Day: July 14, 2002

Operation TIPS – Terrorist Information and Prevention System

Justice Dept readies national informant system: “Everywhere in America, a concerned worker can call a toll-free number and be connected directly to a hotline routing calls to the proper law enforcement agency or other responder organizations when appropriate.” When this operation is up and running, the US will have more potential informants than East Germany’s Stasi did at the height of its power.

“Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul.” — Edward Abbey

Humans have anti-HIV gene

“Humans possess a gene which acts as a defence against infection by HIV, scientists have found.” The gene, CEM15, can stop the HIV virus from replicating if it is not interfered with by a protein, Vif, produced by the virus. This suggests new strategies — either finding the gene product of CEM15, which the article does not hint at, and replicating its function, or finding a way to inactivate Vif’s inactivation of the CEM15 gene — to fight HIV infection.

BBC

Pedophilia’s Double Standard

Christopher Hitchens writes:

‘…(T)he existence of a vast pedophile ring in the United States in the twenty-first century is something more than an affront to “family values.” And the fact that this ring is operated by named and senior churchmen, who continue to hold high office and to officiate at Sunday ceremonies, is something more than an outrage. Alleged “cultists” in Waco, Texas, who were only suspected of maltreating children inside their compound, were immolated by a bombardment of federal fire. The admitted and confessed enablers and protectors of rapists and child abusers are invited, at the most, only to resign their high offices.’ Free Inquiry

Beyond the Tippling Point

A teetotaler’s guide to social drinking: ‘Giving up alcohol can be addictive. It starts in the most innocuous way. You merely want to lose some weight, or perhaps to gain some health, and you decide to stop drinking, just for a week or so. Before you know it, you are hooked on the regular rushes of well-being brought on by abstinence. You are seduced by your improved appearance, or you crave yet another full night’s sleep, uninterrupted by the nonspecific anxiety that used to wake you at four in the morning. Above all, there is the novelty of having mental clarity by day. You cannot imagine life without it.

The only trouble is that you remember all too well how irritating you used to find it during your own drinking days when some killjoy said, “Not for me, thanks—I’m on mineral water.” Drinkers mind if one among them is not drinking. Like death, drink is a great leveler. Sobriety immediately introduces a hierarchy. ‘ The Atlantic

"Vow-To Books"

“A crop of new books assesses why our collective hopes for marital bliss have soured and what might be done about it. Viewed together, they reflect a surprising consensus that has emerged of late between liberals and conservatives over the virtues of, if not the road to, holy matrimony. It’s a consensus that’s been largely overshadowed by recent partisan debates over whether the government should be getting involved in such private decisions as to whether poor people ought to get married. But this new development represents something of a détente in the 30-year culture war over gender roles, family values, and the meaning of tying the knot.” Washington Monthly

Why Psychiatry Has Failed

“The gene and the quantum were conceived at the same time as Freud conceived the unconscious; yet, although they have led to sophisticated technologies, psychology and psychiatry, by most standards, are failures. More people than ever are on anti-depressants; drug abuse is rampant; psychotherapies don’t work; our jails are fuller than ever.

What happened? Where did it all go wrong? Jerome Kagan, a professor of psychology at Harvard, thinks he has an answer. In his newly published book, Surprise, Uncertainty and Mental Structures, he argues that we have been ignoring what goes on inside our heads.” New Statesman

R.I.P. Yousuf Karsh



Photographer of world figures dead at 93: “Photographer Yousuf Karsh, who gained international prominence with his 1941 portrait of a defiant Winston Churchill and photos of public figures such as Albert Einstein and Ernest Hemingway, has died at the age of 93.” The Nando Times He took Churchill’s cigar away to capture him at his frustrated and furious ‘best.’

In mental illness, long leap from rodent to man

‘While other fields in biology advance rapidly, behavioral pharmacology is inappropriately stagnant, and animal models now used are fast becoming obselete, today argued a leading expert. But such models are still useful for screening new candidate drugs, others countered.

Psychiatric disorders are defined by changes in behavior, so researchers have used behavioral animal models for preclinical drug development. But with new information in genetics, biochemistry and physiology, “is it still appropriate to emphasize behavior?” asked David Sanger, a researcher at Sanofi-Synthelabo Research in Bagneux, France.’ BioMedNet

MetaTalk

Comments on 2156: a discussion about ‘blatant ignorance of the blogging A-list’ on Metafilter: “Is it ever important to be aware of the history of a community, or as the community evolves is the present the only thing that counts?” I once got chastised online for not knowing who Matt Haughey was… And here’s a discussion, starting out between Jason Kottke (“MetaFilter is now neither meta nor filter…”) and Haughey (“Everyday I think about shutting down the site more and more…The site has definitely grown beyond what it was designed for…”) reflecting on the vast influx of new users after September 11th..

The Oddest Prophet

Malcolm Muggeridge: Søren Kierkegaard: The Oddest Prophet:

“The prophets, when they appear on our earthly scene, are rarely as expected. A king is awaited, and there is a birth in a manger. The venerable, the bearded, the portentous are usually spurious.

One of the oddest prophets ever was Søren Kierkegaard – a melancholic Dane, a kind of clipperty-clop, ribald Hamlet who from the middle of the last century peered quizzically into this one, dryly noting, before they happened, such tragicomic phenomena of our time as universal suffrage, mass media and affluence abounding.”

Blogchalking,

inspired by warchalking, is a way to improvise region-sensible blog-searching, which might be useful for a variety of reasons (even if you don’t have, as the author of the site does, a burning desire to orchestrate ‘real meetings’ with webloggers who live physically nearby). So I’m adding region-specific information to the keywords for FmH. But, as the site explains, most search engines do not associate the META tag keywords with a page when they index it. So, as suggested, I’m pasting my keywords into a simple post for the indexing pleasure of Google and others:

English-speaking USA/Massachusetts/Boston/Brookline]

weblog; blog; edgy; social commentary,

criticism, conjunctions conundrums, outrage; recent scientific, technical healthcare developments; exciting

artistic cultural news; human pathos, whimsy, folly, darkness depravity; blogchalk: English-speaking USA/Boston/Brookline

[What other keywords for FmH should I add to the list? Best contributions will be acknowledged in print.]

Loaded and Locked, and Off the Hook:

News analysis: The Effects of Arming Pilots: “The bill passed by the House of Representatives to give guns to pilots would have effects far beyond the cockpits and cabins of jetliners, legal experts said.

It would drastically limit the legal liability of airlines, for example, shielding them even from negligence not involving guns or terrorism, said some critics of the bill.” NY Times

Dear Diary:

Andrew Walcoff: Why I’d been looking forward to radiation so eagerly: “When someone from the hospital called me in May to notify me that the radiation treatment would start in early July, I grew excited and began to look forward to it as one might look forward to a vacation. Those considering a career in law may want to consider this before signing up for the LSATs.” Slate

Dr. Gladwell, Call Your Office!

Looks like the New Yorker was wrong and the New Agey gurus were right, writes Mickey Kaus with more than a hint of schadenfreude: “As Slate‘s Emily Yoffe notes, the dramatic recent finding on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for women — it was thought to decrease heart disease and increase breast cancer, but it turns out to increase both — was a victory for the New Agey celebrity Dr. Susan Love, who’s been questioning HRT for years. It was also a victory for the pandering pols who placated the feminist lobby by funding the massive Women’s Health Initiative, which included one of the seemingly decisive HRT studies — and for the politicized Food and Drug Administration, which overruled its own advisory panel and ordered more studies before HRT could be sold as a way to prevent heart trouble. … But there were losers too, and not just Wyeth, the maker of Prempro, a hormone replacement. It also looks as if the estimable Malcolm Gladwell was wrong when he attacked Dr. Love in what seemed at the time a devastating 1997 New Yorker article (available on Gladwell’s Web site) with the subtitle “How Wrong is Dr. Susan Love?” Slate

Too Good to Miss

A Mob Case, and a Scene Straight Out of Hollywood: “Steven Seagal, the action film star cited as a Mafia extortion target, has told investigators that after he stopped working with his longtime producer he was ordered into a car in Brooklyn last year and shuttled to a landmark restaurant where he was threatened by mobsters, according to officials and lawyers involved in the case.

He was so intimidated, he recounted, that he agreed to turn over $700,000, although investigators are still trying to trace the money

…By various opposing accounts, the peculiar tale may shape up as a battle for control over the actor between a Mafia extortion crew, which threatened his life, and Buddhist advisers who voiced concern for his afterlife.” NY Times [thanks, Richard, who asked, “Surely, you are going to include this article in FmH.”] [And I’ll never be able to see a listing for a Seagal film again without a guffaw…]

Stepford Child

What (Kind Of) a Doll (Is This?)!: “She looks like a doll and feels like a doll, but Toy Quest’s Cindy

Smart is much, much more. Her 16-bit microprocessor, which allows her

to, among other things, discern colors, sets her apart from the rest.” Wired

In mental illness, long leap from rodent to man

‘While other fields in biology advance rapidly, behavioral pharmacology is inappropriately stagnant, and animal models now used are fast becoming obselete, today argued a leading expert. But such models are still useful for screening new candidate drugs, others countered.

Psychiatric disorders are defined by changes in behavior, so researchers have used behavioral animal models for preclinical drug development. But with new information in genetics, biochemistry and physiology, “is it still appropriate to emphasize behavior?” asked David Sanger, a researcher at Sanofi-Synthelabo Research in Bagneux, France.’ BioMedNet