nuts for nano

Very, very, very small particles.

You can buy socks infused with silver nanoparticles claiming to reduce bacteria and odor. “But what happens if we buy those socks and we wash them?” Professor Sadik asks. “The nanoparticles end up in our water system.”

Nano-particle bottled waterYou can buy Maternal Water especially for baby and mom in the gestation period, oh so chemical free, but sprinkled with very, very, very tiny particles of silver.

You can buy a chocolate milkshake containing ‘nanosize powder’ with a super-sized claim that very, very, very small particles – 100,000th the size of a single grain of sand – will carry nutrition into your cells.

Why stop there? We’re mass producing tiny particles. Appliances, Automotive, Electronics and Computers, Food and Beverage, Goods for Children, Health and Fitness, Home and Garden.

“We need to understand the chemical transformation of these materials in the ecosystem so we can take action to prevent unnecessary exposure,” Sadik said.

“Some are known toxins; others have properties similar to asbestos. And it’s difficult, if not downright impossible, to monitor them.”

deviant journalism

Mark Morford:

Often do I hear the scintillating words, “Oh sweet Jesus Mark, that column you just wrote about neurotic fundamentalists/the Zen of Obama/divine kinkiness/Canada’s vile oilsands/gay Vatican lust/the need for more awe in the workplace just made my day/blasted coffee through my nose/completely wrecked my fragile relationship with my angry, born-again sister in Florida, and for that I should probably thank you.

log every human

Yo Cadet. What’s that in your hand?

Sophisticated software that can identify people’s faces as well as the specific size, shape or color of an object.

Unsettling? Are you kidding?

To a consumer, the prospect of having every aspect of a shopping trip or hotel stay chronicled may be unsettling and strike some as a major loss of privacy, but it is happening nonetheless

Sing to the tune of ‘Log Every Moment, Own Every Aspect’…

after the earthquake

After the earthquake, by Julie Dermansky‘The whereabouts of the billions donated remains a mystery to me and all those I have met’, reports Julie Dermansky. ‘Many have received no help at all’.

The search and rescue is over. No one is alive under the rubble. Many are in mortal danger.

Their needs are little different than the day after the earthquake. Our first stop was the Miami University Hospital on the airbase. It has grown in size and fuller than ever.

The situation is deplorable in Haiti. The need on the ground. In the tent cities. Need is the first thing. Makeshift shelters offer little.

punks and plutocrats

Paul Krugman:

Some background: we used to have a workable system for avoiding financial crises, resting on a combination of government guarantees and regulation. On one side, bank deposits were insured, preventing a recurrence of the immense bank runs that were a central cause of the Great Depression. On the other side, banks were tightly regulated, so that they didn’t take advantage of government guarantees by running excessive risks.

From 1980 or so onward, however, that system gradually broke down, partly because of bank deregulation, but mainly because of the rise of “shadow banking”: institutions and practices — like financing long-term investments with overnight borrowing — that recreated the risks of old-fashioned banking but weren’t covered either by guarantees or by regulation. The result, by 2007, was a financial system as vulnerable to severe crisis as the system of 1930. And the crisis came.

And you should bear in mind that the biggest bailouts took place under a conservative Republican administration, which claimed to believe deeply in free markets.

Republican jingoism since Ronald Reagan. Tax holidays. Stripped government. Reduced regulation. Supply side and trickle down economics… Free markets. All this purchased with skyrocketing debt.

Piling it on since Ronald Reagan


a new definition of death

What Is So Bad About Dying?

Spiegel: Dr. de Ridder, as an emergency physician, you fight to save lives every day. Which makes it interesting that you, all people, are now calling for a new definition of death in an era of high-tech medicine. Isn’t that a contradiction?

De Ridder: In my field in particular, I see how the limits of life are constantly expanding, without regard for the well-being or will of the patient. In some emergency rooms, half of all admissions now come from nursing homes. If someone who is chronically ill has a heart attack or gets pneumonia there, the most sensible thing to do is to make sure that they don’t suffer, and to refrain from doing anything else. But this is all too rare. Instead, old people, who are dying, are torn out of their familiar surroundings, rushed off to hospital in an ambulance, resuscitated and given artificial respiration. If they’re unlucky, they die in the elevator. These are horrible, undignified situations.

Spiegel: Why does it happen like this?

De Ridder: Dying a simple death is no longer an option in our society, even in places where one might expect to. Hardly anyone dies without an infusion or artificial feeding. For a long time, dying has not been natural.

SPIEGEL: What do you consider “natural death”?

De Ridder: I’m reminded of a woman in her late 80s who was still very vigorous. Her daughter brought her to our emergency room with massive intestinal bleeding. A colonoscopy showed that it was caused by a tumor. The bleeding could only have been stopped with an operation. She didn’t want it. She said that she had lived a full life and now preferred to die rather than embark on an indefinite path of suffering. The daughter agreed, and the woman died that same day. It was a totally plausible decision that no one could object to, particularly as bleeding to death is a gentle way of dying. But the doctors felt snubbed. There were bitter discussions over whether this should even have been allowed to happen.

Spiegel: But don’t doctors see themselves as guardians of human life?

De Ridder: The mandate to heal is primary, of course. But the mandate to allow someone to die well is equally important in terms of ethics. In reality, however, the chain of resuscitation and treatment often takes on a life of its own. The person who is supposed to benefit from it, with his or her individual ideas about living and dying, is no longer relevant.

water we can use

The Earth is truly a blue planet; 70% of its surface is covered with water.

Unfortunately 97.5% of that is salt water, unusable for humans. Fresh water accounts for the other 2.5%, however, about two thirds of that is locked up in glaciers and in the icy poles.

That leaves humans and every other living creature on land only about 1% of all the water on Earth to use.

The cubic miles of water on Earth:

— Oceans, Seas, and Bays – 321 million
— Glaciers, permanent snow – 5.8 million
— Groundwater – 5.6 million
— Lakes – 42,320
— Atmosphere – 3,095
— Swamps – 2,752
— Rivers – 509
— Biological Water – 269

David A Gabel:

When looking at these numbers, what really pops out is the enormous stores of groundwater available. 5.6 million cubic miles is a staggering sum, even when compared to the immensity of the oceans.

gradually more acidic

Ocean acidification is caused when the CO2 emitted by human activity, mainly burning fossil fuels, dissolves into the oceans.

It is happening independently of, but in combination with, global warming.

These changes are taking place at rates as much as 100 times faster than the last tens of millions of years. Ocean acidification could represent an equal – or perhaps even greater threat – to the biology of our planet than global warming… “We are seeing signs of its impact even in the deep oceans”, said Dr Eva Calvo, Marine Science Institute.

shuffling around priests

To sue the Pope“This is a tipping point,” Jeff Anderson said. He’s found the documents he hopes to use in a federal lawsuit against the Vatican itself.

The files show that a Vatican office led by the pope, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, halted a church trial against a Wisconsin priest accused of molesting some 200 boys.

“I came to the stark realization that the problems were really endemic to the clerical culture, and all the problems we are having in the U.S. led back to Rome.”

Since 1983, Anderson and the five other attorneys at his downtown St. Paul firm have sued thousands of Catholic priests, bishops, and dioceses over allegations of sexual abuse by priests and other church leaders.

Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests asserts, “Jeff doesn’t get sole credit, and he wouldn’t claim it, but he was among the very first to see the magnitude of this cover-up and is still among the most dedicated to its undoing.”

to damage a virus

Stop a virus before it can enter a cell, an exciting breakthrough against the flu, HIV, Ebola, hepatitis C, West Nile, Rift Valley fever, and yellow fever.

Viruses are famous for their ability to adapt, but not if we break them first.

3-D Flu VirusTo date, antiviral agents only interfere with the virus after it has entered the cell. Now comes the long-sought molecule that will prevent these viruses from attaching to our cells.

Damage the viral envelope, the shell that protects a virus. Human cells can rapidly repair their membrane, but viruses can’t.

How to prevent the fusion of the virus particle with the host cell? The immunobiology lab of Ben Lee at UCLA · Searching our immune system functions · Screening 30,000 molecules · Sealed hazmat suits · Internal oxygen supplies  · Membrane Fusion · The Attachment Molecule.

hooked on junk food

Processed food is everywhere you turn. Worldwide. And now there’s something new to consider. Cheeseburgers and milk shakes may alter the brain as much as hard drugs.

As heroin or cocaine users need to up their intake to get high, junk food also becomes addictive by altering dopamine receptors.

Like many pleasurable behaviors—including sex and drug use—eating can trigger the release of dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter in the brain.

This internal chemical reward, in turn, increases the likelihood that the associated action will eventually become habitual through positive reinforcement conditioning.

“The products have become much more processed and manufactured and therefore energy-dense, and they have worked out what things to add like sugar, salt and fat and a whole bunch of other chemicals to make it tasty.

“The brain’s reward pathways are over-stimulated. As a result the reward pathways become hypo-functional, they just don’t work as well, ” says obesity expert Professor Boyd Swinburn.

The one-two punch might be the neural effects of combining sugars and fats.

The Department of Molecular Therapeutics at Scripps is analyzing many of the food items widely available today:

They found, for example, that animals binge-eating fats and animals binge-eating sugars experience different physiological effects. They affect the brain in very different ways.

“This energy-dense stuff is very new to us as a species. It’s probably corrupting brain circuitry.”