Thursday, January 31, 2013

Marge's Little Lulu #44 February 1952

Art by John Stanley and Irving Tripp.

The Phantom, Daniel Herman, and Hermes Press on the BBC

As anyone has followed my offbeat blog knows, I am a certified Phantom phreak. Daniel Herman of Hermes Press asked me to write forwards for the two volumes collecting my friend, the late Pat Boyette's, Charlton Comics issues.

In the meantime, here's a link Troy Musguire, Production Manager of Hermes Press, sent me featuring this Daniel Herman interview about the Ghost Who Walks on the BBC.

Phantom comics reissue keeps early masked hero alive
When Lee Falk created the The Phantom in 1936 its hero was a comic strip trailblazer.

The protagonist was among the first masked characters fighting bad guys with powers of only a mere mortal.

Among the Phantom's early victories were battles with Japanese forces, mirroring the global tumult of the time.

The BBC spoke with Daniel Herman, publisher of Hermes Press which has published its fifth instalment of Phantom reissues.

Mr Herman says that what keeps The Phantom appealing is the comic strip's strong character development.

Produced by Marc Georges and the BBC's David Botti.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Humanistic Psychology (The Third Force)

DC's self-actualized superhero, Mister Terrific. Silver Age-era art by Mike Sekowsky and Murphy Anderson.
From yee Wikipedia:

Humanistic Psychology (The Third Force) is a psychological perspective which rose to prominence in the mid-20th century in response to Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytic theory.

With its roots running from Socrates through the Renaissance, this approach emphasizes an individual's inherent drive towards self-actualization and creativity.

In the context of the tertiary sector beginning to produce more than the secondary sector, the humanistic psychology, which was sometimes referred to as a "third force," as distinct from the two more traditional approaches to psychology, psychoanalysis and behaviorism, began to be seen as more relevant than the older approaches.

It also led to a new approach to human capital with the creativity -- previously seen as work prerequisite for artists only -- beginning for the first time in human history to be seen as a work prerequisite for employees that were in an increasing number working in cognitive-cultural economy.

Its ideas have influenced the theory and practice of education and social work, particularly in North America, as well as the emerging field of transpersonal psychology.

It typically holds that people are inherently good. It adopts a holistic approach to human existence and pays special attention to such phenomena as creativity, free will, and human potential. Its principal U.S. professional organizations are the Association for Humanistic Psychology and the Society for Humanistic Psychology (Division 32 of the American Psychological Association).

Early sources

One of humanistic psychology's early sources was the work of Carl Rogers. Rogers' focus was to ensure that the developmental processes led to healthier, if not more creative, personality functioning. The term 'actualizing tendency' was also coined by Rogers, and was a concept that eventually led Abraham Maslow to study self-actualization as one of the needs of humans. Rogers and Maslow introduced this positive, humanistic psychology in response to what they viewed as the overly pessimistic view of psychoanalysis.

The other sources include the philosophies of existentialism and phenomenology.

Conceptual origins

The humanistic approach has its roots in phenomenological and existentialist thought (see Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty and Sartre). Eastern philosophy and psychology also play a central role in humanistic psychology, as well as Judeo-Christian philosophies of personalism, as each shares similar concerns about the nature of human existence and consciousness.

As behaviorism grew out of Ivan Pavlov's work with the conditioned reflex, and laid the foundations for academic psychology in the United States associated with the names of John B. Watson and B. F. Skinner, Abraham Maslow gave behaviorism the name "the second force".

Historically "the first force" were psychologists like Sigmund Freud, Alfred Adler, Erik Erikson, Carl Jung, Erich Fromm, Karen Horney, Otto Rank, Melanie Klein, Harry Stack Sullivan, and others.

In the late 1930s, psychologists, interested in the uniquely human issues, such as the self, self-actualization, health, hope, love, creativity, nature, being, becoming, individuality, and meaning—that is, a concrete understanding of human existence, included Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, and Clark Moustakas, who were interested in founding a professional association dedicated to a psychology focused on these features of human capital demanded by post-industrial society.

The humanistic psychology perspective is summarized by five core principles or postulates of humanistic psychology first articulated in an article written by James Bugental in 1964 and adapted by Tom Greening, psychologist and long-time editor of the Journal of Humanistic Psychology. The five basic principles of humanistic psychology are:

1. Human beings, as human, supersede the sum of their parts. They cannot be reduced to components.

2. Human beings have their existence in a uniquely human context, as well as in a cosmic ecology.

3. Human beings are aware and aware of being aware—i.e., they are conscious. Human consciousness always includes an awareness of oneself in the context of other people.

4. Human beings have some choice and, with that, responsibility.

5. Human beings are intentional, aim at goals, are aware that they cause future events, and seek meaning, value, and creativity.

While humanistic psychology is a specific division within the American Psychological Association (Division 32), humanistic psychology is not so much a discipline within psychology as a perspective on the human condition that informs psychological research and practice.

For more:

Abraham Maslow short book on the Peak Experience.

Out the Kleptocracy: I'm Mad As Hell

The famous scene from the 1976 film, Network. Newsman Howard Beale played by the great actor, Peter Finch.

I second that emotion, only about the Kleptocracy. From Network, "I'm mad as hell."

Opinion: Elyn R. Saks Successful and Schizophrenic

by Elyn R. Saks, The New York Times, The Opinion Pages, January 25, 2013

Thirty years ago, I was given a diagnosis of schizophrenia. My prognosis was “grave”: I would never live independently, hold a job, find a loving partner, get married. My home would be a board-and-care facility, my days spent watching TV in a day room with other people debilitated by mental illness. I would work at menial jobs when my symptoms were quiet.

Following my last psychiatric hospitalization at the age of 28, I was encouraged by a doctor to work as a cashier making change. If I could handle that, I was told, we would reassess my ability to hold a more demanding position, perhaps even something full-time.

Then I made a decision. I would write the narrative of my life. Today I am a chaired professor at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law. I have an adjunct appointment in the department of psychiatry at the medical school of the University of California, San Diego, and am on the faculty of the New Center for Psychoanalysis. The MacArthur Foundation gave me a "genius grant."

Although I fought my diagnosis for many years, I came to accept that I have schizophrenia and will be in treatment the rest of my life. Indeed, excellent psychoanalytic treatment and medication have been critical to my success. What I refused to accept was my prognosis.

Conventional psychiatric thinking and its diagnostic categories say that people like me don’t exist. Either I don’t have schizophrenia (please tell that to the delusions crowding my mind), or I couldn’t have accomplished what I have (please tell that to U.S.C.’s committee on faculty affairs). But I do, and I have. And I have undertaken research with colleagues at U.S.C. and U.C.L.A. to show that I am not alone. There are others with schizophrenia and such active symptoms as delusions and hallucinations who have significant academic and professional achievements.

Over the last few years, my colleagues, including Stephen Marder, Alison Hamilton and Amy Cohen, and I have gathered 20 research subjects with high-functioning schizophrenia in Los Angeles. They suffered from symptoms like mild delusions or hallucinatory behavior. Their average age was 40. Half were male, half female, and more than half were minorities. All had high school diplomas, and a majority either had or were working toward college or graduate degrees. They were graduate students, managers, technicians and professionals, including a doctor, lawyer, psychologist and chief executive of a nonprofit group.

At the same time, most were unmarried and childless, which is consistent with their diagnoses. (My colleagues and I intend to do another study on people with schizophrenia who are high-functioning in terms of their relationships. Marrying in my mid-40s — the best thing that ever happened to me — was against all odds, following almost 18 years of not dating.)

More than three-quarters had been hospitalized between two and five times because of their illness, while three had never been admitted.

How had these people with schizophrenia managed to succeed in their studies and at such high-level jobs? We learned that, in addition to medication and therapy, all the participants had developed techniques to keep their schizophrenia at bay. For some, these techniques were cognitive. An educator with a master’s degree said he had learned to face his hallucinations and ask, “What’s the evidence for that? Or is it just a perception problem?” Another participant said, “I hear derogatory voices all the time. ... You just gotta blow them off.”

Part of vigilance about symptoms was “identifying triggers” to “prevent a fuller blown experience of symptoms,” said a participant who works as a coordinator at a nonprofit group.

For instance, if being with people in close quarters for too long can set off symptoms, build in some alone time when you travel with friends.

Other techniques that our participants cited included controlling sensory inputs. For some, this meant keeping their living space simple (bare walls, no TV, only quiet music), while for others, it meant distracting music. “I’ll listen to loud music if I don’t want to hear things,” said a participant who is a certified nurse’s assistant. Still others mentioned exercise, a healthy diet, avoiding alcohol and getting enough sleep. A belief in God and prayer also played a role for some.

One of the most frequently mentioned techniques that helped our research participants manage their symptoms was work. “Work has been an important part of who I am,” said an educator in our group. “When you become useful to an organization and feel respected in that organization, there’s a certain value in belonging there.” This person works on the weekends too because of “the distraction factor.” In other words, by engaging in work, the crazy stuff often recedes to the sidelines.

Personally, I reach out to my doctors, friends and family whenever I start slipping, and I get great support from them. I eat comfort food (for me, cereal) and listen to quiet music. I minimize all stimulation. Usually these techniques, combined with more medication and therapy, will make the symptoms pass. But the work piece — using my mind — is my best defense. It keeps me focused, it keeps the demons at bay. My mind, I have come to say, is both my worst enemy and my best friend.

THAT is why it is so distressing when doctors tell their patients not to expect or pursue fulfilling careers. Far too often, the conventional psychiatric approach to mental illness is to see clusters of symptoms that characterize people. Accordingly, many psychiatrists hold the view that treating symptoms with medication is treating mental illness. But this fails to take into account individuals’ strengths and capabilities, leading mental health professionals to underestimate what their patients can hope to achieve in the world.

It’s not just schizophrenia: earlier this month, The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry posted a study showing that a small group of people who were given diagnoses of autism, a developmental disorder, later stopped exhibiting symptoms. They seemed to have recovered — though after years of behavioral therapy and treatment. A recent New York Times Magazine article described a new company that hires high-functioning adults with autism, taking advantage of their unusual memory skills and attention to detail.

I don’t want to sound like a Pollyanna about schizophrenia; mental illness imposes real limitations, and it’s important not to romanticize it. We can’t all be Nobel laureates like John Nash of the movie “A Beautiful Mind.” But the seeds of creative thinking may sometimes be found in mental illness, and people underestimate the power of the human brain to adapt and to create.

An approach that looks for individual strengths, in addition to considering symptoms, could help dispel the pessimism surrounding mental illness. Finding “the wellness within the illness,” as one person with schizophrenia said, should be a therapeutic goal. Doctors should urge their patients to develop relationships and engage in meaningful work. They should encourage patients to find their own repertory of techniques to manage their symptoms and aim for a quality of life as they define it. And they should provide patients with the resources — therapy, medication and support — to make these things happen.

Every person has a unique gift or unique self to bring to the world,” said one of our study’s participants. She expressed the reality that those of us who have schizophrenia and other mental illnesses want what everyone wants: in the words of Sigmund Freud, to work and to love.

Elyn R. Saks is a law professor at the University of Southern California and the author of the memoir “The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness.”

Related article:

Peter Silburn Blog: Watching the Brain

The disembodied brain of a scientific genius, the Brain, led the Brotherhood of Evil against DC's Doom Patrol in the sixties. The Brotherhood of Evil includes the intelligent gorilla, Monsieur Mallah, and Madame Rouge.
by  Peter Silburn, Huff Post Ted Weekends blog, 01/26/2013

Max Little describes the remarkable power of interdisciplinary research in the quest to find a cure for, or at least alleviate the debilitating symptoms, of Parkinson's disease (PD). His achievements in using telephone voice recordings from people with and without PD to aid diagnosis and potentially monitor treatment effects are extraordinary. Advances in signal processing analysis, machine-learning methods and human brain stimulation and recording are also being used to advance a therapy for PD called deep brain stimulation (DBS).

During DBS surgery, we now have the ability to watch individual neurons working alone and together in the awake human brains of people with a variety of neurological conditions. We have the opportunity to not only improve brain function in these individuals but, whilst they are awake, record the neurons at rest and during cognitive and sensory motor tasks.

The ability to watch in real-time how individual neurons or clusters of neurons process information in an awake human being has enabled us to look for biological signals in the brain that help define both normal circuits, and abnormal activity that results from brain disease or damage. The significant advances in data capture and analysis techniques allow us to watch the brain thinking directly without the need for additional off-site processing such as in functional magnetic resonance imaging or positron emission tomography.

DBS uses a chronically implantable brain machine interface consisting of electrodes placed in the deep brain that then tunnel under the skin to reach an implantable pulse generator in the chest. The pulse generator then delivers high frequency stimulation back to the target deep brain structure. Recent developments have enabled us to document stimulation activity by extracting data from the pulse generator via its embedded recording system.

Currently, we can adjust these stimulation parameters in the pulse generator using a telephone consultation with the patient. This electronic patient consultation saves time and travel resulting in faster, cheaper and more convenient adjustment of the device. This, in turn, leads to better patient outcomes. In the future, the ability may emerge for patients to have their conditions treated via web-based systems if we can determine the appropriate neurophysiological biomarkers that predict optimum symptom relief. Research at the blurry boundaries of multiple disciples will deliver the future developments we are seeking.

These applications of deep brain stimulation or neuromodulation are now extending beyond movement disorders such as Parkinson's disease and tremor disorders into epilepsy, anxiety conditions such as obsessive compulsive disorder, addiction, body image and intractable pain including phantom limb pain. This direct examination of the brain and its response to simple and complex tasks including higher cognitive function and testing is helping to define brain structure and function and provide a sound basis for neuromodulation that may be achieved remotely.

These issues bring with them major excitement but clear ethical issues remain and will need to be considered as science tackles the modulation of nature's most complex structure.

Doom Patrol #86 March 1964. Art by Bruno Premiani; characters created by writer Arnold Drake.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Out the Kleptocracy: Congress Damns Corzine but Lets Him Off the Hook

Blog post by William D. Cohan, Nov 25, 2012

Perhaps we should no longer be surprised by the arrogance of Wall Street executives. Still, the level of hubris and bullying displayed by Jon Corzine during his 19-month tenure as chairman and chief executive officer of MF Global Holdings Ltd. (MFGLQ) -- as described in a recent congressional report about the company’s 2011 collapse -- stands out for sheer offensiveness.

The 97-page report prepared by the staff for Republicans on the House Financial Services Committee panel on oversight and investigation pulls no punches when it comes to blaming Corzine for the MF Global disaster, which wiped out thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of customers’ and creditors’ money.Jon Corzine caused MF Global’s bankruptcy and put customer funds at risk,” the report concludes flatly.

And the gory details strewn throughout the elegantly written report -- some revealed for the first time -- show the full extent to which Corzine was out of control. In May 2010, two months after he was hired, Corzine, the former senior partner of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) and former governor and U.S. senator from New Jersey, began his pattern of deception.

The goal here is not to be a prop trader,” the report claims Corzine said. “I don’t think that we will be in a risk taking position, substantial enough to have it be the kind of thing that the rating agencies would say ‘holy cow, these guys got a different business strategy’ than what we told them we had.”

New Division

A month later, though, Corzine had set up a new division at MF Global, the Principal Strategies Group, to make big wagers with the firm’s capital, the very thing he said MF Global would not do. He fired a bunch of the firm’s traders who he thought were not capable of swinging for the fences and brought in a slew of new hires, many from Goldman Sachs, to get the job done. He also had his very own proprietary-trading account at MF Global, even though company policy required that a more senior executive always sign off on personal trading -- an impossibility in his case because he was the most senior executive. (Corzine got around that requirement by creating a subcommittee of the board of directors to oversee his personal trades.)

By late summer, the proprietary traders and Corzine had identified a potentially lucrative trade in the sovereign debt of European nations -- among them, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain -- that was trading at a discount and that Corzine thought would eventually trade at par once it matured in a year or two. He was betting that the European Financial Stability Facility, created by the euro area following decisions taken by the European Union in May 2010, would make sure the sovereign debt didn’t default.

As the size of Corzine’s bet reached about $2 billion in September 2010, Michael Roseman, the company’s chief risk officer, began to raise questions. (At the time, Roseman reported to the board of directors, not to the CEO.) Roseman told Corzine of his growing concern, and Corzine suggested they bring up the matter at the next board meeting. But Corzine soon stuffed Roseman, and at that meeting he persuaded the board to let him increase the bet to $4 billion.

“The same month, Corzine retained a search firm to find a new chief risk officer for the company,” according to the House report.

By October, as the size of the trade reached the new $4 billion limit, Roseman repeated his concern to Corzine. Again, Corzine appealed to the board -- at its November meeting -- to allow him to increase the bet. The board complied, boosting the limit to $4.75 billion. That same month, Corzine told Roseman he would no longer report to the board, but to Brad Abelow, MF Global’s chief operating officer and a longtime Corzine crony. In January 2011, Corzine fired Roseman.

Corzine’s Bet

Corzine made sure the new chief risk officer, Michael Stockman, would also report to Abelow, not the board. At the end of February 2011, Stockman met with board member Martin Glynn, a former executive at HSBC Holdings Plc, who warned Stockman he would face “tremendous pressure” to approve higher risk limits “in non core areas to support earnings weaknesses elsewhere.” By March, with Stockman’s support, the board increased Corzine’s bet limit to $5.8 billion.

Yet Corzine was still not content. In early June, he asked the board to increase the transaction limit to $8.4 billion. When the board asked him to leave the room, the offended Corzine told Stockman that if the board didn’t think he was “the right guy,” it should find someone else to be CEO. The board raised Corzine’s limit to $8.5 billion. But Stockman was now getting increasingly concerned about the size of the position.

By August 2011, Corzine had bet $7.4 billion on European sovereign debt. At an Aug. 11 board meeting, Stockman told the board the company “could need” an additional $246 million to $930 million to meet margin calls if the value of the underlying European sovereign debt continued to fall. At the meeting, Corzine and the board rejected as “too costly” the idea of hedging MF Global’s exposure to Corzine’s bet. The board also asked Stockman to create a “break the glass” contingency plan in case the ratings companies downgraded MF Global as the size of the bet became known.

In the survival plan, Stockman predicted MF Global would have sufficient liquidity to survive “one month under a severe stress event.” On Oct. 24, Moody’s Investors Service downgraded MF Global and cited -- for the first time -- the company’s outsized “exposure to European sovereign debt.” But Stockman was wrong: Despite some last-minute juggling with $1 billion of supposedly segregated customer money to pay off creditors, MF Global filed for bankruptcy a week later and was liquidated.

Tepid Law

The report makes a number of tepid recommendations about how to prevent a recurrence of what Corzine wrought at MF Global. Among them is encouraging Congress to enact a law “to restore investor confidence in the futures markets” that imposes civil liability on the officers and directors who sign a company’s financial statements or “authorize specific transfers from customer segregated accounts for regulatory shortfalls of segregated customer funds.”

Unfortunately, civil penalties have done little to deter bad behavior on Wall Street. The report lamely sidesteps the issue of criminal liability in the MF Global debacle, and the New York Times reported that “federal investigators do not expect to file criminal charges against top executives.”

To anyone who has read the House report, this is a head- scratcher. It states that Corzine made several “fateful” decisions that led to MF Global’s bankruptcy and liquidation, causing billions of dollars in losses for customers, creditors and shareholders. In those “hectic final days,” the report notes, “the company repeatedly transferred funds into and out of segregated accounts, amplifying the risk that it would miscalculate account balances for regulatory purposes.” What’s more, “these risks were compounded by the atmosphere that Corzine created at MF Global, in which no one could challenge his decisions.

A chronology of MF Global’s death throes prepared by CME Group Inc., the parent company of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, states that at least one MF Global employee believedCorzine knew about loans made from customer segregated accounts.”

I’m no prosecutor, but this reluctance to hold Corzine criminally responsible for what happened at MF Global seems like a crime in itself.

William D. Cohan, the author of “Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World,” is a Bloomberg View columnist. He was formerly an investment banker at Lazard Freres, Merrill Lynch and JPMorgan Chase.

Out the Kleptocracy: Harry Reid, Jon Corzine and Other Cronies That Got Away in 2012

Graphic from the Bastiat Institute. Claude Frédéric Bastiat (1801 - 1850) was a French classical liberal theorist, political economist, and member of the French assembly. He was notable for developing the important economic concept of opportunity cost, and for penning the influential Parable of the Broken Window. He is perhaps best known for his journalistic writing in favour of free trade and the economics of Adam Smith. Economic theorist Joseph Schumpeter called Bastiat “the most brilliant economic journalist who ever lived.”

Blog by Peter Schweizer, published December 12, 2012, Fox News

 A "crony" is an individual or organization that colludes with politicians to gain unfair treatment, taxpyer-funded benefits, or regulations that the rest of us don't enjoy. Cronyism occurs because politicians rely on wealthy interests to fund their campaigns, and those donors then seek government goodies or favors in return.

It’s a match made in heaven for cronies and hell for taxpayers. Just as bad, such cronyism erodes economic freedom by destroying the real competition that fuels free market capitalism.

In 2012, the cronies had a banner year, poaching billions of taxpayer dollars to pump up their profits and redistribute their losses.

In other instances, the cronies leveraged their insider connections to evade prosecutions and skirt the laws that apply to the rest of us. Consider just a few of the cronies that got away in 2012.

1.  Jon Corzine, former MF Global Chief, New Jersey Governor, and Top Obama Bundler.
The collapse of the now defunct MF Global vaporized $1.6 billion in investor’s money, according to James W. Giddens,trustee for the SIPA Liquidation of MF Global Inc. Even Democrats said “people should go to jail.” But disgraced former MF Global Chief Jon Corzine shrugged off charges of wrongdoing and appears to have gotten off with nary a consequence.

How? Cronyism, pure and simple.

Corzine was a top Obama bundler who helped haul in $500,000 in campaign donations for the 2012 presidential election. And, as the Government Accountability Institute uncovered, MF Global was a client of Attorney General Eric Holder and Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer’s law firm, Covington & Burling. That’s right—Corzine’s company hired the very law firm Eric Holder and Lanny Breuer hail from.

There’s more.

The attorney representing MF Global Treasurer Edith O’Brien is Reid Weingarten. Who is he? Eric Holder’s “best friend” and own personal attorney. Reid Weingarten and Eric Holder also co-founded a non-profit together.

The result: Corzine’s insider connections and big money political fundraising for Obama helped him skate away unscathed, even as his MF Global customers saw $1.6 billion of their money go up in flames.

2. Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.) For Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.), politics is a family business. And when it comes to doling out the federal goodies to favored friends, few can compete with the Nevada senator. Senator Reid has sponsored at least $47 million in earmarks that directly benefitted organizations that one of his sons, Key Reid, [RW1] either lobbies for or is affiliated with.

Recently, another of Sen. Reid’s sons, Rory Reid, helped Chinese energy giant ENN Energy Group make headway on its plan to build a $5 billion solar panel plant on a 9,000 acre plot in Nevada. And according to Reuters, this year Sen. Reid attempted to “pressure Nevada’s largest power company, NV Energy, to sign up as ENN’s first customer.”

Not surprisingly, both father and son deny that they are working in tandem to further the family interests. “I have never discussed the project with my father or his staff,” says Rory Reid. Likewise, Sen. Reid’s spokesperson says he never talks to his son about the $5 billion deal he’s working on for his Chinese client.

3. Congress Last year the U.S. Congress overwhelmingly passed the Stop Trading On Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act to ban members of Congress from using non-public information when making their personal investments. The law also requires senior-level employees in executive and legislative offices to post their financial disclosures to ensure greater transparency, boost public trust, and make sure that politicos live by the same kinds of insider trading laws as the rest of us.

Common sense, right?

Wrong, says Congress. Since the bill became law, the U.S. Congress has delayed the financial disclosure requirement for federal workers not once, not twice, but thrice.

Why all the delays on implementing a common sense ethics law? Congress is worried that making such information public may place federal workers at risk for identity theft and endanger their personal safety. Scary stuff.

There’s just one problem with that argument: financial disclosures are already public records; the new requirement would simply make them more easily accessible to the public. Still, Congress continues to drag its feet on implementing an ethics law designed to make sure cronies aren’t abusing their positions of power for personal financial gain.

The rationale for the new delay was to wait until a study by the National Academy of Public Administration is released in March. That’s just another dilatory tactic. Indeed, after the first delay, Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) said he hoped the study would kill the law’s public disclosure provision for federal workers. “I am confident that the National Academy study will show that this policy is unnecessary and potentially very harmful,” said Rep. Moran.

Cronyism is a bipartisan problem. When politicians and special interests collude to disrupt free markets, hook up family and friends with special deals, and leverage political connections, taxpayers lose. Yes, 2012 was a banner year for the cronies. Here’s hoping 2013 will be different.

Peter Schweizer is the president of the Government Accountability Institute. He is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford, and is the author of more than a dozen books. His most recent book is the New York Times bestseller "Throw Them All Out: How Politicians and Their Friends Get Rich Off Insider Stock Tips, Land Deals, and Cronyism That Would Send the Rest of Us to Prison."

In the News: Saving Lives With Help from Pigs and Adult Stem Cells

by Maggie Galehouse, Houston Chronicle, January 23, 2013

Doris Taylor and her team are building new organs, hoping to reverse disease, maybe even the aging process

It sounds like science fiction, but it is isn't.

On the ninth floor of the Texas Heart Institute's Denton Cooley building, Doris Taylor and her team are building human hearts, with help from pigs and stem cells.

"We think a pig heart is a perfect scaffold for a human heart, based on its structure and size," says Taylor, a passionate scientist with a Ph.D. in pharmacology.

One recent morning, a pig heart hung suspended in a clear homemade tank in the lab built for Taylor and her team. Filled with detergent, the heart had expanded to the size of a large man's fist, excess liquid dripping slowly out its sides.

Once the heart is thoroughly cleaned, hard-working human stem cells - immature cells found in our organs and tissues that help repair damage on a daily basis - will bring it to life.

"We can take stems cells from bone marrow, blood or fat and place them onto a heart, liver or lung scaffold," Taylor explains. "My motto for a long time has been 'Give nature the tools and get out of the way.' "

A pioneer in regenerative medicine research and cell therapy, Taylor arrived at the institute - at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital - last April. She came from the University of Minnesota, where she won international attention for her work with "whole-organ decellularization" - removing the existing cells from the hearts of lab animals and humans to leave a framework to build new organs.

Cleaning pig hearts of their cells takes about two days, using the same detergent found in baby shampoo. Arranged around a sink in the lab where the team washes up, clean animal organs in different size jars await attention: livers, kidneys, an aorta, heart valves. Surgical instruments are laid out on small green cloths along the counters.

"Here are little rat hearts getting their cells washed out," says Taylor, pointing to nickel-size hearts in specially designed sterile glass containers she likens to "Rube Goldberg contraptions."

A significant unmet need

Heart failure affects nearly 5 million Americans and is the only major cardiovascular disorder on the rise. An estimated 400,000 to 700,000 new cases of heart failure are diagnosed each year, according to the Heart Failure Society of America, and deaths in the U.S. from this condition have more than doubled since 1979, averaging 250,000 annually.

On any given day, about 3,000 people in the U.S. are on the waiting list for a heart transplant, with wait times varying from days to several months, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Only 2,000 donor hearts are available each year.

"Unlike some other organs, hearts have a very short window for transplants - four hours," Taylor explains. "Just think about Texas. If someone in Tyler needs a heart and the heart is in Amarillo, you're pushing the window even in our own state."

Mechanical devices are certainly becoming more of an option, she continues, but there are complications; the devices aren't perfect.

In addition, the population is aging, and we're keeping people alive longer after heart attacks, she adds. And you can't take an organ from a living person.

"You put all those things together and there's a significant unmet need for the work we're doing," Taylor says.

Beyond building healthy new hearts, Taylor's research could help medicine in myriad ways. Hearts and other animal organs reanimated with human stem cells could be used in transplants and emergency situations, she says. More broadly, the technology could make mechanical hearts work better, grow skin for burn centers and build a dialysis device for acute liver failure.
Her stem cell research could be used to reverse the aging process.

The work is as much about prevention as creation.

As we age, we have fewer stem cells, Taylor explains, and the ones we have don't work as well:
"If you know that everyone in your family dies of a heart attack around 65, then I want some stem cells from you now so we can save them and grow them and intervene early to reverse the disease."

Reverse disease? Reverse the aging process?

"I've been called Dr. Frankenstein more times than I care to admit," Taylor says, with a wry smile.

A beautiful design

Living hearts get their color from blood and myoglobin. Washed clean of their cells, the ivory-hued pig hearts and other organs around Taylor's lab seem other-worldly. They look like mysterious sea creatures, delicately constructed yet strong and fibrous to the touch.

One of Taylor's colleagues, Brazilian cardiac surgeon Luis Sampaio, picks up a pig heart and pulls it apart gently to reveal the main valve.

"The beauty of the valve is that it closes up when it's supposed to," Sampaio says. "It's a beautiful design. A one-way street of pumping."

Taylor and her team will add stem cells to the heart one of two ways: by inserting a tube in the aorta and letting the cells drip inside, or by injecting the cells with a syringe through the wall of the heart.

A heartbeat is perceptible after just a few days. Within a few weeks, the heart is strong enough to pump blood.

"It's almost like time-lapse photography," Taylor says.

The stem cells used come from patients who've given Taylor permission to examine their cells and, occasionally, from companies that sell cells. The ultimate goal is to use a person's own stem cells to fight disease, but cells from other people can also be viable.

"I would use your cells and cells that wouldn't be rejected by you," Taylor explains.
As a scientist, she understands that the nature of her work makes some people uncomfortable.

But for her, it boils down to this:

"It would be impossible for me to look a parent in the face and say I didn't use every tool I know about to make your child better."

Two more years

Now in her early 50s, Taylor grew up mostly in Mississippi, where she moved with her mother and siblings after her father died of cancer.

"I remember thinking I didn't want anyone in the world to have to go through that," she said, recalling her dad's death. She was 6.

Taylor's mother, a librarian, told her and her siblings they could do anything they wanted.
"I've always been curious," Taylor says. "I always wanted to know how things worked. When I was a kid, around 8, 9 and 10, I got up on Saturday mornings and tried to invent things. I thought that's what grown-ups did."

Taylor says she couldn't do what she does without the support of her team of scientists, surgeons, engineers and support staff.

"I'm lucky Jim Willerson, the president of Texas Heart Institute, believed in me enough to bring me here and let me work with this fantastic team of individuals," she says.

Taylor predicts that in the next two years, she and her team will approach the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and ask to do a first-in-human study with the bio-artificial hearts.

"Will it be a whole heart? Probably not," Taylor says. "But it could be a cardiac patch or a valve. We might start with a piece to show the safety and efficacy of the technology."

Regenerating hearts means stepping out there and taking risks. It means thinking big and not being afraid to fail. Taylor is comfortable with that.

A quote from Gandhi that she keeps on her desk says: "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."

Welcome to the United States of Kleptocracy

The Oath of the Skull is the oath that each Phantom swears as he enter the service as the new Phantom. To date 21 have sworn to it -- the Phantoms from the very first until now, the 21st. "I swear to devote my life to the destruction of piracy, greed, and cruelty, in all their forms, and my sons and their sons, shall follow me."
From yee Wiki:

Kleptocracy, alternatively cleptocracy or kleptarchy, (from Greek: κλέπτης - kleptēs, "thief" and κράτος - kratos, "power, rule", hence "rule by thieves") is a form of political and government corruption where the government exists to increase the personal wealth and political power of its officials and the ruling class at the expense of the wider population, often without pretense of honest service. This type of government corruption is often achieved by the embezzlement of state funds.

In early 2004, the anti-corruption Germany-based NGO Transparency International released a list of what it believes to be the ten most self-enriching leaders in recent years.

In order of amount allegedly stolen (in USD), they were:

1. Former Indonesian President Suharto ($15 billion - $35 billion)
2. Former Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos ($5 billion - $10 billion)
3. Former Zairian President Mobutu Sese Seko ($5 billion)
4. Former Nigerian Head of State Sani Abacha ($2 billion – $5 billion)
5. Former Yugoslav and Serbian President Slobodan Milošević ($1 billion)
6. Former Haitian President Jean-Claude Duvalier ($300 million – $800 million)
7. Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori ($600 million)
8. Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko ($114 million – $200 million)
9. Former Nicaraguan President Arnoldo Alemán ($100 million)
10. Former Philippines President Joseph Estrada ($78 million – $80 million)

Sleazebag Smirk: Goldman Sachs' Lloyd Blankfein

Looks a bit like Dr. Evil, doesn't he?

A smarmy smirk courtesy of Lloyd Blankfein the Financial Times 2009 Person of the Year.

Oh, so? The Big Picture blog quotes one insider summing up a Goldman Sachs practice:

"When you buy protection against an event that you have a hand in causing, you are buying fire insurance on someone else’s house and then committing arson.”

Here's some social accountability from the Follow the Money blog:

Monday, January 28, 2013

Bobby Darin's Impressions of Hollywood Stars

Bobby Darin Dream Car 1961

Singer Bobby Darin stands beside a hand-made automobile called the "Bobby Darin Dream Car," unveiled on March 31, 1961, in Hollywood, California. Owner Andrew Di Dia, who designed and built the $150,000 car, will take it on a nationwide tour.

Witness Bobby Darin's "Dream Car," which he donated to the National Museum of Transport in 1970.

The late singer Bobby Darin's "Dream Car" is back on display in dazzling shape.

Mike Manns, owner of Manns Auto Body in Festus MO, restored the car for the second time since Darin donated it to the National Museum of Transport here in St. Louis in 1970.

"About 100,000 people have viewed the car since it was restored 13 years ago," Manns said. "It was handmade in the 1950s from aluminum that is very soft. People don't realize they're denting it when they lean against it."

The car, designed by Andy DiDia in 1953 was "one of the most fabulous custom cars ever built with every futuristic innovation money could buy," Manns said.

It cost Darin more than $93,000 and took seven years to build.

Darin drove the car to special events, including the Academy Awards presentation. Darin, who died at 37 in 1973 of heart problems, was best known for his 1959 rendition of "Mack the Knife."

The car, which looks like a square version of the Batmobile, was the creation of a clothing designer, not a car manufacturer.

The story goes that Darin struck up a friendship with DiDia, a well known clothing designer from Detroit. DiDia, an auto buff, designed the car on a whim and showed it to Darin. Darin loved the lines and made a few suggestions.

They dubbed the "DiDia 150" the "Bobby Darin Dream Car." Originally, the car had 30 coats of paint, mixed with a diamond dust from Sweden.

This time, Manns used a glittery gold undercoat with pearly red on top.

The "Dream Car" featured a list of innovations, including thermostatically controlled air-condtioning that keeps the temperature constant, hidden headlights, taillights that swivel when the car turns a corner, glass windows on hinges and rust leather bucket seats, each with its own ash tray, cigarette lighter and radio speaker.

The car will remain on display at the Transport Museum.

In the News: Johns Hopkins Hospital Performs Double Arm Transplant on Army Soldier

The world's first complete double arm transplant recipient, Karl Merk, is doing well after surgery. It took a team of 40 surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses and other support staff to perform the 15-hour operation . Merk lost his arms just below the shoulder in a combine harvester accident six years ago. Doctors say there is an indication that nerves are growing back but that it could take up to two years for him to relearn how to use his hands.
 by Michael E. Ruane, The Washington Post, Jan 28, 2013

A former U.S. Army soldier who became a quadruple amputee after surviving an explosion in Iraq three years ago has undergone a rare double arm transplant at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, the hospital is expected to announce Tuesday.

Brendan Marrocco, 26, of Staten Island, N.Y., who underwent the marathon surgery last month, was the first service member from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to survive the loss of four limbs, officials have said.

He lost both legs above the knee, his left arm below the elbow, and his right arm above the elbow when the military vehicle he was driving was struck by a bomb on Easter Sunday, April 12, 2009.

He is the first such service member to receive a double arm transplant, and the hospital says he is one of only seven people in the United States who have undergone successful double arm transplants.

The complex operation was performed on Dec. 18.

Later, in a new anti-rejection procedure, he received an infusion of bone marrow, derived from vertebrae harvested from the donor’s lower spine. The infusion allows doctors to reduce the number of powerful anti-rejection drugs they use from three to one.

That is beneficial because the anti-rejection drugs can have harmful side effects, such as infection, organ damage and cancer.

The surgery was done by a special team of transplant experts headed by W.P. Andrew Lee, professor and chairman of the department of plastic and reconstructive surgery at the hospital.
It was the first limb transplant by his newly established group at Hopkins, the hospital says.

“He’s doing well,” Marrocco’s father, Alex, said Monday. “Doing well. It’s been a little over a month now.”

The hospital said it would detail the operation at a news briefing Tuesday.

Lee, in an interview, said there have been about 80 arms transplanted in about 60 patients so far around the world.

There are hundreds of military amputees around the country — four others who have lost four limbs, and still others who have lost three, two or one.

Many, like Marrocco, have been treated at the old Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, now the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda.

Marrocco was there for several years, and two other quadruple amputees still are recovering there.

Most such patients have been fitted with — and mastered — sophisticated mechanical prostheses. But Lee said in a recent interview that research has suggested younger amputees don’t always use them.

“The nonacceptance rate of prosthetics is highest among young people in their 20s and 30s,” he said.

So the possibility of limb transplantation, despite its enormous medical, psychological and logistical complexity, holds great promise for the future, he said.

Lee said results so far have been good, although the arms are never going to return to 100 percent of their former function. But he said patients have learned to tie shoes, use chopsticks and put their hair in a ponytail.

Aside from the physical outcome, “I think it also has additional advantage for the patient to be restored whole,” he said. “Once they’re transplanted, they regard the arm as theirs. And I think they’re more comfortable going out on social occasions, as opposed to wearing a prosthetic.”

Ben Thomas Blog; How to Stick to Your Resolutions by Hacking Your Brain

When former U.S. Marine Jason Scott Johnson set out to write a book on everyday fitness, he faced an unusual challenge. Not only would he have to boil down his intensive workout regimen into widely accessible tips, but he'd also have to translate his sense of discipline into words that would motivate ordinary readers to set clear health goals and stick with them.

Johnson arrived at a set of motivational
tactics that, interestingly enough, have been used by psychologists for decades and studied by neuroscientists for nearly as long. The wide range of personal problems to which psychotherapists have applied concepts like these, and the level of detail at which brain researchers have explored them, can help us pinpoint some of the subtle tricks that our minds play on us every day. These "trade secrets" of the brain can also provide us some clues about how to hack our mental processes and get them working on our side.

Take, for instance, Johnson's suggestion of keeping a "Win Journal" for noting small successes on a daily basis. Psychotherapists have a long history of advising patients to keep a journal like this, for purposes such as sticking to new year's resolutions and overcoming chronic depression. And that's because these two problems -- bad habits and poor self-esteem -- often share a common and surprisingly simple cause: We're wired, on the whole, to relive negative memories more vividly than positive ones.


We've found evidence that even animals like mice share this tendency of ours, and scientists have a pretty good idea of why natural selection tends to preserve it. For a mouse (or an ape), preserving a vivid memory of a sweet-smelling flower or a cool swim doesn't offer any particular survival benefit, but if a certain shape of shadow means a predator lurks nearby, quick recognition and reaction are all that separate survival from death. In fact, as I've talked about in a previous blog post, traumatic experiences can work like drugs, activating unique sensory and emotional pathways that cement vivid memories in long-term storage.
Of course, that's not to say that you can't form vivid long-term memories of your first kiss or your latest roller-coaster plunge, nor does this evolutionary adaptation lessen the importance of recognizing when your bad habits and memories turn into destructive obsessions. In fact, that's one crucial trait that separates you from your mammalian relatives: You can choose to keep a record of happy memories to counteract an overactive survival mentality.
Whether you keep a "Win Journal" or just a photo album, your story will serve as a constant reminder of what you're capable of -- and inspire you to shoot even higher in the future. And psychologists suggest coupling this technique with a related one: giving yourself little rewards, like a dinner out or a drive in the countryside, every time you meet a milestone or step outside your comfort zone. The more you reshape your expectations of yourself and reward yourself when you defy those old limits, the more you'll find yourself sticking to your goals.
The stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, whether we're conscious that we're telling them or not, exert quite a pull on our will power and self-control. From birth until death, our brains never stop looking for ways to perform common tasks more efficiently, and that means it's not easy to reshape neural pathways that have gotten comfortable playing out the same old habits. But the good news is that dread of change is nowhere near as powerful as expectation of rewards, once you get into the habit of expecting them.

So what kind of story do you want to tell yourself this year?

Out the Kleptocracy: In the News: Government Audit Criticizes Exec Pay at GM, Ally, AIG after Bailouts

by David Shepardson, Detroit News Washington Bureau, January 28, 2013

Washington - A government auditor harshly criticized the Treasury Department for approving "excessive" pay packages for top executives at three companies that received large government bailouts.

Christy Romero, the special inspector general overseeing the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, criticized the Treasury for approving pay raises at General Motors Co., Ally Financial Inc. and American International Group Inc.

The report released Monday was critical of the Treasury's special master overseeing executive pay at companies that got very large bailouts: Cash salaries of $450,000 or more were approved for 94 percent of the top 25 employees at AIG, GM and Ally.

"While taxpayers struggle to overcome the recent financial crisis and look to the U.S. government to put a lid on compensation for executives of firms whose missteps nearly crippled the U.S. financial system, the U.S. Department of the Treasury continues to allow excessive executive pay," the report said.

The executives at GM, Ally and AIG "continue to rake in Treasury-approved multimillion-dollar pay packages that often exceed guidelines" previously announced, the report said.

The Treasury approved all 18 pay raises requested by the companies.

In December, AIG repaid its government bailout and is no longer subject to the pay restrictions.

Patricia Geoghegan, the Treasury's "pay czar," agreed to shift more pay away from longer-term incentive pay.

She removed long-term restricted stock for senior executives, including the CEOs of AIG, GM and Ally. In total, she removed long-term restricted stock from 24 of the 34 employees' pay packages, and for all but one of the 24 employees, replaced it with stock salary, as requested by the companies.

In total, she approved pay packages worth $5 million or more for 23 percent of the top 25 employees at AIG, GM, and Ally. .

The audit said the pay raises ranged from $30,000 to $1 million — 1 percent to 23 percent.

GM and Ally each proposed nine pay raises, and AIG proposed one pay raise worth $1 million.

Treasury approved raises of 15 percent to 23 percent without any further detail or analysis for four employees "on the basis that they were among the individuals that GM's CEO most relied on, and they had received significant promotions or increased job responsibilities," the audit said.

The audit said that for one employee who received a cash salary of $600,000 in 2011, Treasury approved an additional $50,000 in cash in 2012.

"When asked why the employee received the raise, (Treasury) told SIGTARP that GM wanted to retain the employee and 'do a little extra for him,'" the report said.

GM has long complained about the pay restrictions, including in their 2012 proxy statement.
In March, weeks before the Treasury pay czar approved the 2012 pay packages, GM CEO Akerson met with Treasury Secretary Geithner — without the pay czar present — asking Treasury to release GM from Treasury's pay limits by lifting the restrictions, the audit said.

Previously, Akerson's meeting had become public with Geithner, but GM declined to discuss the subject matter.

Geithner rejected GM's request.

The special master removed from Akerson's pay package incentive compensation tied to meeting performance criteria, shifting the same amount to stock salary that is earned immediately, the report said.


Treasury Disregarded Own Guidelines, Allowed Executive Raises At Bailed-Out GM, AIG: Report

by Marcy Gordon

Washington -- A watchdog says the U.S. Treasury Department disregarded its own guidelines and allowed large pay increases for executives at three firms that had received taxpayer-funded bailouts during the financial crisis.

The Special Inspector General for Troubled Asset Relief Program says Treasury approved 18 raises for executives at American International Group Inc., General Motors Corp. and Ally Financial Inc. Of those requests, 14 were for $100,000 or more. One raise, for the CEO of a division at AIG, was for $1 million.

The three firms received a combined nearly $250 billion from the bailout fund. Only AIG has fully repaid its $182 billion bailout.

The report says Treasury approved raises that exceeded pay limits and in some cases failed to link compensation to performance.

Out the Kleptocracy: In the News: Lanny Breuer, Justice Department Criminal Division Chief, is stepping down

Photo by William Banzai7

The Crony Top Gun is named Breuer
The DOJ's fraud case pursuer
The Kleptocrat's guy
Just turned a blind eye
And Justice is now in the sewer

The Limerick King

by Danielle Douglas, The Washington Post, Jan 23, 2013

Lanny A. Breuer is leaving the Justice Department after leading the agency’s efforts to clamp down on public corruption and financial fraud at the nation’s largest banks, according to several people familiar with the matter.

As one of the longest-serving heads of the criminal division, Breuer has had a tenure filled with controversy and high-profile prosecutions. He was admonished for his role in the agency’s botched attempt to infiltrate weapons-smuggling rings in the operation dubbed “Fast and Furious.” And he has been accused of being soft on Wall Street for failing to throw senior bank executives behind bars for their role in the financial crisis.

Yet Breuer is widely credited with aggressively going after white-collar crime in the aftermath of the crisis. He also stepped up the division’s involvement in money-laundering cases, launching a series of criminal investigations that have resulted in multimillion-dollar settlements.

It is not clear when Breuer intends to leave his post, nor what he plans to do once he departs, but it is certain that the prosecutor’s days in office are winding down, according to people who were not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

Officials at the Justice Department, including Breuer, declined to comment for this article.

When Breuer was confirmed as assistant attorney general for the criminal division in April 2009, the agency was tainted by allegations of political interference in prosecutions and unprofessional conduct during the George W. Bush administration. The department continues to be mired in controversy stemming from the Bush years.

During Senate hearings in 2011, Breuer conceded that he had failed to alert other Justice Department officials that federal agents had allowed guns to illegally flow into Mexico and onto U.S. streets between 2006 and 2007. The practice, known as “gun walking,” was also a key part of the Obama administration’s Phoenix gun-tracking operation, “Fast and Furious.”
The operation came under fire when many of the weapons later turned up at crime scenes in Mexico and the United States, including two where a Border Patrol agent was killed.

Several officials at the Justice Department resigned in connection with the operation, including Jason Weinstein, a deputy assistant attorney general in the criminal division. Breuer later apologized for his inaction when the tactics first came to his attention. Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) called for his resignation, but Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. stood behind Breuer.

A former prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney’s office, Breuer came to the Justice Department well versed in white-collar crime. He has been a driving force behind the prosecution of banks involved in rigging the global interest rate known as Libor. His efforts helped produce a $1.5 billion settlement with UBS and led to criminal indictments against two of the bank’s former traders in December.

But Breuer and his team were blasted for not indicting the parent company and more of its executives given the broad scope of problems at UBS.

Critics have also decried Breuer’s routine use of deferred prosecution, which gives the agency the right to go after a company in the future if it fails to comply with the terms of the agreement. They say the use of such tactics amounts to a slap on the wrists of companies that have engaged in egregious behavior. Breuer, however, has argued that the agreements result in greater accountability for corporate wrongdoing.

Breuer made a name for himself as special counsel to President Bill Clinton, whom he represented in the 1998 impeachment hearings and the Whitewater investigation.

Before his appointment at the Justice Department, Breuer had worked at the Washington office of the Covington & Burling law firm, alongside Holder. While there, Breuer defended former Clinton national security adviser Samuel R. “Sandy” Berger, who was being investigated for tampering with presidential documents at the National Archives. He also represented baseball pitcher Roger Clemens in proceedings before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform about the use of steroids.

Giorgio Comolo: New Gods Re-Creation (after Jack Kirby and Mike Royer)

Show Some Self-Control and Pay Attention: Brodmann area 46

From yee Wiki:

Brodmann area 46, or BA46, is part of the frontal cortex in the human brain. It is between BA10 and BA45.

BA46 is known as middle frontal area 46. In the human brain it occupies approximately the middle third of the middle frontal gyrus and the most rostral portion of the inferior frontal gyrus. Brodmann area 46 roughly corresponds with the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), although the borders of area 46 are based on cytoarchitecture rather than function.

The DLPFC also encompasses part of granular frontal area 9, directly adjacent on the dorsal surface of the cortex.

Cytoarchitecturally, BA46 is bounded dorsally by the granular frontal area 9, rostroventrally by the frontopolar area 10 and caudally by the triangular area 45 (Brodmann-1909). There is some discrepancy between the extent of BA8 (Brodmann-1905) and the same area as described by Walker (1940).


The DLPFC plays a role in sustaining attention and working memory. Lesions to the DLPFC impair short-term memory and cause difficulty inhibiting responses. Lesions may also eliminate much of the ability to make judgements about what's relevant and what's not as well as causing problems in organization.

The DLPFC has recently been found to be involved in exhibiting self-control.

The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is one of the few areas deactivated during REM sleep. Neuroscientist J. Allan Hobson has hypothesized that activation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex produces lucid dreams.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Out the Kleptocracy: Frontline: Too Big To Jail? The Top 10 Civil Cases Against the Banks

FBI agents escort handcuffed former Bear Stearns hedge fund managers.

Frontline Documentary: The Untouchables:

In the News: DNA May Soon Be Used for Data Storage

All of the world's information, about 1.8 zettabytes, could be stored in about four grams of DNA

by Lucas Mearian

Researchers have created a way to store data in the form of DNA, which can last for tens of thousands of years.

The encoding method makes it possible to store at least 100 million hours of high-definition video in about a cup of DNA, the researchers said in a paper published in the journal Nature this week.

The researchers, from UK-based EMBL-European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI), claimed to have stored encoded versions of an .mp3 of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, along with a .jpg photo of EMBL-EBI and several text files.

"We already know that DNA is a robust way to store information because we can extract it from wooly mammoth bones, which date back tens of thousands of years, and make sense of it," Nick Goldman, co-author of the study at EMBL-EBI, said in a statement. "It's also incredibly small, dense and does not need any power for storage, so shipping and keeping it is easy."

Reading DNA is fairly straightforward, but writing it has been a major hurdle. There are two challenges: First, using current methods, it is only possible to manufacture DNA in short strings. Secondly, both writing and reading DNA are prone to errors, particularly when the same DNA letter is repeated.

Nick and co-author Ewan Birney, associate director of EMBL-EBI, set out to create a code that overcomes both problems. The new method requires synthesizing DNA from the encoded information. EMBL-EBI worked with California-based Agilent Technologies, a maker of electronic and bio-analytical measurement instruments such as oscilloscopes and signal generators, to transmit the data and then encode it in DNA.

Agilent downloaded the files from the Web and then synthesized hundreds of thousands of pieces of DNA to represent the data. "The result looks like a tiny piece of dust," said Emily Leproust of Agilent.

Agilent then mailed the sample to EMBL-EBI, where the researchers were able to sequence the DNA and decode the files without errors.

This is not the first time DNA has been shown to be an effective method of storing data. Last fall, researchers at Harvard University demonstrated the ability to store 70 billion copies of a book in HTML form in DNA binary code.

The researchers created the binary code through DNA markers to preserve the text of the book, Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves in DNA.

The Harvard researchers stored 5.5 petabits, or 1 million gigabits, per cubic millimeter in the DNA storage medium. Because of the slow process for setting down the data, the researchers consider the DNA storage medium suitable only for data archive purposes -- for now.

"The total world's information, which is 1.8 zettabytes, [could be stored] in about four grams of DNA," Sriram Kosuri, a senior scientist at Harvard's Wyss Institute and senior author of the paper explaining the science, said at the time.

Researchers are pursuing methods of storing data in smaller and smaller packets because of the tremendous growth of data.

During the next eight years, the amount of digital data produced will exceed 40 zettabytes, which is the equivalent of 5,200GB of data for every man, woman and child on Earth, according to the latest Digital Universe study by research firm IDC.

The majority of data between now and 2020 will not be produced by humans but by machines as they talk to each other over data networks. That would include, for example, machine sensors and smart devices communicating with other devices.

"We've created a code that's error tolerant using a molecular form we know will last in the right conditions for 10,000 years, or possibly longer," Nick said. "As long as someone knows what the code is, you will be able to read it back if you have a machine that can read DNA."

The researchers said the next step in development is to perfect the coding scheme and explore practical aspects, paving the way for a commercially viable DNA storage model.

This graphic details the mind-boggling numbers.
From Wikipedia:

A zettabyte (symbol ZB, derived from the SI prefix zetta-) is a quantity of information or information storage capacity equal to 1021 bytes or 1,000 exabytes (or one sextillion (one long scale trilliard) bytes).

As of April 2012, no storage system has achieved one zettabyte of information. The combined space of all computer hard drives in the world was estimated at approximately 160 exabytes in 2006. This has increased rapidly however, as Seagate reported selling 330 exabytes worth of hard drives during the 2011 Fiscal Year. As of 2009, the entire World Wide Web was estimated to contain close to 500 exabytes. This is a half-zettabyte.

1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes = 10007 bytes = 1021 bytes
The term "zebibyte" (ZiB), using a binary prefix, is used for the corresponding power of 1024.
Comparisons for scale: A zettabyte is equal to 1 billion terabytes.

The world's technological capacity to receive information through one-way broadcast networks was 0.432 zettabytes of (optimally compressed) information in 1986, 0.715 in 1993, 1.2 in 2000, and 1.9 (optimally compressed) zettabytes in 2007 (this is the informational equivalent to every person on earth receiving 174 newspapers per day).

According to International Data Corporation, the total amount of global data is expected to grow to 2.7 zettabytes during 2012. This is 48% up from 2011.

Mark Liberman calculated the storage requirements for all human speech ever spoken at 42 zettabytes if digitized as 16 kHz 16-bit audio. This was done in response to a popular expression that states "all words ever spoken by human beings" could be stored in approximately 5 exabytes of data (see exabyte for details). Liberman did freely confess that "maybe the authors [of the exabyte estimate] were thinking about text".

Research from the University of Southern California reports that in 2007, humankind successfully sent 1.9 zettabytes of information through broadcast technology such as televisions and GPS.

Research from the University of California, San Diego reports that in 2008, Americans consumed 3.6 zettabytes of information.