Friday, December 28, 2012

In the News: Amazing Kreskin’ Offers to Fix ‘Fiscal Cliff’

by Lori Montgomery, Washington Post, December 7, 2012

Finally, a light at the end of the “fiscal cliff” tunnel: The Amazing Kreskin is here to help.

Kreskin, billed by his publicist as the world’s most renowned mentalist, was a fixture on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” in the 1970s. Now 77, he says he can break the stalemate over taxes and spending that has gripped Washington for much of the past two years.

All it would take is an hour in a room with President Obama and House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) or their proxies.

“If I can, through mental suggestion and mental conditioning, bring both to a state of mind where I’ve lifted all the pressure, all the threats, all the money being offered and all the fears of the next election, I can bring them together to their unconscious level, and they will start to think in terms of compromising,” Kreskin said in an interview.

Kreskin made the offer via news release Thursday to fly to Washington and help with the cliff after observing what he described as a mounting crisis in government.

“I’m a little bit worried we’re in a crisis psychologically, too,” he said. “We’ve got to start thinking about each other.”

So, how would it work? On television and in his stage shows (after four decades in show business, Kreskin is still performing more than 200 times a year), Kreskin is famous for astounding feats of mind reading and mental dexterity. On former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee’s Fox News show in 2009, Kreskin distributed 52 playing cards throughout the studio audience, and — by encouraging people to “talk to me” mentally about the cards in their hands — tracked down the person holding the very card that Huckabee had plucked from a separate deck moments earlier. (It was the three of clubs.)

“They don’t call you the Amazing Kreskin for nothing, do they?” Huckabee marveled.
Now Kreskin says he can look deep into the minds of Washington politicians and “envision” the “pathway” to a mutually acceptable compromise that he believes is buried there.

“Don’t give me that crap. These people have a sense of what has to be done,” Kreskin said. “I could bring out of them the mind-set to say, ‘Hell. Jesus. We’ve got to start to think together and to give and take.’”

Yes, he said, “partly I will” read their minds. But Kreskin said his gig in Washington would not be a typical performance.

“I do think I will know when they’re revealing and saying something that is true. And I’m going to confront them and say, ‘Let’s continue on this track that you honestly know is the right way.’ ”
Kreskin says he has no “clinical bias” in this case. He says he is neither liberal nor conservative, and that he doesn’t much care whether taxes go up or spending goes down, or how Washington solves this problem. But the problem, he says, has got to be solved.

“This is not as crazy as it sounds,” he said. “The bottom line is, what the hell have we got to lose? This is becoming a three-ring circus.”

The Amazing Kreskin (born January 12, 1935), born George Joseph Kresge, is a mentalist who became popular on North American television in the 1970s. He was inspired to become a mentalist by Lee Falk's famous comic strip Mandrake the Magician, which features a crime-fighting stage magician.

Huffingtonpost: Stan Lee Turns 90 Today

Today is the birthday of comic genius and wily television personality, Stanley Lieber, better known as Stan Lee. The Marvel writer and editor behind works such as "The Amazing Spiderman" and "The Incredible Hulk" is turning 90 years old this Friday, December 28.

stan lee birthday

A young Stanley Lieber began his comic career at Timely Comics in 1939 in New York. His initial duties included proofreading, erasing pencil marks and filling inkwells, but two years after this drudgery he enjoyed his first text-filler job in a 1941 issue of "Captain American Comics," writing under the pseudonym Stan Lee.

His first real career break arrived at 19 years old, when Timely editor Joe Simon and his creative partner Jack Kirby left the company. Lee was subsequently given the post of interim editor, but it was his talent for writing and imagining epic heroes that earned him the permanent position of editor-in-chief, a seat he would occupy until 1972 when he was made publisher of Timely's later evolution, Marvel Comics.

Lee's truly creative era began in the late 1950s, however, when DC Comics spurred a trend in superhero stories, courtesy of characters like the Flash and the Justice League of America. Lee was given the task of creating a team of heroes similar to JLA for Marvel, the result of which was the Fantastic Four. Working mostly with Kirby as well as with Bill Everett and Steve Ditko, Lee went on to devise personalities like the Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, the X-Men, Daredevil, Doctor Strange and, of course, the Amazing Spider-Man.

stan lee

In his later career, Lee dabbled in work for DC Comics, refashioning heroes like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and Flash for a series called, "Just Imagine..." His most recent endeavor is a new YouTube channel, aptly named "Stan Lee's World of Heroes."

We'd like to wish Mr. Lee a very happy 90th birthday.

A New Obsession: Vintage Vari-Vue "Flicker" Pinback Buttons

It all started with that hypno-coin......

Lenticular images were popularized from the late 1940s to the mid 1980s by the Vari-Vue company. Early products included animated political campaign badges with the slogan "I Like Ike!" and animated cards that were stuck on boxes of Cheerios. By the late sixties the company marketed about two thousand stock products including twelve-inch square moving pattern and color sheets, large images (many religious), and a huge range of novelties including badges. The badge products included the Rolling Stones' tongue logo and an early Beatles badge with pictures of the 'fab four' on a red background.

More from Wiki on Lenticular printing:

Albert King "As The Years Go Passing By" Live Sweden 1980

Introducing: Body Maps and the Insular Cortex

I finished off The Body Has a Mind of Its Own: How Body Maps in Your Brain Help You Do (Almost) Everything Better by Sandra Blakeslee and Matthew Blakeslee -- it's a teriffic read.

Here's a review from Amazon that summarizes the book expertly.

An Excellent introduction to a complex and fascinating topic
A review by M.  L. Lamendola, 2007

This is an excellent book. The authors have a gift for making a complex subject understandable.

Another plus is that, like the best of nonfiction authors, they stick to the subject and rely on facts rather than opinion. This book provides a wonderful introduction into an area of science formerly limited to neurologists and other highly-trained specialists.

Central theme
The central theme of this book is that the brain maps the body. In fact, different areas of the brain contain different kinds of body maps with different functions. These body maps in the brain determine such things as how you perceive reality and how you respond to that perception. One of the most fascinating aspects is the plasticity of these maps.

For example, have you ever noticed that you can "feel" with the end of a tool? You put a wrench on a nut, and you suddenly have several important bits of information about that nut.

This is because your body map extends to include the tool. And it's why mechanics can accurately work without actually seeing what their hands or tools are touching. Body maps extend from the rider to include the horse and from the horse to include the rider. Lovers share body maps, and the book explores what goes on there also.

This book explores the effects of dysfunctional body maps, too, shedding light on such things as eating disorders and out of body experiences. And it looks at the interplay between body maps and culture, language, music, emotions, pain, and even parenting.

The brain and the body are not separate entities, but are intertwined, interdependent, and interfunctional. Understanding this fact is essential to understanding how and why body maps work. This book explains that lucidly.

You may have heard of the "little man" theory, or the homunculus theory. If not, perhaps you recall the drawing of the skull being opened to reveal a little man operating control levers. That drawing represents the theory. We all know there's not an actual physical person of tiny stature pulling levers in our heads. But it's commonly thought that the "me" of us is a central entity that works like that little man. Another common analogy for this theory is the symphony conductor.Because of this theory, many early researchers of body maps looked for the master map. As it turns out, there isn't one. There is no "little man," no master homunculus, no conductor, no central authority. The brain is a collection of homunculi or body maps working together. If this doesn't sound possible, think of an ant colony. There is no master ant giving out directions.

Each ant does its part in a concert of ants with no conductor. The many body maps of the brain are similarly independent yet cooperative. The brain also contains body maps that facilitate the communication between these disparate parts and the various body maps those parts use.

Summary of contents
The Body Has a Mind of Its Own consists of ten chapters.

The first chapter gives the reader the background about body maps and how they are everywhere in the brain.

Chapter Two talks about the little man theory discussed earlier in this review.

Chapter Three talks about how body maps filter and change incoming information to conform to what the map expects to see. You've no doubt heard the expression "People hear what they want to hear." That is a basic aspect of our brain, which is a prediction machine. It's always looking for matches. Just as politicians change the data to match their statements, so quite often does the brain change or filter information so that it matches what the brain expects to see. This is the basis for illusions, and we all know those work.

Sometimes these illusions don't serve us very well. One example the book uses is the anorexic who feels fat. This prediction thing isn't all bad -- many self-help experts advise us to imagine ourselves as having already achieved something or to take on some other enabling attitude.

Chapter Four takes the concepts of Chapter Three a step further, and looks at why mental practice -- long used by martial artists -- is nearly as effective as physical practice and why when both are done you get a 2 + 2 = 5 effect.

Chapters Five and Six explore what happens when body maps blur or break. Some of the manifestations are bizarre.

Earlier, I mentioned that when you grasp a tool your body map extends to include that tool. Chapter Eight includes a discussion of this in the broader context of where body maps end. 

Chapter Seven also talks about where body maps end, but more in terms of how they seek to exclude things that are not part of the body.

Sales trainers talk about mimicking other people to win their agreement. In Chapter Nine, we see why this works.

Deep in the brain is a structure called the insula. Only mammals have one. In humans, it's massive compared to those of other species (relatively speaking--in whales, body parts are just plain bigger on an absolute scale). The consensus now is the insula is the seat of emotional awareness. Chapter Ten, in discussing the insula, is a fitting last chapter because it is, at least to me, the most profound part of the book.

The authors tie everything together in the Afterword, but also raise additional questions that are worth pondering as we search for meaning and purpose in life.

Descartes concluded that because he thinks he must exist. Has your human mind has ever contemplated itself, trying to answer the question, "Who am I? Or have you wondered about where in your body your mind actually resides? The Body Has a Mind of Its Own will help you bring some fascinating information to bear on those concepts and many others. Not only is this book thought-provoking, but it helps explain thought itself. How you perceive reality may not be as straightforward as you once thought. Or still think, depending on your body maps.

Position of the insular cortex in the human brain shown in red. The parts of the frontal, parietal and temporal lobe that usually cover the insula are removed. The green line indicates the position of the central sulcus of the insula, which separates the larger anterior insular cortex (AIC) from the smaller posterior insular cortex.

One of the most mysterious regions of the human brain is the insular cortex, buried in the depth of the lateral fissure, which separates the frontal and parietal lobes from the temporal lobe.

For a long while, the insular cortex recieved little attention from neuroscience research.

Recently this has dramatically changed: an increasing number of recent studies address the functional role of the insular lobe. A number of reports have connected the insula to important high-level cognitive functions such as error detection, including social norm violation, general task monitoring, language processing, self-awareness and even consciousness.

Furthermore, the insula might play a crucial role in neuropsychiatric disorders, such as drug addiction (see for instance the recent New York Times article 'A small part of the brain and its profound effects'). Other studies have proposed more basic functions that might be supported by the insular cortex, including basic auditory processing, experiencing pain, the senses of smell and taste, and simple motor functions.

Marge's Little Lulu #19 January 1950

Bruce McCorkindale Re-Creation of Jack Kirby and Vince Coletta's Thor #145 Cover

Based on Thor #145, October 1967. I always loved this issue.

Grand Comics Database story synopsis: "Odin defeats Forsung and demands all Asgardians return. Thor refuses and his powers are removed (except his Asgardian Strength). The Ringmaster hypnotizes Thor into joining the Circus of Crime."

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Play or Pay: Reframing Magnetic Poetry "Put-Downs"

OK everyone, let's keep those neurons "young" and the neural connections growing by playing and learning. I got a "Magnetic Poetry" "Put-Downs" Kit as a gift on Christmas Day.

Rather than construct the snarky "Put-Downs," as designed, I decided instead to practice a bit of "reframing" as often outlined in the CBT playbook. So, I tried to conjure up positive phrases and affirmations from the original sardonic phrase-set offered. Below is my first attempt at a few "poetic thoughts" and inspiring affirmations. It's amazing how many hours one can spend  messing around with "Magnetic Poetry" on one's refrigerator/freezer door.

My photo here is a bit small. Among the word jazz  riffs I've cobbled together from the magnetic blocks so far are:

"initial misconceptions are when your thoughts probe nothing."

"how about ignoring whatever insignificant panic rises to work?"

"imagine the gene pool and young train of thought are circuses where you never grow up."

"out of chaos inflatable spinning disorder."

"set aside a special time to change your mind and personality."

"I will cherish myself and big ideas."

"a nice window but not enough."

Maybe not genius but Groovedelic for a few hours play.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Charlie Rose: A Smirk by Any Other Name..

Ah , smirkin' TV talking head Charlie Rose. To paraphrase the Bard,
"What's in a name? that which we call a smirk.
By any other name would be as sly."

On the Blogs: Top 10 Stigmatized Health Disorders

Please try to help  -- don't blame or shame!

by Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience Senior Writer

Sickness and Shame

As if being sick weren't bad enough, some diseases come with a social stigma that can make sufferers hide their illness.

#10  Colon Cancer: Colorectal cancers are very curable in the early stages, according to the National Institutes of Health. Unfortunately, colon cancer often sneaks up without symptoms, and even if symptoms do show up, patients may be embarrassed to talk about diarrhea and abnormal bowel movements with their doctors. The best way to diagnose colon cancer is early screening, including colonoscopies.

Journalist Katie Couric tackled the stigma surrounding this bowel cancer straight on in March 2000 by televising her colonoscopy. Along the way, she proved that talking about hidden diseases can help people seek medical care. According to a 2003 study in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, colonoscopy rates went up after Couric's TV special. Before the campaign, a physician could expect to conduct 15 colonoscopies a month. For 9 months after Couric's on-air procedure, that number jumped to 18 colonoscopies per physician per month.

#9 Erectile Dysfunction: The stigma surrounding erectile dysfunction has lessened in recent years, thanks to hours of commercials depicting happy, wholesome couples dancing to the soundtrack of an announcer talking about pharmaceutical side effects. But it can still be tough for men to admit to sexual dysfunction. According to a 2010 review of sexual dysfunction treatments published in the journal Primary Care: Clinics in Office Practice, only half of men with erectile dysfunction get treatment.

Men with erectile problems shouldn't feel alone, however. According to the same report, 10 to 20 million American men have erectile dysfunction, and by age 70, about two-thirds of men have trouble achieving or keeping an erection.

#8 'Manly' Problems: If erectile dysfunction is surrounded by a stigma of unmanliness, some female disorders come with symptoms that challenge our cultural definitions of femininity. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, a hormone disorder that can cause infertility and diabetes, among other medical problem, is often marked by excessive facial hair. That symptom can leave women struggling to shave, wax or otherwise hide their hirsutism.

Disorders like hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating, can be stigmatizing to both genders. But the disorder comes with extra baggage for women.

"You know, with women, you don't want to be someone who is sweaty," Sophia Wastler, a 36-year-old Virginia woman with hyperhidrosis, told LiveScience. "It's kind of more of a male characteristic than a female characteristic, so it's quite embarrassing."

#7 Psoriasis: Psoriasis is a chronic immune disorder that causes patches of cracked, scaly skin. These outbreaks can be hard to hide and understandably embarrassing. The embarrassment is multiplied by people who see psoriasis and shy away, mistakenly believing the disorder is contagious.

According to a 2008 survey by the National Psoriasis Foundation, 63 percent reported feeling self-conscious about their skin. More than half, 58 percent, said they felt embarrassed, and one-third said they limited their social interactions and dating because of psoriasis flare-ups.

#6 Irritable and Inflamed Bowels: Any disease related to excretion is bound to come tied in some sort of stigma. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) aren't exceptions. IBD is actually a cluster of syndromes, all marked by the inflammation of the intestines. IBS is a vaguer diagnosis, but the disorder is marked by intestinal pain, cramping and constipation or diarrhea without the inflammation that marks IBD.

In general, IBS patients feel more stigmatized by their disease than IBD patients, according to a study published online March 2011 in the journal Quality of Life Research. Among more than 200 IBS patients surveyed, 27 percent said they felt moderately or extremely stigmatized, compared with 8 percent of the more than 200 IBD patients surveyed. The difference may be because without a clear physical cause, IBS sufferers feel their disease is not taken as seriously.

#5 Obesity: Fat stigma has gone global. According to a 2011 study in the journal Current Anthropology, there are almost no cultures that don't associate obesity with laziness and gluttony, despite the fact that many of these same cultures once saw heftiness as a sign of wealth.

Those who would shame the overweight often say they're concerned about the person's health. If that's the case, shame is likely to backfire? A 2011 study in the journal Social Psychology Quarterly found that shame and stigma hasten physical decline in people who are obese.

#4 Leprosy:  Leprosy, or Hansen's Disease, looms large in the public imagination. The disease is thought to be extremely contagious and believed to result in body parts falling off.
Wrong on both counts. More than 90 percent of people who come in contact with the bacteria that cause leprosy will fight the disease off without symptoms and without becoming contagious (though humans may be able to catch the disease from close contact with armadillos).

The disease is also curable with antibiotics. And while the skin lesions caused by the infection can be disfiguring without treatment, fingers and toes don't just fall off. This myth likely got its start because nerve damage to digits can cause numbness, putting people with leprosy at more risk of accidental injury or amputation.

#3 Lung Cancer: Like obesity, lung cancer is a condition that people tend to blame on the victim. The link between smoking cigarettes and lung cancer leads people to believe that sufferers bring cancer upon themselves. But in fact, thousands of people who have never smoked get lung cancer every year.

Besides, as Jamie Ostroff of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center pointed out at the 2009 World Conference on Lung Cancer in San Francisco, people who have smoked are no less worthy of lung cancer treatment than those who have never lit up. According to, the disease is the leading cause of cancer deaths in men and women, killing more than 158,000 people each year in the United States.

#2 HPV: Human papillomavirus (HPV) infects the skin or mucous membranes, often asymptomatically. But some strains of the virus can cause cervical cancer in women, making them dangerous sexually transmitted infections (STIs). HPV can also cause genital warts.
HPV became a flashpoint in the GOP primary elections in September 2011, when Republican candidates criticized Texas Governor and frontrunner Rick Perry for issuing an executive order in Texas that would have made vaccination against HPV mandatory for girls attending school in the state. Many other vaccines are already mandatory in Texas, but the HPV vaccine is controversial because the virus is spread through sexual contact. Medical experts say that the vaccine is most effective when administered before a person becomes sexually active and potentially exposes themselves to the virus. But Perry's attempt to make the vaccine mandatory was shot down by social conservatives, who argue that getting vaccinated may spur teens into early sexual activity.

#1 HIV/AIDS: Perhaps one of the most famously stigmatized diseases ever, HIV/AIDS first appeared as a mysterious syndrome in mostly gay men in the early 1980s. Anti-gay activists blamed gay men's "immoral" behavior for the spread of the disease, setting up a persistent victim-blaming attitude.

According to a 1999 study published in the journal American Behavioral Scientist, 52 percent of Americans still associated HIV with homosexuality, despite the fact that by that time, only about a third of new HIV cases were contracted by gay men. In 1997, the same study found, 55 percent of Americans believed that most people with AIDS were responsible for their illness, and 28 percent went as far to say that most of them deserved it.

As late as 2006, a Kaiser Family Foundation report found significant confusion among Americans about HIV. According to the report, 37 percent of Americans erroneously believed that HIV could be spread by kissing, while 32 percent thought it could spread via shared drinking glasses.

Freddie King "Christmas Tears" 1961

Marge's Little Lulu #78 December 1954

And, Oh Yes, They Will Be Mine -- 15 Vintage Phantom Paperbacks

Read it and weep: the Winner's Curse:

Lee Falk. Group of Fifteen First Printing Mass Market Phantom Paperbacks. Avon Books, 1972-75. Toning and mild rubbing; otherwise,Very Good or better. From the collection of first fan, Jack Cordes.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

On the Blogs:Chimp Brain Study Spotlights Key Role Of Neural 'Connectivity' In Human Intelligence

by: Tia Ghose, LiveScience Staff Writer, 12/18/2012

Despite sharing 98 percent of our DNA with chimpanzees, humans have much bigger brains and are, as a species, much more intelligent. Now a new study sheds light on why: Unlike chimps, humans undergo a massive explosion in white matter growth, or the connections between brain cells, in the first two years of life.

The new results, published today (Dec. 18) in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, partly explain why humans are so much brainier than our nearest living relatives. But they also reveal why the first two years of life play such a key role in human development.

"What's really unique about us is that our brains experience rapid establishment of connectivity in the first two years of life," said Chet Sherwood, an evolutionary neuroscientist at George Washington University, who was not involved in the study. "That probably helps to explain why those first few years of human life are so critical to set us on the course to language acquisition, cultural knowledge and all those things that make us human."


While past studies have shown that human brains go through a rapid expansion in connectivity, it wasn't clear that was unique amongst great apes (a group that includes chimps, gorillas, orangutans and humans). To prove it was the signature of humanity's superior intelligence, researchers would need to prove it was different from that in our closest living relatives.

However, a U.S. moratorium on acquiring new chimpanzees for medical research meant that people like Sherwood, who is trying to understand chimpanzee brain development, had to study decades-old baby chimpanzee brains that were lying around in veterinary pathologists' labs, Sherwood told LiveScience.

But in Japan, those limitations didn't go into place till later, allowing the researchers to do live magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans of three baby chimps as they grew to 6 years of age. They then compared the data with existing brain-imaging scans for six macaques and 28 Japanese children.

The researchers found that chimpanzees and humans both had much more brain development in early life than macaques.

"The increase in total cerebral volume during early infancy and the juvenile stage in chimpanzees and humans was approximately three times greater than that in macaques," the researchers wrote in the journal article.

But human brains expanded much more dramatically than chimpanzee brains during the first few years of life; most of that human-brain expansion was driven by explosive growth in the connections between brain cells, which manifests itself in an expansion in white matter.

Chimpanzee brain volumes ballooned about half that of humans' expansion during that time period.

The findings, while not unexpected, are unique because the researchers followed the same individual chimpanzees over time; past studies have instead pieced together brain development from scans on several apes of different ages, Sherwood said.

The explosion in white matter may also explain why experiences during the first few years of life can greatly affect children's IQ, social life and long-term response to stress.

"That opens an opportunity for environment and social experience to influence the molding of connectivity," Sherwood said.

Before the iPhone, there was Jack Kirby's "Mother Box"

The Forever People call forth Drax the Infinity Man with their Mother Box.

From yee Wiki:

Mother Boxes are fictional devices in Jack Kirby's Fourth World setting in the DC Universe.


Created by Apokoliptian scientist Himon using the mysterious Element X, they are
generally thought to be sentient, miniaturized, portable supercomputers, although their true nature and origins are unknown. They possess wondrous powers and abilities not understood even by their users, the gods of New Genesis. These range from teleportation (they can summon Boom Tubes) to energy manipulation.

Mother Boxes have been seen healing the injured, including Darkseid himself, after he was beaten by Doomsday. Metron stated that each Mother Box shares "a mystical rapport with nature." They provide their owner with unconditional love and self-destruct when their owner dies.

Mother Boxes have sacrificed themselves for causes they have believed in and are greatly respected by the people of New Genesis. In physical appearance they are most often in the shape of a small box, but they can also be much larger (as is the one carried by the Forever People), and do not always need to be in the shape of a box at all (Mr. Miracle had Mother Box circuitry woven into the hood of his costume). They usually communicate with a repetitive "ping" which can be understood by their users.

Powers and abilities

Mother Boxes can access the energy of the Source for various effects; they can change the gravitational constant of an area, transfer energy from one place to another, control the mental state of a host, communicate telepathically with a host or other life form, manipulate the life-force of a host to sustain it past fatal injuries, open and close Boom Tubes, take over and control non-sentient machines, evolve non-sentient machines, merge sentient beings into a single more powerful being, sustain a life form in a hostile environment such as space, and do many other things. Mother Boxes have an affinity for the Source and are believed to draw their power from it. In that sense, they can be seen as a computer that links man to God.
To the New Gods, they are common appliances (used much like a PDA on Earth), in as much as a sentient device can be called an "appliance."

Mother Boxes can only be manufactured by a being born either on New Genesis or Apokolips, and not all of them can do it (at least one on Apokolips failed). This is accomplished through much training. It is implied in the books that the maker's character influenced the successful construction of a Mother Box. This applied to all the Fourth World books created, written, and drawn by comic legend Jack Kirby.

Graphic artist and art director Lanny Lathem expertly captures the phosphorus color palette of the Marvel Third Eye posters, using pin-ups created by Jack Kirby during his tenure at DC Comics.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Here's a "Pirate Blog" That's More Fun: Marge's Little Lulu #61 July 1953

I love the Scottie's expression.

In the News:How UBS Trader Played Libor Game: The $24,000 Bribe

by Lindsay Fortado, Phil Mattingly and Silla Brush, Bloomberg Businessweek, December 19, 2012

UBS AG’s $1.5 billion fine for rigging global interest rates expands the scandal to include bribery of brokers and U.S. criminal charges against two former traders.

Tom Alexander William Hayes and Roger Darin were charged with conspiracy in a criminal complaint unsealed today, the U.S. Justice Department said. Hayes also was charged with wire fraud and a price-fixing violation for activity with another bank aimed at manipulating the London Interbank Offered Rate, the department said.

“Make no mistake, for UBS traders, the manipulation of Libor was about getting rich,” Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, the head of the Justice Department’s criminal division, said in a news conference in Washington.

The charges are the first brought by the Justice Department against individuals alleged to have manipulated Libor and comparable benchmarks in Europe and Japan.

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s $700 million fine is the largest in the Washington-based agency’s history, David Meister, the commission’s head of enforcement, said at the news conference. The total penalties of $1.5 billion represent about one-third of the bank’s 2011 net income.

UBS fell 0.3 percent to 15.20 francs in Swiss trading after rising as much as 2.4 percent during the day.

Conspiracy, Fraud

The U.S. government said the two men were part of a conspiracy to commit wire fraud from September 2006 to 2009. Hayes, 33, served as a senior yen swaps trader at UBS in Tokyo, while Darin, 41, worked as a short-term interest rates trader at UBS in Singapore, Tokyo and Zurich, the U.S. said.

Prosecutors allege that Hayes and Darin “conspired with others known and unknown within UBS to cause the bank to make false and misleading yen Libor submissions to the British Bankers’ Association.

Darin didn’t respond immediately to a voice-mail message, and Hayes couldn’t immediately be reached. U.K. fraud prosecutors opened a criminal probe this year and last week arrestedHayes, according to people familiar with the matter.

UBS was ordered to pay a total of about $1.5 billion to U.S., U.K. and Swiss regulators for trying to rig global interest rates, including Libor, over a six-year period. Regulators found that traders at the Zurich-based bank made more than 2,000 requests to its own rate submitters, traders at other banks and brokers to manipulate rate submissions through 2010.

UBS Japan agreed to plead guilty in connection with the rate-rigging investigation, while UBS AG (UBSN), the parent company, entered a non-prosecution agreement with the Justice Department.

‘Robust’ Resolution

The U.S. Justice Department weighed the consequences to market confidence among the bank’s trading counter-parties before entering a non-prosecution agreement with the UBS parent company, Breuer said at the news conference. “Our goal here is not to destroy a major financial institution,” he said. “By any fair criteria this is a very real, very robust and very forceful resolution.”

According to transcripts released by the U.K. Financial Services Authority today, an employee identified as Trader A led efforts to influence Japanese Yen Libor submissions included paying brokers as much as 15,000 pounds ($24,400) a quarter and offering a payment to another for helping him keep that day’s rate low. Trader A worked at UBS in Tokyo from 2006 to 2009 and directly contacted employees at other banks to influence their submissions at least 80 times.

Yen Libor

“I need you to keep it as low as possible,” Trader A wrote to the broker on Sept. 18, 2008, referring to six-month yen Libor. “If you do that ... I’ll pay you, you know, $50,000, $100,000... whatever you want ... I’m a man of my word,” according to the transcripts.

Meister said UBS’s actions involved at least five interdealer brokers. “These brokers are supposed to be honest middlemen,” he said. “The brokers here were anything but honest.”

“As one broker told a UBS derivatives trader, according to the statement of facts appended to our agreement with the bank, ‘Mate, you’re getting bloody good at this Libor game. Think of me when you’re on your yacht in Monaco, won’t you?’” Breuer said.

Tripled Barclays

The financial penalties are more than triple the 290 million-pound fine Barclays Plc (BARC) agreed to pay in June in the first settlement of Libor-rigging allegations. Barclays Chief Executive Officer Robert Diamond and Chairman Marcus Agius resigned in the face of political outrage over the scandal. UBS CEO Sergio Ermotti joined the bank in April 2011, after the period covered during the rate-rigging investigations.

“UBS’s misconduct is, although similar in nature, considerably more serious than Barclays’ because it was more widespread within the firm,” the FSA said. “More individuals, including managers and senior managers, participated in or knew about the manipulation.”

Libor, a benchmark for more than $300 trillion of financial products worldwide, is derived from a survey of banks conducted each day on behalf of the British Bankers’ Association in London. Lenders are asked how much it would cost them to borrow from one another for 15 different periods, from overnight to one year, in currencies including dollars, euros, yen and francs.

Trader A boasted that he was able to rig the benchmark because he was “mates with the cash desks” at one unnamed bank and that they “always helped each other out,” a transcript of a Feb, 2, 2007 chat showed, according to the FSA.

‘Pervasive’ Practice

At least 45 bank employees, including some managers, knew of the “pervasive” practice and a further 70 people were included in open chats and messages where attempts to manipulate Libor and Euribor were discussed, the FSA said.

During the six-year period, four of UBS’s traders, one of whom was a manager, made more than 1,000 written requests to 11 interdealer brokers at six brokerage firms, asking them to influence other panel banks that contributed to Japanese Yen Libor submissions.

During 2007, Trader A made more than 450 requests to manipulate Yen Libor submissions as he held large trading positions tied to the rate that matured at different times that year.

Trader A embarked on a coordinated campaign to influence three month Japanese Yen Libor for the benefit of those positions,” the FSA said. “For this purpose, Trader A made internal requests, broker requests and external requests.”

Trader A set up a complex system of payments to fellow UBS employees, counterparts at other banks and interdealer brokers to facilitate the manipulation of yen Libor, according to the FSA settlement.

Wash Trades

Between Sept. 19 and Aug. 25, 2008, Trader A and a colleague entered into nine so-called wash trades as a means of rewarding an unidentified broker with more than 170,000 pounds for helping rig the rate. Wash trades are where a trader puts through two or more risk-free trades through a broker which cancel each other out while leading to a payment of brokerage fees to the broker arranging the trade.

In another arrangement, the trader bribed counterparts at other banks with so-called facilitation trades, where they agreed to submit favorable rates in exchange for beneficial trades with UBS. On the occasions where Trader A’s interests were in conflict with other traders within the bank, he entered facilitation trades with his colleagues.

On Feb 5, 2007, the trader contacted “Manager A” on an electronic chat: ’’ ...last 3m fix if you cld keep high (6m wd prefer high but not urgent) and if we cld keep 1m low wd be appreciated, if doesn’t suit let me know and maybe we can offset our fixes thx any help much appreciated.’’

Employees Departed

Thirty to 40 people have left the bank as a result of the investigations, Ermotti told reporters on a conference call, adding that behavior of some employees was “unacceptable.” He said he doesn’t expect any more departures.

The fine is another blemish on UBS, which is scaling back its investment bank to concentrate on wealth management. UBS said in October it may post a loss for 2012 after taking an impairment charge of 3.1 billion francs related to goodwill and other non-financial assets at the securities unit, in addition to costs tied to firing 10,000 people by 2015. The bank said it expects to report a fourth-quarter loss of between 2 billion francs and 2.5 billion francs, primarily as a result of litigation provisions and regulatory matters.

Showing ‘Determination’

“We want to move forward and I think we’re showing our determination in the bank to move forward and to change the bank for good,” Ermotti said.

One year ago, Japanese regulators penalized UBS’s Japanese operations, curtailing the bank’s ability to participate in the Tokyo interbank derivative market for a week, and ordering the bank to improve its regime of compliance and internal controls.

Ermotti said he doesn’t expect further sanctions from the Japanese regulator and that the bank is “confident” it will be able to continue to operate in Japan and globally as normal.

UBS was fined 29.7 million pounds last month by the FSA and told by the Swiss regulator it may have to increase capital levels for operational risks after a $2.3 billion loss from unauthorized trading by Kweku Adoboli. The former trader in UBS’s London office was sentenced to seven years in jail on Nov. 20 for fraud in relation to the loss, the largest from unauthorized trading in British history.

Eli Lilly’s Zyprexa: Profit Outweighs Patient Risk?

Here’s a few alarming notes gleaned from “Bitter Pill,” the February 5, 2009 Rolling Stone expose, written by Ben Wallace-Wells, about Elli Lilly’s “atypical antipsychotic” (or AA) blockbuster drug,  Zyprexa (olanzapine).

The Perils of Aggressive Marketing
In 2001 when Eli Lilly’s patent on their blockbuster antidepressant drug Prozac (which produced nearly a third of the company’s total revenues) was set to expire, Lilly “bet the farm” that Zyprexa would prove to be their next blockbuster product. It was hoped that this new “atypical antipsychotic” Zyprexa would match or top the success of clozapine in treating schizophrenia, while mitigating those chemicals that caused the devastating extrapyramidal movement disorders of the older antipsychotics.
On September 30th, 1996 the FDA approved Zyprexa for the treatment of schizophrenia, making it the fastest “drug to market” in history. The drug label did little to warn doctors and consumers of a sizeable risk for severe weight gain or hyperglycemia, even though internal Lilly documents raised concerns about these side effects. It would be nine years before a comprehensive government study would reverse claims of a safer “side effect” efficacy that surrounded Zyprexa and the other AAs, and raise disturbing questions about hidden risks.
Due to aggressive “off-label” marketing campaigns, AAs as a class swelled beyond their original “marked territory” (estimated at $170 million for schizoprenia), far exceeding the country’s supply of schizophrenic brains, with sales zooming past $2 billion, all the way to $16 billion by the 1990s.
A Lilly company memo stressed, “The ability of Eli Lilly to remain independent and emerge as the fastest-growing pharma company of the decade depends solely on our ability to achieve world-class commercialization of Zyprexa.” The sales problem was there simply weren’t enough schizophrenics in the world as such to save Lilly’s bottom line.
Even as studies slowly emerged that criticized the side effects, Zyprexa continued to win market share.
As  Zyprexa and AAs expanded their marketing campaigns to treat “off-label” conditions beyond schizophrenia, by 2006 they were so successful that nearly 1 in 5 children who visited a psychiatrist’s office left with a prescription for the drugs. Meanwhile, there was little evidence that Zyprexa really did any good for these off-label uses. Even so, this lack of science didn’t deter doctors from prescribing them to children.
By 2001, more than 20 million people had taken Zyprexa. In 2007, the drug generated $4.78 billion, 25% of Lilly’s total revenue.
A Terrible Side Effect Emerges -- Risky Weight Gain
Some medical researchers say the AA drugs may eventually be responsible for tens of thousands of cases of diabetes and other potentially fatal diseases.
While the extrapyramidal movement disorders seemed to be diminished as hoped,  Zyprexa caused a startling amount of weight gain. By the end of just one week, physicians often noted dramatic weight gain, and by the end of a year, some of the patients had gained up to 125 pounds.
In an Indiana University study, a group of male students were given 10 mg/day to test the side effects. Within two weeks the students had gained 5 pounds more than those in a control group. Taking 10 mg was the equivalent of eating 1500 additional calories every day. Some students gained 15 pounds in two weeks.
While Eli Lilly’s experts concluded from their own studies that Zyprexa only caused an average weight of 24 pounds a year, other clinical trials later found 1 in 6 patients gained more than 66 pounds in a year. Such a staggering side effect could raise a patient’s blood sugar – an indication the drug could cause diabetes.
However, relying on conflicting studies provided by Eli Lilly, the FDA instead concluded that patients would only have an average weight gain of 11 pounds.
It was later found that kids prescribed the drug have gained as much as 35 pounds, in as little as 8 weeks, and also have seen their cholesterol and insulin levels rise.
Upon the point of reaching 5,000,000 users, a senior Lilly scientist estimated that Zyprexa had caused as many as 100,000 (2%) of those users to gain 90 pounds. The health risks of that kind of weight gain are profound. Internally, Lilly’s own experts were criticizing the company for covering up the link between Zyprexa and diabetes.
Lilly has agreed to pay a $2.6 billion fee to settle charges (without admitting guilt) that it built the market first by concealing its side effects, and then by marketing it “off label” for diseases for which it had not been approved by the FDA.

Quinolinic Acid: Suicide Attempts Linked To Chemical's Presence In Spinal Fluid, Study Says

The glutamate pathways in the ‘normal’ brain
In the normal brain the prominent glutamatergic pathways are: the cortico-cortical pathways; the pathways between the thalamus and the cortex; and the extrapyramidal pathway (the projections between the cortex and striatum). Other glutamate projections exist between the cortex, substantia nigra, subthalmic nucleus and pallidum. Glutamate-containing neuronal terminals are ubiquitous in the central nervous system and their importance in mental activity and neurotransmission is considerable.

by: Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience

Published: 12/18/2012

A chemical in the brain may explain why some people become suicidal — and it may link inflammation of the body to disorders of the mind.

According to new research, suicidal individuals have elevated levels of quinolinic acid in the fluid surrounding the central nervous system. The discovery could explain a missing link between inflammation and mental illness, said study researcher Lena Brundin, a professor of translational science and molecular medicine at Michigan State University. Previously, scientists had linked suicidal feelings to the kind of bodily inflammation that occurs during illness or stress, but they weren't able to explain how inflammation could translate to depression, hopelessness and a desire to kill oneself.

The new study of 100 Swedish patients finds that the higher the level of quinolinic acid in the spinal fluid, the stronger their desire to commit suicide.

"The sicker the patient, the higher the quinolinic acid," Brundin told LiveScience.

The roots of suicide

There were nearly 37,000 suicide deaths in 2009 in the United States and 633,000 emergency room visits for self-inflicted injury, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Between 2000 and 2009, suicide surpassed car accidents as the No. 1 cause of injury-related deaths in the United States, according to research released in September.

But risk factors for suicide can be tricky to pin down. Brundin and her colleagues previously found that suicidal patients had higher levels of cytokines, protein molecules associated with inflammation. Inflammation is an immune response; in the short term, it's crucial for moving immune cells to the source of a wound or infection. But when inflammatory responses become chronic, they can damage the body.

Studies in mice have also found that an overactive immune system appears to be linked to depression. However, researchers didn't understand how the process of inflammation might influence mental health.

"We still were missing the link between inflammation and what was actually happening to the brain cells," Brundin said.

To find out, Brundin and her colleagues tested 100 Swedish adults for quinolinic acid, a compound known to be generated by inflammation and to have an effect in the brain due to its similarities to the neurotransmitter glutamate. This is a tough compound to test for, requiring not a simple blood draw but the extraction of cerebrospinal fluid, the clear, yellowish liquid that cushions the brain and spinal cord.

About two-thirds of the Swedish participants were tested right after hospitalization for a suicide attempt. The rest were healthy. The results revealed that the stronger the urge to commit suicide, the higher the levels of quinolinic acid in the spinal fluid.

Hope for treatments

The researchers did not compare the suicidal patients with severely depressed but not suicidal individuals, so it's not clear whether quinolinic acid is linked only to suicide or to difficult-to-treat depression more broadly. Either way, Brundin said, the research suggests a need to widen depression treatments beyond those used today, which are usually based around the neurotransmitter serotonin.

Specifically, the neurotransmitter glutamate might offer new avenues for treatment. Glutamate is the neurotransmitter that quinolinic acid mimics. In a healthy brain, it plays an important role in exciting nerve cells. However, the discovery that quinolinic acid contributes to suicide or depression by playing copycat to glutamate suggests that targeting this neurotransmitter could provide relief.

Already, small studies have suggested the anesthetic ketamine, when injected into the bloodstream, can banish suicidal symptoms within hours, Brundin said. Ketamine has anti-glutamate effects.

"If the pharmaceutical industry can continue developing anti-glutamate medication, I think that might be a great hope for suicidal and depressive patients," Brundin said.

Brundin and her colleagues will report their findings in a forthcoming issue of the journal

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Mindfulness Solution to Pain: Step-by-Step Techniques for Chronic Pain Management

I'm getting spoiled rotten by the clearance section at Half Price Books flagship store on NW Highway. Here's my latest dollar book -- another winner.

The Mindfulness Solution to Pain: Step-by-Step Techniques for Chronic Pain Management by Jackie Gardner-Nix with a forword by Jon Kabat-Zinn

Your mood, thoughts, and emotions can affect your perception of pain and even your ability to heal. In fact, your past life experiences influence your current physical challenges: “your biography influences your biology.” While treatments like medication and physical therapy can be enormously beneficial to the body, to maximize pain relief, it’s necessary to take advantage of the mind’s healing abilities. This book offers a revolutionary new treatment approach, mindfulness-based chronic pain management, that helps you harness your mind’s power to quiet your pain and put you in control.

Mindfulness practice, which includes stationary meditations, movement meditations, mindful art, and other strategies, will help you:

Understand how emotions and thoughts affect physical symptoms
Reverse the debilitating effects of some chronic pain conditions
Prevent pain from becoming chronic or long-term
Lift the anxiety and depression that may accompany chronic pain

About the author

Jackie Gardner-Nix, MD, PhD, is a chronic pain consultant in the Department of Anesthesia and the Pain Clinic of St Michael's Hospital in Toronto, ON, Canada, and the Department of Anesthesia and Pain Management at Sunnybrook Health Services Centre, also in Toronto. She is assistant professor in the Department of Anaesthesia, at the University of Toronto. Gardner-Nix is internationally renowned for her ability in managing chronic pain through expert use of medications. She has been on advisory boards for pain medications, including for the College of Physicians and Surgeons, the Ontario Medical Association, and the Ministry of Health. She is an accomplished speaker who has given many workshops and presentations internationally, and has written publications on palliative care and control of chronic non-cancer pain. She was a Toronto Sun Women on the Move nominee in 1994 for her work in palliative care.

Mindfulness with Jon Kabat-Zinn -- YouTube video:

Blue Beetle Faces the "Destroyer of Heroes" 1968

Blue Beetle #5, Charlton Comics, November 1968. Steve Ditko gives us a superb cover and art in this issue, and he injects some Objectivist philosophy into a story that gives insight into his views on the nature of art and man -- and all for only 12 cents, back in the day. A classic.

Johnny Cash "I Walk the Line" Live on the Tex Ritter Ranch Party Show 1957

The 23-year old Johnny Cash performing "I Walk the Line" live on The Tex Ritter Ranch Party Show with the Tennesee Two.

Rockin' Sidney "Party This Christmas" 1983

I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas

Monday, December 17, 2012

Katherine Newman CNN Opinion Blog: In School Shootings, Patterns and Warning Signs

Katherine Newman is the James B. Knapp Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins University and the co-author of "Rampage: The Social Roots of School Shootings" (Basic Books, 2004).

(CNN) -- How could it happen here? This is the question plaguing residents of Newtown, Conn., a picture-perfect country town with good schools, quiet streets and a strong sense of community. But small towns like Newtown are where 60% of rampage school shootings in the United States occur. Far from big urban centers where gun violence is common, these communities are generally very safe. But more often than not, they are the places where this kind of tragedy strikes.

My research team spent two years trying to understand rampage school shootings. We spent several months in Kentucky and Arkansas, in two towns that had been the scenes of shootings in the late 1990's. We interviewed the shooters' neighbors, friends, instructors, coaches and Sunday school teachers. We talked to people who had observed the shooters in jail cells right after the shootings, and years later in prison. We combed the records of every shooting of this kind in the U.S. from the 1970s onward, looking for patterns. And while each tragedy has its own anatomy, a picture emerged that makes sociological sense and probably has some bearing on the Newtown case.

Rampage shootings are never spontaneous. They are planned, often for months in advance. We don't know yet whether the Newtown shooter, Adam Lanza, gave any warnings, but in the episodes we studied, shooters commonly told their peers -- often in a veiled and ambiguous fashion -- what they had in mind.

One reason shooters tip their hands is that they are trying to solve a problem. Though they are often intelligent, high-performing boys, their peers tend to see them as unattractive losers, weak and unmanly. In a school culture that values sports prowess over academic accomplishment, they face rejection. The shooters are rarely loners, but tend instead to be failed joiners, and their daily social experience is full of friction. Since they are almost always mentally or emotionally ill, those rejections -- so common in adolescence -- take on greater importance and become a fixation. Rebuffed after trying to join friendship groups, they look for ways to gain attention, to reverse their damaged identities.

The shooting is the last act in a long drama: a search for acceptance and recognition. The earlier acts fail miserably. But once a shooter starts to talk about killing people, ostracism can turn to inclusion. Suddenly, he is getting the attention he has been craving. Michael Carneal, who killed three high school girls and paralyzed a fourth when he was a freshman in a Kentucky high school, pulled pranks, told loud silly jokes and stole CD's in an attempt to impress. None of it worked. But the day he started talking about shooting people, that began to change. The Goth group he desperately wanted to join wheeled in his direction for the first time.

Carneal never thought about how his actions would destroy lives or send his neighbors into a lifetime of angry mourning. Interviewed after the shooting, he said he thought that those boys would at last become his friends. He would be asked over to their houses and they would visit him. He would be cool. He was a skinny 13-year-old with glasses, a bright boy fond of reading and terrible at football -- all he was after was another identity.

Look at photos of Seung-Hui Cho, the shooter at Virginia Tech who murdered 32 people, and you will see eerie echoes of what Lanza reportedly wore: mask, military fatigues, multiple guns in assault position. Many of these young men are trying to cast themselves as stars of a movie that ends in a blaze of suicidal gunfire and notoriety. Our research on earlier shootings showed the attack is on a school because that is the center stage in a small town, where the young men can rivet the entire community

If so many clues are out there, why don't more people see them? High-school teachers see students less than an hour a day, and rarely compare notes with other teachers, even after witnessing troubling behavior. They often do not document infractions, preferring to address problems in their own classrooms.

Peers, on the other hand, do hear things. Why don't they come forward?

First, the signal is noisy. Michael Carneal was always saying goofy things. He explained to his would-be friends that they would see who "lived or died on Monday." Mitchell Johnson, who, together with Andrew Golden, killed four kids and a teacher in an Arkansas middle school, told his friends that he would be "running from the cops." They recognized in hindsight that he was telegraphing his intentions. But at the time, most didn't know what to make of these comments. A few students took Michael Carneal's warnings so seriously that they didn't go to school that fateful Monday. But none of the dozens of kids in either school who heard veiled threats reported them to adults.

They didn't know how to interpret the signals. In the context of goofball comments they were used to, how could they know these were real warnings? Crossing the DMZ that separates kids from adults in early adolescence is socially dangerous. Why risk being deemed a tattletale or teacher's pet when you don't know whether those crazy asides actually mean anything?

This quandary is the root of preventing rampage shootings in schools. Law enforcement will never be able to respond fast enough to stop shootings that often end in seconds. This is why we have to find ways for people who hear troubling rumors or threats to report them to people who can investigate and intervene. And while we do not know enough now to tell whether anyone had a clue about Adam Lanza's murderous intentions, it will not come as a shock if it turns out there were people in his social orbit who had an inkling, fuzzy and incredible as that inkling might be. It would fit the pattern of what we saw in virtually all of the other rampage shootings in American schools.

Would gun control help? Yes and no. Yes, because anything that thwarts the efforts of a Carneal or a Johnson to get their hands on guns will make it harder to perpetrate a massacre and will deter the ambivalent. If Adam Lanza had had to go to greater lengths to get his hands on weapons, he might have run out of psychic energy to do this terrible deed. It appears he had little trouble, though, because the guns belonged to his mother, were registered and legally owned. Why in the world we enable civilians to own such lethal instruments baffles millions of citizens and will be the subject of a searching debate if our politicians can get over the barriers that have prevented serious reform.

But gun control is not enough. A determined person will find a way. Andrew Golden and Mitchell Johnson took a blow torch to a safe to try to get at the guns they knew were hidden there. That failed, so they found wire clippers and managed to cut their way through the cables that were supposed to keep Golden's grandfather's gun collection out of the wrong hands.

People who are this intent on getting their hands on weapons are very difficult to stop. That is not an argument against gun control because thousands of unbalanced young men are not quite that determined; they are ambivalent. That is why gun control is a necessary but not sufficient step.

Although we will not be able to stop all of these tragedies, we can cut down on their number by insuring that adults make themselves available to kids in completely confidential settings, reassuring them of their privacy when they take that risky step to come forward. We can provide opportunities for "round pegs" like Michael Carneal, a bright, intellectually inclined kid, to find a social space that doesn't depend on athletic prowess or a handsome face.

If the reports of his childhood acquaintances prove to be correct, Adam Lanza may have been through a similar experience. Kids can be very cruel and they are not always courageous enough to own up to their culpability for ostracism, particularly since they don't know -- and cannot be held responsible -- for the extreme consequences of emotional damage they may be causing.

In the end, though, there will be troubled boys and some of them will become killers. To the extent that we can capture the warning signals they send out to their peers, we can do our best to stop them in their tracks, even if we do not always succeed.