“The Bush administration’s broad new proposal for domestic security, to be made public on Tuesday, calls for sweeping changes that include the creation of a top-secret plan to protect the nation’s critical infrastructure and a review of the law that could allow the military to operate more aggressively within the United States.” NY Times
“… I have dogs, the terrier is barking downstairs at this moment & the others are stretched out in cool places around the house. Here’s my thought: Nick, don’t get a dog until you must have one. A dog is different from a child–it’s not really yours, but its own being. You can’t drown a child when you’re bored with it & you can’t drown a dog when you’re done with it, but for different reasons. It’s hard to explain, but you never really own a dog the way you own a child of your own species. You have less moral claim over a being who happens to be a member of another species because you do not share its universe. In the face of our ignorance of the the universes of other species, we ought to act with circumspection. You do not see the world the way a dog does. As for going to monasteries & all that Western crapola, I have spent my share of time in Vietnamese Buddhist monasteries & most of them have dogs. Your spiritual quest is nonsense in the face of a dog’s willingness to abide your presence. In the temples I visited, the dogs ate before the monks. Make that your practice, if you can. Or maybe, if you get a dog & then want to go off on a spiritual quest, you should drown yourself.” reading & writing
Sopranos mob ready to return: “…Sopranos devotees are probably … miserable considering the nearly 16-month wait they will have had to endure for new episodes of their favorite show. The down time between Sopranos seasons typically has been lengthier than the TV norm, but this one was extended even longer by HBO bigwigs who sought to avoid summer scheduling conflicts with its other popular Sunday-night series, Sex and the City. The show is scheduled to resume Sept. 15.” Offering only the most meager of hints about the direction the show will take, they’ve wrapped up shooting the season, the show’s fifth and, quite possibly its last. David Chase, Sopranos creator, is calling it quits, although he cautions that HBO owns the show and can continue it without him, a prospect none of the cast find palatable however. Contra Costa Times [via randomWalks] [Oh darn; after five years of psychoanalytic psychotherapy, Dr Melfi would just be beginning to get somewhere with Tony Soprano! — FmH]
blog.meetup.com is a means of organizing ‘meetups’ of local webloggers in an area; they’ve designated venues in your region (search for the closest by entering your zipcode) and pinned down a time, then local webloggers who are interested have voted on where their local meetup will occur. Currently, “meetups are ready to happen in 540 cities in 22 countries”; 1642 webloggers have enrolled; an RSVP system lets others in your areas know if anyone has confirmed that they’ll be coming to the local meetup so that you won’t be the only one who shows up.
“The drug giant Pfizer Inc. has agreed to acquire the Pharmacia Corporation for stock that it valued at about $60 billion, in a deal that would make it by far the most dominant drug maker in the world, the companies announced today….
Drug companies, under intense pressure from politicians, employers and managed care companies to limit price increases, are having a hard time finding breakthrough products that would assure the robust earnings growth investors demand. Pfizer’s acquisition of Pharmacia, resulting in a company that would still control only 11 percent of the global market, is likely to hasten the industry’s continued consolidation.” NY Times
Related: This analysis of pharmaceutical industry research and development woes from The Economist [blink courtesy of David Brake] delves more deeply into one of the strong pressures behind acquisition and merger in the industry, as the New York Times story above suggests.
Essentially: pharmaceutical company shares are falling faster than the Dow. Several drug giants are among the companies whose ‘creative accounting practices’ and anti-competitive behaviors are taking them dangerously close to regulatory discipline if not grand jury scrutiny. As the industry is more concentrated and the profit-and-loss statement relies more and more heavily on one or just a few big-earning medications in a company’s stable, it becomes disastrous to face expiring patents and generic equivalents — as with the ongoing desperation of Eli Lilly to cushion itself over the loss of Prozac profits — or product glitches — such as the recent sea change around HRT or unacceptable side effects found late in a drug’s R&D cycle or even not until post-marketing surveillance. There is thus more and more pressure on drug companies to develop the next new blockbuster, while development costs, especially the costs of necessary clinical trials, are climbing. “(I)t is not that (the pharmaceutical companies) have become much worse at delivering new drugs, but rather that they have not become much better.” One estimate is that each company has to develop roughly three new drugs per year for the balance sheets to remain healthy; current R&D performance is around half that level.
Under such circumstances, I keep saying, prescribing physicians and the drug-consumer public should be alert to the ways in which drug company profitability requires that they shove questionable advances down our throats… literally. Although I would be the first to resist a cost-containment effort that would reduce patient access to a truly superior pharmaceutical, one should always question one’s doctor on the advantages the Next Great Thing s/he’s prescribing has over the tried and true, gold-standard medication with the same purpose.
“Elderly rats that eat certain fruits and vegetables stay smarter than rats that don’t, according to two new University of South Florida studies.
While the jury is still out on humans, the studies, to be published today in the Journal of Neuroscience, offer evidence that eating foods high in antioxidants may reverse the cognitive effects of aging.”
St Petersburg Times
And: Crime and Nourishment:
“I was very interested to read the recent British research showing that giving basic nutrients to young offenders significantly reduced their criminal tendencies. The idea that the answer to the youth crime epidemic in the UK may be found on the shelves of our local health food store might seem a little far-fetched, but there is good reason to believe there is some truth in this. It is a plain and simple fact that our mood and behaviour are, to a degree, dependent on the nutrients the brain gets from the diet. No wonder then that more and more research is stacking up to suggest that altering this organ’s fuel supply can take the edge off a tendency towards delinquency.” Guardian UK
Also: His-and-Her Hunger Pangs: Gender affects the brain’s response to food: “Women have higher rates of obesity and eating disorders than men do, but scientists don’t know why. New findings offer clues to the root of sex differences in eating behaviors. The study showed that men’s and women’s brains react differently to hunger, as well as to satiation.” Science News
[thanks to David Walker]
The use of psychedelic drugs is that dark little secret behind the popular origins of Eastern spirituality in America, but if they really open the mind in the same ways meditative experiences do, why shouldn’t they be legitimated and brought out into the open? In Allan Hunt Badiner and Alex Grey’s Zig Zag Zen authors, artists, priests, and scientists are brought together to discuss this question. Opinions fall on all sides. Ram Dass, for instance, discusses the benefits as well as the limitations. Rick Strassman outlines his work in the first federally funded psychedelic study in two-and-a-half decades. Rick Fields sets the historical scene. China Galland offers a wrenching personal experience. Robert Jesse introduces the varieties of entheogens, drugs that engender mystical states. Lama Surya Das tells of his early drug years. And a roundtable discussion with Ram Dass, Robert Aitken, Richard Baker, and Joan Halifax caps it all.
Interspersed throughout are stunning full-page, full-color images of spiritual art by the likes of Robert Beer, Bernard Maisner, and, of course, Alex Gray. A fascinating look at a complex topic, Zig Zag Zen is worth appreciating and pondering. amazon.com
“Sixty- to 70-story office buildings, stores, cultural centers and a memorial to the dead are included in six alternative proposals for the World Trade Center site that will be released on Tuesday.
Officials familiar with the proposals said that all six would replace the 11 million square feet of office and retail space lost in the Sept. 11 attack with a cluster of buildings much shorter than the 110-story twin towers.” Nando Times
Woman sentenced to 4 years in dog mauling case: “A judge sentenced Marjorie Knoller to the maximum four years in prison Monday for the dog mauling death of her neighbor in their apartment building last year.” Nando Times
D.C. police say 9 motorists hurt, possibly by blowgun darts: “Several drivers in the nation’s capital were hit with sharp projectiles, perhaps darts fired from a blowgun…In three cases, the six-inch long, razor-sharp projectiles had to be surgically removed.” Nando Times
Coulter’s critics descend to her level: ” Ann Coulter’s new book, Slander, is full of egregious jargon and outrageous attempts at deception. Unfortunately, rather than claiming the high ground, several critics on television and in print have descended to her level, attacking Coulter in a manner that only supports some of her most outrageous claims about liberals.” Spinsanity