A new high-resolution map of American per-capita CO2 emissions. It shows the amount of carbon dioxide produced in 100 square kilometer regions of the United States divided by the number of residents in that area. I'm using a much smaller version,
but you can download the full eight megabyte ultra-high-resolution file here.
In honor of the Berlin...I mean, the Beijing Olympics. here's a pdf download Tiananmen Massacre map that points out the street locations and hospitals where the students died in and around the Square...
From Barry Cooper, narcotics interdiction expert, a Narcotics Interdiction Map showing the locations citizens are likely to encounter drug interdiction officers. Some officers are rated on their willingness to violate the 4th amendment...
From OurAmazingPlanet, here's a map of Earth's Atmosphere, which extends 200 miles out from the planet...
Love Jonz Spoken Jazz
G.P.A. @ Cafe Gallery
Poetry Cram for JOMP Volume 15
Il Palazzo Enciclopedico
Tickets are only $20. PRE SALE ONLY. NO AT DOOR SALES!
TICKET COVERS 3 COURSE MEAL-2 DRINKS-PARKING-LIVE MUSIC
The Love Jonz event is open to those dating, engaged and married
couples who will be entertained via fun, interactive and highly engaging
activities designed to enhance communication skills, personal awareness,
and rebuild the foundations of their relationship.
Pay On Line via our meetup page or at paypal or at Event Brite
PRESALE ONLY! NO AT DOOR SALES!
This Is Also An Official Fundraiser For The Fort Worth Youth Poetry Slam Team
Payment on line at Paypal-Event Brite-Meetup.com
Or At these Locations-Barcelona-Marshall Arts Meeting Room-Ten Eleven Grill
Please visit the Marshall Arts Meeting Room on Facebook Love Jones Dallas. The Ultimate Spoken Word and Jazz Fusion.
G.P.A. (the poetic unsub) feature at "the Cafe Gallery"
Say Aloha to poetry and performance art with "the Cafe Gallery" at Gallery Cabaret! See us at 2020 N. Oakley Ave. on every other Wednesday from 7:00 - 9:00 P.M. for poetry, music and performance art. Come out on Wednesday, May 29th 2013 for an open mic and the G.P.A. (the poetic unsub) Feature!!!
There will be video recording of the evening, so join us and hang out at this artist-friendly space for a great performance in Chicago!!! Sign up & read at the open mike for this great evening!
You can learn about later features on line any time at http://www.chaoticarts.org/thecafe/ - or get in touch with host Janet Kuypers or side-kick Bob Rashkow...
On Wednesday, June 5, at 7 PM, the Chopin Theater at 1543 W. Division Street will host Poetry Cram, a marathon reading by 56 poets in celebration of the release of Journal of Modern Poetry Volume 15 (JOMP 15). The event will be MC'ed by Chicago poet CJ Laity. You can get a complimentary ticket to the event by clicking here for a pdf file.
Camille Henrot, Coupé/Décalé, 2010. Video, 3:54 min.
la Biennale di Venezia
55th International Art Exhibition
Il Palazzo Enciclopedico (The Encyclopedic Palace)
Venice (Giardini and Arsenale), 1st June – 24th November 2013
Preview: 29th – 30th – 31st May
The 55th International Art Exhibition entitled Il Palazzo Enciclopedico (The Encyclopedic Palace), curated by Massimiliano Gioni and organized by la Biennale di Venezia chaired by Paolo Baratta, is opening to the public from Saturday 1st June to Sunday 24th November 2013 at the Giardini and at the Arsenale. The preview will be held on 29th, 30th and 31st May. The award ceremony and the inauguration will take place on Saturday 1st June.
88 National Participations will be exhibiting in the historical Pavilions at the Giardini, at the Arsenale and in the city of Venice. Among these 10 countries are participating in the Exhibition for the first time: Angola, Bahamas, Kingdom of Bahrain, Ivory Coast, Republic of Kosovo, Kuwait, Maldives, Paraguay, Tuvalu and the Holy See. The novelty is the participation of the Holy See with an exhibition held at the Sale d’Armi, an area which is being restored by la Biennale and converted into permanent pavilions. This year the Italian Pavilion at the Arsenale – organized by the Italian Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities, with PaBAAC (General Direction for the Landscape, Fine Arts, Architecture and Contemporary Art) – is curated by Bartolomeo Pietromarchi.
04.05.2013 – 22.09.2013
Musée Christian Dior, Granville
Mounted in Villa Les Rhumbs in Granville, where Christian Dior spent his childhood, the exhibition will attempt to show how this couturier's designs were partially linked to the Impressionist movement.
It will exhibit some of Christian Dior's creations and photographs of his garden, revealing the extent to which Dior was aware of the natural environment and the themes of light and reflections, just as the Impressionist painters had been.
From May 4 to September 22, 2013, “Impressions Dior” will be an exhibition devoted to the relationship Dior has had with the Impressionist movement since 1947. It will take place in Granville, in the family home, next to the gardens and the roses – right where the Dior legend was
The plan to end world hunger with 3D printed food
Anjan Contractor’s 3D food printer might remind you of the “replicator” popularized in Star Trek where Captain Picard was constantly interrupting himself to order tea. Contractor’s company, Systems & Materials Research Corporation, just got a six month, $125,000 grant from NASA to create a prototype of his universal food synthesizer.
But Contractor, a mechanical engineer with a background in 3D printing, envisions a much more mundane—and ultimately more important—use for the technology. He sees a day when every kitchen has a 3D printer, and the earth’s 12 billion people feed themselves customized, nutritionally-appropriate meals synthesized one layer at a time, from cartridges of powder and oils they buy at the corner grocery store. Contractor’s vision would mean the end of food waste, because the powder his system will use is shelf-stable for up to 30 years, so that each cartridge, whether it contains sugars, complex carbohydrates, protein or some other basic building block, would be fully exhausted before being returned to the store.
Ubiquitous food synthesizers would also create new ways of producing the basic calories on which we all rely. Since a powder is a powder, the inputs could be anything that contain the right organic molecules. We already know that eating meat is environmentally unsustainable, so why not get all our protein from insects?
If eating something spat out by the same kind of 3D printers that are currently being used to make everything from jet engine parts to fine art doesn’t sound too appetizing, that’s only because you can currently afford the good stuff, says Contractor. That might not be the case once the world’s population reaches its peak size, probably sometime near the end of this century.
“I think, and many economists think, that current food systems can’t supply 12 billion people sufficiently,” says Contractor. “So we eventually have to change our perception of what we see as food.”
There will be pizza on Mars
The ultimate in molecular gastronomy. (Schematic of SMRC’s 3D printer for food.)SMRC
If Contractor’s utopian-dystopian vision of the future of food ever comes to pass, it will be an argument for why space research isn’t a complete waste of money. His initial grant from NASA, under its Small Business Innovation Research program, is for a system that can print food for astronauts on very long space missions. For example, all the way to Mars.
“Long distance space travel requires 15-plus years of shelf life,” says Contractor. “The way we are working on it is, all the carbs, proteins and macro and micro nutrients are in powder form. We take moisture out, and in that form it will last maybe 30 years.”
Pizza is an obvious candidate for 3D printing because it can be printed in distinct layers, so it only requires the print head to extrude one substance at a time. Contractor’s “pizza printer” is still at the conceptual stage, and he will begin building it within two weeks. It works by first “printing” a layer of dough, which is baked at the same time it’s printed, by a heated plate at the bottom of the printer. Then it lays down a tomato base, “which is also stored in a powdered form, and then mixed with water and oil,” says Contractor.
Finally, the pizza is topped with the delicious-sounding “protein layer,” which could come from any source, including animals, milk or plants.
The prototype for Contractor’s pizza printer (captured in a video, above) which helped him earn a grant from NASA, was a simple chocolate printer. It’s not much to look at, nor is it the first of its kind, but at least it’s a proof of concept.
Replacing cookbooks with open-source recipes
SMRC’s prototype 3D food printer will be based on open-source hardware from the RepRap project.RepRap
Remember grandma’s treasure box of recipes written in pencil on yellowing note cards? In the future, we’ll all be able to trade recipes directly, as software. Each recipe will be a set of instructions that tells the printer which cartridge of powder to mix with which liquids, and at what rate and how it should be sprayed, one layer at time.
This will be possible because Contractor plans to keep the software portion of his 3D printer entirely open-source, so that anyone can look at its code, take it apart, understand it, and tweak recipes to fit. It would of course be possible for people to trade recipes even if this printer were proprietary—imagine something like an app store, but for recipes—but Contractor believes that by keeping his software open source, it will be even more likely that people will find creative uses for his hardware. His prototype 3D food printer also happens to be based on a piece of open-source hardware, the second-generation RepRap 3D printer.
“One of the major advantage of a 3D printer is that it provides personalized nutrition,” says Contractor. “If you’re male, female, someone is sick—they all have different dietary needs. If you can program your needs into a 3D printer, it can print exactly the nutrients that person requires.”
Replacing farms with sources of environmentally-appropriate calories
Contractor is agnostic about the source of the food-based powders his system uses. One vision of how 3D printing could make it possible to turn just about any food-like starting material into an edible meal was outlined by TNO Research, the think tank of TNO, a Dutch holding company that owns a number of technology firms.
In TNO’s vision of a future of 3D printed meals, “alternative ingredients” for food include:
From astronauts to emerging markets
While Contractor and his team are initially focusing on applications for long-distance space travel, his eventual goal is to turn his system for 3D printing food into a design that can be licensed to someone who wants to turn it into a business. His company has been “quite successful in doing that in the past,” and has created both a gadget that uses microwaves to evaluate the structural integrity of aircraft panels and a kind of metal screw that coats itself with protective sealant once it’s drilled into a sheet of metal.
Since Contractor’s 3D food printer doesn’t even exist in prototype form, it’s too early to address questions of cost or the healthiness (or not) of the food it produces. But let’s hope the algae and cricket pizza turns out to be tastier than it sounds.
Get excited, Star Trek fans and self-tracking enthusiasts: your real-life tricorder is now available for pre-order.
Scanadu, a startup based at the NASA Ames Research Center, has been working on a non-invasive tricorder for over two years. By the end of 2012, the company had a prototype ready--a handheld Yves Behar-designed device that tracks pulse transit time (to measure blood pressure), temperature, ECG, oximetry, heart rate, and breathing rate. A 10 second scan of a person’s temple yields data that has a 99% accuracy rate. That information is automatically sent via Bluetooth to the user’s smartphone.
Today, the Scanadu Scout tricorder is available for pre-order on Indiegogo. It’s a chance for early adopters to check out Scanadu’s technology, and an opportunity for Scanadu to gather some of the data it needs for FDA approval.
The first 1,000 devices ordered on Indiegogo will cost $149, but the price goes up to $199 after that. Originally, Scanadu hoped to price the Scout at $150 across the board, but had to shift because the newest version of the Scout has expanded horsepower (from 8 to 32 bits) and now runs on Micrium, the operation system that NASA uses for Mars sample analysis on the Curiosity rover. Scanadu co-founder Walter De Brouwer, an entrepreneur who first created a backpack-sized tricorder in the 1990s, decided to add in a big horsepower-hogging extra feature to the new Scout: the ability to remotely trigger new algorithms and plug in new sensors (like a spectrometer).
"If we find new algorithms to find relationships between several readings, we can use more of the sensors than we would first activate," says De Brouwer. "If you know a couple of the variables, you could statistically predict that something is going to happen. The more data we have, the more we can also predict, because we’re using data mining at the same time as statistics." One of the Scout’s cornerstone algorithms, for example, allows it to read blood pressure without the cuff that we’re all so used to seeing in doctor’s offices. In the future, Scanadu could discover an algorithm that connects, age, weight, blood pressure, and heart rate with some other variable--and then remotely trigger that relationship.
The Scout doesn’t yet have FDA approval, which is part of the reason for running an Indiegogo campaign. Everyone who pre-orders a Scout has their data sent to a cloud service, where Scanadu will collect it in a big file for the FDA. "It’s going to be a consumer product in the future, but right now we are positioning it as a research tool so that it can be used to finalize the design and collect data to eventually gain regulatory approval," says De Brouwer. "In the end, you have to prove how people are going to use the device, how many times a day, and how they are going to react to the information."
Anyone who opts-in will also gain access to the data of other users who have also elected to share their vitals. People will be able to tweak search parameters (i.e. body temperatures in California) to see only what’s relevant for them. In the future, De Brouwer imagines this could be used for population scanning, kind of like Google Flu Trends with data from real individuals. If your child has flu symptoms, you could one day search the Scout’s stats to see if other kids at her school are also sick.
"I think very soon we will be used to numbers and readings and how to change our behavior almost in real time," says De Brouwer. He believes that separating people from self-tracking devices will be "like taking your email away."
There are no algorithms in place yet to warn users if their vitals are abnormal, but that’s on De Brouwer’s to-do list. And based on feedback from Indiegogo supporters, Scanadu may add in new features before releasing the Scout to consumers.
Scanadu also has another product, the ScanaFlo, that will be submitted for FDA approval in July. That urine testing kit uses a smartphone app to check for an array of issues with the liver, kidney, metabolism, and urinary tract. Peeing on a ScanaFlo paddle allows the device to measure protein, glucose, leukocytes, nitrates, bilirubin, blood, urobilinogen, specific gravity, urine pH--and it checks for pregnancy. Everyone who pre-orders a Scout will get two ScanaFlo paddles.
"We’re all very proud of the design and how it performs. With the smartphone app that we have, it will perform better than the $10,000 machines you can now buy," says De Brouwer. Data from both the Scout and the ScanaFlo will be available on the app.
No word on when the ScanaFlo will go on sale, but Indiegogo backers can expect to receive their Scouts in the first quarter of 2014
Will our lives become easier with the Internet of Things?
Shaping up to be the buzzphrase of the year is the “Internet of Things” as more and more of our machines are becoming more intelligent. But as history has shown us, a smarter gadget doesn’t necessarily mean an easier life.
If our modern soothsayers can be believed, soon your refrigerator will be snapchatting your garbage disposal raunchy pics of your microwave, while your thermostat consults your lawnmower for stock picks. Or something like that.
The “Internet of Things” is said to be the next evolutionary step in our connected world — the promise that every machine in your physical environment will be talking to each other and acting pseudo-intelligently without much in the way of human intervention.
Of course, this techno-utopian dream was a promise of the future long before the web was even a twinkle in Tim Berners-Lee’s eye. Movies like Electric Dreams (1984) showed a public that was just becoming acquainted with personal computers that these devices would soon be turning on coffee makers and providing security for our homes. Going back even further, the early ’60s version of “The Jetsons” often poked fun at the postwar cliche that people wouldn’t know what to do with themselves once the home computer took over life’s more tedious tasks.
Today our abundance of smartphones, computers, dishwashers and electric vacuum cleaners all supposedly leave more time for the 21st century human to lounge around and eat bonbons. Just push a button, and everything is automatic.
But what if that’s simply not true? What if technology of the 20th century didn’t actually create more leisure time? What does that mean for the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed technophiles among us who are making sure that all of our gadgets can speak the same language?
Just about every generation of the last hundred years has debated whether their new-fangled appliances and gadgets were indeed making life any easier. One of the most interestingly counterintuitive studies on the effects of technology on housework and leisure came from Joann Vanek in the mid-1970s. Vanek argued that the time American women devoted to housework hadn’t actually declined from 1920-1970. She explained that with the rise of electric appliances like dishwashers and vacuum cleaners, housework had obviously become more efficient. The only catch? That the standard for what constitutes a clean house (or a clean person for that matter) had simply evolved along with the technology.
Doing the laundry in 1950 may have become much easier thanks to the rise of electric washing machines, but the societal expectations around how often one’s clothes should be cleaned shifted dramatically since, say, 1900. Cleaning a floor was decidedly harder in 1910 than it was in 1960 but the relative ease of use for appliances like the electric vacuum cleaner changed American expectations about what constituted “clean.”
Ruth Schwartz Cowan wrote extensively about this evolving standard of cleanliness in the last quarter of the 20th century. Writing in 1986 [pdf], she explained:
A woman doing her wash in 1910 might spend eight or nine hours of her week on the enterprise, and for her pains get eight or nine pounds of clean laundry (dry pounds, that is!), but if her grandaughter [sic] with a Bendix (or its descendants) puts in the same number of hours (carrying, folding, sorting ironing), she and the members of her household will be able to change their underwear and outer clothing every single day, their sheets and towels every week — luxuries that in times past were permitted only to the rich (who employed laundresses).
Reflecting on the efficiency-boosting capabilities of our machines in the 20th century leaves us with some difficult questions here in the 21st. Will the next step in the progressive march of our gadgets (specifically in the way that they talk with each other and the outside world) lead to more leisure time for us humans? Or will the Internet of Things™ simply create new, more demanding expectations of how our time is accounted for on any given day?
This question seems even more pressing in an information and communications-driven society. Back in the 1950s, taking a family vacation to a place like Yellowstone meant that you’d be largely out of reach should something come up that demanded your attention at the office. Today, our national parks are considering an expansion of cellular service under pressure from both the big telecom companies and visitors who often see internet service as more essential than running water. So don’t complain when the boss emails and says that your deadline for next month’s report has suddenly become more urgent.
There’s no longer anywhere to hide. But in the future we may romanticize the simpler days of the early 21st century — before your toaster became besties with your toothbrush.
URBAN TWANG @ Uncommon Ground
Bob Lawrence is Waiting 4 the Bus
Pints & Prose
Crankshaft May Update
Rusty Wright Band Summer Tour Schedule
Smog Veil May Update
Whether it's the one on Clark Street or on the one on Devon, we're always glad to be at Uncommon Ground and this Friday night we'll be at Uncommon Ground on Devon.
They have wonderful food and drink and a real good sound system (that one's important to us).
Performing after us will be the outstanding singer/songwriter Christina Trulio.
We hope you can join us.
Set time 10 p.m.
This Friday, May 17
Uncommon Ground on Devon
1401 W. Devon
Christina Trulio 11 p.m.
Reservations are recommended
Bob Lawrence is Waiting 4 the Bus
Monday, May 20, 2013
Join us on May 20th for the amazing Poetry Stylings of Bob Lawrence.
Bob Lawrence is the winner of the 2012 Poetry Pentathlon
sometimes candidate for the Mile High Party
sometimes Mr. Outrageous.
Bob will be presenting a night of multi-voiced, persona, alter ego and character poems.
there may even be guest stars.
Join us at Jaks Tap
901 W Jackson
sign up 7:30pm
good food and 40 beers on Tap
Tuesday, May 21, 2013, 6:00pm, PDT
29 Broadway, Fairfax, California
It's almost here! The May edition of Pints & Prose, with special guests Jordan Rosenfeld and Pam Houston! Also featuring readings from The Tuesday Night Writers, and YOU on the open mic! Bring your 5-minute original piece and jump on stage!
So, this is gonna be one busy summer! Plans have been set into motion to film a music video for the song Kingpin this month, Tea Simson of L'Assassins will be playing the female role, and Joe Lamon will be playing the male role. My long time hero Ric Hollister of Jack Knife and the Sharps will be playing a cameo part in this film as well! The video will be released in September along with two others, Waiting For Me and Fill It Up, landing almost exactly on the one year anniversary of the Artist Signal countdown party! I'm super excited, for the first time ever I'll be producing, directing, and editing all three of these videos, giving me a creative funnel, which will be awesome. Waiting For Me is nearly finished and I'm really pleased with how it's turned out.
This is the 10th consecutive week that the new album has been in the AMA Top 100. "What You Gonna Do?" peaked at #62 in the early part of April, and has been bouncing around in the 70's the last couple weeks. We're starting a European Americana campaign for radio in the next week or two, hopefully we can hit top 40 for that chart! KEXP 90.3FM in Seattle added our new album to their library, I'm not sure if they've played it yet but it would be great if they did, as they are one of the country's largest indie radio stations, if you have a minute please send them a request, thanks! We've had a ton of local support from radio as well, 89.3 the Current (Minneapolis), KVSC 88.5 (St.Cloud), KFAI 90.3 (Minneapolis), KUMD 103.3 (Duluth), KMSU 89.7 (Mankato), KQAL 89.5 (Winona), Northern Community Radio (north-central Minnesota), Pioneer 90.1 (Thief River Falls), and Rockin' 101 (St. Cloud, MN) have added the album or specific songs from the album to their playlists!
I've booked lots of summer events recently, most of which welcome all ages, check out www.crankshaftmusic.com if you have a minute, thanks for the continued support! Crankshaft.
All Ages! Sat. May 18th - 1pm - No Cover
Minnesota Monthly's Grill Fest. - Mpls, MN
Crankshaft & The Gear Grinders
Sat. May 18th - 6pm
All Ages! Sun. May 19th - 1pm
Art-A-Whirl - 331 Club - Minneapolis, MN
All Ages! Wed. May 22nd - 6pm
Hell's Kitchen - Minneapolis, MN
Crankshaft + Keith
Thurs. May 23rd - 8pm
Route 65 - East Bethel, MN
Crankshaft + Keith
All Ages! Sun. May 26th - 4pm - No Cover
Memory Lanes Block Party - Minneapolis, MN
2013 summer is just around the corner and it's time for the Rusty Wright Band to hit the road.
More dates are available for interested promoters.
Smog Veil Records May Newsletter
Plenty to see and do. It'll be Ada Soby/Smog Veil/Beofilm night at the San Francisco Documentary Film Fest on June 7 as both Complaints Choir and Petey & Ginger are screening as a double feature at The Roxie. Additonal screenings have been announced. Pere Ubu has announced EU dates for June and July and US dates for September. Buzz Clic makes an appearance in June as well. All the details are below...
Aziza Zina is arabic for: Precious and Beauty. Aziza Zina was founded by Moritz Stoll in 2009 together with his partner, Morena Gonzalez. They produce two Collection per year (FW/SS) each collection contains between 16 -20 Looks (so roughly 30 pieces). The Prototypes have always been made in Switzerland.
The fashion of Aziza Zina expresses a classic, modern elegance and incorporates fanciful elements accentuating the femininity of the women who wear it. The customers find their personalities reflected in the selected, fine quality fabrics and designs of their creations. Strong yet unimposing, versatile, seductive, playful and stylish are the attributes that distinguish Aziza Zina and make its fashion special.
Morena Gonzalez is of Dominican descent, she went to her first fashion design School in Santo Domingo and came to switzerland to continue her studies in fashion design at the “Design Schule Z” Zürich, where she finished with Diploma. Moritz Stoll went to art school after the “normal” School education but then decided to study Business Management (BBA) his emphasis in university were: Marketing, Advertisement and PR. In his last year of University he started Aziza Zina and has been doing this ever since.
40% of chronic back pain patients could be cured with antibiotics
A course of antibiotics instead of surgery could cure up to 40% of patients with chronic back pain, in a medical breakthrough that one spinal surgeon says is worthy of a Nobel prize.
Surgeons in the UK and elsewhere are reviewing how they treat patients with chronic back pain after scientists discovered that many of the worst cases were due to bacterial infections.
The shock finding means that scores of patients with unrelenting lower back pain will no longer face major operations but can instead be cured with courses of antibiotics costing around £114.
One of the UK’s most eminent spinal surgeons said the discovery was the greatest he had witnessed in his professional life, and that its impact on medicine was worthy of a Nobel prize.
“This is vast. We are talking about probably half of all spinal surgery for back pain being replaced by taking antibiotics,” said Peter Hamlyn, a consultant neurological and spinal surgeon at University College London hospital.
Hamlyn recently operated on rugby player Tom Croft, who was called up for the British and Irish Lions summer tour last month after missing most of the season with a broken neck.
Specialists who deal with back pain have long known that infections are sometimes to blame, but these cases were thought to be exceptional. That thinking has been overturned by scientists at the University of Southern Denmark who found that 20% to 40% of chronic lower back pain was caused by bacterial infections.
In Britain today, around 4 million people can expect to suffer from chronic lower back pain at some point in their lives. The latest work suggests that more than half a million of them would benefit from antibiotics.
“This will not help people with normal back pain, those with acute, or sub-acute pain – only those with chronic lower back pain,” Dr Hanne Albert, of the Danish research team, told the Guardian. “These are people who live a life on the edge because they are so handicapped with pain. We are returning them to a form of normality they would never have expected.”
Claus Manniche, a senior researcher in the group, said the discovery was the culmination of 10 years of hard work. “It’s been tough. There have been ups and downs. This is one those questions that a lot of our colleagues did not understand at the beginning. To find bacteria really confronts all we have thought up to this date as back pain researchers,” he said.
The Danish team describe their work in two papers published in the European Spine Journal. In the first report, they explain how bacterial infections inside slipped discs can cause painful inflammation and tiny fractures in the surrounding vertebrae.
Working with doctors in Birmingham, the Danish team examined tissue removed from patients for signs of infection. Nearly half tested positive, and of these, more than 80% carried bugs called Propionibacterium acnes.
The microbes are better known for causing acne. They lurk around hair roots and in the crevices in our teeth, but can get into the bloodstream during tooth brushing. Normally they cause no harm, but the situation may change when a person suffers a slipped disc. To heal the damage, the body grows small blood vessels into the disc. Rather than helping, though, they ferry bacteria inside, where they grow and cause serious inflammation and damage to neighbouring vertebrae that shows up on an MRI scan.
In the second paper, the scientists proved they could cure chronic back pain with a 100-day course of antibiotics. In a randomised trial, the drugs reduced pain in 80% of patients who had suffered for more than six months and had signs of damaged vertebra under MRI scans.
Albert stressed that antibiotics would not work for all back pain. Over-use of the drugs could lead to more antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which are already a major problem in hospitals. But she also warned that many patients will be having ineffective surgery instead of antibiotics that could alleviate their pain.
“We have to spread the word to the public, and to educate the clinicians, so the right people get the right treatment, and in five years’ time are not having unnecessary surgery,” she said.
Hamlyn said future research should aim to increase the number of patients that respond to antibiotics, and speed up the time it takes them to feel an improvement, perhaps by using more targeted drugs.
The NHS spends £480m on spinal surgery each year, the majority of which is for back pain. A minor operation can fix a slipped disc, which happens when one of the soft cushions of tissue between the bones in the spine pops out and presses on nearby nerves. The surgeons simply cut off the protruding part of the disc. But patients who suffer pain all day and night can be offered major operations to fuse damaged vertebrae or have artificial discs implanted.
“It may be that we can save £250m from the NHS budget by doing away with unnecessary operations. The price of the antibiotic treatment is only £114. It is spectacularly different to surgery. I genuinely believe they deserve a Nobel prize,” said Hamlyn. Other spinal surgeons have met Albert and are reviewing the procedures they offer for patients.
SheerWind wind turbine can generate 600% more energy than conventional turbines
An innovator in high-performance, cost-efficient wind energy technology is SheerWind. Initial field-testing results have been announced which compares INVELOX commercial-grade wind energy generation with the same turbine on a traditional tower-mounted system.
The test results indicate that INVELOX significantly out-performs the traditional turbine and is competitive with natural gas and hydroelectric generation by:
* Producing 600% more electrical energy (kWh)
* Operating at wind speeds as low as 1 mile per hour and in low wind regimes (class 1 and 2)
* Reducing installation capital cost to less that $750 per KW
* Increasing energy production capacity to record high of 72%
They claim costs as low as $10 MWH makes SheerWind a true game-changer in electric power generation that is competitive with natural gas and hydroelectricity.
SheerWind’s INVELOX wind energy system captures the breeze from an above ground portal and funnels the wind through a tapering passageway that naturally accelerates its flow.
This kinetic energy drives the INVELOX generator that operates at ground level. INVELOX has the following advantages:
* Costs less than 1 cent per KWH, making it competitive with natural gas and hydroelectric powered generation
* Requires no government subsidies to be profitable
* Reduces operating cost by 50% of current wind turbine technology
* Minimizes environment, animal, bird and human impact
Lower Costs, Higher Output
INVELOX promises superior power output and reduced generation costs, offering savings of 16% to 38% per megawatt-hour (MWh) produced. An INVELOX installation will cost nearly 7% to 11% less to construct than a traditional wind power setup, and 40% to 45% less for operation and maintenance.
Sheerwind’s simulations, computer models, and first field testing results indicate that INVELOX technology can produce three times more power than a traditional wind turbine. INVELOX brings down wind power generation costs to 2.8 to 4.1¢. per kilowatt hour (kWh).
Less Impact, More Reach
* Reduced land use: INVELOX technology requires a much smaller footprint (90% less than traditional turbine generators). Towers used are shorter and smaller and have no moving parts, meaning lower installation and maintenance costs.
* Superior aesthetics: INVELOX uses a lower profile and a smart design, offering pleasing aesthetics for surrounding communities.
* Less noise: By eliminating the need for massive tower-mounted rotors, INVELOX significantly reduces the high energy and low frequency noise nuisance created by wind farms and eliminates the shadow flicker issue.
* No moving parts: INVELOX has little to no impact on wildlife, including bird migration.
* No radar interference: INVELOX turbines do not interfere with aviation and military radar systems, so they can be installed in areas inaccessible to traditional wind farms.
* Increased geographical possibilities: INVELOX can operate at wind speeds as low as 2 mph (cut-in wind speed), so areas unsuitable for traditional wind farming can be used for power generation.
* Reduced downtime: INVELOX’s enclosed turbine-generator system means less downtime and reduced costs associated with failure and repairs.
* Weather resistance: Because turbines are installed insidethe INVELOX unit, they are not subject to harsh temperature variations or icing.
What Your Body Will Do in the Next 30 Seconds
You might think 30 seconds is pretty short. Your body doesn't though. In order to keep everything running, there's a lot of things going on in those 30 seconds. Like you'll make 72 million red blood cells! And shed 174,000 skin cells! And have 25 thoughts. The human body, what a wonderful thing.
A Human Stem Cell Has Been Cloned For the First Time
Almost two decades ago, scientists succeeded in cloning Dolly the sheep. Now, the same process has been allowed [sic] scientists to clone embryonic stem cells from fetal human skin cells for the very first time. There are no more barriers between us and creating human clones.
Cloning in and of itself has been within our reach for a while. Cloning non-human animals has been on the table for nearly two decades, dating back to Dolly the sheep way back in 1996. Cloning human cells has always been a bit rougher of a prospect, partly because it's just hard, and partly because experimenting with it is ground that needs to be tread very very carefully.
This breakthrough accomplishment, performed by Shoukhrat Mitalipov of Oregon Health & Science University and his colleagues, makes use of a technique called nuclear transfer. In its most basic sense, nuclear transfer is the process of taking one cell—in this case a skin cell—and inserting it into an egg cell that's had its DNA removed, which is then coaxed into dividing. Or in other words, it's sort of like fertilizing an egg cell with a fully formed cell of another sort, instead of a sperm.
This process results in a ball of stem cells that can be grown into a full-fledged clone if it's allowed to keep developing. That's how we've gotten every successful clone to date, including Dolly back in 1996. But until now, that had never worked with human cells. As documented in the journal Cell, Mitalipov and company have managed to pull off the process using skin cells of a human fetus as fertilizer, creating a whole bunch of embryonic stem cells that could go on to grow into a cloned human being. Not that anyone's planning to actually do that. Ever. These cells are for medical treatment. Stuff like treating nerve and heart damage.
Mitalipov attributes the recent success mainly to two things. First, there's the use of healthy, donated eggs—previously eggs used for experiments like this were leftovers from IVF clinics. Second, there's the slightly new approach to nuclear transfer, with several special tweaks and modifications including the infusion of caffeine at one point. The result is a reliable, high-yeild process that can create, on average, four embryonic stem cell lines from every eight eggs. Mitalipov put it this way:
We knew the history of failure, that several legitimate labs had tried but couldn't make it work. I thought we would need about 500 to 1,000 eggs to optimize the process and anticipated it would be a long study that would take several years. But in the first experiment we got a blastocyst and within a couple of months we already had an (embryonic) stem cell line. We couldn't believe it.
The implications here are huge, from both a medicinal and ethical standpoint. In the past, other scientists experimented with cloning processes that avoided ethical quandaries like extracting fetal cells, but none of those were nearly as reliable as this one. And this approach might be able to work with adult skin cells—removing fetuses from the equation—but it's still too early to tell.
And while the stem cells generated here definitely aren't intended to be used to produce actual, living, human clones, there's no reason to believe they couldn't be. And life potential like that is bound to raise all sorts of questions.
But aside from all that, this cloning process holds promise for the treatment of all kinds of degenerative diseases, though you can bet it will be a long, hard road to any sort of standardization for a whole wide variety of medical and legal reasons. Still, it's a huge step forward for science, and for young megalomaniacs who aspire to live forever through clones someday..
From Sundown Lounge No. 322
Youth Speaks Teen Poetry Grand Slam
Julia Stein & Lionel Rolfe @ Beyond Baroque
Exact Change Press
Journal of Modern Poetry 15
Alabama Phoenix Festival
Danger Word Promo
Lazy Literary Agents In Self-Publishing Money Grab via Argo Navis
17th Annual Youth Speaks Teen Poetry Grand Slam Finals
Saturday May 11, 275 Hayes St.
This year's Grand Slam Finals takes place at the newly renovated, Nourse Auditorium. Be a part of 1,800 audience members supporting youth voice and experiencing the best youth spoken word poetry in the Bay Area at the 17th Annual Youth Speaks Teen Poetry Slam.
Tickets are $6 Youth (Under 24) | $18 Adult
Celebrate the voices of 21st century America! Youth Speaks hosted the first Youth Speaks Teen Poetry Slam in 1997, the first poetry slam for teenagers in the country. The annual slam (an Olympic-style poetry competition) features hundreds of young writers, emcees, and performers from throughout the Bay Area and Northern California, and attracts almost 10,000 audience members during its month-long run.
The Youth Speaks Teen Poetry Slam is open to any youth 13-19 years old in the greater Bay Area. Here is the schedule for the 2012 slam season — join hundreds of young artists and leaders as they take the stage, speak truth to power, and perform for a chance to represent at the Grand Slam Finals.
Julia Stein & Lionel Rolfe @ Beyond Baroque
Publication party, Julia Stein's 5th book of poetry and Lionel Rolfe's new memoir Friends of Guests
Julia Stein’s poems in "What Were They Like?" look at lives—Iraqi lives, Afghan lives, and U.S. lives—caught up in the Iraq and Afghan wars. At the end the Stein’s poems imagine peace and healing. Stein writes as if Whitman met up with Sumerian myths by way of Hemingway.
"What Were They Like?" is Julia Stein’s fifth book of poetry. Her poetry ranges from love lyric to explorations of war, peace, women’s lives, and work.
Lionel Rolfe’s THE MISADVENTURES OF ARI MENDELSOHN. is a picaresque memoir by noted author and journalist. Rolfe recounts the sexual and political travails of the irascible, blacklisted title character, a reporter still harboring his besieged idealistic belief in humanity's innate goodness and America's dubious potential for good amid a reality of avarice, pragmatism, cynicism, and materialism. Rolfe has written the aclaimed book about Los Angeles writers Literary L.A., which is now the basis of a film titled Literary LA about Los Angeles writers.
Exact Change Only is now accepting submissions for its Summer issue. Submit between 1 – 5 poems at a time. We will read all styles and themes of poetry, as long as it is honest, quality material. Prefers poetry 50 lines or shorter.
The following 77 poets have been accepted for publication in Journal of Modern Poetry 15 (JOMP 15) and as a result their poetry has now been entered into the contest portion of the project. Three of them will receive Contemporary American Poetry Prize (CAPP) cash awards ($462, $231, and $115.40 based on percentages of the entry donations collected); four of them will receive CAPP Honorable Mentions; one of them will be crowned the "Poet Laureate of Rhyme"; and one of them will receive the second JOMP Book Award and will receive a two year publishing contract through Chicago Poetry Press. Many of the following poets will also appear to read their selected work at the Poetry Cram at Chopin Theater on Wednesday, June 5, 7 PM.
Welcome to the Alabama Phoenix Festival! The Alabama Phoenix Festival is a family-friendly, multi-genre, fan convention featuring celebrity guests, authors, comic book writers and artists, vendors, and much more. We have activities for people of all ages and welcome you to come join us in the fun. The 2013 event will be held on Friday, May 24 through Sunday, May 26, 2013.
Cahaba Grand Conference Center and Hilton Birmingham Perimeter Park Hotel. Both of these facilities are located just South of I-459 on Hwy 280, in Birmingham, AL
We have some really exciting things planned for this year's expo area. Not only will we again have some really great Vendors and Dealers, but we will once again have a really wonderful LEGO Expo full of super displays and Free-play area. This is again sponsored by the Magic City Lego User Group (MCLUG).
Also in the expo area, you'll find a beautiful replica of the DeLorean Time Machine! Functioning lights and all, this beatiful machine built by Oliver and Terry Holler, will be on display for the duration of the event where you can get your picture made. Donations can be made through their organization, www.tothefuture.org, whose mission and purpose is to raise money and awareness towards a cure for Parkinson's Disease.
DANGER WORD is a short horror film in pre-production, directed by Luchina Fisher (Death in the Family), adapted for the screen by award-winning writers Steven Barnes (“The Outer Limits,” “The New Twilight Zone,” “Andromeda“) and Tananarive Due (My Soul to Keep). This film is about a 13-year-old girl and her grandfather who have survived the zombie plague in his wooded cabin–and how her birthday goes badly awry.
Frankie Faison (Grandpa Joe)
Saoirse Scott (Kendra)
DANGER WORD stars veteran film and television actor Frankie Faison (“The Wire,” “Banshee,” The Silence of the Lambs) as Grandpa Joe. His granddaughter will be played by 12-year-old Saoirse Scott, who was shortlisted to play Rue in The Hunger Games and spent four years on ABC’s “One Life to Live.” She’s a terrific actress and a great addition to o ur cast–and she’ll make our coming-of-age story spring to life. Here’s a YouTube video about the project from the screenwriters:
Lazy Literary Agents In Self-Publishing Money Grab via Argo Navis
'I was at the London Book Fair last week – and I’ll be blogging about that soon – when the news broke that David Mamet is to self-publish his next book.
His reasons? ”Publishing is like Hollywood—nobody ever does the marketing they promise.”
While I think it’s great that someone as high-profile as David Mamet is self-publishing, I was very disappointed to find out the way he’s doing it...'
[Item passed on by good friend and author Valjeanne Jeffers - a recent blog entry by David Gaughran, a 34-year old Irish writer, living in London, who spends most of his time travelling the world, collecting stories.]
Twice as many entrepreneurs are over the age 50 as are under 25
Vivek Wadhwa: During the mid-1990s, cardiologist and researcher David Albert had the idea to develop a handheld device that displays an electrocardiogram. He believed that this would save lives by providing immediate information to patients wherever they were. In those days, even the most powerful handheld computers didn’t have the needed capabilities. So Albert dropped the idea because it was impossible.
And then came the iPhone in 2007 — which has more processing power than some of the supercomputers of yesteryear. In 2010, at the age of 56, Albert started Alivecor with $250,000 from his savings. His goal was to build an iPhone case that performs an EKG. This device was approved by the FDA last December and now retails for $200 — with a prescription.
Myths abound about the young entrepreneurs who dreamed up crazy ideas while in their dorm room, raised millions of dollars in venture capital, and started billion-dollar businesses. But these are just the outliers. The typical entrepreneur is more like Albert — a middle-aged professional who learns about a market need and starts a company with his own savings.
Research that my team completed in 2009 determined that the average age of a successful entrepreneur in high-growth industries such as computers, health care, and aerospace is 40. Twice as many successful entrepreneurs are over 50 as under 25; and twice as many, over 60 as under 20. The vast majority — 75 percent — have more than six years of industry experience and half have more than 10 years when they create their startup. Nearly 70 percent start their companies to capitalize on business ideas that they have — which they see as a way to build wealth.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the motivation for entrepreneurship and innovation comes from experience and necessity. Even Mark Zuckerberg — the kid in the dorm room who started Facebook — built this to meet a need for an online directory of college students. Paul Allen and Bill Gates started Microsoft after realizing that their computers lacked software. Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs started Apple because they saw the need for a “people’s computer.”
As Albert’s invention shows, there have been dramatic advances in technology over the past two decades. It has become possible for entrepreneurs anywhere to create world-changing products. These advances are not only in computing. Such diverse fields as synthetic biology, 3D printing, robotics, nanomaterials, and medicine are advancing at exponential rates. Take the sensors in the Alivecor heart monitor: they would have cost thousands of dollars and weighed several pounds, 15 years ago. Today, they cost as much as a cup of coffee and weigh less than the cup.
When Albert demonstrated a prototype of his heart monitor to major medical companies, they were skeptical, he says, that there was any market for such a device. They said that their market research had shown that it was a bad idea and that no one wanted or needed it. Undeterred, Albert continued to pitch his product. He made a YouTube video that garnered so much interest during the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show that Qualcomm and others came to him and offered an investment.
Renowned cardiologist Eric J. Topol, who is director at Scripps Translational Science Institute told me by email that Alivecor has allowed him, on several occasions, to make a definitive diagnosis for patients with serious heart problems. So Albert’s impossible invention — born of need and his desire to help others — is already making a difference. It may even become a commercial hit.
The lesson here is that ideas come from need; understanding of need comes from experience; and experience comes with age. The world may not yet be ready for your idea, but if you believe in it, keep pursuing it until one day the world is ready. It is never too late for you to innovate.
Mobile phone carriers profit from phone theft
Theft of mobile phones is a massive and growing problem, accounting for more than 40 percent of all thefts in San Francisco in 2012. But is that a good thing for mobile carriers like AT&T and Verizon?
According to one police chief, yes.
District of Columbia police chief Cathy Lanier says that carriers benefit from phone theft, going so far as to insinuate that they are somehow complicit in the underground economy of stolen mobile devices.
“The carriers are not innocent in this whole game,” Lanier told the NY Times. “They are making profit off this.”
Our own reporter, Christina Farr, was recently robbed of her iPhone 5 at knife-point in downtown San Francisco. Police who took her statement were “nonchalant,” simply having far too much experience with similar crimes. San Francisco and New York Police have launched special initiatives and teams to curb mobile crime in response to the influx of thefts.
But what about carriers?
The contention seems to be that carriers should be doing more to identify stolen phones as they enter the underground resale market, often on auction sites like eBay, and are activated by new owners. Carriers have established a national stolen phone database that works by tracking stolen phones’ IMEI numbers, a International Mobile Station Equipment Identity that identifies a mobile device independently of the owner and can be used to block network access to a device that has been reported stolen.
One problem, however, is that full integration is not scheduled to take place until November. Australia, for example, had similar technology in place country-wide a full decade ago, in 2003. In addition, many Verizon and Sprint devices don’t yet have IMEI numbers.
Carriers say that the full database will help prevent crime, that they do care about cell phone theft, and that it is not just an excuse to sell another phone or register another subscriber.
We still use the same words we did 15,000 years ago
A team of scientists has unearthed evidence that suggests some of the words we use today could be 15,000 years old—meaning that Ice Age humans would have been able to understand parts of our speech.
Conventional linguistic wisdom suggests that words can’t survive for longer than 9,000 years because replacement words and other languages drive them into extinction. But a team of researchers have identified a short list of words that date back as far as 15,000 years. The Washington Post has even been kind enough to construct some sentences that use that small pool of words:
You, hear me! Give this fire to that old man. Pull the black worm off the bark and give it to the mother. And no spitting in the ashes!
In fact, you can even listen to some of them here. So how did they work out that these words are so old? Well, they started from a pool of 200 words that linguists know to be the core vocabulary of all languages, and then tried to work out which of them had common meanings and a similar sound in different languages. Once they'd done that, they tried to work out how the words were shared across different languages stretching back in time, and what root words they'd been associated with.
The result is a list of 23 words which appear to be common to four or more language families through time. It's unlikely that similar sounding words cropped up by accident, and the fact they've endured is probably down to the fact that they are common and important to daily life. All of which means, of course, that if you were to go back in time—even 15,000 years—you might, just about, maybe, possibly be able to communicate with whoever you meet. Especially if they're a black worm nearby.
The future of medicine is wearable, implantable, and personalized
There are approximately 7 billion human beings on Earth and each of us is special and unique. We are the walking, talking instantiation of the 3 billion instances of four nucleotides (abbreviated GATC) that constitute our unique genome’s DNA. Just as important, the interplay of that DNA with the environment and our individual lifestyles determines our susceptibility and predisposition to diseases.
Suppose you’re now middle aged and chest pains send you to a physician. You can’t change your genetic profile; it’s your parents most basic and lasting gift. However, that fondness for double bacon cheeseburgers and butter pecan ice cream, and an exercise regime that is all-too-frequently limited to wistful looks at the running shoes in your closet, both have consequences. That’s why your mother also warned you to eat your vegetables and wash your hands, not that you listened.
Today, your physician would run diagnostic tests, compare your current health and test results to that of a typical human of your age and gender, and treat your disease accordingly. Even though you’re special, today’s medical treatment is still generic. Therein is the problem. You are custom made, with a unique combination of lifestyle, environment, exercise patterns and food preferences. Although your nominal genetic profile is determined at conception, which genes are expressed (turned on) varies across organs and even with lifestyle and diet. Hence, it is not surprising that your reactions to a medical treatment may be quite different from another individual with the same test results.
That is all about to change. What biologist Leroy Hood has called P4 medicine–predictive, preventive, personalized and participatory–is tantalizingly near. The building blocks of that future are a deeper understanding of biological processes and continued advances in mobile sensors and big data analytics. Let’s imagine the future, one where you really are special.
Your physician will compare your current health to the best possible baseline. That would be you, but you in the best physical and mental condition of your life. Perhaps you were 25, at your optimum weight, exercising regularly, getting plenty of sleep, and eating a well-balanced diet (those vegetables again). Your physician would then tailor your treatment based on a detailed understanding of your genetic profile and gene expression, your current lifestyle and environment, and your body’s specific reactions to the prescribed treatment.
Continued advances in microfluidics, nanotechnology, microelectronics and robotics are rapidly reducing the cost of genome sequencing and metabolic characterization. Just a decade ago, the Human Genome Project spent over $3 billion to sequence one genome. Today, that same process costs just a few thousand dollars. In a few years, sequencing and metabolic analysis will be a routine diagnostic test costing just few hundred dollars. Everyone will know how their biological engine is working, and how it compares to that magical time when they were 25.
This will be great news if you are sick. The real trick is keeping you healthy, despite your penchant for bacon cheeseburgers, eliminating the need for many treatments by predicting disease and intervening to prevent it. The key is detecting subtle changes in gene expression and metabolism before they become manifest as illness. Your biochemistry tells the tale before you feel sick.
Thirty years ago, we depended on dashboard gauges, red lights, dripping fluids and strange noises to alert us to vehicle problems. Today, all vehicles have on-board diagnostics that continuously monitor mechanical and electrical systems, comparing their current state to the factory norm. Those same diagnostic systems alert the owner of impending problems and routine maintenance, and provide a detailed history for repair. Don’t you deserve at least the same early, unobtrusive warnings about your health?
A combination of technologies based on nanomaterials, microfluidics, semiconductors and wireless sensors will bring inexpensive, real-time monitoring to personal health care, regularly comparing an individual’s current metabolic state to his or her personal optimum. Stripping away the technical jargon, it means each of us may have wearable and perhaps implantable metabolic diagnostics, providing a better early health warning system than nature gave us.
The consumerization of IT will drive the final, sweeping change in participatory health care. Smartphone apps that measure lung function by listening to breathing and that assess blood pressure and heart rate via cameras are just the first wave. The emerging Internet of Things–ubiquitous, inexpensive wireless sensors that unobtrusively capture environmental, behavioral and physiological data–will provide lifestyle context that complements on-board medical diagnostics. The Star Trek tricorder is in sight.
The combination of data analytics, lifestyle sensor data and metabolic diagnostics will let aging seniors live healthy, independent lives for far longer, help everyone balance lifestyle choices and genetic health risks, and schedule preventative health care based on early warning signs. Equally important, it will empower individuals to manage their own health, working in partnerships with health care providers.
Despite all that, it’s still important to listen to your mother. Respect others and the privacy of their data. Eat your vegetables and wash your hands. If you can’t go easy on the bacon cheeseburgers and butter pecan ice cream, at least walk to the burger joint and the ice cream parlor.
Elizabeth's Crazy Little Thing featuring Miss Virginia
Music Connection May Issue
AMERICAN DRUG WAR 2: Cannabis Destiny
Elizabeth's Crazy Little Thing featuring Miss Virginia
Elizabeth's Crazy Little Thing
Open Mic Night
2nd Wednesday of the Month, 10 pm
Phyllis' Musical Inn
1800 West Division Street
Chicago, IL 60622
An Open Mic Variety Show Hosted by Chicago Poet Elizabeth Harper and Rich Experience
Open mic night for poetry, music, comedy, performance art, literary experiments, and whatever you can come up with. Push the envelope; hurt me with your weirdness. We welcome the cerebral, the obscene, the grotesque, the random, the perverted, the odd, the comforting, and the disconcerting. We request donations for the featured performers.
The next show on May 8, 2013 will feature Miss Virginia. The theme for the open mic will be "The 12-Step Guide to Being a Badass."
Popular poetess Miss Virginia has featured recently at Art Colony and Gallery Cabaret and reads her poetry at various venues in Chicago in addition to being a regular at Elizabeth's Crazy Little Thing. Miss Virginia says her talents are in her genes— she got them from her mom. Her activities include drawing, taking pictures, getting tattooed, visiting art galleries, and attending concerts. Her poetry addresses issues such as being female, herself, and honest, among other things.
Elizabeth Harper has read her poetry at various Chicago venues including Phyllis’ Musical Inn, Trace, Jaks Tap, Weeds, and others. Her two books of poetry are Love Songs from Psychopaths and Fairy Tales Gone Awry.
Rich Experience is an insane Chicago musician with a keytar filled with happy cheese.
Phyllis' Musical Inn is near the Division Blue Line stop
and # 70 Division, #9 Ashland, and #50 Damen bus stops.
Director Kevin Booth navigates through the cutting edge of Cannabis research while becoming a foster parent to a child court ordered to take powerful mind altering drugs.
After surviving brain surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, a 2-year-old boy lay in a coma not eating for over 40 days. His parents are told to make funeral arrangements. However, his father had read about a version of an ancient drug made from cannabis. Unbeknownst to the hospital staff, the parents start secretly injecting the illegal drug into their dying son’s feeding tube and soon a “miracle” takes place. When the doctors are told that cannabis was the cause of the “miracle,” they have nothing to say.
Every war has unintended victims and it’s the children who are losing America’s longest running war. From cartel recruiting grounds of Mexico – to a child being removed from his birth mother for smoking marijuana. Is it a conspiracy? Or simple profit motives that continue to keep marijuana inside the black market?
Screenings can begin on June 6th, so start now and get ready to host your own screening!
Twenty Years Ago the World Wide Web Went Public
Twenty years ago today (April 30), something happened that changed the digital world forever: CERN published a statement that made the technology behind the World Wide Web available to use, by anybody, on a royalty free basis.
That decision, pushed forward by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, transformed the internet, making it a place where we can all freely share anything and everything—from social media updates, through streamed music, to YouTube videos of cats. It has fundamentally shaped the way we communicate.
To celebrate the momentous occasion of 20 years ago, CERN—the same guys behind all those experiments at the Large Hadron Collider—has republished its very first website at its original URL. It's not much to look at—but it's a fine reminder of just how much the web has changed in the past twenty years.
In fact, the republishing of that site is part of a broader project to excavate and preserve a whole host of digital gems that remain from the inception of the web. You can go read a lot more about the project over on CERN's site.
How a Cheap Plastic Film Can Give Your Smartphone a 3-D Screen
By Mike Orcutt on April 30, 2013
Last week, a company in Singapore began shipping $35 plastic screen protectors for the iPhone 5. These are no ordinary screen protectors, though—each has half a million tiny lenses precisely patterned on its surface, which can turn an ordinary phone into a device capable of displaying 3-D images and video, no glasses required.
The 3-D effect of the “EyeFly 3D” screen protectors, made by Nanoveu, is based on lenticular lens technology, which was invented over a century ago and is used to make posters and postcards that move as the viewer changes his or her perspective. The lenses send separate images to the left and right eye to create the illusion of depth.
What makes the EyeFly unique is its manufacturing process. In particular, say its inventors, a patent-pending nanofabrication step allows for the application of “perfectly shaped lenses,” each small enough to sit above a single pixel image on the highest-resolution LCD displays on the market, and focus it toward either the right or left eye...
[click title link for complete article...]
It's Time to Stop Predicting the End of the World
Columbia University earth scientist Peter Keleman is sick of hearing that we're doomed to suffer horrific climate disasters. And it's not because he doesn't believe in global warming — it's because he does, and he understands it a lot better than the doomsayers do.
Over at Dot Earth, Keleman writes, in part:
Climate catastrophe is not inevitable, let alone irreversible. Of course, it could happen. It is logical to expect that, as atmospheric greenhouse gases increase and the world warms up, the extra energy in the atmosphere and oceans will move things around in unusual ways for which we are not prepared. The costs will likely be very high. We should work to avoid this, for simple, practical reasons. Avoiding emissions now will be far less expensive than capturing carbon dioxide from air in the future. But the future is unpredictable, our mistakes are correctable, and there is plenty of reason for optimism about what people can accomplish in the face of necessity.
Throughout the past 10 to 20 years, despite many obstacles, worldwide wind and solar energy generation have grown exponentially, at more than 24 and 33 percent per year, respectively. They still constitute a small share of total energy production – not surprisingly, since they still cost more than other sources. A carbon tax would help to even the playing field, factoring in the likely damage due to greenhouse gas emissions. This is overdue. But my point here is that, despite the obstacles, some segments of society are sufficiently farsighted to invest in the future, even at a present-day premium. It is happening . . .
As the costs and dangers of present trends become clear, people will react. Virtually the entire oil and gas industry was built in a century. Half of it has been constructed since 1980. Think of what we, and our children, can accomplish in the next century, starting with the next 30 years. I am optimistic about this. Climate, energy, and resource problems have solutions, and we can solve them when we muster the resolve to do so. This requires a costly commitment, which will only be made if most people believe a positive outcome is both attainable and worthwhile.
Therefore, the climate that worries me most is the climate of fear, the belief that our current trajectory leads inevitably to total disaster. This belief discourages constructive action, and can result in irrational acts by people in despair, individually, or as nations, willing to do anything to derail the juggernaut we are told is carrying us, inevitably, to destruction.
Imagine if you went to the doctor, and she told you that your lifestyle was unhealthy and you're liable to have a heart attack. But instead of recommending ways for you to get your cholesterol under control, she just threw up her hands and said, "Well, it will take so long to fix this problem, and it's so scary to contemplate, that we should just give up and let you die." Keleman isn't saying we're not facing a possible disaster. He's just arguing that there are a lot of remedies and therapies we can use to mitigate it and lessen the odds of calamity. Doom is not inevitable. There's still time for us to slowly start bringing our bad carbon habits under control.
You'll want to read more of what Keleman has to say at Dot Earth.
Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Annalee Newitz is the author of the forthcoming science nonfiction book, Scatter, Adapt and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction.
From Sundown Lounge No. 320
Poetry Bomb 2013
Poetry Festival in Fairfield
Sunday, April 28, 2013
3:30pm, all time zones
WHEREVER YOU ARE, on April 28th, We ask you to commit to an act of Guerrilla poetry.
Go to a crowded place, hold a show in a cafe, read poetry on the subway, at the airport, in a public park. Read your poetry, read someone else's poetry, READ POETRY. IT'S NATIONAL POETRY MONTH, close it out by taking poetry to the people.
The Poetry Bomb is an unsanctioned National Poetry Month celebration. It is an attempt to show the world that Poetry is a living art form by taking it to the masses
SUNDAY APRIL 28th 2013 2PM – 5PM
Please come out and support your local Writers raise funds for the Children's Summer Writing Camp.
We want everybody to come out there will be live performers featuring Avotcja Jiltonilro (writer and music programmer at KPFA & KPOO), Sharon Elliott & many more, an open mike for those who dare & raffle prizes too Don’t miss this!!!
Fundawear – underwear with touch technology lets you feel your lover’s touch from anywhere on the planet
Put on a pair of these magic underpants called Fundawear, and you’ll be able to feel your lover’s touch from anywhere on the planet.
Fundawear is a clever combination of a smartphone app and tiny vibrating motors sewn into female lingerie and male underpants. It accomplishes the task of “transferring touch across vast distances,” said the project’s technical director, Ben Moir in a YouTube video:
Commissioned by the Australian division of condom company Durex, Fundaware uses tiny vibrating actuators similar to those that give your finger that buzzing “haptic feedback” on smartphones. The intensity of Fundawear’s vibrations correspond to the movements of the person’s finger touching the smartphone screen from afar.
Imagine the possibilities.
The project is in the experimental stage thus far, with the company’s Facebook page inviting adventurous test subjects to get their hands on Fundaware by telling the company how their would use the product with their partners.
Is this teledildonic breakthrough the next step in sexting, or will it be too much of a tease to be worthwhile? Let us know what you think in the comments.
Drones, bacteria, and 3D printers will build the cities of the future
Cities are complex ecosystems and they are confronting tremendous pressures to seek optimum efficiency with minimal impact in a resource-constrained world. While architecture, urban planning, and sustainability attempt to address the massive resource requirements and outflow of cities, there are signs that a deeper current of biology is working its way into the urban framework.
Innovations emerging across the disciplines of additive manufacturing, synthetic biology, swarm robotics, and architecture suggest a future scenario when buildings may be designed using libraries of biological templates and constructed with biosynthetic materials able to sense and adapt to their conditions. Construction itself may be handled by bacterial printers and swarms of mechanical assemblers.
Much of the modern built environment we experience began its life in CAD software. In the Bio/Nano/Programmable Matter lab at Autodesk Research, engineers are developing tools to model the microscopic world. Project Cyborg helps researchers simulate atomic and molecular interactions, providing a platform to programmatically design matter. Autodesk recently partnered with Organovo, a firm developing functional bioprinters that can print living tissues. This pairing extends the possibilities from molecular design to biofabrication, enabling rapid prototyping of everything from pharmaceuticals to nanomachines.
Tools like Project Cyborg make possible a deeper exploration of biomimicry through the precise manipulation of matter. David Benjamin and his Columbia Living Architecture Lab explore ways to integrate biology into architecture. Their recent work investigates bacterial manufacturing–the genetic modification of bacteria to create durable materials. Envisioning a future where bacterial colonies are designed to print novel materials at scale, they see buildings wrapped in seamless, responsive, bio-electronic envelopes.
From molecular printing to volume manufacturing, roboticist Enrico Dini has fabricated a 3-D printer large enough to print houses from sand. He’s now teamed up with the European Space Agency to investigate deploying his D-Shape printer to the moon in hopes of churning lunar soil into a habitable base. Though realization of this effort remains distant, it’s notable to show how the thinking–and money–is moving to scale 3-D printing well beyond the desktop.
While printers integrate new materials and scale up to make bigger things, another approach to construction focuses on programming group dynamics. Like corals, beehives, and termite colonies, there’s a scalar effect gained from coordinating large numbers of simple agents towards complex goals.
The Robobees project at Harvard is exploring micro-scale robotics, wireless sensor arrays, and multi-agent systems to build robotic insects that exhibit the swarming behaviors of bees. They see a future where “coordinated agile robotic insects” are used for agriculture, search and rescue, and (of course) military surveillance. Taking a cue from mound-building termites, the TERMES project is developing a robotic swarm construction system. The team is working to get cooperative robots building things bigger than themselves by mapping the rules underlying emergence in autonomous distributed populations. Mike Rubenstein leads another Harvard lab, Kilobot, creating a “low cost scalable robot system for demonstrating collective behaviors.” His lab, along with the work of researcher’s like Nancy Lynch at MIT, are laying the frameworks for asynchronous distributed networks and multi-agent coordination, aka swarm robotics.
All of these projects are brewing in university and corporate labs but it’s likely that there are far more of them sprouting in garage shops and skunkworks across the globe. They each recapitulate the efficiency and conservation of natural systems through the convergence of biology and computation. Looking at the threads of algorithmic chemistry, bacterial manufacturing, and swarm robotics, and refracting them through our resource constraints, environmental degradation, and human security, we can develop some intriguing scenarios for the future.
Assuming a fairly linear scenario, the next decade should show steady progress in molecular modeling, yielding more breakthroughs in designer bacteria, nanosystems, and the hybridization of organic and inorganic materials. The software stack for algorithmic chemistry and synthetic biology will start to formalize, enabling better collaboration around libraries of biosynthetic design patterns. Additive printers will evolve to meet the demands of manufacturing at both volume and scale. Deployment of 3-D printers into the field for maintenance, disaster relief, and remote engineering projects will further drive their development.
Within a decade or so, the barriers between biology and technology will start to fall. At the atomic scale, nanosystems will bridge organic and inorganic structures while biologists engineer rudimentary cellular computers and bacterial printers. At the macro scale, robotic swarms will become more sophisticated, with the steady integration of bio-physiology into their mechanics, lifted by lightweight sensors and the rules underlying autonomy and multi-agent coordination.
Further out on the horizon, this scenario means a greater coupling of biosystems and computation to evolve the living city. Bacteria will be engineered to target specific materials, like aging concrete. Released into cities, they will replace the old stuff with new bacterial glue that’s structurally sound, networked, and computational. Other bacteria could perform similar maintenance by retrofitting aging utility conduits and faded solar skins. Protocell computers could also be released into ecosystems, sensing chemical properties and transmitting them on mesh networks to remote dashboards. Vats of bacteria will pump out fuels, protein resources, and water.
Future architects will work in modeling systems that stream biotemplates into their designs, solving for resource dependencies by ecosystem mapping in simulated environments. Their designs will exploit responsive meta-materials to confer sensing and adaptation to biomimetic curtain walls and building envelopes that flex and fold, opening and closing pores based on environmental conditions and population movements. Fleets of swarm constructors will assemble special scaffolding that guide bacteria specialized to grow the bones of the building, the vasculature, and the skin through which secondary swarms will plumb utilities. Printers will churn out conditioning systems and appliances and furnishings in adaptive materials. Architecture will lose its formal rigidity, softening and flexing and getting closer to the life we see in plants.
These vignettes are merely suggestive of how things may unfold from current trends. But the steady convergence of biology and computation will inevitably guide our hands to more closely align with natural systems. Precision design of programmable matter and a robust environment for simulation and rapid prototyping will reveal entirely new kinds of materials to build the world of tomorrow.
Masdar Institute researchers create way to prevent misinformation from spreading through social media
Online crowds like the online community Reddit and some Twitter users were criticized for pillorying an innocent student as a possible terrorist suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing. But some emerging technologies might be able to help knock down false reports and wring the truth from the fog of social media during crises.
Researchers from the Masdar Institute of Technology and the Qatar Computing Research Institute plan to launch Verily, a platform that aims to verify social media information, in a beta version this summer. Verily aims to enlist people in collecting and analyzing evidence to confirm or debunk reports. As an incentive, it will award reputation points—or dings—to its contributors.
Verily will join services like Storyful that use various manual and technical means to fact-check viral information, and apps such as Swift River that, among other things, let people set up filters on social media to provide more weight to trusted users in the torrent of posts following major events.
On Reddit, amateur sleuthing to identify possible bombing suspects led to accusations against a student, Sunil Tripathi, a Brown University student reported missing weeks earlier (an apology has since been issued by Reddit); that accusation was then tweeted and retweeted many times. “The underlying problem is a fearsome one—people want to share and spread information, whether accurate or not,” says Ethan Zuckerman, who directs the center for civic media at MIT. “We’re very far from a solution. The reporting around the Marathon bombing demonstrates that mainstream media has issues with verification that are as profound as anything we face online.”
Reputation scoring has worked well for e-commerce sites like eBay and Amazon and could help to clean up social media reports in some situations.
Research efforts have also shown how to effectively mobilize many people on social media for a common task. In a 2009 experiment, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency offered $40,000 to the first team that could identify the locations of 10 large red weather balloons lofted by DARPA at undisclosed locations across the United States. The winning team, from MIT, did it in less than nine hours using an incentive structure, fueled by cash rewards, to drum up viral participation on social media. Anyone who found a single balloon would get $2,000; someone who invited that person to join the hunt would get $1,000. A similar but harder challenge, in 2012, asked teams to find specific individuals within cities within 12 hours with only a single mugshot to work with. There again, a distributed cash reward system worked best.
Verily builds on lessons from both contests. The winning mugshot team included one of Verily’s creators, computer scientist Iyad Rahwan, a graduate of MIT who is now at the Masdar Institute of Technology. “Recruiting people to join is part of the issue, but we also need to figure out how to remove false reports,” Rahwan says. “Where the balloon challenge took nine hours, we hope to facilitate the crowdsourced evaluation of multimedia evidence on individual incidents in less than nine minutes.”
The beta version of Verily will first be tested by its creators on a real-world weather disaster such as a hurricane or flood. Since such disasters come with some warning, Verily’s creators can prepare humanitarian agencies to use the platform. A piece of reported news—such as a photo of a flooded hospital circulating on Twitter—would be posted to Verily with a question: is the hospital really flooded? Users would then examine the photo for signs of authenticity and also leverage their own social networks to investigate its authenticity.
Humanitarian agencies working in the region could promote participation, as could the press and Twitter. Voters’ reputation scores would increase or decrease over time; future votes from reliable people would get increased weight. And voters would be encouraged to bring others to the site; anyone brought in by someone with a good reputation would automatically start with a higher reputation themselves.
In many ways the platform is meant to resolve a design problem inherent in sites like Reddit, adds Patrick Meier, director of innovation at the Qatar institute who is a co-creator of Verily and former director of crisis mapping at Ushahidi, the online incident reporting platform. “They don’t have the design to facilitate these kinds of workflows and collaboration,” he says. Verify could provide a rapid means to vet reports arising on sites like Reddit.
The other approaches are more basic. Storyful verifies videos to make sure news organizations don’t get duped by phony ones. Staffers check veracity based on clues like weather reports, the angle of the sun, and visual landmarks. And beyond the Swift River app is a larger platform aimed at letting humanitarian and other agencies manage and make sense of social media reports and other data.
Meanwhile, old-fashioned methods of finding the truth are holding up pretty well. In Boston, the marathon bombers were actually found through conventional witness reports and reviews of video surveillance camera footage at retail stores.
From Sundown Lounge No. 319
Sid Yiddish And His Candy Store Henchmen & Psychic Storms
Andres Shoup @ the Cafe Gallery
People's Tribune/Tribuno del Pueblo Presents
Cheri Honkala (2012 vice presidential candidate for the Green Party and director of Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign
Shamako Noble (emcee, director of the national Hip Hop Congress, and rap artist)
LeAlan Jones (April 2013 Green Party candidate in the Illinois 2nd Congressional District and award winning writer)
An evening exploring the importance of independent political expression
Parking is available in the lot adjacent to the building on the north side
Donations will be requested to support the People's Tribune/Tribuno del Pueblo
Welp! It's been nearly 3 and a half months since anyone's seen the Henchmen together other than Season 8 tryouts for America's Got Talent in Chicago. And so, as the cliche goes, "we're baaaaaaaack!" Expect the unexpected! Also on the bill; Newly formed Psychic Storms (formerly Island) $5
Andres Shoup feature at "the Cafe Gallery" open mic at Gallery Cabaret for poets, performers and musicians!
Say Aloha to poetry and performance art with "the Cafe Gallery" at Gallery Cabaret! See us at 2020 N. Oakley Ave. on every other Wednesday from 7:00 - 9:00 P.M. for poetry, music and performance art. Come out on Wednesday, April 24th 2013 for an open mic and the Tom Roby Feature!!!
There will be video recording of the evening, so join us and hang out at this artist-friendly space for a great performance in Chicago!!! Sign up & read at the open mike for this great evening!
You can learn about later features on line any time at http://www.chaoticarts.org/thecafe/ - or get in touch with host Janet Kuypers or side-kick Bob Rashkow...
For info about the open mike and the 2013 schedule you can always check out http://www.chaoticarts.org/thecafe/ for the regular podcast, feature videos or future schedules. (Also check out the scheduled pages or "recorded features" pages for PAST features, and tons of additional video!) For this one event, email Janet Kuypers or Bob Rashkow through facebook with any questions.
News is bad for your health
Some of us have learned to recognize the hazards of living with an overabundance of food and have started to change our diets. But, did you know that news is to the mind what sugar is to the body? The media feeds us small bites of trivial matter, tidbits that don’t really concern our lives and don’t require thinking. That’s why we experience almost no saturation. Unlike things that require thinking like reading books and long magazine articles, we can swallow limitless quantities of news flashes, which are bright-colored candies for the mind. Today, we have reached the same point in relation to information that we faced 20 years ago in regard to food. We are beginning to recognize how toxic news can be.
News misleads. Take the following event (borrowed from Nassim Taleb). A car drives over a bridge, and the bridge collapses. What does the news media focus on? The car. The person in the car. Where he came from. Where he planned to go. How he experienced the crash (if he survived). But that is all irrelevant. What’s relevant? The structural stability of the bridge. That’s the underlying risk that has been lurking, and could lurk in other bridges. But the car is flashy, it’s dramatic, it’s a person (non-abstract), and it’s news that’s cheap to produce. News leads us to walk around with the completely wrong risk map in our heads. So terrorism is over-rated. Chronic stress is under-rated. The collapse of Lehman Brothers is overrated. Fiscal irresponsibility is under-rated. Astronauts are over-rated. Nurses are under-rated.
We are not rational enough to be exposed to the press. Watching an airplane crash on television is going to change your attitude toward that risk, regardless of its real probability. If you think you can compensate with the strength of your own inner contemplation, you are wrong. Bankers and economists – who have powerful incentives to compensate for news-borne hazards – have shown that they cannot. The only solution: cut yourself off from news consumption entirely.
News is irrelevant. Out of the approximately 10,000 news stories you have read in the last 12 months, name one that – because you consumed it – allowed you to make a better decision about a serious matter affecting your life, your career or your business. The point is: the consumption of news is irrelevant to you. But people find it very difficult to recognize what’s relevant. It’s much easier to recognize what’s new. The relevant versus the new is the fundamental battle of the current age. Media organizations want you to believe that news offers you some sort of a competitive advantage. Many fall for that. We get anxious when we’re cut off from the flow of news. In reality, news consumption is a competitive disadvantage. The less news you consume, the bigger the advantage you have.
News has no explanatory power. News items are bubbles popping on the surface of a deeper world. Will accumulating facts help you understand the world? Sadly, no. The relationship is inverted. The important stories are non-stories: slow, powerful movements that develop below journalists’ radar but have a transforming effect. The more “news factoids” you digest, the less of the big picture you will understand. If more information leads to higher economic success, we’d expect journalists to be at the top of the pyramid. That’s not the case.
News is toxic to your body. It constantly triggers the limbic system. Panicky stories spur the release of cascades of glucocorticoid (cortisol). This deregulates your immune system and inhibits the release of growth hormones. In other words, your body finds itself in a state of chronic stress. High glucocorticoid levels cause impaired digestion, lack of growth (cell, hair, bone), nervousness and susceptibility to infections. The other potential side-effects include fear, aggression, tunnel-vision and desensitization.
News increases cognitive errors. News feeds the mother of all cognitive errors: confirmation bias. In the words of Warren Buffett: “What the human being is best at doing is interpreting all new information so that their prior conclusions remain intact.” News exacerbates this flaw. We become prone to overconfidence, take stupid risks and misjudge opportunities. It also exacerbates another cognitive error: the story bias. Our brains crave stories that “make sense” – even if they don’t correspond to reality. Any journalist who writes, “The market moved because of X” or “the company went bankrupt because of Y” is an idiot. I am fed up with this cheap way of “explaining” the world.
News inhibits thinking. Thinking requires concentration. Concentration requires uninterrupted time. News pieces are specifically engineered to interrupt you. They are like viruses that steal attention for their own purposes. News makes us shallow thinkers. But it’s worse than that. News severely affects memory. There are two types of memory. Long-range memory’s capacity is nearly infinite, but working memory is limited to a certain amount of slippery data. The path from short-term to long-term memory is a choke-point in the brain, but anything you want to understand must pass through it. If this passageway is disrupted, nothing gets through. Because news disrupts concentration, it weakens comprehension. Online news has an even worse impact. In a 2001 study two scholars in Canada showed that comprehension declines as the number of hyperlinks in a document increases. Why? Because whenever a link appears, your brain has to at least make the choice not to click, which in itself is distracting. News is an intentional interruption system.
News works like a drug. As stories develop, we want to know how they continue. With hundreds of arbitrary storylines in our heads, this craving is increasingly compelling and hard to ignore. Scientists used to think that the dense connections formed among the 100 billion neurons inside our skulls were largely fixed by the time we reached adulthood. Today we know that this is not the case. Nerve cells routinely break old connections and form new ones. The more news we consume, the more we exercise the neural circuits devoted to skimming and multitasking while ignoring those used for reading deeply and thinking with profound focus. Most news consumers – even if they used to be avid book readers – have lost the ability to absorb lengthy articles or books. After four, five pages they get tired, their concentration vanishes, they become restless. It’s not because they got older or their schedules became more onerous. It’s because the physical structure of their brains has changed.
News wastes time. If you read the newspaper for 15 minutes each morning, then check the news for 15 minutes during lunch and 15 minutes before you go to bed, then add five minutes here and there when you’re at work, then count distraction and refocusing time, you will lose at least half a day every week. Information is no longer a scarce commodity. But attention is. You are not that irresponsible with your money, reputation or health. Why give away your mind?
News makes us passive. News stories are overwhelmingly about things you cannot influence. The daily repetition of news about things we can’t act upon makes us passive. It grinds us down until we adopt a worldview that is pessimistic, desensitised, sarcastic and fatalistic. The scientific term is “learned helplessness”. It’s a bit of a stretch, but I would not be surprised if news consumption, at least partially contributes to the widespread disease of depression.
News kills creativity. Finally, things we already know limit our creativity. This is one reason that mathematicians, novelists, composers and entrepreneurs often produce their most creative works at a young age. Their brains enjoy a wide, uninhabited space that emboldens them to come up with and pursue novel ideas. I don’t know a single truly creative mind who is a news junkie – not a writer, not a composer, mathematician, physician, scientist, musician, designer, architect or painter. On the other hand, I know a bunch of viciously uncreative minds who consume news like drugs. If you want to come up with old solutions, read news. If you are looking for new solutions, don’t.
Society needs journalism – but in a different way. Investigative journalism is always relevant. We need reporting that polices our institutions and uncovers truth. But important findings don’t have to arrive in the form of news. Long journal articles and in-depth books are good, too.
I have now gone without news for four years, so I can see, feel and report the effects of this freedom first-hand: less disruption, less anxiety, deeper thinking, more time, more insights. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.
Government Secrecy Orders on Patents Have Stifled More Than 5,000 Inventions
More than 10 years ago, Robert Gold sought to do what many Americans have dreamed of their whole lives: patent an idea.
Gold developed a breakthrough in wireless communications that would help people speak to one another with less interference and greater security.
Then it disappeared like a dropped call.
The Department of Defense concluded that his invention could be a national security threat in the wrong hands and slapped Gold’s patent application with a so-called “secrecy order” in 2002, which prevented him from discussing the technology with anyone. Five years later, his attorney succeeded in lifting the order, but by then, it was too late.
“The window of opportunity, I believed, had really passed during those years,” Gold said. “So we have not been successful at commercializing the idea.”
Gold stresses today that he didn’t oppose the government’s position -– public knowledge about covert communications techniques could undermine the military. The federal government sponsored his research and retained the right to use the technology.
But it also promoted an incentive by granting Gold shared patent rights, meaning he could file an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and seek to commercialize the idea. Accomplishing that, however, required petitioning to have the secrecy order lifted as the years passed with his invention living in the shadows.
It’s a common refrain in the stump speeches of politicians that America is a nation of ideas, but Congress decided in 1951 that some of those ideas must nonetheless be kept hidden. Today, as Silicon Valley and other innovation centers churn out thousands of patents a year, some lawmakers wonder whether the government should have broader powers.
What is known about secrecy orders is largely the result of Freedom of Information Act requests filed by groups like the Federation of American Scientists, an independent, nonpartisan think tank. Those documents show that the overall number of secrecy orders has steadily increased in recent years, totaling more than 5,300 by 2012, with some of them in effect for decades.
Tens of thousands of patent applications are manually examined each year under the Invention Secrecy Act and referred for a final decision to the Pentagon, National Security Agency, Department of Justice and, more recently, Department of Homeland Security.
“From the patent owner’s perspective, you’re stuck in this legal limbo where the government says you’ve got this valid invention, but there’s nothing you can do with it until maybe decades later,” said Mark Lemley, a technology law professor at Stanford University.
Secrecy orders are rare, but violating one can result in prison time.
A California man named James Constant filed his patent application in 1969 for radar technology that could track shipping containers, packages or components traveling along an assembly line. After his secrecy order was eventually lifted in 1971, Constant sought damages from the government, arguing that he couldn’t capitalize on the idea. When it reached trial years later in 1982, the court ruled against him, concluding that a “lack of business experience” impeded his chance of success.
Constant said from his home in Claremont that the secrecy order caused him to incur “a substantial financial loss” and set him back for years.
“When the secrecy order was put on my patent, I had the only viable technology,” he said.
In each case, the legal headaches occurred only after the inventor had spent no small amount of time and resources developing the idea in the first place.
“We still have a Cold War approach to secrecy orders,” said Pat Choate, an economist and intellectual property expert. “If a secrecy order is imposed, you wind up with the inventor effectively having the technology taken away.”
Lemley and others understand why defense officials might want to shield cryptographic technology that could prevent the government from secretly eavesdropping on the conversations for foreign enemies. But modern encryption can also protect consumers from identity thieves and allow human rights activists living under abusive regimes to communicate more freely.
Troubled by the threat of economic espionage from countries like China, lawmakers are asking if some inventions are so essential to the health of the nation’s economy that they, too, should be locked away.
U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Virginia) directed the Patent and Trademark Office to consider whether secrecy orders should be extended for inventions that are not tied to the nation’s defense but could harm the economy if stolen, counterfeited and sold. Officials responded in April 2012 by asking the public what it thought and got skepticism from intellectual property and secrecy experts.
“Who’s going to make the determination that something is economically viable? It’s usually the market making that determination,” said Robert Stoll, who retired as the nation’s patent commissioner in 2011 before joining a private practice.
Stoll said such a move would do its own damage to the economy, and the nation would be better off filing patent applications in foreign countries and taking China or other violators before the World Trade Organization if they fail to honor intellectual property agreements now in place.
Tom Culligan, legislative director for Wolf, countered that achieving recourse from the World Trade Organization can take far too long. The congressman’s goal was, first, to review secrecy orders in general after years of inattention from Congress and, second, to force the federal government to examine how strong present protections are for America’s most important ideas, Culligan said.
“We just wanted to start a conversation. We weren’t necessarily prescribing a solution,” he said.
Under the law, an inventor can seek compensation if defense agencies choose to use the idea or if the applicant can prove damages were suffered by not being permitted to take it to the marketplace. But the process for doing so is arduous, economist Choate said. Among other things, evidence confirming the government simply took an inventor’s idea could itself be considered secret.
Steven Hoffberg has handled one secrecy order in his 23 years as an intellectual property attorney. But that order was enough to threaten his client’s idea for a technology that could detect objects, including, potentially, stealth aircraft.
Hoffberg’s client, James Greer of Alabama, lived under a secrecy order for eight years after his application was filed in 2000. During that time, it would have been a challenge to explore whether the idea could be exported to strategic allies of the United States as an anti-stealth technology, let alone identify possibilities outside of the defense community. Those possibilities included object tracking for “smarter” highways of the future and next-generation communications.
Hoffberg argues that it was unjustified for the order to be in place for such a long period of time and that at least by 2004, the application would not have given adversaries a strategic advantage.
“They kept us from fulfilling the purpose of the patent, which was to make an investment to bring a product to market,” Hoffberg said. “If the government wasn’t going to buy the product from us and wasn’t going to let us sell it commercially, we basically had no value.”
Choate and others want the government to stop publishing applications until a formal patent is issued, and if the application is denied, they want it destroyed so the inventor has a chance to try again or guard it as a trade secret and ultimately reap the rewards before it’s stolen.
When it comes to secrecy orders, many of the technologies were backed by defense agencies to begin with. So it’s less of a surprise if such an order exists for the technical components of a nuclear weapons system, for example.
But dozens of so-called “John Doe” secrecy orders are issued each year, affecting private individuals and businesses that might never enjoy a payoff from their invention, even though the government has no explicit interest in the technology. John Doe orders reached a high of almost 100 in 1998, though the annual number has declined in the new millennium, according to the Federation of American Scientists.
So is the next Google hiding behind a secrecy order? It seems highly unlikely, but because of the shroud of secrecy, no one can know for sure, said science historian Alex Wellerstein.
He said even one hidden technology carrying possible benefits for society that are not defense-related is enough to undermine the purpose of patents — encouraging invention. He and other experts want at least the criteria used for issuing secrecy orders made public.
“The law says it just has to be detrimental to national security, which is vague,” Wellerstein said. “That doesn’t mean anything. It’d be nice if you had to actually pass (the patent application) to people who have business experience, not just people who make weapons and have a tendency of seeing lots of things as dangerous.”
A device that controls your mind with pleasurable stimulation
What if you could control somebody's desires using a wireless device? It's not a Larry Niven novel — it's today's science. Researchers used a remote controller to stimulate neurons in mice that release the reward chemical dopamine. As a result, they changed the behavior of the mice, from a distance, in the absence of any tangible reward.
And they did it using optogenetics, an emerging field of research in which living, cortical neurons and other cells can be manipulated or controlled with optical technology (typically with fiber optic cables). It’s only been tested in nonhuman animals like rodents and monkeys, but it could eventually be used to treat such things as heart conditions, paralysis, and even diabetes.
But now, as new research from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has shown, optogenetics could also be used to stimulate the brain's reward and pleasure pathways — all without unwieldy wires or cables stuck into the brain.
In the new study, which has now been published in Science, a research team co-led by Washington University’s Michael R. Bruchas demonstrates how optogenetic effects can be triggered over wireless.
To make it happen, the researchers developed multicolored microscale, inorganic light-emitting diodes (µILEDs) that are just 6.45 microns thick (that's thinner than a human hair and about the size of an individual neuron). The µILEDs were implanted into the brains of mice who were genetically engineered to have parts of their brain responsive to light. It was the first time these devices were used in an optogenetics experiment for the purpose of testing on freely moving animals.
Once the implants were inserted deep inside a mouse’s brain (nailing the exact location, or pathway, was critical), it was placed in a specially designed maze outfitted with a series of holes. But each time it poked its nose through one hole in particular, the cellular-sized µILEDs stimulated dopamine-producing cells in its brain (all the other holes did nothing). As a result, the mouse was rewarded for its behavior in the same way that we would be “rewarded” after biting into, say, a piece of chocolate.
Dopamine makes us feel good, which can in turn reinforce (or condition) a particular behavior. In this case, the mice experienced pleasure each time they poked their noses through one specific hole — and all without receiving any real kind of reward (like food or visual stimulation).
As a result, the researchers "taught" the mice to poke their heads through the one hole, while disregarding the others.
Interestingly, the scientists also observed that the mice developed an associated preference for the area near the hole and they preferred to hang around that part of the maze.
Though this experiment might seem a bit bizarre, the researchers are hoping to see these technologies applied to humans for pain management and the treatment of brain disorders like depression, anxiety, addiction, and sleep disorders. These implants could also be used to trigger specific responses in other organ systems.
“We believe these devices will allow us to study complex stress and social interaction behaviors,” Bruchas explained through a statement. “This technology enables us to map neural circuits with respect to things like stress and pain much more effectively.”
Read the entire paper at Science: “Injectable, Cellular-Scale Optoelectronics with Applications for Wireless Optogenetics.”
Why does chemotherapy cost $70k in the U.S., but only costs $2.5k in India?
Gleevec, a leukemia drug, costs $70,000 per year in the United States, but only costs $2,500 in India. Why does that drug cost so much more in the U.S.?
It’s seemingly simple. Gleevec is under patent in the U.S., but not in India. Accordingly, Novartis, its Swiss-based manufacturer, may prevent competitors from making and selling lower-cost versions of the drug in the U.S., but not in India.
Last week, India’s highest court rejected an application to patent Gleevec. While the legal issue in the case is important — the patentability of modifications to existing drugs under Indian law — the impact of the decision will likely be broader than just that issue, escalating a long-simmering fight over patented cancer medications in emerging markets.
Rejecting the Gleevec patent application is not the only step that the Indian government has taken to circumvent patents on cancer drugs. Last year, India issued a compulsory license on Nexavar, a late-stage kidney and liver cancer treatment, enabling a local drug firm to produce a generic version of this medicine without the permission of Bayer, the patent holder. India has recently announced plans to grant compulsory licenses on another leukemia drug and two breast cancer therapies.
India is not alone. Indonesia recently issued a compulsory license for a treatment for liver cancer-causing hepatitis B. China and the Philippines amended their pharmaceutical patent laws, making it easier for those governments to take similar measures as India.
Three trends are driving these moves, suggesting more fights over patients, patents, and drug prices are forthcoming.
First, cancer rates are increasing fast in many developing countries. With rising incomes and better access to childhood vaccinations, people are living longer in most developed countries. The major health risks worldwide are now behavioral — such as tobacco use and household air pollution. The increases in longevity and exposure to behavioral risks are outpacing the improvement in health and regulatory systems in developing countries. As a result, people in these countries are developing cancers younger, in greater numbers, and suffering more chronic disability for cancer and other noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) than ever seen in developed countries.
Second, access to effective cancer treatment, patented or otherwise, is limited in developing countries. Most patients pay out-of-pocket for most of their medicines, and high prices put drugs beyond their reach. Cancers that are preventable or treatable in wealthy countries are death sentences in the developing world. Cervical cancer is largely preventable in developed countries with the human papillomavirus vaccine; in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, it is the leading cause of cancer death among women. Ninety percent of children with leukemia in high-income countries will be cured, but 90 percent of those with that disease in low-income countries will die from it.
Third, middle-income countries like India have both health and industrial policy reasons for encouraging domestic production of cancer drugs. Cancer rates are growing fastest in these populations, and governments are under pressure to better address the health needs of their ailing citizens. India, China, and other emerging nations are expanding coverage of medicines in their public sectors, but expenditures are rising astonishingly fast. IMS Health projects that annual drug spending in middle-income countries will double between 2012 and 2016, to more than $300 billion. Requiring local production of cancer drugs lowers their cost and also helps domestic manufacturers break into the oncology market, a lucrative therapeutic area in which multinational drug firms are heavily invested.
The measures that India and other countries have taken — compulsory licensing and adopting strict standards on patentability — are consistent with its international trade commitments, but will be corrosive to the way that pharmaceutical research and development (R&D) is funded internationally. More countries are likely to follow India’s lead. Cancer is not the only NCD on the rise in developing countries, with rates of diabetes, cardiovascular, and chronic respiratory illnesses likewise increasing. U.S. patients will not indefinitely pay a 20-fold increase on the price of medicines that Indian consumers pay.
The fight over cancer drugs in India exposes a fundamental tension in the way we fund pharmaceutical R&D. Patents allow pharmaceutical firms to charge high prices for drugs for a limited period of time to recoup their investment in R&D. This results in more of the drugs that we need, but makes them less accessible to those who need them. The tension becomes greater in the global context because the income disparities between developed and developing country patients are so vast.
This tension in the patent system has been exposed before. A decade ago, courtroom battles and protests over access to patented HIV/AIDS medications in South Africa dominated international headlines. Those fights subsided when multinational companies donated their drugs, charged rock-bottom prices for them in poor countries, or allowed local companies to make generic versions. Yet the emerging fight over cancer medicines threatens to be bigger, as it involves the emerging markets and disease groups on which the multinational drug industry has banked its future.
The international community shows no appetite to agree on new ways to fund pharmaceutical R&D. Talks on alternatives like prize funds and R&D treaties at the World Health Organization have gone nowhere. The United States, Europe, and other developed countries have too much invested in the intellectual property (IP) system. According to the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, IP in the U.S. is worth more than $5 trillion and is responsible for the employment of as many 18 million U.S. workers. On the other hand, countries like India are not about to agree to tightening standards on the flexibilities that the current IP system gives them on patentability and compulsory licensing.
The solutions to fights pitting cancer patients against patents in India are more likely to reside in making the current system of funding pharmaceutical R&D work better.
First, multinational drugs firms can, and should, reduce the cost of R&D, which would enable these firms to better function in the increasingly price-sensitive global marketplace for drugs. Last month, Andrew Witty, the CEO of GlaxoSmithKline, called the often-cited $1 billion price tag for developing a new drug an “industry myth,” based on unacceptably high research failure rates. Government programs can help. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Critical Path Initiative is working with the drug industry to improve R&D productivity and could do more with greater funding.
Second, multinational firms must realize that there are low-income segments of the global marketplace that these firms cannot serve, but whose health needs must be met for international support of the pharmaceutical, trade, and IP system to persist. These companies must again be willing to license their patents to emerging country generic manufacturers better able to meet the low-cost, high-volume treatment needs of their poor. Novartis has protested that it was providing free Gleevec to nearly 16,000 patients in India, but more than 300,000 patients had been receiving the drug through local generic producers.
The international patent system has spurred tremendous pharmaceutical innovation. The inventors of Gleevec were awarded both the Lasker Award and the Japan Prize for their contributions to medicine and science. But the patent system must meet the legitimate needs of its constituents to function. If not, accommodations must be made, or last week’s fight in the Indian Supreme Court will be simply one of many to come.
Photo credit: Leak Source
From Sundown Lounge No. 318
Poetry Before Taxes
Second Sunday Top Shelf Poets tax relief Package and Poetry Showcase
Kristin LaTour at Jak's Tap
Meisha Herron @ Buddy Guy's Legends
David Hernandez' Life Celebration
2013 Dwarf Stars Poems submissions
Poetry Before Taxes
Sunday, April 14, 2013
3:00pm until 6:00pm in CDT
The Puddin'head Press and Collage Productions present a special celebration for poetry month. We will present a collection of wonderful poets at Twelve West Nightclub (12 West Elm Street) in Chicago's Rush Street neighborhood from three to six PM on Sunday, April 14th. Performers will include Master Magician Isaac Hood and poets, Emily Calvo, Shelly Nation, Mike Watson, Jenene Ravesloot, Thomas Roby, and other special guests. The event will be hosted by David Gecic and Jeffrey Helgeson.
Second Sunday Top Shelf Poets tax relief Package and Poetry Showcase
Sunday, April 14, 2013
3:00pm until 5:00pm in CDT
Powell's bookstore 1218 S Halsted St Chicago
It's time to file your taxes and then distract yourself with awesome poetry.
The Second Sunday Show prides itself on it's promptness. Features and audience members should do their best to arrive on time for some super cool poetic magnificence,
this week features an amazing line up.
Laura M. Dixon
and it's all absolutely free.
The Second Sunday Show is hidden in the back room of Powell's Bookstore in University Village
Hosted by the unbearably groovy kids who bring you W4tB
Kristin LaTour at Jak's Tap
Monday, April 15, 2013
7:30pm until 10:00pm in CDT
901 W. Jackson
Waiting 4 the Bus is hosting me as a feature April 15th! Come on out! Sign up starts at 7:30 for the open mic, and I'm hoping for a prompt start at 8:00 since I'm coming in from a ways out, and some of you might be too. It's a work night, I know, but we'll try to have you home at a decent hour!
GET YOUR TAXES DONE EARLY AND COME FORGET ABOUT MONEY while listening to a bunch of poets (broke people) celebrate spring.
I'll be reading my new chapbook, Agoraphobia, forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press as well as some old favorites!
Soul-O Acoustic Music
Friday, April 19, 2013
5:30pm until 8:30pm in CDT
Buddy Guy's Legends, 700 S. Wabash Ave
Meisha Herron, singer/guitarist, plays two sets of songs in an intimate setting. Great place to meet and great, have dinner and stay for the whole night if you like, but check and see if you can get advance tickets. There is no cover if you just want to have dinner and cocktails from 5:30pm to 8:30pm. This is a great venue and a place to bring a few friends to share a table with. Early arrival is most desirable, as seating is limited. Hopefully, I'll see you there!
David Hernandez' Life Celebration
Friday, April 26, 2013
6:00pm until 9:00pm in CDT
National Museum of Mexican Art
1852 W 19 st, Chicago
We're coming together as family and friends to celebrate and remember the life of David Hernandez, 'famous poet' and Chicago's unofficial poet laureate. Please join us in sharing fond memories, music, food and of course, poetry. 6-9pm starts promptly at 6:30.
Seating is very limited. Must RSVP, a reception to follow for close friends and family.
Limited edition posters of David's poetry as visualized by various artists and a Memorial CD will be available for sale to establish an education fund for David's daughter Matea.
2013 Dwarf Stars Poems submissions
Time: April 8, 2013 to May 1, 2013
Submissions will open for the Dwarf Stars anthology, from which the best short poem published in 2012 is selected. Anyone may submit their own poems or those of others; there is no limit to how many poems you may submit for the anthology, but only SFPA members may vote for the award.
Submission is open to all genres of speculative poetry, including science fiction, fantasy, horror, and "unclassifiable, but speculative." Poems must be no more than ten lines (or no more than 100 words for prose poems) not including title or stanza breaks, and first published in 2012; include publication credit.
Send e-mail submissions (preferred) to firstname.lastname@example.org, please put the words "DWARF STARS SUBMISSION" in the title of your e-mail so submissions don't get bounced to junk mail or buried in our in-boxes.
Send print submissions (discouraged) to Linda Addison, 3444 Cannon Place, Bronx, NY 10463.
Editors are welcome to submit entire issues; no need to name specific poems.
Deadline for submission is May 1, 2013.
How the Tar Sands Are Crushing Science in Canada
The Canadian government is currently under investigation for its efforts to obstruct the right of the media and public to speak to government scientists. These policies are widely believed to be a part of the government's unspoken campaign to ensure that oil keeps flowing from the Athabasca tar sands — even if it’s at the cost of free scientific inquiry, the environment, and by consequence, democracy itself.
Federal Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault officially launched the investigation into the alleged ‘muzzling’ of Canadian scientists earlier this week. Calls for the inquiry came in the form of a recent 128-page report chronicling “systemic efforts” to obstruct public access to researchers — a request that originated from the non-profit group Democracy Watch. The agencies to be investigated include departments of the environment, fisheries and oceans, natural resources, and the National Research Council of Canada.
Plenty of Oil to Protect
Despite this, and somewhat surprisingly, the federal government’s track record on science is actually not terrible. In fact, research budgets are bigger than they were before the current government took office. The problem, however, is where this money is being directed and how scientists are being made to shut-up about their work. It’s no coincidence that anything having to do with the environment is being shown short shrift by the current administration.
Under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the ruling Conservatives have unquestioningly prioritized the petroleum industry, and for obvious reasons. It’s estimated that 178 billion barrels of oil are locked within the Athabasca tar sand formations, with some estimates placing it as high as 1.7 trillion barrels. Regardless, that’s a lot of oil, placing Canada alongside Saudi Arabia in terms of its petroleum potential.
The challenge, of course, is getting all this low-grade petroleum, called bitumen, out from the loose mixture of sand and clay. It’s done via an astoundingly environmentally unfriendly process involving surface mining and subsurface production; large areas of boreal forest are cleared to make way. Production requires huge quantities of water which are taken from local rivers, and is subsequently turned into toxic waste.
It’s also a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Nearly all the input energy required to fuel the process comes from fossil fuels. Tar sands production is also highly inefficient; it takes one joule of energy to produce four to six joules of crude oil energy. Traditional oil production returns something closer to a 1:15 ratio.
But this is precisely the kind of information the Harper government does not want to hear — or more accurately, it’s not the kind of information they want the public to hear. In turn, the Conservatives have applied a three-pronged approach to the perceived problem: 1) steering scientific research in desired directions by primarily funding non-threatening areas of research (like genetics and stem cell research), 2) implementing obstruction tactics to prevent the dissemination of scientific research that could undermine the oil industry, and 3) shutting down (or under-funding) any institution or organization that could likewise pose a threat.
This all started back in 2008 when the Tories implemented a policy in which federal scientists were told to direct all media inquiries to national headquarters and not respond to requests to talk about their work. As a consequence, many Canadians, and especially the media, are not hearing about the latest findings, including those published in prestigious journals. Canadian scientists are starting to slip on the world stage.
The Toronto Star, Canada’s most widely read newspaper, had this to say about its experience in trying to report on how climate change is affecting the Arctic and Antarctic after contacting scientists at NASA, Environment Canada, and Natural Resources Canada:
Emails to the U.S. government scientists were personally returned, usually the same day and with offers to talk in person or by phone.
Emails sent to Canadian government scientists led to apologetic responses that the request would have to be routed through public relations officials. Public relations staff asked for a list of questions in advance, and then set boundaries for what subjects the interview could touch upon. Approval to interview the scientists was given days later. In all cases, a PR staffer asked to listen in on the interviews.
Government scientists who were contacted for this story informed the Star directly and through intermediaries that they did not want to comment, fearing repercussions.
But one researcher with well over a decade of experience in the civil service, who asked to remain anonymous because he said both management and his union have told him he could face penalties for speaking out publicly, called the situation “absolutely embarrassing.”
These measures have not gone unnoticed outside of Canada. In early March, Nature criticized the Harper government for its actions, saying it’s time the Tories set its scientists free. Other international media outlets which have spoken out include the Economist and the Guardian.
At the same time, the government has defended its position on science, stating that, “Government scientists and experts are readily available to share their research with the media and the public. Last year, Environment Canada participated in more than 1,300 media interviews, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada issued nearly 1,000 scientific publications, and Natural Resources Canada published nearly 500 studies.”
Commissioner Legault's challenge will be in determining the degree to which these policies are truly obstructive.
But as already noted, Tory policies go beyond just muzzling. Other apparent slights against science include the elimination of the National Science Advisor position, the scrapping of the mandatory long-form census, slashing federal funding for Canada’s Ozone Network, ending the Experimental Lakes Area project, and the end to the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy.
And alarmingly, as Maclean’s John Geddes reported, the RCMP supported efforts to create science that contradicted the body of peer-reviewed research.
Eroding Science, Eroding Democracy
A democracy is only as effective as its voters; if its citizens are being deliberately kept in the dark about important issues, then fully informed participation cannot happen.
At the same time, as Canada continues to overemphasize the role and importance of its oil sands, the country is turning into something else.
Writing in the New York Times, Canadian professor Thomas Homer-Dixon noted that the oil industry is “twisting our society into something we don’t like,” and that “Canada is beginning to exhibit the economic and political characteristics of a petro-state.”
Countries with huge reserves of valuable natural resources often suffer from economic imbalances and boom-bust cycles. They also tend to have low-innovation economies, because lucrative resource extraction makes them fat and happy, at least when resource prices are high.
Canada’s record on technical innovation, except in resource extraction, is notoriously poor. Capital and talent flow to the tar sands, while investments in manufacturing productivity and high technology elsewhere languish...
Indeed, the quest to uphold the integrity of the tar sands project is proving to be problematic on a number of levels. It’s stifling the dissemination of important scientific research, instigating environmental destruction, disrupting economic development, and interfering with the democratic process.
It will be interesting to hear the results of Legault's inquiry — and what might be done about the current state of affairs in Canada.
Breathprint could one day be used to help diagnose disease
Our fingerprints are unique to us, but so may be our breath. Compounds in exhaled air produce a unique and stable molecular autograph or “breathprint” – one that could be used to monitor disease or track response to medication.
Renato Zenobi at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and his colleagues discovered breathprints by analysing the breath of 11 healthy individuals. The team did this four times a day over nine days, and used a technique called mass spectrometry to identify the molecules in each breath sample.
The team was interested in metabolites, compounds produced by the body’s metabolism. The molecules are volatile and small enough to pass from the blood into airways via the alveoli in our lungs, so are present in our breath – albeit in miniscule amounts, sometimes less than one molecule per billion molecules of air.
The team found that metabolites in individuals’ breath remained “constant and clear”, says Zenobi.
“Our genomes are unique, our epigenomes are unique, our microbiomes are unique, so it is not surprising our breath metabolomes are also unique,” saysJeremy Nicholson from Imperial College London, who was not part of the team. “What is important is how they vary from individual to individual and how they differ in relation to development of disease or in response to therapy.”
Zenobi’s team can identify compounds in breath immediately, so our breathprint could be used to detect signature metabolites associated with disease, giving an instant diagnosis. In a preliminary study, Zenobi has shown that breath samples can reveal whether people have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
The clever part of the work is that they use a special scheme to selectively charge the trace amounts of volatile compounds, which provides results quicker than other types of gas chromatography, says Patrik Spanel from Keele University, UK, who was not part of the study.
‘Anti-rape’ lingerie zaps attacker and automatically texts police for help
One of the most brutal and heinous crimes imaginable is rape. An undergarment has been designed to disable the attacker with a powerful electric jolt, while letting the cops know where an attack has occurred using GPS coordinates sent by text message.
The lingerie was invented by three engineering students at Sri Ramaswamy Memorial University in India, where violence against women has become a major problem. They say that most attacks against women begin with the assailant grabbing the woman around the neck and chest, so the garment protects that area. Pressure sensors trigger a high voltage power supply, which sends 3,800kV pulses through wires embedded in the bust area. A polymer lining protect the wearer from getting a shock themselves, which obviously would defeat the purpose of the garment.
At the same time as the attacker is being zapped, a cellular module determines the location of the attack with GPS, then sends to coordinates to the police so they can respond.
No word on when the garment may be commercially available, or how much it might cost.
Are algorithms better storytellers than human journalists?
Narrative Science has developed an algorithm that produces a computer-written news story about every 30 seconds, Wired reports. The articles run on the websites of respected publishers like Forbes, as well as other Internet media powers (many of which are keeping their identities private).
Niche news services hire Narrative Science to write updates for their subscribers, be they sports fans, small-cap investors, or fast-food franchise owners.
And the articles don’t read like robots wrote them:
Friona fell 10-8 to Boys Ranch in five innings on Monday at Friona despite racking up seven hits and eight runs. Friona was led by a flawless day at the dish by Hunter Sundre, who went 2-2 against Boys Ranch pitching. Sundre singled in the third inning and tripled in the fourth inning … Friona piled up the steals, swiping eight bags in all …
Narrative Science’s algorithms built the article using pitch-by-pitch game data that parents entered into an iPhone app called GameChanger. Last year the software produced nearly 400,000 accounts of Little League games. This year that number is expected to top 1.5 million.
For Narrative Science’s CTO and cofounder, Kristian Hammond, these stories are only the first step toward what will eventually become a news universe dominated by computer-generated stories. How dominant? “More than 90 percent,” says Hammond.
This robonews tsunami, he insists, will not wash away the remaining human reporters who still collect paychecks.Whew! Was getting worried there. — Editor.
Instead the universe of newswriting will expand dramatically, as computers mine vast troves of data to produce ultracheap, totally readable accounts of events, trends, and developments that no journalist is currently covering.
That’s not to say that computer-generated stories will remain in the margins, limited to producing more and more Little League write-ups and formulaic earnings previews. Hammond was recently asked for his reaction to a prediction that a computer would win a Pulitzer Prize within 20 years. He disagreed. It would happen, he said, in five.
Narrative Science’s writing engine requires several steps. First, it must amass high-quality data. Then the algorithms must fit that data into some broader understanding of the subject matter. (For instance, they must know that the team with the highest number of “runs” is declared the winner of a baseball game.) So Narrative Science’s engineers program a set of rules that govern each subject, be it corporate earnings or a sporting event.
But how to turn that analysis into prose? The company has hired a team of “meta-writers,” trained journalists who have built a set of templates. Then comes the structure.
Once Narrative Science had mastered the art of telling sports and finance stories, the company realized that it could produce much more than journalism. Indeed, anyone who needed to translate and explain large sets of data could benefit from its services. Requests poured in from people who were buried in spreadsheets and charts.
It turned out that those people would pay to convert all that confusing information into a couple of readable paragraphs that hit the key points.
When the company was just getting started, meta-writers had to painstakingly educate the system every time it tackled a new subject. But before long they developed a platform that made it easier for the algorithm to learn about new domains.
Narrative Science’s main rival in automated story creation, a North Carolina company founded as Stat Sheet, has broadened its mission in similar fashion.
And the subject matter keeps getting more diverse. Narrative Science was hired by a fast-food company to write a monthly report for its franchise operators that analyzes sales figures, compares them to regional peers, and suggests particular menu items to push. What’s more, the low cost of transforming data into stories makes it practical to write even for an audience of one.
For now, though, journalism remains at the company’s core. And like any cub reporter, Narrative Science has dreams of glory — to identify and break big stories. To do that, it will have to invest in sophisticated machine-learning and data-mining technologies. It will also have to get deeper into the business of understanding natural language, which would allow it to access information and events that can’t be expressed in a spreadsheet.
Hammond believes that as Narrative Science grows, its stories will go higher up the journalism food chain — from commodity news to explanatory journalism and, ultimately, detailed long-form articles. Maybe at some point, humans and algorithms will collaborate, with each partner playing to its strength.
Pig Roast + Major Powers & The Low Fi Symphony
Elizabeth's Crazy Little Thing featuring Miss Jackie and The Sass
John Goode at Molly Malone's
14th Annual Poetry Fest
Panel on the Art of Promoting Poetry
Crankshaft April Update
Music Connection April Issue
Daniel Jo Korean Ceramics
Early Notice - Hollywood Black Film Festival Submissions Open
2013 East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention and ONYXCON V
Pig Roast + Major Powers & The Low Fi Symphony
Sunday April 7th, 5:00pm PDT
Bridge Art Space, 23 Maine Avenue, Richmond, CA 94804
Just because.... for our tenants and friends! Food, drink bonfire and music. Vegetarian options will be on offer. And while you're here, check out the fantastic art in the gallery by Gary-Paul Barbosa Prince + JC Garrett.
Elizabeth's Crazy Little Thing featuring Miss Jackie and The Sass
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
10:00pm in CDT
Phyllis' Musical Inn
1800 West Division Street
Chicago, IL 60622
An Open Mic Variety Show Hosted by Chicago Poet Elizabeth Harper and Rich Experience
Open mic night for poetry, music, comedy, performance art, literary experiments, and whatever you can come up with. Push the envelope; hurt me with your weirdness. We welcome the cerebral, the obscene, the grotesque, the random, the perverted, the odd, the comforting, and the disconcerting. We request donations for the featured performers.
The next show on April 10, 2013 will feature Miss Jackie and The Sass. The theme for the open mic will be "Ugly Love."
Miss Jackie and The Sass are a one-of-a-kind group of ladies and fellas from Chicago, Illinois. Their sound has been described as “candid blues,” with a tinge of old-school country. The Sass’ original tunes are well-constructed and catchy, with outspoken, honest, and occasionally obscene lyrics that tell of desire, relationships and self-lovin’.
Molly Malone's Literary Open Mic and Reading Series
featuring John Goode (Graduating from Eternity)
7652 W. Madison Forest Park, IL
Monday, April 8, 2013
7:00pm until 9:30pm in CDT
7:00 open mic sign-up
$5 if you can
$3 if you can't
'Cross a waterfall with a cave, and you get the poetry of John Goode. His poems occupy a turbulent landscape, ghosted with shadows, full of movement...' - Nina Corwin, Author of The Uncertainty of Maps
'Somewhere between post modernism and mystic realism...' - David Hargarten, publisher Exact Change Only
John Goode's poems have appeared in magazines such as Rattle, Slipstream, Arsenic Lobster, Bottle of Smoke Broadside Series, Afterhours Press, Mudfish, and Skidrow Penthouse (his favorite). He was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2004. He was Runner-Up for the Neil Postman Award for Metaphor from Rattle in 2008. And his chapbook, Graduating from Eternity, was First Runner-Up for the Ronald Wardall Award from Rain Mountain Press in 2009. He lives in Chicago, and bartends somewhere along the dark shores of the moon.
Celebrate National Poetry Month with the Chicago Public Library! Visit the Harold Washington Library Center on Saturday, April 27, 2013 for the 14th annual Poetry Fest, a free daylong event featuring poetry readings, workshops and other exciting activities.
MAKING A NAME: THE ART OF PROMOTING POETRY
Saturday, April 27, 11:30 AM
Harold Washington Library, 400 S. State St., Multipurpose Room B
If you read your poem and no one is around to hear it, is it really a poem? If you want to make a name, it's not enough just to write poetry—you need to get your poetry into the hands and the ears of the public. The Chicago poetry scene is a window of opportunity offering a variety of ways to promote your poetry. Whether it is print or online publishing, the poetry slam, the open mic scene or being on the air, there is something for every motivated poet to take advantage of here in Chicago.
Moderator CJ Laity, who has twenty-five years of experience promoting poetry himself, brings together four of the top experts in their respective fields for a lively, informative panel discussion: Emily Calvo is a founding member of Chicago Slam Works and has been a core planning committee member for the National Poetry Slam; Gregorio Gomez is host of Monday nights at Weeds, Chicago's longest running venue dedicated primarily to open mic. poetry; Chicago poet, educator, activist and radio chat show host, Mario is the host of News From the Service Entrance on WHPK 88.5FM (whpk.org); and Victor David Giron is the publisher, editor-in-chief and publicist for one of today's leading Chicago-area publishers, Curbside Splendor.
The Virtues and Uses of Form Poetry
with Tom Roby and Jenene Ravesloot
Multi-Purpose Room A
This workshop will explore the techniques of formal verse that extend beyond rhymed meter. We will show how creative repetition of words, phrases, and lines, together with dramatic lists and reutilized imagery, strengthens the structure of any kind of poetry, including free verse and prose poems. Participants are encouraged to bring their free verse poems or drafts to work out their possibilities in terms of these structures.
Tom Roby publishes and performs his poetry in Chicago, while writing criticism, running workshops and winning various competitions. He is president and critique leader of the Poets’ Club of Chicago and was chair of its annual Helen Schaible Sonnet Contest. He is also a member of the Illinois State Poetry Society and Poets & Patrons. Jenene Ravesloot is a member of the Poets’ Club of Chicago, Poets & Patrons and the Illinois State Poetry Society. She has led poetry workshops for Poets & Patrons and various Chicago educational institutions, such as DePaul University and Saint Xavier University.
March was a great month! Our new album hit the top 100 at AMA (Americana Music Association) starting at #93 on March 6th, and it's continuing to climb, this week at #77! This month also marks the first ever regular play on 89.3 The Current, so THANK YOU SO MUCH for requesting! We've been getting a lot traction with press as well, Emily Buss did an in depth review of it on her blog, On The Rechord, check it out if you have a minute: OnTheRechord.com
We've received so much great feedback from fans and press related to the new song Waiting For Me, that I decided produce a video for it. Rachel and I started capturing footage a few weeks ago, and it's coming along nicely. This will be the first Crankshaft video that I directed, and edited. I plan on directing and editing two more this summer. I attached video stills from Waiting For Me to this message, look forward to it's release in the early fall!
Have a great spring! Thanks for your continued support, hope to see you at a show soon! - Crankshaft.
Thurs. April 4th - 6pm - No Cover
Hell's Kitchen - Minneapolis, MN
Crankshaft + Keith
Fri. April 5th - 10pm - No Cover
Cowboy Jacks - Otsego, MN
Crankshaft + Keith
Sat. April 6th - 9pm - No Cover
Harriet Brewing Co. - Minneapolis, MN
Wed. April 10th - 8pm - No Cover
MaGillycuddy's - Anoka, MN
Crankshaft (solo) + Brown Bottle Fever - ON TOUR! (St. Louis, MO)
Thurs. April 11th - 8pm - No Cover
Route 65 - East Bethel, MN
Crankshaft + Keith
Fri. April 12th - 7pm
KVSC interview @ Electric Fetus - St. Cloud
Fri. April 12th - 9pm - $7
Biology701 - St.Cloud, MN
Crankshaft & The Gear Grinders
Sat. April 13th - 10pm - No Cover
Sidestreet Grille & Pub - Fargo, ND
Crankshaft & The Gear Grinders
Tues. April 16th - 8pm - $12 Tickets or $14 Door
Bunker's - Minneapolis, MN
Crankshaft & The Gear Grinders + Trampled Under Foot (IBC Winners)
Thurs. April 18th - 8pm - No Cover
Lookout Bar & Grill - Maple Grove, MN
Crankshaft & The Gear Grinders
Fri. April 19th - 8pm - No Cover
Norm's - Buffalo, MN
Crankshaft & The Gear Grinders
Daniel Jo is a comtemporary Korean ceramic brand and the designer's name. Based on 10 years of studying Korean traditional art and craft, Daniel's work has an unique structural feature that capture beauty of Korean nature.
He creates works with his own interpretation of the international design trend and the traditional Korean craft. Daniel Jo runs a design studio and a small factory. He is deeply engaged to every phase of the making to maintain high quality ceramic works. Founded in 2008, Daniel's studio is located in Seoul, Korea. "The 10 years of studies in Korean traditional ceramic and ceramic sculptures have influenced my current work a lot. As a Korean designer, I have been working hard and spending some time to overcome the differences of culture and language barriers, with a Korean identity in mind", says Daniel.
Although he produces every single piece with his bare hands, he can't see himself as a product designer. The only thing about he is totally sure is that there is a leitmotif in all his works: the inspiration, which comes from his daily life, from the music he listens to and from talks with friends.
** EARLY NOTICE **
The Hollywood Black Film Festival (HBFF) -- recognized as one of the leading black film festivals in the world -- is now accepting submissions for the 2013 festival, to be held October 2-6, 2013 in Hollywood, CA. Regular feature, short, student and documentary film submissions, Project Stargazer submissions, and scripts for the Storyteller Competition will be accepted through June 16. The late deadline is July 8.
HBFF welcomes narrative features, shorts, student and documentary films for its competitive program. Animation films, music videos and web series submitted are accepted for the non-competitive program only. All films submitted must have been completed after September 1, 2012.
HBFF will introduce a new competitive sidebar this year, FILM DIASPORA, to showcase independent films and filmmakers from the African Diaspora. Feature, short and documentary films submitted to compete in FILM DIASPORA must have been produced by filmmakers residing outside the U.S. -- in Africa, the Caribbean, Central or Latin America.
Project Stargazer, a new partnership with NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, is accepting story ideas that clearly feature one or more NASA technologies as a plot element in the story. Submissions must include a logline, synopsis, treatment and an artistic statement describing your creative vision for the project
All films, scripts and story ideas must be submitted through Withoutabox (WAB) at https://www.withoutabox.com/login/1175. Submission fees for all categories are detailed on WAB. $15 discount available for student submissions.
Festival Dates: October 2-6, 2013
Call for Entries: April 1 - July 1, 2013
Earlybird Deadline: May 5, 2013
Regular Deadline: June 16, 2013
Late Deadline: July 1, 2013
2013 East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention!
Time: May 17, 2013 at 7pm to May 18, 2013 at 9pm
Location: African American Museum in Philadelphia 701 Arch St. PA 19106
Street: 4548 Market St.
City/Town: Philadelphia, PA
Organized By: The Museum Of UnCut Funk
Discover Your Inner Power with The 12th Annual ECBACC!
The Glyph Comics Awards, May 17, 2013 from 7pm to 9pm recognizes the best in comics made either by, for, or about African Americans. While the recipients of these awards are not exclusively authors and artists of African descent, the Glyph Comics Awards does its best to honor and recognize those creators making great contributions to the African image in graphic novel, comic strip and comic books.
Power up at the 2013 East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention! Bring your costume, your artwork, your story ideas, or your passion to the Enterprise Center at 4548 Market St., Philadelphia, PA on May 18, 11 am to 7 pm, to get your yearly fix of positive vibes! — at The Enterprise Center.
Time: August 16, 2013 to August 17, 2013
Location: SOUTHWEST ARTS CENTER
Street: 915 New hope Rd.
City/Town: Atlanta, GA 30331
ONYXCON V ...
will mark five years of celebrating the impact, contributions, and presence of the African Diaspora in the popular Arts! Join us on AUGUST 16th and 17th at the SOUTHWEST ARTS CENTER, 915 New hope Rd. Atlanta, GA 30331, as we reflect and move forth into a new dimension of glory for our cause!
Excessive cleanliness may be making us sick
Scientific research suggests that all the antibacterial-wiping, germ-killing cleanliness of the developed world may actually be making us more prone to getting sick — and that a little more dirt might help us stay healthier in the long run.
The idea, known as the hygiene hypothesis, was first proposed in 1989 by epidemiologist David P. Strachen, who analyzed data from 17,414 British children and found that those who had grown up with more siblings (and presumably more germs) were less likely to have allergies and eczema. Since then, the theory has been cited as a possible explanation for everything from multiple sclerosis to hay fever and autism. But its particulars aren’t so clean and clear.
Here’s what researchers do know: Our immune systems need bugs. They rely on early encounters with germs to learn how to protect our bodies.
“Bacteria, fungi, lots of these things we think of as bad — they’re all part of our environment, and we evolved to live with them,” says Michael Zasloff, an immunologist and physician at Georgetown University Medical Center. Through exposure to these microbes early in life, your immune system learns what’s harmful and what isn’t, he says, and that readies the immune responses you’ll have for the rest of your life.
“The body has got to know friend from foe,” Zasloff says. If your body learns that a specific microbe or substance — any antigen, or visitor to the body — is a foe, it will send immune system cells to destroy it. If it recognizes the antigen as a friend, the immune system will leave it alone. “Exposure tells the immune system, ‘These are the things you’re going to run into all the time, so you don’t need to worry about them.’ ”
According to the hygiene hypothesis, bad things can happen if this early exposure doesn’t take place or if it doesn’t include the right microbes. The immune system can become overly sensitive, overreacting to non-threats such as pollen or dander as if they’re potentially harmful. When combined with certain genetic traits, this process can lead to conditions such as asthma and allergies, says Kathleen Barnes, an immunogeneticist at Johns Hopkins University who specializes in the genetics of asthma.
Barnes’s work has revealed that although genes play a key role in the development of asthma, changing a population’s exposure to microbes — by protecting them from parasitic diseases, for example — can make asthma rates rise. That suggests that hygiene may also play a role in asthma.
“It can’t all be due to genes, because if we look at the prevalence of asthma or diseases of inflammation over the past 50 years, we see it’s definitely on the rise,” Barnes says. “It’s some interaction between the genes and the environment that’s causing these rates to skyrocket.”
But researchers can’t say which particular interactions with the environment help prevent disease later on. That’s because exposures tend to come in combinations, and teasing apart their effects on the body is difficult.
Take farming, for instance. Several studies have suggested that growing up on a farm can protect children from allergies and other immune-system-related conditions, but it’s hard to know which element of farm living does the trick.
A 2012 study of Amish and Swiss farm and non-farm children found that the farm-dwelling kids had significantly lower rates of asthma, hay fever and eczema. But the farm dwellers differed from their non-farm peers in several ways: They had more exposure to livestock and the microbes that come with them; they were more likely to drink raw milk, which contains microbes not found in pasteurized milk; and they tended to have more siblings at home.
Because each of these factors has been associated with reduced risk of allergies and related diseases, researchers can’t pinpoint which factor or combination of factors provides the protection.
Parasites and disease-causing microbes have also shown a protective effect, but again it’s not clear which microbes are doing the protecting. A 2007 study that compared genetically related children living in Finland and Russia found that the Russian children — who were less wealthy than their Finnish counterparts and who more frequently showed antibodies to the hepatitis A virus,H. pylori bacteria and other microbes associated with poor hygiene practices — were far less likely to have allergies. The findings made it clear that microbial infections and environmental differences were conferring an advantage, but they were less conclusive about which infections conferred the greatest advantage.
So what does all this mean? Should we ditch spring cleaning and adopt a dairy cow — or a parasite — to keep allergies at bay?
Probably not, says Barnes: Modern hygiene saves lives and prevents the spread of disease, and no researcher would advocate abandoning it entirely. But we may want to rethink our relationship with germs, she says.
“Knowing what I know about the hygiene hypothesis, I think twice before I run to a physician for an antibiotic,” she says. “I also think about the foods my family eats. We eat a lot of yogurt for the beneficial bacterial cultures it provides.”
Zasloff goes even further. He doesn’t mind if his kids eat a little dirt, don’t wash their hands before every meal or wear the same socks twice. Eating food that’s been in the fridge a while or that has fallen on the floor is okay, too, he says.
That may not be for you. The important thing, Zasloff says, is moderation: “It’s not that you should expose yourself to things that are going to kill you. We’re just talking about living in a more microbially rich environment. That means you don’t need to use antibacterial soaps or wipes, or clean everything with bleach, or even wash your clothes every day. Getting dirty isn’t so bad.. . . Just use your common sense.”
For the first time, scientists have tracked in a patient the evolution of a potent immune molecule that recognizes many different HIV viruses.
By revealing how these molecules — called broadly neutralizing antibodies — develop, the research could inform efforts to make vaccines that elicit similar antibodies that can protect people from becoming infected with HIV. The researchers, led by Barton Haynes of Duke University School of Medicine in
Durham, North Carolina, found that broadly neutralizing antibodies developed only after the population of viruses in the patient had diversified — something that had been suspected of occurring in patients, but had not actually been observed. The team reports its findings on Nature's website today [Apr. 2013].
“This is a really beautiful demonstration,” says William Schief, a protein engineer specializing in vaccine design at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. “It poses the question for the vaccine-design field of how much of that viral diversity we need to incorporate into our vaccine regimens to try to elicit broadly neutralizing antibodies.”
HIV mutates so frequently that it has been extremely difficult to design vaccines that recognize enough forms of the virus to be effective. For the past decade, HIV-vaccine designers have tried to make progress by studying broadly neutralizing antibodies, hoping to understand what gives these molecules their ability to bind to and recognize many different HIV viruses.
But getting human cells to make broadly neutralizing antibodies has been more difficult than researchers expected, because they are unusually complicated and normally evolve their potency against HIV long after the virus has established its infection in the body.
The antibody that Haynes and his colleagues describe today, dubbed CH103, recognizes fewer HIV viruses than some other broadly neutralizing antibodies, such as those in a class called VRC01. But CH103 is also less complicated than previously reported antibodies, and Haynes’s team hopes that this will make it easier to elicit with a vaccine.
“A message of our paper is that broad neutralizing antibodies don’t have to be as complicated as we thought, and therefore may be more easily induced,” says Haynes.
The team found CH103 in the patient 136 weeks after infection. The researchers then went back to archived samples of the patient’s blood and looked for similar antibodies and for copies of the virus that were present in the patient during the course of his infection. By doing so, the team was able to track the antibody and the virus as they co-evolved and to detect the ancestral form of the antibody — the 'germline precursor' produced by immune cells called B cells — that underwent maturation to become a neutralizing antibody. This could help Haynes’s team to design vaccine proteins known as immunogens that could trigger the body to evolve neutralizing antibodies like CH103.
Separately, a team led by Schief reported2 on 28 March that it had engineered an immunogen that binds to VCR01 neutralizing antibodies. The researchers used structure-based computational design and a screening method to pick out immunogens capable of recognizing many different VRC01 germline precursors.
The field's next challenge, Schief says, will be to find out whether such immunogens can elicit germline precursors to CH103, VRC01 or other neutralizing antibodies in people, or in mice with humanized immune systems.
“The big question now is, once one has activated that germline B cell, how does one get that B cell to undergo maturation to produce a broadly neutralizing antibody?” Schief says.
Both Schief and Haynes say that the field will probably need to find ways to simulate the burst of viral diversity that may be necessary to spur that maturation process — perhaps by vaccinating with combinations or series of different immunogens.
“Immunizing with a one-structure envelope is probably not going to fit the bill,” Haynes says.
Kinect-Powered Depression Detector is Amazing and Creepy
People have been baring their souls to soulless machines ever since ELIZA successfully impersonated a Rogerian therapist using nothing but a text display in the 1960s. Still, any value gotten out of these interactions was totally projected by the human user; the dumb code couldn’t actually interpret your feelings. Now, thanks to an Kinect depth camera and some ingenious computer vision algorithms, a machine exists that can really, accurately diagnose whether you’re depressed or not with 90% accuracy.
The system, called SimSensei, uses an interactive digital avatar to conduct a verbal interview with the person being screened for depression. In some respects, the performance of this avatar isn’t much better than old ELIZA: it asks leading questions, lingers in silence to prompt you to elaborate, and generally exhibits a close-but-no-cigar facility with normal conversational rhythms. The avatar appearance is pretty decent—nowhere near sophisticated enough to stumble into the dreaded uncanny valley, but not so crude that it’s distracting, either. It’s not difficult at all to imagine the system being effective at eliciting “real” enough conversation from the human it’s screening.
But it’s the machine vision under the hood—which SimSensei uses to actively sense and analyze your emotional state in realtime—that’s at once amazing and kind of disturbing. The YouTube demo of SimSensei exposes all the algorithmic pattern-matching at work, and it looks like some kind of unholy self-driving Voight-Kampff machine. Skeletal polygonal overlays map the depressed human’s posture, gaze direction, and even “smile level” (yes, that’s an actual graph in the upper right hand corner), converting his ineffable, phenomenological states into a flat stream of bits. It reminded me of Timo Arnall’s eerie “Robot Readable World”: both fascinating and alienating. Are these coarse signals, captured by a cheap piece of commodity technology, really all it takes to detect that another conscious being is mentally suffering? Apparently so. What’s weird is that when we humans intuit that another person is depressed, our own pattern-matching “software” may not be doing anything much more sophisticated. (After all, we can’t see “into” another person’s subjective awareness anymore than SimSensei can; all we can do is interpret their outward behavior.) SimSensei, like any anthropomimetic technology, may be just as useful as a “user interface” for understanding our own wetware as it is for outsourcing it. ELIZA, eat your heart out.
From Sundown Lounge No. 316
Charlie Newman is Waiting 4 the Bus
Jamie Lynn Fletcher Update
The Bus: 29 Hooligans from Chitown
Ragazine.CC Speculative Fiction Contest
Charlie Newman ignites his performance poetry with a drive, spark and pugnaciousness that he'd quickly acknowledge as typical of any native (or any survivor?) of Newark, New Jersey, USA.
But he's a radical transplantee in at least a couple senses of that term. Newman's professional and musical careers also have led him through: Elizabeth, NJ; West Orange, NJ; Blairstown, NJ; Parkville, MO; New York City; Chicago; Winston Salem, NC; Nashville, TN; Louisville, KY; Orlando, FL; Louisville, KY (again); and finally back to Chicago. In this last place, he's settled well into the local performance poetry sphere.
Well it's snowing again, thank goodness because it hasn't snowed in at least two days, I was getting worried. If we're lucky, the snow might be gone by May 3rd (the migratory birds are currently wearing sweaters) just in time for a super fun concert at the Outer Edge Stage in Appleton featuring the Swing Time Big Band and the Jamie Fletcher Trio. Yay! See the link below for a MOST IMPORTANT public service announcement. ;)
[Detail from "Man Tower City" by Nathan Otto. Ink, marker, acrylic on wood, 12" x 12"]
"This show was originally supposed to ride the Bus-- all of us --and our work were going to take a Bus out to sunny LA and show Angelinos what 29 hooligans from Chicago bring to the big all-u-can-eat Art Buffet.
Nobody liked the idea of 29 of us crammed onto a bus for 3 days--except me. I, of course loved the idea. I thought we'd see the Painted Desert, The Petrified Forest, and (on the way bac)k, get some 'shrooms and hang out at Joshua Tree. I did this over 30 years ago and remember it fondly.
You see; we come from a big, gray, wintry city that is full of Wonder, Poetry, and sadly immeasurable cruelty, as well as luminous Grace. Chicago is one place and a thousand others. The artists I've chosen for this typify this idea in spades. There is no one kind of Chicago artist--no monolithic , over reaching thematic narrative. We are a city populated by individuals. Poets. Dreamers. Square-Pegs. Knuckle-Heads, and necessary Angels. While New York has it's schools, and LA its proud and varied scenes and movements. What we have is ourselves--One Man, One Woman, One step at a time taking the only journeys that mean anything to us-- our own.
"We are only like ourselves. Thank You for having us."
– Tony Fitzpatrick, Chicago
Jesse Sioux Achramowicz
Duncan Robert Anderson
Ragazine.CC is sponsoring a contest for best speculative fiction story written by a person of color in 2013. Final judge is Sheree Renee Thomas, editor of Dark Matter and a well-known science fiction writer.
Ragazine.CC is the online magazine of arts, information and entertainment. Published 6 times a year in January, March, May, July, September and November, the publication features eclectic material with a global audience in mind.
In response to popular demand, Ragazine.CC
is lowering the entry fee to $15.00 per story
for our Speculative Fiction Contest
for People of Color.
the final judge, Sheree Renee Thomas,
will provide a critique of the 2nd and 3rd place
entries. Honorable mentions will be made
to the 4th and 5th place entries.
First prize remains $1,000.00 for the best piece of speculative fiction completed by a person of color in 2013.
We will begin accepting electronic (e-mail) entries dated on or after March 20, 2013, and on or before June 20th. *The winner will be announced in September; the prize includes publication in Ragazine.CC. Second and third place selections also will be published in the same or subsequent issues of Ragazine.CC.
New Protein Discovery Could Change Biotech Forever
Bacteria that uses a tiny molecular machine to kill attacking viruses could change the way that scientists edit the DNA of plants, animals and fungi, revolutionizing genetic engineering. The protein, called Cas9, is quite simply a way to more accurately cut a piece of DNA.
“This could significantly accelerate the rate of discovery in all areas of biology, including gene therapy in medicine, the generation of improved agricultural goods, and the engineering of energy-producing microbes,” says Luciano Marraffini of Rockefeller University.
The biotech revolution that created drugs like EPO for anemia and interferon for multiple sclerosis and crops like Monsanto‘s Roundup Ready soybeans was based on relatively crude methods for inserting a gene from one organism into another. For a decade some biologists have been touting a new approach, dubbed synthetic biology, that makes more genetic alterations in order to treat living things more like machines that can be engineered. The ability to make modular changes in the DNA of bacteria and primitive algae has resulted in drug and biofuel companies such as Amyris and LS9. But figuring out how to make changes in the genomes of more complicated organisms has been tough.
Although it’s possible to insert a single gene from one species into another, it’s much harder to cut the genetic code in specific places to make real copy-editing possible. Two techniques for doing so were placed among the top innovations of 2012 by Science, and NIH director Francis Collins wrote in a blog post that they are “revealing tantalizing new possibilities for treating human diseases” in a blog post. But one, zinc finger nucleases, can cost $6,000 per edit, and a second, Transcription Activator-Like Effector Nucleases (TALENs), appears only a fifth as efficient as Cas9.
“It is spreading like wildfire from everyone who knows about it and it certainly is very tantalizing,” says George Church of Harvard University. “It’s easy to get in and start doing lots of experiments.”
Originally, Phillipe Horvath and Rodolphe Barrangou, scientists at Danesco, now part of DuPont, were hoping to find a better way to make yogurt. The bacteria used to culture milk are particularly prone to becoming infected with viruses that kill them, lowering productivity. For decades, researchers had realized that bacteria had strange, repeating patterns of DNA sequence scattered throughout their DNA, known as clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR). Horvath and Barrangou figured out what these were: mug shots.
The bacteria were keeping track of tell-tale bits of genetic code from viruses that might try to infect them, and, somehow, they were using these codes to kill those viruses when they attacked. CRISPR was a primitive immune system. Horvath recognized that this knowledge could be used to create bacteria that were more resistant to infection, which would be useful in making yogurt and perhaps in manufacturing drugs. But he was quick to realize something else: somehow the bacteria had the ability to target specific bits of genetic code. If scientists could harness that, they would have a new way to edit DNA.
Horvath and Barrangou’s paper set off a race to figure out what the bacteria’s mysterious secret weapon was. Obviously, there was some kind of DNA-cutting enzyme, a protein that had the ability to cut genetic material.
Emmanuelle Charpentier of Umea University of Sweden had picked up hints of one likely protein. At a scientific conference, she struck up a friendship with Jennifer Doudna, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at UC Berkeley. Their transatlantic collaboration bloomed in part because Martin Jinek, a scientist in Doudna’s lab, spoke the same dialect of Polish as Krzysztof Chylinsk, one of Charpentier’s scientists. They named the protein they found CRISPR-associated system 9 — Cas9.
In a paper published in Science last summer, they found that the bacteria combined Cas9 with genetic material to create “homing molecules” that attack viruses. Bacteria, like human beings and almost every other living thing, keeps its genetic code in a library of DNA molecules. But to use that code, the organism copies the DNA into a related molecule called RNA. Cas9 can be paired with an RNA transcript to target a matching DNA sequence and cut it. That kills viruses, but scientists use it to cut DNA in exactly the place they want. The result is not so much like using a word processor as a biology lab version of what movie editors had to do back when they spliced together pieces of film.
Church and his colleagues showed that they could use the system to make multiple edits at once to a cell’s DNA, and, better yet, industrialize their use. Feng Zheng, a former student of Church’s, also got it to work, and hopes to use it to better understand the brain. Both results were published in Science in January. Doudna’s own paper has been accepted by the electronic journal eLife. Doudna has started a company, Caribou Biosciences, to commercialize her work.
In the short term, Church says, the potential of cas9 is that it could be used to study genetics in a way that was heretofore impossible. Let’s say there are three changes in the DNA in or around a gene that might cause a disease. Right now, it’s hard to study them directly. But now, Church says, you could take a cell from a person who has already had their DNA sequenced, as he is doing with his Personal Genome Project. Then you’d create what’s known as an induced pluripotent stem cell, a cell that behaves much like one in an embryo. After that, you could use Cas9 to change each of those DNA spelling changes.
The ability to do all of this in parallel is “what’s really going to blow things up,” says Northwestern University‘s Erik Sontheimer. Researchers could compare cells that are genetically identical except for single, specific changes. That could be hugely useful in, for instance, developing new drugs.
Recently, there was a bit of an internet uproar when some outlets took an interview Church gave a German newspaper out of context and made made it sound as if he were looking to clone Neanderthals. He’s not. But this is the kind of technology that one would use to bring back Neanderthals or, for that matter, mammoths, when their actual DNA is lost to time. Church has said that, in theory, this could be done by changing the genes of a human stem cell (in the case of a Neanderthal) or an elephant (in the case of the mammoth) to match a prehistoric relative. If you want to bring back ice age animals, Cas9 might be the way to do it.
Anything like that is a long way off. Right now, scientists are using this technology largely on cells in laboratory dishes, not on whole organisms. And the road from lab experiment to treatment is a long one. Sangamo Biosciences has been working to commercialize the earlier zinc finger nuclease technology as a form of medicine for more than a decade. Moving Cas9 out of the lab could take just as long. But that doesn’t make it any less tantalizing.
Scientists Grow Human Organs in a Lab
Francisco Fernandez-Aviles reached into a stainless steel tray and lifted up a gray, rubbery mass the size of a fat fist. It was a human cadaver heart that had been bathed in industrial detergents until its original cells had been washed away and all that was left was what scientists call the scaffold.
Next, said Dr. Aviles, “We need to make the heart come alive.”
Inside a warren of rooms buried in the basement of Gregorio Marañón hospital here, Dr. Aviles and his team are at the sharpest edge of the bioengineering revolution that has turned the science-fiction dream of building replacement parts for the human body into a reality.
Since a laboratory in North Carolina made a bladder in 1996, scientists have built increasingly more complex organs. There have been five windpipe replacements so far. A London researcher, Alex Seifalian, has transplanted lab-grown tear ducts and an artery into patients. He has made an artificial nose he expects to transplant later this year in a man who lost his nose to skin cancer.
“The work has been extraordinarily pioneering,” said Sir Roy Calne, an 82-year-old British surgeon who figured out in the 1950s how to use drugs to prevent the body from rejecting transplanted organs.
Now, with the quest to build a heart, researchers are tackling the most complex organ yet. The payoff could be huge, both medically and financially, because so many people around the world are afflicted with heart disease. Researchers see a multi-billion-dollar market developing for heart parts that could repair diseased hearts and clogged arteries.
In additional to the artificial nose, Dr. Seifalian is making cardiovascular body parts. He sees a time when scientists would grow the structures needed for artery bypass procedures instead of taking a vein from another part the body. As part of a clinical trial, Dr. Seifalian plans to transplant a bioengineered coronary artery into a person later this year. His employer, University College London, has designated a person to oversee any future commercialization of it and other man-made organs.
The development of lab-built body parts is being spurred by a shortage of organ donors amid rising demand for transplants. Also, unlike patients getting transplants, recipients of lab-built organs won’t have to take powerful anti-rejection drugs for the rest of their lives. That’s because the bioengineered organs are built with the patients’ own cells.
Until the late 1980s, few scientists believed it would be possible to make human organs because it was a struggle to grow human cells in the laboratory. The task became easier once scientists figured out the chemicals—known as growth factors—that the body itself uses to promote cellular growth.
Scientists started out growing simple organs. In 1999, Anthony Atala, director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C., implanted lab-grown bladders into the first of several children with severely dysfunctional bladders. The organs have continued to function well for several years. Dr. Atala’s team now is trying to grow a whole range of bioengineered parts, from simple blood vessels to human livers.
“You can see the acceleration in the field,” Dr. Atala said.
Some of the most complex work is under way at Dr. Seifalian’s laboratory at the Royal Free Hospital in London. A 56-year-old native of Iran, Dr. Seifalian started out as a nuclear physicist, and became interested in medical uses of nuclear technology. That ultimately led him to bioengineering.
In 2011, Dr. Seifalian made a windpipe from a patient’s cells. It was used to replace the cancerous windpipe of the patient, saving his life, his surgeon has said.
Dr. Seifalian and 30 scientists now seek to build a larynx, ears, noses, urethras and bile ducts.
On a recent tour, Dr. Seifalian stopped by a rotating machine that periodically shook a jar filled with a pink liquid. Inside was a human nose.
A sign on the machine warned: “Nose scaffold for clinical use. Do Not Touch. Thank you, Lola.” (Lola is a research assistant.)
Most human organs get their form from an internal scaffolding of collagen and other proteins. Scientists struggled for years to find a replacement material that was strong and flexible and yet wouldn’t be rejected by the body.
Eventually, they homed in on a couple of high-tech materials made from plant fibers, resins and other substances. Dr. Seifalian said he uses a material that is modeled on the honeycomb structure of a butterfly’s wing. The material, a so-called nanocomposite, is resistant to infectious bacteria and has pores that are the right size to hold cells.
“The material has to be accepted by the body, but it also has to be easy to manipulate into different shapes, different strengths,” said Dr. Seifalian.
The nose in the jar was closely modeled on the nose of a 53-year-old Briton. With the help of imaging scans and a glass mold designed by an artist, researchers first fabricated a replica of the original nose. The patient was asked if he wanted a slight deviation in his septum to be straightened out, but he turned down the offer, according to Dr. Seifalian. University College London declined to make the patient available for an interview.
The researchers poured the material into the artist’s mold. They added salt and sugar. That created holes in the material and gave it a spongy, porous feel, just like the real thing.
The key to all the lab-built organs are stem cells, found in human bone marrow, fat and elsewhere. Stem cells can be transformed into other tissues of the body, making them the basic building blocks for any organ.
In the case of the nose, stem cells extracted from the patient’s fat tissue were added to the artist’s mold, along with chemicals that control cell development. The stem cells sat inside the pores of the lab-made organ and gradually differentiated into cells that make cartilage.
However, the nose was missing a crucial piece: skin.
This posed a substantial hurdle. No one has made natural human skin from scratch. Dr. Seifalian’s idea: to implant the nose under the skin of the patient’s forehead in the hope that skin tissue there would automatically sheath the nose.
But the patient objected, and for good reason: The implanted nose would have to sit inside his forehead for weeks or even months. In the end, Dr. Seifalian chose a less obtrusive approach. The bioengineered nose was implanted under the patient’s forearm.
The team now is using imaging equipment to keep tabs on whether the necessary blood vessels, skin and cartilage are forming in the right way. “We’ll have to also make sure there’s no infection,” Dr. Seifalian said in late November, on the day of the patient’s surgery.
If the skin graft works, surgeons will remove the nose from the arm and attach it to the patient’s face. Dr. Seifalian will then apply the right chemicals to convert the man’s stem cells into epithelial cells, a common type of tissue found in the nose and in the lining of other organs. The epithelial cells will be inserted into the nose.
As a final step, surgeons will connect blood vessels from the face to the site of the new nose to provide a steady flow of nourishment for the growing cells. “The whole process could take six months,” said Dr. Seifalian. He estimates the cost of making the nose in the lab is about $40,000, but the patient isn’t being charged because the doctors and scientists are either donating their time or working on this as part of their research.
Dr. Seifalian said the new nose could restore some sense of smell to the patient, but its main benefit will be cosmetic. He held up a jar full of early-stage lab-made noses, and another filled with early-stage ears.
“We’re actually in the process of making a synthetic face,” he said. From a cosmetic point of view, “if you can make the ear and the nose, there’s not much left.”
Regenerating a nose would be a striking achievement; creating a complex organ like the heart would be historic. A team led by Spain’s Dr. Aviles is trying to get there first.
Dr. Aviles trained as a cardiologist but became frustrated with the difficulty of treating patients with advanced heart disease. The only option for the worst cases was a heart transplant, and there was a shortage of hearts. Spain has the highest donor rate in the world, yet Dr. Aviles said that only about 10% of patients who need a heart transplant get one.
He was approached in 2009 by a U.S. scientist, Doris Taylor, who had already grown a beating rat heart in the lab while at the University of Minnesota. Instead of using a man-made scaffold, Dr. Taylor had used the scaffolding from an actual rat heart as the starting point. She believed the same technique was crucial for making a working human heart. She was attracted to Spain because the higher donor rate meant that more hearts unsuitable for transplant could be used for experiments.
Dr. Aviles and about 10 colleagues began their human-heart experiments crammed into a small storage room at the hospital. In 2010, a sparkling new lab opened. It has two large freezers with human cells and human hearts, and a dozen stainless steel sinks containing pig hearts immersed in a colorless liquid.
Growing a heart is much harder than, say, growing a windpipe, because the heart is so big and has several types of cells, including those that beat, those that form blood vessels, and those that help conduct electrical signals. For a long time, scientists didn’t know how to make all the cells grow in the right place and in the right order.
The problem had been cracked by Dr. Taylor. She said that when human stem cells were put into a heart scaffold in 2010, they seemed to know just where to go. “They organized themselves in a way I didn’t believe,” said Dr. Taylor, who now works at the Texas Heart Institute but makes regular visits to Madrid to help with the experiments. “It’s amazing that the [scaffold] can be as instructional as it is. Maybe we don’t need to micromanage every aspect of this.”
A person’s heart grows in the womb where its cells receive the right mixtures of oxygen and nutrients and chemicals to grow into a working organ. To duplicate that process in a laboratory, scientists uses a device called a bioreactor, which has various tubes ferrying materials to the heart and whisking away waste products. The lab’s bioreactor—a cylindrical device nearly a foot in diameter—is being designed byHarvard Bioscience Inc., HBIO +2.79% a maker of medical devices in Holliston, Mass. The machine will be ready for experiments in April, according to Dr. Aviles.
Mimicking the heart isn’t easy. For example, more than a gallon of blood courses through the human heart each minute. The bioreactor will have to be set up so that a similar volume is pumped through it, but gently—to avoid killing the cells.
In addition, the heart cells must be given the right electrical connections.
To model these connections, the Spanish team built a vest with 70 electrical points. Team members wore the vest, which record their hearts’ electrical activity. That pattern of signals will have to be replicated for the lab-made heart.
When Dr. Taylor built a rat heart in a lab dish five years ago, she used a pacemaker to make it beat. “Electrical activity doesn’t spontaneously emerge,” said Dr. Aviles. “We’ll use a pacemaker, too.”
Dr. Aviles said he hopes to have a working, lab-made version ready in five or six years, but the regulatory and safety hurdles for putting such an organ in a patient will be high. The most realistic scenario, he said, is that “in about 10 years” his lab will be transplanting heart parts.
He and his team already have grown early-stage valves and patches that could be used some day to repair tissue damaged by heart attack.
The Madrid lab has made only baby steps toward its grand plan to grow a human heart using the same techniques that Dr. Taylor pioneered with a rat heart.
“We opened the door and showed it was possible,” she said. “This is no longer science-fiction. It’s becoming science.”
Photovoltaic Polymer Lets Damaged Retinas See the Light
By Susan Young
A team of neuroscientists and materials scientists has shown that a photovoltaic polymer can restore light-sensing capabilities to damaged retinas, offering hope of a simple way to restore vision to many people with degenerative eye disease.
People with retinitis pigmentosa and some forms of macular degeneration lose their sight because their photoreceptor cells—the light-detecting rods and cones in their retinas—stop working or die. The new work, conducted by scientists from the Italian Institute of Technology in Genoa and published on Sunday in the journal Nature Photonics, suggests that incorporating the organic polymer into the retinas of people with such conditions could one day help solve this problem. The polymer, which converts light into electrical stimulation, does not require the power supply that’s been necessary with other artificial retina prosthetics.
Other groups have developed retinal implants—electrode arrays that replace the function of the missing cells (see “Microchip Restores Vision” and “Bionic Eye Implant Approved for U.S. Patients”). But these systems offer limited resolution and depend on stiff microchips that can’t conform to the curvature of the inner eye.
“Even a thin silicon chip is not bendable, so an organic polymer could be the next generation of potential retinal prostheses that could allow a greater coverage over parts of the retina because it allows for bending,” says Stephen Rose, chief research officer at the nonprofit Foundation Fighting Blindness.
The Italian researchers, led by neuroscientist Fabio Benfenati and materials scientist Guglielmo Lanzani, began with what Benfenati calls a “crazy idea”: to “try and grow neurons on top of these photovoltaic polymers and see whether illumination of the polymer could induce excitation of the neurons.” As he and his coauthors reported in 2011, this turned out to be possible.
In the new study, damaged retinas were placed on a piece of glass coated with the polymer. Benfenati and colleagues recorded the electrical activity of remaining retinal neurons that would normally send axons into the brain in response to light. When they shined a light onto the setup, they found neuron activity similar to what would be observed in an undamaged retina. They hypothesize that when the polymer is exposed to light, negative charges accumulate on its surface; these negative charges strip positive charges from the outside of the neuron, causing it to fire.
The retinas on the polymer-coated glass responded to daylight levels of brightness, which means the technology “has the potential for retinal implants,” says Benfenati. However, the polymer did not respond to the full range of dimness and brightness that normal photoreceptors can handle. The authors suggest that future generations of the film may be able to do so. In the meantime, they have begun testing polymer-coated implants in rats with retinitis pigmentosa.