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Monday, August 31
by Debashish on August 31, 2009 09:30PM (PDT)
The Critical Art Ensemble is a collective of five artists of various specializations dedicated to exploring the intersections between art, technology, radical politics and critical theory.
Here we carry part of one of their Tactical Projects on "The Therapeutic State." more »
Sunday, April 19
by Rich on April 19, 2009 02:04PM (PDT)
Reference: 100 Years of Sri Aurobindo on Evolution
The scientific tradition of the "West," of Europe and North America, has had its greatest success when it has dealt with what we have come to think of as the central questions of scientific inquiry: "What is this made of?" and "How does this work?" Over the centuries, we have developed more and more sophisticated ways of answering these questions. We can cut things open, slice them thin, stain them, and answer what they are made of. We have made great achievements in these relatively simple areas, but have had dramatic failures in attempts to deal with more complex systems. We see this especially when we ask questions about health. When we look at the changing patterns of health over the last century or so, we have both cause for celebration and for dismay. Human life expectancy has increased by perhaps thirty years since the beginning of the twentieth century and the incidence of some of the classical deadly diseases has declined and almost disappeared. Smallpox presumably has been eradicated; leprosy is very rare; and polio has nearly vanished from most regions of the world. Scientific technologies have advanced to the point where we can give very sophisticated diagnoses, distinguishing between kinds of germs that are very similar to each other.
But the growing gap between rich and poor make many technical advances irrelevant to most of the world's people. Public health authorities were caught by surprise by the emergence of new diseases and the reappearance of diseases believed to be eradicated. In the 1970s, it was common to hear that infectious disease as an area of research was dying. In principle, infection had been licked; the health problems of the future would be degenerative diseases, problems of aging and chronic diseases. We now know this was a monumental error. The public health establishment was caught short by the return of malaria, cholera, tuberculosis, dengue, and other classical diseases. But it was also surprised by the appearance of apparently new infectious diseases: the most threatening of which is AIDS, but also Legionnaire's disease, Ebola virus, toxic shock syndrome, multiple drug resistant tuberculosi, arid many others. Not only was infectious disease not on the way out, but old diseases have come back with increased virulence and totally new ones have emerged.
How did this happen; why was public health caught by surprise? Why did the health professions assume that infectious disease would disappear and whey were they so wrong? In fact, infectious disease had been declining dramatically in Europe and North America for the last 150 years... more »
Thursday, May 1
by Ron on May 1, 2008 02:00AM (PDT)
Albert Hofmann was a synthetic chemist with Sandoz Laboratories, now Novartis, in Switzerland when in 1943 he stumbled on the hallucinatory effects of LSD. After it became seen by Harvard's Timothy Leary and others in the '60s as a pathway to spiritual enlightenment, and then as a major recreational drug, ... more »
Saturday, April 19
by rakesh on April 19, 2008 04:04PM (PDT)
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is considered the most common psychiatric disorder experienced during childhood. Some references indicate an incidence as high as 10% of American school-age children. Most references, however, place the incidence in this age group at around 2%–5%. Approximately 80% of children with ADHD continue to have symptoms of the condition as adolescents, and more than 60% of children experience symptoms as adults. If these estimates are correct, between 2 and 5 million adults who had ADHD as a child continue to be affected by the condition. Many adults with ADHD have not been diagnosed as such. more »
Saturday, April 12
by Ron on April 12, 2008 02:00AM (PDT)
Nature magazine publishes the results of an online survey of 1400 scientists from 60 countries. -- One in five respondents said they had used drugs for non-medical reasons to stimulate their focus, concentration or memory.
For those who choose to use, methylphenidate (Ritalin) was the most popular: 62% of users reported taking it. 44% reported taking modafinil (Provigil), and 15% said they had taken beta blockers such as propanolol, revealing an overlap between drugs. 80 respondents specified other drugs that they were taking. The most common of these was adderall, an amphetamine similar to methylphenidate. But there were also reports of centrophenoxine, piractem, dexedrine and various alternative medicines such as ginkgo and omega-3 fatty acids. ... more »
Friday, March 21
by Ron on March 21, 2008 01:48PM (PDT)
...the emergence of a new demographic trend has largely been ignored. Today, worldwide fertility rates are at an all time low, and in the decades following 2050 the global population is actually expected to stabilize and possibly decrease. The two factors driving this new pattern are the emergence of women’s rights on a global scale and the expectation among parents that all their children will survive to maturity.
Fertility rates, the best indicators of long term population changes, refer to the average number of children a woman will have. In order for a given population to replace itself, its fertility rate must be at 2.1 or higher. Graph 1 illustrates the decline of fertility rates that has occurred in the last fifty years, and shows projections for the next fifty years. ... more »
Sunday, January 20
by Ron on January 20, 2008 02:00AM (PST)
In an "unforeseen and unprecedented" shift, the world food supply is dwindling rapidly and food prices are soaring to historic levels, the top food and agriculture official of the United Nations warned Monday. -- The changes created "a very serious risk that fewer people will be able to get food," particularly in the developing world, said Jacques Diouf, head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
The agency's food price index rose by more than 40 percent this year, compared with 9 percent the year before - a rate that was already unacceptable, he said. New figures show that the total cost of foodstuffs imported by the neediest countries rose 25 percent, to $107 million, in the last year.
At the same time, reserves of cereals are severely depleted, FAO records show. World wheat stores declined 11 percent this year, to the lowest level since 1980. That corresponds to 12 weeks of the world's total consumption - much less than the average of 18 weeks consumption in storage during the period 2000-2005. There are only 8 weeks of corn left, down from 11 weeks in the earlier period.
Prices of wheat and oilseeds are at record highs, Diouf said Monday. Wheat prices have risen by $130 per ton, or 52 percent, since a year ago. U.S. wheat futures broke $10 a bushel for the first time Monday, the agricultural equivalent of $100 a barrel oil. ... more »
Thursday, January 17
Tuesday, January 15
"The Devil's Doctor: Paracelsus & the World of Renaissance Magic and Science," a review by Erik Davis
by Ron on January 15, 2008 02:00AM (PST)
...[I recently read] "The Devil's Doctor: Paracelsus and the World of Renaissance Magic and Science," by the British science writer Philip Ball. As part of an ongoing but essentially lazy quest to wrap my psyche around alchemy, I had recently been drawn towards Paracelsus: the wonder-working itinerant sixteenth-century healer who is sometimes cast as the Copernicus of medicine. Rejecting the leech-loving, bass-ackwards, and literally by-the-book healing practices of most medieval doctors, Paracelsus instead made room for a medicine based on plants, material causality, and self-healing powers of the body.
Having already brushed up against Paracelsus' own rich but impenetrable prose, I was immensely relieved that Ball had appeared to lead me through the Renaissance thickets by the secondary hand. (I told you I was lazy.) Given the noodle-limp dollar, The Devil's Doctor was about the only thing I purchased in the UK. I read almost the whole thing on the plane ride home, in between marveling at the glittering, melting majesty of Iceland and Greenland as they unrolled below me and marveling at the complete absorption of all but one of my fellow travelers in the movies flickering across their cramped little screens. ... more »
Saturday, December 29
by Ron on December 29, 2007 02:35PM (PST)
Here's another excerpt from Michael Talbot's fascinating book The Holographic Universe. I continue to recommend this book.
...Other experiences included the accessing of racial and collective memories. Individuals of Slavic origin experienced what it was like to participate in the conquests of Genghis Khan's Mongolian hordes, to dance in trance with the Kalahari bushmen, to undergo the initiation rites of the Australian aborigines, and to die as sacrificial victims of the Aztecs. And again the descriptions frequently contained obscure historical facts and a degree of knowledge that was often completely at odds with the patient's education, race, and previous exposure to the subject. For instance, one uneducated patient gave a richly detailed account of the techniques involved in the Egyptian practice of embalming and mummification, including the form and meaning of various amulets and sepulchral boxes, a list of the materials used in the fixing of the mummy cloth, the size and shape of the mummy bandages, and other esoteric facets of Egyptian funeral services. Other individuals tuned into the cultures of the Far East and not only gave impressive descriptions of what it was like to have a Japanese, Chinese, or Tibetan psyche, but also related various Taoist or Buddhist teachings.
In fact, there did not seem to be any limit to what Grof's LSD subjects could tap into. They seemed capable of knowing what it was like to be every animal, and even plant, on the tree of evolution. They could experience what it was like to be a blood cell, an atom, a thermonuclear process inside the sun, the consciousness of the entire planet, and even the consciousness of the entire cosmos. More than that, they displayed the ability to transcend space and time, and occasionally they related uncannily accurate precognitive information. In an even stranger vein they sometimes encountered nonhuman intelligences during their cerebral travels, discarnate beings, spirit guides from "higher planes of consciousness," and other suprahuman entities...
Perhaps Grof's most remarkable discovery is that the same phenomena reported by individuals who have taken LSD can also be experienced without resorting to drugs of any kind...The Grofs call their technique holotropic therapy and use only rapid and controlled breathing, evocative music, and massage and body work, to induce altered states of consciousness. To date, thousands of individuals have attended their workshops and report experiences that are every bit as spectacular and emotionally profound as those described by subjects of Grof's previous work on LSD... more »
Tuesday, December 18
by Ron on December 18, 2007 04:53PM (PST)
Cancer will claim 7.6 million lives worldwide this year, and more than 12 million people will receive cancer diagnoses, according to Global Cancer Facts and Figures 2007, the newest edition to the American Cancer Society's family of Facts and Figures reports. ...
Global Cancer Facts and Figures 2007 also includes data on growing tobacco use in developing countries, warning that if current patterns continue, the number of smokers worldwide will reach 2 billion by 2030. In 2000, an estimated 5 million people died from diseases related to smoking, and of these, about 1.42 million were from cancer. Approximately 84% of the nearly 1.3 billion smokers worldwide live in developing countries, says the World Health Organization. ... more »
Monday, December 3
by rakesh on December 3, 2007 05:24PM (PST)
You're taking a couple of prescription medications and you develop a cold -- so you head to the nearest pharmacy to get something for your headache, cough and stuffy nose.
Not so fast, experts advise. Mixing medications can be dangerous-- even deadly, a fact highlighted by the death in November of popular R&B singer Gerald Levert. An autopsy determined that Levert, 40 -- who reportedly had been suffering from a shoulder problem, pneumonia and the effects of surgery in 2005 to repair a severed Achilles tendon -- died of accidental acute intoxication caused by a mixture of the pain medications Darvocet, Percocet and Vicodin, the anxiety medicine Xanax and two over-the-counter antihistamines.
A report this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that deaths from accidental drug interactions rose 68 percent between 1999 and 2004, continuing a steady climb since the early 1990s. Unintentional drug poisonings accounted for nearly 20,000 deaths in 2004, said the CDC, making the problem now the second-leading cause of accidental death in the United States, after automobile accidents. "Prescription drugs, especially prescription painkillers, are driving the prolonged increase," the report stated. ... more »
Monday, November 19
by Ron on November 19, 2007 07:34PM (PST)
Optimism exists on a continuum in between confidence and hope. Let me take these in order.
I am confident that the acceleration and expanding purview of information technology will solve within twenty years the problems that now preoccupy us. -- Consider energy. We are awash in energy (10,000 times more than required to meet all our needs falls on Earth) but we are not very good at capturing it. That will change with the full nanotechnology-based assembly of macro objects at the nano scale, controlled by massively parallel information processes, which will be feasible within twenty years. Even though our energy needs are projected to triple within that time, we'll capture that .0003 of the sunlight needed to meet our energy needs with no use of fossil fuels, using extremely inexpensive, highly efficient, lightweight, nano-engineered solar panels, and we'll store the energy in highly distributed (and therefore safe) nanotechnology-based fuel cells. Solar power is now providing 1 part in 1,000 of our needs, but that percentage is doubling every two years, which means multiplying by 1,000 in twenty years.
Almost all the discussions I've seen about energy and its consequences (such as global warming) fail to consider the ability of future nanotechnology-based solutions to solve this problem. This development will be motivated not just by concern for the environment but also by the $2 trillion we spend annually on energy. This is already a major area of venture funding.
Consider health. As of just recently, we have the tools to reprogram biology. This is also at an early stage but is progressing through the same exponential growth of information technology, which we see in every aspect of biological progress. The amount of genetic data we have sequenced has doubled every year, and the price per base pair has come down commensurately. The first genome cost a billion dollars. The National Institutes of Health is now starting a project to collect a million genomes at $1,000 apiece. We can turn genes off with RNA interference, add new genes (to adults) with new reliable forms of gene therapy, and turn on and off proteins and enzymes at critical stages of disease progression. We are gaining the means to model, simulate, and reprogram disease and aging processes as information processes. In ten years, these technologies will be 1,000 times more powerful than they are today, and it will be a very different world, in terms of our ability to turn off disease and aging. ... more »
Friday, October 12
by Ron on October 12, 2007 12:48PM (PDT)
More than half of all industrial and municipal facilities across the country dumped more sewage and other pollutants into the nation's waterways than allowed under the Clean Water Act, according to a report released Thursday by an environmental group.
California was among the 10 states with the highest percentage of facilities leaking more pollutants into waterways than their Clean Water Act permits allow, according to data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency obtained by the environmental group, U.S. PIRG. -- California also had the dubious distinction of having the most large-scale violations - or "exceedances" - of Clean Water Act permits of any state. The large-scale violations are those that exceed the permitted level by at least 500 percent.
Environmentalists said the figures show that industrial plants and municipal wastewater facilities continue to flout the law because of insufficient policing by federal regulators. -- "The bottom line is the Bush administration isn't doing enough enforcement of the Clean Water Act," said Christy Leavitt, clean water advocate for U.S. PIRG, a federation of state Public Interest Research Groups. ... more »
by Ron on October 12, 2007 12:18PM (PDT)
Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) today won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to publicize and understand human-caused global warming. -- The Norwegian Nobel Committee this morning announced that the former U.S. vice president and the United Nations' climate panel will equally share the prestigious award for "their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change."
Gore and the IPCC were chosen from a list of 181 candidates to split the prize, worth 10 million Swedish kronors (about 1.5 million U.S. dollars). -- The award committee, based in Oslo, Norway, said their decision was intended to bring into sharper focus the actions "necessary to protect the world's future climate and thereby to reduce the threat to the security of mankind.
"Action is necessary now, before climate change moves beyond man's control," the committee added. ... more »
Sunday, August 12
by Ron on August 12, 2007 11:17AM (PDT)
Bio-dynamised water, believed to cure various ailments including diabetes and heart problems, is set to hit Indian markets with a research centre at Auroville township near here commercially launching the equipment to produce it.
Aqua Dyn, the centre that has developed commercially viable equipment to carry out the "bio-dynamising" technique developed in France in the early 20th century, has been selling the processed water within the township for the past five years...
"Bio-dynamised water helps remove toxins from the body and has proven properties to heal diseases, including arthritis, diabetes, skin cancer and heart ailments," he said. ... more »
A Review of Dipesh Chakrabarty's "Provincializing Europe" by Amit Chaudhuri (London Review of Books) Debashish
AntiMatters vol 3 no 4 is out koantum
Classicism, post-classicism and Ranjabati Sircar’s work: re-defining the terms of Indian contemporary dance discourses by Alessandra Lopez y Royo Debashish
LACMA 111909 - Debashish Banerji Debashish
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Within the limits of capitalism, economizing means taking care - Bernard Stiegler
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Within the limits of capitalism, economizing means taking care - Bernard Stiegler