Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Deficit Again Expected to Top $1 Trillion - Wall Street Journal

Deficit Again Expected to Top $1 Trillion - Wall Street Journal:

Politico

Deficit Again Expected to Top $1 Trillion
Wall Street Journal
By KRISTINA PETERSON And DAMIAN PALETTA WASHINGTON—The federal budget deficit likely will top $1 trillion for the fourth consecutive year in fiscal 2012 as the economy continues to grow at a sluggish pace, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office ...
CBO: $1.1T deficit, at least 8% jobless rate this yearUSA TODAY
CBO: Deficits mean tough choices aheadLos Angeles Times
Federal budget deficit to dip to $1.1T, CBO saysCBS News
BusinessWeek
all 423 news articles »

Salesforce launches Desk.com, slick social customer support software based on Assistly (Sean Ludwig/VentureBeat)

Salesforce launches Desk.com, slick social customer support software based on Assistly (Sean Ludwig/VentureBeat):

Sean Ludwig / VentureBeat:

Salesforce launches Desk.com, slick social customer support software based on Assistly  —  Enterprise cloud powerhouse Salesforce has launched Desk.com, a savvy customer support application that connects agents with e-mail, phone calls, and social channels, the company announced Tuesday.

The Mother Of All Herbicide Marketing Plans

The Mother Of All Herbicide Marketing Plans:

Roundup_herbicide_logoDow Agrosciences plans to double the trouble caused by Monsanto’s Roundup with a compelling marketing pitch to farmers. Tom Philpott reports for Mother Jones:


During the late December media lull, the USDA didn’t satisfy itself with green-lighting Monsanto’s useless, PR-centric “drought-tolerant” corn. It also prepped the way for approving a product from Monsanto’s rival Dow Agrosciences—one that industrial-scale corn farmers will likely find all too useful.


Dow has engineered a corn strain that withstands lashings of its herbicide, 2,4-D. The company’s pitch to farmers is simple: Your fields are becoming choked with weeds that have developed resistance to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. As soon as the USDA okays our product, all your problems will be solved.


At risk of sounding overly dramatic, the product seems to me to bring mainstream US agriculture to a crossroads. If Dow’s new corn makes it past the USDA and into farm fields, it will mark the beginning of at least another decade of ramped-up chemical-intensive farming of a few chosen crops (corn, soy, cotton), beholden to a handful of large agrichemical firms working in cahoots to sell ever larger quantities of poisons, environment be damned. If it and other new herbicide-tolerant crops can somehow be stopped, farming in the US heartland can be pushed toward a model based on biodiversity over monocropping, farmer skill in place of brute chemicals, and healthy food instead of industrial commodities.


Yet Dow’s pitch will likely prove quite compelling. Introduced in 1996, Roundup Ready crops now account for 94 percent of the soybean crops and upwards of 70 percent for soy and cotton, USDA figures show. The technology cut a huge chunk of work out of farming, allowing farmers to cultivate ever more massive swathes of land with less labor.


When Roundup Ready crops hit the market in the mid-1990s, farmers started applying more and more Roundup per acre.: From Mortensen, at al, “Navigating a Critical Juncture for Sustainable Weed Management,” BioScience, Jan. 2012

But by the time farmers had structured their operations around Roundup Ready and its promise of effortless weed control, the technology had begun to fail…


[continues at Mother Jones]

Gym generates electricity -- and competition

Gym generates electricity -- and competition: For students at a UC Irvine gym, it might be the ultimate in mulit-tasking: working out, generating electric power while they're doing it, and social networking for a bit of friendly competition.
The "Fit for Green" system, newly installed at the...

Twitter's Dick Costolo on Ads, Censorship and Google (Video) (Ina Fried/AllThingsD)

Twitter's Dick Costolo on Ads, Censorship and Google (Video) (Ina Fried/AllThingsD):

Ina Fried / AllThingsD:

Twitter's Dick Costolo on Ads, Censorship and Google (Video)  —  Twitter CEO Dick Costolo kicked off D: Dive Into Media with a bang on Monday, defending its ability to block tweets by country, rejecting the need for a stock offering and declaring 2012 to be the year of the Twitter election.

Fukushima Pets in No-Go Zone Face Harsh Winter

Fukushima Pets in No-Go Zone Face Harsh Winter:

FUKUSHIMA, Japan (Reuters) - Dogs and cats that were abandoned in the Fukushima exclusion zone after last year's nuclear crisis have had to survive high radiation and a lack of food, and they are now struggling with the region's freezing winter weather.

"If left alone, tens of them will die everyday. Unlike well-fed animals that can keep themselves warm with their own body fat, starving ones will just shrivel up and die," said Yasunori Hoso, who runs a shelter for about 350 dogs and cats rescued from the 20-km evacuation zone around the crippled nuclear plant.

[More]

Cancer Drugs Affect Mouse Genomes for Generations

Cancer Drugs Affect Mouse Genomes for Generations:

By Heidi Ledford of Nature magazine

Three common chemotherapy drugs cause DNA mutations not only in mice that receive treatment, but also in their offspring, according to a study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA .

The results suggest that the genome in treated mice became destabilized yielding new mutations long after exposure to the drugs has ceased. [More]

Massive U.S. Military Buildup Reported Around Iran; Up to 100,000 Troops Ready By March

Massive U.S. Military Buildup Reported Around Iran; Up to 100,000 Troops Ready By March:

While President Obama’s supporters hailed his withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq as the end of the war in the middle east, behind the scenes the Pentagon has been quietly massing troops and armaments on two islands located just south of the Strait of Hormuz, and within easy striking distance of Iran.


In addition to some 50,000 U.S. troops currently in the region waiting for orders (apparently they won’t be home by this past Christmas as was originally promised), Nobel Peace Prize winner President Barack Obama is deploying an additional 50,000 soldiers to be ready for ‘any contingency’ by March:


President Barack Obama is reported exclusively by DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s military and Washington sources to have secretly ordered US air, naval and marine forces to build up heavy concentrations on two strategic islands – Socotra, which is part of a Yemeni archipelago in the Indian Ocean, and the Omani island of Masirah at the southern exit of the Strait of Hormuz.


Since 2010, the US has been quietly building giant air force and naval bases on Socotra with facilities for submarines, intelligence command centers and take-off pads for flying stealth drones, as part of a linked chain of strategic US military facilities in the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf.


The Socotra facilities are so secret that they are never mentioned in any catalogue listing US military facilities in this part of the world, which include Jebel Ali and Al Dahfra in the United Arab Emirates; Arifjan in Kuwait; and Al Udeid in Qatar – all within short flying distances from Iran.


Additional US forces are also being poured into Camp Justice on the barren, 70-kilometer long Omani island of Masirah, just south of the Hormuz entry point to the Gulf of Oman from the Arabian Sea.



Western military sources familiar with the American buildup on the two strategic islands tell DEBKA-Net-Weekly that, although they cannot cite precise figures, they are witnessing the heaviest American concentration of might in the region since the US invaded Iraq in 2003.


Then, 100,000 American troops were massed in Kuwait ahead of the invasion. Today, those sources estimate from the current pace of arrivals on the two island bases, that 50,000 US troops will have accumulated on Socotra and Masirah by mid-February. They will top up the 50,000 military already present in the Persian Gulf region, so that in less than a month, Washington will have some 100,000 military personnel on the spot and available for any contingency.


US air transports are described as making almost daily landings on Socotra and Masirah. They fly in from the US naval base of Diego Garcia, one of America’s biggest military facilities, just over 3,000 kilometers away. The US military presence in the region will further expand in the first week of March when three US aircraft carriers and their strike groups plus a French carrier arrive in the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea: They are theUSS Abraham LincolnUSS Carl VinsonUSS Enterprise and the Charles de Gaulle nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.


A fourth US carrier will be standing by in the Pacific Ocean, a few days’ sailing time from the water off Iran’s coast.


Source: Debka


Still holding out hope that we won’t go to war with Iran?


There’s already reason enough for the powers-to-be to invade Iran based on the accusations that they are in the process of manufacturing nuclear weapons. Whether true or not makes no difference, as we saw with weapons of mass destruction that have yet to be found in Iraq.


Similarly, like Saddam Hussein before them, Iran’s leadership is attempting to trade their oil without going through the proper channels – in essence attempting to bypass the United States and Europe by striking deals with China, India, and Russia that will not require the exchange of oil for US dollars, but rather, Yuan, Rupees and Gold.


It may very well be that nuclear weapons, like WMD in Iraq, are simply the pretext, rather than the real reason, that will be used to crush those who oppose the financiers, politicians and influencers behind the new world order paradigm.


Make no mistake: this is serious business. They will kill as many as is needed (on our side and theirs) in order to push the agenda forward.


This is what happens when you mess with the men behind the curtains:


*Warning Graphic Video*



Hat tip Steve Quayle, Stan Deyo


“Trust me” isn’t a business plan

“Trust me” isn’t a business plan:

Knowing you can rely on someone is vital to professional relationships. But when it comes to proposing process change, the words “trust me” are never, ever enough.


For those of us in technical communication, process change often involves selecting new tools and technologies to make creating and distributing content more efficient. If you want to propose changes to your content processes, you need some compelling numbers to back up what you’re suggesting.


Don’t assume that your positive relationships with coworkers and management will guarantee a warm reception to your ideas. Yes, those relationships can help you get your foot in the door to introduce your ideas, but proposing changes without a solid business case can quickly tarnish good relationships. People don’t like having their time wasted—even by good intentions.


Photo of human pyramid

Flickr/notsogoodphotography


Boost your chances of having your proposal heard and considered by doing some research. Provide answers to tough questions such as:



  • How much time and money will be saved by the content reuse enabled by the new system?

  • What kind of savings will be achieved in automating formatting for the source language and localized content?

  • How long will it take to recoup the cost of the new system?


Even if your proposal is shot down or put on hold because of corporate belt tightening, developing a strong business case demonstrates you have an understanding of your workplace that reaches beyond writing content. That kind of analytical thinking benefits your employer and—more importantly—your career.


Trust me!

#Geocaching with Google Earth

Geocaching with Google Earth:

We took our daughters (ages 5 and 8) on their first geocaching adventure this weekend and it was great! We used the very popular Geocaching.com website, which had quite a few Google Earth tools to make our adventure easier to plan.



In particular, they have a Geocache Google Earth Viewer that you can download and use. It's essentially a network link that shows all of their geocache locations in Google Earth -- over 1.6 million of them!



geocache.jpg


It was quite handy to fly around in Google Earth, find local caches, then click to see if they were worth checking out. We eventually stumbled upon a local "challenge" (10 locations to find, including this one) and had a good time.



While the icons are clickable, I would like to see them have a bit more info. In particular, the "last found" date would be helpful, so you could quickly see if a cache was likely to still be in place.



They also integrate Google Earth by allowing you to create "routes" that are generated by uploading KML files.



For all of you geocachers out there, what is your favorite way to search for new caches to find?






Everything You Know is Wrong — Disinformation: The Podcast Series Finale

Everything You Know is Wrong — Disinformation: The Podcast Series Finale:

Everything You Know is Wrong — Disinformation: The Podcast Series Finale


iTunesDirect Download RSS


Everything You Know is WrongThis two-hour edition of Disinformation: The Podcast is the final episode of the series. Join Raymond Wiley, Joe McFall, Austin Gandy, and Joe Nolan for one last journey into the bizarre undercurrents of the human psyche. Raymond talks about the recent release of his first book, The Georgia Guidestones: America’s Most Mysterious Monument. Austin Gandy’s Invisible College returns with a new take on the infamous Knights Templar, and the Oslo shootings they are said to have inspired. Joe Nolan’s Insomnia delves into the undying myths of Carlos Castaneda, and the New Age subculture they have inspired. Finally, Raymond Wiley and Joe McFall present a retrospective discussion of their podcast careers, along with impressions of the occult mysteries, conspiracy theories, and obscure realms of belief featured in their seminal broadcasts. After 7 years, 80 podcasts, and more than a million downloads, these two friends say thank you and goodbye to the audience … For now.


#NukeFreeCal What's Happening with Vermont Yankee?

What's Happening with Vermont Yankee?:

                              


Vermont Yankee, the only nuclear reactor in Vermont, is a boiling water reactor that began operating in 1972 under a 40-year operating license. Today it’s owned by Entergy Corp and produces about 600 megawatts of power.


Yankee’s operating license expires March 21 of this year. The dispute over whether Yankee should continue operating highlights what some people see as an infringement of a state’s right to protect its citizens.


Congress gave the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) the authority to grant operating licenses to nuclear reactors. As part of this, it gave the authority over issues related to radiological safety to the NRC, rather than the states.


To continue operating past March 21, 2012 Yankee needs three things:


(1) a license extension from the NRC,


(2) a Certificate of Public Good (CPG) from the Vermont Public Service Board,


(3) a water-quality certificate under the federal Clean Water Act.


Where do these stand?


(1) In March 2011 the NRC granted the plant a 20-year license extension.


(2) When Entergy bought the plant in 2002 it signed a Memorandum of Understanding acknowledging that to operate past March 2012 it needed a new CPG from the Vermont Public Service Board. The three member Public Service Board “supervises the rates, quality of service, and overall financial management of Vermont’s public utilities,” and “reviews the environmental and economic impacts of proposals to purchase energy supply or build new energy facilities; …  evaluates the financial aspects of nuclear plant decommissioning and radioactive waste storage; reviews rates paid to independent power producers…”


In 2006 the Vermont legislature passed a law—Act 160—that allowed the legislature to prevent the Public Service Board from issuing a CPG, and the Senate voted in February 2010 to block Yankee from getting the certificate. However, this month a US District Judge held that Act 160 was unconstitutional, saying that it was clear from the debate that the law was motivated by safety concerns, which  are preempted by the federal government and therefore outside the state’s jurisdiction. This does not mean that Yankee can now operate—instead it sends the issue back to the Public Service Board to decide whether to grant a CPG. That decision can be based on a range of issues, including economics, land use, and trustworthiness of the plant’s owner, but not radiological safety.


In the meantime, the Vermont Attorney General has 30 days to decide whether to appeal the judge’s decision.


(3) The water quality issue arises from the fact that the plant discharges hot water used to cool the reactor into the Connecticut River during part of the year. Vermont has the authority to enforce federal water protection rules, and Vermont’s Agency of Natural Resources is apparently still looking into this issue. But in the meantime Vermont’s Department of Public Service and the New England Coalition have gone to court to nullify NRC’s license extension. They argue that the plant did not apply for a Clean Water Act permit as part of its relicensing, and therefore the NRC should not have granted the license extension. This issue was brought to court in June and has yet to be decided.


The plant could avoid the issue of releasing hot water by using its cooling towers year-round, but argues that this would be too expensive—a contention experts dismiss.


                                                      * * *


For an interview about Vermont Yankee with former NRC Commissioner Peter Bradford, go to part 2 of this post.

The waffle paradox

The waffle paradox:

WaffleOne way for a candidate to change the conversation around her candidacy: have her followers pelt the opposition with waffles at every public appearance. Eggos in particular are lightweight and their shape makes them easy to toss.


Particularly in primaries, simplicity and certainty are rewarded. The waffling candidate, the one who hesitates to give a clear yes or no answer to every question is seen as weak.


(Worth noting that the word "waffling" didn't start appearing in books much until after the 1960 elections).


Of course, this post isn't about politics at all. Customers and employees and vendors and regulators almost always prefer simplicity and certainty.


There are two ways to begin an answer to most questions we face in organizations:


"It's simple" and


"It's complicated."


Both are usually true. At 10,000 feet, most challenges are simple. But actually making something work is quite complicated.


Nuance is the sign of an intelligent observer. Nuance shows restaint and maturity and an understanding of the underlying mechanics of whatever problem we're wrestling with. After all, if the solution was simple, we would have solved it already.


On the other hand, resorting to nuance early and often can also be a sign of fear, of an unwillingness to go out on a limb and make a difference. Hence the reactions of boards hiring consultants and CEOs, or of passionate primary voters. "Don't tell me it's complicated. Just show me the guts to make something happen."


My vote: your goals and your strategy must be simple. You must have passion and certainty in order to make a difference as a leader. Your tactics, on the other hand, should be layered, multi-dimensional and reflect the patience of someone who cares about reaching a goal.


When Howard Schultz talks about coffee or Jill Greenberg talks about lighting or Cory Booker talks about education, they can impatiently demand clear and simple results. At the same time, successful leaders see the nuance they'll need in executing to get there.


The paradox is that the simplicity we often seek in search of solutions rarely leads to the patient leadership we need to get them.


The irony is not lost on me... the decision on when to be bold is a nuanced one.



Proposed Legislation in Oklahoma Would Outlaw Using Human Fetuses in Food

Proposed Legislation in Oklahoma Would Outlaw Using Human Fetuses in Food:

Tasty HEK 293 cells? Who knew this was a problem? The
anti-cannibalism bill [download]
introduced by State Senator Ralph Shortey (R), reads:



No person or entity shall manufacture or knowingly sell food or
any other product intended for human consumption which contains
aborted human fetuses in the ingredients or which used aborted
human fetuses in the research or development of any of the
ingredients.



Apparently, the senator has heard that, Senomyx, a flavor
research company in San Diego, has patented a
taste receptor system using proteins derived from the cell line
Human Embryonic
Kidney 293
(HEK 293) as a way to test novel flavors. The
Miami New Times
reported
that HEK 293 is: 



... a cell line that started in the 1970s from human embryonic
kidney cells. The line was cultured by scientist Alex Van der Eb in
the early 1970s at his lab at the University of Leiden, Holland.
Since then, the cell line has been cultured and grown in
laboratories (you
can buy some here
). It's primary use is as a protein or a
protein vessel -- sort of a natural test tube. It's also pretty
common and seems to be available at most laboratory supply
companies and used by many R&D facilities. In short, maybe not
such a big deal.



Senomyx apparently works with leading food companies, including
PepsiCo, Nestle, Kraft Foods, and Campbell Soups on flavor
research. Introducing the bill has not too surprisingly garnered
Sen. Shortey numerous headlines. The senator
tells
 The Atlantic blog:



"The unfortunate thing is, this has been framed as 'this guy
doesn't like fetuses in food,' " Shortey said via telephone on
Thursday. "I'm under no delusion. I don't think that's actually
happening. The headlines are phrased as 'this guy thinks there's
chopped up fetuses in your food.'"



Well, yes. One might think that since the bill does say
"contains aborted human fetuses." 


Mea culpa: My colleague Nick Sibilla was
much faster
in addressing the fetal food ban. 

Kennedy on L.A. Requiring Porn Stars to Wear Condoms

Kennedy on L.A. Requiring Porn Stars to Wear Condoms:

OK boys, strap on your rubbers, it's raining
nonsense. The Los Angeles City Council voted 9-1 to require male
porn actors to wrap their rascals and wear condoms when they're
shooting. And when they're filming. As Kennedy explains, this
job-killing regulation is certain to force the profit-making porn
industry away from L.A.’s safe and welcoming bosom.

View this article.


Piracy: It's Not Killing the Entertainment Industry

Piracy: It's Not Killing the Entertainment Industry:

Mike Masnick at TechDirt
discusses a new study
of his, The Sky is Rising, that
looks at the positive signs of growth in the entertainment
industry, for both consumers and producers, in an age when
we are told we need to empower the government to shut down the
Internet because of digital piracy of (largely) entertainment
goods.


Some details:



the overall entertainment ecosystem is in a real renaissance
period. The sky truly is rising, not falling: the industry is
growing both in terms of revenue and content. We split the report
up into video & film, books, music and video games -- and all
four segments are showing significant growth (not shrinking) over
the last decade. All of them are showing tremendous opportunity.
The amount of content that they're all producing
is growing at an astounding rate (which
again, is the most important thing). But revenue, too, is growing.
Equally important is that rather than consumers just wanting to get
stuff for free, they have continually spent a greater portion of
their income on entertainment -- with the percentage increasing by
15% from 2000 to 2008. 


This all points to the fact that what is happening within the
industry is not a challenge of a business
getting smaller -- quite the opposite. It's about the challenge of
an industry getting larger, but doing so in ways that route around
the existing structures....


Some of the key points:



  • Entertainment spending as a function of income went up by 15%
    from 2000 to 2008

  • Employment in the entertainment sector grew by 20% -- with
    indie artists seeing 43% growth.

  • The overall entertainment industry grew 66% from 1998 to
    2010.

  • The amount of content being produced in music, movies, books
    and video games is growing at an incredible pace



Read the whole study, which is contained within
the story itself
.


As Nick Gillespie noted in Reason
back in the last century
with history-making scope and
precision, the age of cultural abundance is still here, still
clear, still great, and not destroying people's ability to sell as
well as get for free cultural product.


Mike Riggs on "Who
Needs SOPA?
," noting the continuing dangers of government
attempts to crack down on the piracy supposedly but not really
killing the culture industries.

Why Geezers Are the True Enemy of the Occupy Movement

Why Geezers Are the True Enemy of the Occupy Movement:




 


"When you look at government policies, there's a massive
transfer of wealth from the young and relatively poor members of
society toward the old and relatively members of society," says
Veronique de Rugy, a Reason magazine columnist and economist at the
Mercatus Center at George Mason
University.


In 1970,
de Rugy notes
, transfers from the young to the old took up
about 20 percent of the federal budget. In a few years, that figure
will break the 50 percent barrier as the population ages and Social
Security and Medicare ramp up. Those programs are paid for by
payroll taxes that suck up around 15
percent
of every dollar most workers will ever make.


Yet the #Occupy movement spends most of its energy railing
against "the 1 Percent" richest Americans, whose wealth is not
gained at the expense of the "99 Percent." Rather, it comes from
providing goods and services that people want to consume.


As transfer payments to elderly Americans - irrespective of
wealth or need - increase in absolute and relative terms, de Rugy
argues that we should scrap entitlements and replace them instead
with a "social safety net" that helps poor Americans of whatever
age. "There's absolutely no reason to continue paying for lots of
people who have accumulated wealth their entire lives," de Rugy
tells Reason's Nick Gillespie.


About 3.40 minutes. Shot by Meredith Bragg and Joshua Swain and
edited by Swain.


Go to Reason.tv for downloadable versions of our
videos. And subscribe to this channel to get automatic updates when
new material goes live.

A #cancer cure in waiting

A cancer cure in waiting:

When people ask why I’m certain the federal laws preventing medical use of cannabis must change, my answer is simple: cancer. Curing it is the holy grail of modern medicine, and cannabinoids hold the most promise.




CBD and THC molecules



The latest study showing the cancer-fighting properties of one of the constituent components of the cannabis plant is out of Italy, where University of Naples researchers demonstrated that cannabidiol, better known as CBD, helps prevent the spread of colon cancer in an animal model of the human disease. Since colon cancer affects millions of people, this is a big deal.


But it’s not big news.



Many, many other studies have demonstrated that CBD’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions, as well as its ability to inhibit the breakdown of the body’s own endocannabinoids, have a cancer-fighting effect. CBD has been shown to kill glioma cells (the most deadly form of brain cancer), reduce the growth of lung and breast cancer cells, and inhibit the spread of cancer. And that’s just CBD.


Add in THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis available by prescription in synthetic form as dronabinol or Marinol, and scientists have demonstrated that the plant holds the potential to fight or prevent cancers of the breast, prostate, skin, lung, uterus, cervix, pancreas, mouth and biliary track, as well as leukemia, neuroblastoma, thyroid epithelioma, and gastric adenocarcinoma. All by selectively targeting cancerous cells and leaving healthy cells alone.


That’s in contrast to conventional cancer treatments that largely work by creating a toxic environment in the body with the hope that it kills the cancer before it kills the patient. And as hard as chemotherapy and radiation treatments are to tolerate, cannabinoid treatments have exceptionally low impact.


Now, to be clear: we’re not talking about a patent-medicine approach that says cannabis will cure whatever ails you, and there have been no clinical studies done with cancer patients that would show us anything conclusive one way or another.


But there is a mountain of evidence that the immune-modulating function of cannabinoids has everything to do with regulating how our bodies respond to cancers of all varieties. And it’s worth noting the federal government’s own National Cancer Institute recently published a guide for physicians that noted the cancer-fighting properties of cannabinoids and stated that cannabis could be a tool for controlling the disease.


Five days of media attention later, the NCI removed that particular bit of guidance, but what we now know about the mechanisms of cannabinoids on cancers raises significant questions about when best to use cannabis therapeutics. Most wait until the disease reaches an advanced stage, and for them the role of cannabis or dronabinol is almost entirely palliative – a tool to ease the suffering and nausea. But we have compelling evidence that cannabinoids exercise a profound prophylactic effect – potentially preventing cancers from developing in the first place.


So will people with family histories of cancer or other risk factors benefit from cannabinoids? Maybe. There are population studies that suggest so, but general results cannot predict outcomes for a particular individual. In other words, consuming lots of cannabis won’t necessarily protect you. Bob Marley died of cancer, after all.


How much might help is a serious question. We know that many of the actions of cannabinoids are dose-specific, but without qualitatively different research, we can’t know how much might be optimal to achieve any particular biologic objective, even if we know categorically that cannabis is non-toxic and well-tolerated.


Will we see that research soon? Seems likely. There’s a Nobel prize in it for someone. Sure, there are political and economic barriers. But it’s a politics of fear and an economics of greed. Neither can survive with millions of lives in the balance.


Ironically, given the vast economic engine prohibition has wrought, cannabinoids are problematic for pharmaceutical company profits, since plants are not novel compounds they can patent for the purpose of extracting return on their research investment. That means real clinical research, the kind that can develop the cancer treatments current studies promise, requires massive public funding.


Devoting hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to cannabis every year may seem daunting. But we already do.


We just spend it on interdiction and incarceration instead of research and development.


_________________________________

Research study discussed:

Aviello G, et al. Chemopreventive effect of the non-psychotropic phytocannabinoid cannabidiol on experimental colon cancer. Journal of Molecular Medicine. 2012 Jan 10.


ASA’s booklet on Cannabis and Cancer

Lawn Alternative Suggestions from the Lawn Reform Coalition

Lawn Alternative Suggestions from the Lawn Reform Coalition:

Looking for a lawn alternative? The Lawn Reform Coalition has set up a Flickr pool with some  suggestions.

Have you replaced a lawn? If you have tell us what you put in its place.

Via Garden Rant

New Flaming Lips song features Siri on vocals

New Flaming Lips song features Siri on vocals:

Siri has been getting around lately. When she's not guest starring on popular sitcoms, she's apparently lending her vocal talents to the music scene. The Flaming Lips have produced an experimental song (embedded below) called "Now I Understand," which features both Siri and Erykah Badu as vocalists.

This isn't the first time Siri has been part of a musical collaboration. Just a few days after the iPhone 4S launched, musician Jonathan Mann (perhaps most famous to Apple watchers for the Antennagate song that Steve Jobs actually played at a press conference) posted his own duet with Siri.

To my ears, all these musical experiments show is how far we have to go yet before computerized voices sound truly human. Siri does a much better job than the Mac voices of the mid-1990s did on songs like Radiohead's "Fitter, Happier," but the voicing still sounds very artificial in a musical context. We're still a long way from the vibrant, natural tones of 2001: A Space Odyssey's HAL 9000 and his rendition of "Daisy, Daisy."

Then again, with so many human singers over-utilizing autotune and starting to sound more and more robotic themselves, perhaps all we're seeing with Siri is the next step in a weird human/machine convergence in the music world.

[via Electronista]

New Flaming Lips song features Siri on vocals originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Mon, 30 Jan 2012 18:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Source | Permalink | Email this | Comments



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Wisconsin settlement funds from Microsoft being used to buy iPads for education

Wisconsin settlement funds from Microsoft being used to buy iPads for education:

Wisconsin plans to use settlement funds from Microsoft to buy 1,400 iPads for educational use. The almost $80 million in settlement funds came a result of claims that Microsoft was overcharging consumers for software.

The iPads are being paid for with $3.4 million from the funds. With Apple’s educational discounts, the schools should be able to purchase each iPad for around $479 each. They plan on initially purchasing 600 this Spring with plans to purchase an additional 800 in the Fall.

The settlement averaged out to around $85.09 per child. Not all schools chose to spend their share of the money on iPads. Some chose to spend the money on other media including smartboards, laptops, and other technology equipment.

State superintendent Tony Evers is scheduled to release a statewide digital learning plan next week. The district’s director of technical services, Bill Smojver, thinks the iPads are going to be a significant transition for education.

“This is the most significant transition point for having digital learning at the optimal level,”

Apple’s recent education announcement was met with enthusiasm by Smojver, who thinks it’s a significant development. He still believes the schools will proceed cautiously when it comes to replacing traditional media with electronic versions.

There are currently around 50 school districts in Wisconsin currently implementing iPads according to Minnestota-based technology consultant, Naomi Harm. While some schools are going to experiment with students actually having access to the iPads, some are going to allow teachers access to implement them in planning and record-keeping.

iBooks Author has given authors an easy way to put together digital textbooks. iBooks 2 gives those authors a huge marketplace for distribution. Leanna has already stated that she believes this is only the beginning for iPads in education.

Source: Wisconsin State Journal via AppleInsider



#OccupyMINDS Slogan Contest/West Coast Tour

Slogan Contest/West Coast Tour:
Just finished up my West Coast Tour, posting 120+ signs between Seattle and San Diego and looking forward to doing it again. This time I'd like to focus on climate change and am asking your help finding the right slogans. Slogans should be short, smart, fit well into a rectangle and look good in traffic. Winner gets a thousand dollars and has their message displayed alongside freeways up and down the west coast. Second and third place winners, if they're good enough for the freeways, will receive 500 and 250 dollars respectively and have their messages posted as well. Original work is preferred but not mandatory, and apart from the right to post them publicly, I will make no claim to winning entries as intellectual property. Send entries to freewayblogger - at - yahoo - dot - com. Deadline for submissions is March 15th.

(Signs posted on latest tour. Click on cities for more.)