clean, near limitless energy solution that could allow us to meet CO2 emission targets.

America's energy sacrifices


Fox still hasn't done Jones Act research

Fox News' Steve Doocy falsely claimed that "foreign ships that want to come help in U.S. waters can't unless" the Jones Act is "lifted by the president." In fact, foreign ships are already involved in the oil spill response, and the Jones Act allows for exceptions in the case of an oil spill.

Doocy claims foreign ships can't help in the Gulf unless Jones Act is "lifted by the president"

From the June 28 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:

DOOCY: It's day 70 into the Gulf crisis, and as oil keeps gushing into the water, the Jones Act remains in place. That means foreign ships that want to come help in U.S. waters can't unless it's lifted by the president. Florida Senator George LeMieux has sent President Obama a formal letter asking him to waive the Jones Act and allow international cleanup equipment into the Gulf. He's joining us this morning from Pensacola.

OK, you know, Senator, so many people say every skimmer on the planet should be down there in the Gulf, off the coast of Florida and Mississippi and Alabama and Louisiana, and they're not. And you think it's because of the Jones Act. Why?

LeMIEUX: Well, I think that's part of the problem. They cite the Jones Act. They cite other legal encumbrances that are keeping these ships from coming to the Gulf of Mexico.

In fact, foreign-flagged ships are already involved in oil spill response

National Incident Command: "15 foreign-flagged vessels are involved" in the response.  A June 18 document released by National Incident Commander Adm. Thad Allen and a June 15 press release from the Deepwater Horizon Incident Joint Information Center state: "Currently 15 foreign-flagged vessels are involved in the largest response to an oil spill in U.S. history. No Jones Act waivers have been granted because none of these vessels have required such a waiver to conduct their operations as part of the response in the Gulf of Mexico."

Acting Maritime administrator: "[T]wenty-three percent of the vessels responding to the oil spill are not U.S.-flag," and they are "not in violation of the Jones Act." David Matsuda, acting Maritime administrator, stated in June 17 congressional testimony that "[d]uring the current situation in the Gulf of Mexico, U.S.-flag vessels have been used in every situation where U.S. vessels and crew are available. Seventy-seven percent of the vessels providing oil spill response in the Gulf are U.S.- flagged." He added: "Even though twenty-three percent of the vessels responding to the oil spill are not U.S.-flag, none of these are known to be in violation of any U.S. law or regulation. Vessels that do not call upon points in the United States are not in violation of the Jones Act."

Fox News advocates shutting down public libraries

When I give talks to library groups, I always finish by reminding librarians that they're powerful advocates for fair use and privacy, because "you look like a total jerk when you criticize librarians."

Case in point: this Fox Chicago piece proposing that Illinois shut down its library system:

But keeping libraries running costs big money. In Chicago, the city pumps $120 million a year into them. In fact, a full 2.5 percent of our yearly property taxes go to fund them.

That's money that could go elsewhere - like for schools, the CTA, police or pensions

One of the nation's biggest and busiest libraries is the $144-million Harold Washington Library in the Loop. It boasts a staggering 5,000 visitors a day!.

I also always open my library talks with a joke: "You know, with library budgets on the chopping block and Wall Street thriving, there's only one answer: securitize bonds based on library fines!"

Once again, Fox comes through:

We know we spend a lot on them. But libraries do bring in some revenue: more than $2 million in fines is collected annually by Chicago public libraries.
Are Libraries Necessary, or a Waste of Tax Money? (Thanks, Scott!)

(Image: St. Thomas Public Library, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from bluefootedbooby's photostream)

Why The Greater Depression Still Lies Ahead

Obama, Bernanke pile on debt when de-leveraging is needed.

picby Michael Pento

If policymakers do not understand the real cause of a problem, they will in all likelihood be unable to provide a genuine solution.

Messrs. Barack Obama, Benjamin Bernanke and Timothy Geithner do not understand the real cause of this debt crisis. They are politicians first and economists or students of the market second--if at all. Therefore, it is not wise to count on them to tell us when the Great Recession is over, or to provide a plan to prevent another one in the future.

The cause of the Great Depression in the 1930s, and the Great Recession beginning in 2007, was one and the same: an overleveraged economy. Excessive debt levels are the direct result of the central bank providing artificially low interest rates and of superfluous lending on the part of commercial banks.

The easy money provided by banks eventually brings debt in the economy to an unsustainable level. At that point, the only real and viable solution is for the public and private sectors to undergo a protracted period of deleveraging. The ensuing depression is, in actuality, the healing process at work, which is marked by the selling of assets and the paying down of debt.

Unfortunately, our politicians today are focused on fighting this natural healing process by promoting the accumulation of more debt.

During this latest economic contraction, the Federal Reserve took interest rates to near 0%, and the Obama administration is leveraging up the public sector to record levels in a bid to re-leverage the private sector. The government's philosophy is tantamount to sticking a frostbitten man in the freezer so he won't have to suffer the pain associated with the thawing of his extremities.

Surprising new studies on statins dispute & reputation of big pharma: media silent on nutrition
Sacramento Nutrition Examinerby Anne Hart

Cell.Sacramento radio, at least on one sports station, is finally alerting average listeners to the latest medical studies on statins as related to the risks and benefit. The studies are pointing to statins raising more risk of harm than benefits of health for average cardiovascular disease and stroke risk folks. Also check out my other Examiner article, "Are too many doctors paid to advocate statin use?"

It's looking more like statins aren't reducing that many heart attacks and strokes after all, according to the latest studies on statins. Basically, it's one of the radio talk show personalities that yesterday (and repeated this morning) has let the public know more about the latest studies on statins and where to read one study. Also read the June 29, 2010 Los Angeles Times article by Melissa Healy about this latest study, Rift Over Statins‎.

You also can read the study from its primary source, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Read the study yourself, "Statins and All-Cause Mortality in High-Risk Primary Prevention: A Meta-analysis of 11 Randomized Controlled Trials Involving 65,229 Participants." Archives of Internal Medicine, 2010; 170(12):1024-1031. You also might want to take a look at the article, "Drug Company Pleads Guilty to Health Fraud," Life Extension magazine, March 2010.

The media is now disseminating this dispute between medical studies and the claims of the big prescription drug industries. The consumers' questions keep asking whether most doctors are controlled by big pharma's claims? And what happens to dissenting doctors that don't want to prescribe? Do they get intimidated by insurance companies who may want them to prescribe in order to get insurance?

Also a British study of more than 2 million patients found that those using statins were significantly more likely to suffer cataracts.The five-year study found that for every 10,000 patients on statins, up to 307 more had cataracts than non-statin users. Read the article about the study, "Heart drugs may increase cataract, kidney failure risk," published May 22, 2010 in The Age.

Patients and consumers in general wonder whether doctors who don't prescribe drugs, but use nutrition and certain supplements instead, usually make patients pay out of pocket because the doctors can't get insurance based on nutritional solutions or treatments using food-based products such as vitamins or minerals?

These are questions patients have about the decision to go with statins. Patients have to decide as a first line of treatment whether to go with food as medicine without being called a quack follower--unless of course, you work with licensed dietitians with R.D. certification or nutritionists and naturopaths with M.D. or D.O. degrees who really know their food biochemistry.

Basically, disputes almost always are about following the big money. And when it comes down to statins or any other drug, the lawyers are waiting in the wings for symptoms to show up. So what's the latest statins dispute about? The answer is the reputation of drugs. How are the various media handling news of the statins studies?

The dispute in the latest news concerns statins, the cholesterol-lowering prescription drugs that earn about $26 billion a year for their makers. Basically, news articles and medical studies in scientific journals are pummeling the reputation of the widely prescribed medications in one area even as it advanced their stature in another.

A meta-analysis — a review of previous studies — published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that statins do not lower death rates among patients with risk factors but no evidence of established cardiovascular disease who take them as a preventive measure, according to the Los Angeles Times article.

Study: US media redefined torture after US started practicing it

By Daniel Tencerwaterboard Study: US media redefined torture after US started practicing it

The US news media radically changed how it reported on the issue of waterboarding after it emerged that US forces had used the practice, says a new study from Harvard University.

The study also found a double standard when defining waterboarding, with news sources commonly referring to waterboarding as "torture" when talking about foreign countries using the practice, but declining to do so when it's being carried out by the United States.

The study (PDF) reports:

From the early 1930's until the modern story broke in 2004, the newspapers that covered waterboarding almost uniformly called the practice torture or implied it was torture: The New York Times characterized it thus in 81.5% (44 of 54) of articles on the subject and The Los Angeles Times did so in 96.3% of articles (26 of 27). By contrast, from 2002-2008, the studied newspapers almost never referred to waterboarding as torture. The New York Times called waterboarding torture or implied it was torture in just 2 of 143 articles (1.4%). The Los Angeles Times did so in 4.8% of articles (3 of 63). The Wall Street Journal characterized the practice as torture in just 1 of 63 articles (1.6%). USA Today never called waterboarding torture or implied it was torture.

The study went on to note a marked difference in the way waterboarding is portrayed when the individuals doing the waterboarding are American, and when they're not.

[N]ewspapers are much more likely to call waterboarding torture if a country other than the United States is the perpetrator. In The New York Times, 85.8% of articles (28 of 33) that dealt with a country other than the United States using waterboarding called it torture or implied it was torture while only 7.69% (16 of 208) did so when the United States was responsible. The Los Angeles Times characterized the practice as torture in 91.3% of articles (21 of 23) when another country was the violator, but in only 11.4% of articles (9 of 79) when the United States was the perpetrator.

The study, from Harvard University's Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, may be the first empirical evidence of what many media critics have been accusing the US media of, anecdotally, for some time: That the press changed its standards for "torture" once it became known the US was practicing it.

Pre-Crime? Try Pre-Diagnose and Pre-Drug: Psychiatrists target infants as mental patients

By CCHR International

A new study, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry and headed by psychiatrist John H. Gilmore, professor of psychiatry and Director of the UNC Schizophrenia Research, claims to be able to detect "brain abnormalities associated with schizophrenia risk"  in infants just a few weeks old.   We would like to point out the obvious flaw in this bogus study; there is no medical/scientific test in existence that schizophrenia is a physical disease or  brain abnormality to start with.  There is not one chemical imbalance test, X-ray, MRI or any other test for schizophrenia, not one.   So with no evidence of medical abnormality to start with, the "associated with schizophrenia risk" amounts to what George Orwell called Doublespeak (language that deliberately disguises, distorts, misleads)—it means nothing.

For decades, psychiatrists and Pharma have spouted lines to the press and public amounting to, "researchers now believe" they have medical evidence of schizophrenia as a physical/biological abnormality, or "new evidence suggests" evidence of schizophrenia as a real disease.   But despite millions of dollars in research funds and countless tales of "belief" —no evidence to support the theory.  One of the most common tricks employed by the Psycho/Pharmaceutical industry to mislead the public, legislators and the press, is to take X-rays or brain images of people who have been long-term users of antipsychotic drugs (known to cause brain atrophy/shrinkage) and then claim people with schizophrenia have smaller brains.   They've spouted similar studies on kids with ADHD having smaller brains, but the bottom line to that study was that the kids with smaller brains, were…smaller kids. These are just a few of the many PR spins employed by Psycho/Pharma to try and maintain the "belief" in psychiatry, in their credibility as a science.   As evidenced by the recent statement of psychiatrist Allen Frances, former DSM- IV Task Force Chairman, this belief is falling apart even within their own ranks, "There are no objective tests in psychiatry-no X-ray, laboratory, or exam finding that says definitively that someone does or does not have a mental disorder." —Allen Frances (And Frances isn't the only psychiatrist exposing the fraud of the biological brain disease model; click here for more.)

The logical question the press should be asking is what are the American Journal of Psychiatry and "the Director of UNC Schizophrenic Research" really after?  What is their goal?

As we have exposed in the article "Australian Psychiatrist Patrick McGorry Wants His Pre-Drugging Agenda to Go Global" there is a concerted push being headed by Australian psychiatrist Patrick McGorry and other pharmaceutically funded psychiatrists for the global implementation of a new mental health paradigm; preventative mental health, i.e., pre-diagnosing (diagnosing children before they develop a "mental disorder") and pre-drugging children ( before they show "signs" of the mental disorder).   There is an obvious push for the same pre-diagnosing and pre-drugging agenda with this latest study, which claims "major cases of schizophrenia are usually not diagnosed until a person begins witnessing its related symptoms like delusions and hallucinations as a teenager or adult . However, by that time, the disease [notice the term disease despite no medical evidence of disease] crosses the stage of preliminary treatment and is difficult to treat."   In other words, if we wait to administer drugs to them it may be too late.

Rep. Gohmert Warns Of Baby Terrorists

by Walid Zafar

Speaking on the House floor last night, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) continued his assault on common sense by making the generally nonsensical claim that terrorists were recruiting pregnant women in order for them to have U.S.-born children who would, several decades from now, attack the United States and "destroy our way of life."  Gohmert made the comments while discussing border security and Arizona's controversial new immigration law. 

Gohmert: I talked to a retired FBI agent who said that one of the things they were looking at were terrorist cells overseas who had figured out how to game our system.  And it appeared they would have young women, who became pregnant, would get them into the United States to have a baby.  They wouldn't even have to pay anything for the baby.  And then they would turn back where they could be raised and coddled as future terrorists.  And then one day, twenty...thirty years down the road, they can be sent in to help destroy our way of life.  'Cause they figured out how stupid we are being in this country to allow our enemies to game our system, hurt our economy, get setup in a position to destroy our way of life.


Law enforcement agencies have long warned that criminal elements (including suspected terrorists) are actively exploiting our porous borders to gain entry into the United States.  But Gohmert's claim is new and based solely on an unsubstantiated conversation with a retired FBI agent.  No news accounts or national security alerts seem to support this conclusion.  We contacted Gohmert's office to seek a clarification but got no response.

Baby Terrorists