Archive for the ‘Reference – Science’ category

A Statin Drug Can Murder Your Mind

November 17, 2008

Who Should Take a Statin?

The benefits of the statin were so striking that a monitoring board stopped the trial in midcourse so that the placebo group could get the medicine, too. Those who got the statin had 54 percent fewer heart attacks, 48 percent fewer strokes and 20 percent fewer deaths from all causes. The participants included men 50 and older and women 60 and older with no history of heart disease or high cholesterol. But they all had high levels of CRP, and many had such other risk factors as high blood pressure, obesity and smoking. Whether the statin helped because it reduced normal cholesterol to even lower levels or because it reduced CRP levels is not clear.

The rah-rah blind cheerleading of this New York Times Editorial(!) is very disturbing.

It ignores the accounts of many people whose lives have been devastated by the side-effects of statin drugs.

I was on my way to being one of those people.

The human body is the most complex system we have ever encountered. Apparently some people are able to escape the worst possible side-effects of these drugs. Others, like me, cannot.

It’s vital to know what these possible side-effects are and to be extremely vigilant in determining if they are creeping up on you. For that’s how they happen: in very, very small steps that are invisible until they impact in a very, very big way.

See my prior posts here for how Simvastatin nearly ate my mind. I’m still not convinced that I’ve been able to reverse all of its effects. We don’t have the scientific tools to measure that. And in my own case, I lack the pre-statin brain scans, etc, that could show any Before & After differences.

There is one thing I’m thoroughly convinced of: All cases of Alzheimer’s disease should first be treated by removing statins from a victim’s daily routine. Re-cholesterolize the brain and see if that makes a difference. I think we’d see many cases of Alzheimer’s disappear — or at least dramatically improve — when statins are withdrawn.

Previously here:

Iron Lady Thatcher: Dementia
Writer Terry Pratchett Has Alzheimer’s
Statin Drugs: Brain Changes?
Statin Drugs: What You Must Know
Was My Brain Screaming To Itself?
Statin Drugs And Ersatz Alzheimer’s
Statin Drugs: More Fraud
James Kendrick Describes His Stroke
Statin Drugs: Two Notes
Statin Drugs: No Blood
Statin Drugs: Does V.P. Dick Cheney Take One?
Statin Drugs: Jarvik Ads Withdrawn
Statin Drugs: More Better!
Statin Drugs: Pain For Nothing
Statin Drugs: Survey
Simvastatin Made Me Insane
Simvastatin: This Happened To Me Too!
Simvastatin Vs. My Mind
Stopping My Statin
Give Me Back My Mind!

Oil: The Other Blood #2

November 13, 2008

Endless Oil?

Everybody knows that oil and gas drilled out of the earth comes from the remains of plants and animals trapped underground millions of years ago. This received wisdom so dominates our thinking that it is enshrined in the very language we use–fossil fuels. They took eons to form, and we are using them up far faster than they can be replenished.

What if the whole theory is wrong?

That’s the premise of a small but passionate band of Russian and Ukrainian contrarians. They argue that oil and gas don’t come from fossils; they’re synthesized deep within the earth’s mantle by heat, pressure and other purely chemical means, before gradually rising to the surface. Under the so-called abiotic theory of oil, finding all the energy we need is just a matter of looking beyond the traditional basins where fossils might have accumulated.

The idea that oil comes from fossils “is a myth. … We need to change this myth,” says petroleum engineer Vladimir Kutcherov, at the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden. “All kinds of rocks could have oil and gas deposits.”

Alexander Kitchka of the Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences brashly estimates that 60% of the content of all oil is abiotic in origin, and not from fossil fuels. He says companies should drill deeper to find it.

This article appears in Forbes.

This is a hypothesis already embraced by the conspiracy theorists.

I mentioned this once before, way back in February: Oil: The Other Blood

What if it turned out to be true?

There’d be no reason to be fuel-efficient. Air pollution would be prevalent globally. The greenhouse effect would amp up.

Always a catch.

Covers: The Science!

November 11, 2008

Getting them hooked

You cannot judge a book by its cover. This tiresome cliché is nonsense, as most people in the book trade know. Readers do judge books by their covers and, more importantly, often make buying decisions based on a visceral reaction to jacket design.

Like most publishers, I am keenly interested in what factors draw people to book covers. As a publisher of children’s books, the question is also: do children look at book covers in the same way as adults?

Cover design and blurb remain two of the most influential factors in any book marketing campaign, yet publishers often spend most of their time and marketing budgets on advertising rather than cover design. Much of the selection process is based on design aesthetic, with heavy use of the so-called “hunch”. If a sizeable chunk of money is spent on design it is often as part of a rebranding exercise. These changes, again, tend to stem from aesthetic whims rather than market research.

A book’s cover is a strong marketing opportunity, yet its possibilities have been remarkably under-researched. There is the question of whether such a creative industry as publishing should be focus-grouped to death, as has happened with so many other industries. Some argue that a more scientific approach could create homogeneity, as creativity and innovation are sacrificed at the altar of increased sales. However, even in the current climate homogeneity already rules, as cover style fads spread virus-like from publisher to publisher.

It’s about children’s books, but contains some fascinating research I’ve never encountered.

This is very clever:

Given that 52.8% of respondents replied that they had a look in some way (browsing, reading the first page, or reading at random) at the inside of a book before choosing, the approach taken by Chicken House—one of those ideas that seem blindingly obvious in hindsight but that hardly anyone had thought of before—makes a lot of sense. Chicken House children’s books carry a tag-line on the back cover saying “Try it! Read page X”.

Emphasis added by me.

And don’t forget, until the time we all have 32-bit color OLED device displays, eBook covers will be in 4- (Kindle) or 8- (Sony Reader) shades of gray.

Previously here:

The Topic Of Covers … Again!
eBooks: The Issue Of Covers, Again
Free eBook: Password Incorrect
Book Covers: Murder
Book Cover: What?!
eBooks: More About Covers
eBooks: A Cover Test
They Don’t Write These Anymore

Reference: Rivaroxaban

November 10, 2008

J&J’s High-Wire Heart Drug

Peter DiBattiste spent years as an interventional cardiologist clearing out heart patients’ arteries. The depressing reality: All too often the patients would be back in the hospital just a few months later with another heart attack or stroke.

Now DiBattiste finally has a chance to do something about it. As head of cardiovascular drugs at Johnson & Johnson, he is helping lead the testing of a powerful new blood thinner in late-stage tests in heart patients at J&J and Bayer. J&J hopes the drug will one day be a huge best seller, reviving its slumping drug unit.

Getting there will be tricky. Results from a mid-stage study presented at a meeting of cardiologists showed the drug, rivaroxaban, slashed heart attacks and strokes by 31% when taken with aspirin and also, in some patients, Plavix, an anti-clotting drug from Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi-Aventis. But the results also showed significantly higher rates of bleeding in patients who took the drug. Very dangerous bleeding episodes took place in 1.2% of the patients studied.

Interesting. But then we are all given a glimpse into the complexity of our bodies:

There are two different ways the blood clots. Cell fragments called platelets clump together; Plavix and prasugrel block these. But there are also fibers in the blood called thrombin and fibrin that stitch the clot together. Rivaroxaban and apixiban block the formation of these by inhibiting an enzyme called factor Xa. Schering’s drug, called a thrombin receptor antagonist (TRA), blocks communication between the two systems — potentially working late in the clotting cascade and not thinning the blood as much.

Of course the, ahem, holy grail of healing is to answer this question: How did Jesus heal?

The Drain Of Heaven

November 8, 2008

Unknown “Structures” Tugging at Universe, Study Says

Everything in the known universe is said to be racing toward the massive clumps of matter at more than 2 million miles (3.2 million kilometers) an hour—a movement the researchers have dubbed dark flow.

Uh-oh.

Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:

Matthew 24:29

Reference: Quantum Time

November 6, 2008

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The Transactional Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics

I am excited about this because as I said before, it “feels” right and helps explain the almost psychic behavior of photons in quantum computers. They react to possibilities that have NOT YET Occurred in our present. This is to put it mildly, a huge mind-fuck.

I must read this thoroughly.

Previously here:

Did Einstein Have A Theory Of Loopholes?

Did Einstein Have A Theory Of Loopholes?

November 6, 2008

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That’s all I’d need to happen to freak me out. Run into a future me.

Now Me: Where the hell did you come from?

Future Me: What do you mean? I’ve always been here!

Now Me: Tell me what happens in the future!

Future Me: Are you nuts? You’re younger. You’ve traveled here into the future from my past. Go back there and live it out! But better!

Time’s arrow all right. Shaped like a screw!

Previously here:

I Want Time Travel: So Does He

I Want Time Travel: So Does He

November 6, 2008

Space cowboy

For more than 50 years, he’s been obsessed with finding a way to return to the past. Specifically, to the Bronx, in 1955. That’s the year his father, Boyd Mallet, died. Mallett’s lifelong mission? To traverse spatiotemporal continuum and warn his dad to take better care of himself. To tell him to kick the two-pack-a-day habit that helped lead to the fatal heart attack he suffered at the age of 33.

The Bronx? 1955? Take me with you!! That’s close enough to where I want to go. I’ll settle for it!!

Do any of you understand what it would feel like to go back in time? I do!

I now have to recount my own “journeyman” episode. It was a dream I had back in 2003 (1/26 to be precise; it’s in my Palm) and it left a permanent mark on me.

I “woke up” standing on the sidewalk looking at a protest marching north near Columbus Circle. It is sometime in the 1970s (I can’t pinpoint the year). I am seeing a protest I had actually witnessed in real life back then. But I am back there with my knowledge of today. And it hits me that I am back there with what I know now. I have traveled back in time. The vividness of the dream, its reality, is as real as real, if not realer (you know how hyper-real dreams can be; if you don’t, I feel sorry for you!). I am there. And I know the future. And all the shit that I’d been through in that future is now gone. Wiped away. I had a sense of freedom, of liberation, that I’d never before experienced in my life. I could do everything differently — and with the foreknowledge I contained inside me. I walked down to a neighborhood I once lived in for a few years. It was pre-gentrified. The rents were still low and I could see the lowlifes who had been swept out in the neighborhood’s redevelopment. They didn’t frighten me. In fact, I was without fear altogether. That I was suddenly homeless and apparently penniless didn’t bother me at all. It was the freedom of it all that excited me. I could get money, I could get an apartment — and beyond all that, I could get rich. I knew the tech stocks to invest in. I knew that Microsoft was still a private company. There was no DOS yet. No IBM PC. Reagan wasn’t yet in office (and when he came in, I’d know there’d never be a nuclear war with the Soviets — something many people actually feared during that time!). Do you understand? Can you imagine it for yourself? How absolutely exciting! To this day — over four years later! — all I have to do is recall that dream and I can recapture some of the emotion of it.

I want to go back!

I must also find out what happened with what I posted in my old blog.

At the old blog:

I Knew This Would Happen In The Future
I Think There Is Retrocausality Is There Think I

Sand, Surf, And Infection

October 25, 2008

Beaches in U.S. Host Drug-Resistant Bacteria, Researchers Find

Oct. 25 (Bloomberg) — A drug-resistant germ linked to surgical wound and urinary tract infections was found on five U.S. West Coast beaches, according to scientists who said the bacteria isn’t usually seen outside of hospitals.

Samples of sand and water were taken from seven public beaches and a fishing pier in the state of Washington and southern California, according to a study reported today at a meeting of infectious diseases doctors in the nation’s capitol. While the level of public risk is unknown, the beaches may help transmit the germ called enterococci, study authors said.

Though enterococci hasn’t reached the level of methicillin- resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, it’s growing as a public-health threat and the findings suggest the germs may have moved out of hospitals and into the general population, said Marilyn Roberts, a study author,

“I think it’s the tip of the iceberg,” said Roberts, professor of public health at the University of Washington, Seattle, in a telephone interview. The resistant enterococci “have almost always been associated with some kind of health-care facility before.”

OK, how the hell did that happen? How did it get there? Pestilential homeless people ejected from hospitals?

It now makes me wonder what the hell they’d find on the beaches of Cape Cod!

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #346: Taleb

October 17, 2008

I told you so: bankers are brainless

Taleb is in a state of considerable excitement. He is greatly in demand because his recent book, The Black Swan, includes a scathing attack on the financial system. For years he has railed against the banks – bad risks taken for the wrong reasons by incompetent people using bogus financial models. Any fool can say that now. Taleb saw it coming.

“The financial ecology is swelling into gigantic, incestuous, bureaucratic banks,” he wrote in The Black Swan. “When one falls, they all fall.” Taleb’s ideas, widely ridiculed by economists at the time, are being vindicated.

Emphasis added by me.

His book, Fooled by Randomness, is one everybody should read. It’s one of those rare books that is universal in thought and no matter what your particular interest, it can enhance your thinking about that and everything else.

I wish now I’d written to him when I first read it, shortly after it came out. It’s too late now. He’s mobbed.

But I absolutely love this guy. Some more quotes from this article:

Taleb’s writing is a passionate attack on several of modern society’s favourite ideas. First, expertise – “idiots in ties,” Taleb calls so-called experts.

He is suspicious of received wisdom. ‘We think we know infinitely more than we do. We used to think that mother’s milk was no better than bottled milk because we couldn’t find anything special in it. Now we know that Mother Nature knew better than us.”

Taleb’s contempt for self-reinforcing cabals of experts cuts across disciplines: “Academics are usually subhuman.” When my pen pauses and I look up, he adds: “You can say I said that – they are. Academia has nothing to do with producing knowledge. They produce PR. The four most important thinkers of modern history – Freud, Marx, Einstein, Darwin – none was a conventional academic.”

Emphasis added by me.

Sidenote: Who is trying to fix this global financial mess?

Bernanke: An academic!

Scared now?

More wonderfulness:

“When someone says he’s busy, he means that he’s incompetent,” says Taleb. Having a stupidly busy schedule isn’t a sign of being important. It means that you become insulated from the real world.

Emphasis added by me.

There’s lots of that around! (You think $400M-bonused Dick Fuld walked the streets of New York City? What? And risk ruining his Gucci loafers?!)

More:

Understanding luck and randomness has practical benefits for us all. “Leave some space and time redundant,” Taleb says. “It’s good for dealing with black swans.” Like slack in the system? “Exactly. We all need slack. Capitalism doesn’t teach slack. It teaches optimisation – if the banks had had twice the capital, this crisis never would have happened.”

Emphasis added by me.

I haven’t read Black Swan yet. I don’t know if that’s in the book itself.

But what did I say on September 23 in Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #225

And you’ll hear it here first now too: The bailout will FAIL.

They are applying old self-destructive greedy solutions to a problem that requires — for lack of a better business-y term — massive amounts of Slack.

Slack!

This is not something any of them are prepared to give.

And since they want to keep holding tight, they will strangle to death the very thing they’re trying to save.

They are seeking a logical solution. This requires a stochastic solution.

Emphasis in original.

This is a man, you eejits:

The colourless conformity of corporate life appals Taleb: “Screw the money. No money can compensate for being turned into a rat in a cage.” In a typical piece of intellectual mischief, his next book describes how two of his fictional characters meet Socrates when the Greek philosopher visits the modern world. One of them predicts that Socrates will notice the absence of slaves. “Absence of slaves?” the second replies. “We’ve got plenty of slaves. You can identify them because they wear neckties.”

Emphasis added by me.


Master of the Universe Self-Delusion

He had talents equal to business, and aspired no higher.

Tacitus

And finally, here is a snapshot of Taleb’s home page, with red highlighting by me:


Click = big

Yeah: Screw your money!

Think of it! Greed, ignorance. All television and no literature — think! And now any one thing is good as any other. Why, I can remember when people used to fall helplessly in love. … Now these sons of bitches love their goddamn jobs, so-called, more than their goddamn wives!

— Lee, by Tito Perdue; pgs. 64-65

Screw. Your. Money.

At the old blog:

Overclock Your Mind