Category Archives: Medical

Earth: galactic laboratory

Here’s an alternative “Zoo” hypothesis regarding a solution to the Fermi Paradox. We’ll call it the Lab Hypothesis.

If you’ll recall, the Zoo Hypothesis is the idea that intelligent, space-faring cognizants exist and they, either a single species or a collective, have intentionally isolated Earth (we’re effectively quarantined) in order to allow humanity to sink-or-swim, as it were.

The Lab Hypothesis is similar, however, the determining factor is that outside intervention is not forbidden, only restricted. And that Earth is “mined” for the myriad lifeforms and organic compounds and molecules that are produced by those lifeforms.

Think, autonomous chemistry laboratory, which haphazardly creates and/or evolves millions of chemicals which are rare in the galaxy. These fabrications are collected by aliens (which might explain the errant sightings of spacecraft), and then sold/traded/used by other populations of intelligent races in the galaxy.

Consider that life is rare (so far — very rare). And that life itself is more capable when it comes to producing strange new chemicals. Even the most advanced AI-computers in the galaxy cannot calculate the working, stable combinations of elements that make up, say, vanilla, cinnamon, coffee, banana, okra, or cannabinoids, millions of chemical and drug compounds the corp-pharma industry searches for in the jungles of the world.

Life, nature, is just too good at making stuff up that works, on some level, to affect living beings, psychotropically, physically, or materially (spider silk for example).

So, Earth is a lab, and we’re lab-rats, and the thousands of spices, fragrances, liquids, intoxicants, etc. that we enjoy — our alien neighbors do too.

But they want to keep it a secret — and not risk polluting the petri-dish.


Changing the mind, again

I copied this from an email From Mr. Pollan. I’ll delete it (probably) when his book comes out in May, 2018. I’m a fan of Michael’s, I’ve read most of his books. And I’ll be reading this one.

I bothered to copy this here as the topic of “changing your mind” seems to be popular, one we’ve discussed here and on other blogger’s sites. Funny how society converges on the same thing at the same time. Maybe we’re already a hive-mind.

A Note From Michael Pollan
“A trip well worth taking, eye-opening and even mind-blowing.”
—Kirkus Reviews
Dear Readers,It’s been a while since I’ve written, but I have been busy reporting and writing a new book that I’ve just completed. I’m excited to tell you about it.

HOW TO CHANGE YOUR MIND: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence will be published in May. As the title suggests, the new book represents something of a departure for me—at least from writing about food.(As one early review put it, I’ve turned from “feeding your body to feeding your head.”)But as those of you who have been following my work for a while know, what unifies all my writing is a fascination with our symbiotic relationships with other species in nature, whether for food, beauty, or intoxication. I’ve had a long-standing interest in psychoactive plants and the age-old human desire to change the texture of consciousness. You may recall I wrote about cannabis inThe Botany of Desire and about growing opium in Harper’s several years before that.

The new book grew out of the reporting I did for a 2015 article about psychedelic psychotherapy in the New Yorker, called “The Trip Treatment.” I interviewed a number of cancer patients who, in the course of a single guided session on psilocybin (the main psychoactive molecule in magic mushrooms), had such a powerful mystical experience that their fear of death either faded or vanished altogether. I became curious to learn how that might be possible—how a molecule produced by a mushroom, of all things, could produce such a radical change in the mind of a human, such that death lost its sting.

So began what became a two-year journey into the world of psychedelics—LSD, psilocybin, Ayahuasca and something called 5-MeO-DMT. The book explores the renaissance of scientific research into these compounds and their potential to relieve several kinds of mental suffering, including depression, anxiety, and addiction. I spent time with neuroscientists who are using psychedelics in conjunction with modern brain imaging technologies to probe the mysteries of consciousness and the self. Several of the scientists I met are convinced psychedelics could revolutionize mental healthcare and our understanding of the mind.

But what I didn’t expect when I embarked on this journey was for it to result in what is surely the most personal book I’ve ever written. As you know, I like to immerse myself in whatever I’m writing—whether that means buying a steer or apprenticing myself to a baker. What began as a third-person journalistic inquiry ended up a first-person quest to learn what these medicines had to teach me about not only the mind but also my mind, and specifically about the nature of spiritual experience. This book has taken me places I’ve never been—indeed, places I didn’t know existed.

As you can imagine, I’m both excited and nervous to publish How to Change Your Mind this spring. I do hope you’ll check it out. I plan to post an excerpt on my website in a couple of months, and will alert you when I do. I’ll soon be updating the website with a rich array of resources on psychedelics. For now, though, here’s the advance review of the book from Kirkus, quoted from above.

I’ll be in touch more regularly in the next few months, to bring you news of the book as well as my extensive speaking schedule this spring. Hope to see you in person at one of these events.

All best,

Rewarding logic: Spock paradox

Why would Spock prefer a logical solution to an illogical one?

The human brain is fixated on self-reward. Our endocrine system, in concert with our cerebrum, serve to lead us in how we think and react to our world. The two systems work together to produce our behavior. There are dozens if not hundreds of hormones that serve to swill into our mind coating it and bathing it to produce drug like euphoria which, more often than not, reinforces our behavior to play-it-again-Sam.

This works for hormones like oxytocin, the more you bond with a loved one the more you want to bond; dopamine, the more you feed the reward hormone the more reward you crave; serotonin, the more content you are the more content you want to be. And there are others that behave this way. And some that go the opposite way. Ghrelin, for instance, is the hunger hormone and if you feed yourself (after being hungry), your stomach lining will stop producing it.

But what of pure thinking, logical problems? I propose that solving mental problems produces similar hormonal reward releases just as the other behaviors do. And, in fact, we know this is true; dopamine gets squirted into your system every time you see that orange dot on the wordpress bell (or fadebook or twitter or instagram, etc.). Positive feedback  during social interaction is an addictive behavior and dopamine is the culprit.

I write software. When I have a tough logical problem to crack, which I end up solving,  at that moment of realization of my breakthrough — I feel great! I just dialed up my dopamine drip. Solving logical puzzles is an addictive process. OK, maybe not addictive, but there is a reward provided by the brain when a solution is discovered.

Ah ha! moments are like a drug.

So here’s the paradox: why would Spock — as a Vulcan — prefer a logical solution if, as an emotionless being, no reward would be forthcoming for said selection?

Yes, Spock is 1/2 human, but as a Vulcan, there would be no hormonal release of a dopamine equivalent. So, why bother? If you don’t “get” anything out of choosing logic vs illogic, why be adamant about its selection? Humans, on the other hand, I believe, select a logical solution precisely because it feels good to do so. An illogical solution does not provide the reward.

Human brains and hormones work together to keep us selecting species benefiting choices. A well thought out logical solution is its own reward — because that reward feels good, it physically feels good. Spock? Vulcans? They would have no reason to pursue logic as they do.

A post of similar sentiment, that is, hormones and human response:


No Money in antibiotics

Corp-Pharmaceuticals are waiting until the epidemics are eminent before they even consider wasting research and production on antibiotics. This is not across the board of course, but the trend is there. Actually ‘saving’ the world is a low priority for corporations. making money once it gets really bad — well, that’s a profitable mode of operation.

Corp-Pharma = Evil.

“Antibiotic resistance is growing, and we are fast running out of treatment options. If we leave it to market forces alone, the new antibiotics we most urgently need are not going to be developed in time.”

WHO priority pathogens list for R&D of new antibiotics

Priority 1: CRITICAL

  • Acinetobacter baumannii, carbapenem-resistant
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa, carbapenem-resistant
  • Enterobacteriaceae, carbapenem-resistant, ESBL-producing

Priority 2: HIGH

  • Enterococcus faecium, vancomycin-resistant
  • Staphylococcus aureus, methicillin-resistant, vancomycin-intermediate and resistant
  • Helicobacter pylori, clarithromycin-resistant
  • Campylobacter spp., fluoroquinolone-resistant
  • Salmonellae, fluoroquinolone-resistant
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae, cephalosporin-resistant, fluoroquinolone-resistant

Priority 3: MEDIUM

  • Streptococcus pneumoniae, penicillin-non-susceptible
  • Haemophilus influenzae, ampicillin-resistant
  • Shigella spp., fluoroquinolone-resistant


How to cure this? (ha!)

Put a society funded (government) bounty on creating effective drugs that combat drug resistant bacteria — with a guaranteed production and delivery of N numbers of doses over X number of years, all at an agreed upon ‘society benefiting’ fixed price.

Penalize drug companies that do not participate by adding additional months of FDA approval time to any drugs on the docket.

“Hey, Drug Companies! Society needs this. You’re in the business. DO IT! Or find another means to fill your shareholder’s bank accounts.”


WellCare SickCare

National Healthcare Idea

The current health care crisis (ACA) is in the process of being “solved” (yeah, right). I have scant knowledge of the proposed plan to fix the problem. However, talking this morning we discussed a possible alternative system which might be palatable to a fairly large percentage of participants (people, insurance, drug, government).

Split health care into two parts:

WellCare and SickCare

WellCare will be government sponsored and available without question to ALL US citizens.

SickCare will be insurance controlled and available only to those under premium/deductible payment systems.

WellCare will provide checkups, immunizations, mammograms, health screening, cancer screening, nutrition counselling, influenza shots, treatment and medication for temporary ailments. Essentially all care which keeps you healthy and/or get you back to health within a month’s time. Productivity of a society is the key here. Keeping society healthy should be the governement’s only health related goal. Beyond that is the responsibility of the individual.

SickCare takes over where WellCare leaves off – and is NOT free. Severe and/or lasting injury, long term ailments, chronic diseases should all be covered under SickCare. Society as a whole should not be held responsible for an individual’s genetic, accidental or situational conditions. Individuals must plan for extending health beyond society’s capacity for general populace care.

Where to place the dividing line between the two care systems is the critical question. If it keeps you healthy or returns you to health within one month then it is WellCare. Otherwise it is SickCare.

This is no doubt simplistic. But the core concept of two systems is sound.

Society has a responsibility – to a point – of taking care of its own. This is good economic sense. Care beyond this point however, is bad economic sense. And if a society cannot be economically viable then it will die.

Torte reform must also be part of the overall solution — got to get those lawyers out of the mix — suing doctors for profit.

Also reference:


Misery != Profit

Industries which profit from misery should not be profit seeking.

Here’s an ugly thought, and although it would never be stated as true, is true none-the-less:

• If every person on the planet became diabetic, Novo Nordisk, Sanofi, and Mannkind (among others) share holders and board members would be thrilled (they make insulin).

• If every person on earth contracted cancer, Genentech (the leading cancer drug company) and its shareholders and board members would be equally energized (despite having cancer and diabetes).

• If you STOPPED getting sick, were healthy all your days until you died of old age these pharmaceutical companies would all collapse and die AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Pfizer, Roche, Johnson & Johnson and many others (representing nearly $500Billion in annual revenue – they MAKE that much money off of our misery every year).

There are other industries, like the entire health care system, HMOs and insurance industry. The healthcare system only makes money when you are sick or dying. The insurance industry only makes money when you THINK you are going to be sick or dying.

Lawyers who specialize in malpractice litigation are another foul industry — they only make money when you’re ill or dying AND you claim your doctor or hospital made you sicker or killed you.

For them your misery = their livelihood.

This is EVIL.

How do you fix it? It’s obvious I’m afraid. Many progressive countries have made the switch over to cure this egregious misanthropy: socialized medicine.

What entity does NOT want you to get sick, or be unhealthy causing you to be unproductive and becoming a costly burden on society? Society of course! And what is the central representation of society in every country on the planet? Government.

In a socialized healthcare system government loses money when you’re sick and can’t work, when you can’t be productive in society. So, government and the offices they create will try and make sure you are cured as quickly and effectively as possible. They’ll advance medicine and care systems to try and keep you healthy and reduce costs not increase them.

Society wants its citizens to be healthy and productive. Corporations want citizens to be sickly and profitable. Novo Nordisk does NOT want your diabetes cured — they want you to be forced to buy insulin for the rest of your life. Novo Nordisk loves the booming trend of obesity – get fat and get sick is their mantra.

That is EVIL!

Industries that make money off of our misery should be severely regulated and taxed or better yet – nationalized.



(Comments from WashPO)

My Comments

What the rise of the finance industry, and recent support by $trillions of QE, has given the wealthy is the threat theory that they must prepare for the next revolution. What they don’t seem to realize is that Americans are not that bad off — enough — to trigger general revolt. And will probably never be.

Additionally, and this is to article’s unstated assumptions and some comments, it’s not the lack of wealth in the lower 90% that causes the inequality, it’s the lack of the velocity of expenditures through the 90% that has exacerbated the inequality problem.

If the wealthy were to figure out that the dividends they earn from the investments they hold would expand greatly were they to hand out $1000 checks to every 90%’er in the country, they would be lining up to increase the circulation of funds. Think about it, pay a struggling mother, or a 20 something wage slave a thousand dollars, what will they do with it? Save it? Hell no. They’ll spend it like it was on fire. What would 100 million people spending an extra $1000 do to the economy? It would kick it in the pants. Profits would rise in the corporations where the money was spent. And the rich would get richer.

Decreasing the inequality, more equitable distribution of all wealth, will increase the velocity of money through the economic system thereby boosting everyone’s over-all wealth.
6/10/2016 2:12 PM PST [Edited]

Currently in locales where marijuana is legal the primary problem is the lack of banking access. Pot shops are cash based only which exposes them to raids and thievery. So the fact that the Fed still treats marijuana as schedule 1 must be fixed to really cure the problem in the U.S.

Additionally, why separate shops to offer this single product (OK, edibles too) for sale? Marijuana is a drug, so let pharmacies regulate it and sell it. If you want to buy it — buy it at your local grocery story pharmacy. There its quality and quantity would be controlled. Access controlled. And the taxes collected and tallied. It’s a drug. Drugs are sold by pharmacists. Seems pretty logical to me.
6/10/2016 1:06 PM PST

What’s that old adage? A camel is a horse designed by committee.

Correct me if I’m wrong (the internet is very good at that), but way back when, wasn’t the “corporation” originally a creation whereby a local government invited multiple merchants and construction agents to join, for a time, into a single entity — solely for the purpose of creating public works like bridges?

And could that work again? Collect all the interested, somewhat adversarial, parties into a single entity whose sole purpose would be to “repair a bridge” or “fix a water system” or “repair a levee system”…?
5/28/2016 10:08 AM PST [Edited]

HG Wells knew how to kill off an invasive species… Superbugs are just nature’s way of eradicating the real contagion (humankind). Now, this is one weapon that the super rich cannot combat with their money, “sorry Mr. Walton, sirs, nothing we have will cure you of your infection — you’re going to die just as everyone of your employees might.” Are superbugs the ultimate retribution, although a pyrrhic end of humanity?
5/27/2016 5:36 PM PST

>”Trump’s own real estate career suggests the rules that govern those deals are often negotiable; lending terms can be renegotiated when a borrower is close to default, for example.”

That statement is the core of the Drumpf financial filosophy (sic). Donut thinks he can simply renegotiate much of what is on the books, as far as financial transactions go, for a “better deal”. The guy is so full of hubris that he believes his chutzpah can tunnel its way through the reality of world finance — and come out the other end not stinking of the irrationality its dipped in.

Spread the word, Hillary is a plutocrat, no question, but better one of those than a financial delusionist.
5/9/2016 5:56 PM PST

No one tries to be happy. Either it happens or it doesn’t.

Causation? If happiness “just happens” (or not) then there can be no causation right?

“If I can make just one more person’s life miserable, I’ll be happy.” — Leximize
3/6/2016 9:35 AM PDT

Who’s up for a little Quantum Easing?
Big Bang Theory or Big Bank Theory?
“This helicopter, Ben, only has one control; lower or higher, I think you need a few more.” “Sheldon, try pressing that button on the dash that reads ‘QE’, that should put a massive spin on things.”
2/29/2016 2:19 PM PDT

Productivity measurements are broken.
Take the smartphone for example.

• “Deliver to me all the world’s news, millions of hours of video entertainment, instant communication with everyone I’ve ever known, the delivery of my work product, instantly to millions of people.” And so on and so forth. Take the sum total delivered service in that statement, dial back the calendar to 1950 and then calculate how much it might cost to provide that.
• “Deliver to me a ham sandwich.” The ag-corp complex has turned that product delivery into a fraction of its cost 20 or 40 years ago.
• “Deliver to me the latest best seller novel.” The comparison to 20 years ago is immense.
• “Deliver to me a new pair of socks.” Same thing.

True productivity is through the roof. What is NOT advancing, what is falling further an further behind is HUMAN productivity. We are being replaced.

(Matt, you polluted your article with a tangential reference to the Great Recession — had no reason to do that — you totally muddied your argument.)
2/26/2016 9:59 AM PDT

“Whenever we allow government to pick winners and losers…” And if we let YOU pick the winners and losers all we’d have would be monopolies. What would be more appropriate are better rules to ensure Koch Industries has to deal within the same constraints as every business out there. Campaign limits, lobby limits would be good starts. Maybe the 28th Amendment — corporations are NOT people — would help too. What’s that? I can’t hear you over the din of people telling you go to off fishing and to not come back.
2/18/2016 10:49 PM PDT

?Excellent information, thanks WaPo.
It has been established that experiences and memories, which would include opinions based on thoughts, are represented as actual physical connections of dendrites within the brain. One’s belief that the “world is flat” resolves to actual pathways in the brain which store this information. It is my belief that to change your mind — the world is round — is to force a physical remapping of your mind. And that this breaking and recreation of dendrite channels *hurts*. I have no evidence to support this supposition that there may be pain (or the facsimile thereof) involved in assuming an alternative opinion. But the physical remapping appears to be fact. That an actual physiological change occurs… must be significant.
2/14/2016 11:08 AM PDT [Edited]

3 LikesFood consumption drive-thrus are nothing more than a satellite symptom of an established pattern of behavior that has failed to develop with the times.

There is no reason for a large percentage of workers these days to DRIVE to work — at all. If you are an information worker — as most of those 86% most likely are, you should be telecommuting.

Information companies should be taxed for each parking space taken up by a worker’s auto. $10/day for every car that show up in your parking lot. Got 50 people driving to work to sit in a cubicle? That’s $500/day. That should be a great source of income for repairing our roads and bridges. AND great incentive to force businesses to encourage telecommuting.

If you sit at a desk and type on a computer for 70% of your day — you should work from home. Period. Time for US business to lose this powertrip manager mentality.
2/14/2016 10:45 AM PDT

You make a deal with the Devil and you eventually pay the price.
Let’s face it. Corporations have only one master — the bottom line. If you fall below that, no matter who or what you are, expect to get cut; downsized. There’s no spite in it. Only a seemingly callous indifference to the people who patronize their business.
No doubt some of these closures could have been eased into, perhaps transferred or sold. And maybe for little towns like Kimball, it’s an opportunity to take back their community from corporate greed and avarice.
2/5/2016 4:53 PM PDT

Can’t. Small. Talk. Is love humanity’s gift to the Universe? What areas of the globe might actually benefit from AGW? What three foods would you choose to only eat forever on? Empathy felt by pets, does it echo our own, supersede it or is it something entirely different? What would you grab first if an earthquake started RIGHT NOW? Are smartphones just a phase? Will we be using pocket Watson’s soon? Can’t. Small. Talk. I just can’t.
1/25/2016 5:25 PM PDT

Jonas and the Great White Wail
1/21/2016 8:58 PM PDT

If the Sol system is typical just think of all the planetary sized objects (sub or otherwise) floating around the Universe. It’s not just 5-10 planets per star, it’s more like 20-100 planetary-like objects.
I think that’s my major gripe with existence; I’m envious of humanity circa 3016, or 4016 and the access they may have to such distant worlds. The fantasy of existing in those distant epochs is alluring to say the least.
1/20/2016 9:55 AM PDT

9 Replies ?Inequality is a result of poorly designed rules. Change the rules and you change the game. Here’s a couple of simple rules to help level out income inequality:

• Employee Income Inequality Tax
• Income Inequality Maximum Dividend

Essentially, corporations must pay a tax based on employee income equality. The greater the inequality, the greater the tax.

Additionally, corporation dividends are limited to the inverse of their employee’s income inequality. As inequality increases the maximum dividend allowable decreases.

Simple rules that will incentivize corporations to ensure that their pay scales are as level as possible.

For a company that pays everyone equally, there is no tax and no limit to the dividend.

For a company that exhibits the worst disparity, a 500 to 1 ratio, the tax would be 5% of gross income and a maximum of 0.0% dividend. Corporate boards will be sure to make sure they reduce such disparity as they will be penalized for their ugly inequality. Also, all of the numbers will be publicly published so that severely offending corporations are shamed or coerced into complying as the worst offenders set the basis for all of the calculations.

The bottom line is create rules that anyone can understand that will apply as incentives for corporations to do the right thing.
1/18/2016 2:21 PM PDT

?Proposed federal tax scale
Applied to gross income – no write offs – straight sliding scale tax.


Interstitial rates would be scaled accordingly. Examples:
($90,000 : 19% = $17,200)
($450k : 24.5% = $110,250)

After 1B gross income the tax % would be pinned to 60%
Seems reasonable to me.
1/12/2016 10:10 AM PDT

?Everybody is exhausted by the ultra-right and their 1700’s mentality about government suppression and conspiracy. Most anyone who’s banging the conspiracy drum thinks there’s a British invasion, one-if-by-land, two-if-by-sea, event about to happen. Jeeze, the President’s right, grow the hell up and get out of your backwoods mentality. ‘Merican’s will always have guns and there’s no way to deny us of that right. It just won’t happen.
Hey Snowden? The prez trying to steal our guns? No? OK then!
1/11/2016 4:28 PM PDT

?Islam, unfortunately, is a leptokurtotic distributed ideology. That is, the bell curve of Islam has fat tails. At the fringes of the distribution curve a leptokurtosis distribution has far more extreme events than a normal bell curve. Meaning that although there are a billion or more centrally positioned Muslims, there are also thousands more radicals, those who exist in the fat tail of the curve. Tens of thousands in fact. And a radical Muslim, again unfortunately as a reflection on the whole of that religion, is far worse than a radical Christian, Jew, Buddhist, Hindu, Atheist, etc.
11/17/2015 4:24 PM PDT

3 LikesNow, how many people die from car accidents?
How many people die from toxins, both poisonings and septicemia?
How many people die from drug overdoses?

Each one is incrementally greater than the first. And gun deaths is the lowest.

Want to save lives?
• Stop driving.
• Provide better health care to the poor.
• And do not treat drug addiction as a crime.
10/17/2015 3:10 PM PST

Thanks Ana, great job.
I’d like to have your opinion on China’s expansion in Africa. Will African nations become the food and materials baskets to China in the next decade or three?
9/23/2015 6:15 PM PST [Edited]

The markets and the government has put the FED on a pedestal. The FED thinks itself a god while we suffer being its plaything. And yet we continue to put up with its impulsive whimsy. Gold, silver and oil all jumped today with the rumor that the probably of the FED raising rates fell due to some metric released. What nonsense! The FED has TOO MUCH POWER (and Wall Street loves it).

What would happen if interest rates were set on a scheduled rise up to some reasonable level? What if you could expect that next year rates would be 1%, the following year 2%, and so on? Would you be inclined to start accelerate your borrowing in order to lock in lower rates? Yes. Would you buy that new car or home now to do the same? Yes. Would you take solace knowing that your meager savings were now earning interest? Yes. Would Wall Street quail a bit, equity returning back to balanced levels? Yes. Would investments pulled from the markets then enter capex, expansion and growth? Yes.

Set rate expectations and leave them alone! GO AWAY FED!
9/16/2015 1:39 PM PST

?The FED always surprises. Why? Because the FED is a capricious entity with too much power in its primitive yet gross control mechanisms. The FED sneezes and the markets grab a tissue. The FED smiles and the markets starting singing.
SET EXPECTATIONS and take the flippant fancy out of the FEDs findings. Establish a plan and return balance to all the financial instruments. A simple obvious plan: 25 basis points every quarter for 5 years. No surprises. No impulsive market shocking changes. Just a consistent continuous realization of a return to normal.
9/15/2015 11:34 AM PST