Saturday, April 28, 2012
Redditor with an air-travel pass will become an upvoted summer bindlestiff:
Generique is a redditor with a BSc in forensic science, no job, and an unlimited US air-travel pass for the summer (he has a family member who works for an airline). He's volunteered to go anywhere and do anything, based on Reddit upvotes, to have an "epic summer adventure."
Want me to hand deliver a letter to someone across the country or overseas? Attempt to help you with homework? Volunteer at your organization for a day? Need an extra pair of hands to do that landscaping project you've been putting off for months? Know a sweet hiking spot but have no one to go with?
I will attempt to complete the highest voted tasks to the best of my abilities (IE they take place in destinations I can reach- most major cities worldwide except and almost any US destination, and I don't get an unlucky string of fully booked flights). Be sure to say the city your request takes place in. Feel free to assign me random adventures where ever you live.
Need help getting something done? I have unlimited flight benefits this summer and want to spend the month of May helping out Redditors. (self.AskReddit)
Friday, April 27, 2012
Article: Harvard sociobiologist E.O. Wilson on the origins of the arts | Harvard Magazine May-Jun 2012
Harvard sociobiologist E.O. Wilson on the origins of the arts | Harvard Magazine May-Jun 2012
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Sneak attack: surprise amendment makes CISPA worse, then it is voted and passed a day ahead of schedule. Congress just deleted the Fourth Amendment
Sneak attack: surprise amendment makes CISPA worse, then it is voted and passed a day ahead of schedule. Congress just deleted the Fourth Amendment:
In a sneak attack, the vote on CISPA (America's far-reaching, invasive Internet surveillance bill) was pushed up by a day. The bill was hastily amended, making it much worse, then passed on a rushed vote. Techdirt's Leigh Beadon does a very good job of explaining what just happened to America:
Previously, CISPA allowed the government to use information for "cybersecurity" or "national security" purposes. Those purposes have not been limited or removed. Instead, three more valid uses have been added: investigation and prosecution of cybersecurity crime, protection of individuals, and protection of children. Cybersecurity crime is defined as any crime involving network disruption or hacking, plus any violation of the CFAA.
Basically this means CISPA can no longer be called a cybersecurity bill at all. The government would be able to search information it collects under CISPA for the purposes of investigating American citizens with complete immunity from all privacy protections as long as they can claim someone committed a "cybersecurity crime". Basically it says the 4th Amendment does not apply online, at all. Moreover, the government could do whatever it wants with the data as long as it can claim that someone was in danger of bodily harm, or that children were somehow threatened—again, notwithstanding absolutely any other law that would normally limit the government's power.
Insanity: CISPA Just Got Way Worse, And Then Passed On Rushed Vote
Aerial is a new site-specific installation by Baptiste Debombourg (previously) at an old Benedictine monastery called Brauweiler Abbey near Cologne, Germany. Debombourg used numerous sheets of shattered laminate glass to mimic a frothy flood of water rushing into a room. Remarkably beautiful work. See much more by clicking on the thumbnails here. (via mission / vision)
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Regenokine: The Unproven Treatment That Professional Athletes Are Flying To Germany For:
Regenokine therapy, which involves spinning out and heating part of the blood then reinjecting it, remains both unproven by the FDA and popular among the rich and hopeful.
Regenokine is used to relieve lower back pain and the pain caused by osteoarthritis. At the time Fred Couples received treatment he was suffering from severe arthritic back pain. But when he won the PGA Senior Players Championship in 2011 he attributed the victory to Regenokine, saying he felt better than he had in a decade. The Regenokine treatment involves extracting the blood and then slightly heating it. The heat creates a kind of “fever” for the blood, inducing the inflammation that is a normal healing mechanism for the body. The blood is then put in a tube and spun in a centrifuge which separates the blood into its constituent parts. A layer of red blood cells collect at the bottom of the tube, a yellowish layer forms above it. The yellowish serum contains the good stuff, now-concentrated cytokines that fight inflammation and proteins that promote good health and block pain. After being injected back into the patient, the serum brings immediate pain relief to most patients. In others it can take several weeks. The feel good effects are effective in about 75 percent of patients and typically last two to four years.
All of this is according to the very small group of physicians that administer Regenokine.
Drs. Peter Wehling and Jens Hartmann run a practice in Düsseldorf, Germany that is the premiere source for the treatment. Wehling, a spinal surgeon, developed the Regenokine program in collaboration with scientists and physicians in the US and Europe. It has not received FDA approval in the US yet due to a requirement that body tissues be “minimally manipulated,” lest they become classified as drugs and subject to much more strict regulations. Despite this, however, there is at least one physician trying his luck in the US. Chris Renna, who runs a pair of clinics, one in Dallas and one in Santa Monica, offers Regenokine to his patients, only “slightly concerned” that the FDA would take action against him.
The comparatively laissez-faire regulations of Europe means people like Wehling and Hartmann are free to provide one more option to chronic pain patients who have tried everything. The 75 percent effectiveness rate would definitely sound like a miracle to patients for which drugs, physical therapy, acupuncture, etc. doesn’t work. But could Regenokine’s potency come more from patients’ wishful thinking than from anti-inflammatories? Could the pain relief really be just a placebo effect?
The following video shows how the experimental procedure is believed to work.
Another, more popular biologic treatment therapy, is platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy. Like Regenokine, PRP therapy involves spinning the patient’s blood, but instead of anti-inflammatories PRP therapy reaches for the platelets. After a wound occurs, platelets not only dam up to stop our bleeding, they also secrete chemicals that induce the wound to heal. So if we concentrate these little healing specialists and re-inject them into the body, we should heal faster, right?
As with Regenokine, PRP therapy is strong on logic, weak on evidence. One study performed in 2010 compared the ability of the platelet rich plasma injections and placebo injections of saline to heal people with achilles tendinopathies. Importantly, it was a double-blind study so neither the patients nor the doctors knew which injections were platelets and which were saline. Twenty-four weeks after injection the PRP therapy was no better than saline at relieving the patients’ pain or improving physical function. A year after injection the PRP therapy-treated group still fared no better than the saline group.
But just to make things less clear, a previous study had shown that PRP therapy was more effective than placebo at lessening the pain of patients with tennis elbow. Due to regulations, however, the research team was not able to blind the patients to treatment.
But you wouldn’t know these biologic therapies were unproven to look at the faith that professional athletes have in them. In 2009 Tiger Woods received four PRP injections, each one right before playing in the four golf majors that year. That same year two Pittsburgh Steelers – Hines Ward and Troy Polamalu – received PRP injections before going on to win the Superbowl. Last July Kobe Bryant flew to Düsseldorf, Germany to seek out Dr. Wehling and his treatment to see if it could do something for the osteoarthritis plaguing his right knee. After receiving an initial round of Regenokine treatment, the NBA star returned in October for another treatment. Bryant, who turns 34 this summer, is playing almost five minutes more per game this year than last year.
So impressed with the results, Bryant suggested Regenokine to his friend, Yankee slugger Alex Rodriguez. No stranger to boosting performance through questionable treatments, Rodriguez took the trip to Germany to have the procedure performed on his shoulder and knee.
So I guess we’ll just have to wait for clinical trials to see if Regenokine is the real deal, an expensive placebo or, as some suggest, even gives athletes an unfair advantage. Whether Regenokine’s benefits are based on biology or psychology, those with the reason – and the means – to try anything to up their game will continue to test it for us.
[image credits: Zimbio and Beauty and More TV]
[video credit: WehlingHartmann via YouTube]
image 1: A-Rod
image 2: Nolte
[The weirdness of a contemporary goldrush town. -egg]
FRACKED UP!: Hollywood,Interrupted Visits America's New Boomtown | Hollywood, Interrupted
Belgium's Maarten De Ceulaer displayed his knobbly chairs and sofas at Milan's Spazio Rossana Orlandi. The series is called "Mutation."
Each piece in the Mutation series is made from foam spheres, cut so they fit together, attached to a frame and coated in rubber or flocked. De Ceulaer’s work is also on show at the Triennale di Milano and as part of IN Residence at Ventura Lambrate.
Mutation by Maarten De Ceulaer
(via Crib Candy)
(Photo: Nico Neefs)
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
[Michael Pollan writes about cooking shows. Me, I want MP to *do* a cooking show. I'd watch that. -egg]
Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch - NYTimes.com
Article: How Americans Lost Trust in Our Greatest Institutions - Ron Fournier and Sophie Quinton - Politics - The Atlantic
[Disturbing picture of life in middle America. -egg]
How Americans Lost Trust in Our Greatest Institutions - Ron Fournier and Sophie Quinton - Politics - The Atlantic
Homo erectus and the paradox of human tools:
Over the weekend, at the Earth Day tweetup at the Science Museum of Minnesota, I heard an interesting fact: Human beings are now the dominant agent of landscape change on this planet, more than any natural process. (That's right. Suck it, glaciers!)
We tend to think of this kind of thing as a result of modernity. But I think that's only partly true. Modern technology has given us the tools that enable us to change the landscape of Earth in massive ways we weren't capable of in the past. But throughout human existence—even before we were technically human—we have made relatively large alterations to the world. It's not like human beings woke up one day and thought, "Hey, it's the 20th century, let's start messing around with stuff!" In reality, what makes our modern impact on the planet different from past—other than scale—is mainly that we've developed more self-awareness about our impact on the planet, and have actually started talking about whether we like the side effects those impacts bring.
Case in point: A recent study of ancient African animal species that suggests our ancestors drove a huge proportion of fauna to extinction basically as soon as they were technologically capable of doing so. Here's how Ann Gibbons described it at Science Now:
After comparing fossils of 78 species of carnivores that lived during five different periods of time between 3.5 million years ago (when large carnivores were at their peak) and 1.5 million years ago, Werdelin found that all but six of 29 species of large carnivores (animals that weighed more than 21.5 kilos) had gone extinct in that time. Moreover, the mass extinction began just before H. erectus appeared in the fossil record 1.9 million years ago. He also found that the community of carnivores alive 2.5 million to 2 million years ago ate a much broader range of food—with species within a community filling a wider range of dietary niches. By 1.5 million years ago, just hypercarnivores that ate only meat, such as lions and leopards, had survived while omnivores that scavenged and ate a wider range of foods, like civets, had disappeared. "Even I was surprised by the dramatic drop," Werdelin says.
Those omnivores that went extinct were in direct competition for scavenged carcasses with hominins.
This sounds kind of depressing, but I think it should actually make us feel a bit optimistic. Two million years ago, Homo erectus might have killed off 23 species of large carnivores. They had the tools to hunt and the desire to eat. But, even if they'd wanted to, those H. erectus wouldn't have had the tools necessary to organize other H. erectus' and better manage their own use of natural resources.
And that brings me to another interesting point that folks from the Science Museum of Minnesota kept making over and over at the Earth Day event. Modern life has created some pretty serious environmental challenges. But, at the same time, it's also put us in a much better position to deal with those challenges. Humans today are better educated, healthier, wealthier, and better connected with one another than any humans that have ever lived before. Our tools have helped us create some pretty big problems. But our tools are also exactly what we need to solve those problems.
Read the rest of the article at Science Now
Image: Homo erectus tools, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from hmnh's photostream