Tuesday, July 10, 2012

She Died Well

Mrs. McDaniel’s story offers a sobering look at the challenges for this kind of quest for a treatment, even for someone like her, who had both the means and the connections to get the intricate geography of her cancer charted. Her husband, Roger McDaniel, was a former chief executive of two companies involved in semiconductor manufacturing, and the family could afford the approximately $49,000 that the search would cost. They had expected to pay much more, but to their astonishment, Mrs. McDaniel’s insurance company covered almost all the drug costs. And the scientists who did the data analysis did not charge.

From the start, the family knew the odds were against Mrs. McDaniel, but she thought she had little to lose.

“You cannot feel bad if this doesn’t work or I die,” she told her son Timothy, a molecular biologist. “I would have died anyway.”


Science says: “We must live,” and seeks the means of prolonging, increasing, facilitating and amplifying life, of making it tolerable and acceptable, wisdom says: “We must die,” and seeks how to make us die well. (source)

Mrs. McDaniel died well accomplishing both.

A New Treatment’s Tantalizing Promise Brings Heartbreaking Ups and Downs


Posted by John Venlet on 07/10 at 08:10 PM
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Neurotechnological Tinfoil Hats for Real

Have you ever heard of Neurotechnology for Intelligence Analysts (NIA)?  I had not, until today, when I read the following.

In a small, anonymous office in the Trump Tower, 28 floors above Wall Street, a man sits in front of a computer screen sifting through satellite images of a foreign desert. The images depict a vast, sandy emptiness, marked every so often by dunes and hills. He is searching for man-made structures: houses, compounds, airfields, any sign of civilization that might be visible from the sky. The images flash at a rate of 20 per second, so fast that before he can truly perceive the details of each landscape, it is gone. He pushes no buttons, takes no notes. His performance is near perfect.

Or rather, his brain’s performance is near perfect. The man has a machine strapped to his head, an array of electrodes called an electroencephalogram, or EEG, which is recording his brain activity as each image skips by. It then sends the brain-activity data wirelessly to a large computer. The computer has learned what the man’s brain activity looks like when he sees one of the visual targets, and, based on that information, it quickly reshuffles the images. When the man sorts back through the hundreds of images—most without structures, but some with—almost all the ones with buildings in them pop to the front of the pack. His brain and the computer have done good work.

While this may seem science fictional, in fact, this is an ongoing neurotechnology project being run by DARPA and a private company by the name of Neuromatters.

Pretty amazing what our brains are capable of.

Quote obtained from an article in The Chronicle titled From Bench to Bunker.

Linked via Fred Lapides.

Posted by John Venlet on 07/10 at 02:27 PM
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Is Lord Desai Off His Rocker?

In a commentary piece penned for The Guardian titled Beyond Keynes and Hayek, one Lord Desai offers up a couple of “unorthodx policy moves” with which to allegedly stimulate the British economy.

Two unorthodox policy moves to revive the economy are worth considering. First, in order to make consumers spend rather than save we could adopt Silvio Gesell’s idea of stamped money. This money loses purchasing power if not spent immediately. The easiest way to put money in consumers’ pockets would be to give them a shopping voucher valid for one month after issue.

Second, a recovery loan that will mop up money in banks, firms and households for which there is no present use – and use it for infrastructure projects: the high-speed rail link, road building and repairs, and house construction by local authorities; or projects to do with carbon emissions - insulating houses, and solar panels. A company could be set up to raise money for these projects that would not add to the deficit.

If Lord Desai is not totally off his rocker, and has retained his ability to read and comprehend economic theory, I would suggest that he read Ludwig von Mises’ Human Action.

Posted by John Venlet on 07/10 at 01:28 PM
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Obama: Winner of the Most Outrageous Campaign Promises

On May 8, 2007, as presidential candidates where jockeying for nomination to their respective party’s presidential ticket, quoting H.L. Mencken, I asked, Who Will Peddle the Most Outrageous Campaign Promises?

We have a winner.  Obama peddles the most outrageous campaign promises.

Posted by John Venlet on 07/10 at 10:30 AM
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Rainbow Trout Have Magnetoreceptors

When I flyfish, and take a trout to hand to admire, prior to releasing them back to their element, I will now look at the rainbow trout, at least, with a newfound interest, because of the magnetoreceptors recently discovered in their noses.

Researchers have isolated what are essentially tiny compass needles in the noses of rainbow trout that may explain these and many other animals’ incredible ability to navigate across vast distances…

The strength of the crystals’ magnetic response, and their firm attachment to the surrounding cell membranes, lent strong support for what scientists have long suspected: That these crystals lean back and forth like a sail in response to Earth’s weak magnetic field, and that the cells they are embedded in somehow convey their swaying movements to the brain. This is believed to confer trout and other migratory animals with a ” magnetic sense ” by which to judge direction.

A secret to animal migration believed unlocked at last

Posted by John Venlet on 07/10 at 09:02 AM
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Miguel Unamuno Quotes

While reading Henri Daniel-Rops’ Jesus and His Times, yesterday, I came upon a quote from the writings of Miguel Unamuno, a Spanish philosopher whom I was unfamiliar with.  My unfamiliarity with Unamuno led me to delve a bit deeper into his works, and add to my list of books I should add to my library.  Here are a smattering of quotes I found wandering the cyberspaces of the internet, which I thought of interest.

That which the Fascists hate above all else, is intelligence.

And wherefore do you want to be immortal? you ask me, wherefore? Frankly, I do not understand the question, for it is to ask the reason of the reason, the end of the end, the principle of the principle.

Those who believe that they believe in God, but without passion in their hearts, without anguish in mind, without uncertainty, without doubt, without an element of despair even in their consolation, believe only in the God idea, not God Himself.

A lot of good arguments are spoiled by some fool who knows what he is talking about.

When a thing is said to be not worth refuting you may be sure that either it is flagrantly stupid - in which case all comment is superfluous - or it is something formidable, the very crux of the problem.

Miguel Unamuno quotes.

Posted by John Venlet on 07/10 at 07:59 AM
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