Archive for February, 2012

The myth of the eight-hour sleep

In the early 1990s, psychiatrist Thomas Wehr conducted an experiment in which a group of people were plunged into darkness for 14 hours every day for a month.

It took some time for their sleep to regulate but by the fourth week the subjects had settled into a very distinct sleeping pattern. They slept first for four hours, then woke for one or two hours before falling into a second four-hour sleep.

Though sleep scientists were impressed by the study, among the general public the idea that we must sleep for eight consecutive hours persists.

In 2001, historian Roger Ekirch of Virginia Tech published a seminal paper, drawn from 16 years of research, revealing a wealth of historical evidence that humans used to sleep in two distinct chunks.

His book At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past, published four years later, unearths more than 500 references to a segmented sleeping pattern – in diaries, court records, medical books and literature, from Homer’s Odyssey to an anthropological account of modern tribes in Nigeria.

During this waking period people were quite active. They often got up, went to the toilet or smoked tobacco and some even visited neighbours. Most people stayed in bed, read, wrote and often prayed. Countless prayer manuals from the late 15th Century offered special prayers for the hours in between sleeps.

And these hours weren’t entirely solitary – people often chatted to bed-fellows or had sex.

A doctor’s manual from 16th Century France even advised couples that the best time to conceive was not at the end of a long day’s labour but “after the first sleep”, when “they have more enjoyment” and “do it better”.

Ekirch found that references to the first and second sleep started to disappear during the late 17th Century. This started among the urban upper classes in northern Europe and over the course of the next 200 years filtered down to the rest of Western society.

“For most of evolution we slept a certain way,” says sleep psychologist Gregg Jacobs. “Waking up during the night is part of normal human physiology.”

The idea that we must sleep in a consolidated block could be damaging, he says, if it makes people who wake up at night anxious, as this anxiety can itself prohibit sleeps and is likely to seep into waking life too.

via BBC News – The myth of the eight-hour sleep.

Bovine smegma makes me sick!  And probably makes you sick also.

CDC Says Raw Milk Is Behind Many Of Today’s Illnesses.

The Climate Change Controversy Continues

For major surgery, it is often best to get a second opinion, and to look at the record of the proposed scientists. They then put up a graph of the accuracy of the IPCC predictions for temperature rise, which I thought worth repeating.

Global Temp, Actual .v. Projected

IPCC projections for temperature rise, against reality. (WSJ)

The response begins thus:

We agree with Mr. Trenberth et al. that expertise is important in medical care, as it is in any matter of importance to humans or our environment . . . . . . . . . . In this respect, an important gauge of scientific expertise is the ability to make successful predictions. When predictions fail, we say the theory is “falsified” and we should look for the reasons for the failure.

via The Climate Change Controversy Continues.

Alarming is the fact that you can block these food cravings and addictive eating behaviors and reduce calorie intake by giving the same drug we use in the emergency room to block heroin or morphine in an overdose, called naloxone. Binge eaters ate nearly 30 percent less food when given this drug.

Bottom line: wheat is an addictive appetite stimulant.

via Mark Hyman, MD: Three Hidden Ways Wheat Makes You Fat.

Blue light is the part of the spectrum filtered by the eye’s aging lens. In a study published in The British Journal of Ophthalmology, Dr. Mainster and Dr. Turner estimated that by age 45, the photoreceptors of the average adult receive just 50 percent of the light needed to fully stimulate the circadian system. By age 55, it dips to 37 percent, and by age 75, to a mere 17 percent.

via Aging of Eyes Is Blamed in Circadian Rhythm Disturbances –

1. Faked liking cock prior to the alter.

2. Bought the dead mother fairy tales that once married they would live happily ever after (with zero effort)

3. Finally got two kids and now can collect alimony and child support for the rest of their lives.

4. There is no gold to dig…

Joelle Caputa: Why Women In Their 20s Get Hitched When They Should’ve Ditched.

Of all the ways that opposites attract, the thorniest may be when emotionally giving types pair up with types who are emotionally reserved.

There are three types of attachment styles: Secure, Anxious and Avoidant.

1. Secure people make up more than half the population and are typically warm, caring and comfortable with intimacy, he says.

2, Those with an Anxious attachment style, about 20% of the population, often worry about their relationship and whether their partner loves them, They typically are emotionally giving. says Dr. Levine, co-author of the book

“Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find—and Keep—Love.”

3. Those with an Avoidant attachment style, about 25% of the population, tend to think intimacy leads to loss of autonomy and try to minimize closeness,

Dr. Levine, says, Displays of love don’t have to be 50-50, as long as both people show something.

via Why We Pair Up With Our Emotional Opposites and Relationship Advice for Making It Work –

1. Did he find someone who would give him head?

2. Are you a lesbian?

3. Is he a homo?

4. Did he leave because you just let yourself go since you thought you had him trapped with two kids and a alimony payment hanging over his head?

5. Are you a alcoholic?

Or of course you could refer to this whiny bitches list:

The Stir: 5 Things Not To Say To Divorced Moms.

As the science and laws begin to allow self driving cars on the road the quest by little kingdoms for revenue never ceases.

Per the laws being implemented in the first state to do so you can be watching a movie but not over the legal limit if you are in a car that drives itself.

Remember Driving is a PRIVILEGE not a right.  Because there are no rights.

Nevada Establishes Regulations For Self-Driving Cars | TechCrunch.

Gleick and his religious cult continues to only display 0.01% of the known temperature record to bolster their research grants (welfare for Phd.s) and keep up the lie that man is warming the planet and we are all going to die from it.

Fuck this schmuck and his kind.  Rome is under snow, Moscow is frozen so solid even they are pissed, the US Midwest is not going to have a bumper crop and these fucktards are still at it.  At least the record will show that none of them are real scientists when the truth is borne out.

Glaciers are growing etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc…….




Yea Fucktard I used the word Fucktard.

A change from 0.0257% CO2 in the air to 0.0389% CO2 in the air did not do a fucking thing asshole!

That is an increase of 0.0032% of CO2 in the air.

But the cult of warmests will tell you that it is actually a 33% increase of CO2 in the air.  And they will be right but the average person thinks that we now have 33% CO2 not 0.0389% CO2 and there begins the lies.

The fucking oceans have bee rising for the last 10,000 + years and we thank god for that. Most of the worlds cities during those years are now underwater just off the coasts that now support our coastal cities now.


Lets look at the effect of a colder earth.

1. The oceans recede causing all coastal cities to fail for a lack of a port.

2. 3 billion people die from crop failures and wars over food.

3. Energy use goes up by 500% as colder weather causes us to heat more, clear roads more, light longer, etc.

4. Transportation of goods becomes unreliable as the effects of ice, and freezing cause infrastructure to fail.

All the eco-nazis do not understand the purpose of life and specifically of human life on planet earth and that is where they fail.

We can only pray for a warmer earth…..

“Global Warming Has Stopped”? How to Fool People Using “Cherry-Picked” Climate Data – Forbes.

The politically incorrect, ignored by the mass media, fact is that all of those affected by hysteria are female.

Just sub Girls for teen in the following for the truth.

The number of teen patients with twitching symptoms is growing. The condition may be spreading through the Web.

  • Nearly 20 teenagers in upstate New York have come down with a strange twitching disorder.
  • Some parents say an environmental toxin is to blame, but so far tests have come back negative.
  • Some experts say it may be spreading through social media as a kind of subconscious mimicry.

This is Collective Hysteria!

Lets look at a few more examples… and a little explanation.

How much power do our minds have over our physical health? Is health simply a biological concept, or is there more to it? A recent story from Mexico may provide some clues.

In 2006, a mysterious illness began to affect girls at a boarding school in Chalco, Mexico, near Mexico City. The school, which is run by Roman Catholic nuns, is one of 10 in Asia and Latin America operated by a charity called World Villages for Children in Asia. The girls, ages 12 to 17, showed strange symptoms: difficulty walking, fever and nausea. After the girls returned from a 10-day Christmas break, the illness spread. Eventually 600 out of the 3,600 girls at the school showed symptoms. Still, no one could figure out what was making the girls sick, and public health officials were called in.

After conducting numerous tests, surveying the facilities and interviewing some of the afflicted girls, doctors have decided that a psychological disorder is responsible. Its official name is mass psychogenic disorder, also called collective hysteria, mass psychosomatic reaction or mass hysteria.

Mass psychogenic disorder is a rare — but not unheard of — phenomenon. The disorder is usually characterized by the mysterious spread of a variety of symptoms without a discernible cause. It frequently occurs in isolated communities. Teenagers and girls are also frequent victims. Collective hysteria can spread when a fear exists of exposure to a disease, combined with a contained, stressful environment.

Dr. Victor Manuel Torres Meza, director of epidemiology for the Mexico State Health Department, told the New York Times that there were 80 documented cases of mass psychogenic disorder around the world. In the case of the girls at the Mexican boarding school, they live in a highly structured environment, following a disciplined, regimented routine. Correspondence and interaction with parents is sparse — children see their parents no more than three times a year. Between visits, letters are permitted; however, the girls are not allowed to call home. An environment with that combination of stressors likely contributed to the illness’ spread. The school eventually allowed parents to take their children home, and those who were sick recovered quickly.

In hopes of finding the trigger and learning more about this particular outbreak of mass psychogenic disorder, 20 doctors and psychologists have begun interviewing the girls who are currently or have been sick.

Is Social Media Spreading Twitching Hysteria? : Discovery News.

then lets look at another Idiot Pundit:

When I teach psychiatry to medical residents, the first thing I tell them is that patients’ stories always make sense. No matter how bizarre a person’s symptoms might be, our lives follow a human logic, and they follow a medical logic. When a story doesn’t make sense, it means you don’t know the real story.

Medical stories that don’t make sense are often big news makers, precisely because they don’t make sense. Sometimes, they titillate our hunger for the unexplained. Sometimes, they capture our attention because the medical uncertainty frightens us.

A current and highly publicized example of this phenomenon can be seen in the case of a group of teenagers attending a single school in Le Roy, New York, who have developed strange movement disorders in rapid succession. Out of the blue, previously normal young people have had their lives devastated by uncontrollable tics, gesticulations and embarrassing verbal outbursts. And no one can find a medical explanation for this horrible state of affairs.

N.Y. town still baffled by teens’ mysterious tics

If ever there were a story that doesn’t make sense, this is it.

So what should a psychiatrist — or any other type of doctor for that matter — do if a story doesn’t make sense? Continue to gather information until the real story emerges. How do you know that the real story has finally emerged? Because it makes sense.

Charles Raison

Charles Raison

Let’s apply that logic to the situation of the afflicted young people of Le Roy. Their symptoms most closely resemble a neurological condition called Tourette ‘s syndrome. Patients suffering with Tourette’s are bedeviled by a wide variety of nonsensical movements or speech acts that occur involuntarily, and that are called tics. Tics are involuntary but can usually be briefly controlled if a patient concentrates. If you ask a someone with Tourette’s why he or she engages in such odd behavior, you will be told about an intense sense of internal discomfort that is only relieved by doing the tic, and then only briefly.

At first glance, Tourette’s syndrome is an attractive explanation for the Le Roy tic epidemic. It occurs in young people. It causes very similar symptoms. And despite its often catastrophic effect on people’s lives, it is not associated with any easily identifiable abnormalities in the brain or body that provide an easy diagnostic test for doctors. It can be diagnosed only by its symptoms.

But I can assure you that the young people of Le Roy do not have Tourette’s for one simple reason: It is a rare condition and it is a solitary disorder. Genetic risks for the disorder exist, including a vulnerability to develop a subtle autoimmune condition of the brain following a streptococcal infection in childhood. But Tourette’s is not contagious. It never occurs in an epidemic form such as the mystery illness in New York state.

So if the young people of Le Roy don’t have Tourette’s what do they have?

To answer this, we have to ask a follow-up question: What are the most frequent causes of illnesses that occur in groups of people, especially in groups of people in close physical contact?

The answer is clear. Disease epidemics are usually caused by infectious agents, such as viruses or bacteria. If all the people afflicted with an illness live in the same environment, the other possibility is that something in that environment is making them sick. So whenever a doctor hears about a group of people living close to each other in the same location who develop the same disease, his or her first thought should be that the illness has either an infectious or environmental cause.

Could toxic chemical be source of tics in NY town?

This fact explains a good deal of why people are so worried about the current tic outbreak. If it has an environmental cause, then other people in the area are at risk. If it has an infectious cause, then we could all be at risk.

So why is it almost certainly impossible for the Tourette’s-like outbreak among the young people of Le Roy to be the result of either an infection or the local environment?

Let’s consider the infectious possibility first. Even if you didn’t know that all blood tests in the affected young people have been normal, you could effectively rule out infection for one very simple reason: All but one of the people who have developed tics are female, and all but one are teenagers. Have you ever heard of a virus, bacteria or parasite that, in essence, infects only teenage girls? (Or more exactly, that only causes illness in teenage girls.)

Why is an environmental cause also not likely? The school district has conducted fairly rigorous tests of the school environment and found nothing abnormal. That doesn’t overly impress me, however, because it is always possible to miss a poison that is currently not well understood. Moreover, as the environmental activist Erin Brockovich has made public knowledge, a toxic chemical spill occurred in the area surrounding the school many years ago.

But the problem with an environmental explanation is similar to the problem with an infectious one. Why would a poison in the environment almost exclusively target female teenagers? And unless the poison was brand new in the environment, why would so many people get so terribly sick so quickly? Why would a toxic spill that occurred years ago only now cause illness, and do it so quickly in such a select population?

When the mystery illness is examined in this way, it becomes apparent why doctors have ascribed it to a psychological condition called conversion disorder. But does this explanation hold up better than infectious or environmental ones?

Surprisingly, the answer is yes. Although we don’t understand what causes conversion disorders, the fact that they exist is indisputable. I’ve seen hundreds of them over the years.

Taking the ‘mystery’ out of conversion disorder

The essence of a conversion disorder is the development of a neurological symptom — such as the tics seen in the young people of Le Roy — for which no neural abnormality can be found. Typically, a simple neurological exam will confirm that the symptom doesn’t result from any type of brain or nerve damage. And yet patients with conversion disorder have no conscious sense that the symptom is a production of their brains. That is, they are not manufacturing the problem. They are truly afflicted, and it can be horrible.

Only someone who has hypnotized people paralyzed for months and had them hop out of bed and run around the hospital room, or who has conducted “truth serum” interviews of people unable to speak, only to have them erupt into King’s English, would believe that such bizarre conditions exist. But having conducted these interventions, and more, I can assure you that people can be completely incapacitated by symptoms with no obvious medical cause.

There is another reason why conversion disorder is a plausible explanation for the tics of Le Roy. People can catch these conditions from each other. While uncommon, it has been documented many times in history. If this seems strange, consider the fact that we are affected by each other’s thoughts and emotions all the time. Ever had your day ruined by the bad mood of your spouse or your child? The type of psychogenic contagion that most likely underlies the tic epidemic is far more extreme than these commonplace examples, but falls along the same spectrum.

No one likes conversion disorder as an explanation for the tic epidemic. Patients feel insulted, stigmatized and dismissed. Their parents feel dismissed and terrified that something medical has been missed. Everyone involved feels that they are being blamed for the problem. And what doctor worth his or her salt would be truly satisfied with an explanation that tells us nothing about the cause of the disease or how to specifically treat it?

I don’t think anyone has good answers for these questions. Certainly, I don’t.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Charles Raison.

From here

A group of the leading virus experts in the US has called for new, permanent restrictions on research in the face of

a new genetically engineered flu virus that could kill half the population of the world.

Scientists are currently observing a 60-day moratorium on research into the bird flu virus, after two groups found a way to make it infectious through airborne transmission.

An outbreak of this virus could be worse than the 1918 Spanish flu that killed tens of millions of people, warned Michael Osterholm

who has led research into previous dangerous outbreaks – at a public meeting on censorship in science in New York on Thursday night.

“Frankly, I don’t want a virus out there that, even if it was 20 times less lethal, would still be the worst influenza pandemic in history,” he said.

Professor Osterholm is a member of the US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity, which in December asked the journals Science and Nature not to publish the full research on the virus.

Bird flu, or H5N1, has so far infected 583 people according to World Heath Organisation figures, mostly in South East Asia, and killed 344 – though it is believed the proportion of fatalities to infections might be lower, as some may have caught the virus but not been hospitalised.

It can currently only be caught by close exposure to infected birds.

However, the new research demonstrated that the virus could be mutated, through genetic manipulation and other methods, into a form that was transmitted between ferrets in airborne droplets from coughs and sneezes.

Ferrets are considered a good model for human-to-human virus transmission.

The NSABB said this posed a huge risk to the world.

“If this virus were to escape by error or by terror, we must ask whether it would cause a pandemic,” said NSABB chair Paul Keim in an interview published in Nature this week.

“The probability is unknown, but it is not zero. There are many scenarios to consider, ranging from mad lone scientists, desperate despots and members of millennial doomsday cults, to nation states wanting mutually assured destruction options, bioterrorists or a single person’s random acts of craziness.”

Professor Osterholm said he considered the new virus a worse threat than the return of smallpox.

“I wouldn’t like to see smallpox get out of the lab, but if it did it wouldn’t overly concern me,” Osterholm said. “We could contain it. The same thing is true with Sars. But influenza would scare the hell out of me, because it is the most notorious, the ‘Lion King’ of transmission.”

“Once it’s out there, it’s gone, it’s worldwide.”

However, he said the research could have positive results, such as finding a better vaccine, or improving virus detection in the early stages of a pandemic if it emerged naturally. He said virus surveillance at the moment was “like a whole lot of broken smoke alarms”.

The meeting agreed that restricting research, and access to research data, would have bad consequences for science, because new advances often come from unexpected places.

Several speakers said the publication of redacted data should only be a temporary measure until a better solution was hit upon.

Professor Arturo Casadevall, from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, who is also on the NSABB board, said he had originally been against restricting research but had been persuaded it was necessary.

“If it is the worst case scenario half the people you know will die, and half the people you don’t know will die,” he said. “If it is two orders of magnitude (100 times) lower, you are looking at 7 million deaths.

“These viruses were generated in the laboratory … when these things get out and they recombine with existing strains, I think it will be very unpredictable, and this is a risk I think is very high.”

However, he said research should continue in a more regulated way.

“Since 1997, we have had sporadic occurrences of this organism,” he said. “We did not know it had the potential for mammal to mammal transmission. Now that we know, humanity is under threat and this work needs to go on.”

Dr Laurie Garrett, from the Council on Foreign Relations, said any move to control or limit research into influenza would also limit the ability to protect against it if it emerged naturally.

But she added that the more laboratories around the world worked on the virus, the greater the risk it would escape – even in the US, there were hundreds of breaches of quarantine in the highest-level labs.

And she said the spectre of a biological weapon based on the virus was raised “very, very high”.

She warned that if scientists agreed a way to move forward among themselves, without consulting more widely, they may discover the issue will “blow up” once the public is made more aware of it.

Alan Ruldolph, from the US Department of Defense’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency, said information on the virus was “relatively uncontrollable”, and the focus on bird flu should be on how to prepare for and respond to an outbreak.

It is estimated more than 1,000 scientists already know the details of the censored research.

Professor Peter Palese from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine said the moratorium should end and research should continue.

He said the risk of the virus spreading to humans, and the level of danger it posed, had been vastly overestimated.

“All evidence we have now suggests H5N1 isn’t easily transmitted to humans, and these experiments don’t make it more likely,” he said. “When do you stop being afraid?”

Virus experts from around the world are to meet in Geneva this month, at a meeting of the World Health Organisation aimed at assessing the risks, and benefits, of research into the bird flu virus.

In dozens of cases after the outbreaks were over, the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control kept the names of restaurants that were part of investigations secret. After a certain fast food chain was linked to an outbreak of salmonella that sent at least 20 people to the hospital last year, the FDA and CDC decided it wasn’t necessary to tell consumers which restaurant was involved.

“Companies voluntarily share information with CDC and FDA, so when we publish company or brand names and there is not a public health need to do, it could have the effect of discouraging such cooperation between our agencies and the food industry,” an FDA spokesperson stated.

Former FDA associate commissioner David Acheson said the policy is in place because it’s not the food safety officials’ mission to “name and shame” the restaurants involved, but just to protect public health. Still, he said the policy makes the regulators and industry officials look bad.

“You’ve got the public saying, ‘Well, what do you mean you won’t tell us? This is taxpayer dollars. We’re paying your paycheck. Of course you should tell us,'” he said. “It’s getting many people in the public sector to say, ‘Well, we can’t trust these guys.’ And that’s bad.”

In the most recent case, Food Safety News revealed Wednesday that a mysterious “Mexican-style” restaurant chain linked to an October 2011 salmonella, only identified as “Restaurant Chain A” in official documents, was actually the popular fast food restaurant Taco Bell.

But until their report, consumers were unaware who the CDC was referring to when it said in a report that “contamination likely occurred before the product reached Restaurant Chain A locations” in the 10 states where a total of 68 people were infected.

According to long-standing policy at the FDA and CDC, as long as it does not pose an ongoing public health risk, companies that may be the source of dangerous outbreaks are kept out of the headlines — a policy critics say is dangerous in itself.

Bill Marler, a food safety attorney and contributor at Food Safety News. “I have the right to know that because I might want to shop there and as a parent I may not want to take my kids there,”

Barbara Pruitt, who almost died from a case of salmonella three years ago, agreed. “I don’t think I should be jeopardized because someone can’t let me know about information that is readily available,”

“It’s generally the practice of the CDC to go to the media and publicize outbreaks when there’s something the public needs to do, but in those circumstances when there’s nothing to do, then there’s no need to publicize the name,” Schaffner has stated. “In any restaurant after the outbreak is over — when there’s no longer any hazard associated with eating there — the only thing to gain from giving out the name of the restaurant is that it would lose business.”

Of course Schaffner conveniently forgets that protect the public from shoddy food purchasing practices or shoddy preparation practices.

Man still uses film to document his molestation of children while Principal of school allows parents to be kept in the dark.

Mark Berndt, 61,

The mentality of the teaching profession is distilled down into this story.

Parents are fools, children are profit centers, civil rights do not matter as we the teachers and administrators make the rules.

The elementary school teacher told the children it was a game. He lured them into his third-grade classroom, blindfolded them, gagged them and set cockroaches crawling on their faces.

But that is nothing.

He then would feed the blindfolded children semen from a spoon or on a cookie.

Some parents picking up their pre-kindergarteners at the school on Tuesday complained that Miramonte Principal Martin Sandoval at Miramonte Elementary School in South Los Angeles should have notified them when the photos were found.


Respect Authority dammit!

The cops could have arrested Berndt on misdemeanor charges when the investigation began but chose to build a stronger felony case,

The teacher is not believed to have had contact with children during the investigation period that the stronger case was being built but surveillance of Berndt, “…was routine. It wasn’t 24-7”

(the parents) “concern is why, if the principal knew this in advance, why didn’t he inform us?”

(the parents wanted to know) “How long has he been doing this?”

Miramonte Principal Martin Sandoval at Miramonte Elementary School in South Los Angles did not have a satisfactory explanation.

“If it wasn’t for the film processor, this could still be continuing today,” said Lt. Carlos Marquez of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s department. (Well the cops solve very few crimes they almost always have citizens turning in criminals.  The cops just handle the paperwork.)

Moving up the age bracket we have Jerry

Who today is getting a list of those that have come forward accusing him of homo-molesting them so he can build a better defense against going to the big butt fuck house.

Too bad this clown was a homo or he could have claimed that it was mass hysteria.  Like the Salem witches….

CHEERLEADERS with Tourette’s syndrome. Like a fly buzzing against the window, this weird arrangement of words flitted across the edge of my consciousness last week. I kept thinking I should take a minute to track down the Onion piece from which this kooky phrase surely emanated, but finally committed some desultory Googling, and discovered that the buzzing idea correlated (more or less) to an actual event. A break in the case — and the appearance of two of the girls in a television interview — brought the story to national attention.

One afternoon last October in a small town about 50 miles from Buffalo, a high school cheerleader lay down for a nap, and woke up changed. She had been struck not with Tourette’s but with a host of symptoms that resembled it: facial tics, uncontrollable movement, stuttering, verbal outbursts. Several other schoolmates have been afflicted, for a total of 14 girls. One boy reported symptoms.

Parents, school officials and doctors investigated possible organic causes of this troubling event, and serially ruled out potential suspects, from vaccine reactions to environmental hazards. (Erin Brockovich is looking into possible toxic causes.) The girls continued to suffer, dropped out of school and gave television interviews in which their arms looped around wildly and their voices broke and warbled.

Well, that’s the kind of nutty story that only happens once, or so I briefly thought, until more focused Googling quickly led me to an almost identical episode, this one in 2002, in a high school in rural North Carolina. Once again, a cheerleader was first to manifest the strange symptoms, and once again other girls, some of them cheerleaders, were struck with the same condition.

There are famous cases that closely mimic these strange events. In 1962, in a girls’ school in Tanzania, a laughing epidemic spread to 95 students and lasted for months. In 1965 there was a fainting episode at a girls’ school in Blackburn, England, that landed 85 girls in the hospital. In 1983, when there was a widespread fear of chemical warfare in the West Bank, more than 900 Arab schoolgirls and a few female Israeli soldiers exhibited the symptoms of having been gassed, but doctors found no specific cause for the outbreak.

In all of these cases, the ultimate diagnosis — unpalatable in our post-Freudian age — was good old-fashioned hysteria. In the cheerleader cases, the first girl seems to have suffered from some kind of mental or emotional distress, which she expressed through otherwise unrelated physical symptoms. The other girls — victims of yesteryear’s mass hysteria and today’s mass psychogenic illness, in which the symptoms of hysteria pass from person to person, like contagion — believed the condition to be communicable and “caught” it.

Hysteria is the most retrograde and non-womyn-empowering condition. It’s not supposed to happen anymore (we have Title IX!), but it won’t seem to go away. Both history and myth are filled with stories of girls exhibiting bizarre symptoms around the time of puberty — from Cassandra and her raving, to the girls of the Salem witch trials, to the girls whose households were believed to be the site of poltergeist hauntings, to cheerleaders in New York and North Carolina. Pubescent girls, it seems, are manifestly more likely to exhibit extreme and bizarre psychological symptoms than are teenage boys.

What no one has been able to determine is why this is so, why it is the cheerleaders and not the linebackers who come down with tics and stuttering. Female adolescence is — universally — an emotionally and psychologically intense period. It is during this time that girls become aware of the emergence of womanhood, with both the great joy and promise that come with it, and also the threat of danger. Much on their minds is their new potential for childbearing, an event that for most of human history has been fraught with physical peril. Furthermore, their emergence as sexual creatures brings with it heady excitement and increased physical vulnerability. They are also sharply aware that soon they will have to leave home forever, and at the very moment when they are most keenly desirous of its comforts and protections.

Most parents of adolescent girls will never have to contend with episodes of hysteria of the kind experienced by the cheerleaders. But anyone with a teenage daughter can attest that this is a time of emotional extremes and high drama, of girls who are one moment affectionate youngsters and the next screaming banshees. “What’s gotten into you?” the perplexed mother in “The Exorcist” wonders about her demonized daughter; it’s a question that the mothers of non-possessed girls often ask during the teenage years.

What girls need during this time is a stable and supportive space in which to work out all of this drama. In many respects a teenage girl’s home is more important to her than at any time since she was a small child. She also needs emotional support and protection from the most corrosive cultural forces that seek to exploit her when she is least able to resist. Most of all she needs some privacy to work to make a way for herself as a strong and confident young woman. The emotional swings of normal female adolescence attest to its intensity, and they are also the reason girls need and deserve more protection during this time of their lives. As a neurologist treating the New York girls said: “These girls will get better. We have to give them time and space.”

Caitlin Flanagan is the author most recently, of “Girl Land.”

A version of this op-ed appeared in print on January 29, 2012, on page SR4 of the New York edition with the headline: Hysteria and the Teenage Girl.

Couples fucked by trusting Phfizer:

Pfizer said on Tuesday it was recalling about 1 million packets of birth control pills in the United States because they may not contain enough contraceptive to prevent pregnancy.

Pfizer said the birth control pills posed no health threat to women but it urged consumers affected by the recall to “begin using a non-hormonal form of contraception immediately.”

The drugmaker said the issue involved 14 lots of Lo/Ovral-28 tablets and 14 lots of Norgestrel and Ethinyl Estradiol tablets.

It said an investigation had found that some blister packs of the oral contraceptive might contain an inexact count of inert or active ingredients in the tablets.

The pills were manufactured by Pfizer and marketed by Akrimax Pharmaceuticals and shipped to warehouses, clinics and retail pharmacies nationwide, the company said.




Men could soon blast their balls with soundwaves to prevent pregnancy

What if the male version of the birth control pill wasn’t a pill at all? Scientists from the University of North Carolina say a non-oral form of male contraception is on the horizon. According to researchers, all it takes to be effective is a couple blasts of high frequency sound waves…delivered straight to the testicles.

Using ultrasound equipment typically used for physical therapy, a team of researchers led by UNC’s James Tsuruta showed that exposing the testes of rats to two 15-minute “doses” of ultrasonic radiation could reduce sperm counts in the rats to levels that, in humans, would result in infertility. If the effects prove reversible, and the treatment is deemed safe, ultrasonic contraception could soon become a common form of male birth control.

But would anybody actually use it? After all, having blasts of high-frequency sound waves propagate throughout your nether regions sounds pretty, well, intimidating; but preliminary human studies (which were first conducted in the 1970s but, for various reasons, never really saw much more attention until recently), show that the treatment isn’t painful at all. Plus, when you consider the benefits of sound waves over an orally administered pill, ultrasonic ball-blasts actually start to sound pretty attractive.

For one thing, it would be cheap; the equipment used to deliver the doses is already ubiquitous in sports medicine and physical therapy clinics. Plus, there’d be no expensive drugs to synthesize, which also translates to cheaper treatment.

You also wouldn’t have to remember to take a daily pill. When Tsuruta first received funding for his team’s research from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2010, he estimated that doses of ultrasound could be used to provide men with six months of reliable contraception. Of course, that was almost two years ago — before he’d had a chance to see the results of his tests on rats — but even if it only lasted two or three months, a few short visits a year would probably still be preferable to a daily pill for a lot of people.

But plenty of questions about the efficacy and safety of ultrasonic contraception remain, namely: how long does a single treatment last, are the treatment’s effects reversible, do multiple treatments cause any long-term damage, and do the ultrasonic doses have any negative effects on babies themselves?

“It’s a nice idea, but a lot more work is needed,” said University of Sheffield’s Allan Pacey in an interview with BBC News, claiming it was likely that sperm production would recover, but that “sperm might be damaged and any baby might be damaged,” as well.

“The last thing we want is a lingering damage to sperm,” he said. A provisional version of the researchers’ findings are published in Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology.

Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology via BBC.

But no worries just go on vacation: and DIE!

Nevada health officials found Legionella bacteria in water samples at the Luxor in Las Vegas this month after receiving notice that a prior guest at the hotel-casino had died from Legionnaires’ disease.

The public health notice issued by the Southern Nevada Health District on Monday said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention alerted the agency to three Luxor guests who were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease.

Two cases were reported in spring 2011, but water samples taken at that time didn’t detect the bacteria  and both patients recovered. The third case was reported in January — no name or details about the victim were given — and the hotel’s water again was tested. “At this time environmental sampling was positive for Legionella bacteria,” the notice says.

The Luxor took steps to treat the water in the room where the deceased guest stayed within 24 hours of receiving notice, according to media reports. Gordon Absher, vice president of public affairs for MGM Resorts International, which owns the Luxor, says the company is embarking on a voluntary remediation of the entire hotel. The hotel also posted information about the disease on a Web page and has a hotline for guests to call.

Brian Labus, senior epidemiologist at the health district, says the bacteria may grow in shower heads or other water fixtures in hotel rooms that haven’t been used for a while so water doesn’t circulate regularly. “There’s nothing you can do as a guest to prevent it,” he says.

Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia that can be fatal in 5% to 30% of cases, especially among the elderly and people with respiratory problems. It’s transmitted by breathing in vapor or mist tainted by bacteria, not by person-to-person contact, and the incubation period is 2 to 14 days. Symptoms include high fever, chills, cough and sometimes muscle aches, the health district’s notice says.

Last July, six cases of Legionniares’ disease were reported to the CDC by people who had stayed at the Aria Resort & Casino, which is partly owned by MGM Resorts. All patients were treated and recovered. In that instance, Absher says the hotel sent out 14,000 letters and posted a notice on its website to inform prior guests about the possibility of having been exposed to the bacteria. (A civil lawsuit filed over those cases is pending.)

But don’t worry we can all blame it on Global Warming:

January 31, 2012, 10:04 pm

Climate Researchers Get Their Wall Street Journal Moment


The Wall Street Journal has just published “Check With Climate Scientists for Views on Climate,” a rebuttal from a long list of climate researchers criticizing last week’s much-discussed 16-author op-ed article titled “No Need to Panic About Global Warming.”

Here’s the opening paragraph of the response and a link to the rest:

Do you consult your dentist about your heart condition? In science, as in any area, reputations are based on knowledge and expertise in a field and on published, peer-reviewed work. If you need surgery, you want a highly experienced expert in the field who has done a large number of the proposed operations. [Read the rest.]

On Wednesday I’ll be posting fresh input from some economists, who — whether one likes it or not — are focused on the arena that will largely decide what does and does not happen in the planet’s atmosphere, oceans and frozen places.


New CU-led study may answer long-standing questions about enigmatic Little Ice Age

January 30, 2012 •

Natural Sciences, Environment, Institutes

Discovery & Innovation, Discoveries & Achievements, Research Collaborations, Student Research

A new University of Colorado Boulder-led study appears to answer contentious questions about the onset and cause of Earth’s Little Ice Age, a period of cooling temperatures that began after the Middle Ages and lasted into the late 19th century.

According to the new study, the Little Ice Age began abruptly between A.D. 1275 and 1300, triggered by repeated, explosive volcanism and sustained by a self- perpetuating sea ice-ocean feedback system in the North Atlantic Ocean, according to CU-Boulder Professor Gifford Miller, who led the study. The primary evidence comes from radiocarbon dates from dead vegetation emerging from rapidly melting icecaps on Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic, combined with ice and sediment core data from the poles and Iceland and from sea ice climate model simulations, said Miller.

While scientific estimates regarding the onset of the Little Ice Age range from the 13th century to the 16th century, there is little consensus, said Miller.  There is evidence the Little Ice Age affected places as far away as South America and China, although it was particularly evident in northern Europe. Advancing glaciers in mountain valleys destroyed towns, and famous paintings from the period depict people ice skating on the Thames River in London and canals in the Netherlands, waterways that were ice-free in winter before and after the Little Ice Age.

“The dominant way scientists have defined the Little Ice Age is by the expansion of big valley glaciers in the Alps and in Norway,” said Miller. “But the time it took for European glaciers to advance far enough to demolish villages would have been long after the onset of the cold period,” said Miller, a fellow at CU’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research.

Most scientists think the Little Ice Age was caused either by decreased summer solar radiation, erupting volcanoes that cooled the planet by ejecting shiny aerosol particles that reflected sunlight back into space, or a combination of both, said Miller.

The new study suggests that the onset of the Little Ice Age was caused by an unusual, 50-year-long episode of four massive tropical volcanic eruptions. Climate models used in the new study showed that the persistence of cold summers following the eruptions is best explained by a sea ice-ocean feedback system originating in the North Atlantic Ocean.

“This is the first time anyone has clearly identified the specific onset of the cold times marking the start of the Little Ice Age,” said Miller.  “We also have provided an understandable climate feedback system that explains how this cold period could be sustained for a long period of time.  If the climate system is hit again and again by cold conditions over a relatively short period — in this case, from volcanic eruptions — there appears to be a cumulative cooling effect.”

A paper on the subject is being published Jan. 31 in Geophysical Research Letters, a publication of the American Geophysical Union. The paper was authored by scientists and students from CU-Boulder, the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, the University of Iceland, the University of California, Irvine, and the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. The study was funded in part by the National Science Foundation and the Icelandic Science Foundation.

As part of the study, Miller and his colleagues radiocarbon-dated roughly 150 samples of dead plant material with roots intact collected from beneath receding ice margins of ice caps on Baffin Island.  There was a large cluster of “kill dates” between A.D. 1275 and 1300, indicating the plants had been frozen and engulfed by ice during a relatively sudden event.

Both low-lying and higher altitude plants all died at roughly the same time, indicating the onset of the Little Ice Age on Baffin Island — the fifth largest island in the world — was abrupt. The team saw a second spike in plant kill dates at about A.D. 1450, indicating the quick onset of a second major cooling event.

To broaden the study, the team analyzed sediment cores from a glacial lake linked to the 367-square-mile Langjökull ice cap in the central highlands of Iceland that reaches nearly a mile high. The annual layers in the cores — which can be reliably dated by using tephra deposits from known historic volcanic eruptions on Iceland going back more than 1,000 years — suddenly became thicker in the late 13th century and again in the 15th century due to increased erosion caused by the expansion of the ice cap as the climate cooled, he said.

“That showed us the signal we got from Baffin Island was not just a local signal, it was a North Atlantic signal,” said Miller.  “This gave us a great deal more confidence that there was a major perturbation to the Northern Hemisphere climate near the end of the 13th century.” Average summer temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere did not return to those of the Middle Ages until the 20th century, and the temperatures of the Middle Ages are now exceeded in many areas, he said.

The team used the NCAR-based Community Climate System Model to test the effects of volcanic cooling on Arctic sea ice extent and mass. The model, which simulated various sea ice conditions from about A.D. 1150-1700, showed several large, closely spaced eruptions could have cooled the Northern Hemisphere enough to trigger Arctic sea ice growth.

The models showed sustained cooling from volcanoes would have sent some of the expanding Arctic sea ice down along the eastern coast of Greenland until it eventually melted in the North Atlantic.  Since sea ice contains almost no salt, when it melted the surface water became less dense, preventing it from mixing with deeper North Atlantic water.  This weakened heat transport back to the Arctic and creating a self-sustaining feedback system on the sea ice long after the effects of the volcanic aerosols subsided, he said.

“Our simulations showed that the volcanic eruptions may have had a profound cooling effect,” says NCAR scientist Bette Otto-Bliesner, a co-author of the study. “The eruptions could have triggered a chain reaction, affecting sea ice and ocean currents in a way that lowered temperatures for centuries.”

The researchers set the solar radiation at a constant level in the climate models, and Miller said the Little Ice Age likely would have occurred without decreased summer solar radiation at the time. “Estimates of the sun’s variability over time are getting smaller, it’s now thought by some scientists to have varied little more in the last millennia than during a standard 11-year solar cycle,” he said.

One of the primary questions pertaining to the Little Ice Age is how unusual the warming of Earth is today, he said.  A previous study led by Miller in 2008 on Baffin Island indicated temperatures today are the warmest in at least 2,000 years.

Other co-authors on the paper include CU-Boulder’s Yafang Zhong, Darren Larsen, Kurt Refsnider, Scott Lehman and Chance Anderson, NCAR’s Marika Holland and David Bailey, the University of Iceland’s Áslaug Geirsdóttir, Helgi Bjornsson and Darren Larsen, UC-Irvine’s John Southon and the University of Edinburgh’s Thorvaldur Thordarson. Larsen is doctoral student jointly at CU-Boulder and the University of Iceland.

Gifford Miller, 303-492-6962
Bette Otto-Bliesner, NCAR, 303-497-1723
Jim Scott, CU-Boulder media relations, 303-492-3114
Kate Ramsayer, AGU media relations, 202-777-7524
David Hosansky, NCAR/UCAR media relations, 303-497-8611
Cheryl Dybas, NSF communications, 703-292-7734



Eros asteroid makes close approach to Earth

This image is of 433 Eros a near Earth asteroid that made its closest approach to Earth in more than 30 years on Tuesday.


The first near Earth asteroid ever discovered was 433 Eros back in 1898.

Tuesday January 31st, the asteroid will make history again as it makes its closest approach to Earth since 1975.  Its closest approach will be 16.6 million miles away that is roughly 70 times the moon’s average distance from Earth so there is no danger with Euros passing this close.

433 Eros orbits Earth and comes within twenty million miles every 1.76 years.


Biochemist publishes a paper solving the mystery of life, but no one understands it

Case Western Reserve University biochemist Erik Andrulis has just published a paper about a discovery that goes way beyond the RNA he usually researches. He claims he’s discovered the secret to life itself – and it all has to do with energy-spirit things he calls gyres. His 105-page paper is called “Theory of the Origin, Evolution, and Nature of Life,” and you can download the whole thing for free from the peer-reviewed journal Life. The problem is that even sympathetic readers found the paper incomprehensible and (worse for scientists) untestable.

Photo by James Sugar for National Geographic.

Nevertheless, Case Western decided to send out a press release about the paper to international science news service Eurekalert. In it, they wrote something that sounds a bit like an early script treatment for Avatar:

The earth is alive, asserts a revolutionary scientific theory of life emerging from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. The trans-disciplinary theory demonstrates that purportedly inanimate, non-living objects—for example, planets, water, proteins, and DNA—are animate, that is, alive . . . To test his paradigm, Dr. Andrulis designed bidirectional flow diagrams that both depict and predict the dynamics of energy and matter. While such diagrams may be foreign to some scientists, they are standard reaction notation to chemists, biochemists, and biologists. Dr. Andrulis has used his theory to successfully predict and identify a hidden signature of RNA biogenesis in his laboratory at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. He is now applying the gyromodel to unify and explain the evolution and development of human beings.

As people started pondering that incredibly strange assertion, the story picked up speed. Late last week, journalists began buzzing about the bizarre paper that purported to explain all of life using “gyraxioms.”

In a wry article about Andrulis’ work, Ars Technica‘s John Timmer summed the paper up:

The basic idea is that everything, from subatomic particles to living systems, is based on helical systems the author calls “gyres,” which transform matter, energy, and information. These transformations then determine the properties of various natural systems, living and otherwise. What are these gyres? It’s really hard to say; even Andrulis admits that they’re just “a straightforward and non-mathematical core model” (although he seems to think that’s a good thing). Just about everything can be derived from this core model; the author cites “major phenomena including, but not limited to, quantum gravity, phase transitions of water, why living systems are predominantly CHNOPS (carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and sulfur), homochirality of sugars and amino acids, homeoviscous adaptation, triplet code, and DNA mutations.”

Just in case you get confused, Andrulis includes an enormous glossary, including these choice entries:

Alternagyre: A gyrosystem whose gyrapex is not triquantal
Dextragyre: A right-handed gyre or gyromodel
Focagyre: A gyre that is the focal point of analysis or discussion
Gyradaptor: The gyre singularity-a quantum-that exerts all forces on the gyrosystem
Gyrapex: The relativistically high potential, excited, unstable, learning state of a particle
Gyraxiom: A fact, condition, principle, or rule that constrains and defines the theoretical framework
Gyre: The spacetime shape or path of a particle or group of particles; a quantum

Nobody who’s read the paper seems entirely sure whether it’s a hoax, an eccentric intellectual noodle, or an unfortunate symptom of mental illness. But one thing seems certain: It isn’t science.

Case Western quickly took their press release off the medical school website, though you can still see it on Eurekalert. Ivan Oransky wrote about it on Retraction Watch, noting that he’d asked the medical school’s communications officer Liz Lear why they promoted the paper and then deleted all references to it. Lear said:

We have been evaluating our processes regarding media outreach and elected to remove the release from our website while we assess our policies surrounding promotional communications.

So, it sounds like Lear and her colleagues are still just “assessing” the weirdness of Andrulis’ paper too.

This is one of those K-Pax situations, where you’ll always be left wondering if maybe the guy with the funny glint in his eye might have been right about the aliens. Or the gyradaptors. Then again, maybe he was wrong. I’m not sure which is worse.