"More people shift to the pill-taking life every year, to the delight of pharmaceutical manufacturers. Indeed, drug sales suggest how willing people are to pursue better living through chemistry.Has anything to do with this:The New York Times: Expert Kept From Speaking at Antidepressant Hearing:
Last year retail drug sales worldwide were $317 billion. In the United States alone, consumers spent $163 billion on drugs. In North America, the use of drugs that affect the central nervous system, antidepressants and others, increased 17 percent. No group has escaped. Last week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 10 million children took prescription medication for three months or longer in 2002, and preschoolers, another study found, are now the fastest growing group of children receiving antidepressants.
This is a social change on the same order as the advent of computers, but one that is taking place inside the human body. Just 50 years ago, according to a report by IMS Health, a company that tracks the pharmaceutical industry, the two biggest-selling over-the-counter drugs were Bufferin and Geritol. The prescription drug business was tiny. In 1954, according to IMS, Johnson & Johnson had $204 million in revenue. Now it is about $36 billion. In 1954, Merck took in $1.5 million in drug sales; in 2002, that figure was $52 billion."
"Top Food and Drug Administration officials admitted yesterday that they barred the agency's top expert from testifying at a public hearing about his conclusion that antidepressants cause children to become suicidal because they viewed his findings as alarmist and premature.I guess kids committing suicide is better than children not being depressed? I mean let's look at some of that again.
'It would have been entirely inappropriate to present as an F.D.A. conclusion an analysis of data that were not ripe,' Dr. Robert Temple, the Food and Drug Administration's associate director of medical policy, said in an interview. 'This is a very serious matter. If you get it wrong and over-discourage the use of these medicines, people could die.'
Dr. Temple was seeking to quell a growing controversy into whether the agency's warnings on March 22 that antidepressant therapy could lead patients to become suicidal were sufficient.
'There is concern that we hid data,' said Dr. Temple. 'We did not hide data. It was there for all to see.'
Recent studies have shown that children given antidepressants are more likely to become suicidal than those given placebos. But the studies have lead to different interpretations by psychiatrists. The refusal by drug companies to publish the studies has worsened the confusion. Internal agency documents obtained by The New York Times show that federal health officials are divided, too.
Dr. Andrew D. Mosholder, an agency epidemiologist, was the man charged with analyzing 22 studies involving 4,250 children and seven drugs. In a carefully argued, 33-page memorandum, he concluded that children given antidepressants were almost twice as likely as those given placebos to become suicidal.
He urged the agency to discourage doctors from prescribing to children all antidepressants except Prozac. Prozac is the only antidepressant proven effective in treating depressed children, and its studies showed no link with suicide, Dr. Mosholder wrote. Dr. Mosholder's conclusions mirrored those made by British health authorities."
Temple: If you get it wrong and over-discourage the use of these medicines, people could die.'
Mosholder: In a carefully argued, 33-page memorandum, he concluded that children given antidepressants were almost twice as likely as those given placebos to become suicidal.
And, Mosholder again: Prozac is the only antidepressant proven effective in treating depressed children, and its studies showed no link with suicide, Dr. Mosholder wrote.
"The court-appointed investigator who has been seeking for more than three years to determine the finances of an Indian trust fund administered by the Interior Department resigned on Monday.Maybe the worst of it is, Is that it just seems like business as usual for the powerful energy corporations and a corrupt Beaureau of Indian Affairs under the Dept of the Interior. You'd think James Watts was still in charge.
The official, Alan Balaran, said the government had routinely allowed energy companies to shortchange Indians on royalties from oil, gas, timber and other leases on Indian land.
Balaran accused the department of a persistent effort to impede his work and said he had found a 'systemic failure to properly monitor' the activities of energy companies acquiring oil and gas from Indian land.
Judge Royce C. Lamberth of U.S. District Court here appointed Balaran in 1999 as part of a class-action lawsuit filed by Elouise Cobell, a banker and Blackfoot Indian from Montana, and more than 300,000 other Indians. They accused the government of cheating them out of as much as $137.5 billion over the past century.
In a letter sent to Lamberth on Monday and made public yesterday, Balaran said that the agency had sought to delay the case by filing frivolous motions, including one requesting that he be disqualified from his duties because of bias.
'The agency's motivation is clear,' Balaran wrote. 'In recent months, I have reported evidence of a practice - abetted by Interior - of energy companies routinely paying individual Indians much less than they pay non-Indians for oil and gas pipeline easements across the Southwest.'
Balaran also said he had discovered that the department had 'destroyed valuable trust information' and that it had 'significant problems with its appraisal and record-keeping practices.'"
FloridaThe link to the story appears to be dead. And when I went to the following link, but apparently it is no longer active:
Mystery missile destroyed
Officials seek source of explosive
By Sarah Lundy, firstname.lastname@example.org
March 19, 2004
Authorities are trying to figure out how an 8-foot missile found its way to a Fort Myers metal scrap yard, parking an emergency response by local, state and military officials.
"It will probably be a difficult task," said Larry Long, spokesman for the Southwest Florida Domestic Security Task Force. "We have agents from the task force and the state fire marshals who are out right now following up on leads to figure out where the missile came from."
The discovery came about 3 p.m. Tuesday when a Garden St. Iron & Metal Inc. worker blow-torched the middle of what looked like a piece of corroded steel and aluminum pipe.
Smoke shot out the end of the device.
Workers yelled over the radio to Garden St. President Robert Weber, who was working in a crane nearby.
Weber quickly moved the crane's arm to grab the explosive cylinder as it scooted across the ground. Weber put the missile in a rain puddle in an effort to douse the sparks.
"It didn't faze it," he said. "It started hissing and made a jet-enginelike noise."
Afraid the heat would crack the cement, Weber moved the crane so it would hold the missile about 2 feet above the ground as it fizzled out.
"I didnÂt know what it was," he said. "It just looked like a piece of pipe to me."
Weber called the Tice fire department to ask what to do with it. Tice passed word on to the Southwest Florida Bomb Squad, which sent someone to inspect it.
"That's when everybody started showing up," Weber said.
Deputies cleared 300 feet around the missile, which was in the Garden St. scrap yard off Metro Parkway just south of Hanson Street.
About 9:30 p.m., two members of the U.S. Army's 766th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit, based at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, arrived. The unit responds throughout Florida when suspected military ordnance is discovered.
"When they informed us that it may contain an explosive, that's when my mentality changed," Weber said. "It wasn't funny anymore."
An academy award-winning filmmaker is producing a documentary about freewayblogging and the new wave of high-profile individual free speech. If you're a freewayblogger, banner-dropper or culture-jammer interested in having your work included in this film, please contact email@example.com for more information.I'm not sure I've seen any in Atlanta, freeway blogging that is, but I have come across some guerrilla art from time to time. I think it's fun stuff, especially since, in my experience so far, it does not involve defacing other people's property. You just put your own sign over theirs, or close by.
"Bill and Rebecca Goldsmith are making a living from an idea that would probably get you laughed out of business school: running an Internet radio station commercial free. From their home in Paradise, Calif., in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, they operate Radioparadise.com, a format-busting station that spins a tasteful mix of music ranging from the Beatles to Norah Jones to the Strokes. Fewer than 5,000 listeners tune in during peak times, but fans like it so much, they sent the couple $120,000 in contributions last year, covering the cost of bandwidth, song royalties and other expenses and leaving enough to support a 'comfortable lifestyle,' says Bill Goldsmith, who quit a 30-year career in FM radio to run and DJ his homegrown version.And, well, I do hate Clear Channel and everything it stands for. I remember during the late eighties, I was living in Killeen, Texas, when the FCC backed-off (using that famous misnomer, de-regulation) on forcing 'local' stations to broadcast to their local communities. All they had to do instead, was to say their call sign, and their broadcast location once an hour, the rest of time, they could direct their programming at the major markets. No more local content requirements, including the news. All of a sudden they were allowed to move their transmitters as close as they could to the nearest large market, while still able to send a signal that covered the 'area they were supposed to be serving'. Pretty soon, every station within a hundred or two miles of Austin, Dallas, or wherever, became in effect, a large metro station, and was able to pursue add revenues based on this increased demographic reach. Station license prices soon escalated through the roof, and local family owned stations sold out to the mega corps. And, the trend has only gotten worse since then. The FCC, headed by the bumbling, sellout himself, Powell, nepotism at its worst, is just continuing a trend of selling the public airwaves for the benefit of private profit.
If you can't bear another spin of Britney Spears, you're one of the reasons that stations like Radioparadise are beginning to prosper and investors are again flocking to another alternative to the AM/FM dial: satellite radio. After years of unmet promise, online stations, along with satellite offerings like Sirius and XM Satellite Radio, are building audiences even as regular radio struggles through a decade-long slump (time spent listening is down 14% since 1994, according to the ratings firm Arbitron). Critics say industry consolidation has turned AM/FM stations into McRadio: nationally uniform, repetitive and clogged more than ever with ads and promos. But scores of high-quality alternatives are now competing for your ears (and dollars)."
"The TV series Star Trek recently celebrated its 40th anniversary, prompting some to marvel at how real-world technologies have caught up with science fiction. But aside from outlining gadget concepts, Trek contains important lessons about capitalism and freedom.In case I wasn't clear, upon reading it, I think this argument holds up like wet toilet tissue. Surely she could have found a better vehicle than this, but then, I guess I ultimately don't see her point, unless it's...no, I can't really see it...maybe it's the Star Trek references that are throwing me.
Capitalism, at its most basic level, is an economic system that tackles the question of how to distribute scarce resources. It is based on private property, voluntary exchange, and individual choices. But what happens when resources are no longer scarce? The answer explains why capitalism is as much an account of human nature as it is an economic theory...
...Freedom to make one's own decisions is a necessity for capitalism and, as demonstrated above, capitalism is about more than money. There is scarcity in many areas of human conduct and the popularity of the Star Trek series over the last 40 years shows that there's no lack of interest in these issues.
The tension that exists among humans will continue, even if society is able to eliminate physical scarcity through new technologies. Since that's the case, Star Trek and stories with similar themes should live long and prosper."
"Similar case took place in 1984 in Turkestan Military District. Near the city of Astrakhan air-defense system marked the ball-shaped object flying at the altitude of 2000 meters along the Caspian seashore in the direction of the state border. The object did not respond to the inquiry made by the military on the radio. Two fighter-planes took off, but they were unable to bring the object down. After being under fire, the object descended up to 100 meters, and at this low altitude the planes were unable to continue firing. Despite being fired at, the object was having a regular speed. The ball passed over several military units, which allowed to make its photo. Near the city of Krasnoyarsk the military tried to bring the object down with the helicopter. However, it quickly increased its altitude so that the helicopter could not reach it. After firing all its supply of shells, the helicopter landed, and the ball abruptly flew in the direction of the sea and disappeared from the radar screens."
"Justice Scalia, the big shot, does not like reporters to turn tape recorders on when he's talking, whether that action is protected by the Constitution of the United States or not. He doesn't like it. And he doesn't permit it.This is completely in violation of our constitution and the freedon of the press. Scalia was not in some private meeting; he was speaking at the Presbyterian Christian High School, in Hattiesburg, Mississippi to 300 hundred students. And people are talking about him as Chief Justice!!?? Geez, we really are on the road to fascism. Oh, and we're supposed to trust him to impartial in judging cases that deal w/ his duck hunting buddies? I don't think so. We're stuck w/ this guy as a justice until he decides to retire, but he definitely does not need more power.
'Thirty-five minutes into the speech we were approached by a woman who identified herself as a deputy U.S. marshal,' Ms. Konz told me in a telephone conversation on Friday. 'She said that we should not be recording and that she needed to have our tapes.'
In the U.S., this is a no-no. Justice Scalia and his colleagues on the court are responsible for guaranteeing such safeguards against tyranny as freedom of the press. In fact, the speech Mr. Scalia was giving at the very moment the marshal moved against the two reporters was about the importance of the Constitution."
"There were signs that problems intensified under the Bush administration. When O'Neill retired, someone leaked the story to the New York Times, together with details of an incident when he had lost a briefcase carrying sensitive documents. O'Neill blamed the incoming FBI director Tom Pickard for the disclosure.John O'Neill was basically forced into retirement, and his first job? Head of security at the WTC. He died doing his job on 9/11, but if he'd have been allowed to do his job from the beginning...
The most serious allegation against the Bush administration came in the controversial French book Bin Laden, la verite interdite (Bin Laden, the forbidden truth), released shortly after September 11.
Authors Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie claimed to have been told by O'Neill that 'the main obstacles to investigate Islamic terrorism were US oil corporate interests and the role played by Saudi Arabia in it'.
Brisard and Dasquie drew attention to the strong business links between members of the Bush administration and Saudi Arabia through the oil industry, and even through defense company the Carlyle Group, between the Bush and Bin Laden families.
Richard Clarke's latest statements do not provide outright support to the thesis that these links led the Bush administration to obstruct O'Neill. Nevertheless, in a CBS interview last weekend, Clarke portrayed an administration that was remarkably reluctant to get to grips with al-Qaeda."
"The good of our country: Less partisanship, a balanced budget, surpluses, a seemingly invincible military, peace, revolutionary technology and love for our neighbors.Though, I think the new subtitle should pluralize 'smart'. Really, I think it would read better.
The bad: Layoffs, rising energy prices (!), failing schools and racial tensions.
Bush had been in office less than 50 days at this point, so he had no time to mess with anything. But even so, who could have thought that he'd prophetically destroy every single good thing he mentioned. It's like those old commercials, 'this is your country. This is your country on Bush'. Runaway deficits, bitter partisanship, a loss of revenues, a military being proved powerless against a far smaller foe, a time of multiple conflicts and reduced global prestige, outsourcing of skilled jobs, increased layoffs, skyrocketing energy prices, failing schools and racial tensions.
If it was good he destroyed it, if it was bad he made it worse."
"Instead, by happenstance Martin, the president and a Secret Service agent trolled for bass Friday afternoon. They rode in Martin's 21-foot boat, powered by a 250-horsepower engine, but in the small ranch pond, they used the boat's outboard trolling engine, Martin said in an interview.The Lies.com link to [ random acts of alex ] provided a nice comparison of presidential vacationing:
``The president was very relaxed,'' Martin said.
The unexpected Friday footage came as the crew was filming at the pond and Bush ``came motoring down'' in his pickup to chat, Martin said. They discussed the next day's scheduled shoot.
At about 5:30 p.m., Bush looked at his watch and said he had time to ``make a couple casts, so we jumped into the boat real quick.''
Iraq didn't come up. ``He didn't really talk about politics at all,'' Martin said. ``He was just relieved to have a minute to fish.''
The TV host said Bush is ``a very accomplished fisherman. He handled the tackle really well and caught three fish,'' Martin said. ``He complains he doesn't fish there enough; so he misses that a lot.''
They floated on the pond for about 1 hours. White House aides told Martin that ``things were kind of calmed down'' in Iraq and that prospects were good for another session Saturday."
"Here's how an excerpt from a recent Washington Post article summarized Bush's vacations:And this, led me to [decided this deserved its own posting]: White House Releases Pre- 9/11 Intel Memo - April 10, 2004, the now infamous President's Daily Brief (PDB) for August 6, 2001. You'll have to follow the link to see it; I can't figure out how to cut and paste excerpts. But, it's short anyway.
This is Bush's 33rd visit to his ranch since becoming president. He has spent all or part of 233 days on his Texas ranch since taking office, according to a tally by CBS News. Adding his 78 visits to Camp David and his five visits to Kennebunkport, Maine, Bush has spent all or part of 500 days in office at one of his three retreats, or more than 40 percent of his presidency.
To put that into perspective, out of each year, Bush is officially on vacation an average of almost five months. How does that rank with other presidents? After a little research, I found this:
Bush isn't the first president to get away from his work. George Bush Sr. took all or part of 543 vacation days at Camp David and in Kennebunkport. Ronald Reagan spent 335 days at or en route to his Santa Barbara, California, ranch during his eight years in office. Of recent presidents, Jimmy Carter took the least days off -- only 79 days, which he usually spent at his home in Georgia. That's less than three weeks a year, which is closer to the average American's paid time off of 13 days per year.
What about Clinton? As of December 1999, President Bill Clinton had spent only 152 days on holiday during his two terms, according to CBS News. A former staffer noted Clinton was such a workaholic that 'it almost killed Clinton to take one-week vacations during August.'"
"At Queen's Sonic Arts Research Centre, scientists led by Professor Michael Alcorn are studying ways to detect the emotional states of computer game users - from the way they hold and tap on keyboards and consoles - so that machines can spot when feelings are beginning to run too high. 'The game could be slowed down and more soothing background music played,' said Alcorn.Yahoo! News - More Cash Flowing to Robotics Research:
A key breakthrough has been the discovery that cool, unemotional decision-making is not necessarily a desirable attribute. In fact, humans cannot make decisions unless they are emotionally involved. 'The cold, unemotional Mr Spock on Star Trek simply could not have evolved,' said artificial intelligence expert Professor Ruth Aylett of Salford University, another Humaine project leader. 'We cannot act without our feelings being switched on.'
...'Of course, people say that just because you can teach a computer how to respond to a human does not mean you have made it emotionally sensitive,' said Evans. 'They say that you have merely taught it crude reaction techniques. But that is all that emotional sensitivity does for humans. It lets us spot people who are angry or aggressive or in some intense state and react accordingly. The sooner computers learn how to do that, the better it will be for them and us.'
"'Nobody is inventing the wheel anymore,' Kara said. 'The core of research that occurred over the last 10 years is driving this market intellectually and now there's a ton of money coming from the military side of the aisle.'The problem I see here, is an ever greater trend to replace human labor may well succeed, and if it does, how many and what kind of jobs will be left.
The Pentagon, which spent $3 billion on unmanned aerial vehicles between 1991 and 1999, is expected to spend upward of $10 billion through 2010. Under a congressional mandate, the Defense Department is pushing for one-third of its ground vehicles to be unmanned by 2015.
The Army is seeking portable reconnaissance robots, transport robots and fighting vehicles that could be deployed in place of the Abrams tank. The 42-pound PackBot, which can climb stairs and work under water, already has been used by U.S. troops flushing out Afghan caves. The Marines have developed a similar robot half that size.
The Pentagon's research arm, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is sponsoring more than 40 projects in robotics, spokeswoman Jan Walker said.
For example, DARPA has given Carnegie Mellon $5.5 million to develop the Spinner, a five-ton combat vehicle that could operate on almost any terrain, under any conditions, without a foot on a pedal or a hand on a steering wheel...
...Robert Michelson, a principal research engineer at Georgia Tech, is holding the fourth annual International Aerial Robotics Competition in July.
Robotic aircraft will be required to fly three kilometers (1.8 miles) to an urban setting, find a building, then enter it via a window or a hole in the roof to find a target inside. The robot must then transmit an image back to base Â all without human interference.
The Georgia Tech team has already built a craft that can fly the three kilometers and identify the building and the points it can be breached, Michelson said.
"This is not a paper exercise," Michelson said. "This is real-world show-me."
"Scirus is a search engine for scientists that allows them to dig through not just scientific journals, but also unpublished research, university websites, corporate Internet sites, conference agendas and minutes, discussion groups and mailing-list archives.Ah, more life.Universe Teeming With Elements of Life (washingtonpost.com):
'It's good for scientists who don't want to sink time into fruitless searches,' said David Carpe, founder of Clew, a research and consulting firm in Boston. '(Web searches) are only one piece to the research they're doing; it shouldn't take five weeks to find the information they need.'
Scirus mines 167 million scientific Web pages to get query results. The technology uses linguistic analysis to rank the results, with the highest scientific value at the top. Scirus has been around since April 2001, and its popularity has been slowly but steadily growing. It was named best specialty search engine by SearchEngineWatch in 2001. In 2003, the site accommodated about 30 million searches."
"The Mars rovers have offered scientists a chance to move from speculation to more practical questions: If there is life elsewhere, what form will it take? What should we look for?I'm thankful for this last quote. I think we have a history of pre-conceiving what life can be or where it will be found, and then having our assumptions proven wrong. I understand that we have limited capabilities, but that is my point. How would I know if the earth were a conscious, thinking being? No, really, how would you know, and what could you possibly measure? Now, I wouldn't say that it is, but how could I know? Just one of those questions I ponder...Mostly late at night after having had a few.
'It will be microbial,' said University of Colorado molecular biologist Norman Pace. 'It will be a bunch of different microbes in a community-based environment. The rules of the game will be different, but there will be a suite of organisms designed to cope with their geophysical situation.'
Depending on the scientist, however, there were varying views about even such basic questions as when something becomes 'life.' Livio described 'a simple something able to replicate and pass on information.' Sandford said he would look for 'an accumulation of functionalities' -- the organism would 'know its inside from its outside' and be able to 'drag electrons around' to form different compounds.
But regardless of the definition, the rationale behind the search for microbes on Mars or elsewhere in the solar system appeared to be a no-brainer among the researchers: 'More than 85 percent of the history of life on Earth is exclusively the history of single-celled organisms,' said Ames research scientist David Des Marais, a member of the Mars rover team. 'On Earth microbial life runs the place. It's going to be the easiest to find.'
Also, noted Ames astrobiologist Jonathan Trent, microbes have demonstrated remarkable ability to endure in hostile environments. 'We find them in near-boiling sulfuric acid, in ice, growing in high levels of radiation,' he said. 'If you find me a microbial life form somewhere else in the solar system, I think it will be very similar to what we have here. To look for anything else in our solar system is absurd. Beyond our solar system"
"Tabletop boxes will soon be pumping out microchips at lightning speed from a desk near you. Multibillion-dollar foundries will be replaced and the face of manufacturing will be forever altered.And all that that potentially means.
To digest this, some may have to suspend their disbelief.
But for visionaries such as Douglas Mulhull, author of Our Molecular Future, a version of the above scenario is already happening.
Mulhull was in Ottawa last month to talk about nanotechnology at a speaking event hosted by the local branch of the Canadian Information Processing Society.
Mulhull observed that microchips are already being printed 'on a board in a box', thanks to the adaptation of bubble-jet printing to the production of three-dimensional objects that actually work. Such 'boxes' are already manufacturing some types of programmable chips, surgical models and car parts, said Mulhull, who urges us to imagine the disruptive influence of replacing a $4-billion factory with boxes that sit on a tabletop and cost anywhere from $75,000 to $750,000. Add to that the replacement of silicon with diamond derivatives, which run 100 times faster at a tenth of the heat, said Mulhull."
"In short, while the Six Million Dollar Man is still a fantasy, Pharmaceutical Man is already here, and largely unnoticed. Swallowing a pill at a business lunch is likely to elicit little curiosity. A high-powered executive who did not have blood pressure or cholesterol problems might be suspect. There are concerns about the widespread use of antidepressants, but they do not seem to have affected sales.
In fact, the group of antidepressants that includes Zoloft is the third biggest class of pharmaceuticals by sales in the United States, totaling $11 billion in 2003.
Drugs in the top two categories - statins to reduce cholesterol levels and proton pump inhibitors to prevent heartburn, gastritis, ulcers and other digestive problems - had sales of about $14 billion and $13 billion, respectively.
Critics of the national medicine cabinet have noted that behaviors and physiological changes that were once simply aspects of life - menopause, the inability to keep still as a child, baldness, decreasing potency in old men - have been medicalized, turned into syndromes or diseases.
Dr. Thomas Szasz, a psychiatrist who in the 1960's defined himself as far outside the mainstream by arguing that mental illness was a myth, recently wrote a book called 'Pharmacracy,' about the invasive rule of medicine as it defines our lives.
Last fall, the President's Council on Bioethics issued a report called 'Beyond Therapy: Biotechnology and the Pursuit of Happiness.' The report included material on genetics and embryo selection, but it also addressed performance enhancement and behavioral drugs. One of its concerns was the way everything in life becomes a medical problem.
When new technologies, including drugs, come through doctors, the report said, many aspects of life become medicalized, raising concerns that "the pursuit of happiness and self-perfection would become part of the doctor's business."
The report also cataloged "other aspects of human life that formerly had little to do with doctors and hospitals: childbirth, infertility, sexual mores and practices, aspects of criminal behavior, alcoholism, abnormal behavior, anxiety, stress, dementia, old age, death, grief and mourning.""