“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” AE
A group of Cambridge scientists are attempting to grow human brains outside of the body in a lab. But they don’t look anything like what you might imagine. The “cerebral organoids” are made with stem cells derived from human skin and raised in giant incubators. Without any kind of blood supply, they receive nutrients by soaking in a special fluid. And these brains are tiny, small enough to fit in a petri dish – about four millimeters across and crammed with about two million neurons. For the sake of comparison, a fully developed mouse brain contains four million neurons. The average adult human brain, up to 1,000 trillion.
I am sickened as I write, my country, engaged in horrible crimes against human beings, tortured, reduced to helplessness, imprisoned for years, often released subsequently without charges … a compliant (and complicit) public, ranging from profound denial to blissful unconcern or the self-righteous expression of justifiability, forming the silent background for a tableau of dishonor and extreme cruelty. I refer to Guantanamo, but also CIA black sites scattered worldwide, sadistic personnel—jailers, physicians, psychologists and psychiatrists, lawyers, military and intelligence officers, members of Congress, Washington, America in general, right up to Obama—compliant, complicit, no, actively supportive, blood-soaked in mind and spirit, positively relishing the demonic practices, all in the name of freedom and democracy, the American Way of Life, God Himself/Herself.
Thinking about aging conjures unpleasant imagery of becoming weak and frail, losing our autonomy, and being placed in a nursing home to live out the remainder of our days alone. Self-described “Nursing Home Abolitionist” Dr. Bill Thomas has been working on changing that, and his ideas and philosophy are reforming the traditional long-term care model. After graduating from Harvard Medical School in 1986, Dr. Thomas worked in emergency care. He went on to become the medical director of [a] nursing home in upstate New York. The institutionalized and depressing atmosphere of the facility prompted him to take action. Even though animals in nursing homes were illegal at the time, Dr. Thomas brought in two dogs, four cats, hens, rabbits, 100 parakeets, a multitude of plants, a flower garden, and vegetable patch. The Washington Post reported that the illegal act was a resounding success. There was a 50% drop in medical prescriptions along with a dramatic decrease in death rates – but most importantly, the residents were simply happier. It inspired Dr. Thomas to create The Green House Project, a national non-profit organization that creates alternative living environments to traditional nursing home care facilities. Traditional nursing homes are torn down and replaced with small, home-like environments where people can live a full and interactive life. In 2005, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation awarded … a five-year $10 million grant to help the organization create Green House projects in all fifty states.
In his 93 years, Bob Wallace has seen some product-pricing doozies over the decades, but the nonstop national furor over the stratospheric price hikes for EpiPens – now retailing above $700 for a two-pack – was the final shot. Wallace and Roland Krevitt, a veteran Scotts Valley manufacturing and tooling consultant, set out to demystify the cost to produce the EpiPen, piece by piece. The auto-injector delivers a lifesaving dose of adrenaline to treat serious allergic reactions to everything from bee stings to food. [They crunched] the costs for molding and manufacturing the nozzle, needle, syringe, springs, safety cap – and 0.3 mg of epinephrine. Their startling estimate of the cost for a two-pack of EpiPens: $8.02. And that even included the bright-yellow box. The pharmaceutical giant Mylan is the latest drugmaker to withstand a public lashing over skyrocketing drug prices. While politicians and patients demand explanations … policy experts and drug makers blame an American health care system built on an ever-expanding pool of middlemen whose piece of the action is driving up the final bill. [Mylan’s] chief executive, Heather Bresch, recently told a congressional committee her company pays $69 per two-pack to the firm that actually manufactures the EpiPen, [and] pointed to charts explaining why the company charges a $608 wholesale price for a two-pack. The Wall Street Journal … reported last week that Mylan low-balled its calculation of EpiPen profits to Congress.
If you thought having “the harbinger of Baal” in New York City was bad, wait until you hear what they are doing in Rome. A reproduction of a winged bull from the ancient city of Nimrud, Iraq and a recreation of part of the ceiling from the Temple of Bel (Baal) are being put on display in the Colosseum in Rome, Italy. This exhibit has been entitled “Rising From the Ashes: Ebla, Nimrud, Palmyra“, and it is being sponsored by UNESCO. As I will discuss below, the statue of the winged bull from Nimrud and the Temple of Bel both have direct links to ancient Babylon and a very insidious character from the Bible known as Nimrod. Symbols have meaning, and to have these symbols erected at one of the most famous landmarks in Rome is more than just a little bit disturbing.